Fiscal Conservatives


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copyright © 2008 Betsy L. Angert.  BeThink.org

In the tradition of the Grand Old Party, this election year Republicans had hoped they had nominated a fiscal Conservative.  In March 2008, Columnist Bonnie Erbe mused; John McCain might return the messianic rule Republicans think “Right.”  The Journalist scribed.

Is McCain the Return of the Fiscal Conservative?

USA Today

March 26, 2008 03:57 PM ET

Ah, finally, one of the presidential candidates actually offers a common-sense approach to resolving the mortgage crisis.  Sen. John McCain yesterday “derided government intervention to save and reward banks or small borrowers who behave irresponsibly . . .”

The Senator from Arizona and Presidential aspirant has often spoken of the need to be economically accountable.  Financial folly is conduct John McCain does not favor.  John McCain rejects earmarks.  He wants no Senator to spend dollars on local projects.  He is proud of his rigid record; he has not supplied his home State with money for roads or bridges to nowhere.  As President of the United States, the “maverick” Republican, will not reward capriciousness.  Yet, perhaps he has and will when in the White House.

Irresponsibility is a term not easily defined.  American history illustrates, the interpretation varies dependent on how the arrears accrue and for whom.

John the Caterer, Pam the Antique Shop owner, Tito the Truck Driver, or possibly, Jane the Dressmaker believe a responsible person takes care of them self first.  Money in my pocket matters more than dollars for those on government programs.  Uncaring or less than conscious of consequences; you dear reader decide.

These small business entrepreneurs work hard for the cash they earn.  In these tough times, John, Pam, Tito, and Jane cannot afford to contribute to the goodwill of others in their communities.  They are strapped.  In McCain Palin commercial after commercial, proprietors proclaim as the candidate they support does, it would be fiscally irresponsible to spread the wealth or to have tax dollars pay for plans that might buy more body armor, build more roads, better hospitals and schools, or stimulate a green economy.

Each of these mini-tycoons, along with the now third person on the Republican ticket, Joe the Plumber,  tells the American people of personal concerns; the trials and tribulations of taxes.  These citizens crave policies that typify the Republican tradition of economic restraint.  McCain Palin supporters, common folks such as Carole the Cook and Charles the Contractor muse; it is reckless to grow debt.  American workers, businessmen, and women think it is prudent to hold on to every hard earned dollar.  They too have no love for an economic adventurous policymaker.

That has been the mantra for many American’s for decades.  “We want a fiscal Conservative in the White House!”  However, frequently, the fine people of this country elect other than a President who is cautious with American dollars.  United States citizens intend to cast ballots for those who practice economic restraint.  Yet, annals reveal, too often they do not.  Responsible, reckless; you dear reader decide.  (Please review the chart)

Recent Republican Administrations exemplify the dichotomy between monetary judiciousness and those who adopt the title, fiscal Conservative.  Past Presidents Ronald Reagan, George Herbert Walker Bush, and the current Chief Executive, George W. Bush brought this country to its economic knees.  While the latter may be a bit bruised, it seems his supporters are happy to follow in a Republican tradition.  They will vote for the John McCain, the candidate who now represents the Republican Party.  Fortunately, for the Arizona Senator, past Grand Old Party fiscal follies does not tarnish the reputation of the “Right.”  Republicans and Independents, who think taxes are irresponsible, endorse the Bush protégé, John McCain in the current 2008 Presidential campaign.  

Although Republican Administrations accrued billions in national debt, these former Commanders-In-Chief personally prospered.  They, did as John the Caterer, Pam the Antique Shop owner, Tito the Truck Driver, and of course, the now famous Joe the Plumber hope to do, held their dollars closely and benefit at the expense of others.

The third person on the Republican Presidential stump, Joe the Plumber has already accomplished as his political leaders did.  Samuel J. Wurzelbacher’s debt resulted in liens.  However, he also garnered greater monetary wealth.  Irresponsible, accountable; only you the American taxpayer can decide for yourself.

It appears there is a perceptible pattern.  People who prosper from the hardship of others leave enormous sums unpaid.  Former Presidents and the few big or small business owners thrive, while the average American, lives on meager wages, or salaries that do not allow much money to be saved.  Responsible behavior, or the ruinous result of regressive taxes; individual readers will choose what they wish to trust as truth.

However, no one will negate, common people find themselves in a financial crisis, that for him or her, perhaps feels more dire than the national or global catastrophe.  Circumstances, may force the poor and Middle Class to be more fiscally Conservative.  As the economy tightens, remunerations are reduced.  Expenses expand.  People who work hard may have little to show for the blood, sweat, and tears of toil.

The Center for American Progress reports, in recent years, as another a Republican ruled the White House, America’s Middle Class has fallen deeper into a financial abyss. Income growth slows, and costs climb for the average person in the United States.  For the common folks, financial solvency is on a downward descent; fiscal liability ascends.  

A typical middle income family earning around $45,000 a year saw its debt burden grow by 33.1% between 2001 and 2004, even after adjusting for inflation.  Debt relative to income rose even more, to 33.9%, during this period for middle-income families.  Personal bankruptcies among these households are rising steeply.

The reasons for greater economic distress among middle class households are not hard to pinpoint.  Slow income growth between 2001 and 2004, the last year for which complete data is available, has not kept pace with the rising cost of big ticket items such as housing and education loans, medical expenses and transportation.  Family budgets have been squeezed.

A common but misplaced assumption is that the growth in debt among middle-income families – those with incomes roughly between $25,000 to $70,000 a year – is the result of over-consumption through increased credit card debt.  Rather, growth in debt is primarily due to heavier borrowing for investments in homes or education, both of which saw dramatic price increases in recent years.  The cost of a college education, for example, grew by 24.6% between 2001 and 2004, after adjusting for inflation.

These rising debt levels are also beginning to affect groups of middle income families that historically have not struggled with debt.

As the ordinary American grapples with the newer reality of reduced revenue, under the auspices of a Grand Old Party Administration, the affluent enjoy greater gains than ever before.  The Middle Class who lack funds are forced to be money-wise, not pound-foolish.

Wealthier Republicans, such as John McCain, who wail of personal responsibility, take no note of what occurs to others less fortunate or financially not fluid.  

Indeed, when President, John McCain intends to make the tax cuts established in the current Administration permanent.  The Presidential aspirant disregards the damage done.  Perchance, a desire to discount the cause and effect of an economic crisis could be considered fiscally imprudent

Republican President George W. Bush does not worry of what his irrational policies produced He offers with emotional detachment, “The fact is that income inequality is real — it’s been rising for more than 25 years,”  For Mister Bush and Senator McCain that truth is just the way it is, and perchance, they think the disproportionate distribution is the way it should be.  This is known as a redistribution of wealth . . . upwards.

The moneyed move millions, billions into preferred pocketbooks.  The super-rich, and those who represent them in the Oval Office, do this through duties that divide the population.  The regressive tax system subtlety imposed upon the nation by recent Republican Administrations helped supplement substantial income and capital gains.  Might this tax  practice be rash or rational?

Today [in 2003 and since], with state taxes becoming more regressive – and the two Bush tax cuts providing large tax savings for the rich – the tax system is moving in the direction of a flat tax, but doing so out of the spotlight.  For example, despite sharp debate about the administration’s tax cuts on the campaign trail, talk about whether taxes are regressive or progressive is hardly material for the stump speeches of presidential candidates  . . .

[A]t the top, the tax system has already become regressive.  The super-rich pay proportionately less in federal income tax than the merely rich.  In 2000, the nation’s 400 richest taxpayers, making an average $173 million, paid an effective tax rate more than 5 percentage points lower than those making $1.5 million to $5 million, notes economist Martin Sullivan in Tax Notes magazine.

That gap has probably shrunk a bit since then.  In 2000, the peak year for stock market prices, the super-rich probably saved some taxes on their huge capital gains.  (Capital gains are taxed at a lower rate than ordinary income.)  Since then, stock-market capital gains have diminished.  But Congress also cut the capital gains rate from 20 to 15 percent – a provision especially beneficial to the rich.

“At the rate we are going, in which more and more investment income is simply untaxed, we will end up with a federal income tax that is not only regressive at the top, but regressive overall,” warns Richard Kogan, an economist at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities in Washington.  “The middle class will be the tax-bearing class.”

Then, in 2003, and now, a levy structure put in place by the Grand Old Party benefits the moneyed, and punishes those with less dollars.  Under the auspices of Republican rule, the average American has and will realize greater debt.  So too will the country.  

Self-invested proprietors, a collective of self-interested persons, or Republican Administrations that do not require people of means to contribute to the greater good soon realize they have created an economic calamity.  These persons who prefer a Conservative in the White House, have opted for deregulation of banks and brokers.  Depositories built on free and open markets, without restraints, have done as individuals, Presidents, and property owners have.  They sought to endow self and sacrifice service to the community.  Are they prudent, practical, fiscally Conservative, or just careless . . .?

America, under the direction of the last three Republican Presidents, fiscal Conservatives who were not prudent with cash, encouraged the electorate to charge it.  Now, Joe the Plumber, John the Caterer, and Betty the Baker who [kneads] needs more dough before she can purchase a storefront understands why everyday people borrow from banks.  

The regressive Republican tax structure has made it hard for these individuals to manage on the money they have set aside.  Those who advocate for less taxes and look out for their personal gains, as the mammoth monetary monuments crumbled do well when the consumer wants more. However, as history shows us, amongst Grand Old Party Presidents and the more prosperous, too much is never enough for people with plenty.

When faced with a monetary meltdown after years of irrational, irresponsible, exuberance, self-proclaimed fiscal conservations like John McCain morphed.  The love of money does that to people, even if they wish to think themselves traditionalist.

The Bush Administration proposed a government bailout of big businesses who behaved irresponsibly.  The newer Grand Old Party, leader, and Presidential aspirant, understood that he was expected to be standard-bearer for self-sufficiency.  However, if he stood that ground, those he helped to thrive through deregulation would go down.  Thus, as a faithful Republican soldier, John invoked the plea that would point out that he is perchance, not a fiscal Conservative.  In September 2008, Senator McCain offered an early election year surprise.  The once traditional Republican requested, Please, “Let the government bailout business.”  As a fiscal Conservative, John McCain said, “Let my corporate cohorts eat cake.”  Americans may ask as Journalist  Bonnie Erbe did months earlier; Is McCain the Return of the Fiscal Conservative?

References for Republican Resources . . .

The GOP has their man


To view the original art, please travel to The GOP has their man

copyright © 2008.  Andrew Wahl.  Off The Wahl Perspective.

I was planning on doing another Democratic primary toon this week, but, with John McCain officially wrapping up his party’s nomination, it seemed like an appropriate time to return fire on the GOP. This is my second published caricature of McCain; it’s better, but still a work in progress.

Check out “I’m John McCain …” above and let me know what you think.

GOP spin sounding tired already


To view the original art, please travel to GOP spin sounding tired already

copyright © 2007.  Andrew Wahl.  Off The Wahl Perspective.

[Posted 02/19/08]

With the Republican nomination all but wrapped up, John McCain used his TV time following the latest primaries to try out attack lines on Barack Obama. Somehow, I don’t think “The GOP’s Best Argument” is going to hold up against Obama’s youth-driven change tsunami. But November is a long way off, and Obama still has work to do in the Democratic primaries before he can worry too much about McCain.

Election ’08: Whatever happened to Iraq?


To view the original art, please travel to Election ’08: Whatever happened to Iraq?

copyright © 2007.  Andrew Wahl.  Off The Wahl Perspective.

[Posted 02/06/08]

Super Tuesday lived up to its hype, giving us political-junkie types plenty to digest.

On the Democratic side, voters continue to be torn between two historic contenders: The first woman, a wonkish machine of a candidate who brings back memories of a better time; and the first black, an inspirational orator, a bit light on substance, who promises a brighter tomorrow. Yesterday’s split decision means this thing could go on all the way until the convention in August. Barak Obama looks to have an edge in almost all of the remaining February contests (including my home state of Washington, which caucuses Saturday), and maintains a major fundraising advantage. Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, maintains double-digit leads in the three remaining big states: Ohio and Texas (both March 4), and Pennsylvania (April 22).

Because of the winner-take-all nature of several of the Republican primaries, Super Tuesday all but anointed John McCain as their nominee. The exit polls reveal serious weakness in support from the conservative base of the party, but who else can the GOP rally around? Few seem impressed by the clone-meat artificiality of Mitt Romney, while Mike Huckabee seems stuck in the South. The rank and file appear ready to hold their noses and move on.

Finally, the thing that really stood out to me yesterday is how far Iraq has fallen off the map as a campaign issue. Except for Obama’s occasional poke at Hillary’s authorization vote, the Dems have lost their way on this issue. Where’s the outrage over McCain’s talk of staying in Iraq for 100 years? It appears the war is “The Forgotten Issue” of this election year – and the topic of this week’s cartoon.

Back from the dead, but still past due


To view the original art, please travel to Back from the dead, but still past due.

copyright © 2008.  Andrew Wahl.  Off The Wahl Perspective.

Left for dead more than once, John McCain seized control of the GOP primary race with a tough-fought victory in Florida today. If this were still 2000 – before eight years of kowtowing to the Bushies, and before his unwavering support for a misbegotten war – I might care. Back in 2000, McCain’s brand of straight talk was a breath of fresh air. But now the best thing he’s got going for him is that he’s not Mitt Romney. Sadly, that makes him the “Fresh Face of the GOP.”

From Writing History to Re-Writing History ©

“History consists of a series of accumulated imaginative inventions.”
    Voltaire [Author and Philosopher -1694 ?” 1778]

On Saturday, January 29, 2005, while reading The Los Angeles Times I discovered an interesting article by Peter Wallsten.  Initially, it appeared innocuous, though newsworthy.  First, I noticed a large photograph of Condoleezza Rice; she was taking her oath of office, being sworn in as Secretary of State.  Granted, this event is important; yet, it was not the occasion that intrigued me, the title of this exposé did.  It read, “Recasting Republicans as the Party of Civil Rights.”

I knew that the Republican right was working to write history, paying pundits to promote their propaganda and using taxpayer monies to do so, nonetheless this title implied more.  It seems that the Republicans are not only writing history, now they are re-writing history!

As I read further, I felt great trepidation.  Apparently, Yale University history professor David Blight does as well.  He proclaimed that, "It’s appalling to me as a historian and as an American citizen.  It necessitates ignoring and avoiding at least 80 years of the history of the Republican Party, that the Republican Party became the bastion of white solidarity, white comfort.”

When historians consider the legacy of the Grand Old Party, they note that it is quite “complex.”  The Republican Party came into being in 1854 and while it was founded on the philosophies of freedom, free people, free minds, and free expression, the focus quickly became that of free enterprise.  Shortly after the Civil War, [1861 – 1865], the Republican Party adopted policies and practices that emphasize the individual.  The Party offered opportunities, though not equally or for all.  Increasingly, businesses were befriended and the GOP showed far less concern for civil rights issues.  This was and has been the character of the Grand Old Party for nearly a century now.

These qualities are still strongly served in the Republican bequest.  As recently as three short years ago this vein was still apparent.  Senator Trent Lott (R-Mississippi) voiced a segregationist stance.  He mused that the country might have been better served under a Strom Thurmond, Presidency.  After this admission, Lott was forced to resign as the Party’s Senate leader.

Words may amend the actions of the party or its proponents; however, the affects of these do not change.  This administration is known for its use of language; they give languishing circumstances a new light.  Agendas are reframed; conservatives are compassionate.  Policy is under a kinder and gentler guise.  Nonetheless, we cannot escape what we have witnessed.

In May 2004, we read reports, one from the AFL-CIO, of how this administration was attempting to “write history” in questionable manners.  Through a General Accounting Office report, it was discovered that the Department of Health and Human Services and its Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services generated, what appeared to be news broadcasts, those that are presumed to report history in the making.  In actuality, these were advertisements praising the Medicare Reform program proposed by the Bush Administration.  The GAO stated that this practice of paying for and producing propaganda with taxpayer funds was and is illegal.

Then, almost a year later, we learn that the Department of Education is also giving rise to create as they crave.  They worked to assure a supportive following for the “No Child Left Behind” program.  They paid commercially successful conservative commentator, Armstrong Williams money to sing the praises of the Bush plan.  This endorsement cost the taxpayers a mere quarter of one million dollars.  Howard Kurtz of The Washington Post wrote of this conflict of interest in January of 2005.

Then there was Maggie Gallagher; she states that she was hired for her expertise and of course, columnists are often hired for their expertise. Again, Journalist Howard Kurtz wrote of this escapade,“Writer Backing Bush Plan Had Gotten Federal Contract.”

Next, we heard of Mike McManus.  CNN revealed that, “Another columnist paid to help promote Bush policy.”  Again, the right continues to write history, as they would want it to be.  While it is true that every event and every exchange is historical, the Republican plan seems to be, if you want to ensure that history is, as you desire, then write it yourself.
Please consder another writing, AlterNet on “The GOP Media Machine Churns On”