Do you ever get the feeling that Tea Party Republicans see the phrase “Ignorance Is Bliss” as a Mission Statement?


In order to solve this crisis — in order to solve any problem — the first task is to understand it, to know for certain what caused it!

Borrow and Spend Policies of Bush, GOP Caused Employment’s Downward Slide
Click to enlarge
As we noted here last week, a new Quinnipiac poll found that voters blame George Bush over Pres. Obama for the economic crisis by 54 to 27 percent. Another 8 percent said they blamed neither president, 7 percent said they blamed both and 3 percent said they did not know or had no answer.

On a political level, what the chart above shows is the result of the Republicans’ strategy of “starving the beast” — or, as their cult leader du jour Grover Norquist put it, shrinking the government until it is small enough to drown in a bathtub.

It should not be surprising that only about half of Americans can remember who was responsible for the economic downturn, which happened way back in history, you know, three or four years ago. We are living in what Gore Vidal has called the “United States of Amnesia,” after all.

Sadly, what is surprising is that the percentage of Americans who remember Bush’s mishandling of the economy remains so high.

Since Bush left office in January 2009, two factors have been scrubbing away in tandem at the record of failure that was the Bush presidency, glossing it over and spiffing it up.

The first factor is that most Americans are too busy with real life to follow current events. Perhaps they recall that Bush came off as incompetent and buffoonish when he was in office, but what is more present in their minds is how the current downturn is affecting them and their family and friends now. The whys and wherefores of how the disaster started are fuzzy, half-forgotten.

On the other hand, Republicans and their propaganda ministry at Fox and on the radio have been busy from the moment Bush left office, taking advantage of Americans’ focus elsewhere to rewrite history.

The propagandists have convinced their viewers and listeners, the GOP’s tea bagger base, that Obama caused the Bush Recession. Day by day, minute by minute, their revision of history is spreading virally into the electorate.

Of course, propaganda tends to collapse when confronted with facts. The chart above shows who is to blame for the economic crisis in a way that cannot be rewritten by the Right Wing Noise Machine.

You’ve probably seen the original of this chart — shown above in the inset — over the past couple of years. I found what I believe to be the original source at the website, Calculated Risk, where it was apparently originally produced in 2009.

The focus of the editorial at the Calculated Risk site is financial, not political. But I have taken the liberty of altering a recent version of their chart, “Percent Job Losses in Post WWII Recessions,” to incorporate details from the political history of the crisis.

According to this earlier reference in the Calculated Risk site, the current job recession — shown in red in the chart — began in December 2007, which, obviously, was during the Bush presidency. The financial system collapsed the following September, which sent employment on a precipitous dive from which it has yet to fully recover, despite the meager recovery we’re experiencing now, which began in early 2010, a year or so after Pres. Obama took office.

Based on the data shown here, the percentage of Americans who blame Bush for the current economic crisis should be 46 percentage points higher than Quinnipiac’s 54 percent.

The question confronting us now is why is employment continuing to lag. It’s noteworthy that Republican dogma insists that the government cannot produce jobs (er, Halliburton?) — and yet they are, to a man and woman, blaming the government, which is to say, the president, for the poor employment numbers.

It’s also worth noting that, despite their claims now, Republicans did not win the House in 2010 by campaigning on reducing the debt and cutting spending. They won by promising that, if elected, they would focus like lasers on nothing but creating “Jobs, jobs, jobs.” Who can forget John Boehner rushing toward every available camera, bellowing “Where are the jobs, Mr. President?”

They were lying. In the seven months since Boehner took control of the House, his leadership team has barely mentioned jobs — no job-creating bills have been voted on, much less passed, in the House. Instead, the signature bill of the Boehner House, the bill Speaker Boehner will be remembered for, was Rep. Paul Ryan’s bill to kill Medicare.

On a political level, the chart shows the result of the Republicans’ strategy of “starving the beast” — or, as their cult leader du jour Grover Norquist put it, shrinking the government until it is small enough to drown in a bathtub.

First, Bush starved the Treasury by cutting taxes on the wealthy — a move intended to reduce revenue to the government but that inadvertently (let’s say) also stalled job growth.

Next, Bush and his GOP poodles in Congress, including Sen. Mitch McConnell and Reps. John Boehner and Eric Cantor — went on a borrowing and spending spree. They launched two wars, one of which was unnecessary, and both of which have cost an immeasurable amount in blood and trillions of dollars in treasure, all of which was borrowed from foreign governments. They also passed a Medicare benefit that costs billions, which was also paid for with borrowed money.

All in all, Bush, McConnell, Boehner, Cantor et al increased the national debt to $9.815 trillion on their watch. To accommodate all this borrowing, they raised the debt ceiling at least five times.

While all that was happening, Republicans eased or ignored regulation of the financial markets, essentially allowing pirates to right the rules for plundering — rewritten rules which, for the most part, remain in effect.

In order to solve this crisis — in order to solve any problem — the first task is to understand it, to know for certain what caused it. The fact is, Republicans caused the crisis with their ineptitude and malfeasance. The solution, then, is to undo everything they did. As a start, raise the taxes on the top 2 percent and reset the regulations of the financial industry back to the Glass-Steagall rules that controlled the market much more successfully throughout most of the 20th century.

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