Republicans worship the legacy of Ronald Reagan. His name is mentioned frequently as the ideal conservative (sometimes by Democrats). Anti-tax advocate, Grover Norquist, has successfully promoted the Reagan legacy as something worthy of numerous big-city streets being named after the former president; and he has pushed for coins and Mount Rushmore engravings on top of this. Nevermind the recessions, illegal negotiating for arms with Iran (using this money to fund contra rebels in Nicaragua), illegal intervention in soverign Central American states, using “social issues” to polarize and divide the country, and his severe mishandling of the economy.
Reagan pledged during his 1980 campaign for president to balance the federal budget, but never submitted a balanced budget in his eight years in office. In 1981, the deficit was $79 billion and, in 1986, at the peak of his deficit spending, it stood at $221 billion. The federal debt was $994 billion when he took office in 1981 and grew to $2.9 trillion when his second term ended in 1989. [source] Reagan also added more trade barriers than any other president since Hoover in 1930. US imports that were subject to some form of trade restraint increased from 12% in 1980 to 23% in 1988. [Source] (source: http://reagan.procon.org)
The truth is that Reagan was not what conservatives imagine he was. He was an actor, a puppet, and a tool for powerful interests.
“This is the Ronald Reagan administrant we are talking about. These are the law and order people. These are the people who are against street crime. They want to put the street criminals in jail to make life safer for the business criminals. They’re against street crime, providing that street isn’t Wall Street.”
Again, you can be a great leader, but when the opposition refuses to even consider your plan, and lies to the public about the existence of a plan, it cannot be said that the problem is “both sides,” or a fail of leadership on the President’s part.
“Last night the Republican Senate very irresponsibly refused to pass an increase in the debt ceiling which is necessary if we ‘re going to borrow and keep the government running…I sounded off and told them I’d veto every damn thing they sent down unless they gave us a clean debt ceiling bill. That ended the meeting.” —Ronald Reagan (Nov. 1st, 1983; The Reagan Diaries, p. 192)
Ronald Reagan, the patron saint of the Republican Party, once said of the debt ceiling: “The United States has a special responsibility to itself and the world to meet its obligations. It means we have a well-earned reputation for reliability and credibility – two things that set us apart from much of the world.” (source)
In 1987, he said, “The choice is for the United States to default on its debts for the first time … or to accept a bill that has been cluttered up. This is just another example of Congress trying to force my hand.” His treasury secretary said, “To play around with the debt limit this way means really that you’re playing with dynamite…There is a gun at [the president’s] head, if you will.” (source)
This government-cripling tactic accelerated under the Gingrich-led House in the 1990s, and became far more radical starting in 2010 when Tea Party Republicans took the House back from Democrats. The debt ceiling is now being used as a tool to hold the economy hostage in exchange for minority rule of the government. This approach has created a Federal Government in unprecedented gridlock. But this approach to the debt ceiling is a recent trend, and should not be used as a way to rule from a minority position. In fact, the debt ceiling is a highly misunderstood procedure. If understood correctly, the American people would never tolerate their Republican representatives in the House to use it in this way.
Sean Wilentz’s article in Rolling Stone gives a useful history of the debt ceiling:
The Republicans either believe, or would have you believe, that the debt ceiling limits the size of the national debt and thus limits government spending. Raising it, Rep. Walter Jones of North Carolina has remarked, is just another way of saying, “Well, you’ve got a little bit more credit – keep spending.” The words “debt ceiling” or “debt limit” can certainly sound as if that’s what’s involved. But these assertions are false.
The debt ceiling dates back to America’s entry into World War I. Contrary to a widespread misimpression, it came into existence not as a constraint on congressional spending, but in order to make government fiscal procedures less cumbersome amid the pressures of mobilizing for war. It had – and has – nothing to do with authorizing spending; Congress does that as part of the normal legislative process. Nor does the ceiling have anything to do with annual deficit levels, which explains why even today, with the deficit shrinking, Congress still needs to raise the debt ceiling. Rather, the ceiling is an artificial cap, determined by Congress, on the amount that the government can borrow to cover obligations already made.
Through the era of World War II, the limit looked to some like it might actually act as a useful check on government borrowing. But over the decades that followed, as the size of the nation’s economy – and with it the national debt – grew exponentially, the debt limit became a vestige of a bygone era. By 1974, it was truly obsolete; that year Congress passed a new law compelling it to approve a budget and thus set borrowing levels annually.
The implication by the Republicans that raising the ceiling will enable the government to spend the nation into bankruptcy all the faster is utterly phony, a pseudo-crisis rooted in no real problem, a fraud manufactured and then stage-managed by the GOP to frighten the public and score political points. Indeed, it is the Republican radicals, and not the Democrats, who are threatening to throw the government into immediate bankruptcy unless they get their way over other issues, above all defunding (which means, basically, repealing) Obamacare.
You don’t have to be Paul Krugman to understand all of this. Since the 1950s, economists have called the debt ceiling an experiment that failed long ago. Addressing Congress in 2003 as the chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, the Ayn Rand acolyte Alan Greenspan disparaged the debt ceiling as “either redundant or inconsistent with the paths of revenues and outlays you specify when you legislate a budget.” Eight years later, as the House Republicans threatened, Greenspan called the debt-limit problem “unnecessary” and said flat-out that the debt ceiling “serves no useful purpose.”
For decades, though, Congress went along with raising the debt limit as a mere formality. Every year from 1941 to 1945, Congress raised the debt ceiling to accommodate the accumulating costs of World War II. Since 1960, Congress has raised the ceiling 78 times, including 18 times under Ronald Reagan, six times under Bill Clinton, seven times under George W. Bush and seven times under Barack Obama. Occasionally members of both parties have voted against raising the ceiling as a symbolic gesture to focus attention on various issues. Indeed, in 2006, Sen. Barack Obama joined every other Democrat in the Senate in voting against raising the debt ceiling, a bit of political posturing that was part of the normal cut-and-thrust on Capitol Hill.
If the debt limit is not raised when necessary, the federal government will immediately default on some of its obligations. That, in turn, would disrupt its ability to pay its creditors, from bondholders and defense contractors to recipients of Social Security and Medicare. A default that lasted for just a single day – and perhaps even the threat of such a default – would have dire effects, causing every credit agency to downgrade the nation’s credit rating while presenting to the rest of the world a bizarre spectacle: the richest and most powerful nation on Earth willfully damaging both its economy and its international credibility. A default that lasted more than a few days would risk triggering a catastrophic financial crisis. Until now, no member of Congress, from either party, has seriously entertained wreaking such havoc. (Source: http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/republican-extremism-and-the-lessons-of-history-20131010page=2#ixzz2kvf0h61I)
Americans need to put pressure on their elected representatives to stop using the debt ceiling as a way to cripple government. Instead, public servants should propose ideas that appeal to the interests of the American people, and in turn, they will win elections.
I often hear the argument that the current gridlock in Washington is a result of “both sides.” Political discussions with my Republican friends usually start out with their position that, “my side is right the other side is wrong.” All too often their arguments are word-for-word talking point straight from Fox News, like “Obama has failed to lead.” When I point out that their side (the Republicans) have engaged in unprecedented obstruction and political gamesmanship, they usually end up throwing up their hands and saying, “Well both side are a joke, and they are both guilty.” That answer is a cop-out.
I agree that both sides have some responsibility for our current problems. However, the more I learn about the details and history of how the two parties work together, the more I am convinced of the following conclusions:
Republicans have become much more extreme since the 1970s, while Democrats have stayed about the same. In fact, this is the most extreme Republican Party in history—and the conservative media industrial-complex has helped shift much of the Republican base in the same direction.
The primary goal of Republicans in congress is to block anything Obama supports, even when it is their own idea or legislation that will help the American people.
Republican tactics are undemocratic: They are attempting to make it harder for people to vote (voter ID laws, fewer voting locations, etc.); they are redrawing election districts in their favor (as a result, they kept control of congress in spite of receiving fewer votes nationwide); they have used the filibuster at record levels (i.e., as a minority party, they have blocked much of the legislation of the democratically elected majority party); and they push policies that will benefit the wealthy at the expense of everyone else.
I will provide evidence and additional detail in support of these conclusion below.
Democrats have not been innocent in the political battles of recent years. Obama has said that he could have reach out more effectively to congressional Republicans during his first two years in office. And Democrats have been almost as bad as Republicans in their close work with lobbyist and acceptance of corporate donations. They have also attempted redistricting (i.e., gerrymandering) in their favor, although not nearly to the level of Republicans.
However, what congressional Republicans have been doing is completely unprecedented. Political scientists Thomas E. Mann and Norman J. Ornstein described today’s Republican Party:
The GOP has become an insurgent outlier in American politics. It is ideologically extreme; scornful of compromise; unmoved by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition.
Today, thanks to the GOP, compromise has gone out the window in Washington. In the first two years of the Obama administration, nearly every presidential initiative met with vehement, rancorous and unanimous Republican opposition in the House and the Senate, followed by efforts to delegitimize the results and repeal the policies. The filibuster, once relegated to a handful of major national issues in a given Congress, became a routine weapon of obstruction, applied even to widely supported bills or presidential nominations. And Republicans in the Senate have abused the confirmation process to block any and every nominee to posts such as the head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, solely to keep laws that were legitimately enacted from being implemented.
In the third and now fourth years of the Obama presidency, divided government has produced something closer to complete gridlock than we have ever seen in our time in Washington, with partisan divides even leading last year to America’s first credit downgrade (source).
From the very beginning of the Obama administration, as discussed in a Republican strategy meeting on the night of Obama’s 2009 inauguration, Republicans planned to “Show united and unyielding opposition to the president’s economic policies.” (source; see also: Do Not Ask What Good We Do: Inside the U.S. House of Representatives, by Robert Draper). In an October 2010 interview with National Journal, Republican senate minority leader Mitch McConnell said: “The single most important thing we want to achieve is for Obama to be one-term president.” (Though McConnell later backtracked and said, “I don’t want the president to fail, I want him to change.”)
The decision not to work with Obama was made before he took office, and was meant to make him a one-term president, even if this meant harming the American economy (e.g., unprecedented use of the debt ceiling leading to the U.S. Credit downgrade, blocking bills that would help the economy and create jobs, etc.). It is not surprising that one year after the Republicans took control of congress in 2010, they received the lowest approval ratings in polling history, at just 9%.
The bottom line is that the Republicans are hurting their own party, and even more so they are hurting the country that they claim to love. The problem in Washington is not “both sides.” The problem is an extreme Republican Party that is hellbent on keeping and gaining additional power at any cost. I encourage my Republican friends to be a voice of reason within the Republican Party, rather than being pulled to the fringe where the GOP is currently residing.
President Barack Obama marked the start of his second term with an inaugural speech at the U.S. Capitol. To read/watch the entire speech click here. Here are some the best lines from the speech:
We recall that what binds this nation together is not the colors of our skin or the tenets of our faith or the origins of our names. What makes us exceptional – what makes us American – is our allegiance to an idea, articulated in a declaration made more than two centuries ago:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”
Today we continue a never-ending journey, to bridge the meaning of those words with the realities of our time. For history tells us that while these truths may be self-evident, they have never been self-executing; that while freedom is a gift from God, it must be secured by His people here on Earth. The patriots of 1776 did not fight to replace the tyranny of a king with the privileges of a few or the rule of a mob. They gave to us a Republic, a government of, and by, and for the people, entrusting each generation to keep safe our founding creed.
Together, we determined that a modern economy requires railroads and highways to speed travel and commerce; schools and colleges to train our workers.
Together, we discovered that a free market only thrives when there are rules to ensure competition and fair play.
Together, we resolved that a great nation must care for the vulnerable, and protect its people from life’s worst hazards and misfortune.
For we, the people, understand that our country cannot succeed when a shrinking few do very well and a growing many barely make it. We believe that America’s prosperity must rest upon the broad shoulders of a rising middle class.
…But while the means will change, our purpose endures: a nation that rewards the effort and determination of every single American. That is what this moment requires. That is what will give real meaning to our creed.
We, the people, still believe that every citizen deserves a basic measure of security and dignity…we reject the belief that America must choose between caring for the generation that built this country and investing in the generation that will build its future. For we remember the lessons of our past, when twilight years were spent in poverty, and parents of a child with a disability had nowhere to turn. We do not believe that in this country, freedom is reserved for the lucky, or happiness for the few. We recognize that no matter how responsibly we live our lives, any one of us, at any time, may face a job loss, or a sudden illness, or a home swept away in a terrible storm. The commitments we make to each other – through Medicare, and Medicaid, and Social Security – these things do not sap our initiative; they strengthen us. They do not make us a nation of takers; they free us to take the risks that make this country great.
We, the people, still believe that our obligations as Americans are not just to ourselves, but to all posterity. We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations. Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires, and crippling drought, and more powerful storms.
We, the people, still believe that enduring security and lasting peace do not require perpetual war…we are also heirs to those who won the peace and not just the war, who turned sworn enemies into the surest of friends, and we must carry those lessons into this time as well.
…We will show the courage to try and resolve our differences with other nations peacefully – not because we are naïve about the dangers we face, but because engagement can more durably lift suspicion and fear.
…And we must be a source of hope to the poor, the sick, the marginalized, the victims of prejudice – not out of mere charity, but because peace in our time requires the constant advance of those principles that our common creed describes: tolerance and opportunity; human dignity and justice.
For our journey is not complete until our wives, our mothers, and daughters can earn a living equal to their efforts.
Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law – for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well.
Our journey is not complete until no citizen is forced to wait for hours to exercise the right to vote.
Our journey is not complete until we find a better way to welcome the striving, hopeful immigrants who still see America as a land of opportunity; until bright young students and engineers are enlisted in our workforce rather than expelled from our country.
Our journey is not complete until all our children, from the streets of Detroit to the hills of Appalachia to the quiet lanes of Newtown, know that they are cared for, and cherished, and always safe from harm.
That is our generation’s task – to make these words, these rights, these values – of Life, and Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness – real for every American. Being true to our founding documents does not require us to agree on every contour of life; it does not mean we will all define liberty in exactly the same way, or follow the same precise path to happiness. Progress does not compel us to settle centuries-long debates about the role of government for all time – but it does require us to act in our time.
I really enjoyed the movie version of Les Miserables, the musical. It was a masterful interpretation of Victor Hugo’s literary classic, with superb acting. The message of this film, at its core, is one of forgiveness, charity, and democracy. In a word, it can be called liberal.
This makes me wonder why so many conservatives celebrate this musical. Yes, there is a spiritual theme that many on the religious right may find appealing. Yet I can’t understand how they miss the overwhelming liberal message in this story.
The title can be translated from the French as The Miserable, The Wretched, The Poor Ones, The Wretched Poor, or The Victims. The story illustrates the horrors of poverty and unbridled laissez faire capitalism, including child servitude and horendous work conditions (hostile workplace, sexual harassment, etc.). It also captures the evils of an undemocratic, heavy-handed state, including cruel treatment of prisoners and a murderous response to popular protest. Remember, it is liberals and progressives who struggled to do aways with these practices; and it is conservatives who want to return to an unregulated market with little or no safety net.
There is also a revolutionary theme in the story. “Do you hear the people sing/singing the song of angry men/it is the music of a people who will not be slaves again.” The revolution is about restoring power to the people. It is liberals who promote political equality; and it is conservatives who over-represent the interests of big business and the wealthy.
Jean Vajean is a man who was reformed, not from his 19 years of prison time, but through the compassion of a Bishop. The Bishop gave Valjean a valuable collection of silver, and Valjean was able to escape from poverty and crime to become a business owner and government official. Valjean did not deserve this handout (“entitlement”) from the Bishop, and the Bishop had no reason to expect that the silver would be put to good use. But this unexpected act of charity gave Valjean an opportunity to become an honest, self-reliant man.
It is liberals who believe in equal opportunity for all; who believe rehabilitation is more effective than jail time; who believe we need a safety net to prevent extreme poverty and suffering. It is conservatives who want to dismantle the safety net so they can lower taxes on their rich donors; they want a heavy-handed state with a military that is bigger than all others combined; they want to strengthen the prison industrial complex, and they want to criminalize drugs, illegal immigration, but then go soft on white collar crime.
In my last post, I wrote about the contradiction between the conservatives’ reverence for Christmas on the one hand and the fact that their beliefs closely resemble Christmas villains like Scrooge and Mr. Potter on the other hand. I think there is a similar dissonance in how they watch Les Miserables. They are likely to see a religious theme; that God blesses people for their righteousness. Yet, the story does not fit that interpretation. The story does not fit into that world view about God punishing the wicked and rewarding the righteous. Instead, it captures real life. And it seem to be urging viewers to be more charitable to others, especially the undeserving—through private acts of charity, forgiveness, donating to good causes, and yes, supporting government-run “entitlement” programs and regulations that prevent our society from returning to the horrific conditions of the industrial revolution that is captured in Hugo’s work. That is a powerful Christian/liberal message, one that many conservatives talk about at church, but vote against in every election.
For years I have enjoyed watching classic Christmas films during the holiday season. Among my favorite holiday films are “Scrooge” (the musical) and “It’s a Wonderful Life.” One day it hit me that these two classics were condemning greedy, conservative businessmen as villains. I find it more than ironic that modern conservatives claim Christmas as their own, and believe that there is a “war on Christmas” (however ubiquitous it might be!), yet the villains of so many Christmas films are greedy businessmen whose harshest lines sound strikingly like today’s Republican Party. Conservatives need to learn from these films. They both have powerful themes about self-awareness, making a difference by giving to others, and valuing people.
(I want to be clear that my comparison is not to say that business people are bad, that wealth is bad, or even that conservatives are bad; it is greed and anti-social behavior that are bad for society.)
In Scrooge, you have pre-conversion Ebenezer Scrooge, who cares about nothing but his own money. He has come to hate people, and would rather see the poor dead than help them. In “It’s a Wonderful Life, you have Mr. Potter, the greedy banker who cares only about accumulating more wealth, even at the expense of ordinary people. I think these two characters both personify modern conservatism. (Yes, I was tempted to add the Grinch.)
Why are Christmas villains so often conservative businessmen? I suppose nothing could be a better contrast to the message that Christ preached than someone who thinks only of their own needs. For a person who not only fails to consider the needs of others, but whose greed causes them to harm others for their own benefit, this is the ultimate antagonist to the message of giving that we celebrate at Christmas. These villains illustrate a powerful contrast to New Testament messages to loving your neighbor, give to the poor, the love of money is the root of all evil, don’t judge others, etc.
For roughly 70 years, there was a consensus about the role of government in the United States. From the Gilded Age to the Progressive Era and the Great Depression, our values about government intervention were recalibrated to embrace a balanced approach to the free market and the welfare state. While we embraced the power of markets, it was also widely recognized that there are winners and losers in the free market system, and we wanted a system that cared for those unable to care for themselves and minimized suffering. With the implementation of the New Deal and the Great Society programs, government was able to prevent millions of seniors, children, veterans, and the disabled and mentally ill from slipping into poverty.
But over the past 30 years, conservatives have united around several ideas that have destroyed the previous consensus about the role of government. First, conservatives have pushed the idea that welfare is evil, that it creates dependency, and requires hardworking people to pay into a system that redistributes their property to less deserving people. Second, they have made business their sole constituency. Virtually every policy they promote is in the service of the business community, which is sometimes counter to the interests of ordinary people (e.g., deregulation in finance, environmental protection, etc.). Third, they are anti-democratic. They obstruct legislation even when there is a clear majority vote; they realign election boundaries to their own benefit; and they change election rules to make it harder for people to vote—especially people that may not be voting for their party. As Republicans and their media outlet (Fox News) have used fear and anger to lead their followers into supportting their message, they have been allowed to dismantle important aspects of the 70-year consensus about the social safety net and the broader role of government. This has led to a number of negative outcomes that affect all of us, including massive inequality (to the level of some of the worst in the 3rd World), a Great Recession, crippling political polarization, and big business abuses of people and the environment.
Today’s conservatives need to spend some time this season thinking about the villains of Christmas. They need to look inward at how they have been led to believe things that are uncaring and insensitive, and have supported representatives who are steering our Nation in a direction that harms the most vulnerable in our society. Here are my favorite examples of Christmas villains.
From the film Scrooge: Trying to collect Christmas donations
2nd Portly Gentleman: What may we put you down for, sir?
Scrooge: Nothing, sir.
1st Portly Gentleman: Ah, you wish to remain anonymous.
Scrooge: I wish to be left alone, sir! That is what I wish! I don’t make myself merry at Christmas and I cannot afford to make idle people merry. I have been forced to support the establishments I have mentioned [i.e., prisons and workhouses] through taxation and God knows they cost more than they’re worth. Those who are badly off must go there.
2nd Portly Gentleman: Many would rather die than go there.
Scrooge: If they’d rather die, then they had better do it and decrease the surplus population. Good night, gentlemen.
[walks away, then turns back]
Here’s the version from the book:
Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol
“At this festive season of the year, Mr. Scrooge,” said the gentleman, taking up a pen, “it is more than usually desirable that we should make some slight provision for the poor and destitute, who suffer greatly at the present time. Many thousands are in want of common necessaries; hundreds of thousands are in want of common comforts, sir.”
“Are there no prisons?” asked Scrooge.
“Plenty of prisons,” said the gentleman, laying down the pen again.
“And the Union workhouses?” demanded Scrooge. “Are they still in operation?”
“They are. Still,” returned the gentleman, “I wish I could say they were not.”
“The Treadmill and the Poor Law are in full vigour, then?” said Scrooge.
“Both very busy, sir.”
“Oh! I was afraid, from what you said at first, that something had occurred to stop them in their useful course,” said Scrooge. “I’m very glad to hear it.”
“Under the impression that they scarcely furnish Christian cheer of mind or body to the multitude,” returned the gentleman, “a few of us are endeavouring to raise a fund to buy the Poor some meat and drink, and means of warmth. We choose this time, because it is a time, of all others, when Want is keenly felt, and Abundance rejoices. What shall I put you down for?”
“Nothing!” replied Scrooge.
“You wish to be anonymous?”
“I wish to be left alone,” said Scrooge. “Since you ask me what I wish, gentlemen, that is my answer. I don’t make merry myself at Christmas, and I can’t afford to make idle people merry. I help to support the establishments I have mentioned: they cost enough: and those who are badly off must go there.”
“Many can’t go there; and many would rather die.”
“If they would rather die,” said Scrooge, “they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population. … It’s enough for a man to understand his own business, and not to interfere with other people’s. Mine occupies me constantly. Good afternoon, gentlemen!”
Mr. Potter from “It’s a Wonderful Life”
Mr. Potter: Have you put any real pressure on these people of yours to pay those mortgages?
Mr. Bailey: Times are bad, Mr. Potter. A lot of these people are out of work.
Mr. Potter: Then foreclose!
Mr. Bailey: I can’t do that. These families have children.
Mr. Potter: They’re not my children.
Mr. Bailey: But they’re somebody’s children, Mr. Potter
Mr. Potter: Are you running a business or a charity ward?
OBAMA BELIEFS ABOUT THE FREE MARKET VS. GOVERNMENT
“We honor the strivers, the dreamers, the risk-takers, the entrepreneurs who have always been the driving force behind our free enterprise system.” (Convention speech)
“From our first days as a nation, we have put our faith in free markets and free enterprise as the engine of America’s wealth and prosperity. More than citizens of any other country, we are rugged individualists, a self-reliant people with a healthy skepticism of too much government.”
But he continues:
“But there has always been another thread running throughout our history – a belief that we are all connected; and that there are some things we can only do together, as a nation. We believe, in the words of our first Republican president, Abraham Lincoln, that through government, we should do together what we cannot do as well for ourselves. And so we’ve built a strong military to keep us secure, and public schools and universities to educate our citizens. We’ve laid down railroads and highways to facilitate travel and commerce. We’ve supported the work of scientists and researchers whose discoveries have saved lives, unleashed repeated technological revolutions, and led to countless new jobs and entire industries. Each of us has benefitted from these investments, and we are a more prosperous country as a result.”
“For much of the last century, our nation found a way to afford these investments and priorities with the taxes paid by its citizens. As a country that values fairness, wealthier individuals have traditionally born a greater share of this burden than the middle class or those less fortunate. This is not because we begrudge those who’ve done well – we rightly celebrate their success. Rather, it is a basic reflection of our belief that those who have benefitted most from our way of life can afford to give a bit more back. Moreover, this belief has not hindered the success of those at the top of the income scale, who continue to do better and better with each passing year.”
“But that starts by being honest about what’s causing our deficit. You see, most Americans tend to dislike government spending in the abstract, but they like the stuff it buys. Most of us, regardless of party affiliation, believe that we should have a strong military and a strong defense. Most Americans believe we should invest in education and medical research. Most Americans think we should protect commitments like Social Security and Medicare. And without even looking at a poll, my finely honed political skills tell me that almost no one believes they should be paying higher taxes.”
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