Friday, January 7, 2011

The End of New Deal Liberalism

The post-war reconstruction era was the most corrupt and disgusting era in America's entire political history. We were effectively an established plutocracy run by corporations, and it wasn't until the 20th century when a certain man named Theodore Roosevelt came along, that we finally started knocking heads. Corporations became regulated. It became illegal for products to kill their consumers. All seemed well. When the economy imploded after World War I, liberals saw it as further proof that more regulation was needed. And so the greatest president of the 20th century enacted a New Deal. The idea was that if money was pumped into just the right key sectors of the economy, then it will cause a chain reaction and get everything moving again. And it worked. It got the United States out of the Great Depression.

Keynesian economics lost steam over the next few decades, but with the recession at the end of Carter's administration, Americans became disillusioned, and were willing to grasp onto anything. Enter Reagan. Dubbed 'Reaganomics,' his embarrassingly juvenile economic theory claimed that if the richest Americans were taxed less, then all the wealth would "trickle down" to the poor and middleclass. Redistribute the wealth to the rich, and the magical capitalism gods will make sure everyone gets what they deserve! This is the economic theory that the United States has predominantly been using for the past thirty years. What do we have to show for it? For one thing, the world has lost 40% of its entire accumulation of wealth thanks to the economic depression that America sparked. And for another, the top 1% richest Americans own nearly half the currency of the wealthiest nation on the planet, and 47.8 million Americans are living in poverty. For some reason, we have to relearn that the economic policies that caused the Great Depression cause depressions and unacceptable economic disparity.

Except we're not relearning it. The policies of the New Deal that were put into place to prevent another Great Depression from happening have been almost entirely dismantled, and corporate propaganda has convinced the majority of Americans that this is somehow good.

The new Speaker of the House John Boehner is the embodiment of everything that has led us to this point. As Matt Taibbi explains in his great new piece:

Look back over almost every controversial episode in the recent history of the U.S. Congress and you will find Boehner's face appearing, Zelig-like, somewhere in the foreground. He was a key figure in the historic waste of time that was his and Newt Gingrich's witch-hunting effort to get Bill Clinton impeached for lying about a blow job. He crossed the aisle to co-author the No Child Left Behind Act, a grotesque and grotesquely expensive expansion of federal power that helped jack up the federal education budget by an astounding 80 percent in the first five years of Bush's presidency, then voted for the obscene Medicare Part D, a staggering $550 billion handout to the pharmaceutical industry — two portentous initiatives that helped turn the Republicans into the new party of big government.

Then, in the middle of the Bush years, the man who got into office thanks to Buz Lukens' child-groping was enmeshed in his own sex scandal involving minors. When the news broke in September 2006 that Rep. Mark Foley, a Republican from Florida, had been sending sexually suggestive e-mails to a 16-year-old male page, it turned out that Boehner had been sitting on the information for months. Nancy Pelosi called for an immediate investigation into the Foley scandal, but Boehner blocked the resolution. Boehner later claimed that he had told then-Speaker Dennis Hastert about the Foley incident as soon as he found out — and promptly retracted his own alibi. The ensuing scandal nearly toppled Hastert, but Boehner survived mostly unscathed.


But beyond all of that, Boehner just represents a certain type of hollowly driven, two-faced personality unique to the Beltway. It's not so much that he's likely at any moment to start pounding his fist in favor of something that only yesterday he was denouncing as a threat to the American way of life (when benchmarks in Iraq were a Democratic idea, Boehner said they would ensure failure; when George Bush came out for them, he said they were "very important"). Nor is it so much that he's prone to descending into hysterical hyperbole when the well-being of his campaign donors is threatened in even the vaguest way (he called the watered-down Dodd-Frank financial regulation bill "killing an ant with a nuclear weapon," with the ant in question being a financial crisis that wiped out over 40 percent of the world's wealth). It's more that . . . well, you have to spend a lot of time in Washington to know the type, but he's the kind of guy who would step over his mother to score a political point.

Taibbi goes on to explain, in excruciating detail, just how much corporate interests control him. He's a lazy fuck who was dropped into his position almost entirely due to a hapless series of accidents. This man is third in line to be President of the United States. He's leading the charge back to the regressive Bush-Era clusterfuck that used "Reagan" as a brand name to promote the corporate interests they answer to. If any of these people are ever caught in an actual debate about policies, they never stand a chance. That's why they avoid policies altogether.

What does Senator Mitch McConnell say is the chief goal of the Republican party? Fixing the economy? Making sure the poor have food they can eat? Of course not. It's to make Obama a "one-term president." That's what's important. Asked to name a specific program that could be cut to save spending, John Boehner, the leader of the party that's "fiscally responsible," was unable to name a single fucking thing. I'm usually the first to dismiss 1984 comparisons as pure bullshit, but when corporate media is used to control opinions, digital information is regulated, unwarranted wiretapping is perfectly legal, and we fight never-ending wars for decades at a time, shouldn't we be a little more vigilant than we normally would? If you still think these manipulative bags of shit have us in their best interests, then you are responsible for transforming America into everything our revolution was fought against.

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