The most important part of [President Obama's] speech in Kansas was probably his attack on the “collective amnesia” that allows some people to continue advocating the Bush administration’s tax cuts for the rich, despite their clear history of failure as a spur to job creation. Obama said:
“Remember in those years, in 2001 and 2003, Congress passed two of the most expensive tax cuts for the wealthy in history. And what did it get us? The slowest job growth in half a century. Massive deficits that have made it much harder to pay for the investments that built this country and provided the basic security that helped millions of Americans reach and stay in the middle class — things like education and infrastructure, science and technology, Medicare and Social Security.”
The president pointed out the folly of pursuing the same kinds of failed “you’re on your own” economic policies that got us into the worst recession in 75 years. Weak regulation helped cause the Great Recession. Why would anyone expect the same policies to get us out?
“Remember that in those same years, thanks to some of the same folks who are now running Congress, we had weak regulation, we had little oversight, and what did it get us? Insurance companies that jacked up people’s premiums with impunity and denied care to patients who were sick, mortgage lenders that tricked families into buying homes they couldn’t afford, a financial sector where irresponsibility and lack of basic oversight nearly destroyed our entire economy.
We simply cannot return to this brand of ‘you’re on your own’ economics if we’re serious about rebuilding the middle class in this country.”
Unsurprisingly, the right wing media, led by Fox News, wants to take us right back to the kind of Bushonomics that crashed the economy in 2007. Progressive taxation doesn’t sit well with Fox’s high-income anchors, let alone its billionaire owner, Rupert Murdoch. As our friends at Media Matters document nicely, Fox immediately launched a broadside against the president and the notion of tax fairness, misquoting him when it was convenient, and accusing him of class warfare and socialism.
One might almost lament that Obama lacks opposition in the primaries; debates featuring Republicans drive sane thought off of the news pages. None of the Republican candidates appears to subscribe to the free enterprise economics of Milton Friedman and/or Paul Samuelson, for example. The radical right wing, experimental economics bandied about in the debates stands perpendicular to free market economics as practiced successfully in the U.S. and other places over the past 40 years — but with every Republican candidate so far out on the radical economic scale, it might appear to a non-careful reader that they speak Mainstream.
Wholly apart from the disastrous economics of “off-budget” warfare given to us by Republicans, the policies of Republicans gave us an economic disaster in 2008. As a nation we have not moved far enough to correct those errors, and now Republicans block the action of the consumer protection agency designed to prevent another housing bubble to burst America’s economic dreams.
Polls show Americans don’t think Obama deserves a second term. I find it hard to believe that a majority of voters will choose to go back to the disaster that Obama hasn’t been able to fix, however. Americans are not quite that stupid, I hope.