The Republican Romance With Debt and Unemployment

by Michael I. Niman

ArtVoice 7/14/11


Republican Speaker of the House, John Boehner

Let’s face an ugly reality—Republicans love unemployment. Some, like GOP presidential candidate Michelle Bachmann, are even honest enough to admit it. The calculus is very simple. It’s tough for presidents to get re-elected when unemployment is high or trending upward. If your game plan is to grab power at any cost, even destroying a nation to do it, then unemployment is good. Voting against any program that realistically addresses unemployment is also good. So is laying off hundreds of thousands of government workers. This is how the Republican Congress helped slam the brakes on the so called economic recovery.

This game plan isn’t new. Study at the history of Weimar Germany during the economic depression of the early 1930s. Nazi representatives in the Reichstag (parliament) opposed measures to address hyperinflation and other economic woes, allowing the country to drift further into economic chaos, paving the way for “change.”

A skyrocketing national debt is also good for the GOP. That’s because voters hold social entitlements like Medicare and Social Security sacred. And they like their parks, highways, schools, hospitals, fire departments and other services that we created governments to provide. They’ll whine about taxes, but they’ll whine even louder when politicians threaten to cut such services. And if they can remember long enough, they’ll punish them at the polls. The new breed of Republicans, however, hate these very things, instead holding tax cuts on top of tax cuts on top of tax cuts for the rich, as sacred.

It’s politically untenable, however, to sell their agenda for what it is—raising college tuition, firing cops and teachers, letting roads and bridges rot, all to offset tax breaks for luxury yachts, second homes and billion dollar inheritances. This is where the debt comes in. You can erase the debt by rolling back a few of the many tax cuts Washington has bestowed upon the rich over the last few decades. But that would mean congress voting to raise taxes on themselves, since most members of congress, no surprise here, have beaucoup bucks. Then there’s the national media—another pack of rich bastards. So taxing the rich is off the table. We’ll continue to watch them motor by on their new floating mansions and trophy cars, even as more and more American families sink into despair.

With raising revenue by taxing the rich so far off the table that we won’t even talk about it, the only option left when it comes to debt is to cut expenditures. Of course campaign contributions by the defense, energy and financial sectors have put cutting funding for wars and corporate welfare also off the table. This leaves cutting what I’ll call, the “good stuff” and the “necessary stuff”—essentially cutting the very reason we tolerate government. The radical right, which we can now gloss simply as “Republicans,” has always had this stuff in their crosshairs. Cutting the deficit gives them the rationale to do what is otherwise untenable, and cut the good and necessary stuff.

And don’t be surprised that they are willing to hold the very health of the American economy hostage, threatening to let the country crash and default if they don’t get their way. Their policies, if enacted, will destroy the country anyway, exasperating social inequality, already at a historic high, to the point of societal collapse (And this doesn’t even take into account their environmental agenda, which appears rapture-dependent). So why wouldn’t they let the country default? Chaos is strategically beneficial to their goals.

So let’s look at this doomsday cult that now controls the US Congress. It turns out that many of the loudest deficit hawks are the very same politicians who voted for the George W. Bush era policies, tax cuts and wars that turned the budget surplus left by the fiscally conservative Clinton White House, into a historically unprecedented federal deficit. They took over the country when it was flush with cash and went wild, taking the US economy out for a drunken joyride. Start permanent wars, grow the military industrial complex, all while cutting taxes for the rich and running the treasury on a big fat credit card. These self proclaimed fiscal conservatives went into uncharted territory, driving the economy right off a cliff. Now they want us to pay their debts and do their jail time, all while giving them every Christmas gift they ever desired. This is the real definition of “entitlement mentality.” Know these bastards for what they are.

Dr. Michael I. Niman is a professor of journalism and media studies at Buffalo State College. His previous columns are at, archived at, and available globally through syndication.

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