The Anti-Obama Agenda
Washington, D.C. When the remaining Republican candidates for the Presidency--Newt Gingrich, Mtt Romney, Rick Santorum, and Ron Paul--focus on their main policy goals, they usually promise to create millions of jobs and lower the taxes for America’s biggest corporations and richest citizens. Most economists, however, wonder what justifies their belief that lower taxes on the wealthiest Americans will prompt businesses to hire more employees unless they really need them.
The President’s critics, except Ron Paul, want to spend more on the armed forces even though they also oppose deficit spending and are at a loss to say which foreign threat requires increased force levels at a time when the national economy can least afford them. The Republican presidential hopefuls are quick to criticize President Obama for bailing out America’s mismanaged big banks, but do not consider how much their potential bankruptcy would have deepened the economy’s recession. The same candidates also want to shrink the federal government and drastically reduce the regulations of business but rarely provide details about the extent and effect of such measures.
Almost all Obama critics want to repeal the Affordable Care Act and privatize both Social Security and Medicare regardless of how much that would hurt millions of Americans below the poverty line and millions of senior citizens. Gingrich even wants to eliminate child labor laws. He also proposes to curtail America’s traditional separation of church and state in favor of more visibility for “Christian principles” in the public square. The Presidential candidates eager to please the socially conservative voters also have to toe their line on such controversial issues as gay and lesbian rights, reproductive freedom, and creationism.
Since some of Obama’s policies tried to improve living conditions for poorer Americans and those hit hardest by the recession that began under the previous administration, conservatives have accused him of making the U.S. a “socialist class warfare state.” Billionaire Warren Buffet, however, saw it differently: “There’s class warfare, all right,” he said, “but it’s my class, that’s making war, and we’re winning.”
One has to wonder whether the Republican candidates for President have a realistic view of public opinion. The Pew Research Center recently found that, in view of the federal government’s record indebtedness, most Americans favor increased taxes on the rich. They want spending cuts to include the reduction of U.S. military involvement oversees. They also expect adequate levels of Social Security and Medicare to continue. They opt for the protection of the environment, the development of alternatives to carbon fuels, and an end to illegal immigration. A Pew poll last November surprisingly showed that voter support for the Tea Party had dropped from 27 to 20 percent.
The large corporations keep asking for lower taxes, more subsidies, and fewer regulations on the financial industry. To that end, they have been underwriting a large expansion of right-wing lobbies. Ironically, when Warren Buffet heard of demands for the deregulation of financial derivatives, he characterized them as “economic weapons of mass destruction.” Powerful outside interest groups lobbying for lower taxes include the Americans for Tax Reform, the Club for Growth, and former congressman Dick Armey’s Freedom Works.If the Republican leaders want to make Obama a one-term president, as repeatedly demanded by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, they can hardly afford to drop the necessary and traditional controls that safeguard American capitalism. James Crotty, an economist at the University of Massachusetts, described this problem in historical perspective: “From 1923 to 1929, 70 percent of the growth in income went to the richest 1 percent and only 15 percent went to the bottom 90 percent of the income distribution. … The ensuing financial collapse was accompanied by a severe depression.”