Kornacki: Ignore Republicans and the people they say they represent

The Republican plan shaping up for the next session when they’ll be in charge in the House is to shrink government by starving Obamacare of funds and to bolster the economy by slashing spending. One of the few spending cuts so far on the table is the one proposed by Colorado Rep. Doug Lamborn. He’s touting legislation he introduced to end federal support for Public Broadcasting and National Public Radio, a proposal that will save taxpayers less money than cutting one redundant jet-fighter engine the Pentagon has said it doesn’t even want but that fiscal conservative Lamborn voted to spend tax money on anyway. He told the Colorado Independent the two programs can’t be compared. PBS and NPR can stand on their own and the engine he voted for is needed to keep the country safe.

Don’t look at the GOP leaders’ “Roadmap for America’s Future” to find anything less ideological. The Tax Policy Center has reported what many suspected even as the Roadmap was released; that it only will do any good for millionaires. It would cut taxes by 50 percent for the richest 1 percent of Americans and raise taxes for 95 percent of the population.

To find a real roadmap, one that balances the budget and ends in sustained prosperity, our new Republican Congress might look to the past. Not to the Bush or Reagan deficit-spending years, but to the Clinton years, to the 1993 budget that Republicans led by Newt Gingrich railed against at the time as a job killer that would expand the deficit. They said the budget was a product of arrogance that the American people didn’t support.

In making this point, Steve Kornacki at Salon has rounded up C-Span video of the debate that surrounded Clinton’s budget. Republicans were as unabashed then as they are now in their unsupported posing as economic authorities and in their over-the-top fear mongering.


Clinton’s 1993 budget, which included an income tax hike for roughly the most wealthy 1.2 percent of Americans, a four-cent hike in the gas tax, and an extension of the earned income tax credit, cleared Congress — just like healthcare reform this year and pretty much like the stimulus last year — without a single Republican vote…

Those of us old enough to remember and inured over the years to right-wing political narratives about the economy know that the 1993 budget turned out nothing like the way the GOP cassandras claimed it would turn out.


After ’93, budget deficits shrank every year, and by the end of Clinton’s second term, the country was actually running surpluses. Unemployment continued to fall after the package was enacted, there never was a second recession, and the higher upper-income rates did nothing to inhibit the sustained economic expansion that marked the rest of the decade.


I don’t know if history will vindicate, say, healthcare reform the way it vindicated Clinton’s economic program. But it’s worth keeping in mind that the last time we saw the kind of “arrogance” that Obama and the Democrats have shown these past two years, we ended up with the longest period of sustained growth in the post-war era and a balanced budget.

As new House Speaker John Boehner and other GOP leaders seem to be acknowledging at least in public, 2010 voters didn’t vote for the Republicans; they voted against the Democrats. Only the fringiest fringe on the right and the millionaire talking heads on FOX News hold defunding NPR as a priority. What Americans want is for the government to come up with a policy that creates jobs.

On one hand, we have the GOP Roadmap, an untested theoretical plan that looks very bad to non-partisan economists who have studied it. On the other hand, we have a record from the recent past of the kind of policy that works to fuel the U.S. economy.

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About the Author

John Tomasic

Writer, editor, teacher, web wrangler. He has worked for art, business, culture, politics publications, five universities and a UN war crimes commission. @johntomasic
jtomasic@coloradoindependent.com | 720-432-2128 |

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