Vote

I’ve been thinking about my retirement account. From the time George Bush entered the White my account has been flat – even though my employer and I add to it every pay period.

When Obama entered the White House I decided I should put my resources into equities. Since at least the Great Depression in the 1930s, every time a Democrat entered the White House the market went up and stayed up. But every time a Republican entered the White House, the market tanked. So I figured I was ready for the good times.

Then after the first few months and a shrunken stimulus package, I watched the Republicans dig in and block every effort Obama made to try to dig us out of this recession. That left me concerned. I called one of the officers of my pension fund and had them switch my allocation toward fixed income securities and even, for the first time in my life, a money market fund because even though those things aren’t expected to go up much, they aren’t supposed to lose either. Yet the polls are telling us that Americans are about to reward the Republicans for obstructionist behavior designed to prevent Obama from being able to get this economy moving. That’s patriotism for you.

The fact is that the Democrats have a basic understanding of what makes economies move. But all the Republicans offer is a basic understanding of how to reward their friends.

They argue that tax cuts will allow investment. But their “method” is indirect: give the money to their rich friends and those people, they hope, will invest it for us. That’s indirect. And it leaks. Money in the hands of their friends goes to things that don’t move the American economy. Some of it goes abroad, some goes to financial speculation. How much would go to investments in America is anybody’s guess. Their friends haven’t been seeing much reason to invest in America. But the Republicans don’t care – their friends will do fine investing in China.

But God forbid that Democrats want to make sure the money is spent in the good old U.S.A., on roads, bridges, or other infrastructure, that would be terrible. It would actually work. Republicans are terrified. That’s big government. It might even be effective government, and that would be even worse. It might help to get us out of the recession and get the economy moving again. We can’t have that. Better that the U.S. should rust and decay. After all, as long as their friends invest in China, they’ll do fine. It’s just that America won’t. Who cares?

If the Republicans take over Congress and force the government to cut spending back, that will deepen the recession. But that would be OK because they’ll lay the blame on Obama.

If a Republican Congress gets its tax cuts for the wealthiest, instead of domestic investment, and the funds leak out into investment in other countries and into unproductive speculation, there will be no boon to Americans who lost jobs due to the economic turndown. But that’s OK because their friends will be OK.

If a Republican Congress cuts both spending and taxes, the economy will stagnate, tax collections will shrink, the deficit will grow, and the government of the people, by the people, and for the people will become ineffective and useless.

Some accomplishment. I think you should vote.

— This commentary was broadcast on WAMC Northeast Report, November 2, 2010.

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