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The Republican Stimulus Alternative

Who Says the GOP Doesn’t Have a Plan?

by DAVID MICHAEL GREEN

I’m kinda pissed off at the lousy treatment America is giving to Republicans these days.

First of all, in a general sense, it just seems ungrateful and ungracious.  I mean, Republicans worked hard this last decade to make America what it is today.  We wouldn’t have the foreign relations we do, or the war situations, or the environmental condition, or the fiscal situation or any of that stuff if the GOP hadn’t been on the job all these years.

And we wouldn’t have this economy, either.  Can’t Americans show a little respect and gratitude where it is due?

The particular thing that sticks in my craw of late is the reckless allegation that Republicans are just the Party of No, and that they have no plans of their own to help revive the American economy.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Or, at least, that’s what Rush told me.  And I believe it.

In fact, the truth is that the GOP has a very sophisticated, very elaborate, 11-point plan for rescuing the country from the economic abyss.  And, while the liberal media may be working overtime to make sure you never hear about it, I’m glad to set you straight.

Here goes:

1.  TALK A LOT ABOUT FISCAL RESPONSIBILITY.  We all know that marketing perceptions are more important than actual realities, and nowhere more so than in this domain.  Forget about what anyone actually does.  Just remember that the Democrats are always “tax-and-spend liberals”, and the GOP is the “party of fiscal responsibility”.  Say it over and over.  Pretty soon you’ll believe it, and others will too.

2.  DEIFY RONALD REAGAN, IN ALL WAYS, ALL THE TIME.  Never miss a chance to remind people of the wonderful powers and accomplishments of Reagan, from ending the Cold War to curing polio and walking on water.  If anyone thinks those are some dubious claims, or mentions the one or two boo-boos of the Reagan years, give them that special Moonie stare of the true believer and walk away to where your consciousness remains safely protected from challenging thoughts.

3.  PRACTICE VOODOO ECONOMICS.  If you run for president, do what Reagan did.  Promise that you’ll slash taxes, spend way more on the military, and balance the budget, all at the same time.  If you get elected, do what Reagan did again.  Triple the national debt.  Because your campaign promises are physically impossible.

4.  PRACTICE VOODOO ECONOMICS AGAIN.  (S)elect George W. Bush as president, and repeat Reagan’s amazing accomplishment, this time on steroids.  Take the largest surplus in American history and turn it into the largest deficit.  Take the federal government’s debt, accrued over more than two centuries, and double it from $5 trillion to $11 trillion in just eight years.  Spend the money on vital necessities like massive tax cuts for the already fantastically wealthy, and incredibly expensive wars against non-enemies.

5.  TALK EVEN MORE ABOUT FISCAL RESPONSIBILITY.  Wait until a Democratic president comes to office, inheriting the worst American economy since 1932.  All of a sudden, relocate your outrage – previously gone on walkabout – at the horrors of deficit spending.  Only days after the Bush administration has ended, start talking incessantly about fiscal responsibility, just as if the last eight years had never happened.

6.  HAVE ABSOLUTELY NO PLAN FOR ECONOMIC RECOVERY.  Whatsoever.  Pledge to do precisely what Hoover did in 1932:  Absolutely nothing!  Let people crash and burn when they lose their jobs and healthcare and homes.  Take away the few shreds of a social safety net they have.  Don’t even spend stimulus funds for unemployment insurance in your state.  Avoid the perils of moral hazard by letting (ordinary) people starve.

7.  MAKE A LOT OF NOISE ABOUT EARMARKS.  Who cares if they’re less than one percent of the budget??  They have lots of marketing value and can help disable the Democratic government while diverting attention from all the great fiscal and economic achievements of the past eight years.

8.  REINVENT HISTORY.  Franklin Roosevelt didn’t solve the problem of the Great Depression, but his New Deal program of massive government spending did in fact achieve two key things.  First, it nearly halved unemployment, cutting it from 25 percent to 15 percent.  And, second, it literally kept millions of Americans alive who would have otherwise perished when no other safety net remained.  All of this is a serious problem in 2009, given the desire of the public for the government to resolve the current problem.  Solution?  Lie like hell.  Tell people that the New Deal had no impact and was a complete waste of money.

9.  REINVENT ECONOMICS.  Talk about the stimulus package as though it were an ordinary spending bill, loaded with pork barrel waste.  Never make the connection between spending, purely for its stimulative effect, and economic recovery.  Argue that it was World War II that ended the Depression, not the New Deal, remaining completely oblivious to the fact that both are nothing short of massive government spending, exactly what the Democrats are doing with their stimulus legislation today.

10.  BLOCK ACTION TO REVIVE THE ECONOMY.  Even though you haven’t got one of your own, carp incessantly about everything that is wrong – real or imagined – with the Democrats’ recovery plans.  Even though the public has repudiated you in two successive elections and you are the minority in both the House and the Senate, use every tool possible to block action of any sort by the government elected by the people to solve the crisis.

11.  COMMIT POLITICAL SUICIDE.  Yep, that’s the ticket.  Create an incredible crisis.  Deny everything.  Reinvent history.  Block all solutions except those that would repeat the same disasters of the past.  Ask the people to vote for you.

See what I mean?

Who says the Republicans don’t have a plan?

DAVID MICHAEL GREEN is a professor of political science at Hofstra University in New York.  He is delighted to receive readers’ reactions to his articles (dmg@regressiveantidote.net), but regrets that time constraints do not always allow him to respond.  More of his work can be found at his website, www.regressiveantidote.net