My Republican friends are all trending toward Conspiracy Theories to explain what happened and what is happening to the US economy. The party of wealth creation and free markets presided over the greatest wealth destruction in a century, and there must be some explanation. It couldn’t happen without some invisible hand. Whose could it be?
The military industrial complex? Mostly Republican. The bankers. Republican. Insurers and financial engineers. Republican. Detroit auto executives? The brainiacs who wanted to hobble government by throttling regulatory capacity. Republican. It is a bad time to be a Republican. Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not giving the Democrats a free pass. Far from it.
But to watch the Republican leaders in Congress walk en masse to the evening news microphones and solemnly say what America needs is tax cuts, and to hear their talk show bloviators hope that President Obama fails– all this, in his first week– well, it is a performance in spitting sand.
Among wealthy Republicans, who needs a tax cut when stock market losses will dramatically lower their April taxes and in years to come? The rest of America doesn’t need a tax cut: America needs jobs, confidence and security. And, for thinking Republicans, cutting taxes at a time of severe recession makes no more sense than cutting taxes in a time of war. Which happened, of course, thanks to incurious George W. Bush.
To my Republican friends: don’t turn your back on President Obama and his administration’s efforts; necessary responses to emergencies your policies triggered. Yes I know Robert Rubin and President Clinton did Wall Street’s work in the 1990’s. The wheels came off the wagon when you were driving it: you just look worse for denial. If you are going to be the minority party, the party of opposition, then stand for something constructive by supporting new industries, independent science, efficient government, and, above all, transparency and accountability in the disposition of a trillion dollars or more of future obligations to taxpayers. Don’t whine about the nationalization of industries when the seeds of market failure were planted on your watch. Abjure the fraud and corruption that took over Wall Street. Reject the K Street Project and its monoculture of greed. And if you really want to do something productive: meaningful campaign finance reform.
I wonder how many private jets hiding in hangers belong to Republicans. There are no escape routes for 99 percent of Americans from the peril we are in. Think about it: if the Democrats fail– as you apparently hope they will– the GOP could inherit an even greater mess than the one we are in. Cutting taxes is going to be the last thing on anyone’s mind should that happen. So. Mess up your hair styles in front of the cameras. Loosen your ties. And look contrite for a change. To err is human, to forgive is divine.
ALAN FARAGO, who writes on the environment and politics from Coral Gables, Florida, and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org