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The Problem With Tax and Spend Politicians

What is the new frame for Republican Senate candidates?

In Arizona, John McCain claims that once Clinton is elected only he and the Rs can stop her from reckless spending. This is the general Big Lie used by Republicans over the years and this should be the election when it evaporates into its plainly empty vapor.

In the harsh light of the actual budget day, Republicans are the champions of a war profiteering budget that routinely outspends everybody everywhere. They fund massive weapons programs to bomb across the Middle East and North Africa while potholes pock our roads and bridges collapse into rivers and teachers use their own money to buy pencils in poor schools in the United States of America.

This is not to say that Democrats are much better. They have shown little spine when it comes to resisting hawkish collusion between lucrative war contractors and our elected representatives.

Indeed, Obama has been in eight years and has failed to stop Republican-demanded military spending which is by some measures just as outrageous as the spendthrift Bush-Cheney warmaking disaster. The single biggest difference is that the President no longer came to Congress every few months for another massive “supplement” of hundreds of billions.

The pattern: Republicans shrilly denounce Democrats for being weak on defense. They claim their military adventures will be inexpensive. Democrats cave and vote along with the Republicans. The costs skyrocket. Many even higher costs are hidden in other budgets. Debt and deficits climb; domestic spending declines.

The bottom line is that Republican frugality is just a line. It is demonstrably false by voting records over the decades, certainly including the Republican Senate incumbents who will parrot McCain’s lie about serving as a check on a Clinton big spending president. The big spenders, year after year, have been the Republican elected officials who propose and vote for massive Pentagon budgets that shovel profits to their corporate friends. If voters were going to really seek some prudential fiscal hawks they would probably be forced to look to the Bernie Sanders, Barbara Lee, Russ Feingold, Jeff Merkley or Earl Blumenauer types. But that would require paying attention to actual voting, real budgets, not just rhetoric.

If we want more war, more unemployment, a new recession, and bursting bubbles that drive financial instability, vote for those Republican incumbents, many of whom gave us the radically wrong invasion of Iraq and the daily hemorrhage of Pentagon contracts that produce record deficits and starve domestic budgets.

The choice is ours, state to state, across our nation.

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Tom H. Hastings is core faculty in the Conflict Resolution Department at Portland State University and founding director of PeaceVoice

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