Making Government Work Better
David Frum, contributor to Newsweek/The Daily Beast and CNN, explains what has changed in American politics since the 1950s to now. As a card-carrying Republican, he states what he sees is wrong in the American political landscape, from self-serving false patriotism to selfishness to 30 years of growing inequity, and challenges American voters to their better angels.
I absolutely agree with everything Frum says in this video.
It’s well known to my readers that I heartily disapprove of current GOP policies, as epitomized in the Ryan Budget and Romney’s stated policy to reduce taxes on the wealthiest from 35% to 28% while increasing the defense budget to 4% of GDP.
What these numbers mean is a further tax break for the wealthy of over $250,000 to over $350,000 annually and increase in defense spending from its current level of approximately $800 billion to $1,250 billion. Or, to put it another way, he’d boost defense spending to $1.250 Trillion .
Meanwhile, revenues would decrease from the historic average of 18% to 20% of GDP to approximately 15% – or where revenues have been since the height of the financial crisis and resulting Great Recession…at a time when the Boomer generation is retiring and even more federal revenues are required.
As has been pointed out by every non-partisan, reputable tax analysis, making the changes proposed by Ryan and Romney, to balance the budget, would require gutting the entire federal government, leaving only Social Security, Defense, and interest on the debt.
Everything else the American people have come to rely upon, from food, drug, and product safety to NOAA’s weather service to every fragment of the social safety net, would disappear from the federal government…unless the government borrowed even larger amounts from foreign countries.
Imagine you’re a farmer in Nebraska who depends upon NOAA’s weather service to provide you with the latest weather data so you know the best weather related time to plant or harvest or provide extra water to your crops. Without NOAA’s weather service, you’d be right back to where your ancestors were in the 1800s, reduced to hoping and praying that you and your family are not wiped out by a freak storm.
Imagine if every time you went to the grocery store or the pharmacy, you had to wonder, hope and pray that what you purchased was safe for your family. For your children to consume.
By and large, American consumers haven’t had to worry about product safety for well over a half century. We’ve just bought, confident in the knowledge the government inspected products, by and large, insured their safe consumption.
Are you willing to return to insecurity, to not knowing what you bought was safe or contaminated as we discovered with Chinese imported lead painted toys and adulterated baby formula? Or drugs that produce horrible side effects, from devastating birth abnormalities to early deaths? Only the federal government has the financial wherewithal to manage these life threatening contingencies for a national population of 300+ million people. Are you really willing to give all that security up?
Imagine you live near a manufacturing plant where maybe you work. You’ve invested your and your family’s whole life savings into your home and your job. That manufacturing plant, however, produces tons of toxic waste that, without EPA regulations and oversight, is dumped in rivers, drinking water, breathable air and onto the land to reduce manufacturing costs. Since Nixon created the EPA, Americans have not seen burning rivers, but those scenarios could return without the EPA.
Imagine, too, that no federal agency protected you, an average worker, from some cut back in safety so the company could make more profits? Prior to TR’s and FDR’s reforms, that is exactly what happened and caused so many worker revolts at the turn of the 20th Century. For example, it was not uncommon for railroad workers to be killed or dismembered on the job. Best selling books from major early 20th Century American authors described corporate practices and the multitudes of worker deaths in detail. The stories made headlines across the nation of companies that put worker safety well below profits. Do you really want to return to the 1890s era of Robber Barons?
These are only a few examples of what the federal government does in protecting the American people. There are thousands more examples of negative effects on the nation as a whole if the Ryan-Romney budgets go into effect.
For example, if the Ryan-Romney budgets go into effect, States would be furthered burdened fiscally to support their populations and schools, causing further increases in state taxes or greatly reduced spending for normal services such as schools, health care and income support payments to the least able, product safety, infrastructure, and a host of other programs the federal government now pays for. Moreover, traditional state functions such as fire, police and schools would be dramatically hit without hugely increased state taxes. In addition the overall burden on families and small businesses would increase dramatically as states attempted to balance the needs of citizens for safety and security with tax revenues.
Frum wrote on his Daily Beast blog that the further he became involved in writing his novel, Patriots, the more angry he became, not because the federal government spends too much or does too much but because the political system, as it currently exits, slants far too much on the side of the politically connected and powerful, distorting the national conversation away from solutions that benefit all Americans towards those with a self-serving agenda. I agree with Frum.
The United States is a $15 Trillion economy. The world’s largest economy. The country, by any means, is not broke. What this nation really experiences is a distorted economy that has not existed since the late 19th century during the Gilded Age of Robber Barons. Fixing the economy…and the lives of millions of American families that have seen their opportunities decrease over the last 30 years…requires truth and real patriotism as Frum states in this video.
So, as Frum asks, what are you going to do?