IT’S ALL ONLY MAKE BELIEVE

People see us everywhere
They think you really care
But myself I can’t deceive
I know it’s only make believe

So go the opening lines of Conway Twitty’s great hit, writ with seminal angst, with the heartbreaking realization that the expression that the singer’s fervent desire for

My hopes, my dreams come true

is all only make believe.

Republicans of all stripes often sell themselves as identifying with the country music genre in which this memorable tune was spawned. But their own version of the lyrics, if truth be known, appropriate for singing at campaign rallies, town hall meetings, electoral debates and on The Congressional Record would be look like this

People see us everywhere

They think we really care

We do them all deceive

We know it’s only make believe

What the Republicans would have us believe:

Cap and Trade is an evil plot by Democrats to destroy industry and raise utility costs for our suffering American citizens. Maverick John McCain called Obama’s plan a “government slush fund” among other things.

What is reality:

John McCain authored or introduced similar legislation in the Senate in  2003 and 2005 and 2007.

http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1109/29747.html

And a summary of Cap and Trade likens it to the Clean Air Act of 1990, enacted under President George H.W. Bush, a Republican last I heard.

http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/2008/01/capandtrade101.html

What the Republicans would have us believe:

Obamacare is an (O)bomination and that its individual mandate to purchase health insurance is, if not unconstitutional, still blatantly wrong. Human Events, a conservative web site, covered Mitch McConnell’s declaration of filing a court brief opposing the Affordable Care Act:

None is more troubling to Constitutionalists than the individual mandate, in which Congress moves beyond regulating economic activity, and begins “mandating its citizens engage in economic activity – that they purchase a particular product,” as McConnell puts it.

http://www.humanevents.com/article.php?id=39878

What is reality:

This summary of the Republican sponsored health care reform introduced in 1993 shows their plan included just such a mandate. See Subtitle F http://www.kaiserhealthnews.org/Stories/2010/February/23/GOP-1993-health-reform-bill.aspx

Mark Pauly, a conservative health economist has been given credit for devising this plan.

Back in the late 1980s — when Democrats were pushing not just a requirement for employers to provide insurance, but also the possibility of a government-sponsored single-payer system — “a group of economists and health policy people, market-oriented, sat down and said, ‘Let’s see if we can come up with a health reform proposal that would preserve a role for markets but would also achieve universal coverage.’ ”

The idea of the individual mandate was about the only logical way to get there, Pauly says. That’s because even with the most generous subsidies or enticements, “there would always be some Evel Knievels of health insurance, who would decline coverage even if the subsidies were very generous, and even if they could afford it, quote unquote, so if you really wanted to close the gap, that’s the step you’d have to take.”

http://www.wbur.org/npr/123670612/republicans-spurn-once-favored-health-mandate

Four of that bill’s Senate Republican co-sponsors were still in office last year and, of course, opposed essentially the identical proposal in Obama’s plan. They were Orrin Hatch, Christopher Bond, Charles Grassley and Robert Bennett.

What Republicans would have us believe:

Tax hikes stifle job creation and cutting taxes stimulates the economy and job growth. This story from The Washington Times, reports on some Republican rhetoric during some meetings Congessional leaders had a couple of months ago.

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2011/mar/16/republicans-say-regulations-taxes-stifle-new-jobs/

John Boehner was quoted in that story as saying about job creation “Obviously, more regulations, higher taxes creates more uncertainty”.

What the reality is:

Well in the words of the musical lament from Porgy and Bess—“It Ain’t Necessarily So”.

The Clinton tax hikes of 1993 were roundly panned. Among other provisions, the top marginal tax rate for the top 1.2% in incomes was raised to 39.5% and the top corporate tax rate to 35%.

Here are some of the economic benfits for the nation claimed by the Clinton presidency:

  • Average economic growth of 4.0% per year, compared to average growth of 2.8% during the previous years. The economy grew for 116 consecutive months, the most in history.[57]
  • Creation of more than 22.5 million jobs—the most jobs ever created under a single administration, and more than were created in the previous 12 years. Of the total new jobs, 20.7 million, or 92%, were in the private sector.[58]
  • Economic gains spurred an increase in family incomes for all Americans. Since 1993, real median family income increased by $6,338, from $42,612 in 1993 to $48,950 in 1999 (in 1999 dollars).[59]
  • Overall unemployment dropped to the lowest level in more than 30 years, down from 6.9% in 1993 to just 4.0% in January 2001. The unemployment rate was below 5% for 40 consecutive months. Unemployment for African Americans fell from 14.2% in 1992 to 7.3% in 2000, the lowest rate on record. Unemployment for Hispanics fell from 11.8% in October 1992 to 5.0% in 2000, also the lowest rate on record.[58]
  • Inflation dropped to its lowest rate since the Kennedy Administration, averaging 2.5%, and fell from 4.7% during the previous administration.[60]
  • The homeownership rate reached 67.7% near the end of the Clinton administration, the highest rate on record. In contrast, the homeownership rate fell from 65.6% in the first quarter of 1981 to 63.7% in the first quarter of 1993.[61]
  • The poverty rate also declined from 15.1% in 1993 to 11.8% in 1999, the largest six-year drop in poverty in nearly 30 years. This left 7 million fewer people in poverty than there were in 1993.[62]
  • The surplus in fiscal year 2000 was $237 billion—the third consecutive surplus and the largest surplus ever.[61]
  • Clinton worked with the Republican-led Congress to enact welfare reform. As a result, welfare rolls dropped dramatically and were the lowest since 1969. Between January 1993 and September 1999, the number of welfare recipients dropped by 7.5 million (a 53% decline) to 6.6 million. In comparison, between 1981–1992, the number of welfare recipients increased by 2.5 million (a 22% increase) to 13.6 million people.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Presidency_of_Bill_Clinton

I refuse to insult your intelligence by asserting all these positives resulted directly from Clinton’s policies and legislative enactments. I will, however, cite these simple facts. Clinton raised taxes with some later modifications. George W. Bush sponsored two rounds of tax cuts in 2001 and 2003.

Here’s a piece from a Wall Street Journal blog providing data on job creation under each President since Harry Truman. Clinton has by far the best record and Bush the worst. http://blogs.wsj.com/economics/2009/01/09/bush-on-jobs-the-worst-track-record-on-record/

Now one can argue that other factors are present that affect those numbers, and that is true. But still, based on Republican rhetoric, without knowing those facts it would be easy to assume, as the Republicans want the gullible public to assume, that the opposite would be true.

An opinion piece by Jacob Weisberg on Slate.com terms this lack of reality by Republicans “Fantasy Island” http://www.slate.com/id/2295128/

Weisberg’s observation is of the asymmetry in our politics:

 One party, the Democrats, suffers from the usual range of institutional blind spots, historical foibles, and constituency-driven evasions. The other, the Republicans, has moved to a mental Shangri-La, where unwanted problems (climate change, the need to pay the costs of running the government) can be wished away, prejudice trumps fact (Obama might just be Kenyan-born or a Muslim), expertise is evidence of error, and reality itself comes to be regarded as some kind of elitist plot.

Weisberg continues on to recount the Republicans false sense that the budget can be balanced without raising taxes and their perjorations about climate change. But even the mundane fails to escape the Republicans’ recitations of their versions of Grimms’ Fairy Tales.

Over a period of months, the paranoid and foolish bought in, driving up the price. Republican candidates tried to find sly ways to signal skepticism about the President’s American-ness and Christianity without sounding like complete imbeciles. Then Donald Trump, for whom that’s not a problem, started buying in bulk. This infuriated the outflanked Sarah Palin, who used to have this wackadoodle territory to herself. Then President Obama released his long-form birth certificate, the bubble burst, and Trump was publicly ruined at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner. With birther sentiment deflated, Palin has moved on to a new, no less idiotic slander, that William Ayers*, the former Weather Underground leader, might have written Obama’s memoirs.

He further notes that announced and potential GOP 2012 Presidential candidates, no matter the logic and reasoned thought processes they heretofore demonstrated, are falling all over themselves in efforts to distance themselves from their earlier stances so as to morph into versions of themselves they deem more acceptable to what passes for mainstream Republicanism at this time.

Look what hits the otherwise reprehensible Newt Gingrich took when he actually spoke on on the reality of Paul Ryan’s plan to dismantle Medicare as we know it for future generations.

Good luck finding similar flirtations with truth from Newt’s rivals. The quickly chastened Georgian has already let it be known that even a direct quote of his remarks on Meet The Press are an outrageous distortion of his views.

Another fantasy expressed.

What I suggest for those listening to the spoken litany of the major Republican talking points is to imagine a miniature karaoke machine in their minds so they can join in a sing-along chorus of  “It’s all only make believe”.

Those consuming those same talking points in some version of the written word would find much less imaginary reading in any works by Dr. Seuss.

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