Saturday, October 19, 2013

Helping a Tea Bag "Do His Part"

The Party of Personal Responsibility

The GOP's "platform" for the 2012 election addressed the frenzy to repeal ObamaCare with the following policy statement:

We believe that taking care of one’s health is an individual responsibility. Chronic diseases, many of them related to lifestyle, drive healthcare costs, accounting for more than 75 percent of the nation’s medical spending. To reduce demand, and thereby lower costs, we must foster personal responsibility while increasing preventive services to promote healthy lifestyles. We believe that all Americans should have improved access to affordable, coordinated, quality healthcare, including individuals struggling with mental illness.

Totally, feverishly responsible
Both during the Romney Presidential campaign and after, conservative "mouth junk" pundits have harped endlessly on the very suspiciously defined, Republican maxim of "personal responsibility."  The use of the talking point certainly focuses directly on the GOP's psychotic hatred of the Affordable Care Act, but its application spreads far and wide beyond that topic.

When MeanMesa talks to a "favorite tea bagger," the term "personal responsibility" is "thrown into the soup" with the same frequency that fly spots appear on day old potato salad.

The Mathematics of Responsibility

The parameters:

Number of votes cast in 2012 election:  126,000,000  [126 Mn]
Percentage of US voting Republican:  roughly 48%
Number of Republican voters:  roughly 60,000,000 [60 Mn]
Estimated cost of shut down & default "debate:"  $24,000,000,000  [$24 Bn]

We can begin our series of alternate calculations with the part of the $24 Bn which was incurred by each of the 310,000,000 American citizens:

$24 Bn  deficit increases
-------------------------------------------------- = roughly $770 per citizen
310 Mn population of US citizens

However, many US citizens. notably those not old enough to vote and others, never cast a ballot in the process of electing these Congressmen.  So, it makes sense to alter the "310 Mn" figure from all Americans to the number of Americans who had anything to do with electing this Congress.

$24 Bn deficit increase
----------------------------------------------- = roughly $1,900 per voter
126 Mn Americans voting 2012

Yet, we must also consider that not all the voters in the 2012 election voted for the Congressmen who increased the deficit s recklessly.  Using the percentages of respective "Party votes" cast in the 2012 Presidential race, we can estimate the number of votes cast by Republican voters at around 48% of the 126 Mn total votes cast, or, roughly 60 Mn.  The "responsibility" equation now looks like this:

$24 Bn deficit increase
------------------------------------ = roughly $4,000 per Republican voter
60 Mn GOP voters 2012

Back to the Water Fountain

Because this quick analysis is presented here to provide a few "talking points" of our own for the inevitable parroting of right wing propaganda a MeanMesa visitor might encounter in one of those famous "water fountain" debates, a few "also useful" additions to such a debate should be included here.  So, by the numbers, be sure to bear in mind these "extra credit" points.

1. The owners of the Republican Party, after wrecking the global economy during the Bush W. autocracy, found US Treasury bonds to be the last remaining, safest place for their billions.  As holders of the Treasury Bonds, when economic uncertainty lowers the United States' credit rating and, hence, increases interest rates, those Treasury Bonds pay a higher interest to bond holders.

2.  The $24 Bn "hit" the shut down and default threat created is manifest mainly as the cost of increased interest payments on Treasury Bonds.  That $24 Bn didn't simply "vaporize" into some incomprehensible national economy "money pit."  It went almost directly into the pockets of the billionaires who ordered their tea bag minions in the Congress to make the problems in the first place.

3.  The $24 Bn represents only the direct cost of the catastrophe.  Current estimates of the complete economic impact run around $150 Bn.

Moreover, this latest budget impasse came after years of similar episodes, and the economic ramifications have accumulated over time, analysts say. A new report from Macroeconomic Advisers, prepared for the Peter G. Peterson Foundation, estimates the costs of the fiscal uncertainty of the last few years. Its model suggests that uncertainty since late 2009 has increased certain corporate borrowing costs by 0.38 percentage point; lowered economic growth over that period by 0.3 percent a year, costing at least $150 billion in lost output; and left this year’s unemployment rate higher by 0.6 percentage point. That translates to 900,000 jobs lost. 

4.  Congressional creatures such as John Boehner, the creepy tea bag GOP leadership and McConnell in the Senate could not say enough about the high unemployment Obama inherited.  Now, after a relentless right wing propaganda campaign, Americans think that the economic problem is the debt.

But Bill Clinton's record proves otherwise.  The way we handle the debt is to enlarge the economy, raise taxes and get rid of the the main engines which wrecked us last time -- the Bush W. tax cuts, the non-negotiable Part D costs in Medicare and the incredible subsidies the most prosperous US industries -- such as big oil companies --  continue to suck out of the Federal general fund.

Further, Obama has already sliced the annual federal deficit in half.  The House Republicans can claim that they have helped do this, but the help they have "provided" has sucker punched the frail economic recovery -- they have also added to the deficit and the unemployment rate while ignoring the infrastructure and other responsibilities.  MeanMesa will grant -- perhaps over generously -- 5% of the credit for deficit reduction to the Republicans; the remainder is the result of work done by the Administration.

Just try to remember that the person you are talking to "at the water fountain" lives in FOX World.  The actual facts about where the country is and what can be done are all over, but these may as well be secrets to anyone in the hypnotic Obama-phobic thrall of the media.

The debt -- which is their favorite topic -- is a Republican debt.  Don't forget it.

Beginning with Reagan, every Republican President has mushroomed the national debt with money borrowed from anyone available, while every Democratic President has cut the deficit, raised taxes, lowered the debt and watched employment figures improve.

If the "personal responsibility" talking point comes up in that conversation, jot down the numbers and tell your friend that he owes the Treasury a free, non-tax gift of $4,000 -- his part of the damage just done.

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