There is a strong and pervasive myth that Republicans will lower taxes on the working class, and cut government spending. Let’s examine the true history.
Ronald Reagan ran on a platform that included lowering your taxes. However the way that taxes were “lowered” ended up costing the middle class more money. In the end, most Americans were paying more in federal taxes in 1988 than they were in 1980. The wealthy were definitely paying a lot less.
Reagan could never be called a “Tax and Spend” liberal. Reagan was a “Don’t Tax the Rich but Spend Anyway” conservative. Reagan increased spending so much that by the end of his Presidency he had tripled the national debt.
George H W Bush was a different breed from Ronald Reagan. The first President Bush actually believed that the national debt was a problem. Even though he had promised no new taxes the top marginal rate was raised from 28% to 31% largely because he was concerned about the debt. In my view, this was a fiscally responsible act, but Republicans slammed him for it.
Somewhere in the Reagan-Bush era I began to realize that Republicans were carrying water for the super wealthy and the big corporations. This realization has been borne out for me by all of their actions ever since. Sometimes they put a mask over it, but it is still there. The Republicans’ raison d’etre is to carry water for the super wealthy and the big corporations.
The Clinton era brought a change to our fiscal woes. Clinton raised taxes on the wealthy. The top marginal rate was raised from 31% to 39.6%. This did not sit well with the vast majority of the super wealthy, and the Republicans were more than willing to be their voice. Republicans said this would cause a recession or a depression. People would lose jobs and all sorts of bad things would come about with a tax increase on the top rate.
But, under Clinton, the top rate was raised without one Republican vote. The recession never happened nor any of the other dire consequences predicted by Republicans. President, Clinton reduced federal spending. He also made a reduction in the debt. The deficit was eliminated and replaced with a surplus.
Things were looking good in 2001 when George W Bush took office, but Bush took the mantle of “Don’t Tax the Rich but Spend Anyway” to a whole new level. Bush decided that the surpluses were a problem and decided to get rid of them in short order. He reduced taxes predominantly on the wealthy. He conducted two wars which were not budgeted for. He proposed Medicare Part D, but neglected to pay for it.
By the end of his Presidency, Bush #2 made sure that the super rich had tax reductions and the American people had 3.7 trillion dollars added to their debt.
Then, what a mess was inherited by President Obama. We were in two wars which demanded a lot of spending. We had Medicare Part D which demanded spending. People lost jobs and sought unemployment benefits, more spending. We had a deep Recession which drastically reduced revenues which came into the government. We also needed a stimulus to pull us out of the Recession. (By the way, the stimulus worked we are a much stronger economy now than the countries that chose austerity) We should not be surprised then that in Obama’s first year in office the deficit peaked at 1.4 trillion
Obama found himself in a big hole. He stopped digging and began to fill it in. Every year since 2009, Obama reduced the deficit. The deficit fell from 1,413 billion in 2009 to 483 billion in 2014. Yes, Republicans, I know you will say that Obama added more to the debt than anyone. If you make this argument then you fail to see that when you inherit massive deficits and you are working tremendously hard to reduce them, you still add to the debt.
In fact, since 1974, the only years that the national debt has gone down have been in the administrations of Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton.
What this teaches us is that in recent times the Democratic Party has been more fiscally responsible than the Republican Party.
In 2016, we need to look for a President and Congress who are willing to make our tax structure more fair and progressive. Is it fair that a policeman pays a higher percentage of his income in taxes than a person who earns his money from investments, like Warren Buffet and Mitt Romney. The Republicans don’t want to make the tax structure more progressive, because they are carrying water for the super wealthy and the corporations.
We need to look for a President who is willing to cut government spending. The Presidents who cut spending have been the Democrats. The Republicans talk about it but they don’t do it.
So when you go to vote, remember which party is carrying water for the super wealthy and the corporations, and which party is carrying water for you.