Freedom Forum

Official portrait of United States Senator Mik...

Official portrait of United States Senator Mike Lee. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Senator Mike Lee appeared yesterday at a GOP sponsored Freedom Forum at the local college. With less than 12 hours notice, I decided not to attend. My comments that follow are based on an account published today in The Spectrum, our local Saint George newspaper.

Attendees cheered as Lee spoke about the national debt. Lee said, “If we start now, we can make some relatively modest cuts to a lot of programs to make them sustainable. It will hurt a lot of people who depend on (these programs), and the poor suffer the most when we do that. We can get to a point where we get the balance and we don’t have a $1 trillion annual interest payment, but these things have to be done more gradually.”

Apparently, Lee did not explain that under the Ryan plan, annual deficits will be cut gradually while at the same time the composition of the budget is shifted dramatically to favor military expenditures over safety net programs. Under GOP leadership the elderly and the poor suffer most during recessions and the Great Recession is no different. Instead of increasing our military budget, we should be making dramatic cuts there so that we can maintain or increase our safety net programs. Depending on the source, the US has between 700 and 1,000 foreign military installations, and we are moving into the African continent, an unstable area that will lead to more wars. We can no longer afford to be the world’s policeman nor should we.

Debt and deficits

The red "GOP" logo used by the party...

The red “GOP” logo used by the party for its website (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What do debt, as in national debt, and deficits have in common, besides both beginning with the letters “DE?” I think that many Americans are confused about the difference and the media and the GOP are doing nothing to clarify the difference. If the Federal government spends more than it takes in in revenue, the difference is a deficit and that adds to the national debt, which we owe mostly to ourselves. The only way to reduce the national debt is to take in more revenue than we spend as a nation, run a surplus in other words.

The best way to reduce deficits and thereby reduce the national debt is to stimulate the economy to produce more jobs and thereby more tax revenue. Austerity does not work, just ask the European nations who have tried it since the crash of 2007, England, Ireland, Portugal, Spain, Italy and Greece. The nations of the Common Market, European Union, that embraced austerity as a solution did so at the urging of German bankers who wanted their loans repaid in full. Now Germany is finding that austerity by its customers reduces its ability to sell German products and that hurts Germany itself.

Here in the US, the GOP are selling austerity because some of the most conservative among them believe that it is morally the correct solution. In other words, don’t help the less fortunate among us because their misfortune is their own fault. They chose to be born to poor parents or they decided to be poor in New Orleans or they decided to live along the New Jersey shore and should have been better prepared for a hurricane. They are the true believers.

Those members of the GOP who are not true believers, but are more politically motivated, are selling austerity as a solution to the nation’s problems because it will only hurt the 99%, not themselves or the 1%. They believe that another 2 or 4 years of economic pain will cause American voters to turn to the GOP for relief. In other words, they expect voters to reward them for all the grief that they have caused or will continue to cause if we let them. And the corporate media are shirking their responsibility under the Constitution to inform the electorate. Shame on them.

$16 trillion debt

Republican tactics lead to deminished wages fo...

Republican tactics lead to diminished wages for American middle class – American income gap grows (Photo credit: EN2008)



The national debt is $16 trillion and the GOP are harping on that fact. Barack added $5 trillion to that amount they claim. And who entered office with a negligible national debt from Bill Clinton and added most of those dollars to it? Why it was the president whose name no Republican is willing to mention, G. W. Bush.