The Great Republican Snow Job.

I really wish I could’ve live-blogged Obama’s un-State of the Union, but gainful employment can be restrictive sometimes. But don’t get me wrong–in this economic climate, I welcome such restrictions! Chain me up, The Man!

Listening to Obama’s last weekly address, I was struck by how non-partisan, or two-partisan he sounded. Take this statement on the impact of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, for example:

Because of what we did, 95 percent of all working families will get a tax cut — in keeping with a promise I made on the campaign. And I’m pleased to announce that this morning, the Treasury Department began directing employers to reduce the amount of taxes withheld from paychecks — meaning that by April 1st, a typical family will begin taking home at least $65 more every month. Never before in our history has a tax cut taken effect faster or gone to so many hardworking Americans.

This sounds positively Republican! Right? This is probably one of the biggest marketing successes of the GOP since Carter: “Tax cuts = Republican. Big government = Democrat.” Here’s another one, this time from his address to Congress:

Yesterday, I held a fiscal summit where I pledged to cut the deficit in half by the end of my first term in office.  My administration has also begun to go line by line through the federal budget in order to eliminate wasteful and ineffective programs.

When I hear this, I immediately think of Bill Clinton and Al Gore’s “Reinventing Government.” Reagan ran record deficits, only to be topped by Bush Senior, who was in turn blown away by W/Cheney’s deficits. Clinton’s peak surplus, on the other hand, was larger in magnitude than Reagan’s peak deficit. (I’m curious to see how this all compares with FDR’s spending during the Great Depression, if anyone can find a chart).

I’m not denying that Obama’s not going to set some spending records himself (though to be fair, he has already set a record for the biggest tax cut in US history, something Jindal failed to acknowledge). What I am saying is that the Republican’s reputation for being the small government party is undeserved–worse, it’s a snow job. To me, the primary difference between the parties is who reaps the benefits of government spending and tax cuts. Democrats still channel some dinero towards big business (maybe Obama will create a Green-Health-Industrial complex to replace the killing one that Eisenhower warned us about), but it seems to me their distribution of government resources to the public is much less top heavy.


  1. Even with the 2000 campaign, I felt like the world had been turned upside down. The party that supposedly was in favor of big government had negated the deficit. And then, the party that was not supposed to expand the government did (in the form of defense spending).

    I don’t think it’s as simple as it was (if it was ever this simple). I agree with your post. One of the things though – a lot of people disagree about what worked and what needs to be done.

    Everyone agrees there is an issue, but finding consensus is much more difficult.

  2. John

    Now that the President’s proposed budget is out, news reports are saying that if it passed, it would be one of the largest redistributions of wealth in US history, and would help to close the otherwise widening gap between the rich and the poor.

    To me, one of the scariest things about the great Republican snow job is how it convinces many of the poor to mortgage themselves and their children to benefit the wealthiest 5% of America.

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