The chickens started coming home to roost this week for our "conservative" friends on the right. Fueled by tea party extremists over the past few years, the Republican Party has drifted towards permanent minority status. This past weeks' actions appear to have put yet another nail into the party's coffin. After a thorough drubbing in the polls for shutting down the federal government, Speaker John
Boehner is frantically waving the white flag of surrender and desperately looking for a way out of the mess his members created.
The problem for the right these days is they simply have no credibility on their signature issues. I put the word conservative in quotes because this group we see in Washington and in local politics is really anything but. Rather than conservatism, it's more like vandalism -- designed to tear apart our country. Modern day conservatives love talk about small government, lower taxes, less debt. But let's just take a look at their track record. Under Presidents Bush I and II and Reagan, the size of government exploded. While Reagan slashed taxes mostly for big businesses and the rich, he raised them for working families, increasing gasoline taxes, social security taxes, payroll taxes, estate taxes. In fact, he raised taxes 11 times, including a tax to pay for (gasp!) government-run health care - Medicare. Those who worship at the altar of President Reagan would probably spend weeks today filibustering many of the things he did.
Of course we all remember when Bush I declared "Read my lips: no new taxes." And then promptly raised taxes after getting elected. And imagine the shock to the nation when, after slashing taxes for the rich, and increasing government spending, deficits exploded under our Republican presidents. In fact, government spending increased 6.8 percent under Reagan, 5.4 percent under Bush I and 7.7 percent under Bush II. Compare that to 3.5 percent under Clinton and 1.4 percent under Obama. After over a decade of Reagan and Bush I, deficits exploded - only to be reigned in by Clinton.
And no other president so perfectly illustrates modern day vandalism as Bush II, who managed to get us into two wars while slashing taxes again for the top one percent - driving the world into the Great Recession.
Productivity and profits have skyrocketed in this country since Reagan, but virtually all the new wealth has, by design, gone to the top 1 percent. This has been class warfare at its most lethal: the rich 1 percent versus all the rest of us. And we are getting killed. And the people are waking up to this. Finally.
So these "conservatives" now really have no credibility when it comes to fiscal responsibility, or much of anything. And it showed this week, when the American public turned on them in droves.
On the local level, here in Anchorage we are seeing the white flag poking out from the trenches by some of our "conservative" Assembly members. Under the guise of "fiscal responsibility" our Assembly and the mayor gutted the democratic process along with the collective bargaining rights of city workers. The people always have the final say in these matters though, and last April the people rose up and gave pink slips to several Assembly candidates who supported this. Now, Mayor Sullivan and his cronies on the Assembly are hoping to avoid a similar fate next April for Adam Trombley and others, and are desperately trying to monkey around with the democratic process and move the election - at the fiscally irresponsible price tag of hundreds of thousands of dollars - to a time when the locals hopefully won't be paying attention. But it seems the people are onto them, and now Assembly members are scurrying away from the ordinance they passed and hoping they can just overturn it and people will forget what they did.
So, if you wondered what the mayor does when he isn't scheming for a neighborhood tennis court, here's your answer. He's trying to take away wages from families who are a backbone in our community.
I'm sensing a change going on out there though.
Mass competitive consumption isn't sustainable. The need for clean water out of a tap, food security and basic needs are becoming harder for many families to attain. How long will they be willing to go without so the top percent can have more than they will use in their lifetimes. This isn't to say people shouldn't be able to start from nothing and make it big in this country -- they should be. The trouble is it is harder to break out of poverty now than it ever has been. The American dream is a nightmare of student debt, foreclosure and disease induced bankruptcy. (Or what the right wing calls the takers.)
It's hard for me to feel sorry for the Republican Party. They are being eaten by the parasite they cultivated, coddled and championed. The problem is, we're all getting sick from it.
Shannyn Moore can be heard weeknights from 6 to 9 p.m. on KOAN, 1020 AM and 95.5 FM, radio.
By SHANNYN MOORE