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The Mass Media

The Political Beacon

Republicans+make+a+pledge+to+be+different+than+Democrats%0A

Republicans make a pledge to be different than Democrats

“The Republican Party released its brand-new “Pledge To America”” on September 23. The premise of this lofty document is to tell the Ameri¬can people what the Republican Party stands, for and what it will do should it ascend to power. The preamble at http://pledge.gop.gov is very much a standard Republican platform: fiscal prudence, limited Federal govern¬ment, robust national defense, free¬dom, traditional family values and generally improving America. However, is the document really all its cracked up to be? Reading through the text of the Pledge looks like read¬ing through a Tea Party manifesto: blocking Federal government from overstepping its bounds, reducing taxes, reducing the deficit, promoting individual freedom and protecting our liberty with strong defense. Each piece may individually appeal to people. Af¬ter all, doesn’t everybody want to save a little on their taxes? However, taken as a whole the document doesn’t have a cohesive strategy for achieving its economic goals and doesn’t properly address how it will address its non-economic goals. Nobel Prize winning economist Paul Krugman read the pledge and talked about it in his September 24 New York Times column. It’s a very good read. A particularly telling quote: ‘On Thursday, House Republicans re¬leased their “Pledge to America,” sup¬posedly outlining their policy agenda. In essence, what they say is, “Deficits are a terrible thing. Let’s make them much bigger.”‘ The numbers, in short, don’t add up. The GOP wants to make the Bush tax cuts permanent, including for in¬dividuals earning over $200,000 and families earning over $250,000, while raising no new taxes. This would cost the government over $3.5 trillion, yes, trillion with a ‘t’, over the next ten years. They have also promised to do no bailouts of individuals and families who might need help, but to continue spending on the defense budget, se¬niors and veterans. So, they don’t want to stimulate the economy at the bot¬tom but they do want to continue cur¬rent spending trends. There isn’t much left in the budget they could squeeze out, comparatively speaking. The US Government spends some money on infrastructure, social welfare, corporate welfare, arts, sci¬ences and emergencies. The GOP has not been known for stopping corpo¬rate welfare, so everything else would be on the table regardless of how little it might save the government or how much it might do to stimulate the economy or otherwise be necessary. We currently have crumbling roads, bridges and basic infrastructure here in the Bay State, but this Pledge would leave us completely to our own devices when it comes to fixing them. Further research in the document suggests that the Republican Party is playing fast and loose with the facts. FactCheck.org reviewed the document and found that the GOP overstated how bad the economy actually is. The Pledge overstated the size of the stim¬ulus package by over 20%, overstated how many small businesses would face increased taxes under the end of Presi¬dent Bush’s tax cuts, and understated how many people were employed. Jon Stewart of The Daily Show very neatly looked at the promises made in the Pledge and found that many of them were made by the GOP during the 1994 Contract With America, as well as a number of times since then. In short, the document is not promot¬ing new ideas to current problems, but rather taking old ideas of how to run things and applying them to the cur¬rent problems. Three things struck me as I read the Pledge myself. One, the GOP really needed a better proofreader on this. They spent a lot of time and effort put¬ting this together and presumably a lot of money; they could have hired some¬body who can polish it up and make it look good at any reputable newspaper. Two, the photographs in the Pledge are full of people, presumably all Real Americans, but almost every face in the pictures is European Caucasian, aka White. There are a very few ex¬ceptions, it’s true; but out of hundreds and hundreds of faces and backs of people’s heads they had almost no Af¬rican Americans, Asian Americans or Hispanics that I could see. In short, the pictures do not reflect the diverse real¬ity I know and appreciate in my home life and at UMass Boston. Third, when they say ‘traditional marriage’, whose tradition are they referring to? Do they have any idea just how many marriage traditions are out there? Frankly, the Republican Party does not have a very good track record with fiscal responsibility. Comparing Social Security, Medicare and the most re¬cent entitlement program, Medicare Part ‘D’, we see three different cost sce¬narios. Social Security, put in place during the Great Depression by the Demo¬cratic Party, has administrative costs of about half of one percent and is paid for by payroll taxes. That is a stagger¬ingly good rate for administration. The original Medicare program, put in place by the Democratic Party in 1965, provides medical insurance to seniors and the disabled. It is also paid for by payroll taxes, has administrative costs of about 3% and, like Social Secu¬rity, is also staggeringly good in terms of management costs. Medicare Part ‘D’, which gave senior citizens prescription drug coverage, had not one, not two, but three fatal flaws in it in terms of costs: it did not put a tax in place to help pay for the benefits, thus increasing deficits and reducing Medicare’s long- term viabil¬ity; it gave subsidies to private insur¬ance companies so they could compete with the government and still make a profit instead of letting them compete in the ‘free market’; and it barred the Federal government from negotiating lower drug prices with drug manufac¬turers. In other words, the Republican Party, using an unfunded mandate, increased the size of government and gave away your taxpayer dollars to al¬ready- profitable industries to make them even more profitable. Health benefits for seniors is laudable; the way they implemented it was not. The big question is, how will the GOP accomplish the Pledge to Amer¬ica’s goals this time around, using the same methods and philosophies that helped create the current financial stew, when they have singularly failed at most promises stated in the Pledge the last several times they have had power?