Yep, it’s the goddam Republicans

Again, I should add. This time, via the Economic Policy Institute, we confirm through actual numbers that Republicans have retarded economic recovery. It’s a familiar theme, unfortunately, and has much to do about two important issues.

First, Republicans, as a rule, really have no interest in improving the lives of the Rest of Us. The party has long been dedicated to the proposition that the rich should get richer and everyone else should suffer. That’s certainly evident in their tax policies, currently promulgated by Paul Ryan and more recently by Donald Trump. With straight face, Republicans want us all to believe that good fortune will trickle down from above if we only let the rich become even wealthier. Facts, as we know, have a well-known liberal bias, and the facts absolutely destroy the argument, such as it is. The following two charts show that as marginal tax rates have fallen (assessed against the highest tax bracket), inequality has risen.

marginal tax rates over time

gini index us since 1947

Second, Republicans have traditionally favored smaller government as an end in itself. They are rarely challenged to explain why smaller governments would be better. It’s simply an article of faith. Part of the great intellectual void amongst conservatives is their ideological antipathy toward the public sector, of which governments are the major factor. In this distorted and ignorant view, free market outcomes are always preferable to collective programs and policies. Wrong.

Keynes argued way back in the 1930s that during recessions, and the Great Depression was the worst, only federal governments can generate economic recovery. He understood that the private sector was hampered by reduced demand for goods and products, a direct consequence of too many people out of work and underpaid. State and local governments were hamstrung by constitutional requirements to balance budgets. When tax revenues fall, government expenditures must also decline. But central governments are not so constrained, making them the only viable avenue for escape. Unfortunately, the size of the spending required in the 1930s and 40s was underestimated. It really took a world war and its necessary expenditures to restore the U.S. economy.

The Great Recession was second only to the Great Depression. Once more, policy makers significantly underestimated the amount of federal spending required to spur economic recovery.

In the linked study above, the authors conclude:

Given the degree of damage inflicted by the Great Recession and the restricted ability of monetary policy to aid recovery, historically expansionary fiscal policy was required to return the U.S. economy to full health. But this government spending not only failed to rise fast enough to spur a rapid recovery, it outright contracted, and this policy choice fully explains why the economy is only partially recovered from the Great Recession a full seven years after its official end.

And who is responsible for this “policy choice”? The damn Republicans, of course. They opposed Roosevelt’s New Deal and fiscal expansion. They opposed Obama’s efforts to enact a stimulus package, forcing the administration to significantly reduce its congressional request.

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There is no larger challenge facing America than reducing the number of Republican officeholders. Period.