I Read Joe Hallett, So You Don’t Have to
To paraphrase what a friend said this morning, you know it is Sunday because The Dispatch’s enfeebled octogenarian columnist Joe Hallett has another column calling for higher taxes!
Fresh off of his successful campaign for more Columbus city infrastructure spending on various Wolfe family investments, elderly Hallett, a registered Republican, pooped out a wide-ranging column which may be the worst of his career. It is so bad that Joe should probably hire security, as pink-cheeks Ben Marrison, with his bare hands, might personally put an end to the source of the flaccid columns which cost his publication hundreds of thousands of dollars per year.
Much like a mosquito at a nudist colony, I don’t know quite where to begin.
First, Joe’s Alzheimer’s-riddled mind wanders to South Carolina:
Quotes reported from a recent town-hall meeting in South Carolina and the Aug. 1 “tea party” at the Statehouse:
“Keep your government hands off my Medicare.”
“I want the right to drive a gas guzzler.”
Maybe the two protesters got confused by listening to the new Three Stooges — Rush, Sean and Glenn. Medicare is the government, the same one that upholds our right to drive a guzzler but will pay us to trade it if it’s a clunker.
Observing the tea parties and watching town-hall meetings on TV makes me wonder if this country has gone crazy. The outbursts and chants often have no grounding in fact or common sense. Are we really that ill-informed, that angry and that uncivil?
Here, Joe is parroting the latest leftist talking point to defend ObamaCare. The argument is essentially: Medicare is socialist, so what could be bad about Government taking over 15% of the private economy? This argument is used to redirect the attention of politically-powerful seniors, who would most certainly see, under ObamaCare, cuts in Medicare benefits and might not be pleased about the end-of-life “consultation.” And even though such current entitlements are on track to consume ALL federal tax revenues by 2052, in this debate, Joe’s talk about Medicare is an unconstructive red herring.
And who is defending cash-for-clunkers? C-f-C distorts the market and diverts money away from charity, while increasing the cost of used cars the poor might be able to otherwise afford. I suppose it is relevant to this debate, only as another example of how “progressive” policies are about controlling your life: telling you how to live, when you should die, how you should travel to work, et cetera.
Also, the people I met at the Columbus tea party were quite civil and friendly. A majority of the protests appear to come from Glenn Beck’s rather unorganized 9/12 group, and Hallett might be shocked to learn how many otherwise apolitical people show up at these tea parties simply because they feel like they must become politically engaged because of what the left is doing to America.
Then, the real fun began…
Ronald Reagan told us government was the enemy, and we could have it all for less. He cut taxes across the board and increased defense spending. The result was a brief economic boom, an end to the Cold War and deep federal deficits.
We could have it all for less? No, Reagan was about empowering entrepreneurs, and having less government for less money. And if President Reagan was to talk about big-government “compassionate conservativism” in the terms used by President George W. Bush, Reagan would have spontaneously burst into flames.
And even though Tip O’Neil and the Democrat-controlled congress only allowed about half of President Reagan’s proposed tax cuts to be implemented, the deficit as a percentage of GDP declined.
When the “stagflation” of the Carter era hit the hardest, the deficit, according to the US Office of Management and Budget’s historical tables, was 6.3% of GDP in 1983. But by 1987, it was only 3.4% of GDP, 1988 it was 3.2% of GDP, and in 1989 it shrunk to 2.9% of GDP in 1989. In actual dollars, the deficit was $221.2 billion in 1986, and dropped to $152.5 billion by Reagan’s final year in office, when unemployment also fell to 5.3%.
After Reagan cut taxes and Fed Chair Volcker squeezed inflation out of the economy (it was 13.5% in 1980 and the prime lending rate was a staggering 21.5%!), even though it is not intellectually serious to assign booms and busts solely to Presidents, the “brief economic boom” Hallett mentions is actually the longest peacetime economic boom in US history.
George H.W. Bush raised taxes in 1990 and Bill Clinton followed suit in 1993. The deficits disappeared, the federal budget came into balance, and the economy purred. Still, we punished them for raising taxes: Bush lost re-election in 1992 and Clinton lost Congress to the Republicans in 1994.
Wrong again, Joe! The first President Bush’s budget deal with Congress is why, in 1990, the deficit skyrockted to $290.4 billion. After his breaking his “read my lips” tax pledge, Bush did away with the Gramm-Rudman spending limits and it was a record breaking tax hike, which also shrank the tax base. President Clinton continued this trend by passing the largest tax increases in American history.
And only projected deficits disappeared under Clinton, and he was dragged kicking and screaming to that point by Newt Gingrich, Ohio’s next Governor John Kasich, and the rest of the fiscal conservatives in Congress. In reality, the deficit hasn’t truly disappeared since President Andrew Jackson.
The federal deficit and huge debt reappeared under George W. Bush. He started in 2001 by cutting taxes $1.35 trillion over 10 years and then pushed more tax cuts through Congress two years later. Bush ballooned the bureaucracy, spent us into oblivion and bailed out the banks, leaving office with the nation in deep recession. Still, we had it all, including a costly new and unfunded Medicare prescription-drug benefit.
Yes, Medicare Part D was a terrible idea. But President Bush “spent us into oblivion?” President Obama has already made President Bush look like a miserly Scrooge McPenny-Pincher:
Then, as if Joe took a break from writing his column, lost his train of thought, and ALMOST returns with a sensible opinion, he concludes with this:
During the campaign and now, Obama promised to extend health insurance to all Americans, pretending that the 10-year, trillion-dollar cost could be realized merely by soaking the rich. His $787 billion stimulus, or at least a portion of it, might have been necessary, but it has cast the country deeper into a financial black hole.
So here we are now, $11.6 trillion in debt and at the breaking point. All these years of irresponsible budgeting have caught up with us. We show up at town-hall meetings and tea parties and rant because everything that we are entitled to — Social Security, Medicare, national security, health care, education — now is impossible without higher taxes.
Damned if we’re going to pay them.
We are paying for them Joe, but “higher taxes” are sooo 1993. Today’s statists would rather print more money and borrow. But instead of blaming Ronald Reagan for America’s problems, you should blame the same tax-raising Democrats, sleazy big-city Mayors, and RINOs you have spent a career defending.