The Uh-Ohs: A Decade of Conservative Failure, Pt. 2

Terrance Heath

“Haven’t we already given money to rich people … Shouldn’t we be giving money to the middle?”

— President George W. Bush in November 2002, acknowledging to advisors that he knew his tax cuts were giveaways to the super-wealthy. (Source.)

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If you were among the wealthiest 1-2% of Americans, it was the best of times. For the rest of us, it was “The Uh-Ohs,” a decade of conservative failure and its aftermath. From the government surplus in 2000 and the ill-advised and poorly planned wars that helped transform it into a deficit, to the stagnant economy and growing economic inequality we face today — none of it just happened and none of had to happen.

It was all consciously chosen — a direct consequence of conservative politics and policymaking — and about 99% of us are worse for it.

Uh-Oh! For 99% of us, it was a very taxing decade. From 2000 on conservatives preached the gospel of prosperity through tax cuts. Tax cuts for the very wealthy, that is. The idea was the tax cuts would put yet more money into the hands of the wealthiest Americans, who would then put that money back into the economy, and “spread the wealth” either by spending it on goods and services that create jobs or by investing it in ventures that would create jobs and benefit all Americans. The reality turned out to be something else.

Uh-Oh! We never got the “trickle down” of prosperity the tax cutters promised. Instead, we got a kind of Bizarro World “trickle up” economy, where billionaire Warren Buffet has a lower tax rate than his secretary. Of course it didn’t work. It couldn’t work and we’ve known for years it wouldn’t work. This long, slow grift actually began decades ago, but really began to pay off in the past ten years — when conservatives had control of both the White House and Congress, and could finally do a lot of things their way.

But surely this all comes out in the wash. Right? Sure the wealthiest 1-2% enjoyed a bonanza of low taxes and higher incomes, but that had to trickle down to the rest of us in some form of fashion — either through jobs supported by increased spending at the top of the financial food chain, or jobs created by their investments here at home. Just like the banks we bailed out in order to save the economy were supposed to increase lending so the rest of could maintain a standard of living that includes living indoors, eating regularly, etc.

We help them, then they help us. That’s the way it’s supposed to work, right? Or, rather, that’s the way it was supposed to work.

So, what happened? As you might guess, that brings us to another “Uh-Oh.”

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