Koch-funded Florida Tea-Party Sen. Marco Rubio gave the "Republican Response" to the President's State of the Union speech. Then Koch-funded Kentucky Tea-Party Sen. Rand Paul gave the "Koch-funded Tea-Party" Republican response. (Did the networks ever air a Progressive Caucus response to Bush's SOTUs?) They scared people with wild stories of deficits, taxes, job losses and "big government."
Before going over what they said let's set the stage with a few items that explain reality (always a good idea before discussing things Republicans say):
Marketwatch, U.S. January budget surplus $3 billion: Treasury
The U.S. government ran a budget surplus of $3 billion in January, the Treasury Department reported on Tuesday, the first monthly surplus since September 2012. The surplus was driven by a 16% increase in revenues compared to January 2012, including from the expiration of a temporary payroll-tax cut at the end of 2012.
Jed Graham in Investors' Business Daily, The deficit chart that should embarrass deficit hawks:
Here's a pretty important fact that virtually everyone in Washington seems oblivious to: The federal deficit has never fallen as fast as it's falling now without a coincident recession.
To be specific, CBO expects the deficit to shrink from 8.7% of GDP in fiscal 2011 to 5.3% in fiscal 2013 if the sequester takes effect and to 5.5% if it doesn't. Either way, the two-year deficit reduction — equal to 3.4% of the economy if automatic budget cuts are triggered and 3.2% if not — would stand far above any other fiscal tightening since World War II.
Paul Krugman, Hearsay Economics
... [big-media pundits] ... certainty that we’re experiencing “explosive” spending growth, which is very much not the case:
Reality: The budget deficit problem is largely solved, and there is no "spending problem."
The Republican scam is to pretend they are concerned about deficits and debt – but they are the ones who cut taxes and doubled the military budget, which caused the deficits. This is one more manufactured crisis, trying to scare and stampede people to support cutting back on government -- which is decision-making of, by and for We, the People –- because We, the People are in their way and demanding a share of the pie.
Here are some things to know as you decide what to think about the two "Tea Party" responses tonite:
1) Austerity (deficit reduction) has never increased economic growth anywhere, ever.
2) Tax increases on the wealthy have never slowed economic growth, anywhere, ever. Economic growth in the US was higher when the top tax rate was 90%.
Sen. Marco Rubio
Florida Senator Marco Rubio gave the first of the Tea Party Republican responses.
Summary of Rubio in the Republican response: “We’ve got deficit and big government trouble right here in River City...”
Rubio began with a couple of wild statements, claiming that President Obama believes that free enterprise is the cause of our problems, and that "major cause of our recent downturn was a housing crisis created by reckless government."
Rubio's launched into a diatribe against government. As you read the following excerpts from Rubio's anti-government rant try substituting variations of "We, the People" for his use of the word government, "We, the People making the decisions" or "We, the People doing things together to make our lives better."
More government isn’t going to help you get ahead. It’s going to hold you back.
More government isn’t going to create more opportunities. It’s going to limit them.
And more government isn’t going to inspire new ideas, new businesses and new private sector jobs. It’s going to create uncertainty.
Do Taxes Hurt The Economy?
One line of Rubio's stands out: "Because more government raises taxes on employers who then pass the costs on to their employees through fewer hours, lower pay and even layoffs."
With this Rubio is trying to scare people who are worried about jobs. Business taxes are on profits. Good businesses employ the right number of people, so a company that is making profits isn't going to reduce staff or hours. That is simply preposterous to anyone who has ever run a business.
Making Things Up
Rubio claimed that President Obama "created more debt in four years than President Bush created in eight." Huh? Look at the charts at the top of this post.
He talked about "the President’s devastating cuts to our military." Huh? What?
He proposed privatizing Medicare and replacing it with vouchers.
He went on with the old cutting taxes actually raises revenues scam -- saying we need to cut taxes so we can grow our economy and that is how we will pay off debt. Huh?
Sen. Rand Paul
Kentucky Senator Rand Paul gave the other Tea Party Republican response.
Summary of Paul in the second Tea Party response: “We’ve got deficit and big government trouble right here in River City...”
Along with the usual Tea Party anti-government, anti-tax rant he called for welcoming immigrant, and cutting military spending.
Paul said that our spending and deficit path is "unsustainable." (see charts above.)
"The President seems to think the country can continue to borrow $50,000 per second. The President believes that we should just squeeze more money out of those who are working." (see charts above.)
Anti-government: "Ronald Reagan said, government is not the answer to the problem, government is the problem.
Tonight, the President told the nation he disagrees. President Obama believes government is the solution: More government, more taxes, more debt."
Again, substitute variations for "We, the People" for "government" and see what you get. He is calling for less decision-making by We, the People, less We, the People doing things to make our lives better, so that the wealthy billionaires can have lower taxes...
Paul not only called for the sequestration to go into effect, he wants the amount raised to $4 trillion in cuts, "to avoid another downgrade of America's credit rating." But the previous downgrade was noot because of defcitis or debt, it was because Republicans had held the debt ceiling hostage and no country that threatens to default on its debt deserves a top credit rating.
Paul also pulled out the old "government should be like a family budget" trick. "Washington acts in a way that your family never could – they spend money they do not have, they borrow from future generations, and then they blame each other for never fixing the problem." But this falls apart because a family doesn't react to a budget problem by quitting a job, by taking kids out of school or by tearing down the house. A family tries to get a raise, maintain the hose, and helping the kids get good educations.
Paul's "Penny Plan:" "Liberals complain that the budget can’t be balanced but if you cut just one penny from each dollar we currently spend, the budget would balance within six or seven years." Huh?
Taxes: "Only through lower taxes, less regulation and more freedom will the economy begin to grow again."
Jobs: "Under the Obama economy, 12 million people are out of work. During the President’s first term 800,000 construction workers lost their jobs and another 800,000 simply gave up on looking for work." Actually that was because when Obama took office we were losing 800,000 jobs a month. This was turned around by the "stimulus" and the economy has been creating jobs -- but not enough jobs.
Taxes again: "With my five-year budget, millions of jobs would be created by cutting the corporate income tax in half, by creating a flat personal income tax of 17%, and by cutting the regulations that are strangling American businesses." If you cut the top taxes to 17%, guess what has to happen to the taxes of the rest of us? If you cut regulations, guess what corporations will do to us.
The rest of it was more anti-government, unleash the giant corporations stuff...
Anyway, we just had an election that was supposed to decide these things, and they lost.