Conservative Nonsense

Vanity FairIt’s hard to imagine that there are politicians who still insist on the veracity of most of the conservative voodoo even when it is clearly and conclusively refuted. But there must be something in that old magic snake oil that gives us Louis Gohmert and reelects Sam Brownback. Just this morning I was imagining how the rest of the world is laughing at the United States. I guess we get the government we deserve.

Kurt Eichenwald writes a very informative article in Vanity Fair. I only point out two of the many examples of conservative nonsense so don’t fail to zip on over to Vanity Fair to read the complete article.

30 Years of Conservative Nonsense, An Explainer

If those calls to close the borders over Ebola are giving you déjà vu, you might not be wrong.

Are conservatives ever right?

The question isn’t meant to suggest that liberals are never wrong. But reviewing the last few decades of conservative policy initiatives—or their objections over that timespan to policies they hate—shows a consistent pattern of failure: predictions never pan out, and intended results turn to catastrophic flops.

Given the G.O.P.’s midterm victories this week, the question is of particular import. Come January, conservatives will have control of both houses of Congress, and hold a considerable legislative advantage in the last two years of the Obama presidency. Yet not a week ago, conservative politicians and commentators were screaming out batty ideas as they demanded that President Obama close the borders over Ebola, ignoring the advice of infectious disease specialists who know that shutting borders against a disease leads people to make travel by means that aren’t easily tracked, escalates danger, and harms the ability to stop the infection at its source. Conservative know-nothings dismiss the professionals as know-nothings themselves, despite their training and expertise.

Climate ChangeAnd that could be the problem. Too often, it seems, conservatives have scorned experts as incompetent, biased, or otherwise worth ignoring because they came up with answers that didn’t fit their politically desired answer. Often, they proclaim experts have a liberal bias. Of course, plenty of Democrats have voted for conservative ideas, but that is beside the point. The question is whether policies proposed by conservatives failed, not whether they were passed into law. And this question is all the more important now, with the Republicans having re-captured control of the Senate. Will they govern based on a knowledge of history and the analysis of experts? Or will they resort to faith-based, sure-we’re-right policies—like trying to impose a border ban to stop Ebola—that may lead the ignorant to cheer but will leave turn the experts’ hair white with fear. …

Tax cuts pay for themselves.

The fantasy: In 1981, as he championed massive tax cuts, President Ronald Reagan promised there would be no growth in the federal budget deficit because the economic boom that would follow would lead to higher revenues.

Reality: Budgeted federal revenues dropped, leading to a huge fiscal hole. Deficits rose to 6 percent of G.D.P. by 1983, then the highest in peacetime history. Reagan tacitly admitted failure by reversing directions and raising taxes multiple times, starting in 1982.

Blame: Conservatives claimed Democrats in Congress ran up spending so much that the growth of revenues could not keep up with the growth in outlays.

The excuse is false: According to a 2002 report prepared by the House and Senate Appropriations Committees, when all appropriations bills during the Reagan administration are taken into account, the big spender was Reagan himself. All told, the report shows, Reagan requested about $4.7 trillion in his budgets submitted to Congress—including the regular annual budget, the supplementals and deficiency appropriations. In the final action, Congress spent a bit less than that amount. (I know, Republicans’ heads just exploded. Read the official report.)

The Aftermath: History is ignored. Conservatives still insist, on no evidence, that cuts pay for themselves. Trillions of dollars in debt have been run up over 30 years because of tax cuts. Republicans in Congress have introduced legislation that would force the Congressional Budget Office to change how it calculates projected losses from tax cuts to make future results align more closely to conservative predictions.

Obamacare

The Fantasy: The government was taking over health care. No one would sign up for the insurance. If they did sign up, no one would pay. If they did pay, premiums would fly sky-high, and beyond the ability of most Americans’ to afford it. It would increase the number of uninsured, not decrease it.

Reality: As a system that operates through private insurance companies, Obamacare does not give the government control of the health care system, although certain policies on coverage and quality of insurance are in place. Eight million people signed up for policies during the first open enrollment period; 7.3 million people paid their premiums, far more than had been anticipated by the insurance companies. In addition, more than 7 million people obtained coverage through expanded Medicaid and millions of others below the age of 26 stayed on their parents’ policies. According to Gallup, the uninsured rate has dropped from 18 percent in the third quarter of 2013 to 13.4 percent in the quarter just ended. The Kaiser Family Foundation has found that the rate of increase in premiums has slowed since Obamacare began to be introduced, and that the average premium for benchmark policies will drop next year.

Response: People whose health insurance did not provide minimum levels of coverage lost their policies, leading conservatives to falsely imply many people were being harmed.

Notice that Kurt Eichenwald refers to these as “fantasies” rather than out and out delusions … lies, even. You must read this brilliant article.

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