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Mark Dorlester Headshot

Health Care: It's Not About The Money - It's about POWER

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Just a few years ago, Republicans were in control of everything in Washington, having augmented their power by amoral deceit if not criminal conduct. As a result they lost everything. Their well-earned but involuntary demise must be devastating to them.

Recoiling, they have desperately been trying to regain power by rousing and manipulating their coalition of the ignorant, bigoted, and crazy.

For example, Republicans like to scream about health care and other Obama initiatives are bankrupting the nation. They belly-ache about the burden they claim we're putting on our grandchildren.

Well, I've done some serious research, and I say: bullcookies!

As a percentage of the national economy, all the borrowing we're doing now - even including potential costs of health care reform - is not in the same league, proportionately, with the debt we carried during WWII.

I've located the complete tables of total federal expenses and total national debt as a percentage of the national economy (Gross Domestic Product) from 1932 to the present. The data are taken from the annual Economic Report of the President. The source of the data is nonpartisan - it is drawn the reports of Eisenhower, Nixon, Ford, Reagan, GHWBush, and GWBush as well as those of Democratic presidents.

Here are the undisputed facts:

• The peak national debt as a percentage of GDP occurred in FY 1946, 121.7%. We seem to have recovered just fine. I/my generation paid the taxes to reduce that debt, and I never suffered poverty or inability to buy a house or a car or put my kids through college.

• The low national debt as a percentage of GDP was in FY 1981, the last FY of the Carter Administration, 32.6%

• During Reagan and GHW Bush, (FY 1982-1993) the national debt as a percentage of GDP doubled, rising to 66.2%

• The national debt as a percentage of GDP dropped to 57.4% during the Clinton years (FY 1994-2001)

• The national debt as a percentage of GDP rose to 70.4% during the GWBush years (FY 2002-2009). The FY 2009 data includes last year's stimulus and bail-out spending.

The current GDP is approximately $15 trillion (final data for Q2 of last year was $14.4 trillion). Even if there were no economic growth for the next 10 years, and $4.5 trillion in added debt, the national debt as a percentage of GDP would rise from the FY 2009 level of 70.4% to almost exactly 100%, still far below WWII levels. Such an increase would be approximately 10 times the added debt forecast for even the most pessimistic forecast of health care reform costs.

If you wish to view the actual debt vs. GDP tables, go to - Economic Reports of the President and click on 2009 to see the complete list of tables for that (most recent) year. Then download Table B-79, and other tables of your interest from that year or any other year.

The Republican strategy is not about health care or pulling the plug on grandma. It is not about spending or taxes. This is about power, and they are using lies to gain power, not to win any aspect of rational debate.