The title is not hyperbole. Two fallacies cripple the Republican Party just as the nation sought better. A political party denying reality is dangerous. Republican Party economic and national defense policies failed catastrophically elsewhere in the recent past. Yet, through some combination of almost religious certitude and moral rectitude, the Republican presidential front runner, Romney, clings to these fallacies with a certitude defying belief. These two key policy areas, Defense and Economy, should disqualify the Republican Party from political office for all but their most rabid supporters.
European Economic Policy
Republican economic proposals are nothing new. They are borrowed directly from Europe. The European Union (EU) forced steep cuts to government spending on member countries. Their belief was that cuts in government spending would restore confidence to the private sector. The private economy may have needed confidence, but more importantly, they needed customers. Reduced government spending resulted in consumers having less, rather than more, money to spend. Across the affected nations, shops and businesses closed. Government tax revenue crumbled.
From spendthrift Greece to cautious and frugal Spain, the results are in. While politically unpalatable in nations like Germany, deficit spending appears to be the only rational way out of this Great Recession. More than two years ago, the EU, led by Germany, plunged Ireland into an austerity economy. Greece and Spain followed. Slashing government spending in a major economic downturn ran counter to established economic theory. The results are in: established economic theory remains correct. European policy failed.
Republicans embrace identical European economic policies. The Republican House and state and local conservative leaders are implementing their own version of European austerity. Even as the U.S. private sector attempts to recover, government employment and spending cuts hold that sector back -- the same result experienced in Europe. Why Republicans cling to these failed policies seem to be as much magical thinking as an urge to ruin the economy to defeat President Obama.
President Obama's policies stabilized the economy, especially when coupled with the bank and auto industry rescues. Nearly alone among world leaders and U.S. politicians, President Obama steered a moderate economic course that served the nation. The suffering imposed upon the Europeans by austerity stands in marked contrast to US economic performance. While Republicans propose already failing economic policies, President Obama demonstrates proven steady, if less than dynamic, leadership
Soviet-Style Defense Spending
Following his attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, the United States played Osama Bin Laden's game. In many ways, this country is still playing the role that Osama assigned to it. Bin Laden's plan was not to defeat United States on the battlefield. His goal was to drive the U.S. into bankruptcy. The financial and social chaos that grew out of Russia's Afghanistan War led to the collapse of the Soviet Union. This was Osama Bin Laden's plan for the U.S. As Ezra Klein of the Washington Post points out, Osama enjoyed some success. Republicans are still playing Bin Laden's game. Their budget proposals increase Defense Department spending.
Defense spending produces little while squandering much. President and General Dwight D. Eisenhower said it best:
"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. This is not a way of life at all in any true sense. Under the clouds of war, it is humanity hanging on a cross of iron."
No nation threatens U.S. existence. Yet, Republicans push the militarization of the U.S. economy. DoD is only one area of defense spending. National security costs include Homeland Security, Veterans Affairs and local and state governments where police departments are being militarized. As a retired military officer, I understand the need for a strong defense.
However, national security is a product of more than military might. Elements of national power are economic, social and diplomatic. Without a strong economy, military power erodes. Without a healthy and educated population, military strength cannot be maintained. Without effective diplomacy, military capability is squandered in needless small conflicts for little gain. Today, the U.S. maintains more aircraft carriers than at the height of the Cold War. While urging the world to eliminate nuclear weapons, the U.S. maintains enough weapons to destroy the world many times over. These are just two examples of programs where supply is excess to requirements.
I am a Democrat. I did not always vote that way. However, this election the choice is clear. Two Republican fatal flaws -- failed European-style economic policies and failed Soviet-style defense spending -- harm the economic and military security of the nation. I cannot vote for any Republican.