Transcript: Thom Hartmann: The Big Picture: Working for the government IS a real job. 9 June '11
The entire Republican Party platform is based on this single premise - that government is public enemy number one. And that premise has expanded to not only include the entity OF government - but also average Americans who work IN government - like mail carriers - teachers - and food safety inspectors.
To see what I mean - take a look at what Republican Congressman Paul Broun said just the other day in a radio interview:
The CBO says well if we don’t raise the debt limit, it’s going to put so many people out of work, I don’t remember the numbers, I think it’s 250,000 or something, are gonna be put out of work. Well those are gonna be government employees that are put out of work. There are a lot of government employees that need to go find a real job!
Get real jobs??
There used to be a time in America when if you talked that way about government - you could kiss your political career goodbye.
As Republican President Dwight Eisenhower said about “New Deal” government programs back in 1954 in a letter he wrote to his brother, he said:
Should any political party attempt to abolish social security, unemployment insurance, and eliminate labor laws and farm programs, you would not hear of that party again in our political history. There is a tiny splinter group…a few Texas oil millionaires, and an occasional politician or business man from other areas. Their number is negligible and they are stupid.
The reason why Eisenhower felt that way - was because Franklin Roosevelt restored the good name of government after it was dragged through the mud in the 1920’s by the Republican Party and their business interests.
You see - today’s government bashing isn’t new for Republicans - they played this same card 90 years ago with three Republican Presidents beginning with Warren Harding in 1920 - and ending with Herbert Hoover in 1932.
When Warren Harding won the presidency in 1920 - his campaign pledge was - this is verbatim quote:
Less government in business and more business in government.
Coolidge and Hoover carried on that agenda - relegating government to the sidelines - as business created the largest economic bubble ever seen at that time - it was called the Roaring Twenties - and then crashed our economy in 1929 - triggering a worldwide Great Depression.
But Franklin Delano Roosevelt - FDR - turned it all around - and he turned the economy around too - thanks to government spending and government regulations.
FDR showed us all what government is capable of when it has the trust of the people.
But today - even though our country is in the same boat that it was in in 1932 or that close to it - President Obama and the Democrats have been unsuccessful at restoring the good name of government and convincing the America. people that government can actually do something and that it can be a good forces.
You know, it’s a simple idea - we DO have a market economy dependent on private business - but when those businesses get knocked on their butt - as they did in '29 - and as they did in 2008 - then someone needs to step up and be the spender and employer of last resort - and that’s the government.
Without the help of the government over the last 3 years - a double-dip recession is now upon us.
In fact - a double-dip is a misnomer - the vast majority of us never recovered from the first recession to be able to go through a double-dip.
It’s more like the Great Depression for the working class - and it’s getting worse and worse and worse - because our government - that spender and employer of last resort - has been handcuffed by the Republican Party.
FDR had it a little bit easier - the anti-government zeitgeist of the 1920’s only lasted about a decade before FDR came to power - so he was able to right the ship a little easier.
Unfortunately for President Obama - today’s anti-government meme has been entrenched for over 30 years…starting with Reagan:
In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problems; government is the problem...
All of us need to be reminded that the Federal Government did not create the states; the states created the Federal Government.
The answer to a government that's too big is to stop feeding its growth.
And as an ancient Chinese philosopher, Lao-tzu, said: “Govern a great nation as you would cook a small fish; do not overdo it.”
Even after I leave office, I will never stop campaigning for the tools needed to limit the insatiable fiscal appetite of government.
And carried on, ironically, by Bill Clinton:
We have worked to give the American people a smaller, less bureaucratic government in Washington. And we have to give the American people one that lives within its means.
The era of big government is over.
And then put on steroids - this message - by George W. Bush. And since the message has been spread for more than 30 years - frankly, a lot of young voters can’t even remember a time when government WASN’T public enemy number one.
I had American historian Thomas Frank on my show a few months ago and he made this astute observation about just how Republicans use government bashing for political gain:
Cynicism pays massive dividends to conservatives, and what's creepy about this is that it's sort of self-fulfilling. Conservatives tend to deal in very bad government; they govern very poorly.
There's one line from "The Wrecking Crew" that I always like to repeat because it can never get out there enough, and it's from a guy who waws the president of the US Chamber of Commerce back in the 1920s. And he said in an interview that I found in a very popular magazine from the late 1920s, "The best public servant is the worst one".
Nobody's ever said it quite that bluntly since then but you can find echoes, and I do in the book, I find echoes of this remark right up to the present day. Conservatives say this sort of thing all the time. You don't want competent people in government. You don't want, because if government works, if you have smart people in government, people that know what they're doing and government works, then the public will trust government. You won't have the cynicism. You won't, you know, things will work and Democrats will be elected.
So let’s speak on their terms for a moment - let’s speak like a businessman - and not a government bureaucrat.
Mr. President - you’re the CEO of the United States Government - and if you don’t start selling and promoting what your “company” is capable of - then you’ll be out of a job real soon.
And that company will be bankrupt and have to shut its doors - as in total economic calamity.
This isn’t about economics anymore - it’s about public relations - PR.
Restore the good name of Government - just like Franklin Roosevelt did - and our country - and your presidency - will then have a chance to be successful.
That's The Big Picture.