The Era of Small Government is Over
Americans are finally waking up to the biggest Republican con of them all: the small government con.
Ever since the 1980s, Republicans have used a strategy former Reagan budget director David Stockman called “starving the beast.”
The thinking behind this strategy is pretty simple.
First, you cut taxes to “starve” the “the beast” (the government) of the revenue it needs to survive.
Then, when people start getting angry because the government can no longer afford to work the way it should, you propose a solution: cut spending.
Instead of feeding the beast even more, you say, we should trim it down to size, make it lose some weight.
And so the cycle continues.
Now that the government physically can’t afford to do its job because you’ve cut most of its revenue sources and because it doesn’t provide the services it used to provide because you’ve slashed away at budget after budget, the people get even angrier with the government and government employees.
The lines at the DMV and the Social Security office get longer and longer, schools disintegrate, and people blame the government workers for it, not realizing it was Republicans who cut the workforce to the point where government can barely do its job.
Eventually, they become so upset that they start thinking, like Reagan, that government is the problem, not the solution.
And so what do they do?
They demand even more budget cuts and even more tax cuts until the “beast” -- otherwise known as our government -- is finally dead.
Our commons and government functions - from Social Security to Education - can then be privatized and sold off to the highest bidder, usually whatever local billionaire has bankrolled the Republican Party in his area.
Pretty insidious strategy, right?
You bet, and it’s still being put to work to devastating effect in red states like Louisiana, where Bobby Jindal’s massive tax cuts for the rich have left the state with a $940 million budget shortfall this year and put it on the path towards a $2 billion shortfall in 2017.
The situation is actually so bad in Louisiana right now that the state has started slashing away at everything from the public school system to sewage cleanup, and is even preparing to make massive cuts to the agency that investigates child abuse.
That’s right, the agency that investigates child abuse!
Meanwhile, the supposed economic benefits of Jindal’s starve the beast economic plan are nowhere to be found.
What’s going on in Louisiana is the equivalent of economic terrorism, and it’s downright anti-American.
It’s the exact opposite what our Founders like George Washington wanted.
They may have been revolutionaries, but the Founders believed in the power of government to do good for “We the People.”
In fact, they wrote right there in the preamble to the Constitution that they were establishing the republic to “promote the general Welfare’’!
Today’s Republicans, however, don’t believe in promoting the general welfare.
They’re ideologues who’ve been running a gigantic scam on the American people for the past 30 years.
They want to destroy government to enrich their wealthy friends and donors.
They’ve successful as this in large part because they’ve used dog-whistle racism to make their billionaire-friendly economic policies more attractive to voters.
Reagan advisor Lee Atwater described this process in pretty blunt language back in the 1980s.
In other words, "small government" is simply code for "no more assistance to poor people, particularly poor people of color." Meanwhile, they're massively expanding government, particularly in the military and in subsidies to billionaires and wealthy industries like pharma, big ag, and fossil fuels.
This con worked for decades, but Americans are now starting to figure it out.
If the candidacies of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders prove anything, it’s that Americans are sick and tired of the era of so-called small government and want to go back to the times when government worked for everyone, not just the few.
Bernie Sanders is very explicit about wanting to do this, but so too is Donald Trump once you get past the bluster and glorified infomercials like the one he gave last night after winning the Michigan primary.
The mainstream corporate media chooses to ignore it, but the major pull of Trump’s candidacy is his rejection of Republican economic orthodoxy.
He wants, for example, to undo so-called free trade and is very open about wanting to protect Social Security.
The fact that he can run on this platform and dominate the nomination process of a party that is against it 100 percent, proves once and for all how little actual support there is for so-called “conservative” small-government policies.
We already knew that was the case on the left, and now we know it’s true on the right as well.
The era of small government is rapidly ending, and Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump are killing it.