How the Republican Party Has Conned America for Over 30 Years

The Republican Party has been running a long con on the American people, and Trump's new tax cut proposals are just the latest iteration on it. This con involves getting Democrats to shoot Santa Claus (Clinton cutting welfare/Obama proposing the chained CPI cut to Social Security) and using tax policy to put a jolly old Saint Nick outfit on the Republicans.

As Bruce Bartlett - one of the architects and major salespeople for Reagan's tax cuts in the '80s - wrote in USA Today this week: "Virtually everything Republicans say about taxes today is a lie. Tax cuts and tax rate reductions will not pay for themselves; they never have. Republicans don't even believe they will, they are just excuses to slash spending for the poor when revenues collapse and deficits rise. There is no evidence that tax reform raises growth, although it may improve fairness and tax administration."

So how do Republicans get away with this lie, and why does the press let them get away with it? It's a fascinating story.

Odds are you've never heard of Jude Wanniski, but without him Reagan never would have become a "successful" president, Republicans never would have taken control of the House or Senate, Bill Clinton never would have been impeached, and George Bush never would have become president. Ditto for Trump.

When Barry Goldwater went down to ignominious defeat in 1964, most Republicans felt doomed (among them the 28-year-old Wanniski). Goldwater himself, although uncomfortable with the rising religious right within his own party and the calls for more intrusion in people's bedrooms, was a diehard fan of Herbert Hoover's economic worldview.

In Hoover's world (and virtually all the Republicans since reconstruction with the exception of Teddy Roosevelt), market fundamentalism was a virtual religion. Economists from Ludwig von Mises to Friedrich Hayek to Milton Friedman had preached that government could only make a mess of things economic, and the world of finance should be left to the Big Boys - the Masters of the Universe, as they sometimes called themselves - who ruled Wall Street and international finance.

Hoover enthusiastically followed the advice of his Treasury Secretary, multimillionaire Andrew Mellon, who said in 1931: "Liquidate labor, liquidate stocks, liquidate the farmers, liquidate real estate. Purge the rottenness out of the system. High costs of living and high living will come down... enterprising people will pick up the wrecks from less competent people."

Thus, the Republican mantra was: "Lower taxes, reduce the size of government, and balance the budget."

The only problem with this ideology from the Hooverite perspective was that the Democrats always seemed like the bestowers of gifts, while the Republicans were seen by the American people as the stingy Scrooges, bent on making the lives of working people harder all the while making the very richest even richer. This, Republican strategists since 1930 knew, was no way to win elections.

Which was why the most successful Republican of the 20th century up to that time, Dwight D. Eisenhower, had been quite happy with a top income tax rate on multimillionaires of 91 percent. As he explained to his right-wing brother Edgar Eisenhower in a personal letter on November 8, 1954:

"[T]o attain any success it is quite clear that the Federal government cannot avoid or escape responsibilities which the mass of the people firmly believe should be undertaken by it. The political processes of our country are such that if a rule of reason is not applied in this effort, we will lose everything--even to a possible and drastic change in the Constitution. This is what I mean by my constant insistence upon 'moderation' in government.

"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, of course, that believes you can do these things. Among them are H. L. Hunt (you possibly know his background), a few other Texas oil millionaires, and an occasional politician or business man from other areas. Their number is negligible and they are stupid."

Goldwater, however, rejected the "liberalism" of Eisenhower, Rockefeller, and other "moderates" within his own party. Extremism in defense of liberty was no vice, he famously told the 1964 nominating convention, and moderation was no virtue. And it doomed him and his party.

And so after Goldwater's defeat, the Republicans were again lost in the wilderness just as after Hoover's disastrous presidency. Even four years later when Richard Nixon beat Hubert Humphrey in 1968, Nixon wasn't willing to embrace the economic conservatism of Goldwater and the economic true believers in the Republican Party. And Jerry Ford wasn't, in their opinions, much better. If Nixon and Ford believed in economic conservatism, they were afraid to practice it for fear of dooming their party to another 40 years in the electoral wilderness.

By 1974, Jude Wanniski had had enough. The Democrats got to play Santa Claus when they passed out Social Security and Unemployment checks - both programs of the New Deal - as well as when their "big government" projects like schools, hospitals, roads, bridges, and highways were built giving a healthy union paycheck to construction workers and driving economic growth. Democrats kept high taxes on businesses and rich people to pay for things, which worked out just fine for working people (wages were steadily going up, in fact), and made the Democrats seem like a party of Robin Hoods, taking from the rich to fund programs for the poor and the working class.

Americans loved it. And every time Republicans railed against these programs, they lost elections.

Everybody understood at the time that economies are driven by demand. People with good jobs have money in their pockets, and want to use it to buy things. The job of the business community is to either determine or drive that demand to their particular goods, and when they're successful at meeting the demand then factories get built, more people become employed to make more products, and those newly-employed people have a paycheck that further increases demand.

Wanniski decided to turn the classical world of economics - which had operated on this simple demand-driven equation for seven thousand years - on its head. In 1974 he invented a new phrase, "supply-side economics," and suggested that the reason economies grew wasn't because people had money and wanted to buy things with it, but instead, because things were available for sale, thus tantalizing people to part with their money. The more things there were, the faster the economy would grow.

At the same time, Arthur Laffer was taking that equation a step further. Not only was supply-side a rational concept, Laffer suggested, but as taxes went down, revenue to the government would go up!

Neither concept made any sense - and time has proven both to be colossal idiocies—but together they offered the Republican Party a way out of the wilderness.

Read more here.


Hephaestus's picture
Hephaestus 5 years 17 weeks ago

Is there any reason to believe that "common sense" might prevail?

Legend 5 years 17 weeks ago

With the influence of brainwashing media such as Fox News they have sold this to a large portion of low educated Americans. I should add that the mainstream media is owned and operated by the 1%.

deepspace's picture
deepspace 5 years 17 weeks ago

No, Hephaestus, there isn't. Although Thom's article, as usual, is a wonderful and very accurate history lesson, the catch-22 is revealed in one of his pollyannaish (bless him) statements at the end:

"Hopefully, though, reality will continue to sink in with the American people and the massive fraud perpetrated by Wanniski, Reagan, Graham, Bush(s), and all their "conservative" enablers will be seen for what it was and is."

The herd mentality of the American people suck at nuance when it comes to politics; they're as trusting as kittens and as gullible as, well, Trump voters.

I sincerely hope Thom's optimism comes to fruition, but the gambler in me calculates long odds -- at least before we avoid a total meltdown on all fronts. Then, the American people might finally wake up -- too feckin' late!

2950-10K's picture
2950-10K 5 years 17 weeks ago

A third Republick Party colossal idiocy: Bubble markets!.... Recently Yellon commented that she doesn't want to spook the current house of cards. Well guess what, it's her job to curb the irrational whip silly exurberance by raising interest rates. When the orange numbnut filled the swamp with Goldman Sachs crooks, he created the impression of a bankster fraud friendly government.

As Thom has pointed out many times , the Fascist buy back of shares with borrowed money at almost zero interest is part of the manipulation, but there is also a massive amount of illegal activity going on as well.....this from anonymous insiders!

Tax reform is the justification for the massive inflation of stocks, and that's already beyond baked in to the record setting numbers. Also as Thom already pointed out, trickle down never works, and the Fascists know it.

There won't be a correction, it will be a crash, and the rates are too low to be of any help in restarting the economy, not to mention the Kochbaggers will block any govt. welfare for the banksters this time around, we're headed for 1929 again. Colossal Idiocy once again!

The crash might do crooked Donny in well before the treason charges.

2950-10K's picture
2950-10K 5 years 17 weeks ago

The saddest part of bubble markets: The fascist elites end up just fine...the 99% pay the awful price of disaster economics.

2950-10K's picture
2950-10K 5 years 17 weeks ago

Show me where Roy Moore is any different than a Stephen Paddock...actually Moore's profile would be worse than Paddocks.

Oldskoold's picture
Oldskoold 5 years 17 weeks ago

I regret changing the subject here but; Legend is correct I think. And the brainwashing was what I had composed earlier. "Your Freedome will bury you Krusev said". ( Spelling ain't my strong suit) But, I'm old enough to remember it. Now; add social media and the "wild west of freedom: (internet); to use for psychological warfare? Well; appears they did, since you add in the KGB agent Putin as an (organized crime leader of a country with oil and friends of many American thugs such as Mannifort and the rest of the 1%r's???? Add in the assualt since 1986 of AM radio imbedding in the minds of southern white males that government is bad and "them brown people are a takin' yo money?

Now: to my first thought. I have attempted to get into the Paddock guys psyche and; I (operating on no terrorist contact reported), I have a hypothisis. Could it be that a successful millionaire went crazy as a loon to make a statement about white supremacy? I have labored with exposing my thoughts and hope im incorrect. However; could it be that the reason he took on a (virtually caucasian venue of a good time and music) to say he was ashamed? Yes; a damn crazy idea but without anything else to go on I merely proffer this. The authorities havent yet. The reason I even had that thought was that I heard (on progressive media several days ago that it was now up to us White males and Women to stop this racial idiocy we are suffering. Again, perhaps he was just crazy but; a damn millionaire? I could have been there if I were wealthy, love Country music and play it also in personal situations. I greive with all that lost loved ones and were shot and injured but please understand, I'm attempting to figure this atrocity out and it's unimajinable what these poor souls endured and the survivors will live with forever. Not the first tears as I wrote this.

Riverplunge's picture
Riverplunge 5 years 17 weeks ago

Thom? You ask how do they get away with lies? Simple. They own the NEWS! They can say , omit, delete or not cover anything.

Legend 5 years 16 weeks ago

Here comes the cuts to Medicare. Diane should be glad of that.

Ou812's picture
Ou812 5 years 16 weeks ago

Legend you are learning a valuable lesson about what happens when there is only one payer. Still want that single payer?

Hephaestus's picture
Hephaestus 5 years 16 weeks ago

#10 - You might be just evil

Have you ever been in a country where people die because they have no money?

Ou812's picture
Ou812 5 years 16 weeks ago

@11 You're a fool. Have you ever lived under single payer? I have and these type of budget issues happen all the time under single payer. Also tell me where people in this country are dying because they have no money....Facts please not some washed up lefty BS

Hephaestus's picture
Hephaestus 5 years 16 weeks ago

You evade the question

You display your lack of understnding by calling me a fool

Hephaestus's picture
Hephaestus 5 years 16 weeks ago

#12 - Your avatar suits you well

Sucking something

stopgap's picture
stopgap 5 years 16 weeks ago

Actually, Republican voters have conned themselves. All the Republican politicians have to do is throw out a trail of bigot-crumbs or greed-crumbs or Christian extremist-crumbs that lead back to the Republican party and Republican voters obediently drag their asses into the polls and pull the lever…and bang!! The trap is sprung until a few years later when Democrats un-spring the traps.

But like goldfish with no memory, Republicans fall for it over and over. Of course, the Republican politicians have to sweeten the bait a bit more each time. But not much!

HotCoffee's picture
HotCoffee 5 years 16 weeks ago

One eyed people can only see 1/2 of the equation = my side does nothing wrong!

It's all your fault...geez where have I heard that before???

stopgap's picture
stopgap 5 years 16 weeks ago

Well, at least "Hot Coffee" has abandoned all pretense of being anything but a rightwing troll.

HotCoffee's picture
HotCoffee 5 years 16 weeks ago

If only you were as intelligent as your are articulate!

HotCoffee's picture
HotCoffee 5 years 16 weeks ago

After 16 years straight of Dems that I voted for I just can't put all the blame on the right.

I guess maybe if I close one eye I might be able to pull it off.

Dems are going with the UN Globals....Not any better than Repubs.

HotCoffee's picture
HotCoffee 5 years 16 weeks ago

These 10 Countries Have The World’s Highest Murder Rates

Riverplunge's picture
Riverplunge 5 years 16 weeks ago

How do the Republicruds. get away with the press?? They own it Thom. They are joined at the hip with the rich, which own the stations. The lies they say will soon be forgotten. The endless free for all spending on planes, vacations etc. too. But woe to a Democrat if they get in and start spending money on sane things like water lines, sewers, gas lines, or roads. "Well we can't have that kind of reckless spending > the Republicans will say. They make me want to puke.

Riverplunge's picture
Riverplunge 5 years 16 weeks ago

Thank you.

Oldskoold's picture
Oldskoold 5 years 16 weeks ago

Grayson County Virginia for one place! I see this forum has been targeted. GTH # 12.

Oldskoold's picture
Oldskoold 5 years 16 weeks ago

Well; go back to # 7. Psychological warfare. Looks like Putin is a winnin' considering the invasion of "caffeine" here! The 27.5% holding on will never admit they were duped!

HotCoffee's picture
HotCoffee 5 years 16 weeks ago


Dems own TV...Repubs own Radio. Fux news is just about the only RW TV....LW NPR Radio are the exceptions.

Legend 5 years 16 weeks ago

HC, it is BS to post on this site what you think is fact without reference or backup. Your opinion is BS and not cared for by anyone. The Mainstream Media is owned and operated by the 1%. When you say Dems own TV you have totally ignored the Fox influence which is huge.

Oldskoold's picture
Oldskoold 5 years 16 weeks ago

HC: I won't talking about the news....... The internet. FB, Twtr,etc. And it continues. The remedy? I'm a working on it.

HotCoffee's picture
HotCoffee 5 years 16 weeks ago


Seems your in such a hurry to decide for everyone what they want to hear you either didn't read or didn't understand my post which said,

"Fux news is just about the only RW TV....LW NPR Radio are the exceptions."

Translation... Right Wing FOX NEWS on TV and left wing NPR on Radio are the exceptions.

Since this is Thoms site and he sends me the emails I will leave when he asks me too.

I really don't care if you think I should post here or not.

HotCoffee's picture
HotCoffee 5 years 16 weeks ago


It seems some people here just want to preach to the like minded.

To find issues in common where progress can be made requires conversation between reasonable people that want the best for all people.

Hope you do find real solutions.

BoxCar's picture
BoxCar 5 years 16 weeks ago

1993 Solar Mortality Theory predicted an event on 7/7/07 would occur to TRIGGER onset of global socio-economic turmoil> On 7July07 Bush SEC removed 1937 Uptick Rule to allow wall st. banksters to SHORT economic bubble of hsg mkt into the ditch> Then Bush had AUDACITY to BAIL OUT banks, NOT to just save them from bankruptcy, but to ensure banks used US Treasury to PAY OFF SHORTs, his "have mores" (his words) In short it was greatest XFR of wealth since Louisiana Purchase> Crime of the Century but NO ONE went to jail> WOW, means "Amercia" is a BIG FAT LIE

HotCoffee's picture
HotCoffee 5 years 16 weeks ago


You are so almost cost me my home and it did cost my grandmother her home.

Bush and Clinton....same family politically. Just Google images of Bush, Clintons together .

Legend 5 years 16 weeks ago

Post 29. No one cares too hear your factless opinion. Post fact and reference or it is BS just like the Yahoo comments section.

2950-10K's picture
2950-10K 5 years 16 weeks ago

The Kochpublican Party has only conned an exploitable minority of Americans Thom!

How have they done this? Their fascist masters own the corpse media. I rarely see a Democratic politician on network news/talk shows. Even NPR has shifted their interviews to a heavy republican majority. NPR never calls out republicans on their blatant lies...they let the propaganda fly just like their network counterparts.

Has anybody heard about Bernie and his medicare for all proposal lately? Unless he takes it on the's dead. The 2018 voter won't hear or even think about it. We're up against a 47th in freedom of the press ranking...welcome to fascism!

Limpball had a caller today comment that hollywood movie content is responsible for the mass shootings. Of course ole Limp agreed. I tried to call and comment that the rest of the world watches those same movies and other countries don't have mass shooting problems because of gun control laws...they wouldn't let me on...LMAO. That's right-wing "Merica!"

HotCoffee's picture
HotCoffee 5 years 16 weeks ago

Janis Joplin RIP 47 years ago today.

HotCoffee's picture
HotCoffee 5 years 16 weeks ago

I listened to Amy Goodman this morning on the radio and she has not and will never go right wing....nor should she. She does however converse with the right from time to time.

HotCoffee's picture
HotCoffee 5 years 16 weeks ago

Here's something that should matter to both sides.

HotCoffee's picture
HotCoffee 5 years 16 weeks ago

Deconstructing the Deconstruction- Postmodernism’s Effect on US Politics

deepspace's picture
deepspace 5 years 16 weeks ago

HC: You're all over the board again with this, that, and everything. (Haha, better switch to decaf, dear.) Not a problem though (I love it!); I'll just grab the baton and springboard off #37 with copious amounts of my own free internet ink:

Yes, agreed; geo-engineering is a dangerous farce -- NOT, however, the ridiculous contrail conspiracy-theory crap that's popular with paranoid wackadoodles in tinfoil hats (cuckoo, cuckoo), but the equally ridiculous belief that it's possible to "geo-engineer" our way out of global warming with some futuristic, pie-in-the-sky technology that will never materialize in any timeframe that matters. Mysterious contrails in the atmosphere (Cue up "The Twilight Zone" music here.) are a joke; carbon and methane are not.

Whatever technological theories to scrub carbon out of the air that the so-called experts in this particular, highly suspect field of science tout cannot now, nor ever will, effectively match or mitigate the sheer scale of Earth's looming climate disaster. The bigger danger with such wishful thinking, though, is that it diverts attention away from the primary problem. People of all stripes need to be 100% focused on the reality: The only viable solution -- a window rapidly closing -- is to quit f*cking burning f*cking carbon right f*cking now!

Plain enough? End of story; and if humans don't come to their senses soon enough, end of life. The hard science massively overwhelms the stubborn denial, whether laypeople agree or not.

That top-of-the-list subject segues appropriately to the disingenuous false equivalency argument weaving its way through this thread:

Sooo... Which party in power is doing virtually nothing about ACD (anthropogenic climate disruption) -- in fact, is going in the exact opposite direction? Which party in power initially has embroiled us in unnecessary, hopeless, immoral wars in the middle East? Which party in power consistently lavishes taxpayer largesse on the defense industry, making endless war highly profitable, while siphoning much needed resources away from domestic programs? Which party in power crashed the world economy and is threatening to do so again with the same, truly stupid policies -- lessons of 2008 never learned? Which party in power is trying their damnedest to take away healthcare from tens of millions, which would directly lead to the deaths of tens of thousands every year, who don't have enough money to pay the extortion by private insurance monopolies? Which party in power is redistributing wealth upward, rushing frantically to enable the one percent to steal the nation's wealth through uneven tax cuts and corporate welfare programs, accounting for the lion's share of public monies? Which party in power is refusing to invest in higher education to make it affordable for the masses, hampering American competitiveness in the world? Which party in power has gleefully enabled the offshoring of thousands of manufacturing plants and millions upon millions of high-paying jobs with a self-serving, lop-sided, so-called "free" market ideology, which discounts the needs of workers at nearly every turn? (There's nothing "free" about it!) Which party in power has refused to invest money to upgrade effectively our widespread failing infrastructure, which would create millions upon millions of new high-paying jobs? Which party in power loathes green energy programs, which would also create millions upon millions of new high-paying jobs, magnitudes more than the fossil fuel industry ever could? Which party in power is turning our civilian police force essentially into a military occupying force? (Take a knee during the National Anthem no matter where you are!) Which party in power is hurtling headlong down the road to fascism?

Which party in power deserves to be voted out of power?

(The list is much longer, of course, but those are some of the more critical issues of the day.)

While the weak-kneed, corp-Dem wing of the Democratic Party -- yes, including the presidencies of Clinton and Obama -- certainly deserves its fair share of the blame, the culpability of the Democratic Party as a whole in no way matches that of the Republican Party, the party of the fabulously rich, the obscenely wealthy, the liars and the thieves -- in other words, the cons of the last thirty years (the topic of this blog).

Dianereynolds's picture
Dianereynolds 5 years 16 weeks ago

Some facts for the bore assed woman hater. There is 2-1/2 minutes of my life that I will never get back but worth it considering I am reading these posts and guess what? Thanks to butthurt malcontent leftie/socialists, It is Christmas again.

Legend 5 years 16 weeks ago

The mainstream media is owned and operated by the 1%. You hear what they want you to hear. You do not hear what they do not want you to hear.

chuckle8's picture
chuckle8 5 years 16 weeks ago

I have a question for DianeR. Are the links you gave us in support of deepspace and Thom?

Speaking of minutes wasted, the variety article somehow equates a corporation making decisions based on profit as an attack on free speech. We on the left wish that suppressing information could be overcome by claiming freedom of speech; especially, when they stopped talking about global warming for so many years.

Legend 5 years 16 weeks ago

Sounds like Thom is moving back to Portland. Is this the beginning of retirement?

stopgap's picture
stopgap 5 years 16 weeks ago

"Quiet before the storm!" Congratulations righties, you may get a chance to offer up you sons, daughters, grandchildren, nieces and nephews as bullet-stoppers pretty soon now for President "Fucking Moron."

Gee, I heard Pence walked out on a NFL game because some players took a knee during the national anthem. Don't let the door hit you in the ass on the way out you treasonous bastard! I didn't hear about the stadium emptying out to follow your lead. I guess not everyone is a bigot asshole. But you were a good little boy and did what President "Fucking Moron" told you to do. You may now kiss his ring.

changeX's picture
changeX 5 years 16 weeks ago

The ability to con' the masses exponentially increased in effectiveness and efficiency after the creation of the television aka 'boob tube'. Great minds used the invention wisely hoping to make the world better, while many others had a different goal.

It is odd how unpatriotic some were, almost day to day, while President Obama was in office but now want to paint themselves in the flag.

Willie W's picture
Willie W 5 years 16 weeks ago

#45 The players should have stood in respect for our National Anthem. Pence had already planed to leave right away to make it to some fund raiser. Had all the players stood in respect, it would have made it awkward for him to walk out early.

deepspace's picture
deepspace 5 years 16 weeks ago

It cost the taxpayers a cool million for Pense to fly out to the game and stage his little protest for big boss man. At least we won't get a bill from football players for exercising their right to freedom of speech.

stopgap's picture
stopgap 5 years 16 weeks ago

And, how the hell were the players supposed to know that Pence was leaving early to attend a fundraiser? You mean to tell me he just dropped in to catch the national anthem? Doesn't make any sense.

But that's beside the point anyway. The players are protesting the fact that a cult of racist cops shoot first then ask questions later when it comes to blacks and get off with taxpayers footing the bill. How much integrity would the players have shown if they directed their attention away from their protest just to make the vice president look awkward.

Considering that the Black Caucus were about the only ones that stood up to the lying, dumb-ass Bush when he rushed the country into the Iraq war, maybe it would pay to listen to them for a change? We probably wouldn't be in the mess we are in in the middle east and their certainly wouldn't be Isis, which was a direct result of the Iraq occupation.

By the way, Willie W. How are things down at the chocolate factory?

changeX's picture
changeX 5 years 16 weeks ago

For a VP to leave a National Football game just after the National Anthem had been sung is so much more disrespectful to the Nation than anything. The song portrays ability to withstand in the face of all odds without retreat. He cut and run? Did he sing the National Anthem all the way to his "fundraiser".

Oddly enough, while the National Anthem is played on the boob tube, millions of Americans sit at home planted to the couch eating yellow orange colored potato chips and double cheese crust meat lover pizza while guzzling carmel colored carbonated sugar.

By the way, wouldn't it be patriotic for wall street get paid to sing the National Anthem each morning before opening bell?

Thom's Blog Is On the Move

Hello All

Thom's blog in this space and moving to a new home.

Please follow us across to - this will be the only place going forward to read Thom's blog posts and articles.

From The Thom Hartmann Reader:
"Right through the worst of the Bush years and into the present, Thom Hartmann has been one of the very few voices constantly willing to tell the truth. Rank him up there with Jon Stewart, Bill Moyers, and Paul Krugman for having the sheer persistent courage of his convictions."
Bill McKibben, author of Eaarth
From Cracking the Code:
"In Cracking the Code, Thom Hartmann, America’s most popular, informed, and articulate progressive talk show host and political analyst, tells us what makes humans vulnerable to unscrupulous propagandists and what we can do about it. It is essential reading for all Americans who are fed up with right-wing extremists manipulating our minds and politics to promote agendas contrary to our core values and interests."
David C. Korten, author of The Great Turning: From Empire to Earth Community and When Corporations Rule the World and board chair of YES! magazine
From The Thom Hartmann Reader:
"Thom Hartmann channels the best of the American Founders with voice and pen. His deep attachment to a democratic civil society is just the medicine America needs."
Tom Hayden, author of The Long Sixties and director, Peace and Justice Resource Center.