The names have changed, but this week’s competing Democratic and Republican budget proposals have brought the United States back to 1995. We again have an incoming Republican House majority demanding deep spending cuts, and resistance from a Democratic President and Senate majority. The difference, of course, is that the past fifteen years tested each Party’s approach: President Clinton brought economic growth and eliminated the budget deficit, while President Bush brought stagnation and record budget shortfalls.
Yet the American media and much of the public have apparently forgotten the success of post -1995 Clinton economic policies. As a result, Republican policies that drove the U.S. economy into the deepest ditch since the Great Depression are given equal credibility with Obama’s. It is as if the past fifteen years and the 2008 elections never occurred. How did this happen?
It’s 1995 All Over Again
If a modern day Rip Van Winkle went to sleep in 1995 (two years into the Clinton administration) and woke up today, he would think that the Republican Party never had a President or Congress willing to implement its policies regarding spending, taxes and deficits.
President Bill Clinton’s success at boosting the economy, and eliminating the budget deficit without slashing domestic spending or giving tax cuts to the rich? Never happened.
The Republican Party’s squandering of the deficit through tax cuts, a massive military build-up and wars, and its failure to stimulate domestic investment, all of which led to an economic meltdown in 2008? Never happened.
This is where we find ourselves today.
How did this happen? How has the actual impact of competing economic strategies been so quickly forgotten?
The most common answer is that the corporate media promotes Republican policies, that the November 2010 elections showed voters have changed their priorities since 2008, and that Obama and the Democratic Congress failed to get the economy out of the ditch during 2009-2010, thus restoring economic credibility to Republicans.
But these answers ignore an uncomfortable truth for Democrats, particularly those praising Obama’s budget in contrast to the slash and burn Republican plan: President Obama has consistently helped shift the debate away from jobs and economic stimulus and toward the Republican talking points of income tax cuts, “excess” domestic spending and deficit reduction.
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