Republican Irrationality: Embracing the Dubious

For the past ten years the Republican Party has been embracing dubious policies that are ever more weakening to the whole country. One notion is that the US tax burden is odious and one of the worst in the world. The second notion is that the public can be duped on hard to understand policy matters. These are some of the Deliberately Irrational policy positions of the GOP.

In the first case, the GOP has embraced The Tea Party and Grover Norquist’s American’s for Tax Reform[at best a cynical name because ATR opposes all taxes even elimination of tax loopholes and reforms]. The Tea party and ATR notion is that American pay an onerous tax burden  But in fact the OECD has reported that among the 34 developed nations, the US has the lowest tax burden except for Chile and Mexico. True the taxing policy for the past 30 years has granted more loopholes and decreased taxes disproportionately for the wealthy – so indeed, middle class Americans are paying more as a % of income than ever before. So doing an about face, the GOP is claiming that they are the party of hardnosed spending cuts when in fact the last three Republican President are solely responsible for the massive increase in the national deficits.

Marketwatch illustrates the resultant two-speak that is is possible in this fractured/fragmented media cycle. It is about Republican Speaker John Boehner and what he promised in the deficit talks in the past few days:

House Speaker John Boehner on Monday repeated his position that Republicans won’t accept in increase in the federal debt limit unless the White House agrees to shelve the idea of tax cuts and agrees to major cost-saving changes in entitlement programs. The House speaker held a brief press conference a few hours after Obama publicly urged both parties to strike a politically painful compromise that put the nation on sounder financial footing. Yet Boehner argued that Obama is still not serious about major entitlement reforms. He also said an increase in taxes was never part of discussions with the White House, though Boehner said he’s open to tax reform that eliminates loopholes.

Hence begins the second strategy – dupe the public.  GOP is relying on 4 major factors:
1)The GOP has its own FoxNews Propaganda Network. FoxNews is propaganda because it almost never praises Democratic policies or action and conversely almost never finds fault with GOP policy and actions. Fox News is propaganda because it relies on opinion editorials of many news events where scripted bias allows for particularly disparaging commentray to proliferate outside of any fair and balanced constraints. Fox News is propaganda because it is a New Corp subsidiary so it is allowed to alter and edit and censor  news stories to fit its own viewpoints.
2) Public policy is hard to understand especially in the detail. For example,  the national budget and deficits are hard to comprehend, especially all the complex appropriations . Rely on this to avoid the big picture because  over the past 30 years it is so damning to Republicans. So have a well -oiled machine that can trot out 2000 pages of the Clean Air or the Health Reform Bill and say the latter is full of wasteful spending and ‘death panels’ . Then rely on trotting  out hot button issues and discrediting sources as liberals  to distract  the public’s attention from the key issues. Finally have  many “Republican think tanks” able to spin any policy issue in Republicans favor or if thats not possible to find draconian fault with Democratic plans. Say “everybody does it, we are just better than most”.

3)Rely on the fact that big media is under major change. This means that national networks have 32-35 minutes of  national news broadcasts per day [with10 minutes of commercials] plus 3o minutes of deeper news analysis on Sundayon some of the networks. At same time major newspapers and magazines are dying out. Thus, almost all media  is looking for infotainment. The Casey Andersen trial got 10 times the coverage that the National Debt issue.  Blatantly admit that and say that the big issues are too complex for such short coverage. Provide no unbiased big picture, big issue view points. And even for details,  force follow up to local news or website lookup – and 3/4 quarters of the population will not get any “Big Issue”  understanding of critical national economic and political issues except what they can piece together themselves.

Now a good part of  Politics is the Art of Subterfuge. Taking undue credit and shifting blame in the face of a public are just basic skills when the public is armed  with   limited big views and sometimes selectively short term memory. The downside to political subterfuge is that coming to good analysis and conclusions is much more difficult in times of crisis. Hence the current increased vulnerability to National Decline as Republicans embrace the dubious.