Right on cue, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) reared up on his hind legs before the Economics Club of Washington and Thursday perpetuated the Big Lie that the way to economic recovery was more tax cuts, tax breaks and tax subsidies for the GOP's wealthy cronies and patrons.
A house packed with wealthy GOP cronies and patrons cheered and applauded.
Attacking President Barack Obama's jobs bill, Boehner spouted the standard GOP blather that the wealthy needed more tax breaks and subsidies, and free reign to cheat their customers, bilk their suppliers, despoil the environment and Ponzi-scheme their way to even more ill-gotten riches.
Creating jobs was the excuse du jour, although thirty years of lavishing the wealthy with tax breaks and subsidies, and free reign to cheat their customers, bilk their suppliers, despoil the environment and Ponzi-scheme their way to ill-gotten riches hadn't created any jobs yet. Except, perhaps, at lobbying firms, where GOP lawmakers could rotate between government positions collecting graft and private positions doling out graft.
"Last week, the President put forth a new set of proposals. The House will consider them, as the American people expect," Boehner prevaricated from the start.
"Let's be honest with ourselves," Boehner apparently liked irony. "The President's proposals are a poor substitute for the pro-growth policies that are needed to remove barriers to job creation in America."
To the GOP, "pro-growth" meant concentrating an ever greater proportion of everyone's money into an ever shrinking pool of the richest plutocrats on Earth.
"It's a very simple equation," Boehner warmed up to spout the GOP's biggest, most pernicious self-serving lie of all. "Tax increases destroy jobs."
Of course, when Boehner said "tax increases destroy jobs," he wasn't talking about tax increases on the poor and middle classes. Boehner and the Republicans didn't give a fig about increasing taxes on the poor and middle classes. Boehner and the Republicans hated expanding the middle class payroll tax cut from 2% to 3.1%, and instead wished they could cancel the existing 2% tax break altogether.
When Boehner said "tax increases destroy jobs," he meant tax increases on big corporations and the rich.
And that was the Big Lie.
GOP tax cuts for the rich have already concentrated 84% of America's wealth into the hands of the richest 20% of Americans, without creating any jobs in the process. Republican tax cuts for the rich concentrated 84% of America's wealth into the hands of the richest 20% of Americans, while eliminating, outsourcing, and offshoring millions of jobs.
GOP tax cuts for the rich have left middle-class wages stagnant. Not only that, GOP tax-slashing policies caused the S&P 500's growth to stagnate as well. Even the rich suffered under GOP tax-slashing fervor.
Reflecting on the Great Depression of the 1930s, Marriner Eccles, Federal Reserve chair from 1934 to 1948, said, "a giant suction pump had by 1929-30 drawn into a few hands an increasing portion of currently produced wealth.... By taking purchasing power out of the hands of mass consumers, the savers denied to themselves the kind of effective demand for their products that would justify a reinvestment of their capital accumulations in new plants."
In 1926, the Coolidge Administration slashed the top income tax rate from 44% to 25%. But 1929, conditions were such that Marriner Eccles would later fret over them. Even Herbert Hoover realized what was up, and raised the top rate to 58% in 1932. Too late. The damage was done.
It wasn't until Franklin Delano Roosevelt started throwing an alphabet soup of stimulus projects at the economy that green shoots began to appear here and there. But, as every Republican loved to point out, the economy didn't really right itself until World War II bailed out the vaunted job creators of the private sector.
Well, World War II, a 94% top tax rate, and unprecedented government stimulus in the form of orders for 12,731 B-17 Flying Fortresses, 18,482 B-24 Liberators, 5,288 B-26 Marauders, 13,738 P-40 Warhawks, 10,037 P-38 Lightnings, 15,686 P-47 Thunderbolts, 16,766 P-51 Mustangs, and 12,571 F4U Corsairs, just to name a few of the combat aircraft, without even starting on the 49,234 M-4 Sherman tanks, or the 193,000 artillery pieces, or the two million trucks, or any of the other ocean-spanning convoy-fulls of material. C-rations. Combat boots. Uniform pants. The occasional top-secret project to build an atomic bomb.
Stimulus spending indeed.
Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) whined that Obama's modest spending proposal to kick-start the economy was "venture socialism," demonstrating the incessant GOP penchant for turning catchy phrases to justify selling their country out to international plutocrats.
"There are a number of Democrats...and this is the scariest thing of all, who really believe that government spending is the major part of our economy," DeMint pontificated to Fox News' Greta Van Susteren.
DeMint clearly would have preferred to spreche Deutsch, instead of making the rich cough up a 90% tax rate and saving the world.
And that 90%+ tax rate kept America humming until the Kennedy and Johnson Administrations closed a bunch of loopholes and reduced the top tier to a plutocrat-coddling 70% in the sixties. During that time, the private sector somehow managed to bump along while America rebuilt all of Europe and Japan, and built a whole new America with an Interstate Freeway system, a GI Bill, and a whole raft of new schools and libraries and highways and byways and dams and bridges and the occasional space program that sent humans to the moon.
Now, America didn't have a human space flight program, but Richard Branson did.
Tax breaks for the rich, indeed.
The fact remained that unless taxes on the rich kept money flowing around a capitalist system, money tended to accumulate into the few unconscionably lucky, greedy, and brutally selfish hands Marriner Eccles fretted over.
The fact remained that despite John Boehner's and Republicans' lies to the contrary, cutting taxes on the rich never created jobs. The fact remained that every tax cut, tax break and tax subsidy Republicans lavished on the rich was a job-destroying defacto tax hike on everyone else. Republicans destroyed jobs every time they slashed services and handed the savings to their rich cronies, forcing everyone else to shell out cash for services that used to be free. Republicans destroyed jobs when the cash everyone had to shell out for formerly free services was diverted from the marketplace, crippling demand: Health care; parking; museums; transportation; school supplies.
Most importantly, raising taxes on the rich not only didn't inhibit job creation, it was an absolutely essential component of job creation.
Taxing the rich kept money from disappearing into arcane fiduciary instruments. Taxing the rich kept money circulating among the middle classes, who spent it, driving demand and encouraging investment in plants and equipment.
Giving big corporations and the rich more and bigger tax breaks just encouraged cost-saving mergers, acquisitions, layoffs, outsourcing and offshoring to artificially pump up a bottom line for bigger tax-free profits. Giving big corporations and the rich more and bigger tax breaks just encouraged locking away more and more tax-free profits into an ever-expanding menagerie of money-sequestering creative financial instruments. Giving big corporations and the rich more and bigger tax breaks just encouraged making money by trading money, instead of by making and selling things.
Giving big corporations and the rich more and bigger tax breaks was what people did when they cared more about big corporations and the rich than they did about America.