Sunday, October 08, 2006
It's time that this Republican 'experiment' came to an end
After decades of complaining about Democratic policies, Republicans finally gained control of all branches of government in 2000. With the help of a compliant media, and unopposed by timid Democrats, they have had an almost unlimited ability to enact their legislative priorities since then. They have passed massive deficit-financed tax cuts, lobbyist written bankruptcy, tort reform, and energy bills, and even tested their radical foreign policy theories in Iraq. After six years, it is time we looked back at this experiment in Republican rule to see if they have fulfilled their promises.
Republicans have long claimed to be the party of fiscal responsibility, a smaller less intrusive government, strong national security, and integrity. These make good campaign slogans; but when trusted complete power, did their actions uphold these principles?
Far from being fiscally responsible, Republicans passed irresponsible tax cuts and supported out of control spending that has turned a record surplus into a record deficit and squandered the Social Security trust fund. Our national debt has increased from $5.7 trillion when Bush took office to $8.5 trillion today, an increase of over $23,000 per family. Even former GOP Congressman and commentator Joe Scarborough has concluded that "After six years of Republican recklessness at home and abroad, I seriously doubt Nancy Pelosi or Harry Reid ...could spend this country any deeper into debt than my Republican Party."
Rather than being the party of small government, Republicans have increased the size of the Federal government with ill-conceived programs like the No Child Left Behind Act, The Patriot Act, and the disastrous Medicare Prescription Drug Plan. They have also given the federal government vast new powers to intrude on our freedom and privacy. Republicans are now claiming that the President has the right to spy on us without a warrant and imprison citizens without a trial. They want to shred the Constitution and make the President the judge, jury, torturer, and executioner.
Instead of being strong on National Security, the current government ignored the Powell Doctrine and launched a war in Iraq based on distorted intelligence, without international support, without a plan for the occupation, and without an exit strategy. By alienating our allies, overstretching our military, losing interest in Afghanistan, ignoring loose nuclear weapons, and increasing terrorist recruitment, they have made the world an even more dangerous place. Five years after 9/11, few of the recommendations of the 9/11 Report have been implemented and Hurricane Katrina showed that we are not prepared for another attack.
Rather than bring integrity back to government as promised in their Contract with America, Republicans have brought unprecedented new levels of corruption to government. No-bid contracts are wasting billions of dollars and unqualified cronies have been given key positions in the government. The number of lobbyists has tripled, and the number of scandals seems to grow daily. From Jack Abramoff, to Tom Delay, to Alaska's own `Corrupt Bastards Club', too many Republicans have lined their own pockets while giving away taxpayer money to campaign contributors.
Instead of working to solve our problems for the last six years, Republicans have been distracting voters with constant fear-mongering and divisive social issues. While they focused on trying to ban gay marriage, outlawing flag burning, and intruding on the personal decisions of Terri Schiavo's family, they were avoiding real issues. There are 47 million Americans without health insurance; Republicans have no plans to seriously address this problem. Rising gas prices are funding Middle Eastern dictators but Republicans have no serious plans to lower our energy use. We have a huge budget deficit, but Republicans have no serious plans to balance the budget.
It is hard to conclude that this six year experiment with Republican policies has been anything but a failure. Republican leaders apparently agree, rather than run on their record, Republicans are planning to spend $50 million on negative ads in the next two months.
Passing on our debt to our children, surrendering our rights out of fear, starting wars of choice, and corruption are not conservative values. Hopefully, the near unanimous rejection of Frank Murkowski by primary voters, signals that Alaskans are tired of politics as usual. But, we must realize that the failures of the last six years are not just the result of incompetence; they are the inevitable result of putting people who have nothing but contempt for government in charge of our government.