Boehner, Right Wing Root for the Economic Apocalypse

John Boehner and the Republican Party have now made their vision for America’s future perfectly clear. To achieve the long standing goals of the far right wing of their party, they now appear to be rooting for an economic apocalypse that will cripple the federal government, shred the social safety net, and lead to fundamental changes in life as we know it in America for decades to come. That, of course, would be Grover Norquist’s most devout wish come true. Grover Norquist is the powerful anti-tax zealot who proclaimed that he would like to shrink government down to a size where it could be drowned in a bathtub. Mr. Boehner and Eric Cantor seem inclined to oblige him.

It is not a question of whether or not the deficit needs to be addressed. Everyone with any sense agrees that the deficit must be seriously addressed and that a long term solution has to be crafted. There is, however, disagreement among reasonable people over just how it should be done — and when. But in the midst of all this, the more unreasonable Republicans have fired up the fear machine and proclaimed that the deficit must be fixed this year, if not sooner, and that they will not permit increased revenue to be a part of any solution. To hear them tell it, we are growing broke tomorrow and the country is being taxed to death as it is.

But, according to the recent Congressional Budget Office’s Long-Term Budget Outlook, the Republican tale on taxes is flat out untrue. The non-partisan CBO finds that during the past 40 years, total federal revenues have fluctuated between about 15 percent and 21 percent of GDP. It has have averaged 18 percent. That is what is was for George W’s last year in office.

In Obama’s time in office, the federal tax revenues have been less than 15 percent of GDP in 2009 and 2010. And the CBO expects revenues to remain near 15 percent of GDP for 2011. Taxes are actually significantly lower than historical norms.

But still, the Republicans have sworn that they will not pass a budget that increases revenue. They say the problem can only be fixed by slashing budgets, services, and safety nets. They say that will grow the economy.

But the non-partisan CBO says that cutting back on spending too quickly would probably have negative consequences: “Making such changes while economic activity and employment remain well below their potential levels would probably slow the economic recovery.” Translation: no growth and no jobs.

The targets that the Republicans are aiming their bloody budget axe at include Medicare, CHIPS, and Medicaid.

But consider this: according to the CIA World Factbook, the United States currently ranks No. 50 in the world for life expectancy at birth. The CIA describes life expectancy at birth as “a measure of overall quality of life in a country.”

And we are 50th.

According to the CIA World Factbook, the United States currently ranks No. 46 in the world in infant mortality.

Greece, New Caledonia, Cuba and the Czech Republic all beat us.

But the Republicans clearly seem to believe that Americans are getting too much health care as it is. So they are planning deep cuts in Medicare, Medicaid and CHIPS.

You do have to give them credit for one thing. Politically, it’s brilliant. They will be taking actions they know will stunt economic growth and kill off jobs while they will be spending millions in anonymous corporate donations on TV ads blaming it all on Obama — and it will all come to a head just before next November’s election. It’s almost enough to make you root for the Apocalypse yourself. The big one.

  • BBrad

    Just what we need, another knee jerk liberal with half baked econmic analysis. The CBO is forced to run numbers on assumptions given to it by others and Nolan makes they same kind of gross over simplification he accuses others of making. What we need is more enlightenment and less political clap trap. We do have a debt crises and a bad economy and we probably need higher taxes and less government spending at some point but not now.

    • Barry Nolan

      Dear Brad,
      I am with you all the way – I am for more analysis and less clap trap. And for that you might want to actually click on the link provided in the story to the CBO – and go over the whole 120 something pages as I did. Right off the bat you will find that the way the CBO runs its numbers is by making their own assumptions about the most likely course of events – and then running the numbers with other likely alternative scenarios. As they did with this study.

      Or – for another thoughtful analysis you might like to read the testimony of Simon Johnson before the Joint Economic Committee. Mr. Johnson, former chief economist for the IMF – said: “Immediate spending cuts would, by themselves, likely slow the economy. The IMF’s comprehensive recent review of cross-country evidence concludes: “A budget cut equal to 1 percent of GDP typically reduces domestic demand by about 1 percent and raises the unemployment rate by 0.3 percentage point.”

      Or at the same JEC site you could read the testimony of Chad Stone, Chief Economist for the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities who said: “Like the Fed and CBO, we believe that policymakers should meet this fiscal stabilization goal in a reasonable period of time, but it is important to avoid a sudden negative impact on a still-fragile recovery by implementing it too precipitously.”

      Or you could read the work of Nobel Prize winner in Economic Paul Krugman, or read the work of Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz who has noted: “While the top 1 per cent have seen their incomes rise 18 per cent over the past decade, those in the middle have actually seen their incomes fall … All the growth in recent decades – and more – has gone to those at the top.”

      Or of course you could also listen to college drop out Rush Limbaugh and the clap trap he makes up and serves with such relish.

  • Pete


    I think all your article here does is prove that you’re a Democrat, as you’ve just adopted the surfacy talking points of the left.

    First, the GOP has made only moderate cuts so far to Fy 2012 spending. What all the Dems are complaining about is the GOP plan, 10 years from now, to shift Medicare into a new form in which it can be sustainable. Whatever else you might think about it, the Dems have offered no alternative plan. If there is an alternative, no one in DC is talking about it.

    If you’re going to agree that a long-term deficit plan needs to be “crafted,” well, this is the crafting process. The GOP has an idea… how would you refine it? And if tax increases are part of your plan, how will you pass them? The Democrats refused to increases taxes when they ran the whole government last year…

    Secondly, and more annoyingly, this infant mortality stat is just a trap that Democrats repeatedly fall into. These are self-reported statistics. If you’re going to believe that Cuba has better healthcare than the U.S., then you must also believe that Cuba’s economy grew 8 percent last year, etc etc.

    I’ve known people who go to Cuba often — doctors, researchers, etc. — and they have horrible stories. Hospitals you can’t get into, and if you somehow can, you bring your own sheets. There are no signs of children with Downs Syndrome, which has some doctors who have visited Cuba wondering if Cuba is hiding them all in the basement, euthanizing them, etc.

    This medical care story out of Cuba and other countries is similar to the education fables they tell. For example, everyone in Cuba has a Ph.D… but then companies try to hire people, and they find Cuba’s Ph.D.’s operate at a fifth grade level.

    Don’t fall for the phony stats!

  • Barry

    Dear Pete,
    We part ways on the definition of “moderate.” The Ryan Budget for 2012 as passed by the Republican controlled House “aims to cut $6.2 trillion in spending over 10 years” (Source: Fox News)
    The Ryan plan for Medicare would increase the cost of Medicare to those now 55 or younger by at least $6,400 per year.(Source: Politifact)

    Such an increase in the cost for middle class folks functions just like a tax increase – one aimed squarely at middle class seniors – even as the Republicans are fighting to protect the extra special super low tax treatment for Hedge Fund managers that is provided in the interest carried loop hole.

    As Paul Krugman has pointed out – Medicare can be made sustainable with common sense changes, including provisions for cost savings aimed at devices, procedures and medicines that have proven to be of dubious value at best. The kind of cost savings approach that every single private insurance company uses today.
    And please note that the source for the statistics on infant mortality – is the CIA. Not normally considered to be a supporter of Castro’s Cuba – or some lefty tree hugging outfit. Nice try though.

    Barry Nolan

  • Pete


    I think you missed my point:

    Yes, many don’t like the Ryan plan. But there is no Democratic alternative whatsoever. While you imply that everyone realizes cuts need to be made, the Democrats are incapable of agreeing to the major cuts that “everyone” realizes are needed. Krugman maybe has ideas, but the Dems in DC at this point have not adopted them.

    In the meantime, the moderate cuts I was referring to are the ones that are slowly being approved by Congress, piece by piece, in the annual appropriations bill (ie, separate from the Ryan plan). Those have just been a few billion here and a few billion there, including many agreed by the Obama administration.

    Your comment on the CIA is disappointing. “Nice try?” I’m not trying to trick you… the CIA itself admits it is parroting what each country reports — the CIA doesn’t “know” anything about infant mortality rates.

    I really think you are just trusting the things you want to trust. And saying the GOP wants an economic collapse? That’s just irresponsible and makes me sorry I’ve wasted my time… I’m no fan of the Dems, but I would never accuse them of rooting for an economic collapse…

    Best to you.

    • Barry

      Dear Pete,
      Perhaps you missed the Obama proposal for the 2012 budget. It was posted here:

      And you can see a side by side comparison of the two budget proposals here:

      But the Boehner and McConnell have made it clear that they will not consider any revenue measures – at all. None. They will not tax subsidies for big oil – they will not end the tax loophole for hedge fund managers – they will not end the Bush tax cuts for the highest earners – even as two expensive wars continue and the deficit looms. It all must be paid for in cuts – which will hit the middle class the hardest.

      And please note that the Obama budget addresses Medicare.

      And though i would not buy a used car from Grover Norquist – I take him at his word when he says – repeatedly – that he wishes to “starve the beast” – and reduce government to the size where it can be drowned in a bathtub. Note that he does not say – he wishes for government to be at its smallest effective size – or more responsive – or more streamlined – he wants it drowned. Things seldom recover from drowning.

      As to the infant mortality rates – for the sake of argument – let us say that whatever the figure that the CIA gives out for the rate in Cuba is untrustworthy. That still leaves 48 other countries – including Greece, New Caledonia – and most of the developed world that have better reported rates of infant mortality.

      Barry Nolan