Each side understandably tends to focus on the issues that favor them. However, I want to step across the aisle for a moment and engage the Republicans on their own issues.
The central arguments of the Romney campaign could be summarized as these:This diary is Part 1 of a three part series. I address only the first argument here.
1. There is a debate over the role of government in the economy
2. Obama has added to the national debt
3. The recovery has been slow
I will go through each of these and show how they are all related to one another and how the GOP badly misinterprets the concepts behind their arguments.
There are three things to come together. Weâve got to have more jobs, less debt, and smaller government. They go together....Just to give people more money to spend?â Well thatâs a good enough reason by itself, but there is another reason. By lowering those marginal rates, we help businesses that pay at the individual tax rate to have more money so they can hire more people and pay higher wages.-- Mitt Romney, February 2012
The Republicans see nothing but conflict between the government and people and businesses who do not work for government. Business are 'fettered' by regulations. Fiscal 'uncertainty' holds them back. High taxes prevent businesses and consumers from spending more. Government is 'in the way' and if only it would get out of the way, hiring would increase. It's almost like "government" and "business" were two separate countries with a clearly demarcated border, so the expansion of one meant the shrinking of the other, and vice versa. If that was true, the United States would always be at civil war with itself!
Fortunately it is not true. Take the company behind an ad Romney used to attack Obama for saying "you didn't build that" about entrepreneurs:
Teachers and professors guide us; parents support us. Federal student aid and loans help us pay for college. Companies get government loans and tax breaks. That includes Gilchrist Metal, a New Hampshire firm presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney highlights in an anti-Obama ad. The owner of the firm, in the ad, appears shocked that the president doesn't think his family is responsible for building the company. But as the Manchester Union-Leader's stellar, veteran political writer John DiStaso reports, Gilchrist Metal benefited from $800,000 in tax-exempt New Hampshire revenue bonds, not to mention government contracts. Oops.Looking at Obama's words in full context, this is exactly what he was saying. Not that entrepeneurs aren't important in our economy-- they are! But they are part of a whole, and that is why they are important. Obama wasn't attacking entepreneurs, he was defending them, by trying to illustrate the complex reasons for their success. For if we don't understand that entepreneurs' success is helped by having a supportive environment (including employees, customers, and governments, as well as their own efforts), then we won't know how to help entrepreneurs in the future.
Romney understand this, as he said about the Olympics:
You Olympians, however, know you didn't get here solely on your own power. For most of you, loving parents, sisters or brothers encouraged your hopes â¦ Coaches guided, communities built venues in order to organize competitions. All Olympians stand on the shoulders of those who lifted them. We've already cheered the Olympians, let's also cheer the parents, coaches, and communitiesâ¦Just as businesses could not operate without laws, such as those governing contracts, incorporation, the protection of private property, as well as the roads, schools, and emergency services provided by government.
So government workers are paid from taxes paid by private entities, eat food grown in the private sector, live in houses built by the private sector, work at computers manufactured in the private sector, and drive vehicles designed by the private sector.
The relation between government and non-government isn't like two countries at war, it's like different organs of the human body. Without a strong heart, the lungs would be useless and stop working; without strong lungs, the heart would stop beating.
Recently the terms "governance" and "good governance" are being increasingly used in development literature. Bad governance is being increasingly regarded as one of the root causes of all evil within our societies. Major donors and international financial institutions are increasingly basing their aid and loans on the condition that reforms that ensure "good governance" are undertaken.The people who have studied development and economic growth for decades have concluded that the question is not how big the government is, but how decisions are made in society.
The concept of "governance" is not new. It is as old as human civilization. Simply put "governance" means: the process of decision-making and the process by which decisions are implemented (or not implemented).
Government is one of the actors in governance. Other actors involved in governance vary depending on the level of government that is under discussion. All actors other than government and the military are grouped together as part of the "civil society."
Employees and employers, brothers and sisters, governments and business, aren't atomistic, independent, opposing forces in duality- they're cooperative pieces of a single puzzle. There's no private America and public America; no employers America and employees' America, no business America and consumer America, there is one America, a United States of America. And if we are to succeed we have to stop looking at government and the private sector as being at war or opposition.
The Republicans have it back-ass wards. The starting point isn't a debate over what role the government should play, the starting point is what kind of economy do we want to have? Do we want an economy with a strong middle class? With full employment? With equal opportunity? With economic mobility and a chance for everyone? And once we've answered those things, next we have to ask, how will we get there? Only then is it appropriate to ask what role we want government to play.