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Too many pundits can't decode racist, bigoted, and kleptocratic Republican Dog Whistle speech. I'm here to help. We start off with Grover Norquist's favorite phrase, "Starve the Beast", because self-proclaimed deficit-hawk Republicans are still claiming that tax cuts don't matter, and that this issue will help them win in November.

Grover Norquist, founder of Americans for Tax Reform, explains himself thus:

Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) opposes all tax increases as a matter of principle. We believe in a system in which taxes are simpler, flatter, more visible, and lower than they are today.  The government's power to control one's life derives from its power to tax.  We believe that power should be minimized.

ATR was founded in 1985 by Grover Norquist at the request of President Reagan.

I explain him quite otherwise. It's the same racism as it has been since the Constitutional Convention, and even before, with a dose of religious bigotry added.

Mark Williams of Tea Party Express gave away the game last week, so we know that the essence of the movement is racism and allied sentiments, just as it has been for centuries, even if we could deny it to ourselves before. But he is not our target today. Even the Mainstream Media knows about him and his unwavering racism.

Starving the Beast has become Grover Norquist's aim in life, although it first appeared in the Wall Street Journal in 1985 in a quotation from an unnamed White House official during the Reagan administration.

We didn’t starve the beast. It’s still eating quite well—by feeding off future generations.

The intended meaning is to cut taxes so hard that even Democrats will feel that they have to cut government social programs, while maintaining plausible deniability. It must not seem that the purpose is racist or bigoted, or even merely excessively greedy.

Norquist's stated goal is

to cut government in half in twenty-five years, to get it down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub.

Here is some of the alleged theoretical foundation for such policies, as explained by Bruce Bartlett:

At a hearing of the Senate Finance Committee on July 14, 1978, Alan Greenspan, who had lately been chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers (CEA) under Ford, endorsed the Kemp-Roth bill with this explanation:

Let us remember that the basic purpose of any tax cut program in today’s environment is to reduce the momentum of expenditure growth by restraining the amount of revenues available and trust that there is a political limit to deficit spending.

Senate Finance Committee, 1978

At same time, University of Chicago economist Milton Friedman considered the deficits that might arise from a reduction in taxes without a concomitant cut in spending. He argued that the deficit is essentially meaningless; what matters is government spending. Thus, a cut in taxes, even without accompanying spending cuts, was not a matter of concern for conservatives. As he wrote,

There is an important point that needs to be stressed to those who regard themselves as fiscal conservatives. By concentrating on the wrong thing, the deficit, instead of the right thing, total government spending, fiscal conservatives have been the unwitting handmaidens of the big spenders. The typical historical process is that the spenders put through laws which increase government spending. A deficit emerges. The fiscal conservatives scratch their heads and say, "My God, that’s terrible; we have got to do something about that deficit." So they cooperate with the big spenders in getting taxes imposed. As soon as the new taxes are imposed and passed, the big spenders are off again, and there is another burst in government spending and another deficit.

In a column in Newsweek magazine, Friedman made his point more succinctly:

I have concluded that the only effective way to restrain government spending is by limiting government’s explicit tax revenue—just as a limited income is the only effective restraint on any individual’s or family’s spending.

Which programs do these people want to cut? Well, let's take a look.

Americans for Tax Reform

ATR has several operations, including the

Although ATR claims to be about tax policy, these Web sites are explicitly


and implicitly pro-corporate throughout.

Clear enough?

A discussion

On my college class mailing list we were discussing the question

Is there any economic logic for the Repocrites' scaring the pants off the public with visions of deficit doom when the economy is rife with unused productive capacity?  I mean, it didn't bother Dutch, and it didn't bother 43.  What am I missing here?

This is my reply.

No, no, you don't get it. Republican deficits don't matter, because they Starve the Beast. Democrat deficits are the work of the Devil, or at least the Antichrist, and will lead us to Communism, serfdom, or outright slavery. Article of faith. It's in Hayek and Friedman.

Advocacy of "democratic socialism" by many...who are persuaded that it is possible for a country to adopt the essential features of Russian economic arrangements and yet to ensure individual freedom through political arrangements...is a delusion.

Milton Friedman, Capitalism and Freedom

Arrant nonsense by one of the most deluded of all. The ultimate Capitalist/Libertarian Useful Idiot who prepared the way for Ronald Reagan's Voodoo politics.

(Could you tell?)

A friend continued:

Is starving the beast going to bring the capital back from China?

Me:

Starving the Beast is for one purpose only: to keep the riff-raff in their place by denying them social services, which, as Thorstein Veblen explained, is more important than anything.

Pardon me, to pretend to keep, etc.

Veblen invented the phrase Conspicuous Consumption in his classic The Theory of the Leisure Class, which explains how being richer, more important, more powerful than others, and having everybody else know it, is one of the primary motive forces in human nature. Gore Vidal expressed this motivation best.

It is not enough to succeed. Others must fail.

See also Robert Axelrod, The Evolution of Cooperation, to get an idea of the conditions for the growth or destruction of caste systems. And Adam Smith isn't at all bad.

Everything for ourselves, and nothing for anybody else, seems, in every age of the world, to have been the vile maxim of the masters of mankind.

This is the direct opposite of religious teaching. For example, love your neighbor as yourself (Christian), or rejoice in the achievements of others (Buddhist). There are many more such.

Meaning

Vote for me, I'm the only Real segregationist left, even if I can't say so publicly and can't do anything about it. Repeal the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments! Go back to the intent of the Original Constitution and the slave owning Founders who wrote it! Everything for rich White Southern men, and nothing for women, minorities, or anybody else!

As long as Republicans can get a minority of 41 Senators together from the South and the Bible and Book of Mormon belts to block progress, we won't make major advances on the real social programs that the US needs, and the US government can't do anything worthwhile for the rest of the world. As long as they can gin up enough anger about taxes and tyranny and racism and bigotry and the rest of that nonsense, they expect to keep that 41-vote bloc together.

Nuh-uh. The old-time racists and the old-time religion are going away at several percent annually, and a lot of their children aren't interested, having grown up in contact with gays, minorities, furriners, even the opposite sex. Sometime in this next decade, the Right will lose its death-grip on the Senate, which began with the original Constitution, and continued even after the Civil War and the new Constitutional Amendments abolishing slavery, redefining citizenship, and applying much of the Bill of Rights to the states. This is the endgame.

Mortgaging the World

My friend continued

And what's this about our children and grandchildren having to repay the national debt when only the children of the rich have wealth?  I mean, Hellooooooooo.

What does that matter? We're afraid now, of Blacks and Browns and Yellows, and Muslims and Hindus and Jews and all those others taking over the US and destroying the exceptionalism it once stood for: racism, bigotry, corporate empire, the aristocracy of wealth, and insensate greed! You can't even trust women to know their places and stay in them any more! They're trying to tear everything down, too! And these kids!

We want our country back! You can't have it! Our morally superior, intellectually superior, deserving grandchildren will have all of the wealth we leave to them expropriated for reparations, and spread around to all the undeserving riff-raff, and they will be enslaved forever in a do-gooder, nanny, welfare state that spreads the wealth around to everybody, including all of those non-rich, non-White, non-Southern, non-men. The nation will go down the toilet, and the world will go to Hell in a handbasket.

Don't you get it? It's all because of Federal government tyranny over the liberty-loving Real Americans meant to destroy our way of life, especially our privileged positions, and the social programs that are letting the riff-raff grow richer and more powerful every day until they threaten to take over and enslave the Real Americans who are already in the minority, except in the remaining Republican strongholds.

They're after us! They want our money and our property! They want our jobs! They want our wives and daughters! We have to stop it, and the only way we can think of any more is to withhold our votes and our money. No new taxes! Tax cuts for Real Americans, especially for rich, White Southern men, to stimulate the Real Economy of White Privilege. Jobs for the riff-raff don't count.

If you're White, you're all right.
If you're Brown, stick around.
But if you're Black,
Oh, Brother, get back, get back, get back.

Big Bill Broonzy

but not any more. It's going to be the other way around here in the formerly good old US of A. Tyranny! Socialism! Communism! Naziism! The Antichrist! HE'S BLACK!!!!

On the bright side, though, all of this means that the Rapture is near, Israel and the Muslim countries are going to annihilate each other in Armageddon, and we can just let the BB&Ys worship their Antichrist and then go to Hell.

Ahem.

Excuse me.

In the fevered dreams of Norquist's most messed-up Tea Party followers, and those of Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, and the rest. Even the Cato Institute doesn't buy Starve the Beast any more.

Everybody knows that the Reagan tax cuts did not actually cause spending to come down in the 1980s; most people have surely noticed that the Bush I and Clinton tax hikes were followed by spending constraint in the 1990s; and the Bush II tax cuts certainly have not stopped Congress from spending like a drunken sailor recently. But then the plural of anecdote is not data, and until the starve-the-beast theory is conclusively discredited, tax cutters won't stop hiding behind it.

Well, now it has been discredited. [Jonathan] Rauch cites William Niskanen, an economist who worked in the Reagan White House and now chairs the Cato Institute. Niskanen has crunched the numbers between 1981 and 2005, testing for a relationship between tax cuts and government spending, and controlling for levels of unemployment, since these affect spending and taxes independently. Niskanen's result punctures his own party's dogma. Tax cuts are associated with increases in government spending. The best strategy for forcing cuts in government is actually to raise taxes.

Here is another such source.

Should Tax Cuts Lead Spending Cuts, or Vice Versa?

Do tax cuts force the federal government to reduce wasteful spending? That was the premise behind the conservative fiscal strategy affectionately known as "starving the beast." But the growth of spending and deficits even in the face of large tax cuts has worn down some of its former supporters, according to syndicated columnist and former U.S. Treasury official Bruce Bartlett, in an article analyzing the origins and development of the curiously named fiscal strategy.

"There is now a growing fear among [many of its former supporters] that the ultimate result of relying on starving the beast [emphasis added] to support tax cuts may be to make future tax increases inevitable," writes Bartlett in the cover article of the summer 2007 issue of The Independent Review. "Whether, on balance, taxpayers are ultimately better off than they would have been without the tax cuts remains to be seen, but there is at least a reasonable chance that they will be worse off."

What does the future portend for the growth of government spending? "Perhaps a future fiscal crisis will provide political cover for massive cuts in entitlement programs [emphasis added] that would be politically impossible except in such dire circumstances," Bartlett continues. [Nope.] "However, many analysts now think as I do that the more likely result of such a crisis will be massive tax increases that will move the tax/GDP ratio in the United States closer to that in Europe."

Oh, like letting the Bush tax cuts for the rich expire, to start with? OK.

Next time

Libertarian

Believer in the right to do anything that does not harm anybody else of any importance in any way that matters

Originally posted to Mokurai on Mon Jul 26, 2010 at 09:05 PM PDT.

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