So, less than a dozen “conservative” extremists have shut down the United States House of Representatives because they were not allowed to shut down the entire U.S. government.
Like someone calling in sick to work because they want to binge on their favorite TV series, these anti-government extremists are mindlessly fixated on “runaway spending.”
But the driving force behind government debt is NOT spending — it’s the series of (anti)Republican tax cuts over the past four decades. The graph above is very clear (here’s the original image from advisorperspectives.com):
After Reagan and the (anti)Republicans halved the top marginal tax rate from 73% to 28% in 1981, the national debt skyrocketed.
But even people pointing out the problem is one of revenue, not spending, rarely mention the most damaging effect of those tax cuts: the creation of a new oligarchy, largely composed of plutocratic narcissists who are becoming more and more open in their disdain for democracy. It is these plutocratic narcissists who funded the past ¾ of a century “feeding red meat to the base” that has turned the (anti)Republican Party toward authoritarianism. Just like every major theorist of civic republicanism warned, from Plutarch to Machiavelli to the immediate predecessors of the American Revolution, Algernon Sydney and James Harrington: allowing large concentrations of wealth to accumulate inevitably results in political discord and social instability.
As Lambert Strether at Naked Capitalism noted in April, during the first shut-down “crisis”: "I don’t think most of us have factored into our thinking the presence in our society of a class of people who can literally buy anything, including any service." And any Congressperson or Supreme Court justice.
Dismantling large concentrations of wealth is the most important reason for high taxes. That is the message we need to pound on every time some (anti)Republican sputters about “runaway spending.”