One of the most tragic things about modern politics is that it's practically impossible for the average American to understand what's going on without an interpreter. By that, I mean that the "Saving Kittens, Baby Pandas, and Puppies Act of 2011" may actually be a bill that gives $10,000 tax credits to lawyers who defend sleazy zoos from negligence suits.
From there, things only get worse because the newspapers blindly parrot whatever the liberal line is on the bill, the establishment Republicans say one thing, the Tea Partiers say another, and most people are left scratching their heads trying to figure out what the bloody hell is going on in a 2000 page bill that’s released to Congress about 11 minutes before they get around to voting.
Still, there are certain oft-repeated shibboleths that you can safely interpret without having to tune into the Rush Limbaugh show or Right Wing News to figure out what's going on. Let's talk about a few of those.
1) It's for the children: Whatever new programs our politicians come up with are certainly not "for the children." If politicians were honest, most of them would tell you that they'll start caring about "the children" the moment they can vote them out of office. Even then, the pols wouldn't actually look out for the kids; they'd just do appearances with Justin Bieber and push bills that give away free candy.
Does that sound cynical? Well, here's the rejoinder to that: Our politicians have run up a 14 trillion dollar national debt by spending money today that our children will have to pay off tomorrow. The only thing we can do for "the children" that matters at this point is to start paying off that money.
2) We have to pay for those tax cuts: This is like a tick saying that a dog needs to "pay for the blood" it didn't get to suck earlier in the day. We have to pay for expenditures, like flying the Obamas around on their zillions of vacations and the taxpayer funds we poured into GM and Chrysler to bail out the unions. However, allowing people to keep more of the money they earned isn't an expenditure.
Getting beyond semantics, tax cuts stimulate economic growth and generally, we find that tax revenues to the government GO UP after a tax cut. That was certainly the case with the Bush tax cuts. Granted, you could make the argument that revenues would be even higher without the tax cuts, but that doesn't change the fact that the reason our deficits continue to increase is because of our astronomical increases in spending, not plunging revenue caused by tax cuts.
3) It’ll be paid for with the Social Security trust fund: When people think of a "trust fund," they think of a big pile of cash sitting around somewhere, waiting to eventually be used by the beneficiaries. We don't have that with Social Security because we've already spent ALL of the money. So, what exactly is in the "trust fund?" It’s a bunch of special bonds that the government can refuse to honor at any time. Put another way, it's an IOU that future generations of Americans will have to pay off. Here's
(Imagine) you have a 10 year old son. He doesn't have a job. In fact his only source of revenue is a $20 a month allowance you give him. Let's say that you decide to give your son $100 of your money to hold for you over and above his allowance for some reason. Your son takes the money and spends the entire $100 on going to the movies, the zoo, and a birthday party for his friends. He then writes down "IOU $100" and puts it in his piggy bank. Now, do you have a trust fund or do you have an IOU that you will have to pay for yourself?
If you are one of the tens of millions of Americans who are relying on payments of Social Security from a government that's dead broke and getting further into debt by the day, the fact that there really isn't a trust fund should scare the living hell out of you.
4) We want abortion to be safe, legal, and rare: You hear this a lot, along with "Nobody WANTS more abortions." But, you know who really wants abortion to be "safe, legal, and rare?" The average pro-lifer. That's why most of us want to ban abortion with exceptions for rape, incest, and the life of the mother. Isn't that just about the best definition of "safe, legal, and rare" that you're ever going to hear?
Instead, the people who use the phrase "safe, legal, and rare," almost inevitably do anything and everything possible to make sure that kids aren't "punished with a baby". They tend to favor partial birth abortions and taxpayer funding of abortion, while they oppose mandatory sonograms before abortion, parental consent for girls under 18, and a requiring of consent from the father before an abortion can take place.
So, yes, they do believe in the "safe and legal" part of the phrase, but they believe in the "rare" part about the same way that Michael Jackson wanted young boys to be "rare" at Neverland Ranch.
5) The rich aren't paying their fair share: To begin with, no matter how much the Left envies, hates, and vilifies the rich, taxing them into oblivion still won't fix our problems. As the Heritage Foundation has noted,
Closing the more than $1 trillion deficit Obama’s spending would produce in 2020 by taxing only the rich would require a top income tax rate of 134 percent. Of course it is impossible to tax more than 100 percent of any taxpayer’s income.
In other words, even if we turn liberalism all the way up to the Karl Marx setting, we're not going to fix our budget problems by taxing the rich.
Getting beyond that, how can the rich not be "paying their fair share" when we already have the 2nd highest corporate income tax in the world and "25% of income earners pay 86% of the income tax burden?" As you're pondering that, consider that roughly 47% of Americans pay no income tax at all. So whatever else you want to say about the rich, they're paying more of their "fair share" than at least 47% of Americans.