Sunday, February 7, 2010

Blame it on Bush? Here's why

February 7, on a segment of Meet the Press, a well-meaning reporter asks when the statue of limitations on blaming the previous administration for the budget deficit ends. My answer to this is simple. Bush ran up a multi-billion dollar deficit that will tax future generations. He shoulders the blame for as many generations as his budget policies impact.

Eight years of budget mismanagement can't be erased in one year.

Earlier this week, on February 1, Chris Matthews spoke with Republican senator Jeb Hensarling about the budget deficit. Hensarling's argument: basically blame the deficit on a Democratic congress -- which for the past 3 years has been in the majority.

The fault with this senator's line of reasoning is this: Democrats voted right along with Republicans on President Bush's billion dollar budget supplemental for the military. In a nutshell, it's military spending that has blown the budget out of proportions, and that's largely because the Republican party has made a vote against military spending look like weakness on national security.

Yet this senator continues to use Republican code words -- like blaming the budget deficit on "entitlement" spending. Here's where we see how the Republican party shows they are masters at communications.

Research shows that the general public has a negative view of so-called "entitlement" programs. Most think of programs like "welfare" or public assistance when they visualize what this word means. Hensarling cleverly uses this proven unfavorable word to describe what caused the deficit, achieving a predictable response from the public. Yet fact of the matter is the programs commonly recognized as "entitlements" are not what drives the current budget deficit.

When the Republicans, specifically this senator, speaks of entitlements, he's speaking of social security. Essentially he wants to eliminate -- i.e. cut -- social security benefits for people under 55 years of age.

Here's the segment:

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The reality is "entitlement" spending is not the reason why we have saddled our children and our children's children with debt. The illegal war in Iraq is.

Unfortunately this is how the Republican party routinely manipulates members of its so-called base into supporting its programs. They use buzz words to describe issues -- buzz words that often have little to do with the actual programs they describe or the real issues at hand.

And sadly this is why people who take time to educate themselves about what the real issues are often become impatient and even condescending to those who widely get their faux news and "mis"-information from Conservative sources like Fox news, which more often than not distorts the facts to suit its own agenda.

People who take the time to truly understand the issues and discover the real meaning of the buzz words put in play by the radical right, ultimately tend not to support the radical politics they put forth. Case in point: Most people actually support social security and do not want to see it end. Most don't support entitlement programs. People who mistakenly believe the deficit is really caused by entitlement spending largely don't support the President's proposals -- because they don't understand what they really are. They really think the budget deficit is caused because the President is a socialist who wants the raid budget coffers to spend more on welfare programs for the poor, which isn't true.

Calling social security an entitlement program is at its heart, disingenuous. This type of distortion is why many are disillusioned with politics and politicians in general. It also highlights my concern about how misinformation in general hurts our democratic process. More on that later.

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