We in the United States are now living through a mean moment predicted by sages throughout centuries. One prediction says, “History repeats itself.” Famous American philosopher George Santayana, who said, “Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it,” spells out the reason.
Both Ronald Reagan and George Bush, as presidents of the United States, were faced with the same problem: namely, how to tame a runaway pile-up of debt brought on by a runaway series of budget deficits. When Reagan was elected president in 1980, he declared that his first and most urgent policy would be to reduce the national debt of a trillion dollars. His method of doing so was exactly the same as that pursued by Bush: namely, reduce the tax rates for the wealthy people in the land on the grounds that, if they were thus enriched, they would invest their money in building factories and in opening stores to provide good jobs to more people and to revitalize the economy.
His plan proved to do just the opposite. The tax cut for the rich did not revitalize the economy nor bring more money to meet government expenses. When Reagan’s first term ended, the national debt rose from 1 trillion to 2 trillion dollars. But he persisted with his “Reaganomics.” When he ended his second term, the national debt had risen to more than 3 trillion dollars. In two terms, his “drip-down” notion had added more to the national debt than had been incurred by the sum total of all previous administrations throughout about two centuries.
In the world of medicine, the syndrome from which Reagan suffered and Bush is now suffering is described as “iatrogenic,” which means “derived from the doctor.” He does his dirty deed not out of ill intent, but out of ignorance. Reagan and Bush prescribed the same medicine: They said that if the economy is slowing down and government deficits begin to grow, the thing to do is to cut taxes. This giveaway to the chosen few cost the government billions of dollars. Why should anyone wonder why the deficits are mounting when so much money that used to flow into the U.S. Treasury is being given away?
The course of action is obvious: Take back the giveaway. And use the inflow of funds to bolster, not reduce, all those social benefit programs that are now being wiped out for lack of funds. Not only is this the humane thing to do, but it is also a way to boost the buying power that is needed to fuel our “market” economy.
But perversely, Bush is doing just the opposite. He wants to enact legislation that will make his tax cuts “permanent.” He calls for this with a straight face, although neither he nor any other president or Congress can make any law “permanent.” With the present Congress, Bush might get a law saying that the Bush tax cuts would be permanent. Two years from now, a new Congress will be elected that will reverse that decision. Bush may veto the bill, but no future Congress or president is legally bound by the decisions of the present regime. Even a constitutional amendment cannot set a permanent tax. An 18th Amendment was passed prohibiting the sale of alcohol. A few years later it was repealed. Doesn’t Bush know this? Doesn’t anybody around the president dare to tell him that his talk about making his tax cuts “permanent” is not only nutty, but also naughty — a flat denial of the democratic right of a people to change the laws with changing times?
Yes, Bush is the reincarnation of Reagan, and both embody the spirit of a government that allows the greedy few to live on the backs of the needy many.