Thursday, January 29, 2009

Is Rush Limbaugh on Drugs Again, or Simply the World’s Biggest Ego Trip?


Is Rush Limbaugh on Drugs Again, or Simply the World's Biggest Ego Trip?

Ultra Conservative Political shock jock, Rush Limbaugh, seems to have finally slipped off the reservation. It is hard to know whether he's back on drugs, or if the recent election returns have caused him to lose his mind all together.

In his latest bloviation he's challenging President Obama to enter into negotiations with him on an "Obama-Limbaugh Stimulus Plan," which would divide up a trillion dollars earmarked for stimulating the economy, according to the election returns. Limbaugh reasons that since the President has pledged to take a bipartisan approach to governing, in Limbaugh's view, that entails the president controlling only the percentage of the bailout funds that reflects his margin of victory in the election. In other words, since President Obama won the election by 53% of the vote, he should only control 53% of the bailout funds. The remainder of the funds, that percentage that reflects Sen. McCain's percentage of the vote, should be controlled by none other than Rush himself, to be applied to the economy as way he sees fit.

Limbaugh said the following:

"As a way to bring the country together and at the same time determine the most effective way to deal with recessions, under the Obama-Limbaugh Stimulus Plan of 2009, $540 billion of the one trillion will be spent on infrastructure as defined by President Obama and the Democrats. The remaining $460 billion, or 46% that voted for Senator McCain, will be directed towards tax cuts, as determined by me."

Then he goes on to say,

"Congress wants to spend -- think of this now -- $1 trillion that they don't have until you and I go to work and pay taxes. They want to spend this on a stimulus plan. They want to take it out of our pockets and redistribute this money in their way to their constituents and to their make-work projects like schools, roads, bridges, blah, blah, blah."

Is the man insane? First of all, since when has it been required for the winner of a presidential election to have to share executive power with the losing party? And even if he did, who elected Rush Limbaugh to assume control of the Republican Party? The man is absolutely delusional. The Republicans have allowed him to develop a Messiah fixation over his own importance.

But with regard to Limbaugh's cavalier dismissal of the president's initiative to address America's failing infrastructure as a stimulus to the economy, maybe I'm wrong, but isn't congress's constituents, the people? And doesn't spending this "make-work" money on "schools, roads, bridges, blah, blah, blah," going to benefit you, your children, your communities, and the lives of your family?

So what does Rush want to spend the money on? One guess. That's right–"just the announcement that $460 billion will go toward paying for tax cuts, capital gains, and corporate tax rates -- we could throw in some personal income tax rate reduction in order to make sure that the voters don't think it's all about helping the big guys. But we need jobs, do we not?" Isn't this kind of thinking exactly what caused the problem in the first place?"

But even if we choose to ignore Limbaugh's maniacal greed, selfishness, and unmitigated arrogance, it is abundantly clear that he is either blind or completely oblivious to reality. He's advocating the recycling of Reagan's discredited supply-side economics, which virtually guaranteed Bill Clinton historical fame for simply having just dug us out of the hold that it left.

Limbaugh is claiming that if we give Gucci a big enough tax break, he'll hire people to make Gucci bags to sell in a homeless shelter–which, thanks to Rush and his cohorts, is exactly what America is becoming. But the fact is, the only way you're going to get Gucci to create jobs to make more handbags, is by providing more funds to the people in the homeless shelter to buy his bags. Otherwise, Gucci is simply going to take his tax cut and buy a Ferrari with it.

We've been through this before many times before with the Republicans. Supply- Side Economics was a scheme hatched by U.S.C. Economist Arthur Laffer and the Reagan crowd which was supposed to cut the deficit and balance the budget. The theory behind this scheme, came to be known as "Reaganomics." The theory was, if you cut taxes for business and people in the upper tax brackets, and then deregulated business of such nuisances as safety regulations and environmental safeguards, the beneficiaries would invest their savings into creating new jobs. In that way the money would eventually "trickle down" to the rest of us, and the resulting broadened tax base would not only help to bring down the deficit, but also subsidize the tremendously high defense budget. When the plan was first floated, even George Bush Sr, Reagan's vice president to be, called it "voodoo economics."

Reaganomics, for the most part, sought to undo many of the safeguards put into place during the Roosevelt era and created a business environment similar to that which was in place during the Coolidge Administration. What actually took place, however, was even more like the Coolidge era than planed. Instead of taking the money and investing it into creating new jobs, the money was used in wild schemes and stock market speculation. One of these schemes, the leveraged buy- out, involved buying up large companies with borrowed funds secured by the company's assets, then paying off the loan by selling off the assets of the purchased company. This practice cost the citizens of this country an untold number of jobs. In addition, the bottom fell out of the stock market. On Monday, October 19, 1987 the Dow-Jones Average fell 508.32 points. It was the greatest one-day decline since 1914 - fifteen years before the Great Depression.

We must also not forget that during the Reagan era the good Senator John McCain played a leading role in undermining the public trust, and our economy, as part of the infamous Keating Five. He was a leading player in the Lincoln Savings and loan scandal in 1987–a scandal that bears an uncanny resemblance to the one that's currently being played out on Wall Street today. He was one of a group of senators dubbed "The Keating Five" involved in a scandal by the same name.

In 1976 Charles Keating moved to Arizona to run the American Continental Corporation. In 1984, shortly after the Reagan era push to deregulate the savings and loan community, Keating bought Lincoln Savings and Loan and began to engage in highly risky investments with the depositors' savings. In 1989 the parent company, which Keating headed, went bankrupt, and it resulted in over 21,000 investors losing their life savings. Most of the investors were elderly, and the loss amounted to about 285 million dollars.

After having received over a million dollars from Keating in illegal campaign contributions, gifts, free trips, and other gratuities, the Keating Five--Senators John Glenn, Don Riegle, Dennis DeConini, Alan Cranston, and Sen. John McCain--attempted to intervene in the investigation into Keating's activities by the regulators. Later, they were admonished to varying degrees by the senate for attempting to influence regulators on Keating's behalf. Charles Keating ended up being convicted for fraud, racketeering and conspiracy, for which he received 10 years by the state court, and a 12 year sentence in federal court. After spending four and a half years in prison, his convictions were overturned. But prior to being retried, he pled guilty to a number of felonies in return for a sentence of time served.

Then in 1988 another prominent Republican name pops up in the Silverado Savings and Loan collapsed, costing the taxpayers another $1.3 billion. It was headed by Neil Bush, brother of George W. The investigation alleged that he was guilty of "breaches of his fiduciary duties involving multiple conflicts of interest." The issue was eventually settled out of court with Bush paying a mere $50,000 settlement. So while the Republican Party continue to tell the American people that they are best equipped to handle our economy, the same Republican names keep popping up repeatedly in connection with economic incompetence, scandal, and disaster–and each time, it takes the Democrats to come to the aid of the American people.

And what about Ronald Reagan's promise to balance the budget and lower the deficit? By the time he left office he was not only the most prolific spender of any president in the history of the nation, but he also added more to the deficit than all of the other presidents from George Washington to his own administration combined. And what did the Republican Party propose to do about that? One of the Republican proposals in their "contract with America" was again, a capitol gains tax cut--for the rich.

So in light of all of these easily verifiable facts, I'd like to close this piece with a personal message to Limbaugh:

Rush, the president has much too much class to say this, but fortunately, I don't. You're nothing but a drug ingesting windbag. You're neither intellectually qualified, nor do you have the authority to negotiate with the president. So leave the thinking to the people with the intellectual resources to handle it, and go drop a few tablets and fantasize about being an astronaut instead.

Eric L. Wattree

A moderate is one who embraces truth over ideology, and reason over conflict.

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