Republicans Fulfill Their Cruel Ayn Rand Obsession With the Sequester
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Greenspan played a pivotal role in mutating Rand’s “makers vs. takers” theory into actual public policy. Leading Republican economist and former Ronald Reagan White House aide Bruce Bartlett wrote in the New York Times’ Economix blog that he traced “the origins of Republican starve-the-beast theory to testimony by Alan Greenspan before the Senate Finance Committee on July 14, 1978.”
Over the years, Rand’s outlook would attract others of another generation who didn’t know her personally but were drawn by her ideas.
Former Vice Presidential-nominee Paul Ryan says that Rand “is the reason I got involved in public service” and, according to the New Yorker’s Ryan Lizza, “Rand is required reading for all [Ryan] interns.” As I have laid out, Ryan’s economic ideology and budget are the driving force behind the GOP’s economic agenda.
Of course Ryan was propelled to the heights of power as a result of the organization and finance machine of the secretive, billionaire Koch Brothers; themselves avid Rand devotees. The Koch-backed Americans for Prosperity bankrolled the tea party movement, who’s platform is grounded in “starve the beast” philosophy. Their support stoked and transformed that political movement into a unified political operation that won the House of Representatives for the GOP in 2010. And it’s that Congress that took the nation to the brink of default in 2011, demanded $1.2 trillion in unilateral cuts from the president—which they got—and insisted upon sequestration not once but twice, all in effort to take “starve the beast” to its logical conclusion.
The problem with “Starve the Beast” is that real world facts run counter to its promise of prosperity.
America has the lowest tax rates of any developed country on the planet and the rich have a greater share of national wealth than at any point in our history. But poverty is stuck at a decades-high level, black and Latino wealth is the lowest ever recorded, and America remains flat on its back after the worst economic downturn in almost a hundred years.
Contrary to the “starve the beast” philosophy, holding up the 1 percent and weakening economic opportunity for the 99 percent has enfeebled America, not strengthened it.
But “starve the beast” is not a coherent economic philosophy. Rather, it’s a revolution masked as a financial spreadsheet. Like all revolutions, its stated goal is to overturn an existing order by inducing the government to self-destruct. “Starve the beast” should just be called institutional anarchy.
The cruel reality is that those who can least afford it will bear the brunt of the impending social experiment. That’s why this debate has to move beyond partisanship. Because on the receiving end of all intellectual abstractions are real human beings.