I have a banker friend I talk to about the economy sometimes. He told me the housing crisis was coming in 2005 or so (he cashed out too early and didn’t make any money off the whole thing). He’s told me several times that the only thing that matters for the economy is the well-being of the middle-class and that everyone in economics and finance knows that, even if they don’t admit it publicly. I like this quote from William Jennings Bryant that begins a good piece in today’s Washington Post:
“There are two ideas of government,” William Jennings Bryan declared in his 1896 “Cross of Gold” speech. “There are those who believe that if you will only legislate to make the well-to-do prosperous their prosperity will leak through on those below. The Democratic idea, however, has been that if you legislate to make the masses prosperous their prosperity will find its way up through every class which rests upon them.”
We know the story of how the next 30 years went. A few parallels with today are a bit eerie:
In 1926, Calvin Coolidge’s treasury secretary, Andrew Mellon, one of the world’s richest men, pushed through a massive tax cut that would substantially contribute to the causes of the Great Depression. Republican Sen. George Norris of Nebraska said that Mellon himself would reap from the tax bill “a larger personal reduction [in taxes] than the aggregate of practically all the taxpayers in the state of Nebraska.” The same is true now of Donald Trump, the Koch Brothers, Sheldon Adelson and other fabulously rich people.
Let’s see what economists think about the latest Republican tax gimmick:
In a recent University of Chicago survey of 38 prominent economists across the ideological spectrum, only one said the proposed tax cuts would yield substantial economic growth. Unanimously, the economists said the tax cuts would add to the long-term federal debt burden, now estimated at more than $20 trillion.
It’s a strange combination of faux religion and greed that rule us right now:
In 2016, Donald Trump received the support of 80% of white evangelicals and born-again Christians, while Hillary Clinton drew just 16%. Clinton, on the other hand, won 60% of non-evangelicals. One year later, in the Virginia governor’s race. Republican Ed Gillespie carried 79% of white evangelicals, compared to Democrat Ralph Northam’s 19%. Northam carried a stunning 67% of Virginians who were not white evangelicals or born-agains.
I’ve said it before: I hope people of faith are right about the afterlife, so that today’s Republican politicians can all rot in hell for eternity.