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  • Starve the Beast

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    Starving The Beast By Jennifer Moses
    Washington Post
    Tuesday, November 29, 2005; Page A21

    BATON ROUGE, La. —

    “A primary goal of many Republicans is to “starve the beast” of federal government, the theory being that states and private enterprise, better equipped to respond to local needs than Washington ever could be, will at the very least take up the slack.”

    This concept seems to have come into political parlance around the time of Ronald Reagan. Remember David Stockman?

    As I read a New York Times piece on the bailout engineered by former Goldman-Sachs Exec, Henry Paulson, this phrase rose to the surface.  Why?  GW and his crowd have run up the deficit through spending on Iraq and counter-terrorism while cutting taxes for the wealthy and for corporations.  At the same time they pursued a dogged anti-regulatory policy.   After having been in office for 8 years, responsibility for this current mess lands on the Bush doorstep, even if its roots are in the Reagan and George Bush the 1st eras.

    Here’s the connection.  The bail-out will raise the Federal deficit somewhere in the neighborhood of 1 trillion dollars.  Old Everett Dirksen comes to mind.  “A billion here, a billion there and pretty soon you’re talking about real money.”  That means that the next President’s capacity to enact new policy will be sharply curtailed by the extraordinary level of government financial involvement.  This is the moral equivalent of starving the beast.

    It gets worse.  Who will benefit directly from the bail-out?  The rich white oligarchs who created it in the first place.  This is such a stunning piece of irony it is difficult to credit outside a fictional scenario.

    Is the bailout necessary?  It may well be.  The alternative of an economy headed toward a crash would have dire consequences for everyone.  Even so, the beneficiaries and the losers seem peculiarly weighted toward the Republican side of the aisle.

    As the Chinese said, “May you live in interesting times.”