Saturday, May 15, 2010

Republicans Again Rewrite History: They Were The Main 'Architects' Of Deregulation

By Manifesto Joe

Republicans either have a great sense of sick humor, or they think everybody else has amnesia, or they are brainwashed stoolheads -- or some of the above, or all of the above.

Some of us were paying attention to matters political and economic over the past 30-plus years. Deregulation was mainly a Republican idea, in all facets of the economy. The mantras were all very familiar: If you hamstring business to where it can't operate, everybody suffers; the free market is self-regulating anyway; competition will make the pie bigger for everyone. ...

There were Democrats, dating back to Jimmy Carter, who fell for all this and become accomplices. I can't blame them too much -- I'm all for leaving the market to do anything it can do better than the public sector, and that encompasses many things.

But recent evidence seems quite clear that finance and oil drilling are not strong suits for unfettered private sectors.

New Deal-era banking regulations (the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933) were rolled back by the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act of 1999. Yes, President Bill Clinton did sign that bill -- he now acknowledges that to have been a mistake. Please note that the three legislators whose names were attached to the latter act -- led by the former Senate solon of kleptocracy, Phil Gramm of Texas -- were all Republicans.

Listening to Republicans talk now reminds me somewhat of the 1970s, when you could actually hear some of them blame the Vietnam War on the Democratic Party. Remember Bob Dole's remark during his vice presidential debate with Walter Mondale in 1976, in which he talked about "Democrat wars"? I remember Barry Goldwater saying something to that effect as well.

Blaming Vietnam on Democrats is, historically, quite a stretch. Yes, they were in office during the 1965-68 escalation, and it was Cold War Democrats who crafted Vietnam policy. But was this against the opposition of Republicans?

Hardly. The main problem Republicans seemed to have with the Vietnam War was that, according to them, the U.S. wasn't fighting to win. They favored MORE aggressiveness, MORE escalation and MORE involvement, not less. With the lonely exceptions of Mark Hatfield in the Senate and Pete McClosky in the House, there were few high-profile Republican critics of the war -- only critics of its conduct. In 1964, Republican presidential candidate Goldwater even suggested that the use of "low-yield" nuclear weapons should be seriously considered. By 1968, it was the Democratic Party, not the Republicans, who were split up the middle over the war.

And, please recall that it was two Democratic senators, Wayne Morse of Oregon and Ernest Gruening of Alaska, who cast the only two votes in Congress against the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution in 1964. Neither man saw his political career survive the decade.

Yes, Wall Street and the Gulf of Mexico are both a long way from Vietnam. But what is recalled is the Republican propensity to rewrite history for their own political purposes. To hear some of these people tell it, Barack Obama, with his 16 months in office, is largely responsible for the Gulf spill, for the Wall Street/subprime mortgage crackup, and for the Tate-LaBianca murders. And whatever he didn't do, Clinton and Carter did.

Let's see: Who was in office in 2005, when we saw BP's first big disaster, the explosion of the oil refinery at Texas City, Texas? Who didn't follow up with any advocacy of more stringent safety regulations of the oil industry, even after negligence on BP's part in the 2005 blast was so evident?

And, let's see: Who was in office when possible criminal prosecution of BP over a 2006 Alaska pipeline rupture was killed?

And, let's see again: Who was in office most of the time that the federal Minerals Management Service was supposed to be inspecting that Deepwater Horizon rig in the Gulf at least monthly, and failing to do it?

No, Republicans are not the exclusive owners of modern deregulation. But they were certainly the primary "architects" of it. And their anti-government rhetoric became a self-fulfilling prophesy: When you keep saying that government is the problem, that it can't do anything right, and then you put people of that philosophy in charge of what little regulation there is ... don't be surprised by the meltdowns. And, please don't blame it on those who sometimes just went along, in some cases reluctantly.

I'm reminded once more of something the late Molly Ivins wrote. It was something to the effect that when you deregulate something, you will often find out why it was regulated in the first place.

Republicans, enough revisionist history, please. At this time in history, we need to get busy cleaning up the messes. Obama seems willing to try, if you will let him. But so far, that hasn't seemed to be your inclination.

Manifesto Joe Is An Underground Writer Living In

Postscript: Please note that although this post is dated Saturday, May 15, it was not actually posted until Thursday, May 20. This discrepancy is the result of the saving of an earlier draft, and I don't think it will be worthwhile to go to the trouble of altering it.


Anonymous said...

I've also been reading Republic persons claiming that THEY spearheaded the Civil Rights Bills' passage, based on the percentage of congressperson R's that voted FOR it, verses the % D's. In fact, the R's were very much the minority in Congress so their voting block was much smaller. Plus, the D's then controlled much of the Southern states congressional seats and those members voted overwhelingly against the bill. In fact, none of the 10 R US Senators voted in favor of the bill.

Anonymous said...

This blog is typical of many liberal blogs in that it insults, mocks and belittles Conservatives, with childish name-calling.
We Conservatives have had our differences with the likes of Bill Clinton, Nancy Pelosi, and Barrack Obama and other Democrat politicians.
But when we criticize opposition politicians, we limit our critique to the man's policies. By and large, we don't participate in personal attacks and take cheap shots.
It's disgraceful the way the Libs have debased our national political debate with their scorched-earth tactics and the way they smear and insult Republican politicians. No president has ever faced more vicious Liberal attacks than did President Bush.
The American people are tired of all these partisan attacks by the Democrats. They will remember this come the November elections, when the GOP is predicted to make big gains.

J said...

I was wondering why BP was running
the commercials with the concerned citizens trying to think deeply about alt energy. I thought it was about pipeline problems. I follow things
pretty well and I did not know
about the 2005 Texas BP disaster
until recently through you.
I respect the power of PR.

Manifesto Joe said...

Hi, Anon 1:
Yeah, that was yet another of their attempts to rewrite history. Granted, the Republic Party was more sympathetic to civil rights back then, but there was a good reason why LBJ said at the time that, with the passage of this bill, the Democrats would be giving the South away for a very long time.

Hi, Anon 2:
Wow, you would think that liberals invented ad hominem attacks. If you think that, then you must never, ever watch Fox News. Something in your comment tells me that you probably do.

Hi, J:
Thanks for stopping by, and for the kind words. I can only devote a few hours a week to blogging; that's all I have time for. So, it's a good thing to hear that I've turned somebody on to something they hadn't heard or read before.

Jack Jodell said...

Manifesto Joe,
You have done an excellent job here in exposing repeated Republican lies over the decades. I have finally reached the conclusion that the GOP MUST lie. I mean, how else would a party that only represents big banks, big business, and the wealthy elite, hates the poor, has no time for working people or minorities, and opposes anyone trying to safeguard the public from the excesses of big business, ever hope to elect anybody to office? It is only through spin, distortion, and outright lying that the Republicans can trick their way into office.