As we contemplate the fact that Republicans are arguing for the largest U.S. government interference in the free markets in our nation's history--a bailout just shy of being equal to the entire US debt when Ronald Reagan became President--Democrats MUST speak out on this issue and challenge Republicans on their hypocrisy, failed economic programs, and broken values that have led us to this point.
Before I get into the values issue, let me provide a few facts about what the failed Republican economic policies have wrought: Despite budget surpluses and debt reduction during the Clinton administration, Presidents Reagan, Bush I, and Bush II have increased the U.S. debt by more than 900% during their tenures in office. The U.S. debt will increase more under George W. Bush than all other presidents combined.
The result is that over 10% of the U.S. government's income each year goes toward paying interest on that debt. National debt and interest may not be as newsworthy in this 24/7 media world as where Sarah Palin buys her Tina Fey glasses, but here's something to chew on: For the same amount of money we waste each year paying interest on the debt accrued by Republican administrations, the U.S. Government could provide universal healthcare to every American, pay the tuition of every college student in this country, and triple the U.S. spending on medical research. Think about it...
And now the Republicans want a $700 BILLION bailout for Wall Street (this following on the heels of the hundreds of billions already spent to bail out Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and AIG). If ever there was a time to start talking values, now is it. Economics, budgets, tax policy, jobs...these are all value issues.
Remember when Bush vetoed the $7 billion-a-year expansion of SCHIP that would have provided healthcare to over 4.1 million uninsured children because it was "too expensive"? So here are the values of Republican leaders: A $700 billion bailout of Wall Street--something we must act on immediately--but spending1% of that amount to keep parents of 4.1 million American children from having to face the soul-crushing realization that they cannot afford the treatment necessary to make their sick child well--not worth the price. As Jesus said, where your treasure is, there your heart is also.
Time and again, when we talk about marriage, birth control, etc., Republicans and their advocates on the extreme religious right line up to claim self-righteously that they cannot leave their faith at the door when it comes to legislating on these issues. They argue that the state must intervene to ensure that our country places God above our selfish and sinful desires. But now that we are talking about economic policy, about taxes, and about bailing out the richest Americans and making regular tax payers foot the bill, that open expression of faith is silent...a silence that speaks volumes.
We need to ask Republicans and their conservative allies the same question again and again. Why it is that as soon as we start talking about the economy, jobs, government spending, and taxes, Republicans put away their Bibles and turn instead to Darwinian social and economic theories to support their policy positions?
As Democrats, it is not our place to judge the depth or source of our political opponents' faith. It would be much better if instead of focusing on attacking their appeals to faith on their pet wedge issues, we simply challenged them to continue their faith-laden dialogue as we discuss the Bush proposal of a $700 billion dollar bailout of Wall Street.
Here are a few of many passages they might find useful when they do:
"The poor are shunned by their neighbors, but the rich have many friends." Proverbs 14:20
"Everyone loves a bribe and runs after gifts. They do not defend the cause of the fatherless. The widow's cause does not come before them." Isaiah 1:23
"My brothers, as believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ, don't show favoritism. 2Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in shabby clothes also comes in. 3If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, "Here's a good seat for you," but say to the poor man, "You stand there" or "Sit on the floor by my feet," 4have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? 5Listen, my dear brothers: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him? 6But you have insulted the poor." James 2:1-6
"Woe to you teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices...but you neglect the more important matters of the Law--justice, mercy, and faithfulness...You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men's bones and everything unclean. On the outside you appear to people as righteous, but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness" Matthew 23:23-28