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Capitol Comment

Why We Fight For Freedom And Liberty For All, Not Just For Conservatives

I was recently challenged to a Facebook debate with the following question by a liberal relative:

Jeff Reynolds, You are Chairman of the Republican Party for Multnomah County, which is the most populated county in Oregon, which has been recently identified as a critical swing state in the upcoming election. As a self-identified Tea Party organizer, this puts you at the forefront of the upcoming attempt to overtake the state of Oregon for the Tea Party. As Chairman of the Republican Party, please explain why a family receiving government assistance of any form should vote conservatively when the conservatives are so boisterously claiming all public assistance to be socialism.

Now, having clashed previously with this relative, I knew that it was pointless to respond to the direct and personal frontal assault. I took this as a challenge - sparring with the other side is a good exercise now and then, allowing us outside our echo chamber to test ourselves. The ultimate hope is to change a mind and subsequently a vote. At the very least, I hoped to respond to the question while not looking foolish. Here is what I said (edited slightly for clarity).

I will freely admit that those on public assistance are unlikely to vote conservative, and I'll go further and advance the notion that that is by design. But as Margaret Thatcher famously stated, "The problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people's money."

Yes, public assistance is by its very nature socialistic. And as long as an individual is receiving handouts from the government, it seems paradoxical for that individual to vote against his or her perceived self interest, i.e. the free checks.

Here's the problem though. Under President Obama, the public debt of the United States has expanded from an unsustainable $10 Trillion to a ridiculous $15 Trillion. Keep in mind that our Gross Domestic Product - the entire size of our economy - is around $14.5 Trillion. The fact that we owe more as a nation than we produce in a year's worth of economic activity is unconscionable. And on top of THAT, our unfunded liabilities - Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid - are somewhere in the ONE HUNDRED TRILLION DOLLAR range. (I know you know what an unfunded liability is, but for the viewing audience who may not be aware - an unfunded liability is a payout mandated by federal law for which we have no current funding source.) If you break that down by the number of Americans, that's around $51,000 per person that's owed on the current debt, not including unfunded liabilities. (I'll leave alone, for now, the compounding problem of the Federal Reserve monetizing our debt by buying Treasury Bonds that nobody else wants to buy.)

The simple reason for this is runaway public spending. We simply cannot afford to spend money that we don't have. The public budget is perfectly analogous to a family budget. If you're drowning in credit card debt with several maxed out credit cards, the last thing you want to do is open up a new credit card to maintain your level of spending. The only two ways you can solve your debt problem is either to create more income, or lower your spending. So Democrats typically state, "Well, that means we need to raise taxes!" However, it's been proven time and again that if government is afflicted with unchecked, out of control spending, raising taxes actually causes less revenue to come in. Why? Because taxes function as a punitive measure - a choke on business. When more taxes are levied, businesses cut back and hire fewer employees, because they must survive first. When that happens, you have fewer TAXPAYERS. So the proper response is to lower marginal tax rates and jump start the economy, thus freeing businesses up to hire more people - this gets them off unemployment (a net expense to the government) and start earning income that is taxed (a net gain in government income). This is fundamental stuff.

So why should someone on public assistance vote conservative? Because most people on public assistance wish someday not to be on public assistance any more, and the only way to do that is with a good paying job with security and benefits. The only way you'll end up with an economy that provides ample opportunities is when government stops wasting our money and burdening the private sector. I saw a stat recently that during the Reagan administration, when you looked at families who lived below the poverty line, within 7 years, 86% of them had escaped poverty. The reason for this, the only historically proven method to create such bountiful opportunities, is to unburden the private sector by lowering taxes and removing regulations.

Additional reasons: it is a fact that Obama is the first President that has seen the credit rating of our public debt dropped under his watch. Furthermore, it's estimated that the personal net worth of the average American has dropped by something like 40% over the past several years, and the median income nationwide has dropped by $4,000 annually. Only 14% of Americans expect today’s children to be better off than their parents. Obama promised that if we passed the stimulus package, unemployment would drop below 7%. Instead it's never been under 8% in his term, and the real unemployment rate that measures the unemployed and those who have fallen out of the work force has persisted over 15%, often above 20%.

Did you know that in 1984, the city of Detroit voted for Reagan at a rate somewhere around 64%? Imagine, inner city, ethnic, heavy union influence Detroit voted OVERWHELMINGLY for the Republican. Why?

Jobs. Prosperity. Dignity. Freedom.

For all these reasons, I believe that it is ESPECIALLY important for those receiving public assistance to vote against the incumbent whose failed policies have made our recession much worse, not better, and enslaved far more Americans on what Deneen Borelli calls the government plantation. Sadly, as noted above, I doubt that will happen - but I still hold out hope.

C Bartlett

Jeff: Thanks for posting this -excellent writing. I, too, am in a "perpetual debate" with a liberal friend about many issues. She is definitely NOT on public assistance but absolutely defends all government programs. She says "we must have a safety net". It seems like every "friendly discussion" ends with her saying either (1) "You are against a woman's right to choose" OR (2) "You are not compassionate towards the poor" - even if the discussion was originally about economic freedom, capitalism, health care or anything else. Saw this article posted on another conservative site I follow a few days ago and thought you might be interested in some of the points made about the "poor":

Luis Moncada

So I had some questions for you:

1) "We simply cannot afford to spend money that we don't have. " Was this in effect when Bush launched his 1-3 trillion dollar war in Iraq? Because if we consider balancing the budget important, why didn't they just stick to Clinton's plan which did just that?

2) "So the proper response is to lower marginal tax rates and jump start the economy, thus freeing businesses up to hire more people.." Would this be the same concept as trickle-economics aka "horse and sparrow" theory? And how many of the jobs created by this theory likely to open in the inner city where they're needed most?

3) "Detroit voted for Reagan at a rate somewhere around 64%" Is it possible people voted in such number for Reagan because of the Iranian Hostage Crisis, Oil Crisis and general gaffes by Carter including “I’ve committed adultery in my heart many times”?

Rodney McMahan

Hi Jeff, You said this better than I ever could. My wife has been laid off and I have been unable to find employment. We just want to find work, less government, less regulations.

LT1800's picture
Jeff Reynolds

Thank you Rodney, and my sincere best wishes in your job search. Let's hope the market improves on November 7 :)

Richard G.

Very good comments Jeff...thanks! These are things which should be common sense to the average person, but are difficult to articulate, particularly in the heat of a passionate debate. The right looses this debate because of general compassion clouding reasoning. This is where the left constantly takes advantage and play off of emotions. $16T in debt and $100T of unfunded liabilities is a lot of sacrificing ones own life for another, but through government it is at the barrel of a gun, so we don't even feel satisfaction of sacrificing, but rather feel quite violated.

LT1800's picture
Jeff Reynolds

You should see the rest of the conversation ... it's devolved into populist marxist talking points coming from several people uninterested in dialogue. I might make a follow up post about it that shows their tactics for what they are.