Pinocchio’s Nose

This morning I heard 3 commercials for 3 different Republican candidates and they all said a variation of the same thing:  “I will protect your freedoms from the encroachment of growing government.”

Great line. Who wouldn’t want that? It resonates and there is a lot of evidence of that “growing government” by which to give the statement credibility.

But, there is a problem. Do you know which party grows government?  Yeah…Democrats. AND REPUBLICANS! Total government spending dropped in 10 out of the 16 quarters during President Obama’s first term, whereas it increased in 13 out of Ronald Reagan‘s first 16 quarters. George W. Bush’s first 16 quarters saw the same 13 quarter rise.

Republicans cite the NSA under President Obama as one of those growth elements, but it is only a continuation of the programs from the previous administration. It is an outgrowth of the Patriot Act which was signed into law in 2001.

It should also be noted that the only significant welfare reform to ever pass was signed by President Clinton.  Even though this was to the ire of many liberals, it was a Democratic president who signed the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act which made welfare entitlements require work development and limited time frames under the title “Temporary Assistance to Needy Families.”

Gun rights are included in the Republican rhetoric concerning government encroachment, but it has to be confusing to realize that during the current administration there have been no major new restrictions on guns. President Obama has urged authorities to enforce the state and federal laws already on the books, but in many cases, gun laws have loosened.

Granted, the lack of new legislation has been because of the Republican controlled House that blocks any Democratic initiative, but it still has to be a head-scratcher to realize that it was Ronald Reagan who cast support for the last significant gun control measures: 1993’s Brady Bill and 1994’s Assault Weapons Ban.

I read a post on a conservative website that included “religion” as a right being suppressed by liberals.  Apparently, to some people, the exercise of religious freedom for everyone (also known as the First Amendment) is an encroachment on Christianity. Forgive me…but, that’s just plain stupid.

I guess we’re going to have to talk about taxes, too. It is difficult to talk any Republican into taking President Reagan down from the Mount Rushmore of Tax Cutters, but he actually raised taxes— 11 times. While overall tax percentages came down, it was from the top, while allowing fewer tax breaks at the bottom. Just like George W. Bush did 20 years later.

Every time that is done a recession soon follows…..curious.

How about military spending?  Certainly a pre-emptive war has to be considered somewhat imperialistic.  The cost of two wars over 10 years has been over 1.5 trillion dollars. That’s not from policy that’s exclusive to Democrats; it’s been a joint effort, although President Obama decreased military spending by nearly 8% in 2013 from de-escalating our involvements.

Is government overreaching when it stops a rancher using public land that he refuses to pay taxes on?  Public lands are a big deal out West as they are critical to people’s livelihood and used for recreational activities like hiking, fishing, hunting and skiing, as well as for timber, drilling oil, mining coal and for cattle.

It aggravates good, law abiding, tax paying citizens, like me, that I pay to preserve those resources while a self-centered, anti-government cowboy thinks he can do as he pleases with that land because his family has cheated for generations.

And then, of course, there’s Health Care Reform. While government involvement in the health market undeniably broadens the scope of government, there is something paradoxical about feeling infringed upon for losing our “right” to jeopardize our health or to carry insurance policies that were so useless that they were not actually insurance.

Pinocchio’s Nose - LiarAll of the issues raised here will be (and should be) debated, and many of us will fall on different sides of those debates; the point is that empty platitudes about “spending” and “government encroachment” and “losing our liberties” are confounding and distracting the public from the truth. There’s nothing wrong with concern of government overreach and encroachment; we should all be aware of our personal liberties. What is wrong is disingenuous rhetoric to get elected.

What is wrong is lying.

Both sides are guilty of that one, but…only one side is making it their platform.

 

_________________
Gary KroegerAuthor: Gary Kroeger is a creative director for a Midwestern advertising agency. He’s a former actor (in the cast of Saturday Night Live in the mid ‘80s) and producer.