The "Voodoo Economics" of the Tea Party

July 20, 2011

Roger Ebert, today, commenting on the rightmost wing of the GOP:

The Tea Party is fanatically opposed to increasing taxes. Seventy-one percent of Americans agree right now that taxes should be increased. There are two ways to reduce the debt: Cut spending, and raise taxes. The Tea Party would permit only one of these. Reasonable Republicans agree, but their hands are tied by their need to placate the radicals.
There is also the curious refusal to raise taxes for the rich, who would best afford to pay them. How many grass roots Americans agree with that? The theory that wealth and jobs will “trickle down” is a fossil from the Reagan era. Voodoo economics. Money that goes to the top has a way of staying at the top, which is why the richest Americans have prospered in these hard times.

Ebert is in top-form here.  Now check out his views on Obamacare:

Most Americans in both parties are in favor of Medicare and the recent expansion called Obamacare. We remain the only developed nation in the world without universal health care. Most reasonable people agree the time has come to move in that direction. Even the American Medical Assn., for decades the fiercest opponent of national health insurance, has for several years been in favor of it.

The Tea Party fights it using the boogie man of socialism. Opponents of health care are financed by lobbyists paid by the insurance and drug companies. Ask the Republicans of Massachusetts how they like Romneycare, which is Obamacare under another name. They like it just fine. So do most of us. Decent health care is a humanitarian service a society can provide its citizens. Only the richest can afford to pay for a catastrophic illness.

The Tea Party is a movement of radicals working from a simian, primitive, superstitious ideological framework.  There is really no other way to respond to their views except to shake one’s head in shame that such beliefs are supported in this great country of ours (which is slowly unraveling at the seams).

They should be abolished from Congress.  They should have never gotten a seat at the table to begin with.

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  • Reply jonolan July 20, 2011 at 7:04 pm

    You got to love the lies of the Leftists, for their hilarious stupidity if nothing else.

    No. The majority of Americans loath ObamaCare. They did however want meaningful reform to the healthcare situation. Ebert’s conflating of the two is pathetic.

    Also, most in MA do not like RomneyCare, even after it was gutted due to being financially unsustainable.

    • Reply Richard Sanchez July 20, 2011 at 7:22 pm

      Jonnolan: When it comes to partisan beliefs, everybody “lies.” You have your views, I have my own. Neither of them are “stupid.” What we are talking about here is extreme partisan ideologies, which become ridiculous the further to the right, or the further to the left they go. How can I not love the “hilarious stupidity” of the rightmost wingers? Especially the tea party and their cockeyed views. Ebert doesn’t fall into that camp, in my opinion, and I believe him to be of a very sound mind. The fact that you feel the need to demonstrate hostility towards Ebert is pathetic.

      Fuck RomneyCare, fuck ObamaCare. Let’s focus on health care, which ought to be a basic human right, and not a service that low-income and low socio-economic Americans can barely afford.

      • Reply Morpiedra July 20, 2011 at 9:21 pm

        @Skavingere tea-bag cacophony :: child’s wail over spilled milk. Milk is money, and spill is relative. Spill in the mouth, minimal wailing. Spill on the floor, and mama has to hold you.

        So where do we draw a line in the shifting sand of fiscal responsibility? For others to argue. But, let it be said that where’er that line be, we tend to other-ize those across it…Hey, it’s much easier than seeing ourselves in them. Pray that this clumsy chorus is but an overture in symphony of mindfulness. If any generalization is to be made, let it be this: there are plenty of reasonable people (libertarians included) who are not tea-baggers, who don’t equate righteousness and volume, don’t need to troll or back pedal. Remember kid, moral high ground until the guns are drawn. Then grace under fire.

    • Reply jonolan July 20, 2011 at 8:47 pm

      I wasn’t talking about his, your, or my views; I was talking about the facts of polls and statistics, which Ebert lied about, and stupidly since they’re freely available and fairly well-known.

      But healthcare is a basic human right? So a doctor should be forced to provide care for anyone and everyone? If it’s a right, that’s what it would have to mean in extremis since care must be given because it’s the patient’s right.

      But it’s not a right, is it? It’s a privilege that can be either be earned, granted as charity, or taken non-consensually by main force in the case of all the “socialized” medicine schemes.

      • Reply Richard Sanchez July 20, 2011 at 9:17 pm

        “Socialized” medicine schemes? I believe the red herring that extreme right wingers are falling prey to is the illusion that universal healthcare will help pave the way toward socialism. I simply don’t think that’s true. Keep in mind that in the United States, there are a gaggle of services that the government provides to its citizens not at a direct cost to them, but at the cost of tax deductions, i.e., certain ambulatory or emergency response services; police enforcement; etc. Our taxes pay for a number of services that are public and universal. Does that mean we are in danger of becoming a socialist regime? Come on, that’s bullshit.

        Also, why should a doctor feel “forced” to provide care to a patient in need? Wasn’t the point of this individual investing years upon years of his time and energy toward becoming a doctor to help heal the wounded and sick? Or, was it to make as much money as possible by doing the least possible, and pushing the products of various pharmaceutical companies through their medical practices? If Ebert was in fact lying, and conflating facts to fit his own agenda, one detail he was not lying about was the fact that certain developed countries have adopted universal health care.

        “But it’s not a right, is it?”

        No, not in this country. But it ought to be. In the past, my family has been the victim of the financially murdering cost of health care rates, medical services, and inadequate health diagnoses. An important individual in my family died of cancer a few years ago and our current health care system did not help attenuate that outcome — particularly in lieu of the recalcitrance of health insurance companies to cover the high cost of CT scans. Medicine today is largely fueled by greed; by the greed of pharmaceutical companies; by lobbyists. Not by a doctor’s genuine interest to heal the sick. My father (an independent contractor) goes to Bolivia (his country of birth) to seek affordable health care for his medical needs, because health care packages in the US (outside of basic work employment benefit packages) are not an option for him. Yes, I believe health care is a basic human right. Don’t get me wrong, I respect your opinion dude, I just respectfully disagree.

      • Reply Eric July 20, 2011 at 9:34 pm

        Doctor’s are given a list of what patient’s he wants to treat and chooses us before we choose them, right? Is that what you’re saying Jonolan? Truth is, doctors will do their job as long as they’re getting paid as doctors and the patients can/will choose who they want treating them. The difference lies under who picks up the balance and whether it’s under the right government healthcare program. It shouldn’t get more complicated than that. We pay our taxes for the sake of safety (police, firefighters, etc) which is a right under what we as citizens give and expect back from our government. Healthcare should fall right in line with that type of security in such a prosperous country such as our own.

  • Reply jonolan July 20, 2011 at 11:09 pm


    Actually, that is sort of true in that doctors can refuse to add to their patient load or decide later to no longer see a patient for any just about reason whatsoever.

    You bring up a point though – “doctors will do their job as long as they’re getting paid as doctors…” If healthcare is a “basic human right,” that is no longer part of the equation. They must provide the service irregardless of pay or other considerations or violate the patient’s human rights.

    As for the taxes idea – All that you mentioned benefited all that paid into it. Healthcare doesn’t work that way. I’m not going to willingly pay for some ghetto thug’s poor life choices and you certainly don’t want to pay for mine (I’ve made and continue to make plenty of bad health decisions).

    I also certainly don’t want you, me, that ghetto thug I mentioned, or especially the government to have a vested interest in micromanaging my lifestyle choices – and, believe me, “socialized” healthcare leads to that because it HAS to do so to remain economically viable.


    I quoted “socialized” for a related reason. The “bogeyman” of socialism just takes too long to explain as an aside to another topic. Suffice it to that it’s a somewhat poor word choice for a real fear, but a word choice based upon history.

    As for those services you mention – what risks they pose vary upon what level of government is enacting them and what the collusion and coercion is between the levels.. Many – I’d say most, if not all – federal programs have been used to circumvent the 10th Amendment, designed to limit federal power in favor of the individual powers of the states. So Socialist? Not exactly. Authoritarian and Statist with power concentrating at the federal level? Certainly,

    As for doctor’s feeling forced to provide services – What if a doctor wants to retire but that would mean people wouldn;t have access to care? You described healthcare as a basic human right, so doing so would be a violation of that right and the doctor should be forced to continue his practice. Or what if the person can’t pay and there’s no provision for charity for that patient?

    As a caveat to the above and to address some of your statements – We do not have the same definition of “basic human right.” You seem to say it but mean some form of legal right, intrinsically limited by corollary laws and the ability to be overruled in certain circumstances. This may be confusing both of us.

    Finally – thank you for describing the basis for your inherent bias in this situation. I’m not going to address any of those specifics though, even though I find some of them germane to the topic. It’s tempting and on point, but I don’t yet dislike you enough to do that.

  • Reply Richard Sanchez July 21, 2011 at 2:45 pm

    Universal healthcare … Authoritarian, Statist? Circumventing the 10th Amendment and the autonomous powers of individual states? That is very speculative to me. You seem to view universal healthcare as a taboo wormhole to an Orwellian, Huxley-esque, dystopic future where individual rights take a backseat to the superstructure of the proverbial Republic. I think that’s a bit apocalyptic. You make grand assumptions about the outcomes (and/or implications) of certain universal services that the government already provides (these services, such as firefighting, police enforcement, emergency response, are provided by the government not entirely because of some loophole in the Constitution; there are inherent, humanitarian reasons for these services). Adequate healthcare as a basic human right does not obviate a doctor getting paid as a doctor, neither does it require him or her to provide services irregardless of pay or his or her willingness to retire. Police officers get paid irregardless of who is paying them. It depends on who’s picking up the bill. The government, or the patient? As far as the Taxes Idea goes, Healthcare works differently from other public services, I agree, but the reasons for that are arbitrary. Arbitrarily (and financially-conveniently for health insurance companies and pharmaceutical companies), good, quality healthcare is “earned” in this country, much like the methods in which we earn high-income employment for receiving, paying for, and investing in an education. Or, for working hard to specialize in a certain field of expertise. A meritocracy. And for the most part, I support this meritocratic system, axiologically and ideologically. Where I cease to support it is on the issue of healthcare, which has been established as a tiered system that relegates lower income individuals and families to inadequate healthcare; as well as underestimates the needs of patients with psychiatric conditions, or individuals suffering from epilepsy (I know someone that has epilepsy who cannot receive a healthcare plan because the insurance company she applied to deemed her too much of an expensive liability. So, for any treatment that she receives for her epilepsy, she has to pay out of pocket. That’s bullshit). The reasoning behind our current health system is not based on humanitarian concerns, they are based on (as I mentioned before) the greed of pharmaceutical companies; the greed of health insurance companies; and the political agendas of lobbyists (who are basing their claims on selective research, who are not medical professionals or biologists themselves). We clearly do not have the same definition of what constitutes a basic human right … but when I say that term, I am not entirely pointing toward some form of a legal right, no … but to a human being’s right to live a healthy life, and receive adequate health care. Period.

    Conversely, I don’t dislike you enough to conclude that your salient use of the term “ghetto thug” was intended to be racist, but as a kind debater, I would advise that you use that term a little more carefully, particularly in the context of this discussion. To reiterate that point more soberly: I don’t think you meant it to be racist, but it could easily be construed as such by someone angrier with the Right than me. Firstly, individuals that (by no choice of their own) have been reared and raised in slums (making “poor” decisions solely based on survival instincts) are not the only people receiving shitty healthcare. My father, who doesn’t have health insurance, is independently employed and makes above-average income per year, yet he chooses to disregard the ridiculous rates that insurance companies offer him because rates unsubsidized by standard employment benefit packages (also a tiered system involving HMO and PPO-based plans) are excessive (so is the use of radiological equipment in hospital facilities that help detect cancer growths, which health insurance companies are often unwilling to subsidize). My father is not a thug. And not everyone that needs better healthcare via higher tax cuts is a thug. Secondly, as opposed to you, I would most certainly be willing to pay higher taxes for the sake of your bad health decisions. Yes. Of course I would. Because that would also mean that my tax cuts help pay for the health services that a child with leukemia receives. It would also mean, that some day, when I’m sick, I get better care from professionals with a genuine interest to heal me, not just treat my symptoms by pushing drugs and antibiotics down my throat. To me, it’s the equivalent to driving down a street, and suddenly espying the victim of a terrible car accident, writhing in pain on the pavement, and I continue driving (ignoring this dying person) because it’s simply: “Not my problem. He made the poor decision of speeding down this highway, so he deserves what has befallen him.” That is not the type of society that I want to raise my future kids in.

    “As for doctor’s feeling forced to provide services – What if a doctor wants to retire but that would mean people wouldn’t have access to care? You described healthcare as a basic human right, so doing so would be a violation of that right and the doctor should be forced to continue his practice. Or what if the person can’t pay and there’s no provision for charity for that patient?”

    I don’t think I understand this. If a police officer retires from the force, does that mean that the general public in a given county or state will no longer have access to safety against criminals, “thugs,” and arsonists? Does this mean that a police officer is forced to stay on duty regardless of how old and withered he feels? No, it doesn’t mean that at all. There is more than one police officer in the US. Some retire. Others take the place of retirees. Similarly, a doctor will retire when he or she is ready to retire, and a younger more sprightly doctor will take his or her place. Personally, I believe that as much as American citizens have a right to safety against crime, that these same American citizens have a right to fight disease (diabetes and cancer being two of the most prevalent and deadly) through adequate healthcare services that don’t charge rates that cause personal finance catastrophes and bankruptcy.

    Still, aside from the healthcare issue, I have looked through some of the posts in your blog, so I am aware of what angle you’re coming from, and the agenda that you nourish through each post. I am not going to sit here and pretend to sway that agenda in any way, or even by volleying facts and statistics. Someone further on Left might be willing to do that with you, and I assure you, that is an endless tennis match. I strongly adhere to the belief that if you want to find the statistics to support your political agenda, you will find them. Left, Right, or Middle. You will find them. Statistics are important, and we need them … but when it comes to lording over somebody else’s blog with a specific, mildly condescending attitude, I begin to question the very point of the debate. Ironically, I’m also quite glad for it, because it means we live in a country whose citizens have the right to criticize the federal government, as well as each other. One thing we can agree on is the debt ceiling, which seemingly has no limit. Republicans and Democrats (and their mini-partisan, fringe tributary movements) all agree that the US, in terms of debt, is fucked. Even amidst members of the GOP, there is “gang warfare”:

    “WASHINGTON — Media reports are touting the Senate’s Gang of Six and its new budget outline. But the news that explains why the nation is caught in this debt-ceiling fiasco is the gang warfare inside the Republican Party. We are witnessing the disintegration of tea party Republicanism.

    The tea party’s followers have endangered the nation’s credit rating and the GOP by pushing both House Speaker John Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor away from their own best instincts” (Source: http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2011/07/21/blowing_up_the_house_110648.html).

    A similar strain of blame could be reverse-engineered to virally attack the more vocal members of the political left (even in lieu of political satirists John Stewart and Stephen Colbert — perhaps Republicans and Tea Partiers could benefit from their own political satirists; and pretend that Glenn Beck isn’t in the room, scratching their heads and turning their whistling countenances toward reasonable Republicans). Is the Democratic party saving us from debt? No, I don’t think so. Did we place an unrealistic amount of hope and expectation on Obama? Probably. Was it the GOP’s eight years in office the cause of our current invisible debt ceiling? Maybe. Maybe not. As an individual, and as a progressive Christian, I would rather not be “bought and sold” by anyone’s agenda.

    • Reply Morpiedra July 21, 2011 at 4:02 pm

      @jonolan: Sounded pretty racist to me. Be accountable for what you say. http://goo.gl/VSdJs

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