Courtesy of NewsBusters, here’s one of those heated exchanges that partisans of both Left and Right are bound to view as a slam-dunk in-your-face win for their side, as former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich and Clinton-era Labor Secretary Robert Reich spar over poverty and policy on ABC’s “This Week.”
In the exchange, Reich argues that the War on Poverty was going great until tight-fisted Republicans started interfering with Democrat plans to redistribute even more wealth, and claims “income inequality” has gotten worse under Obama because of Republican resistance to his agenda. This is, quite possibly, the dumbest thing anyone has ever said. Just for starters, it projects staggering ignorance about the War on Poverty. To agree with Reich, you have to be just about completely ignorant of actual history, not only from decades past but from the explosion of wealth redistribution and social welfare spending under the past few Presidents, particularly Obama.
But of course, it’s tedious leftist cant to insist that the only reason their policies fail is that they weren’t given another couple trillion dollars to pursue them more vigorously. Every failure of State control is caused by insufficient State control. The Daily Caller offers a look at how the War on Poverty was going when Reich was on the front lines under Clinton, and his history of deliberately misrepresenting that history:
One thing Reich isn’t taking responsibility for is his own contribution to inequality during his widely regretted stint in the White House. Working as the Clinton Administration’s Labor Secretary from 1993 to 1997, Reich oversaw a substantial hike in the federal minimum wage and implementation of the Family Leave Act. Despite these apparent War-On-Poverty victories, according to inequality.org‘s chart of after-tax income by income group, U.S. inequality during his tenure grew at the fastest rate ever seen up until that time.
Reich left office prior to the late-Clinton-era boom that lifted all wage groups and saw the last balanced budgets in American history. He later slammed his former colleagues in the memoir “Locked In the Cabinet,” which was universally criticized and had to be substantially re-edited in later editions due to Reich’s multiple distortions and outright falsehoods.
Reich is a hardcore socialist, and socialists lie. It’s what they do. It’s baked into the very essence of their being, because their philosophy assumes the absolute primacy of a wise Ruling Class elite that knows how best to arrange society in a “fair” and “just” manner. This involves the use of compulsive force to seize assets and income from their rightful owners, plus a good deal of forcing average citizens to live as the Ruling Class desires.
Unfortunately, the Western socialist lives with the unpleasant reality of popular elections, where the people have a distressing ability to reject the vision of the Ruling Class and insist on their liberties. Therefore, it is inescapably necessary for the great and wise to lie to voters, because they can’t handle the truth. It’s for their own good, so it’s all totally justified. By definition, the common man lacks the vision of the elite, so he cannot be allowed to thwart that vision by voting against it. You will never be granted complete candor by people who believe that you must be forced to do certain things for the greater benefit of society, as they envision it, because such candor would inevitably lead to greater resistance. The path to utopia will require many sacrifices, so the ignorant people must be led down it blindfolded.
Gingrich hits back hard against Reich’s assertion that Republican stonewalling of the Obama agenda is the only reason we haven’t drawn closer to utopia over the past five years, calling it “baloney.” Gingrich shot back: “Every major city which is a center of poverty is run by Democrats. Every major city. Their policies have failed, they’re not willing to admit it, and the fact is, it’s the poor who suffer from bad government.”
Reich stammered something about how outgoing New York mayor Michael Bloomberg wasn’t a Democrat, but aside from Bloomberg’s decidedly government-centered philosophy, the rest of New York’s political machinery has been safely in Democrat hands forever. No one is going to “solve” the poverty debate in an exchange of sound bites, but Gingrich’s point about how badly-run government causes the greatest suffering among the poor is far more solid than anything Reich says, and it’s worth exploring further.
Perhaps the point begins as something of a tautology, because the poor are, by definition, “suffering” worst from a policy standpoint under any system of government. But what Gingrich means is that bad government policies are particularly destructive to the opportunities for employment and stability essential to the climb out of poverty. Reich is an utter fool to believe that these opportunities can be replaced by titanic government spending programs; the Obama years are definitive proof that doesn’t work. As a left-wing propagandist, he might deserve a little applause for having the chutzpah to make his “just give us more money to spend and we’ll get it right” argument in favor of managerial liberalism at the exact moment ObamaCare is crashing down in flames, the most devastating failure of Reich’s ideals since the fall of the Soviet Union.
Over a trillion dollars in “stimulus” spending gave us permanent double-digit real unemployment. Even the heavily cooked unemployment rate popularized by the news media has been stuck over 7 percent for years, and it’s a lot worse in the demographics Gingrich and Reich are discussing. When Obama imposed his stimulus spending agenda, all the “smart people” in his elite team assured us their plans would bring unemployment under 5 percent by the end of the President’s first term. Instead, the job market tracked consistently and significantly worse than the worst-case scare-tactic conditions they warned would occur without their redistribution scheme.
The social pathologies incubated by the Great Society turned cities into blighted war zones, not only because of the corrosive effect cradle-to-grave welfare has on the people it’s ostensibly trying to “help,” but because the cities ruled by Democrats have become the hardest places in America to launch a business venture or hire someone. Their stale political cultures have been very lucrative for the ruling party’s cronies, but smokestacks of despair for everyone else. Knowing that things will never change makes small entrepreneurs – the people who don’t get front-page headline coverage for throwing political fundraisers – depart the dying cities to seek opportunity elsewhere. We’re not talking about a few people bailing out and skedaddling for the burbs just because a couple of elections don’t go their way. We’re discussing cities with generational histories of one-party rule and machine politics. To this day, their ruling political machines have absolutely no idea how to reverse the decline, because everything that might work is completely antithetical to their statist ideology, not to mention their hunger for government revenue.
The day Margaret Thatcher warned about has arrived – the Left has run out of other peoples’ money to spend. Even the vast ocean of federal spending and debt is not bottomless. We’ve arguably passed the point where the geese of industry can be squeezed by the State for more golden eggs, without choking them to death. A great deal of Obama malaise is caused by government overtaxing and over-regulating the private sector far beyond the point where the net result is counter-productive. This economy is begging for pro-growth tax reforms and the privatization of moribund government programs, beginning with ObamaCare, which managed the neat trick of being born moribund. The situation is even more pronounced in the cities Newt Gingrich mentioned, which offer a glimpse into our national future for anyone with the intellectual honesty to look clearly. The private sector needs to get bigger, and fast. It is no longer strong enough to carry the flabby Ruling Class riding on its back.