Let's Fix This Country

Huckabee’s Solution for the Debt: Eliminate Disease

By guest columnist Al Rodbell

I watched the entire event with the ten leading candidates, and the other major force on the screen, the "media" in the form of CNBC who were accused of tormenting the candidates. If the directors had a squelch button for each candidate's microphone, they didn't use it, so there were times when several candidates were speaking over each other with the moderator trying to gain control. On several occasions, such as the accusation that Ben Carson was associated with a shady supplement company, he simply denied it in spite of his appearance on the home page of their website. CNBC had not seriously investigated his relationship, so his denial not only stood, but supported the accusation that the mainstream media was antagonistic to the brand of conservatism that this group represents.

Unlike last election's debate, there were no questions asked to every candidate except the opening one, that most ignored in favor of an opening statement. This leaves holes in the ability to compare and generalize. One issue was addressed by most of the candidates, which is whether they support the pending budget/national debt increase bill. Rand Paul did state that he will be launching a filibuster, "tomorrow, on the Senate floor". No one opposed his actions.

Now a step back, on why this position is popular not only among Republicans, but a large number of voters. I remember last time we had this showdown, and I posed this question to a highly educated man I play tennis with. "Do you know the difference between passing the national debt increase and passing appropriations that increase the national debt?" He, thought for a second, and then said, "No, what is the difference." I would suggest that a majority of Americans would answer as he did. Why not try it out yourself on some friends.

Because of this, Republicans can support vast wasteful programs of military procurement, and the development of bombers such as the B2 that cost over $40 billion and was cancelled early with only 20 planes built. That's $2 billion each. And of course supporting the Iraq war, where the long term dollar costs alone, which includes the New GI Bill, deferred medical costs and pensions, will be in the multi-trillion dollar range; this astronomical cost rarely realized as each appropriation is separate, with some being "off budget." The public does not realize that each one of these appropriations increases the national debt, an intentional obfuscation created by the biannual extravaganza of every Republican grandstanding against the legislation to pay the bills for what they, as a party, have individually authorized.

The capstone of the "Debate Show" last night was the final statement by the Reverend Governor Mike Huckabee. He had a solution to America's long term fiscal challenges that obviously no one had thought of that he delivered with the conviction and moral fervor of those who expound the word of God.

That's it; the solution to not only the national debt of this country and Medicare's long-term costs, but sickness and disease itself. Governor Huckabee offered this solution, a "War on Disease", which is orders of magnitude more absurd than our Wars on drugs, poverty and crime. None of the nine Republicans on the dais said the obvious, that this "war" has been going on for centuries in thousands of research labs around the world, something he must not have noticed. Neither of the two medical doctors, Rand Paul and Ben Carson, who are benefiting from the prestige of this profession, commented of the absurdity of Huckabee's comment.

Does he want more funding for research? No, of course not. Good Republicans do not want taxes for anything. So, the entire contingent of candidates tacitly accepted his new "war" — something that is intrinsically a government operation — at the very same time that they are opposed to paying our debts for the previous wars they have supported. This is the current Republican party in a nutshell. As the candidates — doctors, lawyers men of substance and achievement — continue with this drumbeat. Those in the national audience who listen uncritically to their mantras become inured to irrationality — only responding to the stimulus of repeated buzzwords.

At the very least those who oppose this mentality must condemn it even when — especially when — it surfaces in their own ideologies. If progressives choose to ignore reality for what plays well to a clueless electorate, then any victory will be a Pyrrhic one. Winning an election, in the long run, is less important than fighting for the principle of expanding incisive analysis of our complex system of government, so nonsense such as this will not pass unnoticed. If this quality of our public is lost, and our democracy is approaching this sad state, which side holds the reins of political power for a given term will become a footnote in the course of our inevitable decline.

                       A more extensive version of Al's essay can be found at AlRodbell.com.

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