The Republican Party and the Great Conservative Long Con

trickle-down-reaganSomething I often like to do in my interactions with Republicans is make them defend their ideologies. It’s like a recent piece I wrote where I asked conservatives what the Republican party has actually done for them. It’s easy for conservatives to regurgitate talking points that have been spoon fed to them by the right-wing media, but to quantify those talking points is much more difficult.


But what the Republican party is really doing is selling their voters a “long con.” The truth is, nearly everything they promise will happen based on their ideological stances, never does.

This is the party that constantly claims to be “fiscally conservative,” yet hasn’t had a president from their party balance the budget since Eisenhower in the 1950’s. Even their “conservative icon” Ronald Reagan, the man on which modern day conservatives seem to validate their conservativeness, nearly tripled our national debt during his eight years. George W. Bush, who promised Americans his tax cuts would balance the budget within a decade, not only destroyed a budget surplus that he inherited (from Democrat Bill Clinton) – but he doubled our national debt during his administration.

So where’s this “fiscal responsibility”? It’s been nearly 60 years since a Republican president balanced the budget. To the conservative voter I ask, how many decades need to pass where a Republican president doesn’t balance the budget, before you’ll admit your party is full of crap?

Then there’s the “tax cuts create jobs” nonsense. If tax cuts create economic prosperity, then why is it that our economy nearly fell apart during Bush’s administration when taxes were at all-time lows? This lie is about dangling a few hundred dollars worth of tax cuts in the face of the average American so that they can give massive tax cuts to the rich. Meanwhile, since the dawn of trickle-down economics, there’s been absolutely no support for the idea that tax cuts create jobs. Because guess what? Companies don’t create jobs they don’t need simply because taxes are low. They create jobs when they need to and that need is driven by demand – not tax cuts.

But exactly when will these tax cuts create unheralded prosperity for the middle class? I hate to break it to Republicans, but no matter what you think about President Obama, taxes are still at some of their lowest levels in history. In fact, the main issue we’re seeing in this country right now is wage stagnation, which shouldn’t be an issue because big corporations and the rich are doing great in this country. So when conservatives say that Obama’s policies have killed wage growth, what they’re really admitting is that trickle-down economics doesn’t work.


And how exactly are Republicans for “small government”? Last time I checked Republican legislatures all over this country were passing laws that massively expanded government over our voting process, women’s bodies, gay rights and marriage. Then let’s not forget that this was the party that passed the Patriot Act – one of the largest “big government bills” in United States history.

The truth is conservatives are for “small government” when it benefits something they support (guns, religion, big oil) but they love big government when it can be used to their benefit.

But it’s all okay, because Republicans have managed to tie in religion with their propaganda so that conservatives won’t think about the lies they’re being told. To many conservatives, being a Republican is tied in directly with their religious beliefs. They’ll never question their politics because that would be like questioning their religion, and that’s a big no-no for Christian conservatives.

But all of this right-wing rhetoric is tied into their elaborate long con. They’re constantly promising balanced budgets, fiscal responsibility, tax cuts that lead to economic prosperity, and it will all happen…someday. It’s coming. They promise. Just keep electing them and eventually they promise to deliver on these nearly 40-year-old promises.

Except, of course, they never will. And that’s how cons work; they promise everything, deliver nothing, and sadly tens of millions of Americans continue to fall for it.



Allen Clifton

Allen Clifton is a native Texan who now lives in the Austin area. He has a degree in Political Science from Sam Houston State University. Allen is a co-founder of Forward Progressives and creator of the popular Right Off A Cliff column and Facebook page. Be sure to follow Allen on Twitter and Facebook, and subscribe to his channel on YouTube as well.

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  • Jim Bean

    The greatest economic thing that has happened to the lower and middle class since 2008 is the Dems failure to obstruct fracking which resulted in huge increases in oil and gas production which in turn, dramatically drove down the cost of gasoline and heating fuel causing billions of dollars to ‘trickle down’ into their pockets. It must be noted that Liberals swore on their god’s name that excess energy supplies would NOT effect gasoline prices. The Left got it wrong.

    • TaxPaying American Voter

      You really do not understand how oil prices work. Production of oil and gas has NOTHING to do with demand. Period. Good try rationalizing this, but supply and demand are a non-issue with big oil. Try again- next…..

      • Charles Vincent

        Actually they are related go take a macro Econ class.

      • Steve Brains

        But nOT in the class, are they?

      • Jim Bean

        Per NBC News: “We are seeing prices go down for a number of reasons. It’s the end of the summer season, and there’s a huge amount of domestic production that is helping drive crude oil prices down, and there were no hurricanes,”

        You need to stop relying on chain emails for your information on current affairs.

      • Paul Julian Gould

        Quite frankly, the price war going on quietly among the OPEC countries has more to do with current low fuel costs, and crap all to do with US politics, only US consumers as customers.

      • Stephen Barlow

        The prices are ALL ABOUT SPECULATION. Gambling on the next part of the PERPETUAL MIDDLE EAST CONFLICT. Imagine the PRICE STABILITY if America sold Israel out to the Arabs and fostered PEACE instead of backing despots in Tel Aviv.

    • Stephen Barlow

      Prices are down about a DOLLAR from the BUSH Era peak. Still, 30% is 30%. of course if Oil were NOT speculated on and were prices were regulated like utilities, then $2 gas is possible. But if we taxed the CRAP out of the profits and made them NONDEDUCTIBLE… then we could fix the bridges and pave the roads, pay for the VETERANS healthcare and maybe never have to worry about unemployment because of the perpetual INFRASTRUCTURE REPAIR that replaces PERPETUAL WAR s America’s #1 industry.

    • ProfL

      It’s destroying the planet, but as long as we have cheap gas, let’s eat, drink, and be merry.

      • Jon Swartslander

        It is not destroying the planet, just whats living on its surface ,when we are all dead and gone, the planet earth will still be here doing just fine .

      • ProfL

        I’m sure it will recover eventually once we are all gone, but I think most people want to protect human life too.

      • Jim Bean

        Go outside. Drive out beyond the city limit. Its not being destroyed.

      • ProfL

        Hmmm… It won’t allow me to post a link in my response. Look up “Fracking Triggers More Ohio Earthquakes” and see what it is doing to my home state.

      • Jim Bean

        Oh for Pete’s sake! Earthquakes result when the earths plates slip suddenly after building up back pressure as they slid past each other. If fracking is going to have any impact on earthquakes it will be to cause them to occur sooner rather than later and therefore, occur with less force and destruction. Celebrate it.

      • ProfL

        Hmmm… I am assuming you don’t live in Ohio and are not a seismologist. In addition to the earthquakes, we also have the problem of polluted waterways. Should we be enjoying that too? How much are Ohioans expected to suffer so that you can have cheap gas?

      • Jim Bean

        You are expected to suffer as much as everyone else has suffered so that you could keep your lights on, have the steel provided for your auto, and the plastic and wood for your home.

      • ProfL

        And screw our children and grandchildren, because Jim needs his gas guzzling SUV.

      • Jim Bean

        How do you think all your illegal immigrant friends are getting around? On foot?

      • ProfL

        All of my illegal immigrant friends seem to be a lot more concerned about the future of humanity than you are.

      • Jim Bean

        What are they doing for third world hunger? For that matter, what are YOU doing about it?

      • ProfL

        These are imaginary people. You know that, right? The undocumented who come here for economic reasons are doing a lot for third world hunger, especially their own. They immigrate to stop it.

  • Jeff Guy

    Everybody wants something. Demorats do pretty well drawing out those desires. I just cannot see how they can get to congress and only react. Never in life does that give results desired. This malaise has cost us so much progress. We may totally miss the 21st century. Please help us help you. If you cannot, support those who will. Listen, act or move on.

  • forpeace

    GOTPers always say “they are for smaller government, cutting spending, and they are fiscally responsible” until they become the majority, or in power.

    Then, they expand government and spend money like there’s no tomorrow.

    GOTP says all those lies to fool its own voters. Just look at the history.

    Wasn’t it in 2002 when Dick Cheney declared, “Deficits don’t matter?”
    Congressional Republicans agreed, approving tax cuts, two wars, and Medicare expansion without even trying to pay for them.

    The good news is we don’t have to worry about our debt, deficit, and spendings anymore because Oklahoma Senator-elect James Lankford believes he can magically erase the national debt with the power of the Holy Bible.

    I’m sure James Lankford can also magically print more money with the power of the Holy Bible.

  • Dr. Dee

    People need to realize that one of the main reason people vote for the GOP is due to their tax cutting policies. Many Americans want to pay as little taxes as possible and the GOP platform helps them achieve this goal.

    • Yes GOP pass tax cuts that give pennies to most Americans while the wealthy and corporations make out with the lion’s share. Look at the reality of who gets what and how much, not Republican slogans. No one like taxes yet people like government services like public roads, public schools, health care, safe drinking water, clean air, police and much more which cost money that comes from taxes..

    • ProfL

      A lot of those tax cuts ultimately raise the tax burden of the middle class.

      • Taxes help pay for many services the middle class uses and benefits from
        .

  • It’s otherwise a good photo to illustrate this, except that one of the white guys laughing in this photo is Walter Cronkite, who certainly wouldn’t have been laughing at this issue and would likely be very much against ‘Trickle Down’ economics.

  • Republicans will say they want to help working families. They say they want to work with Democrats. Fine – let’s start by raising the national minimum wage from $7.25/hr to $10 00 or $11.00 an hour and index it to inflation. OK Republicans?

  • Stephen Barlow

    The long con has been going on since Nixon tried to steal the election and resigned after making a clemency deal with Gerald Ford. We are defenseless if we refuse, as a Nation, to VOTE that crap and it’s criminals out of office.

  • FD Brian

    Don’t forget about less regulation, they harp on that stuff as well.

  • Frank Sheeran

    I’m not a Republican but I can respond to some of these semi-rhetorical questions Clifton is posing. (I note Clifton claims to have a degree in Political Science. Its hard to see how he can understand so little of history or economics if that’s true. On the other hand maybe he knows better but is asking these po-faced questions on the assumption his audience won’t know better.)

    The wealthy have a certain amount of money they’re not spending. If you don’t tax it away, it will get invested in a company directly or indirectly. Companies often need capital to grow and this is how they get capital. If tax rates are quite high on the wealthy, then that money won’t get to companies.

    The article is incorrect that “George W. Bush … destroyed a budget surplus.” Anyone who was president while the 90’s boom wound down, the internet bubble popped, the Patriot Act and (at least) the war in Afghanistan proved necessary, who had Greenspan create a liquidity tsunami that created a housing bubble that subsequently collapsed, would have had a surplus destroyed on their watch.

    > It’s been nearly 60 years since a Republican president balanced the budget. To the conservative voter I ask, how many decades need to pass where a Republican president doesn’t balance the budget, before you’ll admit your party is full of crap?o

    Actually, 1) budget is made by congress, not the president, and 2) the answer would be that for several years in the 90s a Republican congress made a balanced budget.

    > If tax cuts create economic prosperity, then why is it that our economy nearly fell apart during Bush’s administration when taxes were at all-time lows?

    Taxes ABSOLUTELY weren’t at all time lows during the Bush administration; there basically weren’t even taxes as such during most of the country’s history. And in recent memory Reagan tax rates were quite a bit lower too, I think 28% for the top bracket?

    And the economy fell apart for the simple reason that the nation’s biggest property bubble popped. You know I like Obama a lot but the bubble could have as easily popped under a Democratic president.

    > Companies don’t create jobs they don’t need simply because taxes are low. They create jobs when they need to and that need is driven by demand

    Hmmm, not really. Most companies have ideas waiting in the wings of new products and services they can offer, or new places they can offer their current product range, were they to have the capital and manpower available. Go to any successful restraunteur and tell him you’ve got $5M to help him start turning into a chain, and the response typically isn’t, “no, I don’t think I need more stores, From my current single location, I’m already reaching every last person on the planet who’d want my donuts.”

    > But exactly when will these tax cuts create unheralded prosperity for the middle class?

    I think we already have unheralded prosperity, don’t we? Would your trade your life today with cell phones and the internet for, some billionaire’s life as recently as 1990? Bill Gates couldn’t email friends and family, he couldn’t just call people whenever he wanted, he had no Google, no Amazon, no Wikipedia, no Facebook. All of these companies came into being thanks to investors getting money from wealthy people who had some money left after taxes. In contrast look at all the powerful companies created by higher-tax France since World War II… oh wait a minute, there aren’t any. After their wealthy pay 75% income tax, plus property taxes and wealth taxes, they just don’t have a bunch sitting around to fund new companies.

    > And how exactly are Republicans for “small government”? Last time I checked Republican legislatures all over this country were passing laws that massively expanded government over our voting process, women’s bodies, gay rights and marriage.

    This is a good question. “Small Govt” can mean small government BUDGET or small government INFLUENCE ON PEOPLE.

    The “standard” Republican is for a small budget, but wants control over people–no pot, no gays, lots of prison time etc. However the Libertarians (who for the last decade or so seem to be considered to be Repulican, though they’re not) actually are for freedom to do pretty much anything.

    Many Republicans fall under the heading of “Law and Order” fanatics for whom voter ID checks just seems like a good extension of policing. But my REAL answer for this is that Republicans are interested in voter ID mainly to disenfranchise poor Democratic voters. In other words, its driven by a practical concern, not a philosophical concern.

    > Then let’s not forget that this was the party that passed the Patriot Act – one of the largest “big government bills” in United States history.

    Ummm, it passed the Senate 98-1. It was hardly the Republicans alone.

    The answer as to why any Reps voted for it at all would be: they’re not “small budget in any case whatsoever no matter what happens,” they’re obviously willing to put national security first, and at that time national security appeared to required the Patriot Act.

  • Concerned50

    When are we ever going to have people running on taxing the millionaires and stop them from stealing from the people? When are we ever going to have people running on closing all tax breaks because they are unconstitutional and do not serve the welfare of the people?

  • ShibumiMC

    So – why does the opposition not challenge the mythology?

  • BkDodge42

    The last Republican President with a balanced budget was Richard Nixon, although ignoring facts is common here. Just put out false information and fallacies.
    Since Congress creates the budget, then looking at which parties that are in control of congress would indicate which party balances the budget and which party increases spending.