It's a popular misconception that Republicans are concerned about our nation's debt problem. It's maybe less inaccurate to say they're concerned about government debt, but that's not really their root concern either, is it? In reality, it's the collective management of our resources they are opposed to, because this puts power in the hands of the people, not (business) corporations.
How have I arrived at this conclusion, you may ask? Because of the way they approach individual (personal) debt. Not only is that kind of debt "okay", Republicans go out of their way protecting their corporate masters' freedom to enslave us with usurial and wealth-destroying practices.
Before I go on, let's take a look at just where we stand financially. Forgive the age of this article (6 years old) and the source (dang Socialists):
US consumer debt has reached staggering levels after more than doubling over the past 10 years. According to the most recent figures from the Federal Reserve Board, consumer debt hit $1.98 trillion in October 2003, up from $1.5 trillion three years ago. This figure, representing credit card and car loan debt, but excluding mortgages, translates into approximately $18,700 per US household.
Outstanding consumer credit, including mortgage and other debt, reached $9.3 trillion in April 2003, representing an increase from $7 trillion in January 2000. The total credit card debt alone stands at $735 billion, with the household card debt of those who carry balances estimated to average $12,000.
I'm sure this comes as no surprise to most of you reading this. Nothing is more depressing than trying to add a few more dollars over the minimum payment on your credit card, just so you can pay it off a year or two before you move into an assisted living facility.
“But with debt levels substantially higher now than they were 20 years earlier, the household sector is more vulnerable now than in the past to rising interest rates,” according to the Economic Policy Institute, a liberal Washington, D.C., think tank. Americans currently spend a near-record 18.1 percent of their after-tax income to cover all debts, with debt service taking the biggest share of income from the lowest-income families.
“We’ve never had so many who owed so much,” said David Wyss, chief economist with Standard & Poor’s.
So yeah, it's a problem. A huge problem actually, and one that adversely impacts the lives of thousands on a daily basis. But instead of working towards solutions for this problem, such as curbing the out-of-control interest rates of predatory lenders, Republicans stubbornly oppose such interventions, and actually try to reshape the issue into either the "freedoms" mantra or one of economic growth:
All the fresh publicity about alleged dirty doings by Goldman Sachs, etc., is beside the point: Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd (D-Conn.) has produced a bill that skips over the real issues to focus on a Democratic bugaboo — supposedly abusive lending.
Thus, Dodd's bill fails to end bailouts, as many have noted. Instead, it adds new restrictions on credit — which are likely to cost our economy tens of thousands of jobs a year.
Reductions in credit directly result in declines in job creation. We know, for instance, that the two most common sources of funds for starting businesses are home-equity and credit-card debt. The bursting of the housing bubble largely eliminated the first option; now Washington is trying its best to kill the second.
Make no mistake: the pundits, think-tankers and Republican candidates for office know that personal debt is actually the real threat to our freedoms and prosperity, they just don't give a shit. And if you study connections like these, you'll understand why:
Community Financial Services Association of America (CFSA): Established in 1999 to ensure consumer confidence in, and long-term success of, the payday advance industry. CFSA spent $2.5 million in lobbying in 2009.
Consumer Rights League: Founded in 2007 by Michael Flynn and Terry Kibbe. Last fall filed federal complaints against Center for Responsible Lending alleging lobbying violations, which have not been proven.
Defend America PAC: Led by U.S. Rep. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), the ranking member on the House banking committee, this PAC from 2006-2010 has given $797,000 to Republican lawmakers, including $10,000 this election cycle to North Carolina Senator Richard Burr. Koch Industries has kicked in $5,000 to the PAC this year.
Michael Flynn: Editor of BigGovernment.com and co-founder of Consumer Rights League. Formerly worked for the Reason Foundation and Richard Berman's lobbying firm. Nicknamed "Dr. Evil," Berman has created dozens of pro-business front groups and websites including ActivistCash.com, which has attacked the Center for Responsible Lending, and Econ4U.org, which offers guidance on credit and payday loans.
This ain't rocket science folks, it's simple follow-the-money, conflict-of-interest, bought-and-paid-for corporate advocacy with ideological trappings. And if we're not careful, these snake-oil salesmen are going to sweep our democracy under the rug come November.
Run-of-the-mill Democratic voters out there might be struck with apathy this election season, but those of us who consider ourselves "informed activists" don't have that luxury. If you've read this far, that means you. Can I guarantee that your efforts will make a difference? Maybe not, but I can guarantee that your complacency will have terrible results.
I'll leave you with this: