Mike Huckabee: A Simple Government: Book Review. Chapter 3: You Can’t Spend What You Don’t Have; You Can’t Borrow What You Can’t Pay Back. (Beware Of Politicians Offering Simple Solutions.)
In this chapter Huckabee discusses budget deficits and the National Debt. To put things in perspective he uses illustrations from Tutor.Com showing the relationship of money to an individual. $10,000 in $100 dollar bills to one man then 1 million then 1 billion then 1 trillion then the national debt in $100 bills to one man. This is all interesting but he should have put in the number of people now and in the future in relationship to the debt. Also the relevant fact is the size of the economy to the money we spend or owe.
(It was thought by many that Reagan bankrupted the country on military spending while he was in office. This later turned out to be untrue. However Reagan’s example started the current rampage by Republicans (notably Bush II) for deficit spending and in Bush’s case the financial meltdown due to a failure to regulate Wall Street, The banks, and mortgage lending that caused most of the deficit spending and the increase in The National Debt that came into fruition as Bush left office and the Obama Administration took over. This non-regulation or light regulation was a policy started by Reagan also. So the man Republicans look to as their great leader had a lot to do with the state of the economy today.)
To the point: Huckabee uses examples to illustrate his conclusion that are irrelevant and not productive in analyzing the issues of deficit spending or the National Debt.
As one might expect he tries to make an issue out of Social Security and other social welfare entitlements as the source of the problem.
One of his major points is that Social Security is scheduled to run out of money in 2037. He points out that the baby boomers are retiring. They are a population bubble that occurred after WWII and as they retire these people will increase the demands on Social Security. These points are true but he ignores the fact that by 2037 the vast majority of the baby boomers will have passed on. In fact they are passing on right now incrementally and the rate will increase as time goes by. Therefore what the situation will be in 2037 is anyone’s guess but if anything the baby boom bubble will be gone. Therefore any dire future prediction based on this statistic is flawed. Social Security which is funded by taxation is a political football used by the conservative right to frighten people. (Most mainstream economists think with slight adjustments Social Security will be there for everyone indefinitely. Huckabees dire consequences and equally dire solutions don’t hold water.
Huckabee devotes half a page to Medicare. This is the area where there is a major funding problem. His solution is to raise the age of eligibility. (Of course then what do we do with the uninsured that need medical care if we do away with the Affordable National Healthcare Plan as he wishes to do? He doesn’t say. He said these were going to be simple solutions for government problems. So if you are uninsured and have cancer do you go to your church and neighbors. Well we know from experience that doesn’t work. Half a page to the issue of Medicare with a solution calling for the raising of the age of eligibility is absurd. Perhaps he will talk further on this issue elsewhere in this book.) Apparently by raising the eligibility age less people will have proper medical care and the simple solution is to just let them die.
WE NEED JOBS
This is an obvious conclusion. However he doesn’t say what kind of jobs; detailing the cars of the well off or jobs that are more than just menial service ones with benefits, stability and pay sufficient to support a family at a reasonable standard of living. His solution is to lower taxes especially the ones that support the social safety net in place now. That way “small business” will use the money to create jobs, hire people and everyone will be happy ever after.
(Huckabee doesn’t mention the fact that American business has trillions of dollars in their treasuries that they are not investing in the creation of new domestic jobs. Also in the case of the larger corporations, profits made abroad are not returned home to invest. This is done for the purpose of tax avoidance. However if the money was reinvested here there are many tax benefits to be obtained. So this is not the simple solution because business already has the money to invest, they just don’t know where to invest because of the advent of Globalization which reduced the need for American labor. Globalization is a financial boom for business which can create the same products using cheaper overseas plants and labor. Because of this phenomenon American workers have lost jobs and income and their standard of living is declining. On the other hand business has prospered and the gap between rich and poor in the United States has widened. He fails to propose new ideas or strategies that would create jobs except for the reduction of taxation on business.
This chapter proposes simple solutions for simpletons. Huckabee is living in the 19th Century.