Special interest money is not the only thing that reached astronomical levels this mid-term election. Myths about the track record of the 111th Congress-including the federal stimulus and landmark health care and Wall Street reform laws-have inundated the news and political debate. I’d like to take this opportunity to debunk five of the most notorious myths about the work of the Democratic Congress and President Obama.
Myth: Spending is out of control and the deficit is exploding.
Fact: The Democratic Congress has made pay-as-you-go budgeting the law of the land. We’ve cracked down on waste in Pentagon weapons acquisition and tightened up budget controls to keep taxpayer’s money from being misspent. Far from increasing the deficit, the President’s budget actually cuts the deficit over the next five years.
President Obama and a Democratic Congress inherited a record deficit from President Bush-after President Clinton had left behind an historic surplus. In fact, President Bush nearly doubled the national debt and repealed the pay-as-you-go deficit control plan that produced balanced budgets in the 1990s. And President Bush borrowed more money from other countries, like China, than every previous administration combined. Independent economists credit the overall Democratic response to the Bush recession with preventing the loss of 8 million more jobs and stopping unemployment from going to over 16%. They also concluded that, without these actions, our budget deficit would actually be $3 trillion worse over the next three years.
Myth: Taxes have gone up.
Fact: Americans are paying the lowest taxes in 60 years. Congress has approved 16 small business tax cuts to promote job growth. In fact, one-third of the Recovery Act was tax cuts-reaching 98% of Americans. Republicans voted against the Recovery Act tax cuts and against all but one of the small business tax cuts.
Myth: The Government has taken over health care.
Fact: The new health care law actually builds on our present system of private insurance. In fact, the number of Americans with private health coverage will increase under reform, patients finally have a first-ever Patient’s Bill of Rights, the deficit will be reduced by $143 billion over the next ten years, and Medicare will be strengthened for our seniors. Every Republican voted against the Patient’s Bill of Rights-and would repeal it now.
Myth: Government is interfering with private markets and industry.
Fact: The new financial reform bill returns common sense rules, like the ones put in place after the stock market crash of 1929, to our financial sector. Over the past decade, the big banks and Wall Street played Russian roulette with our home values, retirement nest eggs, and college savings-and Americans lost $17 trillion in household wealth in the meltdown under President Bush. The reforms protect consumers from credit card companies gouging us, mortgage lenders deceiving us, and banks hiding the fine print. And they protect the taxpayers from picking up the tab-ending the very idea of any institution becoming ‘too big to fail.’
Myth: The economy is not producing jobs.
Fact: More private sector jobs have been created this year alone than under eight years of President Bush. In nine straight months of private sector job creation this year, our economy has created 863,000 jobs in the private sector. That success contrasts with 673,000 private sector jobs actually lost over eight years of the Bush presidency. Republicans have opposed virtually every measure to create jobs in the U.S., but have voted 11 times in the last 4 years to preserve loopholes that encourage American companies to ship jobs overseas.
Far from taking over companies, we made temporary, careful investments in GM and Chrysler-that saved one million jobs and that were welcomed by the private sector. GM and Chrysler have hired back over 76,000 workers, emerged from bankruptcy, had their strongest growth in 10 years – and for the first time in five years, all of the “Big Three” are operating at a profit are working to repay the government. And with the companies viable and hiring again, government is getting out of the car business.
Over the past few months, Fox News and the hate radio noise-machine has been doing what it does best: producing lots of spin with little factual basis. Now, in the aftermath of the contentious mid term election, I need your help to dispel the most counterproductive myths about the work of the 111th Congress to bring the economy back from the precipice and protect the American consumer.
Rep. James Moran (D) is Virginia’s 8th Congressional District Representative in the U.S. House of Representatives.