Bathtub Gin

Grover Norquist– and the far-right– claims that the point of their politics is not to destroy government but to “shrink it down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub.” It’s one of those  things that politicians say but that no one believes they believe. Yet the idea has staying power and, despite its often very direct and very negative impact on the lives of working people, it’s arguably one of the most successful political slogans in decades.

In the midst of the greatest recession since the great depression Republicans have stuck to their guns, stalling economic growth and making Obama’s reelection difficult if not impossible. Somehow, even lots and lots of people stuck in what seems like permanent unemployed limbo don’t blame the Tea Party or the Republicans, much less Norquist, for the giant mess this obsession with disabling government ( in the name of the market) has created.

Just the opposite. These folks support even more aggressive policies that would make them even poorer: undoing the Affordable Care Act and the (admittedly tepid) financial reforms. (That’s Dodd Frank and the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau as well.)  That’s what is so creepy about this particular election.  It’s as if 1/2 of the public is standing on a trap door, a rope draped around their neck, betting that Romney is to moderate to hang anyone.

We’d all like to think that these ideas are just too nutty to ever be implemented.  Will they really appeal the Affordable Care Act and allow millions to lose their health care? It seems impossible but…  Why destroy the government when you can use it to hide the subsidies that underwrite your profits?  We got the Affordable Care Act, after all, which preserves the private health insurance industry, and not a national health care system.

It’s only parts of Health Care– the parts that cut into profits– that bother the Tea Party puppeteers. Here’s another crazy idea that would also seem insane and politically impossible: sell off the public university system: “How the Public Pays for Privatization: the UCLA Anderson Example” (on Chris Newfield” Remaking the University blog). Even when you squeeze down the government to drowning size there ‘s a lot of money left in the tub.

About Ray Watkins

I was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, at Our Lady of the Lake Hospital. I grew up in Houston, as a part of what we only half-jokingly call the Cajun Diaspora. At a certain point during the Regan administration, I had to leave, so I served in the Peace Corps, Philippines, from 1987-89. I didn't want to return to the United States just yet, so I moved to Paris, France, where I lived for three years or so. I then moved back to Austin, Texas, where I had received my Masters Degree, and (eventually) began a Ph.D., which I completed in 1999. I spent a year at Temple University and then accepted a position at Eastern Illinois University where I worked until May of 2006. I now work exclusively on line (although that may change) for Johns Hopkins, the Art Institute Online, and I can be reached most easily via email: raywatkins [that 'at' symbol]

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