Commentary: Beware of Big Lies at the Republican Convention

The real facts you won't hear in Tampa.

Posted: 08/09/2012 09:00 AM EDT
Keith Boykin, Republican National Convention

As Republicans convene for their national convention in Tampa later this month, you can expect to hear lots of inflammatory anti-Obama rhetoric over and over again. Many of the most popular applause lines will provide red meat for the cheering conservative faithful.

It's no use trying to convince those GOP diehards who don't believe in critical thinking to listen to the truth. But for those persuadable voters who still believe in facts, science and logic, it's worth examining the misinformation that will be generated during those four days in Florida.

With that in mind, during the next few weeks leading up to the convention, I'm going to explore some of the top Republican arguments to explain why they don't add up. Today, I start with two of the biggest GOP lies.

1. Higher Taxes Will Hurt “Job Creators”

Despite what Republicans have been arguing lately, taxes are actually lower today than at any time in decades. Here's the history they don't want you to know.

For six of the eight years of the Reagan administration, the top marginal income tax rate was 50 percent. Under Republican President Richard Nixon the top tax rate stood at 70 percent. And under Republican President Dwight Eisenhower the top tax rate was 91 percent

So what's the top tax rate today under "socialist" President Obama? Just 35 percent. Taxes are lower today under Obama than they were under Republican Presidents Eisenhower, Nixon, Ford or Reagan at this point in their administrations.

And it's not just income taxes. Capital gains taxes today are lower than any time since the 1930s. And corporate taxes today remain at their lowest level in decades.

But if taxes are so low, why isn't the economy growing faster, as Republicans claim it should?

It turns out that low taxes don't necessarily stimulate the economy. When President George W. Bush came into office, he slashed the top tax rate, but the U.S. economy lost jobs and eventually collapsed into the worst recession since the Great Depression.

Similarly, higher taxes don't necessarily hurt jobs or "job creators." When President Clinton came into office, he raised the top marginal income tax rate to 39.6 percent, the same rate President Obama wants to restore. Republicans in 1993 predicted doom and gloom if Clinton's tax bill was passed, and not a single Republican in the House or the Senate voted for it. But it worked. Clinton balanced the budget, and the economy created 22 million new jobs. The so-called "job creators" (a.k.a. rich people) did just fine under the Clinton tax rates.

2. The Stimulus Didn't Work

Republicans love to complain about the American Recovery Act of 2009. They routinely deride it as President Obama's "failed stimulus." Members of the mainstream media rarely challenge this claim, in part because deficit-wary Democrats seldom push back on this argument with facts and figures, as they should.

The truth is the stimulus created nearly three million jobs. And in a recent survey, 92 percent of economists agreed that the stimulus lowered the unemployment rate, which dropped from 10 percent in 2009 to nearly 8 percent under Obama.

When Obama came into office, the economy was losing 700,000 jobs a month. Once the stimulus was passed, the job losses slowed and eventually turned around. Within a few months of the Recovery Act, the recession ended. And a few months later, jobs started coming back again.

Since that time, we've had 29 consecutive months of private sector job growth and the U.S. economy has created 4.5 million new jobs.

In fact, after the Recovery Act was signed, the U.S. economy grew in 2010 at a relatively healthy 3 percent rate. That came to a screeching halt when the stimulus money ran out and Republicans took control of the House in January 2011 and refused to cooperate to rescue the economy.

The stimulus wasn't designed to last forever, so you can't blame the legislation for not lowering the unemployment rate years after it ended. But when it was in effect, the Recovery Act worked, proving we need more government investment, not less, to fix the economy.

Those are real facts you won't hear in Tampa.

 

The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of BET Networks.

 

Keith Boykin is a New York Times best-selling author and former White House aide to President Clinton. He attended Harvard Law School with President Barack Obama and currently serves as a TV political commentator. He writes political commentary for BET.com each week.

 

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