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Bernard Column: Ferguson’s ‘cut taxes and spend wildly’ party

By Jack Bernard

“The Democrats’ stimulus plan clearly shows the disconnect that exists between what Washington Democrats want and what the American people truly need.”- Rep. Drew Ferguson, 3-1-21

Rep. Ferguson voted against the COVID Relief Bill, saying “91 percent addresses partisan progressive spending priorities.” But he is totally incorrect.

Polling show that 62% of Americans support the bill versus only 34% who oppose it(https://www.monmouth.edu/polling-institute/documents/monmouthpoll_us_030321.pdf/). And not all of that 62% is progressive.

Over two-thirds (68%) want to keep the $1,400 per person stimulus payment “even if it only gets support from one party.” Only 25% supported GOP attempts to lower that amount. In fact, the majority of Americans (53%) even support raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour, although the Democrats pulled that provision to obtain Senator Manchin’s support.

The reality is that Ferguson and his GOP buddies voted for relief multiple times when Trump was President. The GOP voted as a block against Biden’s plan because they want to make Biden a one term President, which is exactly what McConnell stated in 2008 when he led the same type of effort to oppose any legislation Obama/Biden proposed, including recession relief.

The Hill is one of Washington’s most respected newsletters. Recently, it carried a story about how Senator Johnson (R-WI) decided to do everything possible to slow down the COVID Relief bill (https://thehill.com/homenews/senate/541541-gop-pulling-out-all-the-stops-to-delay-covid-19-package). Supposedly, he objects to the level of spending because it raises the debt level. However, he’s being totally hypocritical given the GOP’s record on spending.

I’m a fiscal conservative and social liberal, as well as a former Georgia GOP local elected official. Decades ago, I fit nicely into the GOP which was trying to evaluate public expenditures based on costs versus benefits. Said another way, the old GOP cared about waste, but also about addressing the needs of our citizens. No more.

Of course, we all should know by now that Trump was no fiscal conservative. His record from 2017-2020 proves that he was a big spender(https://www.thebalance.com/us-deficit-by-year-3306306). Check the deficit. It went from $665 billion in 2017, to $3.7 trillion in 2020. That’s an increase of 556% in just the four Trump years.

But there’s more to the story. For decades, the GOP has ignored fiscal responsibility. It advocated tax cuts (especially for corporations and the wealthy) while constantly urging more military spending. And Ferguson and his friends worried little about the deficit, which went up by $2 trillion due to GOP largess.

Often, the primary group pushing these members of Congress for increased funding was not the Pentagon. It was the military-industrial complex … big corporations wanting cost plus contracts, corporate welfare … regardless of the need for tanks, planes and so on. And Ferguson and the GOP fully supported them. A little late for Ferguson and the GOP to suddenly advocate for fiscal responsibility now, especially with a relief bill designed to help those in need versus big business.