Analyzing voter distemper

By ERNEST F. HOLLINGS, former U. S. senator


OCT. 19, 2015 -- In the Washington Post (10/19/15) E.J. Dionne, Jr. analyzes "the public's distemper primarily in economic terms." He states that Republican debates suggest solutions like "free college education", "free everything" and sending back to the states federal gas taxes, education funds, job training programs and relaxing Washington's "grip on Medicaid". The Democratic debates propose college affordability, family leave, child care, and "breaking up concentrated economic power". The Presidential debates miss three causes of voter distemper:

Cause One: Gridlock was caused when the Supreme Court in Buckley vs. Valeo reversed Congress's limit on spending in 1973. After Buckley, Senators and Congressmen started raising money against each other; partisanship set in. Gridlock! Only a Constitutional Amendment to empower Congress to limit or control spending in campaigns will suffice. Today, Congress opposes a limit on spending because it would lose its advantage of being located amidst 10,000 lobbyists with fundraisers morning, noon and night. In 2002, 2003 and 2004, Republicans in control of the Senate wanted to propose a Constitutional Amendment to ban flag burning and asked that I withhold my amendment to limit spending. I refused and no Joint Resolution was voted upon in the U.S. Senate in 2002, 2003, or 2004. Once spending is limited, partisanship is limited, gridlock is broken and lobbyists lose control of the Congress.

Cause Two: Imagine a country where you can't produce for a profit. This is the United States. In December 2006, the Princeton economist Alan Blinder estimated that Corporate America in the next ten years would offshore 30-40 million jobs. Recently, Ford announced a $2.5 billion plant in Mexico; General Motors a $5 billion plant in Mexico and Nabisco announced it was moving from Chicago to Mexico. Corporate America continues to offshore its research technology, production, jobs, payrolls - the nations' economy. The United States is becoming enfeebled. The economists blame a weak economy on lack of consumer confidence but its lack of money.

One-hundred-sixty-four countries compete in globalization with a Value Added Tax that's rebated on exports. Our Corporate Income Tax is not rebated. Not having a VAT stultifies production in the U.S. A successful entrepreneur in the U.S. has to pay the 35 percent Corporate Tax and a 17 percent VAT when his exports reach China. A U.S. competitor can produce the same product in China, import it into the U.S. tax free and put the entrepreneur out of business. Tell Paul Ryan that this can be remedied by: replacing the 35 percent Corporate Tax with a 5 percent VAT. This tax cut immediately releases over $2 trillion in offshore profits for Corporate America to repatriate tax free and create millions of jobs. The 2014 Corporate Tax produced revenues of $327 billion. A 2014 5 percent VAT would have produced $898 billion permitting Congress to balance the budget and pay for infrastructure.

Cause Three: Fareed Zakaria pointed out our problem on CNN (10/18/15) when he asked: "Why should the U.S. back Wahhabi policy?" Zakaria was talking about our support for Saudi Arabia in Yemen. Pupils are taught in the ninth grade in Saudi Arabia the Salafi or Wahhabi version of the Muslim religion that is intolerant of other Muslims and deems Christians and Jews as infidels - ought to be eliminated - ought to be beheaded (Frontline 11/9/2001). ISIS is only practicing what they have learned in the ninth grade. We are promulgating terrorism in Yemen and drone strikes spreads terrorism - doesn't eliminate it.

The worst thing that President George W. Bush started was the War on Terror. Our military is stationed all over the world to drone strike every country's dissidents. The War on Terror has got to stop. In today's world there is no longer any superpower. The U.S. retreated in the Korean War, lost the War in Vietnam and Iraq and after fourteen years can't find a win in Afghanistan. Today's headline in USA Today (10/19/15): "A show of force in the Pacific" notes our need for humility. The U.S. has its Monroe Doctrine for all of Central and South America and we're not going to go to war with China over the islands in the China Sea; to defend Taiwan; to defend Japan's Senkaku Islands. Today, foreign policy takes on its strength from the economic not the military.

Senator Fritz Hollings of South Carolina served 38 years in the United States Senate, and for many years was Chairman of the Commerce, Space, Science & Transportation Committee. He is the author of Making Government Work (University of South Carolina Press, 2008).

© 2015, Ernest F. Hollings. All rights reserved. Contact us for republication permission.

About Fritz Hollings

Ernest F. Hollings served the public for 56 years -- 38 years in the United States Senate and as South Carolina's governor, lieutenant governor and a member of the S.C. House of Representatives. Today, Hollings continues to be influential in public affairs and offers this website as a compendium of current and past positions on public issues. Learn more about Fritz Hollings.

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