A VIEW from LICK SKILLET: Lamar Alexander writes for Times Free Press

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Gentle reader, as you doubtless recall from our numerous previous references, the Chattanooga Times Free Press has, since the two papers merged, retained separate editorial pages, one for the Times editorial opinions, and the opposite for the Free Press editorial opinions.

On the 15th, the Free Press editorial page ran a guest editorial, or commentary, from our senior U. S. Senator, Lamar Alexander, entitled “What to do about Tax Day.”

Since we doubt that many of you have had the opportunity to read this piece, we thought it would be of service to quote from it extensively as it demonstrates in his own words the level of intellect that the senator brings to his position supposedly representing us, and reflects more accurately than could anyone else’s words why some of us feel he no longer possesses, if he ever possessed, the intellectual equipment desirable for such a responsible position.

His introductory paragraphs read thusly:
“Today is Tax Day, and that means most Tennesseans have filed their federal tax returns, and many are eagerly awaiting their refund. But filing your tax return is about more than getting your money back from Uncle Sam — it’s a reminder of Washington’s out-of-control spending and overreach.

“Our federal government’s largest problem is its $17 trillion debt, $55,000 for every Tennessean. But we can fix the debt and solve other problems by making tough decisions now and getting Washington out of the way.”

(This last phrase, “getting Washington out of the way,” which is a very popular phrase with a certain ilk of right-wing demagogues, has always puzzled us. Just what exactly does it mean? Do they propose to move Washington? If so, where? Or do they propose to eliminate Washington? If so, how? It is particularly puzzling for a fellow who has been a member of the Washington Establishment for several decades to be complaining about Washington being in the way, isn’t it? Particularly for a fellow who is working heart and soul to get sent back to Washington for another six years, it seems an absurd complaint doesn’t it?

One wouldn’t be surprised to “Google” the term “Washington Insider” and have a picture of Lamar pop up, would one? After all, he’s been a Cabinet member, an advisor, not only a senior senator, but a ranking {No. 3, if we recall aright} member of the Senate Republican Leadership. In fact he’s so much a Washington insider that we suspect he has acquired a most virulent form of Potomac Fever. And like many fevers, this one can affect the functioning of the brain.)

The Senator’s column continued, “Here’s what I believe we should do about them:

“1. $17 trillion in debt, and growing: If we don’t fix the debt now, we’ll have let America slip from the ‘greatest generation’ to the debt-paying generation.”

(The Senator is apparently ignorant of the fact, of which you kind reader are fully aware, since we have written about it before, that this country has had a large national debt for every day of its existence except for a period of a few months during Andrew Jackson’s Administration, during the mid-1830s. But, not only is the Senator ignorant of our early history, he is also ignorant of our recent history, for it was the time of the “greatest generation” that the national debt grew at an historic rate up until that time.)

He continues: “Our skyrocketing debt wastes taxpayer money on interest payments and translates into higher taxes. Its main driver is out-of-control entitlement spending. The Medicare trustees tell us in 12 years Medicare won’t have enough money to pay all of seniors’ hospital bills.”

(The only portion of the debt that could be legitimately characterized as “skyrocketing” was that brought on by the Bush recession and bailout and the consequences thereof, which are now receding, and normality is beginning to return. As to Medicare being a “main driver” of skyrocketing debt, or any debt for that matter, that simply is not the case. If, and when, the Medicare Trust Fund runs out of money and has to resort to borrowing, then, and only then, will it contribute to the debt. If Lamar doesn’t know this, he has no business voting on any financial bills. However, we suspect he does know, but thinks that you, the voter, don’t know and he can take advantage of your supposed ignorance to scare you — which is an old, old trick that all old Washington hands like Lamar know all too well.)

Continuing he writes: “The problem got worse in March, when President Obama proposed a 10-year budget that never balances and adds about $8 trillion to the federal debt over the next decade. We can do better. Sen. Bob Corker, R.-Tenn., and I have introduced the Fiscal Sustainability Act, which would reduce the growth in entitlement spending by nearly $1 trillion over the next 10 years.”

(How can a man who has been in the Senate a decade not know that a president PROPOSING a budget, or anything else for that matter, does absolutely nothing. It does not make a problem better, nor does it make a problem worse, as Alexander alleges. It is simply a PROPOSAL, saying ‘This is what I would like to have happen, won’t you please consider making it happen?’ And, if Lamar hasn’t been napping, he would know that the Congress has adopted almost no proposals that this president has made to them, so how can the senator say that by sending up another one “The problem got worse...”? As far as the Senator’s own proposed Act to “reduce the growth in entitlement spending”, we haven’t seen any details of it, and curiously he did not choose to give any details in this column, but based upon prior evidence, anything that he and Lying Bob Corker propose to do to entitlements will doubtless mean cuts in benefits to the poor and more free rides for the rich. That’s their standard prescription to promote the health of the body politic.)

The remainder of the column is similarly nonsensical, illogical, nonfactual, or downright fatuous, including another call for the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, in this language: “I have proposed repealing Obamacare and replacing it with step-by-step reforms that increase freedom and choice and lower the cost of health care for Americans.”
(This is, of course, standard GOP rhetoric, but just like all the rest of them, Lamar does not give one single paragraph, one single sentence, not even one single word explaining just exactly what any of these “step-by-step reforms” would be. Since there are some four dozen Republican senators, and over two hundred Republican Representatives, and literally thousands of Republican spokespersons, lobbyists, commentators, and general hangers-on, all of whom make the same promises of “Repeal and Replace” without giving one single specific as to what the replacements would be, one can be excused for doubting that they really have any replacements in mind. If they did they would say so, wouldn’t they?)

Unfortunately, with this observation we have now run out of space, while Lamar ran out of ideas a long time ago.