Two-term Republican Congressman Tom McClintock spent June 13 in El Dorado County in what might have been a victory lap, since he’d just defeated challenger Jack Uppal handily in round one of a two-round bout for California’s 4th Congressional District seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Two local appearances last Wednesday provided plenty of the ringing oratory the congressman is known for, including a warning that no less than the “fate of the nation” is at stake in the November election, which will determine “whether the United States of America simply fades into history as another failed socialist state or this generation restores the principals… that produced the most prosperous and successful republic in the history of the world.”
Both presentations were variations of his all-purpose campaign/town hall/house floor speech, peppered with statistics and historical anecdotes that backed up the anti-regulation, anti-tax, anti-debt, pro-free market themes he’s espoused for more than 30 years.
McClintock’s predictions can be grim, but he said he remains optimistic that a resilient American democracy can be healed by simple and bold government action, and provided an accounting of past presidents of both parties who took such action and those who didn’t.
He added references to Presidents Kennedy, Harding and Truman this time around, driving home his anchor theme: Dramatic reductions in the tax and regulatory burdens are the only way to revive the current U.S. economy and avoid the fate of Greece.
At a packed El Dorado County Chamber of Commerce luncheon at Red Hawk Casino on June 13, McClintock led with a bipartisan right hook to the jaws of President Barack Obama and his predecessor George W. Bush:
“We’re in the fourth year of policies predicated on the proposition that if government injects enough money in the economy it will jump start consumer spending and result in growth,” he said. “In pursuit of that proposition we have spent trillions of dollars of wealth, running up more than five trillion dollars in debt over the last three years.”
While the chamber members were either trying to decide if $3 trillion is a lot of debt, or wondering if a trip to the dessert bar was in order, McClintock added the exclamation point, saying, “That’s more than all the debt this country ran up from George Washington through Bill Clinton.
“If massive federal deficits, unprecedented stimulus spending and huge increases in entitlement programs were the path to prosperity we’d be in the golden age of the American economy,” he continued. “We’re not because it doesn’t work. Government cannot inject a single dollar into the economy that it hasn’t taken out of the economy.”
Stimulus spending subsidizes favored industries and companies, he explained, making impractical technologies favorable in the short term while undermining the free market.
Investments that might have been made by the private sector, which McClintock calls the “productive sector,” are instead transferred to “the political sector,” based on “the highest political return,” further subverting the free market, sometimes with disastrous consequences.
He cited the solar industry in general and Fremont solar company Solyndra, which received nearly a half billion dollars in stimulus funding before closing its doors as prime examples.
The same argument holds for jobs: “Government cannot create jobs because government cannot create wealth,” McClintock said. “It can only transfer jobs from the productive sector to the public sector, where they disappear when the stimulus funding expires.”
He recounted President Harry Truman’s firing of 10 million federal employees in 1945 during the war demobilization, which reduced the federal budget from $85 billion to $30 billion in a single year.
“Geniuses at the time predicted 25 percent unemployment and a second Great Depression,” he said. “Instead we had the post-war boom and unprecedented prosperity in America’s middle class.”
On Wednesday night, McClintock congratulated the Tea Party Patriots of El Dorado Hills for evolving from a political demonstration to a political movement, “a jump that Occupy Wall Street can’t comprehend.”
The topic of the evening was “freedom,” which McClintock framed as the antithesis of the current climate of over-regulation in Washington.
He called the November election a referendum on the policies of the Obama administration, “which has destroyed our prosperity and is now threatening our leadership as a world power,” then launched into a Twitter-tight warning of the excesses of government: “No government in the history of human civilization has ever taxed, spent and borrowed its way to prosperity.
“But many have done so to ruin and bankruptcy,” McClintock continued. “History today is screaming this warning at us. Countries that bankrupt themselves aren’t around very long.”
He cautioned his receptive audience of about 120 that the president would demonize the right as a “greedy little band of rich people who are to blame” and need to be controlled with more taxes and regulations.
“To make that argument he has to fundamentally alter the American principals of what defines a just and free society,” he said, “that the voluntary choices we make, our intellect and hard work, dictate the success and prosperity we enjoy.”
He summed up the philosophical differences between the right and the left as “a voluntary society where we make decisions for ourselves and enjoy the prosperity and quality of life that freedom provides” vs. “a compulsory society where our betters in government make those decisions for us, a dreary and depressing system where families are forced to reduce their consumption of resources by high utility bills, taxes, fines and government regulations.”
McClintock predicted a huge Republican victory in November, then reminded the audience that the election is not an end in itself. “Far more important work begins the day after the election.”
By this time next year “We’ll know if the Republicans are worthy of the trust of the American people,” he said, then questioned whether his coleagues on the right were up to the task.
He credited Republicans for arresting the “catastrophic growth” of federal spending, but rated their overall performance “a rather mixed bag.” Spending remains unsustainable, he said, lamenting “unconscionable programs” that continue to be funded in house appropriations bills.
McClintock asked the Tea Party faithful to hold the new president and Congress accountable, and to be vigilant of the “return of the lazy, go-along, get-along, Republican establishment that destroyed so much of what the Reagan years accomplished.”
Despite all that, McClintock reitereated his optimism. “Everything that’s happening today is within our power to change,” he said. “All that’s required is the political will.
“I see the American people rising in defense of rights they never gave much thought to before,” he predicted. “This is going to be looked back upon by history as the renaissance of the American founding.”