Last week the Republicans on the congressional Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission (FCIC) released an "authoritative" report blaming our country's economic collapse on the Community Reinvestment Act (the act that expanded home ownership to middle-income families), on the quasi-government mortgage lenders Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and on mortgage loans to people of color.
And to think that up to now I erroneously thought the causes were things like powerful unregulated financial institutions, the proliferation of hedge funds and risky financial products, reckless big-money managers, and Wall Street-driven debt and bubble economics!
All of that toxic brew, I believed, flowed uncontrollably through the arteries of our capitalist economy, whose singular dynamic is - am I wrong about this too? - to maximize profits for a tiny tier of rich financial managers, corporate owners and super-wealthy families.
Am I glad that these "good men of the GOP" set me straight!
Thanks to this report, I'm relieved from blaming Wall Street and the politicians who greased the skids for bringing down the country. I have spent much too much time and energy over the past two years cursing the "Greed is Good" philosophy and practice of the likes of Goldman Sachs and Citicorp. In this new mental universe, Gordon Gecko, the unscrupulous character in Oliver Stone's "Wall Street" movies, and Dubya can become my heroes - not low-life charlatans, not the scum, but the salt of the earth.
But hold on! My education didn't end here. I also learned from the Repubs on the FCIC that in addition to reining in Fannie and Freddie and irresponsible homebuyers, elected officials should "take seriously the need to reduce our federal deficit."
Really! Damn! I hate to admit it (nobody likes being wrong), but I was under the false impression that the lesson from this economic catastrophe was the pressing need to restructure and stimulate the economy in the interests of the American people and ecological sustainability.
The federal deficit - inherited from the Bush administration and then unavoidably enlarged due to declining revenues and necessary counter-crisis spending measures to jumpstart a stagnant economy - I wrongly assumed was a lower-order problem.
In other words, I incorrectly believed that the deficit had to be reduced, but not in the short or medium term. In fact, the corrective prescription to a slumping economy in my mixed-up mind was actually to spend more, not less, on jobs, local government and public services.
But thanks to the Republicans on the FCIC, I see the error of my ways. There's an easy recipe for revitalizing the U.S. economy and fixing its finances - reduce the federal deficit. It's that simple.
Cut out pork like Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, unemployment insurance, funding for education, and food stamps. Tighten up lending. Create a stable, profit-friendly investment environment and before you know it the economy will go into overdrive. The two trillion dollars of idle investment capital will flood into the real economy in a heartbeat (even though most Americans - other then the tiny group of very wealthy people - don't have much money to spend for consumption goods).
This is good to know going into the New Year! And it makes me think: what a treasure we have in the right-wing-dominated Republican Party! It lights up the dark. It brings clarity where there is confusion. And it saves us from our worst selves.
I'm sure this holiday season I'll receive (hopefully) a gift or two under the Christmas tree, but none of them can match this report from the good fellows of the Republican Party.
Nothing is as precious as truth. Thank you my good friends.
And if you believe this, I have a bridge in Brooklyn that I am ready to sell you.
Photo: americans4financialreform CC 2.0