I’m a former campaign hack, so despite my aspiration to think long term, I’m always thinking about the next election.? Pinning the blame on George W. Bush and through him Republicans for the economic nightmare we currently are fighting, and pinning that blame on Republican ideology once and for all, happens to merge those two approaches.? Democrats need to get better at it; fast for 2010, permanently for our country.

Short term, of course, this matters for the 2010 mid terms.? We ain’t turning a corner anytime soon, and voters will still be looking to lay blame.? Ted Strickland needs Republicans to hold this bag, so does our US Senate nominee (who will be Jennifer Brunner), and so do our congressional candidates nationally.? But long term, America as a country needs Republicans to hold the bag for this economic collapse, because until they do, we as a country are going to repeat this catastrophe, over and over.

Our own Brian has found for me my new favorite chart, proving one, only one, essential point in this case.? The red lines are Republican presidencies, the blue lines Democrat.

Anybody who has been paying attention should not be surprised by this, but Reagan conservatism has consistently resulted in an increase in debt relative to GDP, while Democrats have consistently reduced debt relative to GDP.

Change in Debt-to-GDP Ratio

Change in Debt-to-GDP Ratio

It is total farce, in the face of such plainly obvious facts, that Republicans are still permitted by media of all stripes to claim to be the party of fiscal responsibility.? Republicans deserve nothing but scorn on this point, but instead, their caterwauling goes unabated.? That deference allows Republicans to not only bang away at Barack Obama’s efforts to clean up the Republican mess, but it gives them a seat at the table in the debate, a seat they should be ashamed to even occupy if they had one ounce of self-awareness.

The short term political problem of the economy is one of narrative and campaign messaging ahead of 2010.? I suspect the White House has decided to make deficit reduction a theme of the State of The Union speech in order to pound home the Republican record on deficits for the full year leading up to the election.? If there’s one thing Republicans can’t defend, it’s their record on spending.

But long term – and I mean REAL long term, the kind of long term you see in that chart – America needs to decide politically, once and for all, that Reagan Republican economic ideology is and was a lie, a con-job, a poison.? Reagan Republican ideology did not work, except for the very rich.? Reagan Republican ideology did not yield stability, it yielded volatility.? Reagan Republican ideology did not reduce debt, it exploded debt, in its every manifestation, bar none.? Repeatedly.

And Reagan Republican ideology has led to a long term recession right now, so deep it was almost a depression, which will last so long it will start to feel like a depression anyway.?? It isn’t political gamesmanship to place the blame for this on Republicans.? It is survival.? Because Reagan Republicanism is HOW WE GOT HERE.? Either America figures out that the Republican sales pitch is horseshit entirely, or America dooms itself to another round.

Another round of fighting to reduce Republican created debt, while enormous priorities go unfunded, while Republicans throw insults from the sidelines claiming they were right all along.? Another round of getting duped by Republicans who then claim credit for the resulting surplus, get into power again, and squander that surplus again, starting the whole cycle over until the next catastrophe.

Reagan economic Republicanism was a total failure.? Placing that blame is not some game.? It is an urgent, persistent, and long term necessity.? Democrats can’t be shying away from it.? Perhaps now that Democrats’ elected positions are at stake in 2010, they’ll start making that case.? It’s long overdue.

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