VERN’S VIEW: GOP is running on empty

Two recent news stories conjured up the Jackson Browne song "Running on Empty." The articles pertained to emerging Republican strategies in trying to defeat President Barack Obama in November.

The first story came about because of a leak to The New York Times from an insider who was “disappointed” at the tone of a planned attack on Obama for his affiliation with the Rev. Jeremiah Wright. Remember him? Well, the super PAC run by billionaire and co-founder of Ameritrade, Joe Ricketts, wants to spend $10 million telling us how Obama is going to use Wright’s influence to promote a “black liberation theology."

There is also something less astounding from Karl Rove’s camp of billionaires, Crossroads GPS, that plans to spend $25 million to tell us how badly the president has handled the economy.

The next story I saw came right from Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney wherein he praised the Clinton administration’s economic strategies in comparison to how poorly the Obama administration is handling the current economy. This is really freaky when we consider the relative times and the different circumstances each of these Democratic presidents inherited from a Bush administration.

Bush No. 1 — President George H.W. Bush — left President Bill Clinton with a small deficit, a 38 percent top tax bracket and his own political suicide note that required him to raise taxes to satisfy the false promises of supply-side economics. The first war in Iraq was over, and the Clinton administration proceeded to institute a pay-as-you-go strategy in Congress. Clinton also used workfare programs to retrain chronically unemployed people and help them find dignified jobs. The result: a nearly $300 billion surplus.

Bush No. 2 — President George W. Bush, the son of the aforementioned Bush — left Obama a $6 trillion deficit by borrowing $1 trillion from China and other countries to fight a preemptive war against Iraq, a country that did us no harm. He gave away another $1.4 trillion to the rich by cutting their taxes by 3 percent. Still more largesse went to big pharmaceutical companies by taking away negotiations from Medicare and creating a “doughnut hole” in which people who could least afford to ended up paying more for their medications. Moreover, the Republicans helped overturn the 1933 Glass-Steagall Act that prevented banks from gambling with depositor money and insuring themselves. The history of this economically suicidal loan practice is well documented. Add the auto industry problems and we have a nearly perfect storm for global economic collapse.

The point here is the Republican campaign strategy is so bankrupt of ideas and plans to get people back to work that they have to resort to bringing up fringe issues like Wright, a discredited crank, and how a successful Democratic president brought fiscal sanity to a dysfunctional world. They are running on empty.

Mitch McConnell said the No. 1 priority of the Republican Party was to make Obama a one-term president. Well, that might happen, but then we all will be running on empty.

Turner is a retired teacher and industrial engineer who lives near Marble Falls. He is an independent columnist, not a staff member, and his views do not necessarily reflect those of The Tribune or its parent company. "The Voter’s Guide to National Salvation" is a newly published e-book from Turner. You can find it at He can be reached by email at

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