To this maven the greatest scourge of television is the advertising. That is why I much prefer to watch just about any show “On Demand” rather than when it is initially broadcast. Then I can “fast-forward” through all of the ads. (Actually, I’ve become quite adept at switching back to “play” just when the show resumes.) Unfortunately, some of the networks have become aware of the maven’s viewing habits and have now disabled the “fast-forward” function for “on-demand” viewing. So, alas, I am stuck watching the ads.
Just the other night, while catching up on an episode of “Awake,” which I can’t yet decide whether I like (although I am fascinated with the idea of leading simultaneous alternative lives), I was suddenly stuck in an ad. Since we are temporarily between elections, I assumed it was a commercial rather than a political ad. Since it started with statements from Richmond-area businessman, I was sure that the ad was selling the product or service for which they are known. But it quickly became apparent that they were really selling small business. All of these entrepreneurs were telling me that small businesses are the backbone of the American economy and that small businesses create most of the jobs in our country. Then they were telling me that because of high federal taxes and unreasonable federal regulations small businesses were not making enough money—money that they intended to use to create more jobs. And, suddenly, it was a political ad. Only Congressman Eric Cantor understands the importance of small business and he is introducing legislation to cut taxes and regulations on small business and we should all support Congressman Eric Cantor by reelecting him in the fall.
What a great ad! By the end of it I was ready to go marching down Broad Street with a sign extolling the wonders of small business. I was ready to take down the “Kane” sign in my front yard and put one up for Eric Cantor. I was going to go farther than that—I was going to renounce my life-long commitment to the Democratic Party and declare myself a Republican. Wow! It was like the high I get when I increase the dosage of anti-depressant I am taking. It was much better than champagne.
What an epiphany! All my life I had thought that people went into business to make money. And I also thought that they used that money to buy a nice house or two, two or three luxury cars, and several yachts or they went on long and glorious vacations and wore designer clothes and the like. Boy was I wrong! Now I knew the truth. People, especially small businessmen, go into business not to make money but to create jobs so that other people can buy all those things. Businessmen are not greedy! Rather, they are altruists. And, if it were not for that despicable federal government that has the audacity to tax and regulate them they would create even more and more jobs. And to think, I needed somebody like Eric Cantor to tell me the truth.
Well, dear reader, even the greatest high starts to wear off in time. So, very quickly the Cantor-induced euphoria started to fade and I started to feel the onset of the inevitable hang-over. I started getting this feeling of déjà vu. Hadn’t I heard this message before? Is this any different from that stuff that conservative Republicans started feeding us in 1980 and that then-presidential candidate George Herbert Walker Bush called “Voodoo” economics? Isn’t this just trickle-down economics in a new package? As the conservative message goes, if we cut taxes for the wealthy they will put more money into circulation, which will expand the economy and eventually some of that wealth will make it down to the less-affluent, like you and me. Isn’t this the same stuff that little “W” Bush and his loyal supporter Eric Cantor imposed on us for eight years, a time in which the rich got richer but in which everybody else was lucky just to break even?
And, of course, nowhere in the ad does Mr. Cantor explain how he plans to pay for these additional tax cuts. Mr. Cantor and his Republican friends in the Congress claim to be interested in reducing our national debt. Yet they are constantly advocating reducing taxes on the wealthy and on businesses. Don’t they realize that reducing tax rates inevitably results in decreased revenues to the government which necessarily increases the national debt? Wasn’t Mr. Cantor watching during the years when his party controlled both the presidency and the Congress and tried their “tax-cutting fixes everything” philosophy and nearly doubled our national debt? Wasn’t he watching, or was he too busy trying to become the leader of his party to pay any attention to governing?
Also dear reader, let us not forget the second part of Mr. Cantor’s wonderful ad: we must eliminate federal regulations to allow small businessmen to engage in their favorite pastime—creating new jobs. Again I must ask whether Mr. Cantor was paying attention during those years that his party was in control of Washington. His president and his party’s leadership in Congress convinced us that federal regulation of business was costly and unnecessary. His president and his party in the Congress drastically reduced federal regulations. That reduction in regulation resulted in businessmen engaging in risky practices that produced the financial crisis of 2007-08. That crisis produced the most severe economic recession since the 1930s. Is this the type of policy that Mr. Cantor urges us to return to?
On balance, I have to conclude that Mr. Cantor has issued a great political ad. It is slickly made and places a great spin on Mr. Cantor’s ill-advised policies. The wealthy out-of-state contributors to Mr. Cantor’s campaign fund clearly are getting their money’s worth. And, it’s nice to see Mr. Cantor actually spend his campaign funds on getting reelected for a change, rather than spending them to purchase his party leadership position. I would only recommend that an additional disclaimer be attached to the ad: Caution, this ad may contribute to unwarranted euphoria and may cause delusional behavior.