“Starve the Beast” will forever be attributed to Ronald Reagan as his mantra for reducing the size of government, by reducing tax funding of programs. That phrase ranks right up there for Republicans with “God Bless America” and “Obama’s a Kenyan Communist.”
It appears that phrase actually is attributable to one of Reagan’s staffers as told to the Wall Street Journal in 1985 (Starve the Beast: Origins and Development of a Budgetary Metaphor". The Independent Review. The Independent Institute (Independent.org). Retrieved 2010-12-09.) The term has two components, one is “The Beast,” and the other “Starve.” The “STARVE” part of the phrase begins with the assumption that THE GOVERMNENT writ broadly, is inherently an unwieldy, out of control monster that needs to be starved into submission. You constantly hear Republicans saying that, over and over again. It rolls off their tongues like honey.
But as soon as one scratches he surface of what exactly THE BEAST refers to, one discovers that in the La La land of the Right Wing, it only refers to those parts of the government broadly called “social programs,” and “non-military foreign spending,” i.e. social security, health care, Medicare, Medicaid, Centers for Disease Control, the Food and Drug Administration and the State Department. Some of the most radical Conservatives, like Paul Ryan, also include ALL non-military programs under that rubric. That would include the various national scientific and health research programs such as NIH and the National Science Foundation, environmental protection and the Department of interior, Department of Energy, and of course there are other non-military foreign affairs programs which they despise. The Right Wing NEVER, EVER wants to STARVE the Defense agencies or Homeland Security, the CIA or FBI. So THE BEAST, isn’t really the government at all, it’s stuff they personally despise which they consider socialist flap trap. They could never get Congress or a sentient president to actually vote to defund those programs on their merit because they are all well liked by the public, so they are trying to eliminate them by arguing that more generally, overall spending must be cut. Cute.
Let’s talk about STARVING. The converse of starving, is tax cuts, essentially giving money back. When one program receives tax cuts, such as oil drilling in the Gulf, according to STARVING THE BEAST thinking, in order to make up for those cuts, another area has to undergo greater starving to make up the difference, say Medicare for example. So another strategy for STARVING THE BEAST (i.e. slashing social programs, research, environmental protection) is to give huge tax cuts to millionaires and billionaires, while arguing that in order to make up the difference THE BEAST (i.e. important programs that benefit ordinary people) have to be chopped up into bits and fed into a leaf shredder.
In short, the Republicans flat out lie when they say they want to STARVE THE BEAST, i.e. cut government spending. That is completely false. They absolutely adore some Federal spending as long as it’s for the military, Fracking and other stuff they like. They really want to eliminate all those programs that benefit ordinary people and shunt more and more and more money to millionaires and billionaires leaving no money to conduct the government’s business. If the government becomes inefficient and incompetent because there is no one left to do the mountains of necessary government agency work, Republicans would all raise their hands in prayer and sing “Hosanna.” That is precisely Aynn Rand’s plan, just ask her acolyte Paul Ryan. At some point they would declare, THE BEAST HAS BEEN STARVED!
So the next time you hear a Republican talk about STARVING THE BEAST, just say, “You’re full of shit! Say what you really mean.” What they actually mean is that WE are the BEASTS they want to starve. They want us down on our hands and knees groveling and accepting whatever scraps they decide to toss our way. Harsh? Perhaps, but also a realistic appraisal of their overall policy plan. Pictured here is a Republican trying to make amends for lying about saying he wants to STARVE THE BEAST.