Which Budget Would You Choose?
Paul Ryan submitted yet another budget proposal to his House Budget Committee that expresses well the intent of his party compatriots to continue serving the interests of the 1% to the detriment of the vast majority of Americans in future budgetary and electoral campaign seasons. There is nothing extraordinarily different in this proposal than in any of his previous attempts beginning when the GOP took control of the House of Representatives after the 2010 midterm election debacle. Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of the document is its unabashed attempt to savage the social safety net and act to actually increase the unconscionable degree of economic inequality that already exists in our society. Protect the wealth and influence of those already wealthy at all costs and tough luck for the rest of you because you brought your wretched condition on yourselves.
There is very little hope of this sort of budget ever being signed into law, even should the Republicans maintain their majority in the House and regain control of the Senate this fall. The budget is so far out of touch with the hopes, dreams and needs of the vast majority of the public that the passage would generate so much outrage as to ensure their demise in the 2016 elections – even should the President decide not to veto it. People like Ryan obviously believe themselves impervious to the popular will. Every tactic the GOP has been using in recent years has been designed to increasingly impoverish and disenfranchise as many people as possible who disagree with their plutocratic vision for governing America in the future.
Budget proposals enumerated by both the Obama Administration and the Congressional Progressive Caucus seek to return some semblance of sanity to the budget process by including some significant elements of economic stimulus designed to improve the economy instead of further gutting needed and worthwhile social programs. By creating jobs, investing in infrastructure and education, and reinvigorating the safety net programs which help make life more livable for those at the bottom of the socioeconomic ladder, these proposals seek to move forward from the sluggish economic situation most of America still finds itself in. This is not proposed in a manner which would increase the deficit, which has been falling rapidly with the winding down of the Bush wars and spending cuts already imposed. Austerity has always been used as an excuse to decrease the amount of wealth redistribution necessary to best provide for the well-being of all members of society. Their aim is to preserve the gains the system ensured for a few while blaming the rest for character flaws rather than the skewed system that made the inequality inevitable.
Unlike the case of the budgets busted during the Reagan and Bush years due to the waging of unnecessary wars and the previous buildup of the current monstrous military-industrial complex to win the Cold War while simultaneously giving windfall tax cuts to those least in need of them, the budgets proposed by both the Administration and the Progressive Caucus would be paid for. While the Progressive proposal goes further than the President’s in terms of reversing the effects of over thirty years of regressive tax and economic policies, both make major strides in trying to make the economic playing field more level while also attempting to place the burden of paying for all the goods and services required by our society as a whole more fairly. Making improved opportunity for advancement a reality rather than a false promise or platitude to appease the masses is important, but has no place in current Republican policy discussions.
If businesses want better educated workers to provide the labor required in the future, they need to be willing to pay for that just as the rest of have been. Same goes for a strong military. If we truly want or need to go to war, we need to recognize the expense before we’ve maxed out all of the credit cards. When those credit card payments come due, responsibility for paying them needs to be distributed more on those who actually benefitted most from incurring them, not those who already paid the highest price in terms of blood and treasure. That means raising taxes to meet the spending needs. The rich need not expect the workers, including the soldiers, to fight their battles for them and then pay the other costs themselves as well. Picking and choosing what is important to spend money on is not always easy to do in advance, but taking measures – as both Reagan and the two Bushes did – to induce easily predictable deficits shouldn’t be an option. This is true especially if you intend to place the burden of repayment on those least able to afford it (as has been the case for Republican political figures for as long as most of us can remember).
Likewise, infrastructure spending is needed for all of us. Continuing to allow corporations and the wealthy to freeload off the efforts of others, along with the regressive taxes and fees used to fund their maintenance and improvement, is not fair and should stop. The Republican chant of always paying for something the public needs or wants by making us choose what other beneficial spending program we want to cut is a false choice. Gee, should we spend money on helping the unemployed retain their homes until they can find a job that we haven’t been creating for them, or should we stop giving huge tax breaks to the wealthy on their vacation homes, yachts and private jets? Is it better to allow poor children to eat and get a good education or allow corporations to pretend that the huge profits they are making from the pockets of American working people are actually made abroad and shouldn’t be taxed? Why should corporations be given huge tax breaks for excessive executive compensation while paying their other workers so poorly they need public assistance in order to feed and house their families?
What seems most amazing about all of this to me is the fact that the GOP actually thinks they can get away with this and regain and retain power. Do they really think we don’t recognize that they have bent over backwards, especially since President Obama took office, to sabotage and further damage the economy in hopes that it will enable them to win the next election? Do they really think we buy their “blame the victim” mentality and believe we really deserve to get screwed economically so they can vacation in the Caribbean, buy private jets and build elevators for cars?
Probably none of the three budget packages put forth so far will emerge victorious. They should all be used as campaign fodder to make sure once and for all that the plutocratic designs of the wealthy and their political hacks do not carry the day to the detriment of the country as a whole. Their never-ending threats to throw millions off the healthcare they worked so hard and long to receive should be enough to discredit them in the eyes of most. The constant attempts to flail away at the already meager safety net only endears them to the campaign donors and lobbyists who put and keep them in office. Hopefully, enough of us still have an equal voice at the ballot box to make up for the shortcoming of our wallets to retain or regain at least enough of a semblance of democracy to vote more of the bums out in November. Then, perhaps, we can finally end the obstruction and sabotage and really start making the change we want to start happening.
Further Suggested Readings: