October 1, 2012
-- by Dave Johnson
We have millions unemployed with millions more underemployed or just gave up looking, our infrastructure is literally crumbling, our trade deficit is horrendous, our "safety net" has eroded below minimum acceptable standards, pensions are cut or gone, the climate is getting more and more unpredictable and dangerous, and how many other problems can you name? But the billionaires will tell you that our biggest problem is too much government -- the very entity that exists to fix those problems. Will we get the jobs that We, the People want or the cuts in government that the billionaires are pushing for?
Deficit Hysteria Is About Cutting Government
Keep this in mind in the coming months -- the deficit hysteria and the "fiscal cliff," are all about cutting government and the things We, the People do for each other, so that the billionaires can have more. Who benefits if we cut government - Medicare, Social Security, the "safety net" programs, education, health and safety regulation and inspection, environmental controls, bank regulation, etc.? All of these help We, the People but are in the way of the billionaires.
How do we get to this bizarre point where DC elite, the corporate media, etc are all talking about cutting the safety net and the things we do for each other, when the obvious problem is jobs? Why isn't this vast media machine writing and talking and showing videos about jobs and jobs and jobs?
Surplus To Deficit -- What Changed?
Before Reagan the country did not have a big debt problem - and then we did. Reagan implemented changes that create huge yearly deficits that added up to big debt. When Clinton left office we had huge budget surpluses, and we were actually paying off the debt. Bush implemented some changes that immediately turned the surpluses into deficits, and left office with a $1.4 trillion deficit -- in one year.
So ... something changed under Reagan and then under 'W' Bush. Are the deficit cutters talking about reversing those changes? Are they talking about fixing the things that caused the deficits that added up to this huge debt?
The deficit problem came from tax cuts for the rich, the size of the military budget (Reagan doubled it, 'W' Bush doubled it again), effects of the trade deficit, and the revenue loss and safety-net costs (due to lack of jobs) that fall out from the Wall Street financial crisis.
Instead of fixing what caused the deficits and debt, the elites say we should all make "sacrifices" to fix the problem. Except, of course, there are no "sacrifices" for the very ones who benefited from those changes Reagan and Bush made. They got huge, huge tax cuts and to pay for the results of those tax cuts We, the People are being pushed to accept "sacrifices." No one is talking about putting the top tax rate back up to pre-Reagan levels -- back when we took care of the infrastructure and funded our schools, etc. They are not talking about hiring millions to modernize our infrastructure and make our buildings energy-efficient.
Starting about the same time as Reagan cut taxes on the wealthy the wages of people who work for a living began to stagnate and the income and wealth inequality started to accelerate. In other words, almost all the benefits from gains in our economy started to go to a few at the top of the ladder. Some dramatic numbers illustrate this. For example, you may have read that in 2010 93% of the gains from the "recovery" went to the top 1%. Or you may have read recently that the wealth of the Forbes 400 went up by $200 billion last year.
But now that it is time to "sacrifice" who is supposed to do the sacrificing? We, the People, and programs like Medicare, Social Security, the "safety net," health and safety regulations, environmental protections, etc.
Another Billionaire Weighs In
Ross Perot is in the news today whipping up deficit hysteria, with a huge-headline assist from the Drudge Report pointing to this Politico story, Ross Perot: No 2012 endorsement, saying we could "lose our country" or "be taken over."
“We’re on the edge of the cliff, and we have got to start fixing it now. Otherwise, we’re leaving a disaster to our children’s and our grandchildren’s future,” he said.
... Perot talks about his fear of the United States being taken over.
“If we are that weak, just think of who wants to come here first and take us over, and the last thing I ever want to see is to see this country, our country taken over because we’re so financially weak we can’t do anything and we’re moving in that direct. … We could even lose our country if we don’t get this fixed and straightened out and nobody that’s running really talks about it, about what we have to do and why we have to do it. They would prefer not to have it discussed.
Krugman On Democracy
Today Paul Krugman, in The Real Referendum, points out that the public is turning against candidates who are exposed as wanting to cut the things We, the People do for each other,
Voters are, in effect, being asked to deliver a verdict on the legacy of the New Deal and the Great Society, on Social Security, Medicare and, yes, Obamacare, which represents an extension of that legacy. Will they vote for politicians who want to replace Medicare with Vouchercare, who denounce Social Security as “collectivist” (as Paul Ryan once did), who dismiss those who turn to social insurance programs as people unwilling to take responsibility for their lives?
If the polls are any indication, the result of that referendum will be a clear reassertion of support for the safety net, and a clear rejection of politicians who want to return us to the Gilded Age. But here’s the question: Will that election result be honored?
What he means is that the public's wishes are clear, but there are indications that after the election the "Grand Bargainers" are going to try again to cut the things We, the People do for each other, so the billionaires can have it even better. This is what the Simpson-Bowles plan is, this is what the "fiscal cliff" hysteria is about.
Will the election results be honored? Will it be jobs (We, the People) or budget cuts (the billionaires).
Posted by Dave Johnson at October 1, 2012 3:15 PM
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