I was an unpaid intern for the Obama campaign in 2008 and ran a county office from September 2008 through the November election. Honestly, I have never been more inspired by a candidate than I was by Barack Obama. He spoke eloquently during the campaign about what we could accomplish together and about correcting the inequity occurring in our society by the transfer of wealth from the middle class to the rich.
I understand and agree that we must correct the structural deficits we face. Our debt at $14.2 trillion is overwhelming. Borrowing 40 cents of every dollar we spend is outrageous and completely unacceptable.
However, as we set about to fix these problems, I hear Republicans repeatedly state like little parrots who have been taught a new phrase, “We are not dismantling Medicare and Medicaid, we are saving it for the future.” What a lie!
Another of their parroted refrains is: “We do not have a revenue problem, we have a spending problem.” Again, what a lie!
On Memorial Day, 2001, when the first of the Bush tax cuts were enacted, we had a $237 billion surplus. That first tax cut lowered tax rates across the board 3 to 5 percent. When debating the issue of these tax cuts, Tom Daschle is quoted as saying:
“If you’re a millionaire, under the Bush tax cut you get a $46,000 tax cut, more than enough to pay for this Lexus, but if you’re a typical working person, you get $227. And that’s enough to buy this muffler.”
In addition to lowering the tax rate, Bush’s $1.3 trillion tax-cut plan phased out the estate tax, reduced the marriage penalty and doubled the per-child credit to $1,000.
In 2003, Pres. Bush wanted more tax cuts, even though we were in the midst of two wars and spending was on the rise. In May 2003, Vice President Cheney had to cast the tie-breaking vote on the 2003 tax cuts that reduced taxes on capital gains and dividends… a tax break which favored the wealthy. The common thread through both sets of tax cuts is that they would expire December 31, 2010.
An article on June 28, 2010 from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorites states:
Together with the economic downturn, the Bush tax cuts and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq explain virtually the entire deficit over the next ten years.
So today we find ourselves fighting over what to cut from our 2011 Budget. After being held hostage last week by Republicans, a compromise was reached. A complete list of the cuts included in the current compromise Budget Bill for the 2011 FY Budget can be found at:
Some of the cuts are:
1) The EPA, a $1.6 billion cut, 16% of its budget.
2) The clean and safe drinking water state revolving fund cut $997 million
3) Fema First Responders $786 million
4) Cops Program $296 million
5) Law Enforcement to State and Local agencies $415 million
6) Federal Highway Investment $650 million
7) Community Health Centers $600 million
8) WIC $500 million.
I’ve also included a link to Senator Bernie Sanders speech yesterday about the 2011 Budget compromise.
So Republicans believe it is okay to deny the poor and less fortunate of our society access to Community Health Care Centers and deny children and moms access to food through the WIC program. They obviously also believe we should allow our highway infrastructure to crumble around us. A study after that bridge fell in Minnesota in 2007 killing 13 Americans found that 12% of our bridges were structurally insufficient and that 69,000 of those bridges needed repair. But Republicans want us to let them fall down because it’s a waste of money to support our Federal highways. Clean water doesn’t matter. Keeping our communities safe isn’t important…let’s just lay off thousands of police officers. Helping our communities in the event of a natural disaster doesn’t matter either. We are going to get rid of Fema’s first responders. Before you blink your eyes, Republicans in the 2012 budget are going to dismantle Medicare by turning it into a voucher program and destroy the Medicaid program by turning it into a Block Grant program.
There were no cuts in defense spending in the 2011 budget compromise. Those discussions weren’t even on the table. The expectation that the wealthy should pay more in taxes is brusquely pushed aside by that continued Republican chant I spoke of “We don’t have a revenue problem, we have a spending problem.”
The United States of America spends 42.8% of what the entire world spends on defense. China is in second place in defense spending, with a mere 7.3%. Our defense spending since 2001 has increased a whopping 81% and is now 4.8% of our GDP according to a study completed by Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. You can find the results of that study here:
I believe this increase in spending proves the terrorists not only succeeded in killing thousands of our citizens in the attack on 9/11, but that they are continuing to kill our troops in unwarranted wars. They are also destroying our society because many of our leaders are war mongerers. They spend more and more on defense, while allowing our people go without food, health care and the basic necessities of life.
In saying that I do not ignore the reality of the great recession. While the recession was caused to a great degree by the greed of Wall Street, our pursuit of terrorists at all costs and the resultant 81% increase in defense spending also plays a role in our current economic situation.
My suggestion to the President who inspired me to work for him for no pay for 60 to 70 hours a week in 2008 is this:
Bring our troops home from Afghanistan and Iraq. Cut our defense budget. Get rid of the Bush tax cuts. Our prosperity lies in the shared sacrifice of every American, not by placing the lion’s share of austerity on the backs of the poor, the elderly and our children.