Tag: national debt
Senator Coburn's time-out threatens cooperation from the other Republican members. The hardliner's membership provides cover. 24/7 scrutiny of political orthodoxy leaves little tolerance for compromise. Senator Warner says he believes the Gang of Six "will work." It won't if the impractical ideology of the no-tax nuts drives the debate.
While the debt and deficit headline the public debate, the operational debate is not about the debt. Last Sunday Senator Warner strayed from the power points distinguishing budget expenditures from tax expenditures while he addressed Democrats gathered in Virginia Beach. Calling out Paul Ryan's budget proposals, Warner talked about the efforts to dismantle "programs that have been contracts between the American government and its people." All of the discussion, Warner pointed out, has centered around 12% of the Federal budget. That 12% includes Head Start, Pell Grants, investments in education, roads, rail, and mass transit, energy programs that would end the dependency on foreign sources of energy (an indirect subsidy of those attacking us), law enforcement and all of the things that a responsible government does to keep the nation competitive and secure.
"Mr. Ryan's budget would take that 12 cents and make it 4 cents over the next 25 or 30 years."
I confess, I must have dis-remembered (not my word, either). It seems that as soon as the polls closed, the cry of "jobs!" disappeared as if it had never been uttered; not even an echo remained. Within a nanosecond, deficit hysteria became The Immensely Serious Crisis which demanded immediate action in almost every statehouse, and most especially in Washington, D. C. Even the Oval Office suddenly had amnesia, and began agreeing with the Republican victors flooding into Congress. When the new Republicans in Congress clamored for immediate budget cuts, even under Continuing Resolutions (CRs normally simply extend federal spending as-is until the new budget kicks in), the White House response was not "no, let's talk job creation," but "cuts? yes, yes, how much?"
It turns out that the one-sixth of America's workers, those who either cannot find any kind of a job or who have had to accept part-time employment when they really want to work full-time, are in the same predicament as the severely wounded warrior with PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome): they are ignored. Used as an election slogan, or ostentatiously lionized for their patriotism, but then discarded once they had served the political purposes of the political class, the veterans and the permanently unemployed (sometimes actually one and the same) have become invisible. As Paul Krugman says in today's New York Times: "Washington has lost interest." Boy, was that quick---- but one has to ask Why? Why now?
The War Is Making You Poor Act not only ends the dodgy emergency supplemental funding for the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan, but also eliminates federal income taxes on the first $35,000 of income ($70,000 for couples) and pays down the national debt. What could be wrong with that? Well, it could be the industrial-defense complex might prefer taxpayers did not know what our military interventions cost us, so Congressman Grayson needs the help of concerned citizens everywhere to support his dandy little The War Is Making You Poor Act, so Don Hazen (Executive Editor at AlterNet.org) sent around an e-mail with a petition from Change.org you can sign, supporting the Act
The other firestorm will probably be the national debt and all that can go with it: both budget and trade deficits, the debt itself, inflation, entitlements like Social Security and Medicare, decline of the dollar, and so on. This is, in many ways, a far more serious challenge than health care because it is part of a broad philosophical attack on "big government" and has a compelling narrative to tell, one which is alarming, based on historical data and a well-established economic theory. Moreover, Republican data and graphs have a "truthiness"convincing to many, including some economists. How so?