According to a Jamaican proverb, “rock stone a river bottom no know say sun hot.” And that’s one reason the Republican leadership is so ready to slash America’s social safety net to pieces and hand more tax breaks to the very rich. They are among the super rich themselves and have never experienced financial hardship. Another reason is self interest. As part of the super-rich, they stand to benefit from the tax breaks and subsidies proposed in their party’s budget.
Paul Ryan, the congressman credited with devising the party’s budget proposal, is from an “old money” family – and he married more money. Ryan and his wife, Janna (shown above with their kids), own stakes in four family companies that lease land in Texas and Oklahoma to energy companies that would benefit from the tax subsidies in his budget plan.
You don’t have to be super-bright to figure out why people like Ryan and Mitt Romney would favor a budget that takes from the poor and gives to the rich. The question that’s hard to answer is why anyone else would vote for such a budget.
It seems a lot of Americans who are not rich are buying the Republican explanation that the budget would reduce the national deficit and curb the national debt. The argument is that U.S. debt has spiraled out of control and the only way to rein it in is to cut back on such programs as Medicare, Social security, welfare and education while providing tax breaks to encourage the rich to invest in America.
I can’t deny that America’s national debt is frightening. I can’t deny that the deficits have to be reduced. And President Obama has made it clear that he recognizes the dangers of runaway debt. He is proposing to address the situation by fiscal restraint on one hand and growth incentives on the other. It will be a delicate balancing act but I think he can do it – without inflicting widespread misery on the population.
The cure proposed by the Republicans would be worse than the ailments afflicting the economy. It would add to the country’s economic problems instead of solving them.
Contrary to the bill of goods being sold by Republican politicians, drastically shrinking the government would stall the sputtering recovery now underway and send America sliding into a double-dip recession. You don’t have to be a math whiz to figure out that when you take money out of the pockets of millions of us who depend on Medicare, Social Security and other similar programs, you will adversely affect consumer spending. And the same holds true when teachers, law enforcement officers, firefighters civil servants and other government workers lose their paychecks.
That’s happening throughout Europe. Britain is in a double-dip recession because of the kind of austerity that Republicans propose. An article by Robert Reich, published in Salon this mornng, reports:
Britain’s Office for National Statistics confirmed on Wednesday that in the first quarter of this year Britain’s economy shrank .2 percent, after having contracted .3 percent in the fourth quarter of 2011. (Officially, two quarters of shrinkage equal a recession.) On Monday, Spain officially fell into recession for the second time in three years. Portugal, Italy and Greece are already basket cases, and it seems highly likely France and Germany are also contracting.
Reich argues that Europe’s recession was not caused by a “debt crisis.” He points out that there’s no debt crisies in Britain, for example. Here is his explanation:
Blame it on austerity economics – the bizarre view that economic slowdowns are the products of excessive debt, and so government should cut spending in a slowdown. Germany’s insistence on cutting public budgets has led Europe into a recession swamp.
Reich knows what he’s talking about. He is one of the nation’s leading experts on the economy. He is a professor at the University of California at Berkeley, and served in three national administrations, most recently as secretary of labor under President Clinton. Time Magazine named him one of the ten most effective cabinet secretaries of the last century.
And, contrary to the accusation leveled recently by Bill O’Reilley on Fox News, he is no communist. O’Reilly’s remark is typical of the cheap-shot propaganda Republicans are employing to frighten Americans into buying their poisonous program.
What Americans really have to fear is a Republican majority in Congress and a Republican president in the White House. With the programs they promise, the country would be plunged into a downward economic cycle – budget cutting, leading to a recession, leading to a decline in tax revenue, leading to more budget cutting, leading to a deeper recession…
The argument that the proposed tax breaks would attract investment in America has proved false in the past. In a global economy, money goes where it can make the most profit, not just where it pays the lowest taxes. And American-based corporations have found they can dodge taxes quite effectively under the current system. Many of the country’s largest corporations paid no federal taxes last year and some actually ended up getting money from the government.
With the Ryan budget to sell, Republicans might find it difficult to win the election in November – if they stick to the facts. But you know they won’t. With unlimited corporate cash at their disposal, they will flood the airwaves with lies and sophistry. And they will attack their opponents mercilessly. The Republican primaries have shown us the kind of campaign we can expect: Romney’s supporters will do anything to destroy the president’s character and say anything to misrepresent his record and his proposals.
Brace yourself. The lies will keep on coming.