You’re a parent with two sons—one recently lost his job and the other is a multi-millionaire. What do you do? Do you tell the unemployed son he’s lazy and that you won’t help him because that would make him too dependent and then you increase the wealthy son’s inheritance? Would you add insult to injury and use the unemployed son’s portion of his inheritance to pay for the increase you gave the wealthy son? Probably not—unless you’re extremely cold-hearted and mean-spirited. Why? Because most parents love their children equally and help those who are hurting and vulnerable get back on their feet. In fact, in most families, the wealthier son would probably pitch in and also help his brother.
Our nation’s children (its citizens) are hurting. Millions have lost jobs, homes, savings, and often self-respect. On the other hand, a small number of our nation’s citizens are doing exceptionally well. Who should we help?
My moral compass points toward prioritizing helping the millions who are hurting.
America had a budget surplus of $230 billion for fiscal year 2000, the largest in U.S. history, topping the previous year’s record surplus of $122.7 billion. That represented the largest one year debt reduction in the nation’s history. So, what happened? Congressional spending exploded.
We need to look first at the reasons causing an historic surplus to morph into a frightening, potentially debilitating deficit. Most economists agree that the following reasons were lead causes for the deficit:
•The Bush Tax Cuts of 2001 and 2003 (added $2.3 trillion alone over ten years)
•The Medicare prescription drug bill
•Post 9/11 security spending, including the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan
There are only a few fiscally responsible choices about how to fix the current deficit situation, almost all of which include reducing spending. Economists tell us that some spending (those with the highest “bang for the buck”) is necessary. Extending unemployment benefits, providing more aid for state governments, child tax credit rebates, acceleration of the 10% tax bracket, and those that target low and middle income households are specific possibilities that meet the criteria of necessary spending that provide the most stimulus for the economy.
Republicans campaigned heavily this year about reducing the budget deficit and pledged to not vote for any increased spending without offsets. That was how they felt until allowing tax cuts for the extremely wealthy expire was mentioned. Now they’re fine with not requiring cuts elsewhere to cover the costs. Or are they?
Beware. Is it paranoid to think that they may suddenly declare the deficit the enemy again once their newly-elected friends are seated in January? I don’t think so. In fact, they might use the one year “payroll tax holiday” to reintroduce the privatization of Social Security or even scrapping the whole program. After all, the wealthy that they love to protect don’t need it. And their attitude toward those who do need it is hateful, at the very least.
Look at what's on the table--
HELP FOR THE POOR & MIDDLE CLASS: Unemployment benefits
HELP FOR THE RICH: Estate tax cuts; Alternative Minimum Tax cuts; capital gains tax cuts; income tax cuts
Justice for all? I don’t think so.