Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Debt Ceiling War

Bush almost doubled the national debt (from $5.7 trillion Jan 2001 to $10.7 trillion Dec 2008) while slashing income taxes, capital gains taxes, dividend income taxes, and estate taxes. Bush and the GOP would not let Medicare negotiate on drug prices with their new prescription program, so that Medicare now has to pay whatever the pharmaceutical companies want to charge (hint: some drug prices have more than doubled just since 2008).

Two unfunded wars; Bush pushed emergency appropriation bills through so that the costs were added to the national debt but not his deficits. A 2009 deficit that was projected to be more than $1 trillion before Obama even took office. A GOP forced two-year extension of the Bush tax cuts, more estate tax cuts, and a mixing of payroll taxes with general revenues in the Social Security Trust Fund, in December of 2010 in exchange for a one-year extension of unemployment benefits for two million Americans. (Democrats did not have a super-majority in the.Senate and had already used the one reconciliation bill allowed per year to pass the health care bill with a simple majority.)

Now the GOP is professing to be more concerned about the rising debt than Democrats, and are busy blaming that debt on out-of-control spending on social programs and "entitlements". And it doesn't matter to them that Social Security is funded from payroll taxes (except for the misguided tax holiday). They prefer to continue blaming the debt on Social Security. They prefer to continue efforts to divert or drain the Social Security's $2.5 trillion of treasury bonds in the trust fund, and to turn over profitable retirement accounts to private enterprise (accounts which will then be subject to stock market shenanigans, higher management fees, and personal bankruptcies).

Conservatives are busy shouting about how the wealthy pay the majority of taxes, even though their tax rates are the lowest since 1950 and their wealth has skyrocketed. They refuse to acknowledge that corporate taxes now only account for less than 11% of federal revenues, down from almost 30% in the 1950's. They don't care that middle class income has stagnated for decades, while the tax burden is shifting from corporations and the wealthy to the middle class. Conservatives are deaf to the unfairness of having income from working money being taxed at lower rates than income from working people. They don't care that lowering taxes on "job creators" does not really result in more jobs. They don't care that free trade is not fair trade. They are not interested in regulations and consumer protections.

What the GOP is interested in is continuing to get Americans to vote against their self interest. They are interested in continuing the politics of greed with no accountability. They are interested in corporate contributions to their re-election campaigns.

It is most unfortunate that the December 2010 deal did not include a debt ceiling hike. And now, just as predicted when that deal was being crafted, the GOP is using the critical raising of the debt ceiling to push through their political agenda of massive cuts to programs which have any hint of social responsibility, while refusing to address the real causes of the national debt.

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