Michael Maiello's picture

    Attack Of The Rich

    The deficit was caused by the financial crisis and the resulting recession, which will cost the U.S. $500 billion a year in tax revenues going forward.  Absent the recession, the "trillion dollar deficits" we're worried about now would be half trillion dollar deficits and we'd be talking about how to grow our way out of them.

    Absent the recession and absent two wars (one justified but mismanaged so as to still be ongoing even though it should have been a short military operation, one that didn't have to happen at all) those half trillion dollar deficits would be even smaller.

    Absent the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy, which were supposed to be temporary, and absent the wars and the recession, we'd probably be running occasional surpluses.

    What's done is done, I guess.  But I think it's important to point out that today's deficits are not the result of structural defects in the U.S. economy that go back to the FDR or the Great Society.  They are the result of choices made in the last decade.  We can't take back the wars we started or bungled.  But we could restore the Clinton tax code (even just for high earners), levy a special war tax on the defense industry to make up for some lost money, levy a transaction tax on Wall Street to make up for lost revenue during the recession and reach an informal understanding with the world that the U.S. is out of the war making business for awhile.  If the international community really begs us to act that they should also expect either to receive a bill or to have Treasury bonds that they hold cancelled in exchange.

    In short, though future deficit projections are large, they can be fixed without dramatically altering popular government programs the way Paul Ryan wants.  The bill can also be sent to those who have the greatest ability to pay.  Ryan, and the other deficit cutters who have preceded him, would rather the bill be paid by ordinary working Americans, mostly by denying them health and retirement services.  In my latest column for The Daily I call this the "Attack of the Rich."  I wrote this a few days before Ryan decided to pile on, so good timing on my part!  Ultimately, ordinary people are going to have to wake up and define the dimensions of the "adult conversation" about the budget.  So far, I think we've already ceded too much ground.  The first mistake was to fall for the phony phrase "entitlements."  The next mistake, being made now, is to praise Ryan for being serious and brave.  He is neither.



    If Dr. King were alive today he would be urging his followers to rise up and reject riches for the classes and austerity for the masses.  

    Cripes, so would Nixon! 

    Now if Nixon were alive today...wouldn't you just love to see the "moderate" Nixon of his presidential years (except in re to trampling on the Constitution, heinously bombing countries we weren't even at war with, being a pioneer innovator in creative demonization of one's political adversaries, and a few other things here and there) and his henchmen duke it out with Norquist and the Koch brothers and other leaders of the drown-the-government-in-the-bathtub brigade for control of the GOP?   

    Or Newt.  Cool

    Yeah, gotta love that Dem message machine. This lunatic comes out with a proposal to cut health care outright for the poor, the helpless, the infirm and the elderly, and what do the Dems say?

    "Courageous man!"

    Last November, the NYT had an interactive feature where you could reduce or eliminate the budget deficit in 2015 and on to 2030. It really wasn't that hard to eliminate the deficit if taxes were raised, especially on high incomes and the dead rich, and the military spending was reduced. NYT Budget Feature You could go into surplus with small adjustments to Medicare, none to SSec., as long as you were willing to return to Clinton tax rates and cut the war spending.

    Nice, destor. I think that your approach is best way to frame the liberal economic position.

    The argument that wealth should be redistributed just doesn't appeal to most Americans. Too socialist.

    The argument that deficits don't matter is simply wrong. You can argue that the U.S. should continue to carry a deficit until the economy improves, but that doesn't mean that we can keep growing national debt indefinitely.

    The argument that the rich are conspiring to repress the poor is a bullshit scare tactic.

    But the argument that the rich are selfishly refusing to fulfill their national obligations--that's a winner. Rather than denying the country's fiscal problems, it turns the Tea Party lament on its head. The problems are real. They've been caused by the profligacy of our leaders. It's time to tighten our belts--by demanding responsibility from the people who live in splendor rather than increasing the suffering of the poor.

    What you write is nothing but dead on truth. What has been done was carefully planned. The agenda of the Right is to make government there own personal tool; mostly to be used to further business interests. They wish to disregard the part in the Constitution that spells out the ROLE OF GOVERNMENT; the part that states that of the roles is to PROMOTE THE GENERAL WELFARE. Their idea is to create a government that promotes only THEIR WELFARE. Just look to history. When two of the safety nets were created (S.S. in 1935 and Medicare in 1965) not one Republican voted for either of these programs. The Republicans have been after these entitlements for years. The Right wants to whittle down government to the point where it's only function is to protect and further THEIR interests. Government must work for everyone, not just the one's running it and their cronies. Keep writing folks, hopefully public option still carries enough weight to effect change. We must keep working to get government back to the task of serving the people and out of the hands of special interests.

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