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Sun Dec 9, 2012, 10:12 AM

 

We the people have already lost. [View all]

In the swirl of proposals, counterproposals, and other such noise coming out of the fiscal cliff debate is a contention that is trying to be foisted upon as the conventional wisdom, namely that no matter what else happens, whatever cuts are put through, if we can only force the 'Pugs to agree to eliminating the tax cuts for the rich, it will all be a victory both for the Democratic party and by extension the American people.

This simply is a bullshit lie, the smoke that goes along with mirrors. This is because of what is being put up as the balance in this deal to eliminate those tax cuts, namely massive spending cuts, cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security or elsewhere, anywhere, except for defense cuts. That's the big reason that the fiscal cliff is inspiring so much fear among Washington, actual cuts to our military budget, and if we've learned anything over the past forty years, cutting the military budget is the biggest sin, the largest heresy that any Congressman or President can commit.

So once again we are looking at cutting more and more of our social safety net, cutting more of the spending the government does on human services. This is where we, all of us, lose.

First of all, there simply isn't that much more to cut. Medicaid is already on life support from being bled and bled again over the years. Medicare and Social Security are already struggling to keep up with the needs of those who rely on them because they have no other resources. And if we cut other human services budget, well, that means less public spending, which means a significant part of our economy shrinks, which in these fragile economic times, can throw us back into a full blown recession. Does that sound like any sort of victory to you?

In classic Keynesian economics, the government is the spender of last resort. When private spending contracts, public spending must increase in order to keep some sort of economic stability in this country. What is being proposed in these fiscal cliff negotiations is shrinking that public spending, a path that has already been trod by Greece and Spain, and look at what is going on there.

A victory for the Democratic party is not a victory for we the people, not if that victory comes at the expense of further pauperizing the populace. Yet this is exactly the deal that is being put on the table. It is much like a game of three card monte, keep your eye on raising the taxes for the rich, never mind that the social safety net is being cut, pay no attention to that slashing of public spending.

There can be no victory in this mess if we the people have to be further pauperized in the process. Public spending on the social safety net and on human services has been cannibalized time and again over the years and decades, to the point where there simply isn't anymore to cut, at least not without causing real harm. The one budget item that is sacred, that has always been sacred, is military spending. It now comprises over fifty percent of our total budget. Yet it once again there is a stampede to preserve this sacred cow no matter the cost, no matter damage and suffering that you and I will endure as a result.

In reality what needs to be done is this, raise the tax rates on all of us. The plain, simple fact is that we do need revenue, much more revenue than the rich can realistically be parted with at this point. So put us all back on the Clinton tax rates, after all, we seemed to do alright even when we were paying higher taxes.

Second, raise capital gains taxes on the rich and well off. Another tax that is at historic lows, and a way of insuring that those rich trust fun babies who don't work also pay their far share.

Third, cut the military budget, preferably in half, but I would be happy with twenty five percent. Take this money and apply it to public spending on human services, for once in my life give this country a true peace dividend. It will prime the economic pump and lead us back into a period of economic recovery, perhaps even prosperity. Lord knows, our country needs some spending, as our infrastructure, our education system all slip into the depths. This would actually benefit us in both the short and long term, providing much needed well paying jobs immediately, and setting the stage for further growth in the future with a modern infrastructure designed to compete in the twenty first century.

This isn't rocket science, this is classic Keynesian economics combined with plain, simple economic common sense. Does our debt problem need to be addressed, certainly, but not at the expense of crashing the economy and doing further harm to the American people. Yet this is exactly where these fiscal cliff negotiations are leading us, yet we are being told that slashing public spending and raising the tax rates on the rich is somehow a victory. Well, the rich can easily afford those new taxes, and probably avoid most of them, but we the people simply cannot afford those cuts. While the Democrats will celebrate a massive victory by forcing up the rates on the rich, we the people will pay for that pyrrhic victory with ongoing poverty and misery.

A talking point victory for the Democratic party simply is not a victory for the American people, not if those people come out worse than before. That is exactly where this political narrative is pushing us however, and it is time for we the people to fight back. Frankly, I'm in agreement with Howard Dean, let's go over the fiscal cliff. Yes, we will all be paying higher tax rates, but we need to, and military spending will get its first meaningful cuts in decades.

Better yet, let's put the people, not the party at the forefront, and work on a real, meaningful victory for the people, not a party.

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