August 2nd, 2011

mushroom cloud

How radical conservatism is wrecking America.

So the country won't go into receivership today because the Congress happened to finish a bill that would raise the debt ceiling and the Senate approved it. Was anyone surprised? The only part that surprised me was that they somehow managed to create a 12-person crew to guide cuts and so forth that's half Dem and half Repub. Perhaps it's less surprising when we step back and ask what those party definitions mean today, and if there's any real practical difference anymore.

I really like this piece by Republican commentator Robert Frum about how radical conservatives have not only ruined the Republican party but are on track to ruin our nation. At last, a sensible Republican speaks out.

A few simple things:

1) Reducing government spending eliminates jobs and reduces support for the unemployed and poor, infrastructure repairs, education, military adventures, research, science, and so forth. I think everyone of all party affiliations can agree that people losing jobs is not a good thing for anyone, nor is it good for the economy. I think everyone with any education at all knows that cutting across the board like this, eliminating science research and educational support will result in a nation of declining value.

2) When fewer people have jobs, tax revenue declines because of several factors: a) the unemployed don't pay as much tax (though they lost their tax break in 2009), b) the unemployed collect unemployment benefits, c) the unemployed don't buy stuff the way employed do, and d) this cascades across the entire economy. Fix unemployment and you fix almost everything.

3) We're suffered a decade's worth of hugely expensive wars - unfunded wars. You don't need to be highly educated to recognize that spending $trillion$ without adding any income sources is just idiotic. If America were truly based on fairness, the radical neocon-wingnuts who demanded war but refused to pay for it would be sued to cover our debt.

4) Many or most of the tax loopholes for the ultra-rich and mega-corporations must be eliminated. Billionaire Warren Buffett is disgusted that he pays lower taxes than his secretary. The tax rate paid by ultra-rich Americans declined from 26% in 1992 to just 17% in 2007. Meanwhile, the tax break for unemployed workers ended in 2009, so as tax breaks for the poor evaporate, the ultra-wealthy pay less. This, while the Census finds a record income gap between the rich and the poor.

5) Why do corporations that ship jobs overseas get tax breaks? Why do we give more subsidies to corn and other grain crops when even the heavily ag-lobby-influenced USDA's "food plate" has revised way down how much grain we should consume? And why do we still give more tax breaks for oil than anything else ("for wealthy or sophisticated investors, one investment class continues to stand alone above all others: oil")? Worst of all, though, is how American corporations pay almost no taxes. The best example is General Electric: Not only did they pay absolutely no taxes in 2010 or 2009, but they actually pocketed more than $3 billion in government tax credits. Yes, you and I paid GE billions for being GE.

6) Which leads me to my primary point: Eliminating tax subsidies for the ultra-rich and mega-corporations is not the same as increasing taxes. It is cutting spending. Tune out the radical screams about "tax increases" and consider: We, the taxpayers, spend a lot of our nation's wealth on tax-code-based spending designed to encourage some things and discourage others. I guess if you're a staunch Ayn Randian and place your self-interest above the well-being of others, including your nation (which, I would argue, is short-term thinking: Wreck your country and you wreck yourself), you're okay with all this.

So was it good or bad that Congress passed this bill to allow the debt ceiling to rise? Yes. No.

Yes in that it likely allows our credit rating to remain tip-top, though some argue that the credit agencies had also required that we find more revenue and cut more. But did anyone believe that the 2-year thinkers driving our country toward oblivion would really let their political posturing overcome their desire to keep their jobs at the next election? Feh.

No in that it doesn't address any of the real problems outlined in my six points above. Cutting spending willy nilly leads to nothing but bad things, short-term and long. Not paying for what we spend is childish. Our current tax code gives gifts to mega-corporations and the ultra-rich - why? As rewards for their richness. Then the radical neocons cut spending, which mostly benefits the poor and middle class, in order to maintain this reward-the-rich scenario.

This bill is meaningless, really. Except for how it helps display the disease that is radical neoconism that's killing our nation, and how almost every politician is okay with letting them do so.

EDIT: I must share Keith Olbermann's take on this. He's on the money:


Chris