20 September 2011


Consistent with an earlier announcement which proposed paying for his jobs plan by "eliminating $467 billion in tax breaks for wealthier Americans and corporations", yesterday President Obama confirmed his intent to "raise serious revenues by asking the wealthiest Americans or biggest corporations to pay their fair share", as part of a long-term debt reduction program. For the first time, Mr. Obama went so far as to promise a veto of any legislation which does not include closing tax loopholes for the wealthy.

Predictably, Republican leaders have been all over Obama's plan, going so far as to label it "class warfare". The true class warfare is that which has evolved over the past thirty years, which features the top 5 percent of Americans controlling 95 percent of the nation's wealth, while enjoying tax breaks on that income which were instituted by ~ guess who? ~ Republican presidents, notably G.W. Bush. All of this coalesced to create the current debt crisis (see image above, depicting recent presidents who have significantly increased the national debt ~ click to enlarge).

John Boehner characterizes the president's plan as "the administration's insistence on raising taxes on job creators". Two responses ~ first, trotting out the tired retort "raising taxes, raising taxes" is becoming lame. This is about restoring taxes which should never have been lowered or eliminated in the first place. Second, what job creators? The nation's wealthiest individuals and corporations are cutting jobs left and right, not creating them. Their approach is in line with the failed policy of trickle-down economics, which in reality allows those at the top to keep their cushy incomes while outsourcing American jobs to other nations. Job creators, my ass.

The tone of Obama's announcement may signal that he has at last come to his senses, and realizes that placating the far right only empowers them. Obama may have had the best of intentions in trying to meet the radical right halfway, but the radical right never had any intention of reciprocating. It is time to stand firmly for democratic principles, not on plutocratic rule for profit. The Republican party allowed itself to be hijacked by the Tea Party. Let them live with the consequences. John Boehner is a coward for allowing it to happen.

By the way, lest there be any doubt about the need for protecting social service programs, a simple graph (see below, click to enlarge) should suffice to remove that doubt. Conservatives would have us believe that Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, job training and other programs (which benefit the poor and middle class, but not the rich) are a drain on the nation's economy and need to be cut. Au contraire. As the graph illustrates, it is precisely the establishment of such programs under President Franklin D. Roosevelt which effectively ended the Great Depression in 1933, long before our 1941 entry into World War II.

The myth that war stimulates the economy is pervasive, and false. More recently, the post-9/11 war on terror has "compromised America's basic principles, undermined its economy, and weakened its security", all to the tune of trillions of wasted dollars, hundreds of thousands of wasted lives, and the loss of American credibility and prestige globally, according to an analysis by Joseph E. Stiglitz. We should never have engaged in hostilities in Iraq in the first place, and counterterror operations in Afghanistan have been bungled beyond all recognition. We have succeeded in creating anti-U.S. animosity in the region, and spurred the creation of tens of thousands of new terrorists. It has been an unmitigated and foreseeable disaster, abroad and here at home.

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