Don't Doom the Economic Recovery by Slashing Budgets

Our current economic crisis has many causes: launching two wars on borrowed money, passing huge tax cuts for corporations and wealthy Americans, expanding prescription drug benefits (Medicare Part D) without paying for them, and a financial collapse due to Wall Street's unrestrained gambling.

The Bush administration and its Republican (and Blue Dog Democrat) enablers in Congress set this stage.  In a mere eight years, they turned the Clinton-era budget surplus into a trillion+ dollar deficit.  However, their own culpability in this havoc has not hindered Republicans from laying the blame on President Obama and Democrats.  Republicans now act as if the economic crisis and the growth of the deficit simply popped into existence on January 20, 2009.

This sudden concern about deficits, stirred together with revenue shortfalls from our weakened economy, creates a crisis atmosphere.  The "crisis" gives Republicans at the federal and state level convenient cover to attempt draconian cuts to programs they dislike: Planned Parenthood, the WIC nutrition program, the EPA, public broadcasting, unemployment insurance, Medicaid, Medicare... the list in endless.

The cuts are proposed in the name of "sharing the sacrifice" and "fiscal responsibility." But the sacrifice is not shared and the cuts are not responsible.

We know that the extension of the Bush tax cuts to wealthy Americans will add $300 billion to the deficit.  Yet this was the price Republicans demanded to extend unemployment benefits.

We know that the billions in cuts proposed by Congressional Republicans will stifle economic growth and eliminate jobs.  Economists at Goldman Sachs estimate the proposed cuts "would reduce economic growth by 1.5 percentage points to 2 percentage points in the second and third quarters of 2011. That would devastate employment. As a rule of thumb, each percentage point drop in growth means a loss of 1.2 million jobs."  Moody's Analytics chief economist Mark Zandi believes their proposal "...would reduce 2011 real GDP growth by 0.5% and 2012 growth by 0.2%. This would mean some 400,000 fewer jobs created by the end of 2011 and 700,000 fewer jobs by the end of 2012."

Finally, we know that corporations are not paying their fair tax share.  As documented by US Uncut, "[While] enjoying record profits and taxpayer-funded bailouts as the economy slowly recovers from a financial crisis, nearly two-thirds of US corporations don't pay any income taxes, instead opting to abuse tax loopholes and offshore tax havens. According to this study from the non-partisan Government Accountability Office, 83 of the top 100 publicly traded corporations that operate in the US exploit corporate tax havens. Since 2009, America’s most profitable companies such as ExxonMobil, General Electric, Bank of America and Citigroup all paid a grand total of $0 in federal income taxes." [Emphasis added.]

Let's stop pretending that eliminating a nutrition program for needy mothers and infants will fix the deficit.  Let's stop pretending that stripping public employee unions of their collective bargaining rights is the way to pay for corporate tax cuts.  Let's stop pretending that failed Republican policies of tax cuts, deregulation, and austerity for everyone (except the wealthy and corporations) will somehow magically succeed this time.

Instead, let's demand that corporations pay their fair share of taxes.  Let's demand that the wealthiest Americans share in the sacrifice.  Let's demand that Republicans stop their demagoguery and seriously work with Democrats to address the real issues.