Thursday, June 9, 2011
Economic crisis- build a united front
The big lie must be exposed. The lie the rightwing has been perpetrating for nearly a generation. The lie that now almost all politicians in the state have swallowed. The lie claims the power of tax cuts to unleash entrepreneurialism, create jobs, grow the economy and generally improve everything but sliced bread.
What happened in the economic crisis? How did we get into this financial meltdown at a cost of over $20 trillion that cost many people their savings, their jobs, and their homes. And, why are we still suffering? The film Inside Job : How Wall Street Became a Criminal Enterprise and Took Over Government, does a good job of answering these important questions in a comprehensible manner.
Anti tax radicals, promoters of the lie, resist reasonable budgets at the state, county and city levels. The anti tax radicals repeat and repeat their slogans. They post endless comments on news stories. Republicans in the California legislature continue to push this lie in order to protect their economic patrons and they base their opposition to passing a state budget on this myth.
City and country budgets have lost tax revenues as property taxes, sales taxes, and utility taxes have declined. As hundreds of jobs are lost, the budget cut approach is making the recession worse.
This week we marked the 10th anniversary of the Bush tax cuts. Watching the corporate news this week, you might have missed the analysis that proves the only economic indicator that grew with the $2.5 trillion Bush giveaway was the gap between the rich and poor.
The Bush tax cuts have overwhelmingly favored the rich and been one the primary contributors to the nation's current deficit. The richest five percent of taxpayers have received over 47 percent share of the tax cuts, while the bottom 60 percent received a paltry 13.4 percent. Citizens for Tax Justice (CTJ) provides state-by-state and national figures that indicate that the package has proven to be “fiscally irresponsible, unfair, hypocritical, and not helping the economy.” The tax cuts, along with the economic downturn and the wars in recent years, are by far the largest contributor to the country's deficit. The cuts cost approximately $2.5 trillion over the past decade. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) published an excellent analysis, finding that the tax cuts and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan represented over $500 billion of the country's deficit in 2009, and that "without the economic downturn and the fiscal policies of the previous Administration, the budget would be roughly in balance over the next decade." The detrimental impact of this misguided and irresponsible fiscal program have taken an extreme toll on the nation’s economy.
The right wing is playing its usual role: Race-bait and attack immigrants and the poor to justify cutting taxes for the rich and the corporations. Push laws that disenfranchise young voters. Block legislation so that people come to expect nothing from their government except grief. Demand arrests of the undocumented and new fences at the border. Shift the economic crisis to the states to crack down on health services for women who can't otherwise afford care and to families who can’t afford to feed their own children. Blame teachers and unions for failures in education caused by childhood poverty. Ignore the foreclosure crisis and the jobs crisis. (adapted from the Truthout statement of purpose.)
It is long past time for the various progressive forces in the U.S. , each of which is being crushed by casino capitalism, to work together to defend democracy. This requires unions, teachers, academics, Democratic Party activists and others to recognize that what they have in common is the need for a powerful united front to defend against the right wing onslaughts.