Thursday, December 11, 2014

This is a bad deal for you and I !

by Duane Campbell

The omnibus budget deal being debated in Congress passed on Sat. evening  includes a continuation of the budget cuts known as the sequester. 
And Senator Elizabeth Warren has revealed the Wall Street subversion in this bill and is making a brave stand against the deal.

It is important to understand our current economic situation to understand the  conflict in Congress  and our economic future.
First, know that Wall Street has recovered, but main street has not.
Middle-class wages are stagnant. Unemployment is stalled at record levels. College education is leading to debt servitude and job insecurity. Millions of unemployed Americans have essentially been abandoned by their government.  Poverty is soaring.
 Bankers break the law with impunity, are bailed out, and go on breaking the law, richer than they were before. Only a handful of people have gone to jail, none of the really big operators. Now, more than 6 years after the crisis began,  no senior officials of the corporations that looted our economy have been held accountable.  

We know that wealth inequity and other economic injustices are the product of deliberate policy choices — in taxation, Social Security, health care, financial regulation, education, and a number of other policy areas. They are not accidents, they are not inevitable.
The policy being forced upon us by Congress is called austerity. 
Austerity is the  policy of reducing government spending by cutting social services such as health care, education, food assistance, and other welfare assistance.   At the federal level, Republicans and some Democrats  seek austerity by cutting social Security and Medicare. Republicans also are insisting on massive budget cuts known as the sequester.  In Dec. 2014, the new budget “deal” continues the sequester from prior years- a bad policy choice.  We are not repairing roads and bridges. These cuts hurt our economy and cost jobs.  In the case of state governments  public tax money is normally used for police, fire fighters, park services, nurses, doctors, social workers and health assistants.  Many states, particularly those led by Republicans, are extending their austerity policies. State and local austerity efforts cut services.
While unemployment remains high and economic growth slow,  government policy  should not impose austerity measures which  reduce essential public safety  programs for  the middle and working classes and that shred the  social safety net for the most vulnerable. Rather, government policy should prioritize public investments in job creation, public education and healthcare reform, while raising essential revenues by taxing the large corporations and wealthiest citizens who can afford to pay.

There is a rather simple solution to the problems- put people to work earning a living.  Have the government spend more money on items such as bridges, infrastructure, police, teachers, health care, clean energy projects  etc.

 The Obama Administration began in this direction in 2009 ( along with bailing out the banks), but few Democrats are prepared to push for anything more than nickels and dimes in terms of increased spending, nothing close to magnitudes that would be needed. And Republicans and many Democrats now call for austerity and cut backs.  It won’t work.

Then, in the 2014 elections, the Republicans won control of both the House and the Senate ( although they did not receive a majority of the votes cast).

The budget bill passed in December continues austerity and the sequester for the next year. When the Republicans take over both houses of the Congress in January, we will have a government committed to austerity.  Their agenda will push tax cuts for the wealthy and well connected while cutting services to the most needy.

Austerity, like the policy of  most of the governments in Europe, will make matters worse.  Although bankers and finance are doing quite well under austerity and government bailouts, we will have more unemployment and  more poverty for working people.

And, because redistricting and gerrymandering it is unlikely that control of the House can be reversed before 2022.   We face austerity- prosperity for the rich and well off and poverty for much of the poor.  We need to develop a political strategy to oppose austerity.

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