Are we really willing, as a country, to assign a higher value to tax cuts for the wealthiest during economically difficult times than preventing the unnecessary loss of tens of thousands of American lives each year?
After 30 years of creating large deficits through tax cut legislation (Starving the Beast), often to the detriment of our economy and jobs growth, Republicans are getting closer to their goal of reducing the size of government through sharp cuts to our entitlement programs.
While the wealthy and ‘Wall Street’ were creating jobs abroad and making handsome profits from foreign investment using money our country borrowed to support their tax cuts, business investment and jobs growth in the US languished during the GW Bush years and future generations have been saddled with the debt.
An evaluation of job creation and GDP growth during 8 complete presidential terms since 1977, 5 Republican and 3 Democratic, show that our country did better under progressive tax rate policies than Republican tax cut policy. Choice of policy this election is not only important to economic growth and job creation, but the radical right’s anger that is finding its way to minorities such as gays, Latinos and Muslims will not likely stop until the economy is on firmer footing.
Despite the Tea Party’s outcry against federal deficits, debt, and the size of government, this is the very same crowd that voted down budget surpluses, smaller government, and secured entitlement programs in 2000 in exchange for unfunded supply-side tax cut policies that had already quadrupled the national debt between 1981-1992. This movement is not, nor has it ever been about debt, deficits, taxes or healthcare. It is conservative America raging against a changing America, and this movement is being gamed by both Fox News and politicians for political and financial gain.
I submitted the following to CNBC’s Squawk Box. I provided two graphs of our national debt over time, one using inflation adjusted dollars and the other with the debt expressed as a fraction of our economy. This presents the road out of the current economic crisis; we need a plan that will grow the economy of our future – we need to be forward looking.
The estimated six year shortfall in life expectancy between African-Americans versus white Americans, largely attributable to disproportionate adverse socio-economic conditions created by over two centuries of racist portrayals and discriminatory legislative/policy actions, results in 240 million lost years when applied to a population of nearly 40 million African-Americans (2010 census). The estimated premature loss of life in just the existing African-American population of today totals into the millions of individuals and is conservatively estimated to easily exceed at least ten percent of that population. In considering the potential cumulative loss of life since the beginning of the 20th century, it becomes apparent that the United States is in the midst of an ongoing and prolonged human rights atrocity of considerable magnitude, in direct contrast to our country’s position of being a standard bearer of human rights in the international community. Recent restrictive Voter ID Laws, such as North Carolina’s, that disproportionately disenfranchises the African-American poor, can only work to maintain the adverse conditions that contribute to premature death in a historically discriminated population. The concerns expressed here extend into other political actions such as gerrymandering along racial lines that effectively reduces African-American representation. Further, these concerns are held to represent serious human rights issues that violate at least three treaties both signed and ratified by the United States.
As laws like NC Carolina’s recently enacted Voter ID Law can be tied to a long history of discriminatory treatment of African-Americans that in turn create or sustain adverse socio-economic conditions directly tied to premature death, the issue becomes whether such laws should be viewed as something far more serious than an obstruction of civil rights.
The finding that the AR-15 rifle was being actively selected for premeditated indiscriminate mass killings in 2012 fundamentally changes the debate regarding Senator Feinstein’s Assault Weapons Ban. Not only does this finding take this weapon and mass shootings beyond anecdotal observations, it has predictive value. We now know with certainty that there will be another horrific premeditated and planned mass killing involving this weapon or another having similar rapid fire and high capacity capability. And it will be difficult to defend against as we cannot predict the timing, the venue, or the selected targets. It is clear that both the weaponry and background checks on all buyers should be addressed to reduce the opportunity for, and carnage of, future premeditated indiscriminate mass shootings. This should become a fundamental part of the upcoming debate on the Senate floor. Should meaningful gun control legislation fail in the Senate, for those senators who opposed there is little doubt that some would have swallowed a ‘poison pill’ regarding their political career.
The GOP’s decision to reinstate tax cut policy in 2001 exposed their hand. It was not about deficit reduction, growing the economy, or job creation. It was about ideology and, no doubt, special interests. It was a backdoor approach where government revenue was cut in an attempt to curtail spending on popular programs they otherwise could not take head-on. This while obstructing the work of Congress, spinning a web of deceit about the benefits of their policy, and weakening our country’s financial standing. It’s time to play hardball during ‘fiscal cliff’ negotiations and force them to be specific about what spending cuts they are talking about to offset the tax benefits they wish to preserve for the wealthiest. They wouldn’t have the nerve.