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 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.
A total of four independent, premeditated and indiscriminate mass shootings occurred in the latter half of 2012. There was no connection between the shooters and the victims, and no reason was established in the selection of victims other than inflicting mass casualties. An AR-15 rifle was the weapon used in all four of these events. The odds of this particular weapon being selected for all four of these independent events simply by chance was estimated to be less than one in a million using two different approaches. The intentional selection of this firearm is additionally supported by the behavior of all four shooters. It is felt that this finding fundamentally changes the assault weapon debate. It is not that this weapon was simply being used at these events, there is little if any doubt that it was being intentionally selected as a weapon of choice in those premeditated indiscriminate mass killings. As this weapon is being actively sought for these events, leaving it unregulated and expanding public availability could only increase the opportunity for its use in future mass shootings of the nature we witnessed in 2012.
With 11 of the 18 Senate Judiciary Committee members benefitting from gun lobby financial contributions, the impartiality of both their opinion and eventual votes is drawn into question. The Newtown incident has laid bare, as no other has in the past, the inherent conflict lawmakers face regarding their obligation to legislate in the public’s best interest versus special interest pressures that threaten their ability to retain office. This current debate has morphed into something larger than regulating the gun market. It provides clear evidence that our Congress needs to fundamentally change the way it operates.
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.