Sunday, September 25, 2005

Spend, But Don't Tax

There's been a lot of talk lately in the media about how hurricane Katrina "exposed" the depth of the poverty problem in America, as if nothing is real unless there's a television camera pointed at it. Everyone knows there's poverty, it's just that those above the line don't think much about those below, unless a big storm comes along and destroys what little the poor had to begin with.

But something else was truly exposed by Katrina: The complete failure of the Republican economic policy. Even without the storm, federal spending has gone up by one-third over the last four years, while revenue has gone down because of tax cuts aimed mainly at the rich (all the middle-class and poor got was a few hundred dollars in hush money, remember?). The unbelievable economic growth that was supposed to follow from the tax cuts has failed to materialize. As a result, the debt and deficit are skyrocketing, and China alone has now lent us almost a trillion dollars to help pay for it all.

Along comes Katrina to wipe out a few cities, and the pressure is really on. For Democrats and other sensible people, the solution is obvious--cancel the tax cuts for the rich, and resume funding the government at a sustainable level. It's so obvious, in fact, that it's the first idea that was floated around in the media, and the first thing Bush had to vow that he would not do.

The Republicans have a couple of ideas of their own, and they're fighting right now in congress over which way to go. One side wants to borrow more money from China, Saudi Arabia, and Japan, while the other side wants to cut programs for the poor and cancel improvements to the country's roads and infrastructure. Here are some of the proposals; for each, think about whether the cut hurts the poor or the rich:

--Delay the Medicare prescription drug benefit for one year
--Increase Medicare premiums by 20 percent and charge patients 10 percent of home care costs
--Eliminate adult-education programs for those who didn't finish high school
--Eliminate programs to fight drug trafficking
--Cancel the Moon-Mars program (hurts thousands of working people in the South)
--Cancel improvements to the interstate highway system (hurts millions of working people who commute to work every day)

And they're doing all of this to avoid taxing rich people at the same rate we did in 2000.

To all of you who call yourselves Republicans--is this what you wanted?

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