published Saturday, September 17th, 2011

Platitudes hide cruel agenda

House Speaker John Boehner told the Economic Club of Washington on Thursday that, of course, both parties must compromise on policy goals if the Senate's 12-member commission charged with reducing federal debt is to make any progress. But as soon as he spoke those words, he immediately reversed himself, saying that Washington could brook no tax increases of any sort, especially on the so-called "job creators" whose help is needed to bring down unemployment. President's Obama's new Jobs Act proposal, he added, couldn't be accepted because it violates those Republican precepts.

Boehner's double-talk, to be sure, was nothing more than the now-standard Republican propaganda and distortion. He ignored the fact that Obama's Jobs Act proposes to give small businesses, which create most of the country's new jobs, tax credits for specific investments and new hires, including even higher tax credits for new hires who have been without a job for more than six months. Economists say Obama Jobs Act could generate up to 1.9 million new jobs next year -- which probably precisely why Republicans want to kill it.

Boehner also must know that IRS statistics show that barely two percent of the nation's small business owners fall in the income range of the top 2 percent of households whose taxable income is above $250,000, the narrow category of taxpayers whose Bush tax cuts should be allowed to expire. There are hardly any small-business "job creators" in the super-wealthy top 1 percent -- who got the lion's share of the prior Bush's administration's deep tax cuts on dividends, capital gains and income, and who now collect around 20 percent of the nation's income and own roughly 40 percent of the nation's wealth.

Boehner's vigorous defense of continuing the gratuitous and unfair tax cuts for the super-wealthy and for big, rich corporations while simultaneously calling for cuts and give-backs in core social programs and education from around 95 percent of Americans is as cruel as it is predictable. Except for Republicans' ardent desire to protect their campaign donations from rich donors and corporations, their favor-the-rich agenda remains hard to fathom for it's utter lack of fairness on burden sharing to reduce federal debt.

America's listed corporate tax rate may be high, but it's chock full of loopholes that allow most big corporations to avoid paying any corporate taxes year after year. Most hire fleets of lawyers and lobbyists to secure insider tax breaks, earn billions of dollars in profits overseas, and keep their caches of cash stashed abroad in tax-free status. Their executives are admittedly not waiting on new tax breaks or reductions in what Boehner and other Republicans wrongly describe as excessive and onerous regulation to create new jobs. Indeed, the zillionaire CEO's of corporations flush with cash and record profits candidly acknowledge that they won't crank up investments and hiring in the U.S. until consumers start buying again.

Similarly, the nation's largest and wealthiest banks, back in the black after profiting from the Bush TARP bailout, are sitting on their hands and cash, refusing to make loans to business, but reaping large profits on hedge-fund trading.

Meanwhile, the United States economy remains stuck in slow gear from the impact of the Great Recession of 2007-09 and the more recent scare-mongering over the debt ceiling by Republicans. It's no wonder workers' median incomes -- as the latest Census Bureau figures confirm -- have retreated in the past three years to a 15-year low in inflation-adjusted dollars, or that national poverty levels have soared.

If workers can't increase their wages while the prices of the most common of necessities -- food, gas and energy -- are soaring, then consumer spending, and the new hiring that such spending might produce, cannot advance. In these fiscal straits, the Republican remedy that Boehner and his party keep touting -- cuts in hard-earned entitlements, education and core public services but no cuts in the tax breaks given the super-rich and big corporations -- will only worsen the economic plight of the middle class and the scarcity of new jobs.

Indeed, the Republican prescription for economic recovery is simply a cruel and hurtful deceit. It would only deepen the joblessness, income squeeze and economic pain for a super-majority of Americans, while further enriching the wealthiest corporations and individuals. No sane American could want this result.

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nucanuck said...

The Reagan philosophy was to cut taxes and starve the beast, to force government to get smaller. Well, it didn't work out quite as planned. The beast found a way to get fed on credit until the credit ran out.

We borrowed the money, bought all the fancy weapons, had the fun wars, the unfunded mandates, the tax exemptions, the subsidies, and now it's payback time.

Payback time will require higher taxes. We can't possibly grow our way out of a debt hole this deep. The higher taxes will further damage the economy and create real suffering throughout the land, but unfortunately we have exhausted the ability of stimulus to do anything more than levitate us a while longer on the precipice.

The sooner we accept the painful austerity necessary for debt destruction, the sooner we can begin a real recovery. Neither political party has the stomach for the only solution.

September 17, 2011 at 3:10 p.m.
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