In DC the elite are gathered around tables discussing budget cuts but not jobs to cure a deficit largely caused by a lack of jobs and by tax cuts. The last time these DC geniuses gathered around tables they extended tax cuts for the wealthy, dramatically worsening the deficits that are causing their fainting spells today. Not at the table: women, working people, the poor or any semblance of democracy.
Just ten years ago the country had huge budget surpluses. Then they cut taxes for the rich and dramatically increased military spending. They privatized (i.e. handed to cronies) as much of the government as they could get away with. They deregulated almost everything and stopped enforcing the laws and regulations that remained. They closed 50,000 factories, sending millions of jobs out of the country. This all came to a head, as it had to, and millions more jobs were lost, which exploded the already-huge deficits as unemployment, food stamps, etc. increased while tax revenues declined.
Now there is a deficit of jobs, causing the deficit of budget. At the same time there are millions of jobs that obviously need to be done, maintaining and modernizing our infrastructure, educating our people, moving us away from oil and coal and otherwise improving our health and our lives and out spirits. But these are not the issues being discussed at the table.
Wealthy And Wall Street At The Table
These negotiations going on behind the scenes do not represent the public.
Remember the deficit commission that was headed by a right-wingnut and a board member of a huge Wall Street firm? The two of them came up with a “serious” plan that cut taxes for the rich and cut the things government does for the rest of us.
Then there was a “Gang of 6″ (now 5). Now there is the Biden Group described (see below) as an “Old Boys Club.”
Not At The Table
Women are not at the table — especially not single mothers or older women. Working people are not at the table. The poor are not at the table. The retired are not at the table. The unemployed are not at the table. The open, transparent and accountable processes required by democracy are not at the table.
Restoring taxes on the wealthy and cutting the military fixes these problems, but these are not at the table.
Putting people to work maintaining and modernizing our infrastructure would fix these problems. But this is not at the table.
There is a People’s Budget from the Progressive Caucus that addresses these problems, but it is not at the table.
And jobs, infrastructure, the People’s Budget, cuts in the huge military budget, tax increases on the rich are what the public overwhelmingly wants done. But the public is not at the table.
Women And Working People Not At The Table
Where are the women? Where are the working people? Where are the unemployed? Why are they not at the table?
The Older Women’s Economic Security (OWES) Task Force has sent a letter to the President, asking that members of the administration with expertise on women’s issues be added to the White House’s advisory team discussing strategies to reduce deficit spending. From the letter,
“It is simply not enough to send a few privileged men to the table to ‘solve’ the nation’s budget problem,” states the letter from the OWES Task Force. “We welcome the opportunity to bring our voices and expertise to a discussion with you and your advisors, and we request that members of your administration with expertise on women’s issues, such as Secretary Hilda Solis and Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, be added to the White House’s advisory team working on these negotiations.”
… The old boys club meeting has consisted of Republican House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA), U.S. Senators John Kyl (R-AZ), Daniel Inouye (D-HI), Max Baucus (D-MT), Reps. Jim Clyburn (D-SC), and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), who have convened for the budget negotiations with Vice President Biden, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, Budget Director Jack Lew, and economic adviser Gene Sperling.
Media Gives A Pass
The elite media say that the only “serious” approach to deficits is to cut back on the things We, the People (government) do for each other — budget cuts. Tax increases on the wealthy, taking rates back to where they were when we didn’t have these problems — that’s not “serious.” Investing in modernizing infrastructure, educating our people and efficient energy so our economy is more competitive is not “serious.” Taking on mercantilist trading partners who are grabbing jobs and markets is not “serious.” The People’s Budget especially is not “serious.”
The People And Democracy Demand To Be At The Table
A new round of polls is out, and the public is demanding a change in the DC elite approach. Even more than the last round of polls, these polls show that the public demands to be at the table.
They’re not buying it. Most Americans say they don’t believe Medicare has to be cut to balance the federal budget, and ditto for Social Security, a new poll shows.
Public Policy Polling conducted a poll sponsored by the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, Democracy For America, MoveOn.org and CREDO Action, which showed the following answer to the idea of cutting Social Security:
In order to reduce the national debt, would you support or oppose cutting spending on Social Security, which is the retirement program for the elderly?
Ohio: 16% support, 80% oppose
Missouri: 17% support, 76% oppose
Montana: 20% support, 76% oppose
Minnesota: 23% support, 72% oppose
A Daily Kos/SEIU State of the Nation Poll asked respondents to name their top issue, from a list of nine. Of course JOBS was #1:
Q: I’m going to name nine issues. Which of these is most important to you right now: education, Social Security, Medicare, jobs, national security, gas prices, taxes, immigration, or the federal budget deficit?
Federal budget deficit: 18
Social Security: 13
Gas prices: 10
National security: 5
Something else: 2
Dave Johnson (Redwood City, CA) is a Fellow at Campaign for America's Future, writing about American manufacturing, trade and economic/industrial policy. He is also a Senior Fellow with Renew California. Dave has more than 20 years of technology industry experience including positions as CEO and VP of marketing. His earlier career included technical positions, including video game design at Atari and Imagic. And he was a pioneer in design and development of productivity and educational applications of personal computers. More recently he helped co-found a company developing desktop systems to validate carbon trading in the US.
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