In today’s weekly Presidential Address, President Obama talked about the economy and the budget process. Probably the most boring topic ever, to most Americans. In the middle of his remarkably clear analysis, however, President Obama said,
“Priorities. Choices. That’s what this is about. And the stakes for the middle class couldn’t be higher. If we don’t pick the right priorities now, make the right choices now, we could hinder growth and opportunity for decades, and leave our children with something less.
That includes the obsession with cutting just for the sake of cutting. That hasn’t helped our economy grow; it’s held it back.”
I truly believe, the President has hit at the core of our economic problem with this observation. We live in a bubble carefully crafted by 30 years of hardline trickle-down, shrunken government theorists. That bubble was built on a foundation that says the free market is a magical creature that must be allowed to roam freely. This same ideology also FIRMLY believes that government is bad. Those two ideas have been hammered into our collective consciousness for more than a generation, and it’s taken root.
The “free market” side (also known as the trickle-downers) wants all taxes taken off the backs of corporations and wealthy industrialists. Whether these folks have “earned” their wealth, or inherited their wealth, and regardless of any possible misdeeds along the way, they must be protected. They have universally signed Grover Norquist’s “Taxpayers Protection Pledge“, vowing to never raise taxes for any reason, even if necessary to preserve our national common survival. Their solution to any problem is simply, “cut taxes”. Their efforts over the past 30 years have led to massive budget deficits and debt. And in their mind, the only solution to those deficits is to “cut spending”.
The “bad government” folks have set up an altar to honor Ronald Reagan for his revelation that, “government is not the solution to the problem, government IS the problem”. Adherents to this theory include a HOST of groups calling themselves “Patriots”. The Southern Poverty Law Center recently listed more than 1200 of these “anti-government” groups on their website. They also have a Grover Norquist connection in that they would love to “shrink government until it’s small enough to drown in a bathtub“.
These two groups have successfully banded together to build a coalition intent on reducing government and boosting corporate commerce. Their constant demand is to cut taxes and cut spending with little regard for the affect on American society and our middle class.
Writing in the New York Times in February, Nobel Laureate economist Paul Krugman said,
“Slashing government spending destroys jobs and causes the economy to shrink.
This really isn’t a debatable proposition at this point. The contradictory effects of fiscal austerity have been demonstrated by study after study and overwhelmingly confirmed by recent experience — for example, by the severe and continuing slump in Ireland, which was for a while touted as a shining example of responsible policy, or by the way the Cameron government’s turn to austerity derailed recovery in Britain.”
Krugman then added,
“But aren’t we facing a fiscal crisis? No, not at all. The federal government can borrow more cheaply than at almost any point in history, and medium-term forecasts, like the 10-year projections released Tuesday by the Congressional Budget Office, are distinctly not alarming. Yes, there’s a long-term fiscal problem, but it’s not urgent that we resolve that long-term problem right now. The alleged fiscal crisis exists only in the minds of Beltway insiders.”
The bottom line is simple. 30 years of trickle-down, cut government, boost corporations, cut spending, has put us in a hole. Any idiot knows, “when you find yourself in a hole, stop digging.” To continue with this ideology is unthinkable in a logical America. We must stop the “bad government” bulldozer in it’s tracks and start making wise investments in our future. We need to start considering the welfare of the American middle-class as our fundamental goal. But most importantly and most simply, we need to stop putting profit ahead of people.