published Thursday, April 7th, 2011

A war on middle America

The reckless approach of the Republican majority in the House to slashing federal spending for the last six months of the current fiscal year, and beyond for the 2012 fiscal year, may cheer myopic tea party ideologues. But the wreckage would be devastating. It would wrongly, irresponsibly damage the lives of ordinary Americans and do irreparable harm to the nation’s civic fabric, infrastructure and core safety net programs that serve most American families.

Given the damage they would do, the latest Republican proposals make it clear that House members are really not serious about shaping a bipartisan compromise on a budget for the balance of the current fiscal year, or for 2012. Their proposals also make it obvious that they have little respect for the needs of ordinary Americans, nor for their duty to provide fair treatment or to find common ground.

The short-term proposals keep pushing back the fiscal goal posts well beyond any reasonable boundaries. While Democrats had been cooperatively searching for $30 billion in additional cuts for the remainder of the 2011 budget year, Republicans just walked in Tuesday with a demand to raise the cuts by a third more. After President Barack Obama appropriately said that deeper level of short-term cuts went too far, Republicans made it clear they were ready to shut down the government by this weekend.

That is reprehensible. It would set back the economy, weaken the dollar and scare investors. But it is their new proposal for a 2012 budget that is most troublesome. It would essentially devastate services that many Americans rely on, while simultaneously larding on huge new tax cuts for corporations and the most wealthy individuals.

The proposal for 2012 proposes to slash $4.3 trillion from anticipated federal spending over the next decade by:

* Converting Medicare to a program of increasingly insufficient subsidies for seniors to buy private insurance in a largely unregulated insurance market that gives individuals no leverage to control health care costs;

* Defunding Medicaid through smaller block grants to states, shifting the larger burdens of public health to states and local governments;

* Rolling back Social Security benefits, without explanation, by $1 trillion;

* Whacking regulatory enforcement of environmental laws, food safety laws and investor protection;

* Cutting or ending critical federal aid to impoverished children and families, seniors in nursing homes, the disabled and Headstart education for at-risk children, among many other vital services;

* Crippling support for federal land management, law enforcement, scientific research and oversight of extractive industries like deep-sea oil drilling;

Even as the Republican plan for fiscal 2012 and the decade beyond would radically downsize the scope of vital government services to the pre-Depression levels of the 1920s, it would make permanent the trillion-dollar Bush tax cuts and estate taxes for the ultra-wealthy 2 percent of Americans for the years after 2012.

With those tax giveaways — and further lowering of both income taxes for the top 10 percent and deep cuts in corporate taxes — the Republican plan would reduce government tax revenues by $4.2 trillion over the same 10-year period. So essentially, Republicans would cut spending in mainly social programs by $4.3 trillion and give the savings through comparable tax cuts to wealthy corporations and individuals. They would hardly tamper with spending by the Pentagon and the general defense industry.

The overall result also would effectively endow the wealthiest American individuals and corporations with vast new wealth at a time when the top 1 percent of Americans already control more of the nation’s wealth than at any time in contemporary history.

All this would not constitute a meaningful, thoughtful financial reform. Rather, it is a transparent attempt to use fear about the federal debt as a means to dramatically shift the federal government’s role away from help to middle America and the nation’s infrastructure to succor the wealthy and their corporate interests. Where that would leave ordinary Americans, who have long formed the backbone and wellspring of America’s ingenuity and economic success, seems of no concern to Republicans.

If this Darwinian race to the bottom is what Republicans now stand for, America’s future, for all but the very wealthy, is gravely threatened. If they gain more power in the 2012 elections, we now know exactly what Republicans intend to do.

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BigRidgePatriot said...

I would love to see authors credited for this drivel so we could know who the stupid are. To call modest attempts to reign in the recent irresponsible increase in government spending, "reckless", demonstrates a level of idiocy only a Times editorialist could achieve.

April 7, 2011 at 8:07 a.m.
librul said...

The American middle class that created modern America is being destroyed before our eyes. Modern robber barons and a foreign policy that drains our economic life's blood to feed the Pentagon go unchallenged. The waste of trillions from our treasury on foreign intervention and never ending warfare against veiled enemies created by neocon vampires is beyond criminal. And now they want the poor, sick and aged who worked their entire lives for a few years of retirement to pay for it.

The cost of this will be paid. But if the radicals in the Tea Party think they can impoverish us all while allowing billionaires and corporations to leave America a shriveled husk, they underestimate the willingness of good ol' boys to turn their deer rifles on them. Fox Noise might have eased the way, but the endgame will be an entirely different story - and most certainly not to their, and BigRidge's liking.

April 7, 2011 at 9:30 a.m.
BOOBOO99 said...

Well The Federal Government isnt about the american people no more...its all about the power..The people of america needs to take control of our country again like Egypt did...I dont wanna a civil war or revolution here in USA , but sometimes we have to fight for our country and our rights that our government is taking away from us. Lets show the federal government that the american people cant be push around We have over 300 million people here in USA..Let the games begin!!

April 7, 2011 at 9:51 a.m.
ceeweed said...

When people wake up and realize that the working class is being worked over it might be too late. We are a country with three distinct classes; 1. The poor. 2. The working class and 3. The ruling class... The middle class has morphed into the working class and is rapidly becoming the working poor class.

We are being goaded to fight amongst ourselves by our sly rulers. They want to vilify the workers who have bargaining rights and pensions. We are being led like lambs to the slaughter. Our rulers know that as long as we fight amongst ourselves we are less likely to focus their real agenda.

BOOBOO99, there is a vast number of Americans who would rally around a leader who identifies with our plight. That person, should he/she come to the forefront, will not be a democrat or a republican(as they are both alike in their abandonment of us) and it sure as hell won't be a tea partier.

April 7, 2011 at 10:51 a.m.
holdout said...

No mater how much something is needed if there is no money to pay for it you cannot have it. Defense needs to be cut. Social programs need to be cut. Welfare, corporate and otherwise, must be cut. Catch a clue about the condition the nation is in. We cannot cut the programs you don't like and save the ones you do. They all have to be cut. We are already to the point of causing hyper inflation in the next few years and it will only get worse if we do not stop spending non existent money now. Neither party is the answer and we have given them both too much slack until now. Now we have to cut deep or die.

April 13, 2011 at 10:15 a.m.
quietreader said...

I talked to someone at East Brainerd Lumber that said they don't cut their own lumber anymore because workman's comp. got so expensive they couldn't afford to. When the government makes it too expensive to do business, who's going to do business? The reason there is no revolt is that too many of us are still too comfortable with what we have.

April 13, 2011 at 10:38 a.m.
chet123 said...

quietreader...im trying to figure how you linking East Brainerd Lumber with the goverment being the adversary of middle class instead of the "ally" of middle class ...your statement is boldly flawed...it doest make sense...i can tell the way you talk you are a republican...because that is quite a stretch....worker comp. is war on middle class??then that case 100percent of business would close it doors...maybe you dont understand.....working at a lumber mill...you are at risk of losing an eye, finger, hand, legs, with lumber saws...what do you think people a honest working man or woman trying to paid the morgage,put food on the table for the family suppose to do in an accident of that nature...sell apple and pencil on street corner....man you got to be an republican.....hate the working class...and protect the rich and greedy....maybe you need to go to east brainerd lumber and cut lumber without worker compensation risking your hands....how would you look trying to provide for your family handless....sure you can get the kids thru college without hands...this got to be a FOX NEWS veiwer.....LOL LOL amazing lol lol only in America

April 13, 2011 at 11:36 a.m.
chet123 said...

you just have to love theses goverment hater.....FOLK these are the first people crying if they get flooded...of forest fire burn down their houses....of hurricane hit their property...we know the story....they are not thinking...hate have dimmed their brain lol

April 13, 2011 at 11:40 a.m.
chet123 said...

Nikitta Khrushchev ..the russia dictator...said that America would destroy itself within....listening to comment from people like quietreader is sad....Quietreader once you destroy your Governmet you then leave yourself gullable to foriegn Enemies....as for the goverment...it represent you...the government is the people..there are people who have a vital interest weakening or destroying the america governmet...because theres a sucker born every minute...and you my man is being used as a "GOAT"....please learn to look at the big picture...and not just sounds bites you hear on FOX NEWS

April 13, 2011 at 11:52 a.m.
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