“The simple truth is there are relatively easy ways to deal with the deficit crisis—without attacking the elderly, the children, the sick or the poor,” Sanders says.
“Despite such terminology as ‘fiscal cliff’ and ‘debt ceiling,’ ” writes Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., “the great debate taking place in Washington now has relatively little to do with financial issues. It is all about ideology.
“It is all about economic winners and losers in American society. It is all about the power of Big Money. It is all about the soul of America.”
Sanders can be relied upon to provide regular, informative and concise summaries of the progress made by large sections of the American political establishment to deepen the economic crisis. Republicans, for a large part—and their Blue Dog colleagues in the Democratic Party—are pushing policies that place the burden of recovery on the public by blocking spending for job creation and homeowner relief, and by attempting to privatize public programs such as Social Security and Medicare. All of this at a time when the wealthiest Americans enjoy the following benefits:
• Today corporate profits are at an all-time high, while corporate income tax revenue as a percentage of GDP is near a record low.
• In 2011, corporate revenue as a percentage of GDP was just 1.2 percent—lower than any other major country in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, including Britain, Germany, France, Japan, Canada, Norway, Australia, South Korea, Switzerland, Norway, Italy, Ireland, Poland, and Iceland.
• In 2011, corporations paid just 12 percent of their profits in taxes, the lowest since 1972.
My Republican colleagues say that the deficits are a spending problem, not a revenue problem. What these deficit-hawk hypocrites won’t talk about is their spending. They won’t discuss what they did to dig the country into this $1 trillion deep deficit hole. They waged wars in Afghanistan and Iraq without paying for them. They gave away huge tax breaks for the rich. They squandered taxpayer dollars on the pharmaceutical industry by making it illegal to let Medicare bargain for lower drug prices. They also rescinded financial regulations that enabled Wall Street to operate like a gambling casino, leading to a severe recession that eroded tax revenue and left more than 14 percent of American workers unemployed or underemployed.
Now, despite the deficits their policies helped to create and despite the enormous suffering which exists in our society, the Republicans want to cut Social Security, veterans’ programs, Medicare, Medicaid, education, nutrition programs, and virtually every program which benefits low- and moderate-income Americans. They choose to turn their backs on the economic reality facing a significant part of our population: high unemployment, reduced wages, 50 million without health insurance, college graduates saddled with enormous student debt and elderly people living in desperation. And they have tried to slam the door on any further discussion about how to raise revenue by ending tax loopholes and unfair tax breaks.