My comment on Paul Krugman’s NYT column Let’s Take a Hike, which focuses on the need for tax increases, such as those proposed in the House Progressive Caucus budget, as a core element of any deficit reduction plan:
First, in response to your question about why, if the deficit is purportedly such a serious problem, are Republicans proposing further tax cuts, the reason is that the Republicans are not serious about reducing deficits. They intentionally created deficits in order to make their efforts to eliminate Social Security, Medicare, and other core government programs that help average Americans politically palatable. They haven’t succeeded in that goal and, therefore, Republicans hope to continue pushing the deficit up until they do succeed.
Second, thank for highlighting the House Progressive Caucus budget proposal. As you note, by asking the wealthy elite to begin paying their fair share again and cutting defense spending and corporate subsidies, The People’s Budget reaches fiscal balance in 10 years, which is far quicker than either Rep. Ryan’s Path to Poverty plan or President Obama’s proposal. In the parlance than the chattering classes like to use, it is the House Progressive Caucus proposal that is serious, as it uses real numbers and policies to achieve actual fiscal balance without further undermining our middle class or preying on the least fortunate among us.
Third, in addition to the insincerity of the so-called “deficit hawks” (who are really deficit vultures for the reasons identified in my first paragraph above), the other reason that the House Progressive Caucus budget has not received much attention is because it goes against the conventional wisdom peddled by the chattering classes. That “wisdom” holds that cuts to Medicare and Social Security are necessary, that taxes cannot be raised, that defense spending cannot be touched, and that programs for the middle class, working class, and the least fortunate among us must be slashed. And the reason those points constitute “wisdom” in DC is that the chattering classes are in economic circumstances that foreclose them from personally experiencing the critical importance of programs like Social Security and Medicare and cause them to worry more about being asked to pay their fair share, and because most of our media enjoys the war porn that creates ratings for their networks.
A final point is that these contrasting visions of our nation’s fiscal future are really about what sort of Country We Believe In, as our President explained in his recent speech on fiscal policy. Do we want a nation that continues to lavish spending on the military and let’s the richest few percent continue to amass boatloads of wealth while our infrastructure and education system crumbles, security for our senior citizens disappears, and the social safety net is shredded? Or, do we believe in an America where we can once again have a stable middle class, where people who worked all their lives can have a secure retirement, where our children receive world class education, where our infrastructure system is again the best in the world, and where all are asked to pay their fair share for the cost of civilization? If you share my belief in the latter vision of America, now is the time to get involved in making it happen.