Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Spending Cuts

Does anybody remember 2000, when America had lots of money?

A massive federal surplus promised to provide a solid financial foundation for national growth for years to come. Vice President Gore ran on the platform of protecting that surplus from wasteful spending, pledging to put the suprlus in a "social security lockbox," a phrase which became synonymous with the Gore campaign due to the SNL debate sketches.

Then George Bush became President. He directed Mitch Daniels to spend that surplus on tax giveaways to corporations and individuals who make more than a quarter million dollars in a year. At the same time, he plunged America into two costly wars, one unnecessary, that the military (and our national budget) is still fighting its way out of.

Now the Republican party wants Americans to trust them to cut spending. It's crazy. It's desperate. It's pathetic. But most of all, it's crazy desperate pathetic.

The single largest new spending program in the last decade were the Bush tax cuts. American society benefited very little from the tax cuts (in fact, if we factor in the opportunity cost of that decision, like paying for social security, Medicare, or even Bush's disastrous Medicare Part D, the tax cuts assuredly cost the nation many more trillions than the official numbers. Add that in with the wars, leaving states to pay to implement No Child Left Behind, Medicare Part D, and it's no wonder that Bush racked up $10.6 trillion in debt on the national account by the day he left office. That recession that he ushered in didn't help either, and is still costing Americans dearly on both individual and national levels.

Democrats should be relishing this budget fight. Let's wind down the wasteful spending programs: the Iraq War, an obese security apparatus, contractor fraud and abuse, and welfare for millionares. The Republican call for spending cuts is a hollow screed, and their specific ideas pick on the powerless.

Democrats need to take on the powerful interests who bloat national spending and distort political priorities: the wealthiest 2%, oil companies, the military-industrial concerns, the Wall Street bankers and the investment class. If the President intends to run an grassroots, insurange campaign this is an excellent way to start; by running a grassroots, insurgent movement against the unduly powerful.

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