“Shut Up!” – Really GOP?
“Shut up!” That’s what Republican darling Darrell Issa told a Democrat who tried to speak at a public hearing last week. Issa didn’t deign to actually talk to a Democrat; instead he cut the microphones so the Democrat couldn’t be heard.
Rep. Issa, R-Calif., silenced Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, D-Md., the ranking Democrat on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. That’s exactly the tactic Republicans employed to marginalize President Obama’s 2015 budget, also released last week.
Republicans declared the budget dead on arrival. Nothing’s more silent than death. “Look away from the dead!” Republicans said, “Ignore the lifeless!” Dead on arrival, the Washington media repeated, assisting the GOP in achieving its goal. Of course, the budget wasn’t actually dead on arrival. But Republicans knew it would speak to the hopes and dreams of everyday Americans. So they tried choking it.
The most important difference between President Obama’s budget and the one Republicans will issue in a week or so is that the GOP’s prescriptions are both unpleasant and unpopular.
Wisconsin Republican Paul Ryan, chairman of the House Budget Committee, has already proposed privatizing Social Security, slashing Medicaid and voucherizing Medicare. This year, he’s on a rant about the poor. He thinks programs like Food Stamps that put food in the stomachs of poor children are bad for them. Ryan recommended decimating Food Stamps before, so this time the Republican budget may simply eliminate food for the poor altogether.
By contrast, what President Obama proposes in his 2015 budget is both popular and productive. He doesn’t cut Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid, for example. And his budget doesn’t advocate the highly unpopular starvation of American children. That’s why Republicans had to try to shut up talk about the President’s budget. The more Americans heard about it, the more they’d like it.
President Obama’s $3.9 trillion spending plan would stimulate the economy and improve the nation’s roads, bridges, sewers and other public works. It would raise the minimum wage, create jobs and improve education and job training. It would expand the earned income tax credit for the working poor.
Americans love those initiatives. So, of course, Republicans had to muffle talk about them.
President Obama would cover the cost of his programs with $1 trillion in new taxes that would be paid almost entirely by big business and the wealthy. That includes higher estate taxes, limits on corporate tax breaks and the Buffett Rule, named for Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett after he said no millionaire should pay a lower tax rate than his middle class secretary.
The President’s plan also would end the “carried interest” scheme that enables billionaire hedge-fund managers to pay taxes on a lower percentage of their income than school teachers and would close the loophole that permits self-employed professionals to avoid payroll taxes on the bulk of their earnings.
All that sounds good to America’s 99 percent who have watched with consternation over the past two decades as income disparity rose. They witnessed with annoyance the 1 percent grabbing virtually all of the wealth resulting from productivity gains while throwing bread crumbs to workers whose labor created those gains. And that’s why Republicans attempted to smother talk about the President’s budget.
The President’s budget would decrease the deficit. That’s right: Cut it. The new taxes on the rich and the closed corporate tax loopholes would accomplish that. Over a decade, the budget plan would reduce the deficit to 1.6 percent of the economy, the smallest figure since 2007, before the Great Recession upended government finances.