House Republicans, particularly those in the Tea Party caucus, recently announced that they intend to cut $61 billion from the federal budget over the next seven months. They wanted $100 billion, but John Boehner decided that was a bit much. As you might expect, the main targets of the cuts are so-called entitlement programs, which many here in New York depend on. These people are not the freeloaders Republicans like to portray them as. Many are the product of a failed education system and the greed of our nation’s employers, who would rather hire illegal immigrants or workers in other countries.
The Tea Partiers love to complain about our national debt and treat it as if it were the worse thing in the world. The national debt is certainly a problem, but we should remember that our country was only ever completely debt-free one time, and that was during the Jackson Administration. The world did not come to an end before Andrew Jackson, and it has not ended since. In other words, the problems posed by the national debt are grossly exaggerated. Much more serious issues include job creation, our two wars, education, the environment and civil liberties.
In the process of addressing this comparative non-issue, House Republicans intend to cut programs that help least among us. They refuse to even consider tax increases as a possible solution. In fact they advocated strongly for a continued tax break for the top income earners. They fear raising their taxes will discourage them from producing, even though a higher tax rate did not hinder the economy in the 1950s or the 1990s.
They love to talk about people on welfare in much the same way as their hero, Rush Limbaugh does. Clearly, none of them have ever actually met a person on welfare. If they did, they would not make the ignorant claims that unemployment pays better than most jobs. It does not. Even if it did, what does that say about how poorly we treat working people in this country? I encourage these people to leave Capitol Hill for an hour and walk around the rest of Washington, D.C. If they did, they might actually learn something about poverty in America. They could also come up to the South Bronx, Yonkers or Newburgh, not to mention our state’s vast stretches of rural poverty.
Finally, it should be noted that the proposed cuts do not go anywhere near far enough to address the budget deficit and, by extension, our national debt. Ultimately, all the Republicans are really doing is pandering to their base that, unlike the Democrats, they at least acknowledge. In the process, the poor and working people of America will be the only ones that tighten their belts. Happy Presidents’ Day!