These actions by “The Decider” will be with us for many years. But there is another series of actions which can be corrected now: the imprudent series of tax cuts in 2001 and 2003. Along with the unfunded “War On Terrorism” including Iraq, these cuts quickly changed a surplus of receipts to a growing deficit. When we could have been reducing our national debt, we began to increase our debt at a rapid rate during those Bush years.
Now we need to let all those Bush era tax cuts expire. All of them. Even the so-called “payroll tax” cut of two percent needs to expire. That is not a tax, but an investment in our Social Security system, a retirement annuity and disability insurance program. All of those who participate in this program need to make some contribution to it, and most would agree that it needs to be adequately funded as a self-sustaining investment for the future of us all.
Yes, there needs to be a higher proportional tax on the wealthy, including a fair estate tax and a fair tax on dividends and capital gains that are earned more by the wealthiest among us. As Jesus said so clearly, “To whoever much is given, of him will much be required.” (Luke 12:48) And also those who see ourselves in the middle class need to be paying our fair share as well. For we have bills to be paid and commitments to honor. Just as every family has to balance its income with its expenses, so also does our federal government. A family can borrow some funds to pay its bills, but sooner or later, it will have to pay its debt. It is no less true with our federal government.
The growing debt has occurred under numerous federal administrations, Republican and Democratic. Now we hear about the current deficit and the need to stimulate an ailing economy under the present administration, but we forget that Ronald Reagan came into office with a trillion dollars of federal debt and left eight years later having tripled our national debt. “Morning in America” was paid with borrowed money! He also used the “trickle down” approach which George W’s father called “Voodoo Economics.”
As Congress considers various budget options, it is important that it generate the necessary income to pay our bills and to honor our various commitments. We cannot afford to continue those Bush tax cuts that benefited the rich at the expense of the middle class and the poor. We need to continue the estate tax, which only affects multimillionaires anyway. We probably need to have a greater consumption tax on oil to encourage frugality with fossil fuels. Whatever be the formula, we need to balance our income to pay our bills and honor our commitments.
And do we have a long list of unpaid bills and commitments: The growing obligation to our wounded veterans, the high cost of our military budget, the bankrupt Pension Guarantee Fund, Social Security and Medicare, the repairing our infrastructure of bridges, roads, pipelines, levees, dams, disaster relief, and the general problem of world terrorism are just some of those bills coming due and that need to be paid.
The president and congress needs to be offering leadership for solving many of these problems. It is simply not fair or just to balance our budget at the expense of the poorer citizens of our country. Because sadly, in the last 30 years, our rich have been getting richer, our poor have been getting poorer, and that does not make for a healthy society. All of us need to pay our fair share.
In the largest 500 companies in the U.S., the average Chief Executive Officer receives 250 times what the cheapest laborer in that company makes. That is eight times the level in the 1950s and double the ratio of the 1990s. That seems to be a continuing trend in this country. No wonder people are upset when the pay gap is so wide and getting wider.
The irresponsible Bush tax cuts were wrong in 2001 and 2003, and they are just as wrong now. Those tax cuts increased our national debt, and we simply cannot afford to see them continued. They need to expire at the end of the year, and we need to begin again to reduce our national debt as we did at the end of the Clinton administration.
We need to pay our bills! Let all the Bush tax cuts expire!
Harold C. Parker