As the Republican shutdown enters its 11th day, the GOP has failed to waiver from their insincere talking points about fiscal responsibility.
But they’re right. We have to cut the deficit and reduce the debt, and the best way to do that is by raising taxes and targeting the most wasteful of all expenses, the military, TSA and homeland security.
International markets and leaders have already expressed concern over this absurd bit of politicking, but not to be deterred, the Republicans have doubled down on the Republican Government Shutdown.
The shutdown is COSTING, not SAVING Billions
Critical work is not being done. Taxes are not being collected. Audits are not being performed. Many things (cancer research for example) are time-critical and can’t simply be made up later in the game. Lives may be saved or lost today.
Then the Republicans put forward a bill to back-pay all furloughed employees, despite the fact that no work was actually performed. They should call it the Mandatory Paid Vacation Bill of 2013, because that’s the dead opposite of fiscal responsibility.
Now let’s talk about fiscal responsibility
The Republicans rightly point out that we cannot continue to spend beyond our means indefinitely and that we need to take responsible steps moving forward. That’s correct.
There are two ways to balance a budget. Cut spending and increase taxes. When times are desperate, the smartest thing to do is both.
Domestic discretionary spending has been slashed and slashed. Kids have been kicked off Head Start, science and research funding has been curbed and Meals on Wheels has been reduced to a single Meal on a single Wheel.
“There’s no more room to screw over poor people,” said myself, just now, in a moment of rhetorical honesty. “The sacrifice hasn’t been shared and it’s time to balance the budget in the only places we still can.”
Republicans want to end the Medical Device Tax. That’s a sneaky way of saying lower taxes and defund Obamacare. When we don’t have enough money in the coffers they want to reduce taxes on those who can most afford it, and yet they call themselves fiscally responsible. That’s plainly irresponsible.
So here’s how we get to where we need to go.
Cut Military Spending
We’re building tanks, planes, ships and drones the military doesn’t even want or need, and that’s just the visible stuff. Drive past any reserve or military base and you’ll see literally countless vehicles that have been mothballed just because new inventory keeps showing up and there’s simply no enemy to fight with it all.
Most of the technology we have doesn’t even work against our current day enemies. A fifteen year old in Kandahar doesn’t care that you have a tank, he has a torso strapped with homemade explosives. We’ve ramped up to the tune of trillions for a war that isn’t going to happen.
We spend $682 billion per year on our military, and that doesn’t even count NSA, TSA, Department of Homeland Security, CIA, FBI, police and every other form of protection we have. We spend more than the next ten countries combined.
We already have the greatest defense in the world; vast oceans. We could cut $440 billion from our budget and still be #1 in military spending. If we had merely been #1 in spending over the past ten years, we would have another $4 trillion dollars to spend today.
Cut TSA Spending
The TSA had a $1.3 billion budget in 2002, which balooned to $4.8 billion by 2003. Every year it climbs, and for 2013 it is $7.91 billion. This is the same job private contractors did for $725 million pre-9/11.
Airports want to take over security again so they can increase service, satisfaction and frankly, security itself, but the TSA won’t let them. The TSA has let through countless “banned” items, confiscated millions of harmless items, and been caught stealing from bags repeatedly.
This experiment failed. We need to target the TSA for defunding, but the Republicans dare not even bring it up.
Restore Tax Rates on the Rich
Low tax rates on the super rich does not cause money to magically trickle down. My rich friends vacation in Italy and drive German luxury cars. My poor friends vacation one state over and drive American cars.
It’s not time to punish the rich, stop making that bullshit argument, it’s time to restore tax rates to what they were when we were a prosperous nation. Mitt Romney personally skated on tens of millions of dollars in previously taxable dollars and he didn’t use it to invest in business, he just hoarded it, which is why he’s so incredibly wealthy today.
Any approach to fiscal responsibility must include a revenue-side solution, and Republicans are deathly allergic to raising taxes on wealthy individuals and businesses, even though they make up less than 1% of their constituency.
Resume the Taxation of Large Corporations
Corporate profits have doubled in the last ten years, while the tax they pay has been cut in half. If we closed the loopholes that allows Thirty of America’s Most Profitable Companies to pay “less than zero” in income taxes, we wouldn’t be in this mess. If the 18 companies skirting $92 billion in taxes just paid what’s rightfully due, we wouldn’t have to raise the debt ceiling.
But again, Republicans would never dream of that.