How to fight the conservative deficit ‘con’

They didn’t beat Obama or save tax breaks for the rich but they’re still planning mandatory Reagan tattoos

Here’s the good news: The Bush tax cuts, which we designed to give 15% of their benefit to the richest 2%, have now been extended for everyone but the richest, creating the most progressive tax code in generations.

President Obama used the leverage of his re-election to achieve two goals: ending the giveaways to the rich and asking those who have benefited most from distorted Republican policies to sacrifice first as we try to clean up their mess.

And the president did it by getting the right to agree to end tax breaks without  spending cuts. Of course, there are terrible aspects of this deal—foremost the estate tax, which is a heinous giveaway from the rich to the rich.

But one of the key advantages of being a liberal is realism. Tea Partiers can pretend that every solution we need comes from visionaries from two hundred years ago, many of who believed women should never vote and Africans were property. But to make actual progress takes an actual ability to merge a vision with reality and accomplish what is possible. For that reason, there is a lot of good news in this first big deal of 2013.

Here’s the bad news: There is another debt deal coming.

You know that that the GOP’s concern for the deficit is a con.

The deficit was created by Bush policies and it is mostly result of a bad economy.

The way to fix it is painless; we grow our way out of it. But the GOP has successfully framed our problem as a debt problem, using the analogy of a family. But if your family budget resembles America’s, I hope you’re taking good care of your massive nuclear arsenal.

At stake in this deal will be the earned benefits of Medicare and Social Security. At stake would be assistance to the most vulnerable on Medicaid and in Headstart. At stake is America’s full faith and credit, which the GOP has threatened to risk again. The president’s only advantage in this deal is that the GOP hates the defense cuts in the sequester, which is scheduled to begin right around the time the debt limit is reached.

His main disadvantage is that he doesn’t want to blow up the global economy.

The president says he won’t negotiate for the debt limit to be raised. What that means, how far he’ll go to make sure the GOP no longer pays Russian Roulette with our economy is unclear.

But he’s suffering from the fact that Republicans have made debt the number one issue. In reality, it’s somewhere behind jobs, income inequality, climate change and making my Mac “think” faster.

So what can average Americans do? Does it even matter what we think?

I think some people overestimate their ability to sway public opinion, believing that by demanding a Constitutional amendment for term limits, which would require a 2/3 vote of Congress and 3/4 states when we can barely get them to agree on what color Boehner’s skin is, they can change everything. But most actually underestimate how much it matters what they say and share. You never know who is listening.

So three points:

1. Even threatening to default on America’s debt is a threat to your neighbor’s job and our ability to care for our families.
2. We need a jobs deal, a growth deal, to fix the debt.
3. Republican policies created this debt and all they’re after is destroying the life-saving programs they’ve always hated—Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

The good news is you can find all kinds of ways to say these things over and over.

[Photo by Chris Savage]
  • sagacious_ness

    A couple of things that I find most perplexing about the GOP con game and how it seems to work on so many…
    (1) In order for the analogy of “debt” and “family budget” to make any sense at all, it must be explained how a family gets out of debt by REDUCING income (taxes are revenue, the income the government uses to pay bills). I just haven’t heard a rational argument for that yet from the GOP and not holding my breath for one either.

    (2) There must also be a logical explanation of how cuts to Social Security and Medicare, programs that are self-funded via FICA (payroll taxes), would have any impact on debt ceiling, debt or deficit issues that arise from a totally separate “bank account”, to use that family budget analogy.

    Are we, as an electorate, too easily distracted by side-issues to ask these most basic of questions? Why isn’t the media asking these most basic questions? Oh wait, the wheels have fallen off that bus, it is the media that’s distracting us with the useless, trivial side issues.

  • http://twitter.com/a4alice a4alice

    awesome! I’m off to tweet stuff!

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