Monday, November 4, 2013

No new tax cuts

Grover Norquist and the Republican Party in DC have banded together in an attempt to stop any new taxes ever. Government requires flexibility, just as our personal finances require flexibility. Individuals need new revenue to counteract unexpected expenses, like a child who needs help in school, or an unemployed person who needs to relocated to find work.

Governments need flexibility to face new challenges as well. In the past few years, the federal government spent large sums of money fighting overseas wars and the so-called War on Drugs at home. The Republican response to these needs has been to borrow more money instead of raising taxes. This resulted in over $4 trillion in new federal debt during the Bush administration. New spending was exacerbated by tax cuts and a severe recession that cut revenues and increased expenditures for programs like unemployment insurance.

During the Obama administration, Republicans have steadfastly refused to raise taxes or increase federal spending to spur economic growth. But taxes have been raised; they're not called taxes, but fees for service or raised penalties for traffic violations. Only taxes on the rich have been forbidden, not cuts in programs that help the poor. So the latest Republican budget has cut $4 billion from SNAP, a program that provides food to the poor. Republicans justify this action, which disproportionately hurts children and the elderly, because they claim--without evidence--that there are abuses in the program.

Progressives have taken a long time to wise up to Republican tactics. The administration has offered to offset tax cuts with spending cuts, but this policy is unwise. Any cuts in revenues, which are sorely needed, will never be replaced under the "no new taxes" program. Therefore, any programs that result in savings to the federal government should not be returned to taxpayers. Instead they should be applied to programs that are hurting the most under current Congressional leadership, programs for the poor and disadvantaged.

It is very difficult to compromise with people who are willing to jeopardize the world economy to get their way. Just as progressives must take a hard line against shenanigans like closing the government and refusing to raise the debt limit, we must also take a hard line against passing any programs favored by the Republicans without a commensurate raise in revenues to pay for them.

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