To accomplish a goal takes dedication coupled with the ability to pursue all possibilities to reach the desired end, and adherence to one exclusive modality nearly always results in failure. On Monday Republicans displayed their normal single-minded approach to reduce the nation’s deficit that guarantees hunger for millions of America’s neediest citizens and more wealth for the nation’s richest one percent. As usual, the Republican’s approach to deficit reduction is steeped in their aversion to taxing the wealthy and making Draconian cuts to programs that help tens-of-millions of Americans, and the end result is increasing the nation’s debt as a continuation of eight years of Bush economics.
On Monday, as predicted in this column, Senate Republicans blocked advancement of the so-called Buffett Rule that raised taxes on Americans earning over two million dollars annually. It is reported that the Buffett Rule applied to income over one-million dollars, but it is a phased-in tax rate that really affects incomes over two million dollars; the one-million dollar figure is where the tax increase begins being phased in.
Republicans scoffed at the measly tax increase on wealthy Americans as “barely a drop in the ocean of national debt, and less than .005 percent of this fiscal year’s $1.2 trillion deficit” according to Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX). Hutchison also noted that although $5 billion of added revenue is a worthless endeavor, it is a “roundabout way of raising capital gains tax” on investors that create jobs and discourage small business startups. Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) derided the Buffett Rule as an election-year gimmick and accused the President of avoiding bipartisanship to “pursue policies for political expediency.” The American people disagree with McConnell and Republicans and a CNN/ORC survey released yesterday showed that 72% of Americans support the Buffett Rule.
It is true that $5 billion annually for the next ten years will not, in and of itself, erase the nation’s deficit, but it is substantially more than zero. President Obama noted that ”At a time when we have significant deficits to close and serious investments to make to strengthen our economy, we simply cannot afford to keep spending money on tax cuts that the wealthiest Americans don’t need and didn’t ask for,” and apparently, that the majority of Americans do not want either. So if nearly $50 billion of added revenue over the next ten years is not going to make a difference in deficit reduction; why are House Republicans cutting the SNAP (food stamp) program by $33.2 billion over the same period as the be all, end all of courageously prudent deficit reduction?
Republicans are not serious about deficit reduction, but they are serious about causing more hardship for Americans by robbing the poor to pay the rich. Creating more distress for the poor by cutting social safety nets is the impetus for House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s (R-Wis.) courageous budget because he worries that the social safety net is at risk of becoming a “hammock.” Paul Ryan is a devotee of novelist Ayn Rand, and he told an audience at the Heritage Foundation that “we have to support the makers, not the takers” to move the country forward towards a government of oligarchs.
The cuts to SNAP means an 11% cut in monthly benefits after September 1st of this year, and tighter enforcement rules require that households exhaust most of their liquid assets before qualifying for any help. It is typical Republican policy to punish the poor by taking everything they have, and the hardest hit will be the long-term unemployed who lost their jobs through no fault of their own. The Draconian cuts to SNAP is especially egregious because they come from the House Agriculture Committee that is responsible for awarding farm subsidies that are unnecessary for an industry enjoying record income, but that is the Republican modus operandi as Americans have witnessed with continuing subsidies to the oil industry amid perpetual record-setting profits.
There is an illogical philosophical bent to the Republican’s fallacious push to reduce the nation’s deficit and it is endemic in every policy they promote. On one hand, they are willing to make cuts that affect Americans hardest hit by the economic downturn as deficit reduction, but they reject any real attempts to raise revenue that could be used to pay down the debt, keep schools open, or invest in America. Instead of raising $50 billion to pay down the debt, they are cutting $33.2 billion from food stamps that affect the poor and eliminate jobs in the food industry that shows their rudimentary arithmetic skills are lacking. Their agenda borders on fiscal absurdity coupled with a lack of compassion that Satan would envy.
Republican are clueless on how to reduce the nation’s deficit, but they know how to hurt the poor and that is their goal. Willard Romney and Paul Ryan’s grand economic schemes give trillions of dollars in tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans that far exceed their vicious cuts to social safety nets, and either plan will increase the deficit for decades, if not generations. However, their goal is rewarding the wealthy regardless of the deficit increase and it has been their go-to policy for over ten years if not longer. They are so single-minded in their push to heap more wealth on the rich, that they think their pattern of increasing the deficit for the sake of the wealthy will go unnoticed by average Americans, but Americans are watching and based on the latest polling, nearly three-quarters of the population oppose any more entitlement spending on the rich.
There is no rhyme or reason to the Republican economic plans if their goal is deficit reduction, but they have laid bare their intent to reward the wealthy despite the damage to the economy and especially 46.4 million Americans depending on food stamps for survival. However, those 46.4 million Americans vote the same as the 4,000 families who profit from the GOPs largesse with taxpayer dollars, and it is obvious that the Republican’s lack of rudimentary arithmetic skills is only matched by their lack of compassion, and electoral common sense. Cutting food stamps two months before the general election informs that their devotion to the wealthy has rendered them blind to the impending disaster they face in November, and killing the popular Buffett Rule indicates that besides being blind, they are pathologically stupid.