Monday, August 1, 2011

Canadian Political Analyst Linda McQuaig Weighs in on the US Debt Ceiling Bill

Linda McQuaig nails it with her Toronto Sun article. Here is the key bit:
Tycoons laughing all the way to the bank

But as the stakes rose in the bizarre negotiations over the country’s debt ceiling, the Republicans managed to push reluctant Democrats into taking all tax increases off the table. All deficit reduction was to come exclusively from government spending cuts, hitting the middle and lower classes hard.

Perhaps this seems like evidence of how resistant Americans are to tax increases. In fact, it shows no such thing. Rather, it shows how a band of far-right Republican Tea Party extremists — financed initially by the billionaire Koch brothers — have managed to effectively take control of the U.S. political system and block the will of the American people.

For the past two years, Americans have repeatedly told pollsters that they support higher taxes on the rich as a way to reduce the deficit. A Washington Post poll last month, for instance, found 72 per cent supported raising taxes on those earning more than $250,000.

The battle over whether to cut spending or raise taxes predates the birth of Elvis. But for decades, compromise was found between the Democrats’ support for social spending and the Republican desire to lower taxes, particularly on the rich.

That changed in the mid-1990s, with the rise of a more radical, aggressive Republican flank. Led by Newt Gingrich and backed by big corporate money, these radicals adopted a no-compromise approach, obstructing all Democratic efforts to enhance social spending, while relentlessly pushing for ever lower taxes, regardless of the impact on the deficit.

Since then, the Republicans have grown ever more extreme, intransigent — and flagrantly indifferent to the public good.

Once the party of Eisenhower-style moderation and fiscal restraint, the Republicans have become the party of big deficits — mostly due to tax giveaways for the rich.

Inheriting a surplus, George W. Bush added $5.07 trillion to the debt, primarily due to his tax cuts and secondarily to his wars, while Obama has added just $1.44 trillion, mostly fighting the recession, according to data from the Washington-based Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.


But a radical rump of Republicans, threatening to pull the trigger, succeeded in forcing Democrats to abandon tax increases on the wealthy — at a time when America’s wealthy are as rich as the tycoons of the Gilded Age. Feeling the gun at their temples, the Democrats joined the Republicans in the quest for deeper spending cuts — which will only make the disastrous U.S. unemployment situation worse.

So while programs helping students, the elderly and the poor have been picked over with surgical precision, hedge fund managers can get back to work destabilizing financial markets with full peace of mind, knowing they’ll continue to enjoy a tax rate lower than the mechanics who service their private jets.
What I see is a country with two right wing parties. One explicit pro-big business. The other pretends to care for the interests of the bottom 90% but when push comes to shove, they drop the pretense and join their fellow right wing party and vote to cut government in order to preserve the privileges of the billionaires with a "top rate" of 15% and corporations, like GE, that pay no taxes. Instead, both of these clown parties are willing to vote to reduce retirement benefits, remove medical care, cut education, dismantle government services so they can maintain the lucrative wars that keep big defense "industries" busily making billions in profits.

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