From this column entitled The Bipartisan March Towards Fiscal Madness—
It is obvious that the nation’s desperate fiscal condition requires higher taxes on the middle class, not just the richest 2 percent. Likewise, entitlement reform requires means-testing the giant Social Security and Medicare programs, not merely squeezing the far smaller safety net in areas like Medicaid and food stamps.Unfortunately, in proposing tax increases only for the very rich, President Obama has denied the first of these fiscal truths, while Representative Paul D. Ryan, the chairman of the House Budget Committee, has contradicted the second by putting the entire burden of entitlement reform on the poor. The resulting squabble is not only deepening the fiscal stalemate, but also bringing us dangerously close to class war. This lamentable prospect is deeply grounded in the policy-driven transformation of the economy during recent decades that has shifted income and wealth to the top of the economic ladder. While not the stated objective of policy, this reverse Robin Hood outcome cannot be gainsaid: the share of wealth held by the top 1 percent of households has risen to 35 percent from 21 percent since 1979, while their share of income has more than doubled to around 20 percent….In attacking the Bush tax cuts for the top 2 percent of taxpayers, the president is only incidentally addressing the deficit. The larger purpose is to assure the vast bulk of Americans left behind that they will be spared higher taxes — even though entitlements make a tax increase unavoidable. Mr. Obama is thus playing the class-war card more aggressively than any Democrat since Franklin D. Roosevelt — surpassing Harry S. Truman or John F. Kennedy when they attacked big business or Lyndon B. Johnson or Jimmy Carter when they posed as champions of the little guy. On the other side, Representative Ryan fails to recognize that we are not in an era of old-time enterprise capitalism in which the gospel of low tax rates and incentives to create wealth might have had relevance. A quasi-bankrupt nation saddled with rampant casino capitalism on Wall Street and a disemboweled, offshored economy on Main Street requires practical and equitable ways to pay its bills…So the Ryan plan worsens our trillion-dollar structural deficit and the Obama plan amounts to small potatoes, at best. Worse, we are about to descend into class war because the Obama plan picks on the rich when it should be pushing tax increases for all, while the Ryan plan attacks the poor when it should be addressing middle-class entitlements and defense.”
Nobody is telling us the truth on any of this stuff. Which makes sense in a way I suppose because the American people don’t want to know the truth on these budget matters.
Beyond President Obama’s lack of candor, one thing we must acknowledge right away is that Representative Paul Ryan’s budget plan is evil.
The Ryan plan is an assault on the poor, and it is an affirmation of a states rights/small federal government viewpoint that has always been the hallmark of the most regressive and narrow political elements in our nation.
You can bet that if we go backwards on our social safety net, we will also go backwards on civil rights, worker’s rights, and all sorts of personal freedoms. The states rights/small federal government view of our nation has always been accompanied with severe restrictions on the liberty of Americans not seen as equal by the political supporters of extreme limited government.
You can care about the budget deficit and still see the Paul Ryan plan for what it is. The Republican idea for our nation is no more than giving money to the few at the expense of the many, and weakening government to the point where the people will have no chance against big wealth. It is an evil plan and we should not be afraid to say so.
Nor should we be afraid to ask Barack Obama and other elected Democrats to tell us the truth.
Most of all, we should not be afraid to ask ourselves and our fellow citizens to do what is required to meet the challenges of the day.