Tuesday, February 14, 2012


News that congressional GOPers are caving and likely to cave some more on the middle class tax cut extension and unemployment insurance extension may remove the last crisis they can precipitate before November.  But that didn't make them any more receptive to President Obama's budget announced Monday, with its economic and social vision: cut the federal budget deficit by $4 trillion over ten years, partly through letting the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy expire, but support the fragile economy recovery with investments in an America "built to last."

Those investments include education (particularly for community college job training), research and development, clean energy and infrastructure, including some $476 billion over six years for transportation projects.  Half the savings from ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan go to such investments, the other half to the deficit.  Military spending is curbed, while more money would go to agencies protecting the American people against financial skullduggery and on environmental safety. 

It includes money for manufacturing research and incentives for manufactures to stay in the U.S.  Also more support for public housing and to combat homelessness.  Tax proposals include the Buffet Rule to make sure the very wealthy pay their fair share--even on capital gains, Richie Richney's source of annual nearly tax-free millions.

Also notable: a $61 billion tax on bailed-out big banks as penalties for their role in the Great Recession, which will provide funds to help homeowners facing foreclosures,  and eliminating tax breaks for oil and coal companies.

The budget was automatically castigated by GOPers and pundified as partisan.  But maybe it's worth asking some questions about what it really proposes.  For example:

Why is it partisan--let alone wrong--to propose spending on stuff that's needed anyway now and putting off deficit reduction until the economy is stronger, when that's the textbook right response according to nearly every mainstream economist?  And it's been proven to work?  While cutting spending has been proven to fail?

What's your alternative to rebuilding infrastructure?  Letting it fall apart, letting the country fall behind until it's a pathetic hasbeen country with a few wealthy enclaves?   What's your alternative to education and research and development?  Can you make a real case that oil and gas companies dripping in money need special tax breaks? Or that North America should cede the rapidly growing global clean energy industry to Europe and Asia?  Or that the extremely wealthy will be deprived if they pay fair taxes, so the country that makes their riches possible, and the planet that makes their lives possible, can get some badly needed attention?  And do you think that the big banks should never pay even a little for what they did, while everybody else suffers from what the banks did?  

As President Obama said to a northern Virginia audience on Monday, "it's not class warfare.  It's common sense."

Common sense is a bit radical in the best of times it seems, but right now it seems absolutely alien.  But it is gaining attention and support, as are President Obama's proposals on creating jobs, fair taxes and building a future that lasts.  That's quite possibly why GOPers are changing the subject to their tried and true "cultural" issues.  Except they've all been tried.  So now the GOP leadership in Congress as well as presidential candidates are doubling down on a war against contraception.  A war they are losing within their own party.  And on that subject, here's another list of questions.     

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