Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has been making all the Sunday morning rounds today, and his repeated talking point is that “the tax debate is over,” settled business, and we need to get to the real problem with the debt and deficit– Spending!
Oh, sure, we could cut our way to prosperity and deficit reduction through more revenue-neutral revenue generation(?) just like House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan has offered with a straight face, or we could be paying people less to do more work by abolishing collective bargaining, or fire 600,000 teachers and government workers, maybe repeal of the Affordable Care Act in all its deficit-neutral glory, and oh yeah, we could privatize healthcare and retirement security for the elderly– Just for starters.
Or we could face the fact that since Ronald Reagan, everything the Republican party has tried to do for jobs and the economy has been a maniacal comedy of errors– leading to wars, debt, recession, and unprecedented income inequality.
So here’s a revolutionary idea: How about reducing unemployment to reduce the deficit a little more before we run through the government safety net with a chainsaw and a mask made out of human flesh?
Because there’s a relationship between unemployment and deficits:
When the unemployment rate rises, so does the deficit. It’s simple logic. Get people working, increase tax revenue, reduce deficit. In the chicken or the egg debate, unemployment is laying the deficit egg.
And because the deficit as a percent of GDP has been shrinking at its fastest pace since World War II, we don’t have a spending problem as much as we still have a revenue problem. Forget about taxing Wall Street trading activity, or closing corporate tax loop holes, and going after off shore tax havens. No. Republicans are of course insisting that revenue is no longer the case after they put that baby to bed in the ‘Fiscal Cliff’ deal, the greatest achievement in Republican party history since blowing up the debt and deficit in the first place, so they’re now focusing full speed ahead on the opportunity of the upcoming debt ceiling debate to raise the retirement and eligibility age for Medicare and Social Security for millions of Americans– an End-Of-Your-Life tax. A Near-Death tax, if you will, that seeks to prevent America’s seniors, already competing for those real good greeter jobs at Walmart, from leaving the workforce early enough to still enjoy the few relatively good years they have left in their near-poverty retirement. “Not so fast, Grandma and Grandpa! Back on the line! We’ve got this here recession on and people are out of work. The deficit has spoken and you’ll just have to put in a few more years on the job if you ever want to see your freedom.”
Changing the rules and screwing over retiring workers is just about par for the course for today’s Republican party. They’ll revoke collective bargaining which diminishes redress in the workplace– weakening job security, wages, benefits, and income stability– and force you to put in a couple more years to cover their historical malfeasance.
You want to reduce the deficit, you have to first recognize that we have an historic unemployment problem:
We don’t have a spending problem. We have an unemployment problem. When the free market cannot meet the demand for jobs, retirement security, healthcare, infrastructure and education– it is the responsibility, the obligation, of the people’s government to meet that demand.