fresh voices from the front lines of change







The Republican leaders in both houses of Congress are getting clearer what their alternative economic strategy is:

Giant tax cuts for multimillionaires minus slashed public services for the middle-class minus letting our infrastructure rot equals even bigger budget deficits than today.

The Washington Post estimates that Sen. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s plan to permanently extend all the Bush tax cuts would “force the nation to borrow an additional $3.9 trillion over the next decade” and that’s “more than four times the projected deficit impact of President Obama’s health-care overhaul and stimulus package combined.”

(The health-care overhaul, of course, is projected to cut the deficit.)

W. Post’s Ezra Klein adds: “There is no policy that President Obama has passed or proposed that added as much to the deficit as the Republican Party’s $3.9 trillion extension of the Bush tax cuts.”

But conservative budgeteering is not all giveaways to the wealthy. McConnell’s House counterpart Rep. John Boehner is proposing to cut spending too . He wants to fix spending levels to where they were in 2008 — ignoring things like inflation and population growth – to save $340 billion over the next decade.

While Boehner is not candid enough to detail what exactly would get cut, The Fiscal Times concluded the Boehner budget would ” require deep cuts in basic services and big projects.”

NASA would have to slash its budget by $4.1 billion below President Obama’s request – an amount that administration officials said would be equal to what NASA spends on the international space station and on aeronautics research.

The Internal Revenue Service would have to cut spending by $3 billion. That might require a reduction in enforcement, at a time when the agency is already struggling to narrow a $290 billion “tax gap” – taxes owed but not paid.

The National Science Foundation would have to cut at least $1.5 billion – an amount equal to all its funding on research in biology and engineering. Alternatively, according to Obama administration officials, the NSF could eliminate all its education programs and all of its research facilities in Antarctica.

The Securities and Exchange Commission, which was eviscerated by budget cuts earlier in the decade and came in for savage criticism under the Bush administration for failing to catch massive stock swindles or to curb Wall Street risk-taking, would have to retrench once again. …

…The spending cuts would almost certainly hit federal prison spending, which has seen its budget climb from $5 billion in 2008 to $8.5 billion in 2010, as the nation’s population of prison inmates has soared.

Yet despite that severe impact to basic services, the deep spending cuts are nowhere near deep enough to offset the huge tax cuts.

This gets a little complicated, but bear with me.

$3.9 trillion in tax cuts.

Minus $340 billion in spending cuts.

Equals $3.56 trillion added to the national debt over the next decade.

Of course, you can argue that increasing the deficit sometimes make sense – like when you invest in modernizing infrastructure to propel future growth and reduce health and environmental costs.

But Boehner and McConnell have repeatedly criticized the President for supporting policies that increase deficit –even though in many cases those policies are doing the exact opposite.

So they are not openly embracing bigger deficits. Yet that’s what their stated policies would do.

And they would pile on the national debt without getting anything in return to strengthen our nation’s foundation and prepare the next generation to compete in the 21st century.

It literally does not add up.

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