Opinion by Patricia L Johnson
When it comes to politics, voters have many different levels of interest, so I’ll only list a few. We have voters that spend a considerable amount of time paying attention to what goes on in the political arena on an hourly/daily basis. There are those that read the news every once in a while and basically rely on someone else’s opinion when making decisions on how to vote. And finally you have those that live in a world totally devoid of politics. You almost have to envy the last group because in some ways you can live a more peaceful existence by not knowing what’s happening in this country.
Some political issues can’t be ignored and when August 2, 2011 rolled around I don’t think there was anyone in this country, or the world that wasn’t sitting on pins and needles wondering whether or not the Tea-Party Republicans were going to lead this country into default over the debt-ceiling crisis.
The crisis was finally resolved with the passage of The Budget Control Act of 2011, P.L. 112-25. This bill passed the Senate on February 17, 2011, but the U.S. House would not pass it until August 1, 2011, with an amendment which meant it had to go back to the Senate. The Senate concurred on the House amendment the same day and on August 2, 2011 the bill was signed into law by President Obama, exactly one day before the U.S. would default.
The antics of the Tea-Party Republicans created serious consequences for our country due to the fact Standard and Poor’s downgraded our AAA rating. There are 87 first-term Republicans in the 112th Congress, which equates to approximately 36% of U.S. House Republican members. They went into the House believing they could reduce spending yet appear to have tunnel vision. They are so hell bent on reducing spending they can’t seem to see the forest for the trees.
We started out in February of 2010 with the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform [the Simpson-Bowles Commission]. That didn’t work so we went to the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction [the 12-member Super Committee] which didn’t work either. No one could agree on anything when it came to spending cuts/tax increases.
In the interim, during the negotiations that actually began early in 2011, it was agreed, on August 2, 2011, by both the Republicans and the Democrats that for Fiscal Year 2013 [beginning October 1, 2012] discretionary spending would be $1.047 trillion dollars.
Actually, it’s not just an ‘agreement’, it’s the law. It’s very clear in The Budget Control Act of 2011 as follows:
$686,000,000,000 plus $361,000,000,000 is $1.047 trillion dollars, compared to $1,043 trillion dollars for FY 2012 and $1.066 trillion dollars for FY 2014.
Representative Paul Ryan submitted the Republican budget for 2013 this morning and it contains proposals for two tax rates, 10% and 25% [apparently without levels for each bracket]. It proposes eliminating the Alternative Minimum Tax; it proposes reducing the top corporate tax rate from 25% to 35% and it will have significant changes to Medicare.
According to the WSJ article GOP Budgets Taxes [written prior to the release of the budget] their new budget will also propose lower discretionary spending for FY 2013, from the previously agreed upon $1,047 trillion to a proposed $1.028 trillion or a reduction of $19 billion. However, Table S-4 of their plan indicates their plan is to actually reduce discretionary spending by $38 billion dollars.
Obviously the 10% and 25% tax rates are going to be appealing to some voters, but it will also reduce revenues by an estimated $4 trillion dollars over the next 10-years.
If you’ll recall correctly the primary reason why the very first tax cut was issued under President Bush was to return to the people the excess amount of money that had been accumulated under President Clinton. If you remember we had a large budget surplus when Clinton left office [$236 billion] the problem is that surplus was completely wiped out with the first year of Bush tax cuts. Additional tax cuts added to the deficit and subsequently added to the national debt year after year and continue to add to yearly deficits because the tax cuts are still in place, which is exactly why we’re in the financial mess we’re in now.
Seems the simple way to get the point across to the voters in this country is to ask one simple question. Are you better off now, still operating under the tax cuts and loopholes put in place by the Republicans under President George W. Bush that are still in place, or were you better off with the tax plan put in place during the Clinton years with a low tax rate of 15% and a high rate of 39.6% and reasonable rates for capital gains, inheritance taxes, etc.?
Apparently the Republicans have decided we no longer need the U.S. Supreme Court either as their new budget calls for -0- expenditures [Table S-5] for what they are calling “President’s Health Care Law”. They are probably referring to Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, Public Law 111-148 [March 23, 2010] which is before the Supreme Court to determine the legality of mandatory premiums for beneficiaries and has not as yet been decided.
The Republican tactic for the 112th Congress has been to basically blackmail the Democrats into agreeing to this or that demand, in order to provide benefits to the people in this country that need the extra help to keep from going under. I’m referring to the millions that lost their jobs due to policies put in place by the prior administration. There are certain things these people need to survive and fortunately the Democrats [and some well-meaning Republicans] have been there for them – at a great cost to the country.
How many bills could have been processed creating jobs for the unemployed, while Republicans were wasting legislation time on things like extended unemployment benefits?
How many more days are going to be wasted by the Republicans pushing for reduced spending on a bill that was already agreed to and passed last year?
© 2012 Patricia L Johnson