As an initial matter, I have to give Rep Paul Ryan (R-WI) credit for being the first one out of the gate, knowing full well that everyone's going to distance themselves from him over time, including - perhaps especially - the Republicans, who are going to have to start courting seniors again after duping them in to voting for them in 2010. There's nothing about Ryan's proposal for anyone, left or right, to like - but at least he started the conversation, something everyone else in Washington has been too cowardly to do, including, by the way, President Obama. And, for the record, to those who accuse me of never giving him any credit (as if my vote in 2000 wasn't enough), that excludes George W. Bush, who suffered the ill effects of daring to touch the 3rd rail of politics as he was spending whatever political capital he had in reserve for the 11 months between his re-election and the onslaught of Hurricane Katrina.
We can quibble back and forth for literally decades about the size and role of government, the solvency of the Treasury, funding NPR versus funding the creationism-teaching Liberty University to the tune of $500 million, whether healthcare is a right or a privilege, and all of the other hackneyed debates that have consumed the nation for the last 30 years, however; that doesn't move the conversation forward one bit.
The bottom line is that any plan to restore fiscal sanity to Washington that doesn't include increasing taxes on the very wealthy, doesn't end corporate welfare - particularly oil and gas subsidies to companies whose quarterly profits outmatch the annual GDP of most nations, doesn't seriously close the types of loopholes that allowed G.E. to pay $0 in taxes last year and which doesn't even consider cuts to our obscenely bloated defense budget while, at the same time, seeks to gut programs that are relied upon by millions of Americans is simply not serious. In fact, it's immoral.
It is a conservative fantasy that you can keep cutting taxes and continue to increase revenue, particularly with real unemployment continuing at such high levels today. We're well past the point of diminishing returns and every serious economist in the world knows full well that taxes are going to have to be raised because cutting funding to Sesame Street doesn't amount to a hill of beans if you're serious about addressing our $14+ Trillion national disgrace.
Before a single teacher is fired, before a single elderly person loses health coverage, before a single worker loses unemployment benefits while the job market continues to lay in ruins by the greed of Wall Street and the incompetence of Washington, the top 1% that controls 40% of the nation's wealth is going to have to pay a little more.
Accuse me of class warfare all you want - in case you haven't noticed, we've been at war for 30 years and we (those of us who aren't millionaires or billionaires) are losing. Badly. If staggering wealth inequality is at the root of the revolutions we're seeing sweep across the Middle East, how much longer do you think the people of this country are going to put up with the continued raping and pillaging of the middle class, working class and the poor? If history is any guide - and it usually is - the ultra-regressive right and the uber-wealthy elites are going to either step up and get serious, or they're going to find themselves on the business end of a pitchfork one day. That's not a call for violence - it's a prediction of the inevitable.
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"The bottom line is that any plan to restore fiscal sanity to Washington that doesn't include increasing taxes on the very wealthy"
Good luck raising taxes on them when they are living overseas.
"or they're going to find themselves on the business end of a pitchfork one day."
- And you'll find yourself in handcuffs at the discretion of the police department, looking at a 5-7 year sentence.