Republicans Hold Country Hostage Over Debt Ceiling
Every single time a debt ceiling limit came up for a raise during President Bush’s presidency, the Republican-led Congress happily signed off on it, content to watch Bush’s wars and tax cuts bankrupt the country. Of course, in step with typical Republican hypocrisy, now that a Democrat is in the White House, the Republican-controlled House refuses to approve a raise of the debt ceiling unless massive cuts to social security, Medicare, and Medicaid are included.
Balancing our nation’s budget and reducing our deficit are both very important issues. Yet in times of recession, it is highly unwise to drastically cut spending, especially for social programs that Americans have been relying on since the Great Depression. President Obama and most Congressional Democrats are open to a compromise, including a mix of tax reforms and spending cuts. Yet compromise is a dirty word to Republicans, especially those subscribing to the vile politics of the Tea Party. Virtually every Republican in the House and a large percentage in the Senate have taken any tax reform or increase off the table completely.
In effect, the House Republicans of the Tea Party have held the nation’s debt ceiling hostage unless they get exactly what they want: namely, massive benefits to cuts that middle-class Americans depend on. Once again, President Obama is forced to deal with a faction of lawmakers that have absolutely no interest in solving any of the nation’s pressing issues. In fact, the stated goal of Mitch McConnell, the Republican Minority Leader in the Senate, is to make Barack Obama a one-term President.
Since President Obama assumed office, the Republicans have consistently opposed him on every endeavor that he has tackled. They have even fought Obama on issues that Republicans have always supported in the past. For example, we saw the phenomenon of a conservative health care bill that was a disappointment to most liberals being called a socialist takeover of medicine by the Republicans.
This latest Republican hypocrisy simply proves what should be common knowledge by now to educated voters-- the Republican Party is the Party of the rich, by the rich, and for the rich. The GOP is fighting tooth and nail to protect President Bush’s tax cuts for the richest Americans. According to the Congressional Budget Office, the Bush Tax Cuts added almost $3 trillion to our nation’s deficit. Combine this with President Bush’s trillion-dollar wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and it is no mystery exactly who is responsible for the crushing debt that our nation is currently experiencing.
Years later, with a Democrat in the White House, and the Republicans in Congress have completely changed their tune. Suddenly, the large debt is President Obama’s fault. It would seem that the first logical step to lowering the national debt would be to repeal the Bush tax cuts on the richest Americans. These billionaires were doing quite well under President Clinton, under whom we had record surpluses. Paying 3% extra in taxes a year will not affect Bill Gates and Warren Buffet whatsoever. It is time for shared sacrifice, and the first to sacrifice should be the richest Americans who have benefited so much from this great country. Another logical step would be to close tax loopholes, which allow most United States corporations to pay virtually no income taxes.
Yet the Republicans refuse to even entertain either of these ideas. They would rather cut home heating oil benefits for poverty-stricken Americans than introduce a luxury tax on yachts for millionaires. Republicans do not call rich people what they are: rich. Instead, they prefer to bestow the title of “job creators” on the rich. They believe that the more money we throw at the rich, the more money will ‘trickle down’ to the rest of us.
Yet taxes are currently at their lowest rates in 50 years, and we still have rampant unemployment that shows no signs of improving. The economy under President Clinton, with slightly higher taxes, created 23 million jobs. The economy under President Bush, with the tax rates that we currently have, created only 3 million jobs. The Republican economic policy is wrong for reducing the deficit, and it is wrong for most Americans. The rich can and should continue to vote Republican in good conscience. Their taxes will be almost nonexistent, and they will continue to be lauded as heroes. Yet for the non-millionaires, voting Republican will only lead to the same failed policies that brought us into recession in the first place.