I received an email from Senator Hatch (R-UT) about his submission of a Constitution Amendment requiring a balanced budget. I found it interesting that his examples of states that don’t require balanced budgets were Vermont, Switzerland, and Germany, all of which are in better shape than the rest of the country.
This is my email response to both Senators Hatch and Cornyn. Yes, I really sent it. If you agree and want to send a copy of it to your senator or to either of these senators, feel free.
I have received your political memo of January 29, 2001 and have a response.
I cannot in any way support a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution until common sense remedies that will work and are supported by a majority of Americans are instituted first.
The Republicans have such a deplorable record when it comes to debt and spending. I consider it hypocritical in the extreme that you and your party are pushing this as a Constitutional amendment.
The only time that Republicans care about the deficit is when the Democrats are in office, usually dealing with the deficits created by the previous Republican administrations. You were not concerned about Reagan or Bush II exponentially increasing the debt, but now you are. The pattern holds.
Democrats historically reduce the debt; Republicans historically increase it. Until that historical fact changes, your action is political grandstanding with no substance. We are beginning to recover, but this Amendment would throw out economy into rapid reverse again.
The debt would resolve itself if more people had money to put back into the economy. Many suggestions for easing the debt have been made and the ideas that would most effectively get the country going again have been ignored by Republicans. Some of these are:
1. Put people back to work and make it harder for corporations to continue outsourcing to China. People don’t care about the debt. They just want their jobs back.
“Jobs” is the Number 1 item of the list of priorities for American citizens and the debt is low on the list. Listen to the people. If more jobs are available there will be more money to spend and the economy will improve. Most of those on unemployment right now are there because of American Corporate outsourcing. With so many unemployed thanks to outsourcing, and with reductions in any aid to those left without jobs, it’s no wonder our economy is still struggling.
Remove subsidies or benefits to job killing corporations that outsource, or fine them, until they bring their business and jobs back home. Many of these corporations received federal funds, only to use them to build factories abroad. The money has benefited the CEOs and the foreign workers, not American citizens. They need incentives to keep business here, even if they are negative incentives. The money regained from this strategy could easily be used to create government jobs. You know, Government jobs with benefits. You have one.
Cutting government payrolls would be a huge mistake because those employed individuals support their families and spend money in local economies. They help keep us going. Ending those jobs further imperils our local and national economies.
The taxes we pay for government services are well worth what we receive. Outsourcing those jobs will be more costly and usually result in us having to pay more for the services. We pay less in taxes than we would for the privatized service. Government services are a bargain.
2. Rescind the Bush tax theft by the wealthy and big corporations. Those Santa Clause tax gifts were, and are, a large part of the reason the country descended from a Clinton budget surplus into the Bush debt. Put the top tax brackets back up. The wealthy and big corporations will stay wealthy. Much of their income is not earned but comes from investment.
In addition, the wealthy use many more public resources than the average American. More employees, police and fire protection, schools, roads, infrastructure, and many more –all to build and keep their wealth. If you bought all of what they use or own from a store, it would cost a fortune. It the tax system is it is as if the wealthy and corporations get to shop with no limit while they stiff the cashier and walk away with their loaded shopping carts.
It’s the same as shoplifting. It leaves the middle class or the working poor to pay their extravagant bill. It’s theft. The top 1% of earners and the corporations are stealing from the rest of us. This tax practice starves the system. It is breaking us. In some cases, it’s killing us.
I recently read that Paul Ryan’s plan for America includes a 5% increase in taxes on the poor and middle class and a decrease in the rate on the wealthiest 0.1% of taxpayers by 15%. If this is true, I’m afraid we will not survive.
How is this conscionable? The poor and middle class don’t want a handout, we just want to survive in a level playing field. Soon we won’t even be able to see the field.
3. Regulate the financial industry to restore balance and strengthen oversight. The recent findings of the bipartisan Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission show that the financial meltdown could have been prevented with better regulation and oversight. The deregulation that took place in the Clinton and Bush administrations led directly to the crisis. As we have so graphically seen in the last two years, regulations are essential to preventing the cheaters from winning. Bring back the Glass-Steagall Act and restore the safeguards that existed prior to Clinton’s presidency.
Deregulating essentially put the greedy, rabid foxes in charge of the henhouse. They succeeded in not only raiding it, but blaming the resulting misery on those it ravaged. Citizens were punished twice and the bandits not only got away with it not only Scott-free, they were, and are, rewarded for it.
A majority of Americans want more regulation of financial institutions to prevent future meltdowns. We also want the lawbreakers to go to jail for massive corruption, theft, destruction to American economy and for causing much human suffering.
4. End the wars as soon as possible and bring down military expenses. The Iraq and Afghanistan wars were started based on misinformation or outright lies and continue to massively drain our resources. The cost of the wars was never included in any planning during the Bush years – this was deceitful and distorted the amount of debt we incurred.
The wars were not paid for by increased tax revenues as had been done in previous generations. Bush II decreased taxes in the face of increased costs and the debt exploded.
Much of the reason the debt looks bigger now is because President Obama includes the war cost in the budget rather than ignoring it or trying to cover it up. Now we can truly see the effect of war on our economy. End the wars and bring the troops home.
5. Begin hiring people to rebuild the infrastructure – create more jobs. A government program such as the WPA during FDR’s time, a successful program in many ways, would employ people and improve conditions. The private sector can’t create jobs fast enough to keep up with the corporate outsourcing. More government jobs would a good first step.
This could even be done by ending the wars, bringing the troops home, and having them work here on infrastructure projects.
6. Do not repeal the Affordable Health Care Plan of President Obama. It’s a good first step toward solving many of the big problems in medical care we have. Insurance companies do not have anyone’s best interest at heart, only their profit margins. Obama’s plan is not a job killer. Your repeal of the act would kill more jobs that Obama’s plan, which would actually create jobs. You are not fooling us with the phony title of your bill.
7. Include a public option in the Affordable Health Care Plan, or extend Medicare to a larger segment of the population. This alone would save billions in health care. This option was supported by a majority of Americans when it was first suggested. Many people are opposed the current health care bill because this provision was eliminated, not because they oppose health care reform.
We are learning from the U.K. that austerity measures do not work to bring back a struggling economy. David Blanchflower said recently: “There is little historical precedent in the real world . . . to suggest that fiscal austerity works”.
I am not wealthy; therefore you no longer speak for me. You do not champion for people anymore. You champion extreme conservative ideology, corporate financing and big money. You are one of the conservative Republicans who speak for the wealthy, the corporations, and the big banks.
This country is composed of people. Corporations are cold-blooded entities that seem to view people as commodities to be exploited until empty and then the human shells discarded. We want our government by, for, and of THE PEOPLE back.
In my opinion, the Founding Fathers would be sick to see what is happening to this country today. Not because of the debt, but because of the near complete disenfranchisement of the people, mostly coming from the Republican side of the aisle. Democrats at least begin with the premise that government can help citizens rather than hurt them.
America is in trouble because for the past 30 years it has adhered in varying degrees to the Reagan policies and politics of scorning (or outright hating) government and turning that scorn into disdain for the poor and middle class. America won’t be great again until it rejects the onslaught of corporate overreaching and manipulation.
It won’t be great again until each politician is judged not by a bottom line or balance sheet, but by how many people got jobs, bought a house, paid fair taxes, enjoyed good food, received excellent education, and improved their lives under his or her term.
I’m afraid it might be a long time coming. I’m tired of the games. I’m sick of the empty political rhetoric about the Founding Fathers and American exceptionalism by people who have forgotten or never understood social or historical facts. I’m revolted by the lies and the manipulation and cruelty of the political right wing.
I no longer believe in you as a conservative Republican or what you stand for, but I believe in the goodness and the strong spirit of the American people. Unfortunately I also see tremendous forces pushing us down in a race to the bottom. I’m sorry to say I think you are one of them.