Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

March 12, 2013

We the People: (I Don't Want No) Sequestration

By John Wund
Chronicle contributor

CROSSVILLE — (Sing title to tune of “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction”)

On March 1, the Federal “sequestration” budget went into effect. Almost everyone now agrees that it is not good. After all, why else would politicians be trying to blame each other for its passage?

One problem with continuing the “sequester” is that everything is cut without setting priorities, a stupid way to plan a budget. A far more serious problem is that it will lead to the loss of about 700,000 jobs. The job losses will be felt by police, firefighters, teachers, road builders, and other workers who are supported, in part, by Washington subsidies. The rest of our community will also be affected as laid-off workers cut spending and begin drawing unemployment benefits. In a weak middle-class economy, cutting jobs isn’t smart.

But, what other options do we have?

There’s the “trust me” Ryan/Romney budget. Based on the Ryan Budget, it would preserve corporate subsidies, probably reduce capital gains taxes, eliminate inheritance tax on estates over 5 million, and balance the budget (by the 2030s, maybe) by cutting government services (jobs), Social Security and Medicare benefits. According to the CBO, for the first ten years the Republican plan would actually increase the debt by 6 trillion dollars.

Then, there’s the “Obama, Bowles-Simpson Plan” (B.S. plan) that also puts Social Security and Medicare cuts “on the table,” but increases top tax rates for Richie Rich by 3 percent or so. But even this weak-tea Obama plan was too much for Republican billionaires to stomach. And, so, the “sequester” kicked the can down the road, again.

But there is a fourth plan. This detailed budget actually increases spending on infrastructure (transportation, education, etc.). It creates rather than cuts jobs. It maintains current Social Security and Medicare benefit levels and introduces a “Public” healthcare option that would pay physicians 5% more than Medicare. And, it actually eliminates deficits in only ten years by cutting military pork, increasing taxes on millionaires and billionaires and raising the cap on payroll taxes so people earning up to $190,000 pay the same rate as you do.

When people were polled by Business Insider, a significant plurality thought the provisions in this fourth budget were best. Republicans actually liked this plan as well as their own, and Democrats and Independents liked it far better than any other approach.

So, why didn’t you hear about it?

The Business Insider poll was “blind.” Judged only by budget provisions, without knowing which group wrote them, people chose the budget proposed by the House Progressive Caucus.

Perhaps we are so tribal that we would rather shoot ourselves in the foot than admit that someone from another tribe has a good idea. Or, perhaps, we will learn what is best for ourselves and our society and stop letting labels divide us.

It’s up to you. Most people prefer the Progressive Budget to banking loopholes, corporate welfare and cuts in Social Security and jobs. Most people want to eliminate the deficit quickly. If you’re one of them, contact Representative Black and demand that she support a budget for the people, not just the 1%.

You can find the Progressive budget here: http://cpc.grijalva.house.gov/balancing-act/.