Deficit hawks are on the fly in Washington, madly screeching that America can no longer afford … well, the American people.
Having slashed taxes for the wealthiest 1 percent of our society, having lavished gabillions of dollars on unnecessary wars that enrich politically connected government contractors, having laid out trillions of dollars to bail out Wall Street’s casino banksters who crashed our real economy-Washington’s brave fighters for extending more of our nation’s wealth to the already-rich have suddenly turned into born-again budget whackers.
Are they cutting back on any of the above elites, you ask? What a joker you are! No, no – it’s regular folks who must pay the price for the decade of excess that these politicos lavished on the rich.
In recent weeks, for example, Republican senators have repeatedly blocked an extension of jobless benefits for America’s hardest-hit families. They’ve also denied aid that would keep states and cities from firing hundreds of thousands of teachers, police officers and other essential public employees. “Can’t afford it,” bellow these newly minted spendthrifts, even as their failure to act is intentionally increasing unemployment and economic pain across our land.
Governors are also running the same sort of budget scams on their people. Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, for example, recently dealt with his state’s deficit by slashing spending for public health, higher education, the elderly and the disabled. He then vetoed an income tax on his state’s richest people, declaring that this effort to balance the budget and share the pain was “nonsensical.” Likewise, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is terminating state workers while vetoing a tax hike on millionaires, calling the wealth tax “irresponsible.”
So, students, the lesson here is that public spending is only sensible if it goes to the moneyed elites, and budget cuts are only good when applied to the rest of us.
Jim Hightower, an OtherWords columnist, is a radio commentator, writer and public speaker. He’s also editor of the populist newsletter, The Hightower Lowdown.