As folks inside the beltway battle over the fiscal showdown, it gave me pause to think what this fight is really all about. And it all boils down to if you believe in community or not.
The Republicans have latched on to this myth that what makes America work is having the lowest tax rates while paying workers the lowest wages. We all know that is not the case. Many progressive pundits often point to the fact that when the top marginal tax rates have been the highest, our country has experienced it's most robust economic growth. While the progressive in me wants to look at it analytically and say yes, it was these higher top tax rates that enabled greater investment in the economy which spurred the growth. But it's more than just the tax rates, it was our commitment to community.
The country made a commitment to strong community and this created robust growth. It is the idea that when we all succeed, we succeed together that makes this country great. When we act as a community and legislate for the greater good of all, not just the special few, we see the entire country prosper. Nearly a century ago, America created a generational contract that has become one of the greatest accomplishments of this country. When Franklin Roosevelt said we are all in this together, he backed it up with programs that invest our success and prosperity from one generation to another. It was during these times we saw the creation of programs like Medicare and Social Security that promised Americans after a life time of service and hard work you deserve to retire with dignity. It was during these times of commitment to community we saw one of the largest investments in infrastructure in our nation's history -- the interstate highway system which provided decades of economic growth for generations to come.
Put simply, when we work together as a community, we can build a generation more successful than the one that came before, and still care for the generation that built the next.
The 2012 election asked Americans the question, do you care about community? And the American people responded with a resounding yes. It is why progressive heroes like Sherrod Brown and Tammy Baldwin won in battleground states like Ohio and Wisconsin, why Elizabeth Warren was America's most widely supported Senate candidate, and it is why president Obama was reelected to a second term. The American people said they have had enough of the failed Bush Era policies that benefit only a select, privileged few while leaving the larger American Community out in the cold.
Unfortunately, the GOP did not get the message. They're willing to butcher vital programs millions of Americans rely on like Medicare, to save the failed Bush Tax Cuts for the top two percent. Talk about a lack of priorities.
Many Republicans, and unfortunately even some misguided Democrats, may ask "why protect Medicare?" The answer is simple: we as a civilized society have made a choice, that there must be some minimal level of decency that no American fall below. We owe it to all Americans to say even as you age out of the work force, you are not forgotten. When we are working, you are not just working for yourself, but working for the greater good of our community. It's this community that makes America great, and Medicare is a key building block of this commitment to community.
That is why our members here at Democracy for America are telling Harry Reid to reject any deal that includes cuts to Medicare. And the response has been over whelming. In the first 24 hours over 50,000 people added their name to the petition saying "No deal is better than a bad deal." You can see the petition here.
This past fall showed us that when progressives unite, we can take and keep important policies off the table. We organized and soundly rejected the Romney tax plan (which is nearly identical to what Republicans continue to propose). Progressives came out in such force against the Bush Tax Cuts and trickle-down economics that even President Obama has drawn a hard line in the sand on taxes. It is now up to us to once again organize and mobilize. We have the strong hand, and we must not let fellow Democrats cave in and sacrifice the value of community we hold dear. That is why we must not cut Medicare.
Follow Arshad Hasan on Twitter: www.twitter.com/@DFAaction