Republican budget guru Paul Ryan boasts that the budget passed by House Republicans is this generation's "defining moment" and "keeps America exceptional." Ryan is 100 percent right because the GOP plan makes the United States exceptional... as the only developed nation in the world that aspires to be Kazakhstan.
A half-century ago, when the nation faced a similar debt burden, a Republican president told that nation that it was in the "vital interest of every citizen in a safe and adequate highway system" and launched the Interstate Highway System, which significantly reduced costs and increased productivity of American industry. Today, with our highways crumbling and over one in 10 bridges structurally impaired, the Republican's Borat budget cuts transportation infrastructure spending by 37 percent when even deficit hawks recognize the need for increased investment.
The debt burden did not prevent the past generation from investing in its greatest resource -- its people -- with programs such as the G.I. Bill which yielded a return to the government of nearly $7 for every dollar spent. The Borat budget, however, cuts education and training investment per capita by 53 percent.
In addition, at a time when the United States is ranked with China, Iran and Turkey for having one of the five worst food safety records, when nearly half of all beef sold in the United States is contaminated and 76 million Americans are sickened due to food borne illness each year (more than the population of California, Texas and New York combined), the Borat budget will result in the loss of approximately 600 food inspectors.
The same is true for water, workplace and product safety under the GOP budget. When you also consider the many cuts in social services at a time when we already are near last in overall social spending, poverty and income inequality among OECD nations, the Republican's Borat budget creates a poorer, more dangerous nation. In fact, economists predict that the Republican budget will cause an economic contraction that will kill nearly two million private sector jobs. But if you are a titan of industry you will benefit handsomely, as you will be lavished with more tax cuts and be able to conduct your business with less oversight.
Although our per capita income has nearly doubled in real terms since the Eisenhower years and we pay less in taxes, we appear to be afflicted with a deep poverty of vision and spirit. While past generations sacrificed to fight world wars and reach the moon, the Republican plan reflects a Katrina-esque vision of America that can watch indifferently as the nation decays and its citizens suffer.
The Republican's Borat plan will create an America with a patchwork of gated emerald cities that are surrounded by vast areas that more closely resemble the decrepit remnants of the Soviet empire than the America of our parents. It may not be Kazakhstan, but I do not think our parents ever envisioned that this generation's "defining moment" would be giving the next generation a deed to Americastan instead of the prosperous superpower we inherited.
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