The Republicans seem to have a bit of a problem these days with truth in advertising. Because, for all their nice soundbites and talking points about reducing the deficit and creating jobs, the Republican Roadmap to Prosperity is most notable for two things. If followed, it would increase the deficit and kill American jobs.
The GOP's widely advertised, surefire method of deficit reduction is not unlike those late night TV infomercials that claim "you can shed those ugly pounds fast without dieting or exercise!" Ask any real doctor and they will tell you that without a responsible program of exercise and diet, the only surefire path to weight loss would be disease. And in fact, a grim variety of social illness is pretty much what the Republicans are pitching. They are trying to sell you a plan to put all the burden of getting our financial house in order on the middle class, the poor, the disadvantaged, the infirm and the elderly.
That's because the real pain of the GOP budget cuts will fall most heavily on them. And as economist James Kwak has pointed out -- budget cuts can work just the same as tax increases. In the end, it's all about who feels the pain. Under the GOP plan, it's the middle class and below who are in for some serious pain.
Beginning with the 2011 budget cuts, programs will be slashed that help to feed poor women and children, retrain the unemployed for jobs, treat and prevent HIV AIDS, viral hepatitis, STDs and tuberculosis. There are cuts to local aid and mass transit and to programs for public housing. Over the next 10 years, seniors and the disabled would be hit with much higher out-of-pocket health care costs. There are cuts in programs that mentor the children of prisoners, at a time when there is a record number in prison.
As Nobel Prize winning economist Paul Krugman has said, it almost appears as if the whole goal of the GOP budget plan is not to reduce the deficit, but to transfer income upward.
When it comes to job creation, Moody's Chief Economist Mark Zandi has said: The House Republicans' original budget proposal for 2011 would have meant 700,000 fewer jobs by the end of 2012.
And given all their talk of deficit reduction, what's especially disturbing is that in addition to producing greater pain and fewer jobs, the CBO found that by the end of the 10-year budget window, the GOP plan would actually produce a bigger deficit. Public debt would be higher than it would be if the GOP just did nothing.
Under the GOP plan, it is also highly likely that the level of poverty and the degree of economic inequality would increase. The U.S. is now about the 42nd most unequal nation in the world. The net worth of our nation's 400 wealthiest individuals already exceeds the net worth of half of all American households. And yet the Republicans seem quite intent on shifting more wealth and income upward to the most fortunate.
As FDR said in his second inaugural speech: "The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little." In 2009, there were 43.6 million people in the US living in poverty. And the demographics of those poor may just surprise some people. Despite the "welfare-queen" stereotyping and the hate mongering you might hear on talk radio, the vast majority of the poor is native born. About 35 percent of them are children under 18. No matter what the Republicans say in their "infomercial," a budget that puts more of the pain and shifts more of the strain onto the poor and the middle class, is not the way to grow the economy or create jobs.
Not long ago Politifact.org fact checked my statement that Democratic presidents "have been considerably more effective at creating private-sector jobs." I am proud to say that they rated it as totally true. Going all the way back to World War II.
And I am confident that we can do it again, if we do it the Democratic way. We can move the nation toward renewed prosperity. And we can take everyone with us, not just the lucky few. And that my friends, is the truth.
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