THE BLOG
06/30/2011 06:14 pm ET | Updated Aug 30, 2011

Anti-Tax Pols Should Look to the Greeks

Any U.S. Republican or Democrat who believes we can cut the deficit and balance the budget without a tax increase should listen closely to Greek protesters who ask "Why me?" when their government insists on austerity measures.

The Greek poor have a good argument if they haven't benefited from the huge debt their society built up before going bust over the last decade.

On the other hand, the hypocrisy of anti-tax politicians in Washington resounds all the louder because they ignored and allowed the speculative practices of Wall Street bankers and traders who got America into the mess we all find ourselves in today.

President Barack Obama took to the White House press-conference podium yesterday to scold Congress when he said, "These are bills that Congress ran up... Now they are saying, 'Maybe we don't have to pay.'"

Instead, the congressmen and -women who oppose raising taxes -- mostly Republicans but including some Democrats -- want to cut government spending to the bone, which means they want the burden of curing the deficit placed squarely on the backs of the middle class and the poor.

Not only did the poor draw no benefit at all from the wealth generated on Wall Street before 2008, but companies all across America whittled away at the middle class by eliminating jobs; cutting salaries; pushing people into part-time, no-benefits positions; increasing health-insurance co-pays and deductibles; and forcing employees out of defined-benefit pensions into 401ks where their retirements were put at risk by the same Wall Street traders who caused the 2008 crash.

But the "cut-spending-only-crowd" has yet another motive. Opposing increased revenues for government today essentially means the rich will escape paying the government back for Bush tax cuts that made them even more wealthy over the past 10 years. Anti-tax pols have but one constituency it seems: the people who fund their re-election campaigns year after year.

Because George W. Bush promoted a lack of dissent as the only true expression of patriotism in America while all that was happening, neither the poor nor the dwindling middle class took to the streets to protest their lot.

But the Greek rock-throwers offer a glimpse of what could happen in America as more of the poor get poorer; more of what's left of the middle class gets pushed into poverty; and the rich inexorably keep getting richer, as seems the goal of the current Republican majority in the House.

Revolutions get started in the back streets of any nation; and the middle class in the U.S. elected Obama to change things for the better, not worse. If anti-tax Republicans and Democrats believe the population of their country will remain somnolent forever they should look to Greece and the Arab Spring, then remember the anti-Vietnam-war demonstrations of the 1960s.

The people here are not afraid to peacefully stand up against their government. They just have to be pushed hard enough.