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“No matter how cynical you get it is almost impossible to keep up” Lily Tomlin, comedian.
The Republican wrecking crew in Washington is busy with the 2018 “budget.” Actually what they passed is a non-binding budget resolution which lays out the “intent” regarding the actual budget bills to follow. The media headlines don't make this distinction. This entire process is rife with dishonesty.
The real intent of these radical ideologues, as it has been for decades, is simply to cut taxes. The tax cuts, once again, will benefit the very well off at the expense of the rest of us. Since Ronald Reagan tax cuts have been the Republican solution to every problem. Rather than honestly establishing spending priorities for 2018 (what a budget actually does) they are busy flim flamming the public with their perennial economic snake oil.
The radical Republicans are dishonest in proclaiming this a “pro-growth and pro-jobs legislative agenda.” They are claiming that tax cuts will “grow” the economy, produce more revenue, and create jobs. This fallacious “trickle down” theory doesn't work and has been widely discredited. If tax cuts actually produced “growth” we should have had a booming economy since 1980. After 40 plus years of cutting taxes one would think there would be some visible results from this tactic. But that has not been the case.
Their proposed budget does not “balance” until 2027. The federal discretionary budget is suppose to be for one fiscal year. Not ten years. They have no control over the actions of Congress (or the spending needs) over the next 10 years. Creating a “budget” that requires someone else to make the cuts in spending for up to 10 years in the future is simply dishonest. It is not a budget for fiscal year 2018.
The wrecking crew is also dishonest (and hypocritical) in ignoring the logical results of their tax cuts. The latest estimate by the Congressional Budget Office is that their proposals will add $1.7 trillion to the national debt. Bemoaning government spending, deficits, and the national debt is a Republican tradition. Except for when they are creating the problem. This also is not new. The Reagan and both Bush administrations all had large deficits that increased the total national debt. And the cause was primarily tax cuts.
The flim flam continues with verbal attacks on “entitlements.” This is a code word for Social Security and Medicare. “Entitlements” have a nasty, negative sound to them that conjures up images of welfare queens and “takers” mooching off the “hard working” taxpayers. But Social Security has never contributed a dime to the national debt. It is the largest single expenditure of the federal government. But these EARNED benefits are paid for in advance by payroll contributions. It is a trust fund set aside for everyone's retirement. This fund does not impact on annual budgets and the cuts can not be used for other purposes. Claiming Social Security cuts are necessary is a dishonest smoke screen. Entitlements are actually good. Because these required payments are part of MANDATORY spending they can not be denied because of the whims of the politicians. Congress does not authorize these payments in the annual discretionary budget. These payments are EARNED benefits and must be paid. Interest on the national debt, veterans retirements, and Medicare are also part of mandatory spending. So Grandma, veterans, and government bond holders do not get screwed because Congress failed to do its job.
The most egregious dishonestly is ignoring the elephant in the budget room. The real driver of budget problems is the bloated Pentagon and war spending. For decades the Department of Defense has eaten over 50% of the discretionary budget. Total “national security” spending is close of 85%. Along with war spending, this is the primary reason for deficits and debt. The latest estimate of the cost the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is $5.6 trillion. WAR AND MILITARY SPENDING ARE THE EPICENTER OF WASTE AND FRAUD IN GOVERNMENT SPENDING. The Department of Defense is the only federal agency too screwed up to be audited. But instead of bringing some sense and proper procedure to defense spending they propose INCREASING it further (another standard Republican knee jerk position). Any honest effort to reform government spending would deal with the excessive Pentagon spending.
The radical Republicans also claim tax cuts are necessary as a first step in overall tax reform. This is another phony rhetorical position by the radicals. Their promises to reduce the the massive tax code to allow filing your taxes with a post card is simply dishonest. There is no way these politicians are going to enact serious reductions in the various tax loopholes, subsidies, special interest giveaways, and corporate welfare (which greatly exceeds people welfare expenditures). Everyone knows this would be a good thing to do. But the devil is in the details and it is not likely to actually happen. It is especially unlikely with these clowns trying to shove it through in a short period of time without bipartisan collaboration.
A number of commentators say what the Republicans are really doing is manufacturing a future crisis. They do not support social programs, even popular ones like Social Security and Medicare. Sweeping tax cuts that mostly benefit the very rich will create deficits which will provide a reason for massive cuts to programs that help the poor and middle class. The real intent is to cut domestic social programs, services, and supports in the future. Don't be fooled by the sound bites and headlines. The Republicans are not making needed “tough” budget choices to get the fiscal house in order. They do not have your interests at heart. Nor do they care about the consequences of their actions. They are paying back campaign contributors with tax cuts. They are enacting their usual pet, ideologically driven nostrums that will only make things worse. Ordinary taxpayers may get a few dollars (if anything at all) in tax breaks. But, in many ways, all of us will pay more in the future.