Our nation’s economic and debt problems are not being addressed seriously. Members of Congress are at each other’s throats. Media accounts often focus on the outrage of the day rather than help us understand the problem. This is not good enough. People are understandably fed up and angry.
We need to recognize what this political firestorm is about. It is about money. It is a dispute about who will pay to repair our economy and reduce our national debt.
Some believe the financial burden should be on those least able to pay, the middle class and the poor, and that the wealthy and corporations should have their taxes reduced, if they pay any, which many do not.
Others believe that the wealthy and corporations are morally bound to pay a fair share of this cost, proportional to the huge incomes they receive and also the considerable economic damage they inflicted on the nation. They caused the financial crash in 2008 with excessive financial speculation, fraud and negligent regulatory oversight, resulting in the most devastating U.S. recession and unemployment since the 1930s.
The wealthy and corporations were mostly responsible for the runaway national debt between 1980 and 2008. It occurred predominantly on the watch of Republican presidents and Congresses. Since 2008, national debt growth has been almost exclusively attributable to continued and unnecessary or mismanaged wars, the financial bailout, recession stimulus and recession-induced lower tax revenues, coupled with unprecedented tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations. Democrats hardly distinguished themselves by supporting or ignoring this developing catastrophe. The American taxpayers, who had no part in causing this economic meltdown, were called upon to save the nation’s economy. The people bailed out the wealthy and the corporations, rescuing them from their own folly. They did this with generous infusions of capital and stimulus funding that put the nation on the path to economic recovery.
The wealthy and corporations recovered, while the people who bailed them out continue to deal with high unemployment, foreclosures and all of the human suffering that accompanies such disasters.
The wealthy and corporations then promptly repaid the American people by stabbing them squarely in the back. Having caused the economic collapse, they bitterly opposed adequate economic recovery funding and financial reform to prevent another financial crash. They then attempted to place full blame and financial responsibility for the disaster they created on the middle class and the poor, by declaring all-out war on labor, health care, education, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, and all the government programs on which the middle class depends for a quality life. They now threaten to wreck our financial system again by refusing to raise the debt ceiling unless we declare open season on women, children, health care and the environment.
Herein lies the difference between natural persons and corporate persons. Natural persons have a sense of fairness, social responsibility, a regard for the good of our country and compassion for each other. For corporate persons, it is all about cutting costs and making more profits, regardless of consequences to the American people or the environment on which we all depend.
We need to have a serious discussion about this, before the damage to our country becomes irreparable. Any serious discussion must include our wars and tax increases, especially for those not paying for their share of the damages.
Richard Gray is the MoveOn Council Coordinator for Clallam County and a Sequim resident.