NOTE: This is a guest post from Shannon Moriarity from United for a Fair Economy (UFE).
Earlier this week, President Obama struck a deal with elitist Congressional Republicans, a deal that he claims is “doing what’s right for the American people, for jobs and for economic growth.“
The reality is that the deal does more for Paris Hilton than it does the 100,000 people who work at Hilton hotels.
The Obama-GOP plan sucks because it doesn’t do anything to close the wealth divide that has been growing steadily for decades. Closing this gap by allowing the Bush tax cuts to expire and restoring the estate tax was a top priority for progressives during the 2008 election. We expected bold, decisive action. Needless to say, we’re a little pissed off.
Compromise usually means that both sides give up a little something to reach an agreement that we can all live with. The problem is, all the Republicans wanted out of a deal with Obama was to preserve tax cuts for the wealthy. And they got it.
Of course, not everything in the deal sucks. Extension of the Bush tax cuts for the middle class is good, as well as the tax credits. And there’s little question that reprieve was essential for the millions of out-of-work Americans. But to settle for a deal that provides a huge tax break for millionaires and billionaires is wildly irresponsible and undeniably unfair. Not to mention sucky.
The deal sucks. And – in plain English – here’s why:
1. It holds unemployed Americans hostage.
It sounds like a nightmare: either watch unemployment benefits for out of work Americans expire or let Wall Street fat cats walk away — scot-free — from paying their fair share of taxes. This plan sucks because it wrongly turns this compromise into a black/white, either/or decision. It draws a line in the sand, attempting to divide the left at a time when we should be pulling together.
Besides, I thought we weren’t supposed to negotiate with hostage-takers?
2. It increases economic inequality.
It’s a frightening reality: the top one percent of Americans own as much wealth as those in the bottom 90 percent (to be clear, by “top” and “bottom” we’re only talking net worth). If you think it’s completely unacceptable that billionaire Warren Buffet’s secretary pays more in taxes than the man himself (as he famously pointed out), know that this plan will do nothing to change that. And that sucks.
The wealthy in this country are doing fine. Why aren’t they being asked to make sacrifices like the rest of us?
3. It values whack economic principles.
The number one economic justification for tax breaks for the rich is that they will somehow trickle down these savings into jobs to provide economic stimulus. Yet, history tells us that this simply isn’t true. If tax breaks for the rich resulted in job creation, we wouldn’t be in the mess we’re in a decade after the Bush tax cuts. History tells us that tax breaks for the rich sit idle in their bank accounts.
Consider a very sophisticated and economically nuanced piece of economic insight: people need money to buy stuff. If we want to stimulate the economy, we need to be looking at how we can put regular people back to work. That seems to be the most surefire plan for economic stimulus out there.
4. It’s more of the same.
Extending Bush tax cuts for the wealthy and weakening the estate tax is bad policy, bad economics, and bad for our country. During challenging times, we should be investing in our people, our education, and our national infrastructure. Instead, we are prioritizing the bank accounts of millionaires and billionaires.
This tax deal does nothing to move us forward and simply provides more of the same, setting us up for a painful bout of economic deja vu in a year or so.
5. It disrespects the will of the people.
Obama may chide us for being progressive “purists,” but I prefer to think of those who are skeptical of this plan as progressive patriots. It is our job to hold our elected officials accountable. Polling shows that the majority of Americans believe that tax breaks for the super-wealthy should be allowed to expire. After all, low- and middle-income Americans have tightened their belts, why aren’t we asking the same of millionaires and billionaires?
This deal sucks. It sucks real bad. It’s time we rise up, make lots of noise, and hold our elected officials accountable. We must call on our elected officials and tell them that the deal sucks, and we expect more. Whose back do they have, anyway?
UFE raises awareness that concentrated wealth and power undermine the economy, corrupt democracy, deepen the racial divide, and tear communities apart. They support and help build social movements for greater equality.
Photo provided by UFE