Re: "Focusing on wrong issues" Letter to the Inky May 14
Rich Gardner | 05.15.2012
I respond to a letter in the Inky concerning priorities and agendas.
The writer sets out a number of propositions, that:
- the $15 trillion debt,
- the $1.5 trillion annual deficit,
- the high unemployment rate,
- a failed strategy in the Middle East,
- and 50 percent of the population paying no federal income tax in an ever-expanding entitlement society.
are all very serious problems that need to be tackled and all of which are far more timely and urgent than marriage equality between gays and straights. I wrote about this letter to the paper on the subject of whether or not marriage equality was a meaningful issue (I think it is), but the above is an interesting list. The first two items on the list, debt and deficit, cannot be pursued at the same time that the third item, unemployment, is pursued. The President and the Republican Congress spent all of 2010 and the first half of 2011 trying to lower the deficit and at the same time, promised that they were pursuing job growth. They couldn't do both and a quick look at employment growth for the last several years shows some progress in climbing out of the hole of the Great Recession, but very slow progress. The red line going upwards doesn't look anything like a strong, healthy financial recovery. In fact,at precisely the time when job growth should have been really taking off in response to the policies that the President and Congress were pursuing, job growth abruptly slowed down instead. This was a complete surprise to those who had put their faith in the "Comfidence Fairy ," but not all surprising to liberal Keynesians. An economist explains on The Real News what the agenda of the pro-austerity crowd is. It's nothing that regular citizens should support and there's a reason that Europeans are opposed to it. Back in 1999, anti-globalists spoke of the "race to the bottom," and that seems to be precisely what's going on.
Not sure how Obama's strategy in the Middle East is a failure. Certainly he's doing no worse than the last president did.
And no, first off, entitlements are not "ever-expanding," the number of people on food stamps has grown tremendously, but that's entirely because of the Great Recession. Why are so many people still on food stamps, years after the crash? Well, if Obama and the Republicans had not "pivoted" towards deficit reduction and away from getting Americans back to work, there wouldn't be as many people on food stamps. There would be more Americans paying taxes because there more of our citizens would have well or at least decently-paying jobs.