President Obama, in a speech on the budget this afternoon, ripped into the GOP budget plan created by Rep. Paul Ryan, which would decimate Medicare and Medicaid, as well as programs like Pell Grants for higher education, in order to pay for continuing tax cuts for corporation and the wealthy. The GOP’s proposed cuts, Obama said, “paint a vision of our future that’s deeply pessimistic.”
Worst of all, this is a vision that says even though America can’t afford to invest in education or clean energy; even though we can’t afford to care for seniors and poor children, we can somehow afford more than $1 trillion in new tax breaks for the wealthy. Think about it. In the last decade, the average income of the bottom 90% of all working Americans actually declined. The top 1% saw their income rise by an average of more than a quarter of a million dollars each. And that’s who needs to pay less taxes? They want to give people like me a two hundred thousand dollar tax cut that’s paid for by asking thirty three seniors to each pay six thousand dollars more in health costs? That’s not right, and it’s not going to happen as long as I’m President.
The fact is, their vision is less about reducing the deficit than it is about changing the basic social compact in America. As Ronald Reagan’s own budget director said, there’s nothing “serious” or “courageous” about this plan. There’s nothing serious about a plan that claims to reduce the deficit by spending a trillion dollars on tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires. There’s nothing courageous about asking for sacrifice from those who can least afford it and don’t have any clout on Capitol Hill. And this is not a vision of the America I know.
Last week, People For’s Michael Keegan wrote about the GOP budget’s call for “shared sacrifice without the sharing”:
The new Republican majority was swept into power with promises of "fiscal responsibility"… but backed by the bank accounts of corporate America. As a result, the "fiscal responsibility" they’re proposing requires great sacrifices from ordinary Americans while letting large corporations and the wealthiest continue to benefit from the status quo. When these pro-corporate politicians talk about the need for "shared sacrifice," they’re talking about individual Americans giving up education, clean drinking water, and cops on the streets. When they say they’ll never raise taxes, they don’t mean protecting middle class Americans from tax hikes –nobody’s proposing to raise taxes on working families — they’re talking about letting multinational corporations keep their tax loopholes and letting the wealthiest sliver of Americans keep their massive, supposedly temporary, tax breaks.