Pay No Attention to the Politicians Behind the Curtain!

June 30, 2011

When it comes to telling the story of our dire economy, it seems Republican politicians have lifted their strategy from the Wizard of Oz rather than a political playbook. But rather than accept the line that poor people are to blame for our mounting federal deficit, we should pull back the curtain on the real culprits.

It's an iconic scene: when Dorothy discovers the true identity of the Wonderful Wizard, he frantically exclaims, 'Pay no attention to the little man behind the curtain!' The banter around the federal budget and reducing the deficit is no different. Republicans are the man behind the curtain, blowing smoke and posing as the all-knowing wizards of economic policy. Meanwhile, they have created a mess out of our economy through massive Bush-era tax breaks for corporations and wealthy people; tax breaks that have been a primary cause for the deficit. But rather than acknowledging the role of tax breaks for the wealthy in our economic nosedive, these politicians distract us with smoke and mirror-lies about the strains low-income people have caused on our economy.

There's no denying the irony. Conservatives scream and shout about reducing the deficit, demand cuts in programs that fund services for the poor, and refuse to consider any tax increases for wealthy people and corporations. Yet, these politicians point to low-income folks as the culprits behind our economic mess, even though they’re not the ones cutting jobs across the US, shipping jobs oversees, and evading taxes while making record profits.

Our economic challenges have nothing to do with how the government helps poor people survive ("survive" being a key word; as opposed to a cool word like "thrive," but that’s a discussion for another day). The deficit did not reach this point because of over-spending on programs for poor people. Our budget is in shambles because of ill-informed, selfish decision-making by wealthy people who influence policy. Unlike millionaires and billionaires, normal working folks can't afford hefty election donations, never mind hire high-paid lobbyists dedicated specifically to guard their bank accounts.

All of this financial influence has given wealthy people more access to legislatures. When George Bush Jr. took office he began with a budget surplus. Since 2001, tax breaks have consistently favored the wealthy, allowing them not to have to pay their fair share of taxes- which helps explain why our deficit has ballooned. Today, Republicans continue to fight tooth and nail for tax breaks for their funders, breaks that are meant to somehow “create jobs.” In actuality, these loopholes have done quite the opposite. And now that Republicans have created a mess, all they can do is propose program cuts that will negatively impact poor people; many of whom didn't have have a strong seat at the decision-making table to begin with.

Another example of the 'man behind the curtain' at work? The estate tax. Since passing the Bush tax cuts in 2001, conservatives have waged a war on state and federal estate tax, going to drastic measures to reduce and even eliminate the estate tax completely. Yet, the estate tax only affects the wealthiest 0.27 percent of people, and has the potential to bring in billions in tax revenues. In other words, a tax that would impact very few people and bring in billions seems like a scarecrow (i.e. no-brainer).

Instead, wealthy conservatives are acting all 'cowardly lion'; cutting services for low-income people, fighting to reduce taxes on themselves, and shifting the responsibility for paying taxes to middle and lower income people who can’t afford it.

It's time we pull back the curtain on our elected officials and demand better. We must stop penalizing low-income families who are not the culprits of the demise of our economy. How much longer will we allow Republicans to keep villain-izing poor people while telling America to ignore the true masterminds. Until that happens, they will continue to stand behind the curtain, sneakily licking the federal revenue plate clean.

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It is not your money!

Typical liberal drivel. Let's punish the type of behavior that makes this country work and let's reward those in the population that live off of others. Granted, there is a segment who needs help and should not be denied, no one wants to starve grandma, take away anyone's needed medication, etc etc... It is so easy to demonize and ridicule those who wish to curb spending on government in all aspects. All liberal arguments go straight to how the evil republicans want to hurt the weak and defenseless and line the pockets of those that really don't need this. We see it every where from local city government all the way up.

Republicans

Since the Republicans are against ending the Bush tax cuts for the rich and for cutting programs for the poor,  how can you not conclude that they are working for the rich (and probably themselves), rather than for the majority of the people?

Oh yea the tax cuts have

Oh yea the tax cuts have really worked. 8 yrs of tax cuts and the economy has nose dived. During Clinton tax on over 1mil was 39.7% and the economy thrived. More taxes motivate to create more business for the tax write off. It boggles my mind that the Republicans go against what all the leading economist say and so many follow them to the slaughter. Economic decline effects everyone no matter what your monetary station is in life.  It seems many rich are fear hoarding.

Coward

How come you didn't leave your name so we can debate this intelligently? Hmmmm? To me the article makes so much sense and I am not a liberal. I am open minded and a critical thinker. It's irrational to think that we are in the mess we are in because of poor people. The author is right: Wealthy people have the money, the power, the means and the motivation to influence government. Why is that so far fetched for you? It happens in country after country, year after year, decade after decade (ie: 3rd world countries). The only difference has been that in THOSE countries there IS no middle class because of years of decimation thanks to the wealthy. You really should read up on your history. This is turning into a nation of serfs ruled by the rich and powerful, just like feudalism in Medieval England. The middle class, to which I assume you are part of, is fast becoming a dying breed. Why then, do you side with those who want to enslave and ultimately annihilate you?

Debt limit

Lincoln's vision was that government "of the people, for the people, and by the people" should not perish...  If the Republicans get their way, we shall have government of the people, for the money, and by the money.  The Bush tax cuts for the rich must go.  The richest 2% of the nation must not be allowed to hold hostage the other 98% of the people.  This is precisely what is happening now.  The Republicans threaten to endanger the entire faith and credit of the United States in order to prevent taxing the very rich.  But they are willing to cut any benefit that helps the poor.  They justify their position by repeating the big lie:  Tax cuts for the rich create jobs.  What creates jobs is both government and the private sector spending money to hire people to get things done, like rebuilding our roads, bridges, and railways.  The private sector is showing improvement; the government is lagging behind. 

It's Not Your Money

Like the "Libs" the "Righties" seem to never tire of spouting drivel. Neither this article or this website is dedicated to the idea that hard working Americans should be asked to support those "who live off nof others." The real issue here is that you seem to have a problem identifying who are the ones living off of others. Those CEOs and Executives who are paid many hundreds times more than those who are the true engine of the companies, they are the ones living off of others. 

These same people have no problem increasing each other's compensation packages at the same time they are laying off thousands, off shoring thousands more, all the while running the company - and the economy - into the ground. Of course they will never have to face an unemployment line, or feel the shame of going on relief, food stamps, or any of the hundreds of ways that normal hard working people are shamed and humiliated when these "job creators" kick them to the curb. 

So, please spare us your tears for those who might have to give up a second home on the beach, or take one less trip to Paris because we ask - demand - that they pay for the mess they have either directly caused through their incompetence, or indirectly by supporting those who did. 

Lindal Cossey

Tax Breaks for the Wealth

The idea that tax breaks for the wealthy create jobs is not a recognized econmic concept. It is solely radial right-wing mythology.  Hard economic data show that when you give a tax break to the rich, not a single job is created, but rather lots of stagnant savings accounts are created, yachts are bought, and country club memberships are created. 

In contrast when you put money in the hands of lower income people, toasters and TVs, are purchased and jobs are created at Wal-Mart.   

So it is not a question of fairness or even of punishing the wealthy.  It is a question of global economic stimulation.  When taxes are progressive, the entire economy benefits. 

No this is not liberal drivel. it is hard economic facts. 

 

raise all the tax brackets

I'm in the "over $250K" crowd.  I don't say "millionaires" because I can do basic math and know that 1) I am nowhere near that figure in income or wealth, and 2) I know that you have to multiply $250K X 4 to equal the minimum for a millionaire income.  Anyway, I would hate to ruin a good liberal argument with facts, so to the point....raise all the brackets.  47% of Americans have no federal tax liability each year.  14% are poor, so that leaves another 33% not paying "their share"  only 3% make above $250K, so almost a full third of "middle class" do not contribute.  Raise ALL the brackets instead of asking the same 3 people out of a pool of 100 to foot the bill.  Do that and I have no problem with you raising my taxes, because that is what we call "fair", EVERYONE contributes (the 14% below the poverty level get a pass).  Short of that, this is all crocodile tears for the poor.  Ante up or shut up.

This is why I support the Tea Party

The amount of politics and schemes in the government is just ridiculous, on BOTH sides of the field.  Why can't we just put aside our re-election games and focus on actually helping the country for once?