Before we get too far down the "if you say it enough times, it must be true" path, let me state that I do not want any "grand bargain" to save us from the "fiscal cliff." President Obama campaigned heavily on the fact that the bailout of the auto industry saved jobs. And voters responded. That was a stimulus to the economy and it paid off. People continued to receive paychecks and their money went into our economy.
What's going to bring our economy around is employment. Taxes were cut during the Bush era and that didn't lead to job creation. What we need is more stimuli. We need more people back at work in jobs that pay well and benefit our society.
We had an infrastructure that was a model for the world. No longer. We have school buildings and hospitals that are in disrepair. A large part of the eastern seaboard was recently demolished. Since the tax cuts haven't led to job creation, let's have the federal government stimulate the economy through job creation. Put dollars into the hands of the unemployed so they, in turn, can spend and save that money. That will move our economy forward.
My advice to the President and the rest of our elected officials is that focusing on some bargain to raise income, while cutting expenses is the wrong approach. To stop foreclosures and end unemployment, to fight poverty, will require letting the tax cuts for the wealthiest among us expire. We will need to tax financial transactions. We will need to cut the outrageous military budget. We will need a jobs program.
We should not look to cut Social Security benefits. We should not look to cut Medicare or Medicaid. We should expand Obamacare to be single-payer health care, and we should have the federal government bargain with the pharmaceutical industry to achieve favorable pricing.
At some point, we will need to deal with the deficit. But now is not the time. We need to get people back to work at jobs that pay well and benefit our society: green energy sources; improved public transportation; adapting to climate change; rebuilding our infrastructure.
An economy that benefits only Wall Street and the financier class is the result of our serving the economy and not the economy serving us.
Co-chair, Greater Oak Park Democratic Socialists of America
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