It's necessary to respond to Jack Flynn's recitation of GOP talking points [Blame the Democrats, not the Republicans, Viewpoints, May 16]. He scoffs at the idea of increasing taxes on the rich because that would not instantly solve the deficit. He wants to know where the spending cuts will be. I ask him, how many single mothers and orphans do you have to steal food from to pay for tax cuts for the Koch brothers?
Two facts are glaringly ignored by faux conservatives like Flynn. First, he ignores the fact that since Grover Norquist became the GOP guru during the Reagan years — the first orgy of tax cuts for the rich — the goal of GOP fiscal "conservatives" has been to bankrupt the federal government intentionally. Rather than flat-out closing schools, firing police and firemen, and stealing Social Security checks out of the mailboxes of the retired (who paid into Social Security their whole working lives), their plan is to bankrupt the government so that there will be no money left to pay for social programs.
According to anarchist Norquist, "I don't want to abolish government. I simply want to reduce it to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub." The Republican plan is to bankrupt the government, and they claim to be fiscal conservatives!
Second, the historical consequences of tax cuts on the rich can be regarded as fiscal "success" only if the goal really is to destroy the U.S. economy. Over the past four decades, the federal deficit has increased under Republican control and decreased under Democratic control. Reagan cut taxes on the rich and increased Pentagon spending, producing bigger deficits than any country in history had sustained. George H.W. Bush continued this trend, setting new records for deficit spending and debt.
During Clinton's presidency, the deficit shrank for five years and became a surplus for the last three, reducing our debt. The most dramatic swing in U.S. history came when George W. Bush took office, repeatedly cut taxes on the rich and started expensive wars, shifting us from surplus budgets to deficit budgets that set new records for fiscal profligacy.
Bush butchered the U.S. economy, then walked away into the sunset. Obama resuscitated it with the stimulus. But thanks to Republican obstructionism, in the years since the stimulus, government spending has been cut, and also thanks to the GOP, the tax cuts for the rich have been extended. So the GOP is already getting its way, and if the economy is still failing, it is an indictment of their policies. (www.nytimes.com/2012/06/04/opinion/krugman-this-republican-economy.html?_r=1&ref=paulkrugman)
Another example of the failure of "fiscal austerity" is that recently inflicted on Britain during their recession two years ago. They adopted GOP-like draconian cuts in spending for social programs, and as a result, the British economy is failing while other European countries are recovering.
Paul Krugman says it best: "So the austerity drive in Britain isn't really about debt and deficits at all; it's about using deficit panic as an excuse to dismantle social programs. And this is, of course, exactly the same thing that has been happening in America."
Tom DeCoursey is a resident of Oak Park.