For a wild debt-ceiling ride dead ahead. As we get back at it after celebrating Independence Day, we turn our attention back to the threat to the independence of tens of millions of Americans as entitlement programs could come under the budget axe as part of a deal to raise the debt ceiling.
We’re mindful that debt and deficits are a serious matter that need attention and action, but we also remain outraged that the modest safety net that Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid provide for so many deserving people—seniors, persons with disabilities, persons who need long-term care, survivors of the death of a parent or spouse, veterans, women and children—is threatened while meaningful and fair tax reform that would shift more of the burden to the wealthy and to corporations that often pay little or no taxes today is considered off limits by at least one party in this debate.
Balancing the budget on the backs of millions of persons lifted out of poverty each year by the modest benefits these programs afford, and threatening the middle-class that these entitlement programs were instrumental in building by being there for people in times of inevitable need, is bad policy and bad politics, and it’s downright immoral when coupled with obstinance to raise revenues more equitably at a time in our history when the disparities between the rich and the rest of us just keep getting greater and more indefensible.
As for the assertion that we can’t raise taxes on millionaires, billionaires and corporations during an economic downturn, studies show that tax cuts over the past five decades have not had the expected stimulating effect on the economy nor increased employment. And all folks are asking for is a return to Clinton-era rates on high earners—a modest increase, indeed, and also an extended period of economic growth and broader prosperity.
The news will likely be all about the debt ceiling over the next few weeks, and we’ll be on this topic as part of our work to protect Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. It’s complicated, down-in-the-weeds stuff, and we’ll do our best to make sense and share the myriad proposals that will come under consideration as this deal gets hammered out. And above all, we’ll be sending out more Take Action Alerts than usual to do our part to ensure that the fate of low and moderate-income Americans isn’t drowned out by self-serving talking points and sound bites brayed ad nauseum.