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Ticking towards midnight

During the Cold War, the Bulletin of the Atomic Sciences published on its cover each month a clock whose hands were set somewhere between 11:50 and 12:00. 11:50 represented a reduced concern over nuclear annihilation, midnight represented a nuclear exchange. Thankfully the clock never hit midnight after they began publishing the clock ticker.Time_Bomb.jpg

While we wouldn't want to create a strict analogy here, most objective analysts predict dire economic consequences if we default next Monday, and the clock will keep ticking until a deal is reached. As partisans fiercely spin this morning to win public support for their position, we can only hope that we all don't wind up in that bathtub where zealots have vowed to drown the federal government.

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities offered an excellent analysis yesterday of how Speaker Boehner's proposal will inevitably lead to drastic reductions in entitlement benefits, health care expansions included in the Affordable Care Act, or the social safety net beneath the most vulnerable Americans, or some combination of these three. Let's be clear here: Any deficit proposal that cuts programs and benefits that keep millions of seniors, children, persons with disabilities and others out of poverty, and sustains a broad middle class, which also contains no new tax revenues from millionaires, billionaires and corporations who already pay less in taxes and control a greater share of our collective wealth than they have in decades, is unacceptable. Period. That anyone would characterize such a proposal as representing a fair mixture of shared sacrifice in these difficult economic times is laughable and dishonest.

There is little to no evidence that modest tax hikes on the wealthy, and closing tax loopholes that allow many large corporations to pay no taxes at all, would have a negative impact on our economic recovery. Yet those who oppose fair and reasonable tax increases on those who can easily afford them keep hammering away with this argument at the same time that they show not a shred of compassion or concern over the impact that benefit and program cuts will have on those for whom they are a crucial lifeline.

Greater privilege for the wealthy and less for the rest of us isn't the future we want or deserve. It’s the height of irony that those who suggest otherwise allege that our position constitutes class warfare. They're the ones promoting class warfare, and the clock keeps ticking towards midnight.