29 March 2011

Spitzer AND Obama: far too timid on economy, fiscal matters

Eliot Spitzer urges the president to allow the government shutdown threatened by the Rightists, in Slate today. Here.

This is my response. I don't even address the idea that the shutdown should be allowed to happen. Of course it should. But Spitzer's vision, and the president's, of what progressives should be doing and saying is far, far too timid.

This article starts from a false premise, which is the result of Rightist framing of the issues from the inception. The very term "entitlements" is a right-wing concept. What are we actually talking about? Providing MINIMAL retirement security and health care to seniors and the poor. These are not ENTITLEMENTS, they are NECESSITIES of civilization. Secondly, although by some technical markers the so-called Great Recession is "over," tell that to one of the 22+ million long term unemployed in this country. No, I reject entirely the Great Fiscal Myth that our nation is broke and we have to cut, cut, cut. If we follow that prescription, we will simply slide into long term decline, and the rich will stay rich while the poor get poorer and the middle class disappears entirely into the working poor and worse.

Our nation faces economic and environmental challenges over the next ten or twenty years that are truly comparable, in Carter's then-unfortunate phrase, to the "moral equivalent of war." What President Obama really needs to do is to make the case for infrastructure development and investment (transportation, renewable energy including solar thermal, wind, and power grid modernization), and significant increases in taxes on upper incomes (very large increases on multimillionaires and up), eliminating corporate tax evasion and loopholes, and making significant cuts in Cold War and "projection of power" military expenditures that no longer make sense for America. Our country needs massive public investment, not massive cuts in domestic spending, to become prosperous again. The case must be made, that it's like WWII, a great challenge, that requires sacrifice from all, but ESPECIALLY from those who have so much from the policies of the past.

Spitzer's suggestions are weak, ineffectual, and really just a variant of the Great Fiscal Myth being perpetrated by the Right Wing.

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