According to Mitt Romney, the top economic priority is to put our fiscal house in order. If we don’t do something almost immediately, he says, we will walk off a fiscal cliff beyond which is nothing but economic disaster. Our future will resemble Greece’s present and worse.
So how does he propose to do this?
On the spending side, he would either ruthlessly cut or eliminate or privatize social programs like Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security, while Obamacare, whose benefits are increasingly enjoyed by tens of millions of American people, would be overturned.
A chunk of the spending cuts would also come directly from programs that make life much easier for low and middle income Americans. Spending for infrastructure, education and research that are necessary for economic growth and restructuring would be slashed too. Romney’s fiscal plan would place the responsibility of rising health care costs squarely on the shoulders of those least able to afford them.
The food stamp program that is essential for tens of millions in a stagnant economy would be drastically scaled back by a Romney presidency. Housing assistance and Pell Grants would meet a similar fate.
On the revenue side, the main element of his fiscal plan is not what you would logically think, that is, to increase taxes in order to enhance government revenues. Rather Romney would cut taxes of the 1 percent by a whooping $5 trillion (that’s on top of the Bush era tax cuts), while increasing taxes on you know who – the 99 percent.
What is the upshot of all this? Do the numbers add up? Would it bring order to our fiscal books and jump-start the economy? Would it put people back to work?
By no means! Instead of reducing the deficit, most analysts say the Romney plan would result in bigger deficits as far into the future as the eye can see.
And instead of stimulating economic activity and creating jobs, his plan would further depress an already depressed economy.
All of which makes me (and many other people) conclude that the Romney plan has other objectives in mind than balancing the federal budget and rebooting the economy.
What interests him and his backers, in fact, is turning the current fiscal and economic crisis into an opportunity (never pass up a crisis) to roll back the social safety net, slash living standards, and radically redistribute income to the very top tiers of our society. Yes, he’s a redistributionist!
Luckily, more and more people are seeing through the demagogic fog of Romney, Ryan, and right-wing extremism. The jig may not be quite up, but his defeat on November 6 will be not only send Romney back to Bain Capital – it will also give the people’s movement leverage to battle austerity and reactionary redistributive politics in the post-election period.
Fiscal deficits at some point have to be addressed to be sure, but now is not the time. The main focus of public policy now should be on creating good paying jobs and stimulating an economy that remains in the doldrums.
Once people get back to work and once the economy recovers, then we can turn our attention to reeling in deficits, but along very different lines than proposed by Romney (and too many politicians on both sides of the aisle for that matter).
On the table must be cutting military spending, ending corporate subsidies, and increasing corporate taxes. This is a working-class as opposed to a corporate-class approach to our fiscal problems.
Photo: Occupy Wall Street sign, October 2011. Kimberlyki CC 2.0