Paying for Their Deficit with Our Lives

Over the last several weeks Obama and politicians in Congress have been telling us over and over again how bad the US government’s $14 trillion deficit is. Lately, it seems like every time we turn on the nightly news or pick up a newspaper we here scary stories about how unless something is done soon about the deficit, we are all in trouble. And, of course, we are told that the only thing that can be done to close the deficit is to cut trillions of dollars from Social Security, Medicare, and other programs we depend on.
Both Democrats and Republicans say that massive spending cuts are the only solution to the deficit. In the current budget negotiations, the Republicans say they want an all-cuts budget while the Democrats, as usual, try to pretend they are on the side of workers by saying they want both tax increases and cuts. But the only taxes they want to increase are ours, not on the wealthy and corporations. Both parties want to fill the deficit by slashing Medicare. The only difference is that the Republicans are proposing to hand it over to the big health insurance companies while the Democrats want to drastically cut its funding. And both parties support cutting Social Security and have ruled out any big cut in military spending.
The idea that the only solution to the deficit is to cut trillions from Medicare, Social Security and other programs is a joke. And the only ones laughing are the politicians, bankers, and corporate CEOs who are really to blame for the deficit. The wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and recently Libya will cost trillions over the next decade. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan alone are projected to cost more than $3 trillion. These two wars are already costing us more than $16 billion per month. We shouldn’t pay for these wars through massive cuts to services we rely on.
And what about the trillions of our tax dollars that have been handed over to the major banks and auto companies? More than $4 trillion dollars has been dished out to them so far and more than $4 trillion more is still promised. Senior citizens on Medicare didn’t create this economic crisis. So why should they pay for these bailouts with cuts to their Medicare coverage?
And finally there are the massive tax breaks politicians have given corporations and the super wealthy. Tax cuts to big business and the rich passed under George Bush and recently extended by Obama will cost $4 trillion over the next ten years.
The cost of their wars, bailouts, and tax breaks are the real cause of this deficit. But Democrats and Republicans say nothing about these things when they lecture us about the government’s so-called spending problem. Yeah, the government has a spending problem all right —it spends too much of our money making banks, corporations, and the rich even wealthier!
When we hear politicians talk about the deficit, they usually like to tell us how broke the country is. But this is a lie too. The fact is that the US has never been wealthier. The problem is that all the wealth is locked up in the banks accounts of a tiny fraction of the US population. Recently, US corporations reported that 2010 was their most profitable year in history. And the wealth gap between the rich and the rest of us is the greatest it has been since 1929—the beginning of the Great Depression. The top one percent of the population in the US owns more than 40 percent of all the wealth. And this top one percent has seen their incomes increase more than 18 percent in the last decade, while our incomes have fallen.
But the deficit really isn’t a problem of wealth. It’s a problem of priorities. There is more than enough wealth in this society to stop every proposed cut to services that we rely on. In fact, there’s more than enough money to increase spending on what we need most. The problem is that the priorities of the people who run this society have nothing to do with what working people need but only with what can make a profit. There is only one solution to the deficit for working people, and that is to make the rich pay for it!