We Can’t Slash Our Way to Prosperity
We cannot slash our way to prosperity.
Yet, in the face of ongoing joblessness and economic hardships for low-income Americans, the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform has put harsh cuts to domestic investments ahead of much-needed job growth strategies – a recipe for destabilizing a fragile economic recovery and putting true fiscal stability farther out of reach.
Poor people and people of color have been hit first and worst by the recession – and the cuts proposed by the co-chairs would only make things worse for them. The backs of America’s poor are nearly breaking — now is not the time to pile on more cuts.
Even as the co-chairs propose to push off retirement to age 69, they were silent on whether to extend a $700 billion tax giveaway for America’s wealthiest. Even as the co-chairs propose an arbitrary revenue cap on a growing, aging nation, they call for lower corporate taxes and eliminate critical tax credits that support equitable development in our communities.
Getting Americans back to work and growing our economy should be job number one. We must build tomorrow’s economic foundation today. To that end, there are some noteworthy suggestions in the report. Imposing a 15-cent gas tax increase could both reduce the deficit and improve and expand our crumbling transit systems. Trimming the bloated Department of Defense budget is also long overdue. The co-chairs also voiced welcome support for an infrastructure bank to help leverage private dollars to build truly 21st Century transit systems, electrical grids, and other infrastructure. It would have been nice to see more far-sighted investments like these in the report.
It is crucial that we balance economic growth with well-considered cuts and tax increases. We must tackle our long-term debt issues, but the short-term economic recovery must take precedence. With the right mix of smart investment and –when prudent — spending cuts, shared prosperity is just over the horizon, if we lift our eyes to see it.