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.

Got ideas for ensuring America’s economic future? Share them in the comments.

3 Responses to “We Can’t Slash Our Way to Prosperity”

  1. avatar

    Greatly increase funding for efforts to keep elderly persons in their own homes & independent for as long as possible. Community organizations exist, such as those in Cambridge, MA, & on Beacon Hill in Boston, MA, that help network seniors with much-needed services — everything from transportation (if they don't qualify for public transit disability options); to electricians, plumbers, carpenters, et al., who could help retrofit their homes as they continue to age to make their homes more accessible; to social events, like luncheons, book clubs, craft groups; to assistance with financial management & health-care proxies, decisions to move into a smaller home, etc. Such organizations are able to offer these services at a discount to their clients. The organizations also cut down on the isolation many seniors feel, especially if they have lost a spouse / partner. Such alternative organizations are beginning to be formed in various locations; I know of one in West Hartford, CT. (Continued…)

  2. avatar

    Continuation… It is FAR more cost-effective to keep seniors in their own homes than it is to have them go into nursing homes, which often means they must go on Title XIX in order to afford nursing home care. With the cost of health care escalating, keeping seniors in their own homes & independent — & happy!! — for as long as possible will decrease the cost of health care. This is especially crucial when we realize that most, if not all, of our aging population is covered by Medicare! This is one small long-term piece toward a solution.

  3. avatar

    Why not go where the money is? Professional athletics make millions. Why? Because corporations have millions for TV advertising. Why not tax corporate profits? Why not tax the profits of banks? Or of oil companies? If we see corporate profits as a result of the economic system, then taxing corporations would be a way of keeping the system in balance, instead of increasing the gap between the rich and the poor.

    Marvin T. Brown

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