Friday, March 4, 2011

Robert Reich On "The Republican Shakedown"

Robert Reich urges Democrats to tell the truth about the shakedown conducted by the Republicans. On the state level, Gov. Scott Walker handed out tax breaks–without offsets–to his corporate sponsors, turned a Wisconsin surplus into a deficit and is now trying to bust unions based on that very deficit. The Bush tax cuts for the wealthy, recently extended, will add $700 billion to the national debt if continued over 10 years–yet Republican lawmakers stoke resentment against "greedy" teachers. Billionaire oil magnates Charles and David Koch, allies of Governor Walker, fund causes that attempt to shift the blame for our economic problems to public service workers and the unions that represent them:

The truth is if the super-rich paid their fair share of taxes, government wouldn’t be broke. If Governor Scott Walker hadn’t handed out tax breaks to corporations and the well-off, Wisconsin wouldn’t be in a budget crisis. If Washington hadn’t extended the Bush tax cuts for the rich, eviscerated the estate tax, and created loopholes for private-equity and hedge-fund managers, the federal budget wouldn’t look nearly as bad.

And if America had higher marginal tax rates and more tax brackets at the top – for those raking in $1 million, $5 million, $15 million a year – the budget would look even better. We wouldn’t be firing teachers or slashing Medicaid or hurting the most vulnerable members of our society. We wouldn’t be in a tizzy over Social Security. We’d slow the rise in healthcare costs but we wouldn’t cut Medicare. We’d cut defense spending and lop off subsidies to giant agribusinesses but we wouldn’t view the government as our national nemesis.

The final truth is as income and wealth have risen to the top, so has political power. The reason all of this is proving so difficult to get across is the super-rich, such as the Koch brothers, have been using their billions to corrupt politics, hoodwink the public, and enlarge and entrench their outsized fortunes. They’re bankrolling Republicans who are mounting showdowns and threatening shutdowns, and who want the public to believe government spending is the problem.

They are behind the Republican shakedown.

These are the truths that Democrats must start telling, and soon. Otherwise the Republican shakedown may well succeed.

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