When the Republicans campaigned for the 2010 midterm elections, they promised voters that their Pledge to America included plans to create jobs and help the ailing economy. Despite refusing to elaborate on their plan to accomplish the campaign promises, voters swept Republicans into power in the House and many governor’s mansions and state legislatures with high hopes the GOP was telling the truth for once and would begin serious legislation on the first day in session. After four months in power, Republicans in Congress have read the Constitution, assailed women’s reproductive rights, proposed Draconian spending cuts for the poor and elderly, and voted to repeal the Affordable Health Act. By now it is clear that Republicans had no plans or ideas to encourage job creation or to help the economy in spite of grandiose promises.
Instead of working to fulfill their campaign promises, Republicans have begun focusing on reducing the deficit by slashing programs that benefit the most vulnerable Americans, but have continued handing out entitlements to profitable corporations that pay little or no taxes. Although any respectable business would balance spending cuts with increased revenue to bring down deficits and balance a budget, Republicans refuse to entertain increasing revenue by increasing taxes on the wealthy or corporations regardless the dire shape the economy is in.
Recently, Republicans refused to halt oil industry subsidies that cost taxpayers $4 billion annually because the oil industry feels it is un-American to withhold taxpayer dollars from the oil companies. Republicans also blocked legislation to require the industry to pay royalties on leases because they feel it is unfair to make oil companies pay for the oil they sell Americans. Neither the subsidies or royalty payments will solve the budget shortfalls, but they would infuse much needed cash into the system to pay for programs that Americans depend on for healthcare, food, and aid for children. At the least, the oil company entitlements could be used to pay down the debt Republicans are so worried about.
Republicans are so averse to increasing revenue to help the economy that they have refused to consider any tax increases under any circumstances. The tax cuts Republicans insist must stay in place are sure to be a major factor in the massive budget shortfalls projected over the next decade much like the unfunded Bush-era tax cuts that have played a major role in the current economic morass. When asked about raising taxes on the wealthy and corporations, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said, “Well, there aren’t going to be any tax increases. You know, that was settled by last November’s election. The president knows that.”
McConnell intimated that there would be no tax increases in the short, medium, or long term and that includes closing tax loopholes that costs the country much needed revenue. The aversion to tax increases is in spite of polls that show Americans support raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans and big business to create jobs and balance the budget. The Republicans are still selling the fallacious notion that cutting taxes for the wealthy creates jobs even though the Bush-era cuts have not created jobs.
If Republicans are unwilling to raise taxes to increase revenue, it appears the country is doomed to perpetual deficits and eventually, economic collapse. However, conservatives have floated an idea that this column suggested is the primary goal of Republicans for the past 60 years and the idea has support from ultra-conservative think tanks with tacit approval from Republicans. Conservatives and libertarians think it is a grand idea to sell off America’s assets to pay down the deficit and they suggest starting with the gold reserves in Fort Knox. Ron Utt, a Heritage Foundation senior fellow said that since the price of gold is high, the gold should be sold off to give more tax breaks to corporations and the wealthy.
The American Enterprise Institute economist Kevin Hassett said the federal government should sell the interstate highway system to bring in cash. Hassett’s plan is for motorists to pay tolls to the private owners so the roads would be in better shape. The Republicans’ masters at the Heritage Foundation released a budget proposal that calls for no tax increases but includes a proposal to sell federal assets over a 15 year period, and although there were no specific assets mentioned, the plan suggests selling property, real estate, mineral rights, and energy-generation facilities worth $260 billion. If the Heritage Foundation and American Enterprise Institute can get enough Republicans elected, they will eventually sell America to the highest bidder to transform the government and country into a private enterprise.
American taxpayers have already paid for the interstate highway system with their tax dollars and enjoy the fruits of their labor by driving for free on their own roads. Americans pay for the maintenance and repairs on roads and bridges with gasoline taxes and voter-approved bonds for the right to pass without paying a toll. It is insulting to imagine the government selling our roads to a private corporation that will in turn charge motorists to drive on the roads all the while benefiting from tax breaks paid for with Americans’ tax dollars. The transportation system has worked remarkably well for 60 years without interference from corporations who will cut corners and pay low wages to workers while taking in more profit from Americans.
Republicans cannot bring themselves to allow tax increases on the wealthy and corporations to bring in increased revenue to balance the budget and reduce the deficit caused by Republican malfeasance. Their ultimate goal is not to fix the economy, but to privatize America so corporations make more profits. It is happening in Michigan where schools and prisons are being auctioned off to private entities for the purpose of enriching corporations and destroying unions. It has been mentioned before in this column that privatization is meant to transform America into a private business, and the only support comes from ultra-conservative think tanks and Republicans.
Republicans have no intention of fixing the economy or creating jobs because as the country falls deeper in debt, selling assets to repay loans becomes more appealing. The plans from the Heritage Foundation call for selling gold, roads, bridges, mineral rights, railroads, and even air-traffic control facilities, but it will not be long before Mt. Rushmore, Yosemite and Yellowstone National parks are on the auction block. At some juncture, the White House, Capital Building, and America itself will be sold to corporations that will in turn charge taxpayers for the right to view them. Americans have already paid for the assets the government owns and are ill-inclined to pay for the same thing twice.
If conservatives and Republicans are serious about the economy, they will take a balanced approach like any business and combine reasonable spending cuts with increased revenue. Increasing revenue means tax increases and halting corporate welfare; whether it is stopping oil subsidies or enforcing royalty lease payments. Corporations that do not pay taxes but get tax breaks and incentives have to pay their share and although it will not solve all America’s economic problems, it will certainly help. Republicans hate taxes and will never agree to tax increases for the wealthy or corporations, but they will attempt to sell America to the highest bidder. The American people overwhelmingly support raising taxes on the ultra-wealthy and corporations, but they will not condone selling America regardless the alleged economic benefits. However, Republicans are not apt to listen to voters and will block tax increases while they privatize Medicare, Social Security, highways, schools, national parks and America itself. One thing is certain, when Republicans sell America it will not be to the highest bidder or at auction; it will be a no-bid sale and every American will pay Koch Industries and the Heritage Foundation for the privilege of living in their country.