By Dale Bowling
With the intensity of the Fiscal Cliff/Debt Ceiling debacle, even normally level-headed Democrats have allowed themselves to be sucked into the parallel universe which Republicans inhabit where everything is backwards. Let's call it Republiverse.
A reasonable person would say, "what produced Problem X?" and then try to come up with solutions to the causes of that problem.
This doesn't happen in Republiverse. In Republiverse, you look at things that aren't problems or at least, not the real problem and then try to make that into a real problem.
Works in reverse, see.
Whenever Democrats find themselves there, they always end up debating things that don't make sense.
Our hypothetical sensible person asks, "America had a projected surplus when Bill Clinton left office, Bush left us with this huge Deficit- what happened in those intervening eight years?"
The answer to that question is
1) Wars in Afghanistan and Iraq (the first wars in American history not to see an increase in taxes to pay for them) and
2) an enormous tax cut that gave away the revenue that the Government would have used to pay for things (like the above wars, for example) instead of adding them to the Deficit and lastly,
3) The Bush Recession which decimated people's income and therefore reduced the amount of taxes the Government collected that would have gone to pay for things.
In a place where Reason reigns we would try to fix those problems. Those problems are primarily revenue-related. What should be the highest priority for bringing down the Deficit? Job creation.
The latest employment figures were solid (155,000 in December), but America can do a lot better. Our economy is capable of producing $15Trillion/yr in goods and services, but currently we're only using a fraction of our potential.
Business types will tell you that what creates jobs is investment. Ideally, the private sector should do the investment, but if it's paying down debt from the Bush era or just too afraid there won't be demand in the economy, this is when Government needs to step up and be the Hero.
America's infrastructure is crumbling. We're in 20th place and falling for lack of investment in roads, bridges, highways, schools, etc. Americans also need jobs. A big infrastructure bill would get businesses going again, hiring workers to meet the demand and leaving something to show for
the money - improved infrastructure which pays for itself over time.
This is what we would be debating if Democrats hadn't allowed themselves to fall through the wormhole to Republiverse.
In Republiverse, we argue about spending on badly-needed social services that are helping to keep Americans' heads above water and our economy afloat when they weren't even the problem. In point of fact, the main reason why spending on social services is increasing is the lack of jobs.
President Obama and Congressional Democrats need to return to this universe and put job creation at the top of their list. Besides improving the lives of average Americans, strong economic growth solves a lot of the other problems facing America in a way that raising the age of Medicare eligibility
for example, does not.