Why should the poor be punished for the government’s debt?

Submitted by Andi Hinnenkamp

June 12, 2011

Hey everyone!

I am currently interning in Washington D.C. and I thought I would just fill you in on how everything is going here.

First off, I want to say how rewarding it feels to be here. You know that high you get after reading a really good article or hearing a really good speech (kinda like Tim’s) that make you so fired up that you are almost angry? Well, I get that feeling every day I’m here, multiple times a day!

A lot of talk here is about the budget and what will happen since the government has over-exceeded the debt ceiling, yet again. In short, the arguments are either to raise the debt ceiling (which will likely happen) or to let our country default on its interest payments. While it is highly unlikely that the debt ceiling won’t be raised, there are still stanch supporters of letting our country default. Some say it would even be a good thing for our country to do. I highly disagree with the belief that we should default, however I do believe our budget, debt, and deficit need to be taken seriously. Yet, so many people think we can just throw away programs without considering their real worth.

Many believe that we can simply scratch programs that help our neediest citizens, in order to “simplify” government spending. (Yes, there are programs that overlap a bit in what they do but they need to be improved instead of completely thrown out.) They argue that we “all” need to do our part to lower the budget. However, they are arguing that the richest 1% of Americans don’t need to start paying higher taxes and some believe that the richest need even further tax cuts. By the way, the Bush-era tax cuts cost our government $3 trillion since they were enacted in 2001 and continue to cost our government more and more each year they are let slide. But, if we repealed these tax cuts we would see a gain of $1 trillion over the next 9 years (Coalition on Human Needs). Also, with the FY2012 budget, every single committee is seeing appropriation cuts except for defense, which is actually seeing an increase in appropriations. The richest people and the military (with their war machines) are using their large hands in the government (because of all the money they have) to push their own agendas.

Now, how hypocritical do they sound when they are saying that we ALL need to suck it up and feel the effects of budget reductions? Why should the poorest people in our nation carry the heaviest load of budget reduction, when they are the ones who need government funding the most?

Please research these topics if you have some free time. Citizens for Tax Justice, the Coalition on Human Needs, and the National Priorities Project are great places to start. Also, of course if you feel so inclined write to your representative. Tell them not to consider a budget that relies solely on the reduction of social service programs while ignoring increases in revenue (taxes) of the wealthiest Americans and cuts to military spending.

On a lighter note, please visit the NETWORK Lobby (the lobbying firm I’m interning for in DC) website blog about our campaign called “Mind the Gap” at http://www.networklobby.org/campaign/mind-the-gap. It’s our campaign to raise awareness on the growing economic disparity in the U.S. I’m sure a lot of you have heard most of the information already but I realized it’s even worse than I thought it was. Sorry for the plug but we are really trying to push people in politics to remember the fact of such bad class inequality in America and to start considering how we can address and lower it through legislation.

Paix, Paz, Peace,


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