Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Taxpayers first

The nasty guy released his detailed budget for the fiscal year starting in October. It is disappointingly, but expectedly, nasty. Cuts to just about everything except Defense and Medicare and a good chunk of the gutted Education budget designated to go for school choice efforts (see why that is a bad thing here and here). Nasty through and through. I’ll let you read your favorite news source to see the depths of the nastiness.

Many hope Congress won’t be nearly so drastic. It depends on how much they feel they must respond to voters. So far this year that record isn’t good. Even if what Congress passes isn’t “drastic” it will cut the social safety net. But the nasty guy’s budget is what all GOP Congresscritters would like to enact if they thought they would survive the next election.

What really annoyed me was the language used to describe this budget.

Mick Mulvaney is the Director of the Office of Management and Budget. That means this nasty budget is something carries his name and blessing. In presenting it today he said this budget will be “putting taxpayers first.” He also said:
Taking money from someone without an intention to pay it back is not debt. It is theft. This budget makes it clear that we will reverse this larceny.

He has the audacity to say the poor and working poor are thieves? This is an amazing amount of chutzpah. The poor? Really? Let’s go back to something I wrote a year ago about who the thieves are.

I wish for words stronger than “audacity” and “chutzpah.” I even checked a thesaurus and didn’t find something strong enough. Brazen? Gall? Nerve? Arrogance? Though a phrase from my time in the auto industry comes to mind: “He could bowl with those balls.”

On to that odious phrase of “putting taxpayers first.”

Many of the people paying taxes are the working poor. I’ll come from another angle: 73% of of those on public assistance are the working poor. They have a job. They pay taxes. Yet their employer is so stingy they still can’t get by and need assistance for basics such as food and shelter. This budget does not put these taxpayers first. It actually makes their situation much more precarious. And Mulvaney accuses these people of theft when it is their bosses who are stealing wage and productivity gains the workers made possible. And the GOP in Congress are promoting that theft by refusing to raise the minimum wage to a living wage.

And then we get to those who don’t have jobs because their local schools were a mess because of underfunding, who can’t afford a car and don’t have public transportation, who can’t afford child care, who can’t work because they can’t afford healthcare, who can’t work because…

Because Mulvaney and the people whose bidding he does have stolen the future of person after person.

But what annoys me most is the implication that the government should value taxpayers higher than anyone else. Part of that is a ranking thing – that taxpayers as people are worth more and should be ranked higher than others. And part of it is the idea that taxpayers don’t have to share. They can separate themselves from the rest of us. The well-being of the country as a whole doesn’t depend on us working together.

This is a blow to building community, to the reality that we’re in this together. We need to take care of one another. We are one nation.

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