Voice of the People: Forgetting Something?

By James Devine

Judging by recent polls, a majority of Americans are experiencing political amnesia. This memory loss could drive the nation into the massive mistake of returning Republicans to power in Congress despite their record of abuses during the Bush years.

Former President George W. Bush racked up $4 trillion of national debt. He started two wars and lost control over both. He allowed new private armies to be raised by corporations while government snoopers pried into the lives of American citizens, after failing to prevent the worst foreign assault on the United States.

Bush expanded Medicare to benefit drug manufacturers, with net expenditures from 2009 through 2018 projected to be $727.3 billion.  Among the very sickest beneficiaries there was no reduction in the percentage who reported skipping medications, according to a 2008 study.

The federal government is not permitted to negotiate prices of drugs with the pharmaceutical companies, as private companies, other agencies and state governments do in other programs.

The nation’s bankruptcy laws were rewritten to benefit usurious credit card companies while financial regulations were repealed or disregarded and the global economy crashed. Unemployment has reached levels not seen since the Great Depression as a direct result of Republican policies.

The “Bush Tax Cuts” — which cost the nation $2.5 trillion, will soon expire.  Most Bush tax cut dollars go to higher-income households (half the savings went to the top 5 percent wealthiest Americans), and the richest don’t spend as much of their income as lower earners.

Of 11 potential stimulus policies the Congressional Budget Office recently examined, an extension of all of the Bush tax cuts ties for lowest bang for the buck.

By increasing the government’s debt, the Bush tax cuts have already led to higher interest payments on that debt. So even if all of the cuts expire on Dec. 31, we will still be paying for them for years to come.

President Barack Obama’s proposal would extend most of the 2001 & 2003 tax reductions, allowing only those for individuals making more than $200,000 and families making more than $250,000 to expire.

Obama already cut payroll taxes for 95% of working Americans.  He brought 90,000 troops back from Iraq, reducing the amount wasted on a pointless war.  He won approval of a stimulus package that stopped the economic free fall Bush created with his recklessness.  The health reform law will ultimately improve the economy, as will the new financial regulations.

There is a lot left for Obama and the Democrats in Congress to do, but anyone who thinks the GOP can do better is dreaming.

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