FROM THE LEFT

Republican tax policy ballooned deficit to enrich wealthy

Our huge national debt does not receive the media attention it deserves, which leaves voters uninformed and misinformed about it.

Very few voters have an understanding of how we accumulated a $22 trillion national debt. In 1981 the debt was only $963 billion, which is 4 percent of what it is today.

The first $963 billion of our debt we have so much to show for it, we fought and won two world wars, recovered from the Great Depression with massive government programs, won the space race and went to the moon, built the interstate highways and rebuilt Europe with the Marshall plan.

Today we can look back and ask what have we done to justify going $21 trillion further in debt since 1981. We spent a couple trillion on an unnecessary war in Iraq, and we left for future generations to pay.

The money certainly was not spent on infrastructure, as witnessed by the crumbling bridges, roads, water systems and dams.

There is a very visible place where this $21 trillion went. We created thousands of millionaires and billionaires and moved the money supply to the top one percent and 10 percent, widening the gap between the rich and poor to a historic high.

This gap in wealth distribution came back and bite us in 2008-09 with a huge recession, like it did in 1929 when the gap was equally large. Today we have moved money to the top 10 percent again and we can expect a repeat of 1929 and 2008-09.

It begs the question of how and why we allow money to accumulate in the hands of the wealthy? The short answer is they control the levers of our government. The main tool we have in our toolbox to prevent this in a capitalist society is our tax policy.

In 1981 Ronald Reagan became president and made huge tax cuts, mostly for the rich and did away the progressive tax rates Herbert Hoover had put in place in 1932 after the collapse of 1929.

The result was our debt tripled to $2.7 trillion during his term.

George H.W. Bush did slow down the debt increase with tax increases and the debt only increased to $4.2 trillion. But the tax increase he put in probably cost him his re-election in 1992.

Bill Clinton worked with Congress and had some tax increases and reforms in welfare and the debt increased only $1.5 trillion to $5.7 trillion in his eight years. The economy was good and we had a surplus for the last two years of his presidency, and we started paying the debt down.

In one of worst decisions in our nation’s history, Bush asked the Republican-controlled Congress to give the surplus he inherited back to the people in the form of rebates. This with a $5.7 trillion debt and a booming economy.

Stop for a minute and let that sink in. He and his Republican Congress then set us on the fast track for our $22 trillion with the Bush tax cuts. The debt doubled to $11.4 trillion during his eight years.

Obama came to office with a deep recession and money was spent bailing out banks and the auto industry. The Bush tax cuts were set to expire in 2011, but the Republican Congress renewed them and the debt continued to grow.

Trump put the debt on steroids with his 2017 tax cuts for the rich, and put us on the path to adding $1 trillion every year and more for the foreseeable future.

$5.9 trillion of the debt is held by Social Security, Medicare, federal and military retirement funds. This is money paid into the funds by employers and employees. $6.2 trillion is held by foreign nations, with China owning $1.18 trillion.

There is one reason for the huge debt. It is tax cuts for the wealthiest among us. It is not Social Security and Medicare, for they have $3.2 trillion owed to them that was used for other purposes, including giving tax cuts to the wealthiest among us.

Future generation will ask, if we had the world’s greatest economy, why did we leave a huge debt for them to pay off? Short answer, politicians were concerned with next election, not you.

Marvin Jacobson 

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