Felicia Muftic: GOP agenda undermines U.S.
December 28, 2011
I wonder what this new year will bring. Whatever happens, 2012 is going to be a special one because of severely conflicting visions of America.
What happens in the coming year may go down as a crossroads, an American spring, even breaking political gridlock in Washington, or not.
The contributing factor is that the Republican party has taken a turn to the hard core right. Democrats have stayed pat. Each one of the potential GOP presidential candidates has tried to position his or her platform as being the purest and most conservative. Every public policy is subject to the measure of whether it reduces the debt and shrinks the role of the federal government.
Recently, it appears the Republican primary goal has been to protect the tax status of the rich. When it comes to foreign affairs, military strength and physical intervention are their measures of America’s strength in the world. Any other approach is condemned as appeasement. Only Ron Paul differs. The Right wrings its hands, seeing the U.S. in decline and making a case that theirs is the only way to restore America’s power in the world.
The Left has spent the past year protecting programs they traditionally treasure, Social Security, Medicare, education, and responsible withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan. The Democrats’ vision is nearly the diametric opposite of the new Republicanism.
The villain in all of this is us. Americans want the federally provided services the federal government has given them. We want America to be the most powerful military in the world. We want low taxes, too. In short, we want, want, want, but what we do not want is to pay for it.
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We do not need to decrease taxes to be competitive in business in the world, according to Fareed Zakaria on CNN Dec. 11. Per the OECD (an international body studying economic development matters), the U.S. ranks 27th in taxes as a percentage of gross domestic product and we are still ranked by the World Bank as the best large country in the world in which to do business.
Here is why the GOP vision if implemented will make us a nation diminished. America’s greatness is more than the myopic view of military might and intervention. It is also our moral leadership in human rights and democratic governance, our innovative, educated populace, and a nation that can transport its people and products from border to border and beyond.
The GOP seems bent on defunding this human and physical capital, exempting from cuts more military might and promoting tax policies that would only increase one of the greatest income gaps between the rich and the poor in the industrialized world.
We are already familiar with a slip in our education levels compared to other countries, and our debt is a potential time bomb, though 40 percent is due to diminished income to the treasury due to the recession. The trend line shows we have slow, steady growth and job creation that will eventually reduce the deficit significantly.
At the beginning of 2012, according to the Census, one out of every two families are either poor or living in poverty. The major economic driver of growth is consumer demand, and our diminished middle class cannot afford to be vigorous consumers. Even the rich confirm that the motivation for expanding business is based on many more factors than just favorable tax reductions.
According to the World Bank and the OECD: Federal spending on basic science is one half of what it was in the 1950s. Five years ago, our infrastructure was ranked in the top 10; now we are 24th. Once we ranked first in college graduates; now we are 14th.
In the GOP’s rush to reduce the deficit, education and infrastructure are their main targets for cuts and they continue to defend the rich from tax increases. They are pursuing a vision that will further diminish America’s place in the world.
For more commentary, go to http://www.mufticforum.com