Thursday, July 22, 2010

Unemployment Benefits v. Tax Cuts for the Uber-Rich

Over the past few weeks, we saw the GOP filibuster the extension of unemployment benefits in one vote after another. Senator Ensign claims that he's all for extending unemployment benefits, if that is, they're paid for using as yet unobligated stimulus funds. So, he'd vote for an extension only if the GOP can handicap any ability to stimulate the economy. Thus, instead of using stimulus funds to create jobs which just might help people actually find productive jobs, he wants to target $30B in stimulus funds to pay unemployment compensation.

Ensign and the GOP complain that $30B is an excessive burden to pass on to our grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Yet, the next thing out of his and other GOP mouths is that we not only need to extend the Bush tax cuts (the first of which passed in 2001 and the second passed in 2003) for the uber-rich, but that we really need to make them permanent. Huh? Excuse me? Those tax cuts that only benefited the top 2% of wage earners in this country? Those tax cuts that cost the other 98% of us dearly in terms of budgetary deficits and increased national debt?  If I recall correctly, they promised us massive job growth upon the passage of those cuts.  What they delivered was pitifully minuscule job growth — the worst on record:

George W. Bush 3.0 million 135.5 million 132.5 million 2.3%
Bill Clinton 23.1 million 132.5 million 109.4 million 21.1%
George H.W. Bush 2.5 million 109.4 million 106.9 million 2.3%
Ronald Reagan 16.0 million 106.9 million 90.9 million 17.6%
Jimmy Carter 10.5 million 90.9 million 80.4 million 13.1%
Gerald Ford 1.8 million 80.4 million 78.6 million 2.3%
Richard Nixon 9.4 million 78.6 million 69.2 million 13.6%
Lyndon Johnson 11.9 million 69.2 million 57.3 million 20.8%
John F. Kennedy 3.6 million 57.3 million 53.7 million 6.7%
Dwight Eisenhower 3.5 million 53.7 million 50.2 million 7%
Harry Truman 8.4 million 50.2 million 41.8 million 20.1%

If we were to look at just one year, say 2004, government income in the form of plummeted $297B. Cutting revenues is worse than increasing spending. In fact, those revenue cuts cost us considerably more that the$30B in increased spending for unemployment compensation for our neediest citizens. And to put it more succinctly, that $297B revenue deficit represented 45% of the budget deficit in just 2004.

By 2004, the Bush 2001 and 2003 tax cuts had caused revenues to plummet to their lowest levels, as a share of the economy, in over 50 years. Conferred on the highest-income households, those tax cuts were touted as being the means by which investments would be made in creating new jobs and thus, growing the economy. Instead, investments weren't made, tax revenues plummeted, and war spending and pork barrel project spending escalated through the roof.

At the start of 2001, the cost, ten years down the road, of extending all tax-cut measures then in place was $22 billion. However,the Center on Budget & Policy Priorities found (in 2004) that if the Bush 2001 and 2003 temporary tax cuts were to be extended, their cost in ten years (i.e., in 2014) would be $431 billion. Given the recession, the lowest job growth record of any President in decades, and two wars ... the cost of extending or making those tax breaks permanent is cost prohibitive.

Something in the GOP logic escapes me. Did the Devil take over the house of the Lord used by these "Christian" conservatives? Their treatment of unemployment compensation legislation (as well as other pieces of legislation considered in the last 18 months) has been anything but "christianly." When exactly was it that $30B for unemployment compensation for the seriously needy became so evil, and unfairly rewarding the avariciousness of the uber-rich become such a necessity?

References and Further Reading:

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