Smaller Government, But At What Cost?

The Tea Party and Republicans are moving forward on their agenda for a smaller government.  But what does this mean to us, as Americans?  Their theory goes, with a smaller government, less taxes will be needed to be collected.  Since Americans have an aversion to taxes, the general public tend to go along with this theory.

But this isn’t as much of a theory in so much as it is rhetoric.  The federal government has obligations, established over fifty years ago, in order to help provide for those who can’t provide for themselves.  Whether we are discussing the retirees, the disabled, or the unemployed, the Tea Party and Republicans tout personal responsibility.

It is one thing to talk about reducing the federal government’s budget or obligations by reducing it to simple numbers.  But they haven’t been holding honest discussions.  The federal deficit is not a new issue, nor is it something to be ignored.  Yet as the Tea Party and the Republicans both accurately state that our federal government is broke,  they fail to take note of how the Tax Cut bill brought this about.

The tax rates we are currently enjoying was brought about while acknowledging that these rates will not be sustainable.  They were brought about to promote economic growth at a time of stagnation.  While many American businesses relocated production and manufacturing overseas, lower tax rates were touted as a spark to demand.  These tax cuts were not budgeted for, but rather were financed through our national deficit.

But what does this all mean for Americans today?  While there was a so-called “mandate” for even lower taxes and a smaller government, the Tea Party and Republicans are seeking to de-fund essential programs such as Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and Unemployment.  The programs they seek to cut financial corners out of will effect our retired, our disabled, our unemployed, our under-employed, and our poor.

In order to maintain the tax cuts for the upper 2%, it is the poor who shoulder the burden through the de-funding of heating assistance, food programs, Medicaid and education.  Retirees will shoulder the burden through the cuts to Social Security and Medicare.  While the discussion centers around how “we must all shoulder the burden” in order to balance the budget, it is not the wealthy who are shouldering the burden, or who are making sacrifices.  Instead, they are only asking the poor to shoulder the burden.

I find myself in agreement with the Tea Party’s and the Republican’s talking point of personal responsibility, or to paraphrase “if you can’t afford it, you don’t deserve it.”  We can’t afford these tax cuts when our deficit is closing in on the GDP.  So instead of scraping pennies off of the backs of those who can not provide for themselves, why can’t we have an honest discussion over how these tax cuts are unaffordable, and that the upper 2% don’t deserve them?

It is called “wealth redistribution” when you take money from one economic class and give it to another (which is typically done through tax cuts and tax incentives).  Wealth redistribution is only demonized when it effects the upper class and it is touted as being “responsible” when it effects the lower classes.  Wealth redistribution works both ways.  For over thirty years, money has been redistributed from the lower and middle class and given to the upper class.  The last three tax cut measures were not budgeted for, but rather were financed through our national deficit.  Therefore, we find our government is “broke”, and we can no longer afford Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Food Programs, Heating Assistance, Planned Parenthood, Public Schools, Police protection, Fire protection, and other programs designed for either the public good or for those who can no longer provide for themselves, in order to permit those who have enough to gain more.

This approach is irresponsible and devastating to the American economy.  We are left to wonder, what are the costs to us in order to reduce the size of the government and lower the tax burden?  We may find that the costs are more than we are willing to stomach.