Deficit-reduction talk is full of the need to “make tough choices.” But are the people on the rough end of these tough choices really the ones who should be asked to make the sacrifices?
Anyone old enough to remember the early Reagan Administration will find a sickly echo in today’s proposals to cut child nutrition programs and education grants to low-income students. Once again the budget cutters are focusing on the easiest targets: services for people without high-powered lobbyists to protect their interests. These are lifeline programs-- like weatherization assistance for poor people in cold climates-- that operate on a shoestring now, often have waiting lists, and should be expanded, not cut.
As pointed out in a recent report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, it was the Bush tax cuts, the Great Recession and two wars that got us into this deficit mess. Discretionary programs ensuring baseline services to the poor and middle class played no part. (Entitlement programs Medicare and Medicaid are in a separate category, but these too can be fixed without punishing the poor.)
Sacrifice should be asked of those (like Wall Street bankers, military contractors and those who live off unearned income from stocks and bonds) who’ve benefited from the tax and spending policies of the past 30 years. They’re the ones who’ve been having the party-- they should get the bill.