It wasn’t long ago that people left the “public service” — i.e., government jobs, teachers, public safety positions, and the like — because more money could be had in the private sector. Nowadays, those firemen and teachers are being excoriated because those same jobs are suddenly exalted positions held by malingering slackers, the root of all evil in society today. So sayeth our fearless leaders. And this same sentiment is echoed in the comments to this article on the blog boston.com, a piece called “WGBH says offer to union is final.”
When did what remains of the middle class become the bad guys, the root cause of all our economic problems? Excuse me, but did the workers of our world somehow take down the system and nobody told us?
Granted, it’s pretty much axiomatic that politicians need enemies to rally the troops against, and the shills passing as politicians these days seem to have found a suitable target at which to misdirect rage — the embodiment of a frustration at the sorry economic state of the working class in this country as we slouch towards third world status. But to what extent are the politicians and their cronies actually the ones to blame for our misfortune?
This post from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, with its simple conclusion, bears consideration: “[T]he fact remains: Together with the economic downturn, the Bush tax cuts and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq explain virtually the entire deficit over the next ten years (see Figure 1).”
As it posits:
Some commentators blame recent legislation — the stimulus bill and the financial rescues — for today’s record deficits. Yet those costs pale next to other policies enacted since 2001 that have swollen the deficit. Those other policies may be less conspicuous now, because many were enacted years ago and they have long since been absorbed into CBO’s and other organizations’ budget projections.
Just two policies dating from the Bush Administration — tax cuts and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan — accounted for over $500 billion of the deficit in 2009 and will account for almost $7 trillion in deficits in 2009 through 2019, including the associated debt-service costs.  (The prescription drug benefit enacted in 2003 accounts for further substantial increases in deficits and debt, which we are unable to quantify due to data limitations.) These impacts easily dwarf the stimulus and financial rescues. Furthermore, unlike those temporary costs, these inherited policies (especially the tax cuts and the drug benefit) do not fade away as the economy recovers (see Figure 1).
Without the economic downturn and the fiscal policies of the previous Administration, the budget would be roughly in balance over the next decade.
As noted, the other part of the equation, of course, is the near collapse of the economic system. Can we lay that at the doorstep of collective bargaining, the boogeyman du jour? The LUV newsletter carried this pithy little piece taking NPR to task again for their pro-business slant:
On NPR’s Morning Edition this morning, host Steve Inskeep asked his guest, Joseph Slater, about public sector labor, “Is there evidence to support the contention that these unions have become much more powerful over time, that is to say too powerful?”
Mustn’t let those cops and teachers get a living wage!
Amazing how they get more like FOX News “journalists” each day. Could it be because NPR gets FOX funding, as we recently reported, to complement their corporate funding from defense cheats, banksters and polluters?
Woof. Hide the guillotines. This is not the first time we’ve posted on LUV’s invective directed at the “liberal media.”
Robert Reich, secretary of labor under Bill Clinton, painted a dismal picture of the plebeian plight on his blog (here), first chronicling the downward spiral of middleclass fortunes and following with this:
Teachers are being fired, Pell grants for the poor are being slashed, energy assistance for the needy is disappearing, other vital public services shriveling. Regulatory agencies don’t have the budgets to pay the people they need to enforce the law. Even if it wanted to the Securities and Exchange Commission couldn’t police Wall Street.
All of which is precisely where Republicans want the nation to be. It sets them up perfectly to blame government, blame public employees, blame unionized workers. It lets them pit workers against one another, divide the Democratic base, and promote the false idea that we’re in a giant zero-sum game and the nation can’t afford to do more.
It diverts attention from what’s happened at the top – so no one sees how well CEOs and Wall Street bankers are doing again, no one views the paybacks and tax giveaways engineered by their Republican patrons, and no one focuses on the tide of money flowing from the likes of billionaires Charles and David Koch into Republican coffers.