We have experienced a change in attitude across the country, demonstrated by many of the Tea Party politicians losing their seats and more progressive Democrats winning seats. But we need to stay vigilant. The end of the year did not bring major tax increases for working people and spending cuts, but everything could change in the coming months. The fight hasn’t ended.
I don’t mind the Bush tax cuts expiring for everyone if that is what it takes for the richest One Percent to start contributing more to our economy. But I strongly disagree with the cutting of essential benefits, especially Social Security, Medicare and Medi-Cal. I also reject the notion that there must be a “balanced approach” to taxing the rich and the poor. Working families already pay our share. We need more union jobs–not cuts.
The “balanced approached” has been anything but balanced. It has meant accepting deep cuts to state and local social programs and services. It hasn’t meant anything to the wealthy. During Governor Schwarzenegger’s term, the Republicans always were able to get tax and regulatory breaks while working people had to live with cut services–all to get a state budget approved. No wonder we were more in debt with each new year. Thank heavens Californians passed Proposition 25 in 2010, which changed the requirement for the legislature to pass a budget from two-thirds to a simple majority vote.
Social Security and Medicare should be untouchable. They are benefits in which people have invested throughout their working years. Unemployment, disability insurance and workers’ compensation are programs that the workers must pay into to receive the benefits.
Yes, we have programs for the poor, like food stamps and assistance with housing and rent. The wealthiest country in the world should care for the less fortunate among us. Yet, these programs aren’t only helpful to the poor, the disabled and the unemployed–the money they receive keeps our economy moving. It is spent at local businesses, grocery stores and for lodging.
Cutting benefits and services hurts the middle class and the poor the most. But cuts also take money out of our economy, causing businesses to contract and unemployment to go up. The answer is to have corporations and the wealthy pay the taxes they’ve been avoiding for over a decade.
(Virginia “Ginny” Anders-Ellmore is an L.A. County Nurse Practitioner. Her post first appeared on the SEIU 721 site and is republished with permission.)