Republicans in the US House unanimously voted against the stimulus bill because they’d rather not do as much for the economy and they'd rather focus on tax cuts.
What’s wrong with that? A severe misreading of economics and taxation, the challenges of the times, and politics of America.
First, the economics are wrong. We have neglected infrastructure and we have to get going on rebuilding our public infrastructure, from road, schools and bridges to clean water; we have to reform our healthcare system so that everyone is covered and can have greater security, indpendence and freedom to innovate; and we have to “greentooling” our economy and energy sectors for security, financial independence and to combat global warming.
Today’s crisis was driven by a 30-year neglect of public investment, focusing on tax cuts and housing and debt-based consumerism. But buying stuff doesn’t buid roads. Tax cuts do not create as much economic activity as actually spending it.
The median income in America is almost flat over the last 30 years. A housing-based and consumer service economy is simply not enough to deliver robust jobs.
The problem isn’t that taxes are too high, the problem is that income is too low and that there aren’t enough jobs.
Second, the challenges of of our times, not those of the 1970s, must be met. Tax cuts to stimulate consumer purchases will not build bridges and rebuild schools, they will not upgrade our electric grid and convert energy production to renewables. These public investments get paid by us banding together to build what we can’t do on our own through our taxes. And these must be done now. These are better jobs. We will waste less power. We generate more energy and economic activity ourselves, keeping more dollars here and sending less oversears. Studies show that every dollar kept locally is worth $3 - $5 in further economic activity.
We are deep in debt already, so cutting taxes only drives that deeper. We have a huge debt load that needs, as in the 1990s, to be paid off.
Third, Americans all know this even if the Republican leadership doesn’t have a clue. As Republican pollster Frank Luntz recently pointed out, fully 84% of Americans want the government to spend more on infrastructure and 81% are prepared to pay 1% more in taxes to do it -- they favor a tax increase -- including 74% of Republicans. Republican legislative leaders are playing to 25% of their base and just 15% of the US.