“Fix the Debt” bankroller Pete Peterson. (Reuters/Jason Reed)
There is a great deal of talk about how Republican senators have gone off the rails in their opposition to the nomination of former Senator Chuck Hagel to serve as Secretary of Defense. And there have been some bizarre deviations, with senators making pronouncements based on internet rumors and unfounded speculation.
But none of the fantastical filibustering of the Hagel fight can compare with the delusional dialogue regarding the federal budget.
To hear the billionaire proponents of austerity tell it, America is teetering on the brink of economic ruin. America, we are told, is broke. And the only answer is to “Fix the Debt” with deep spending cuts followed by the radical reordering of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.
But America is not broke.
America has broken priorities.
That’s what the billionaire proponents of cuts-at-any-cost economics won’t acknowledge as they advance a “Fix the Debt” agenda that imposes austerity on everyone else, while stacking the deck in their favor.
It is vital to understand that there is an economically and socially viable alternative to austerity cuts. It’s a growth agenda that addresses waste, fraud and abuse while finding new revenues to invest in job creation, education and expansion of access to healthcare.
The growth agenda, as proposed in the “Balancing Act” advanced by leaders of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, asks billionaires to pay their fair share in order to expand employment and opportunities.
The austerity agenda asks everyone but the billionaires to pay: via cuts not just to benefits and services but to jobs.
The anticipated March 1 sequestration, which proposes across-the-board cuts, is an example of austerity.