As we enter the final stretch of the midterm elections, Republicans look poised to take the House and possibly the Senate, as Americans seem to want a different direction for the economy and the country. Before we take that leap, it’s important to examine just what economic policies we will be choosing. The Republicans recently released “The Pledge to America,” a plan that they claim will create jobs and reduce the deficit. In reality, the Republicans have an absolutely incoherent platform that will place an enormous burden on the poor, unemployed, and middle class, increase the deficit, and fail to create jobs or growth. It’s a pledge to the top one percent, a document that helps the extremely wealthy at the expense of the least fortunate.
The Republicans have a lot of old, tried, and discarded ideas in their plan. One of them is to extend the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy, which will have little positive economic impact at an enormous cost to the deficit. It’s confounding that the Republicans are viewed as a party of fiscal sense when they aim to pass a deficit-busting tax cut extension that will carve an enormous hole in our budget.
Another hallmark Republican idea is to repeal the healthcare reform law, which was the first major legislation to combat inequality in decades and finally will ensure that healthcare is a right, not a privilege. The law is far from perfect, but it is already one of the largest deficit-reduction packages in years, reducing the deficit by $118 billion over ten years, while allowing the poor and middle class to live secure and healthy lives. If Republicans really cared about fiscal sustainability and the welfare of those without health care, they would aim to make this law better by implementing more cost controls and improvements. Instead, the goal of repeal betrays their true motives of lower taxes on high-income individuals, regardless of the cost to society as a whole.
The Republicans have claimed that they will implement drastic spending reductions, but that senior citizens, veterans, and defense spending will be exempt from any of these cuts. Medicare and defense spending are where a vast amount of savings can be found, and exempting these politically uncomfortable areas leaves discretionary spending, which is much easier to cut in theory than in practice. Especially in today’s economy, where poverty is at a 15-year high, Americans desperately need services such as Medicaid, food stamps, and aid to poor families and children, which will be the first things to go in “discretionary” cuts. This is not to mention essentials such as infrastructure and education spending—investments in our country’s future that will certainly not be made under a Republican Congress devoted to cutting discretionary spending.
The Democrats, on the other hand, have made America a far more just society with a bright future over the last two years through smart and fair policy. The stimulus plan, while not large enough, put millions of Americans back to work, helping poor and middle class Americans find jobs during tough times. In addition to universal healthcare, the Democrats have also passed a financial regulation law that makes markets far safer for everyday consumers and the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which should help level the playing field for women in the workforce. They have taken steps to unlock our struggling schools from stasis through education reform, helping the poorest students and have ensured that workers out of jobs still have access to the social safety net. Their efforts to pass more job creation measures have been filibustered by Republicans, but they have implemented countless policies that are creating a more fair and dynamic society.
The two parties offer a clear choice in the November elections. The Republicans offer giveaways to the wealthy and seem to have little else guiding their motives. The Democrats have moved America forward through policies that strengthen the weakest Americans, giving them health care and protecting them from the excesses of the financial system and the swings of the economy. Democrats have built a society with a more productive and just future; the Republicans hope to tear it down for a few wealthy citizens.
Ravi N. Mulani ’12, a Crimson editorial writer, is an applied math concentrator in Winthrop House. His column appears on alternate Tuesdays.