National Commentary

Funds Don’t Flow in Trickle-Down

Will we ever recover from the mess the Republicans have gotten us into? Most of us may not understand all the complexities of our current economic debacle, but the bottom line is we have way more money being paid out by the federal government than revenue being collected.

We continue to fight in two of the longest-running wars in U.S. history. Obama has had many opportunities to pull out of the wars, and yet he hasn’t.

Between retiring baby boomers and an unemployment rate over nine percent, entitlement payouts are at an all-time high. Now is hardly the time to cut Social Security, food stamps, Medicare and Medicaid benefits with so many people in the country sick, hungry and living hand to mouth.

Compounding our problems is the fact that trickle-down economics did not work. Since the Bush tax cuts, the super rich have paid less than their share in taxes. What did they do with all of this extra money?

Unfortunately, the rich don’t get rich by building things and creating more jobs, but by moving paper around on Wall Street. Today, Wall Street creates more money for people with money. They seem to no longer be in the business of raising capital to invest in factories and businesses, which in turn would create jobs and help all of us.

Since Reagan, Republicans have fought tooth and nail against any regulation by the federal government on Wall Street. Deregulation has allowed derivative and short-sale markets to flourish and grow – ultimately causing the 2008 meltdown.

As chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission from Aug. 26, 1996, to June 1, 1999 Brooksley Born warned Congress of the fraud and potential damage which would occur if the derivative market continued unregulated. Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan and Treasury Secretaries Robert Rubin and Lawrence Summers insisted regulation would stifle economic growth, and that ultimately free markets correct themselves. Both resigned, and unfortunately Born’s predictions panned out in September 2008. Is it OK for Wall Street to sell products such as derivatives that are so complex the buyer doesn’t even understand what he is buying?

Regarding the short sale market – isn’t there a serious conflict of interest when people are allowed to bet against the success of a company? Why did the government allow a company like AIG to insure so many Wall Street bankers against all of the junk assets they were bundling with American retirement accounts?

We have to address what is going out, but now is not the time to focus on cutting entitlements. Social Security checks and food stamps are benefits that are spent immediately, providing cash infusions into our economy – unlike tax cuts for the rich, which are often added savings in their pockets.

Increasing the retirement age could be considered, but before we look at cutting anymore from entitlement programs, we need to raise taxes. Even American investor and billionaire Warren Buffet thinks the super rich are not paying their fair share.

What is wrong with the Republicans? Do they want the country to go bankrupt? Do they think it is OK for other people to die for their freedom and let fellow Americans go hungry?

Obama sold the country – and in particular the people who put him in office – out by allowing the same low tax rates for the top earners in this country. We need a President, and politicians in Washington, to lead with a heart and compassion for the people. Sometimes this means taking a stand for things that may jeopardize a re-election campaign.

The selfishness and greed is out of control in this country. As a young girl during the Great Depression, I have fond memories of our entire neighborhood pitching in to help families who were out of work. My father owned a grocery store and he never gave a second thought to feeding someone who didn’t have money.

Now is not the time for the country to fight about who should get what, and who may be right or wrong. We need to pull together – as we have in the past – to work together, and through compromise, solve the issues we face today. We actually are our brother’s keeper.