There is justifiably a lot of angry attention drawn to the fact that Wisconsin didn’t really have a budget problem until Republican Governor Scott Walker artificially created one by rushing through a series of business tax cuts. Now, in a classic shock doctrine fashion, he is using this manufactured “crisis” to justify his push to cripple labor unions and cut the salaries of teachers.
While I find his behavior deplorable, it is important for grassroots progressive to keep in mind that what Gov. Walker is doing in Wisconsin is, in many ways, a small-scale version of what President Obama (with the help of Senate Minority leader Mitch McConnell) has been overseeing at the federal level.
President Obama chose to make the deficit worse, not just by escalated the war in Afghanistan but, most importantly, by making a massively expensive tax cut deal with Mitch McConnell. Not only did the deal extend all the Bush tax cuts, even for those making over $250,000, but it also contained a huge cut in the estate tax, a brief payroll tax cut, an expensive extension of the wasteful ethanol subsidies and a host of smaller tax cuts. Overall, the package will cost $858 billion over two years. Most importantly, though, by taking away even the possibility of letting all the Bush tax cuts expire, something the president could actually easily do by himself by vetoing any extension bill, Obama is taking the position that he will actively fight hard to blow a roughly $4 trillion hole in the budget over the next decade.
What this means is that there actually isn’t a mid-term budget deficit problem–unless Obama goes through with his plan to actively create it.
Now, just three months after a bipartisan tax-cut deal was reached to make the deficit dramatically worse, this artificially created “deficit crisis” is being used by both the House Republicans and the Obama administration to justify why we need to start making “tough choices”–i.e. cuts to programs that help people. It is the same basic pattern we see in Wisconsin: first create the problem, then use it to justify draconian actions.
Correction: Orginally incorrectly wrote $4 billion instead $4 trillion