Last Friday, Democrats and Republicans agreed on a short-term budget. This is the seventh budget passed in the last six months, accentuating the gross partisan bias that has divided Washington. While President Barack Obama was hesitant to sign yet another short-term bill, it was done out of necessity to avoid a government shutdown.
The fight over this year’s budget only emphasizes the inappropriate shift in our federal government’s priorities. Those who need the most are pushed aside to the political periphery and take the hardest cuts while the rich continue with minimum sacrifice.
Republicans, eager to cut spending in social services, planned on cutting $317 million in Planned Parenthood funding. Not to say that Democrats are innocent of this trend, but Republicans are quick to protect tax cuts for the wealthy and big business while the taxpayer must pay those externalized costs.
According to CNN, “…a Republican push to cut $317 million in federal funding from Planned Parenthood failed. Democrats also thwarted attempts to get federal dollars currently set aside for family planning and women’s health turned into block grants for states.”
How quickly people forget that U.S. companies, like General Electric, receive huge tax breaks from the government, even in these difficult economic times. During 2010, GE paid not one penny for taxes, even as its profits soared to $14 billion.
This is a harsh reality for Obama, who campaigned for closing corporate loopholes that exploit the American taxpayer.
Most oil companies still receive huge tax breaks from the federal government, even though Obama also campaigned on ending our reliance on finite resources and leading the world in alternative energy sources.
Congress and Obama also extended Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthy earlier this year. When the government needs money, it is true: not everyone is equal. Greed has saturated our political atmosphere while the ultra-rich pursue personal agendas at the expense of the average citizen.
One must question how long these class divisions can sustain themselves?
Our government is no longer for all people, but mostly for the upper stratification of this plutocracy, as welfare and other social programs are increasingly underfunded.
New York Times columnist Robert H. Frank writes, “With the median wage, adjusted for inflation, lower now than in 1980, most middle-class families cannot afford additional taxes.
In contrast, the top tenth of 1 percent of earners today make about four times as much as in 1980, while those higher up have enjoyed even larger gains. Chief executives of large American companies, for example, earn more than 10 times what they did in 1980. In short, top earners are where the money is.”
As it becomes more evident that trickle-down economics does not work, our government still shifts policy in favor of those with enough money to influence the decision. The budget battle is no exception.