The GSA Scandal is a Smoke Screen
The Real Scandal is Republican Tax Policy
Today the so-called “Buffet Rule” – which is named after multi-billionaire investor Warren Buffet and would require people making more than a million dollars a year to pay a tax rate that is at least equal to the rate paid by their secretaries – came up for a procedural vote in the Senate. No one expected the bill, which was sponsored by Democratic Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, to garner a filibuster proof 60 votes due to resistance from the Grand Obstructionist Party. They just wanted to get the Republicans on record defending tax giveawys to the rich.
House Republicans are trying to confuse the issue by opening hearings over the reported financial misconduct by members of the Government Service Administration. At issue is a retreat held in Las Vegas on President Obama’s watch; although no reasonable person could expect the president to monitor the vast agency’s activities while he was trying to save the world from financial collapse.
To listen to the Republican’s talk abot this issue one would think that the government deficit would disappear if these corrupt, wasteful government bureaucrats were kicked to the curb. It is a transparent attempt to change the subject from tax inequities to government waste. All told, the bacchanal in which 300 agency employees were flown to Vegas during 2010, cost 822 thousand dollars. But compared to the trillion dollars in lost revenues over the next decade due to Republican tax cuts to the rich it’s a pittance.
While there seems ample reason to conclude that the Vegas Conference served no really useful purpose, staff development retreats in which the objectives and results are called into question are nothing new; whether in the public or private sector. In fact, President Obama came under fire from the right when he criticized private corporations holding costly confabs in that Sodom in the desert; especially corporations seeking government loans and bailouts that same year. “You can’t go take that trip to Las Vegas or go down to the Super Bowl on taxpayers’ dime,” he said.
Faster than Billy the Kid could draw his guns Nevada politicians rained criticism on the President; both Democrats and Republicans. There was little difference between the opinions of Democratic Senate Leader Harry Reid and right-wing Republican Senator John Ensign, who has since been driven from the Senate in disgrace. All of them were in favor of corporations spending government bailout money in Vegas; which only demonstrates the old axiom “All politics is local.”
Obviously, anyone involved in wrong doing should be punished and the guidelines tightened on how tax payer money is used for these types of activities. But we must not allow this scandal, which is relatively modest compared to other examples of Government waste and fraud in which the Grand Obstructionist inquisitor has shown no interests – billions of tax payer dollars poured into Iraq were stolen outright for instance – to be used as an excuse not to adequately fund the critical functions of government by refusing to tax the rich while slashing the budgets of critical agencies like Environmental Protection and the departments of energy and education.
This is the real agenda of far right Congressman Darrel Issa, the richest man in the House, who is using the investigative powers of his position as Chairman of the Government Oversight Committee – especially the subpoena, to foil any plan to raise taxes on his class by discrediting government spending.
He is an avid supporter of the Ryan plan that seeks to balance the budget on the backs of the poor, and President Obama has accurately described as “thinly disguised Social Darwinism.” Hence any investigation of government agencies initiated by Chairman Issa must be viewed with a jaundiced eye.
Under the able leadership of the senior Senator from New York, Charles Schumer, the Democrats are giving Republicans just enough rope to hang themselves. According to Schumer, the Democrats are going to force the Republicans to vote on these issues over and over again…repeatedly forcing the Republicans to go on record defending a trillion dollar tax cut to the rich in a time of economic crisis for the rest of us.
All the polls show that this policy is wildly unpopular; that’s why Mitt Romney refuses to reveal the cuts that he would make in the Federal budget. And he has been overheard saying that he will not specify the cuts he will make because it can be used against him in the general election.
It is the master plan of the Grand Obstructionist Party, laid down by Paul Ryan and his cronies in the House. Ryan lays out large numbers when he talks about cutting the federal budget without saying where he will cut; that’s because he’s scared to death to offer specifics. He knows most of the working and middle class whites think of welfare payments to black and Hispanic people when they think of government cuts. This is the 21st century’s version of Ronald Reagan’s “Welfare Queens.”
A Morally Deformed 21st Century Social Darwinist
If these people knew that cutting funds to the EPA could result in fire blasting from their water faucets because of oil pollution in their aquifers, or a dramatic rise in cancer rates because of air pollution, they would be outraged. But as the old adage says: The best laid plans of mice and men often go astray.
Anyone who wants to know the true intentions of Mr. Romney should pay attention to a secretly recorded speech he made last night; what he had to say is frightening. Among other things he has pledged to scrap the Department of Education and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. This would have devastating consequences for the working and middle classes…and would be life threatening for the poor.
That’s why the Ryan budget is a stealth budget! They are banking on the ignorance of the electorate to get over. It’s our job to not let that happen by getting the word out, and working to reelect the President and recapture the House of Representatives. Anything else is folly!
Paul Ryan, Chairman of the Congressional Budget Committee
Playthell G. Benjamin
Harlem, New York
April 16, 2012