7 Ways Sequestration Will Sock the Middle Class

Once again, the GOP strips funds from the neediest to pad their own wallets.

Leo Gerard, United Steelworkers PresidentFebruary 26, 2013

House Speaker John Boehner says ending tax loopholes for the wealthy is out of the question. (Gage Skidmore / Flickr / Creative Commons).

Last week, Pres­i­dent Oba­ma described the seques­tra­tion sit­u­a­tion in sim­ple, stark terms: Keep it in place and punch the mid­dle class in the gut. Or, he sug­gest­ed, soft­en the blow sub­stan­tial­ly by end­ing spe­cial tax breaks for the rich.

President Obama gave the GOP a choice. Republicans chose, once again, to coddle the rich.

Here’s what he said:

Repub­li­cans in Con­gress face a sim­ple choice. Are they will­ing to com­pro­mise to pro­tect vital invest­ments in edu­ca­tion and health­care and nation­al secu­ri­ty and all the jobs that depend on them? Or would they rather put hun­dreds of thou­sands of jobs and our entire econ­o­my at risk just to pro­tect a few spe­cial inter­est tax loop­holes that ben­e­fit only the wealth­i­est Amer­i­cans and biggest corporations?

Pres­i­dent Oba­ma is rec­om­mend­ing reduc­ing the pain of seques­tra­tion by rais­ing rev­enue. This could be accom­plished by elim­i­nat­ing cushy deals that the rich and cor­po­ra­tions have bought for them­selves over the years with lob­by­ist dough.

Specif­i­cal­ly, it breaks down like this:

  1. Do Repub­li­cans want to evict 70,000 low income chil­dren from Head Start to ensure that the nation’s largest cor­po­ra­tion, GE, which is mas­sive­ly prof­itable, con­tin­ues to pay no tax­es and instead demands rebates from the Amer­i­can people?
  2. Do Repub­li­cans want to fur­lough 750,000 civil­ians employed by the Army to ensure that one of the rich­est men in the world, War­ren Buf­fett, can con­tin­ue pay­ing a low­er tax rate than his sec­re­tary, a sit­u­a­tion that Buf­fett has described as uncon­scionable?
  3. Do Repub­li­cans want to slash $550 mil­lion from the FBI, hin­der­ing response to cyber and ter­ror­ist attacks after the equiv­a­lent of 7,000 work­ers are fur­loughed each day just to ensure that cor­po­ra­tions can con­tin­ue to get tax breaks when they off­shore jobs?
  4. Do Repub­li­cans want to end treat­ment for 373,000 seri­ous­ly men­tal­ly ill adults and severe­ly emo­tion­al­ly dis­turbed chil­dren just to ensure that the 1 per­cent con­tin­ue to receive tax breaks for their cor­po­rate jets, yachts and golf carts?
  5. Do Repub­li­cans want to cut back cus­toms agents and Fed­er­al Avi­a­tion Admin­is­tra­tion work­ers, includ­ing air traf­fic con­trollers, caus­ing air­line delays just to accom­mo­date the demand of mul­ti-mil­lion­aires like Mitt Rom­ney to pay a 14.1 per­cent tax rate, a rate low­er than many mid­dle-class work­ers pay?
  6. Do Repub­li­cans want to slash $350 mil­lion from the Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Pre­ven­tion, elim­i­nat­ing, among oth­er cru­cial health inter­ven­tions, 540,000 dos­es of vac­cine for flu, hepati­tis and measles as well as tens of thou­sands of can­cer screen­ings for low-income women, just to ensure that 30 high­ly prof­itable For­tune 500 com­pa­nies con­tin­ue to pay less in tax­es than they do for lobbyists?
  7. Do Repub­li­cans want to can­cel 1,000 Nation­al Sci­ence Foun­da­tion grants for research in areas like cyber secu­ri­ty — espe­cial­ly now that it has been revealed that Chi­nese groups have hacked into the nation’s elec­tri­cal pow­er grid, gas dis­tri­b­u­tion and water­works sys­tems — in order to con­tin­ue mas­sive gov­ern­ment sub­si­dies to oil com­pa­nies, which are among the most prof­itable cor­po­ra­tions in the world?

The Repub­li­can response to all of this: Yes. Yes, they do. There will be no end to tax loop­holes for the rich, House Speak­er John Boehn­er (R‑Ohio) has asserted.

The Repub­li­can rul­ing: The vast mid­dle class, the elder­ly and the poor must suffer.

Pres­i­dent Oba­ma gave the GOP a choice. Repub­li­cans chose, once again, to cod­dle the rich.

Leo Ger­ard is inter­na­tion­al pres­i­dent of the Unit­ed Steel­work­ers Union, part of the AFL-CIO. The son of a union min­er; Ger­ard start­ed work­ing at a nick­el smelter in Sud­bury, Ontario, at age 18, and rose through the union’s ranks to be appoint­ed the sev­enth inter­na­tion­al pres­i­dent Feb. 28, 2001. For more infor­ma­tion about Ger­ard, vis­it usw​.org.
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