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.
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:
- 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?
- 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?
- 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?
- 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?
- 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?
- 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?
- 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.