There's no Fiscal Cliff; It's An Income Cliff
Young Philly Politics | 11.27.2012
While the national focus is on a make-believe deficit “crisis”, Philadelphia is facing an all too real income crisis. Too many families, including many with at least one full time worker, simply can’t meet their basic needs.
Of course our entire State includes huge numbers of struggling families, 840,000 families to be exact, including 2.3 million individuals, according to a recent study by Pathways PA. But Philly is tops in “income inadequacy” with 42% of our entire population not able to meet basic needs such as housing, child care, food, health care and taxes. Yes, the poor and the marginally poor do pay taxes.
During the Presidential campaign, the problems of these folks, and the cities like Philadelphia that are home to so many of them, fell off the cliff. Instead another cliff engendered all the conversation, and continues to, the so-called “fiscal cliff.”
The fiscal cliff is what we’re all supposed to fall off of if Congress doesn’t act on tax and budget policies by midnight on December 31. At that point all the Bush tax cuts will expire and massive budget cuts will take place. All of this because both parties have been laser-focused for two years on the need to cut deficits, and to that end have created their very own emergency to force themselves to act.
But as Paul Krugman repeatedly points out, there is no deficit crisis. We need no spending cuts (except in the bloated Defense Department budget.) We are told that deficits are threatening to create uncontrollable inflation and sky high interest rates. But the reality is that as deficits have grown, interest rates and inflation have fallen. The only real deficit is the income deficit.
So if you’re interested in being in touch with your elected officials about the fiscal cliff decisions they will be debating in coming weeks, here’s a little guide to what you might tell them:
Senator Bob Casey (202-224-6324) Senator Casey has not publicly committed to protecting Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security nor Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) and needs us to remind him that all of these represent income streams that are vitally important to his constituents.
Ask Senator Casey to commit to not cutting benefits for Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security and EUC as part of the ‘Grand Bargain’ and to ending the Bush Tax Cuts for the top 2%.
Senator Pat Toomey (202-224-4254) Senator Toomey wants to extend the Bush Tax Cuts for the top 2% and favors reducing cuts in defense spending but not social services spending. Although he is unlikely to change his position, we should remind him that he too represents us.
Bob Brady (District 01) (202) 225-4731: Brady supports protecting Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security as well as ending tax cuts for the rich. THANK HIM, and ask him to stick to his guns!
Chaka Fattah (District 02) (202) 225.4001: Fattah is championing a bipartisan deal so it is critical that he hears from constituents that the deal must end tax cuts for the rich and preserve out social safety net.
Pat Meehan (District 07) (202) 225-2011: Meehan is certainly not a supporter of our position, but has pledged to break through the logjam in D.C. Constituents need to let him know their concerns and positions.
Allyson Schwartz (District 13) (202) 225-6111: Schwartz is the number 2 Democrat on the House Budget Committee and the vice-chair of a coalition focused on tax cuts for the middle class, protecting Medicare and making America more economically competitive. We need to encourage her to also protect Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and EUC and not cave in on ending tax cuts for the rich.
If you're not sure who your Representative is, click here.
As usual, the conventional wisdom is wrong. We need to let our representatives in Washington know that we want them – we need them – to join our fact-based world.
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