From Jeffrey Sachs’ article in the Financial Times, “America has lost the battle over government”:
America’s two political parties depend on wealthy contributors to finance their presidential campaigns. These donors want and expect their taxes to stay low. As a result, social divisions, broken infrastructure, laggard educational attainments, high carbon emissions and chronic budget deficits are likely to continue no matter who is elected, even though the public supports higher taxes on corporations and the rich.
Only a big political realignment, perhaps spurred by a third party bold enough to campaign on free social media rather than expensive television advertising, is likely to break the status quo. Until then, the demise of public goods and services will continue apace.
Teachers across the country are suffering, and the children they teach are seeing their futures limited, by the misuse of budget policy as a blunt instrument to roll back social spending on vital, community-building programs. In the case of Christine Simo, there is a clear correlation between misguided cut-first education budget policy and the real harm to the quality of education students can expect.
The argument is often made that investment in “intangibles”, like education, community-level quality of life, even programs for asset-building and public health, cannot be shown to have material benefit: this is wholly false, and anyone who cares about the quality of their children’s education, or the quality of life in their community, has personally observed evidence of that fact.
80% of Americans want tax increases to form part of a responsible, viable, comprehensive debt and deficit-reduction plan. Only 20% of Americans agree with the radical Tea Party position that there should be zero new revenues to help fund a comprehensive plan for debt and deficit-reduction. Even among Republicans, only 26% believe a serious debt and deficit-reduction plan should be done entirely with spending cuts.
The news has anti-tax ideologues rapt with dismay and outrage, because they cannot believe 80% of people would want to see their own tax burden increased, especially during a slow economic recovery, but the figures are not Obama’s; they come from Gallup. The Gallup poll does not indicate that 80% of people want their own taxes increased, only that they want tax increases of some kind to be part of the overall deal. And there is good reason for this.