Robert J. Samuelson’s column (TNT, 9-20) purports to offer a moral high ground statement on the issues laid bare in Mitt Romney’s now infamous “47 percent” remark. But Samuelson commits the same ideologically driven bias of countless conservative analyses.
While railing against the welfare state and government benefits, he ignores the majority of the sources of the federal budget deficit. With ire focused on Social Security, Medicare and lesser-known federal programs, we read very little about the government benefits received by “the 53 percent” and not a single word about the multitude of tax breaks and tax expenditures enjoyed by individuals and corporations.
Preferential tax rates inflate the federal deficit in exactly the same way that social program spending does. A dollar is a dollar, whether it goes into the bank account of a disabled citizen receiving Social Security or a multinational corporation in the form of a lower tax bill.
Samuelson speaks of “balance,” but where is the balance in his analysis of the deficit or his tough-love prescription for the path back to balanced budgets? Apparently he envisions only one half of our society making all the sacrifices necessary to balance the budget. That comes from looking at only half the issue and systematicallly ignoring the other half.
It’s as if the coach of a losing team focuses all efforts on improving the defense while ignoring how anemic the offense is. A winning team, and a balanced budget, cannot come from ignoring half (or more) of the game.