This is the conclusion of George Monbiot writing in "The Guardian" (08/1/11). The analysis of many commentators is just that. Fears are real that saving the United States from default is making the poor pay while the corporations and the rich gain. Fears are real that this legislation is widening the gap between rich and poor that already exists--a threat to the foundations of our democracy as well as a sorry commentary on our sense of community and care for our neighbor, as our faith requires.
One backgrounder offers some insights as to how we arrived at this uncomfortable place. It bears reflection. I don't like dealing with numbers, but knowing the importance of some numbers that directly affect the lives of real people prompts me to suggest this read. Catholic Alliance for the Common Good features "Debunking Conservative Myths" by Ben Palumbo in its Common Good Forum.
Palumbo speaks of the disaster at Upper Branch Mine in West Virginia that killed 29 miners. If their lives were important, he says, we should be prepared to pay. If we believe with the American Society of Civil Engineers that approximately 8000 bridges in the U.S. are in serious need of repair, we should be prepared to pay-and create jobs, too. Repeatedly he uses the tax mantra, challenging us to realize what should be self-evident namely that we must pay for the services on which we rely. The situation that the top 20% of Americans pay 65% of all taxes while the bottom 80% (with only 40% of income) pays 35% of all the same taxes is real food for thought!
Commentators realistically ask: Given the recession, should Congress have been focusing so exclusively on the debt and big government when the issues of joblessness, continued foreclosures on homes, stimulus to the economy, and bank regulation were crying for attention? Good Question. Low morale, even disgust with Congress, and the forecast of further contentiousness does not make the future look brighter.
Palumbo quotes Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., a Republican and a Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, who once commented, "I like paying taxes. With them I buy civilization."