As a member of the Machinists Union, I applaud Congress’ action on Jan. 1 enabling legislation to move forward, averting the so-called “fiscal cliff.” But I also feel utter disappointment in their “kicking the can down the road” in addressing issues of sequestration and the debt limit, especially when these issues are being used in an effort to dismantle our social safety net while supporting tax cuts and loopholes for the wealthiest 2 percent.
Our most serious economic challenge is the job crisis, not the national debt or deficit. We’ll never reduce the national debt unless we fix the economy first. An American with a job is an American paying their fair share of taxes, and contributing to the stabilization of the debt rather than being a detriment to it. A policy of budget austerity will keep us from ever fixing what is truly wrong with our economy: a lack of employment opportunities for the American people. Our top priority must be creating jobs by investing in infrastructure and education.
We need more economic security, not less. Our economic problems aren’t caused by overly generous social programs. Social Security has not added a dime to the deficit, and the projected imbalance in Medicare and Medicaid in the long term is a direct result of hyperinflation in health care costs. The solution to fixing Medicare and Medicaid is to make health care more efficient and cost effective, not shifting costs onto those least able to afford them.