Friday, November 19, 2010

Unemployment Benefits or Tax Cuts for the Rich: What does our choice say about us?

Congress is facing a decision about unemployment benefits and tax cuts which may reveal the changing priorities in America.

There is no doubt that unemployment benefits should not last forever. However, the question really is about how to address a large economic downturn that hasn't fully recovered. When almost 10% of Americans are unemployed, and even more are unemployed but outside the system's definition of unemployed, cutting things that prevent consumers from spending is generally a bad thing. Consumer spending drives our economy, so cutting it would hurt businesses, the jobs of other people, and the people who receive the cuts.

The budget deficit does need to be dealt with though. So the things we keep and the things we cut say volumes about us. The tax cuts being fought over are for those making over $250,000 a year currently. Certainly, not in economic trouble. And the debate is over about a 3% increase on the top margin of their taxes, not their entire taxes.

So the question is: Do we prioritize the richest among us or those who need our help the most in an economic downturn?

And what does it say about us when we make this choice?

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