By Janice Dembosky
Rep. Shuster's words are not unique. It's the usual Republican rhetoric: By magic they will cut taxes, cut spending (on programs for the middle class), cut the deficit, create jobs and all will be well.
Thoughtful voters didn't buy that rhetoric in 2012 and they never will. They see the president as a visionary leader, a protector of the middle class, and Rep. Shuster and his party as retrograde and obstructionist to forward progress.
Rep. Shuster accused the president of alarming the American people about the effects of the sequester on the economy and on people who will lose jobs. The president will be proven correct in time. Across-the-board cuts will lead to smaller government (what the Republican Party is selling). But what we will get is a smaller economy with more unemployment and a loss of the economic gains that have been made, despite Republican obstructionism.
Rep. Shuster touts the Ryan budget while deliberately misrepresenting President Obama's budget plan by throwing out numbers without explaining that Obama's $923 billion in increased revenue would come from making cuts that target wasteful practices and eliminating over-spending (the Pentagon, for example), not from taxing the middle class. It would also come from closing tax loopholes, such as huge giveaways to the gas and oil industry and a 15 percent cap on taxes for hedge fund managers.
The majority of voters look at this as fairness and not as a tax increase for those of us who pay our fair share. Before we even look at Medicare shouldn't we first calculate the savings from making the tax code fairer? Social Security is solvent and self-supporting into the 2030s and has nothing to do with the debt or the deficit. Yet Rep. Shuster's party is the true alarmist on this issue.
Rep. Shuster should also tell us the truth about the Ryan budget. Tell us how Rep. Ryan claims to balance the budget by repealing the health care bill, except for the part of the bill that saves us money. The part of the bill he wants to repeal is the part that actually insures 30 million people. The Republican-dominated Congress has voted 36 times to repeal The Affordable Care Act, knowing full well that their time-wasting attempts will never get past the Senate and the president.
The Ryan Budget is a sham from the start. Although the Ryan plan doesn't add up, and doesn't make sense, they want us to believe that he has some brilliant mind with brilliant ideas that we can't fathom. We don't buy it. The CBO doesn't buy it either.
As chairman of the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, Rep. Shuster has accomplished what? How many jobs bills has he come up with to address the deteriorating infrastructure? The voters should know that the answer is "none," unless they are fooled into believing that tax cuts for the rich is a jobs bill. Historically, government investment in the infrastructure (Obama's American Jobs Bill which Congress won't vote for) creates jobs, spurs business, especially now that the interest rates on government borrowing are near zero percent!
We know the Republican Party didn't want the president to get credit for moving the economy forward in his first term. Are they now waiting until the end of the president's second term and through two terms of Hillary Clinton to 2024 and beyond before they address infrastructure? Will they let our already dangerously crumbling infrastructure wait until they are in power and can take credit for the economic boom that always comes from investment in the infrastructure?
Why are all the rants on the House floor done by Republican extremists? Where is Rep. Shuster's voice? He could lead by pushing for infrastructure investment without worrying about his job. As long as he votes no on all reasonable gun safety bills, his job will be safe. This is, after all, rural Western Pennsylvania.
Janice Dembosky is a retired English teacher and business woman. She is a lifelong resident of Indiana County. She enjoys traveling abroad with her husband, Everett. They live in South Mahoning Township.