To the Editor: The Home Page recently published an article about John Knubel, a Franklin Rotarian and former HUD official who is on a “crusade” to get candidates like myself to commit to playing a major part in helping to return the country to a “fiscally responsible” course when elected. I was quoted in it, but also wanted to share my thoughts on the topic here in a more detailed way.
I share John’s concerns about fiscal responsibility. It has become a lost art. How we curb our national debt is absolutely an extremely important discussion to have, especially as we see our debt approach $20 Trillion. We also need to understand the reality that the recent tax cut added $1.5 trillion to the deficit in a manner that benefits mainly corporations and the wealthiest Americans, and one of the effects is that it now makes the “fiscal responsibility” discussion that much harder to turn around and have in a good faith way.
The economy is doing well right now, and we should all be cheering it along regardless of who is in the White House, but it’s also important to want this economy to continue to thrive for everyone, not just for the top. History has shown the “trickle down” idea my opponent subscribes to, as evidenced by his endorsement from Arthur Laffer – The Godfather of that theory – simply doesn’t work. As Phil Bredesen says, in some ways the recent cut represents a “missed opportunity” to help working families and rebuild the middle class directly, and when it comes to the debt it’s clear the tax cut will not “pay for itself” as some would have us believe.
To balance the budget, there are things we can do to bring in revenue which wouldn’t require raising taxes on working families and the middle class – like taking a hard look at the corporate repatriation provisions, or a carbon tax dividend which has bipartisan support. The point is that fiscal responsibility can’t only mean balancing the budget on the backs of low-income Americans and our working families by cutting much-needed programs like Medicare, Social Security, and Medicaid – which Mark Green blocked, costing Tennessee $23 Billion over a decade to make up for the now even bigger deficit. It can’t only be the most vulnerable in our society that are asked to make sacrifices.
The bottom line is I’ll commit to playing a major part in the fiscal responsibility discussion, because I do think we need to have it for the sake of our children and our children’s children, but that means everything needs to be on the table, which means making some difficult choices on all sides, and it shouldn’t be at the expense of much-needed public investment. In turn I’d like to see my opponent Mark Green commit to supporting the expansion of Medicaid and bringing our many billions of federal tax dollars home, because there’s nothing “conservative” or “fiscally responsible” about putting politics over people and forcing nearly 300,000 Tennesseans, including 30,000 veterans, to go without care- especially while the “red” states that expanded medicaid are all reporting better health and economic outcomes. Mark Green owes this state an apology, and he needs to reverse his position immediately before more people die and suffer needlessly, and more of our rural hospitals close.