Santa Cruz Good Times

Oct 04th
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Town Hall With Rep. Sam Farr

SamFarrNewIn light of recent debate over The Fiscal Cliff, what is your opinion on how to approach solving these financial problems and “fixing” the economy?

Our economy prospers when the middle class prospers. As we continue to debate our budget priorities, we must remind ourselves that investments in the middle class form a strong foundation on which we can build a robust economy.

I know that because we have been down this road before.

After facing a complete collapse of our financial system, watching unemployment soar to record numbers, fighting multiple wars and growing a mountain of national debt; many were left wondering how this country would ever be great again.

This isn’t the story of this generation but instead the story of the Greatest Generation.

After climbing out of the Great Depression and ending the fighting in the Pacific and European theaters of World War II, America was left with the largest debt in our nation’s history. Rather than enact extreme austerity measures, this country pushed forward with the New Deal principles of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

They expanded Social Security to provide a basic safety net for every American. Education became a priority and with programs like the GI Bill, millions of Americans received a college degree. Those new graduates easily found jobs in a strong economy, thanks to a healthy manufacturing industry that was built in partnership with the labor unions. And they were able to easily purchase their first home through government programs like VA loans.

Through these and other investments in our society, the Greatest Generation built the greatest economy this country has ever seen. And they paid for it all by simply asking that every American pay their fair share. The economy continued to grow and our debt began to shrink.

It is said that those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it. In this case, those who fail to remember the work of the Greatest Generation are condemned to miss the prosperity they enjoyed.

Democrats in Washington know we must make these very same investments in our country today. By providing not just a basic safety net but ladders up to prosperity, we can once again grow our economy on the foundation of a strong middle class.

Rather than enacting more tax cuts for people who don’t need them, we need to spend more on infrastructure and education, so our country can compete in a global market.  

This is why Democrats want to keep the tax cuts in place for 98 percent of Americans, asking that instead the wealthy again pay their fair share by returning the top two brackets of the Clinton-era tax rates. Those rates allowed our country to maintain its commitments while simultaneously reducing our national debt.

When I first was elected to Congress, I was faced with the tough choice of voting on the Clinton tax plan. Ultimately, I decided to vote for it and his plan passed without the support of a single Republican in Congress. Instead, they used that vote as campaign wedge to take control of Congress the following year.  

Led by Newt Gingrich, Republicans attempted to gut our social safety net through their Contract for America. President Clinton pushed back and was able to save funding for those vital programs.

Despite maintaining our spending levels, the economy grew and our debt began to shrink thanks to the Democrats’ tough decision to ask the wealthy to pay just a little more.

Unfortunately, when President Bush was elected, the Republicans ignored the lessons of the Greatest Generation and President Clinton, choosing instead to pass unnecessary tax cuts for the wealthy. Those cuts left us with a weakened economy and a massive debt.

Now those very same people who created the problem say the only solution is to gut the social programs our middle class depends on.

But I disagree. The only path forward is one that continues to invest and grow the middle class. A path that maintains the commitments of these programs while simultaneously asking the wealthy to pay their fair share.

I know that because we have been down this road before.

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