Democrats should battle to extend the Bush tax cuts for Americans in the bottom 99 percent of incomes, let the tax cuts expire for those in the top 1 percent, and enact bonus payments for military families who defend our nation and tax rebates for firefighters and police who protect our communities.
The bonus payments for military families and tax rebates for firefighters and police should land in mailboxes before Veterans Day, i.e., before Election Day.
This timing would provide the quickest stimulus to the economy, the maximum political benefit to Democrats and the greatest incentive for Republicans to agree. It would draw the line between Republicans who put the wealthiest first and Democrats who stand with military families, firefighters, police, working people, jobless Americans and the middle class.
The Congress that has sunk to 11 percent favorables in the latest Gallup survey should note that in the same poll, the military stands at the top, with 76 percent public confidence, while the police stand near the top, with 56 percent public confidence.
Across the nation there is a wholesale breakdown in public confidence in major American institutions. Confidence in newspapers is only 25 percent. Confidence in television news is 22 percent. Confidence in big business is 19 percent. The Congress that has no capacity for humiliation and no understanding of its self-interest keeps acting in the same manner that has driven its confidence levels to the fiasco of 11 percent.
Our military and police tower above Congress, television news, newspapers and big business because they have earned it.
For too long our heroic troops and their families have endured scandals of wounded troops, preventable deaths through lack of body armor and Humvees, Mafia-level interest rates on desperately needed payday loans, chronically shortchanged resources and, most recently, a Congress that put auto dealer campaign donors ahead of American heroes abused by consumer rip-offs.
For too long, the 1 percent of the nation that serves has made 99 percent of the sacrifice in war.
For too long, the wealthiest 1 percent of the nation has reaped gigantic tax cuts while the vast middle class suffers a declining standard of living and tens of millions of Americans endure a Grapes of Wrath-like battle to survive.
For too long, wealthy bailed-out bankers have kept their soaring ill-gotten bonuses with the support of Democrats and Republicans in the White House and Congress, while our troops risk their lives in Afghanistan for a nation whose president is surrounded by dope dealers and crooks.
For too long our firefighters have charged into burning buildings to save our brothers and sisters while their jobs are being cut.
For too long our police have guarded our neighbors against killers with guns, while too many are told we cannot afford their services and the tax cuts for the wealthiest continue in a political system that many American believe has lost its heart, its soul and its mind.
As Republicans plot to exploit the red-hot issue of the Bush tax cuts with a white-hot election that is fast approaching, here is where Democrats should make their stand with a courage and clarity that is long overdue.
It is time for a Democratic tax cut, the Democratic way, fighting for the vast middle class and the true heroes of the nation.
Budowsky was an aide to former Sen. Lloyd Bentsen and Bill Alexander, then chief deputy majority whip of the House. He holds an LL.M. degree in international financial law from the London School of Economics. He can be read on The Hill’s Pundits Blog and reached at email@example.com.