In the Public Good: Shared Sacrifice….and the Ryan Budget Plan?

In a time in America’s history where there are record job losses, home foreclosures, and bankruptcies, oil companies are earning record profits. Gas prices have soared. The skyrocketing gas prices have had an impact on the prices of other products including but not limited to food. In response to questions being raised about the necessity of oil company subsides, the former CEO of Shell Oil, John Hoffmeister, recently said, “Big Oil doesn’t need subsidies in the face of sustained high oil prices.”[i] The largest oil companies, between 2005 and 2009, have made a combined 485 billion dollars in profits. That’s almost half a Trillion dollars.”[ii]

For many workers that traditionally drive to work, the high cost of gas has caused them to utilize alternative modes of transportation for travel to and from work. Where possible, some former personal car drivers have elected to utilize public transportation, scooter, or a bicycle to travel to work. The afore-referenced alternative modes of traveling to and from work for some drivers simply are not viable. There are many portions of the country where public transportation is not available for traveling to and from work. Like public transportation, a scooter or bicycle are not viable options for traveling to work for many workers. For these drivers, the high cost of gas has caused them to have to cut other portions of their personal budgets in order to continue work.  Personal car drivers have been reported cutting their food, utilities, entertainment (cable, Netflix, movies), and vacation travel budget items in order to be able to travel to their places of employment.

This blog post will discuss the importance of Congress taking a close look at its mandate to serve the public good. When looking at the federal budget proposals such as the Ryan Budget coming out of the House of Representatives cutting programs for indigent infants, children, youth, the elderly, and students while maintaining tax breaks for the most able to pay taxes (i.e. corporations and affluent persons), it makes one wonder whether or not the government is operating in keeping with the public good. The importance of this question is highlighted when looking at the big oil company subsides in a period of budget crisis and the recently passed Ryan Budget Plan.

The House of Representatives passed Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget, which slashes hundreds of billions of dollars from low-income programs while cutting taxes for our nation’s wealthiest. The Ryan Budget Proposal cuts taxes for everyone — but the average cut for those with yearly incomes over $1 million (12.5 percent) is six times greater than the cut for middle-income people (1.9 percent). The Ryan budget would also maintain current tax cuts — but only for high-income families; Ryan’s budget plan would allow the tax cuts for working-poor and middle-class households to expire.

The Ryan Budget Proposal imposes trillions of dollars in spending cuts, 62 percent of which would come from low-income programs that women and families rely on, like Medicare, Medicaid, and federal student aid programs. For many economic experts, the Ryan budget flies in the face of reason. The budget should never be used as a weapon to wage war on programs critical to the economic security of women and families while handing out enormous tax cuts to the wealthiest earners. Advocates for working families unequivocally oppose Ryan’s budget plan, which relies on flawed math and assumptions, and will do real and lasting harm to families, workers, and retirees.

In response to the Ryan budget proposal, voters are calling out to their elected officials in Washington, DC for “shared sacrifice” when looking at the federal budget. Voters are telephoning, emailing, faxing their elected officials in Washington, DC, to request that Congress cut the multi-billion dollar subsides to oil companies. Like the hard working citizen’s in the United States, many voters assert that corporations and wealthy Americans must pay their fair share of the tax burden.

We, as a nation, cannot address our long-standing fiscal challenges by cutting very necessary programs and services for the most vulnerable members of our state such as WIC, SNAP, Medicare, and Medicaid while corporations receive tax breaks. Instead of cutting necessary program and services, we must raise taxes on corporations and the wealthiest members of society. There must be shared sacrifice.

If the federal budget crisis is important to you, it is imperative that you let your elected officials know your position on this issue. To find the name and contact information for your: US Senator, you can visit the Senate Information website at w.senate.gov/…/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm; and for the House of Representatives you can visit this website www.writerep.house.gov. Get involved in the federal budget process.

Sources:  www.chattanooga.com “Republicans Chose To Keep Big Oil Subsidies, Costing Americans Billions  Of Dollars”, March 2, 2011. www.abcnews.go.com/Politics/obama-urges-congress.  Photo credit Microsoft Clip Art.


[i] www.chattanooga.com.  “Republicans Chose To Keep Big Oil Subsidies, Costing Americans Billions  Of Dollars”, March 2, 2011.

[ii] www.chattanooga.com.  “Republicans Chose To Keep Big Oil Subsidies, Costing Americans Billions Of Dollars”, March 2, 2011.

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