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El Espectador, Colombia

A Shift in Understanding



By Abdón Espinosa Valderrama

President Obama has reiterated his demand to tax the wealthy, who, as has been demonstrated, contribute proportionately less in taxes than their employees. He does so with the force of his new mandate, and it is on this basis that he proposes finding a new formula of understanding.

Translated By Sara Hunter

14 November 2012

Edited by Lau­rence Bouvard

 


Colombia - El Espectador - Original Article (Spanish)

Back in Colombia, a series of events has caused pandemonium: the bankruptcy of InterBolsa, outbreaks of violence in Antioquia and Cauca, kidnappings in Santa Marta, attempted arms strikes in Choco and toxic news found in political and other electronic media. But the fresh memory of the devastation in New York and New Jersey from Hurricane Sandy, along with the decisive U.S. elections, does not help to lighten the mood enough to close this chapter, unless we insist on weighing their potential impact on the world.

His ill-wishers may underestimate or ridicule the decisive victory of President Obama, but they cannot ignore what his defeat would have represented. It would have been the triumph of plutocracy over democracy, of racism over the equality of races and opportunities, of the recession over economic growth, of social inequity over equity in all areas, of a wall against immigrants and the humiliation of their children.

Rarely has a campaign been characterized by more examples of ideological extremism and intransigence than was shown by the Republican campaign. Even if the elections of Ronald Reagan in the United States and Margaret Thatcher in Great Britain drastically changed the conception of the “New Deal” programs of Franklin D. Roosevelt and the social-democratic institutions that were born in Europe (in the heat of victory against totalitarianism), their changes at least fell within the framework of the market economy. If you trace the historic path of our peoples through international financial institutions, you could not say that they have been led in the direction of Mitt Romney and his companions on the far right.

Their intention was to prevent, at all costs, the re-election of President Obama, whom they dared to describe as Marxist and communist, despite being a democratic liberal. They failed to defeat him but retained a majority in the House of Representatives, like the Democrats in the Senate. Their majority in the House does not undermine the constitutional powers of the president but does establish a kind of balance in the legislative chambers that no one can ignore.

With reason, Obama has proclaimed that the United States is more than just a collection of red states (Republicans) and blue states (Democrats): It is one great nation. Logically, this would require Republicans and Democrats to work together. To compromise must be understood as the purpose of a common people and a common world. The governmental institutions were not created and aligned to lock against each other but to work constructively together to fulfill their responsibilities.

The first challenge is the risk of the so-called “fiscal cliff” that comes with a fixed date: Jan. 1, when automatically, with a vengeance, tax cuts will expire, resulting in a $532 billion tax increase and a $136 billion cut in spending. These would result in the debilitation of the economy and a further rise in unemployment from the 7.9 percent that already disrupts both American lives and the economy. To stand by and let this happen would be a kind of suicide, as would be the decision to act exclusively on the government expenditures and not on the taxes.

President Obama has reiterated his demand to tax the wealthy, who, as has been demonstrated, contribute proportionately less in taxes than their employees. He does so with the force of his new mandate, and it is on this basis that he proposes finding a new formula of understanding. This needs to happen along with flexibility, fairness and a sense of justice. Or so the world hopes.




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