Newly-minted Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) has a way to instantly save $53 billion from the federal budget. His plan? Eliminate HUD, cut its budget to zero.
According to Senator Paul, among other things, we need to end public housing and rental subsidies.
“Rather than providing a one-time stop for families on their way out of poverty,” says Paul, “public housing has largely been a failure. Public housing projects have become havens of crime and dysfunction, driving away the very business investment and homeowners that would revitalize a city block. The Low Income Housing Tax Credit, which subsidizes construction or rehabilitation of low-income housing, is a
perfect example of market manipulation that does nothing to further the mission of public housing.”
So what’s the alternative to public housing suggested by Sen. Paul?
There is none. If you slash the budget to zero there is no replacement program or policy.
Instead, what you will instantly have are large numbers of people who suddenly have no housing. They will be homeless. That is, they will be homeless if they peacefully move from such housing as they now have and then onto the streets. With their children.
If you think public housing is a bad idea, then no public housing is a worse idea.
The Social Contract
Unlike jobs, we can’t ship the poor overseas.
The truth is that we pay a price for the social contract. Part of that price is that we help people live indoors. We also support food stamps, public education, public roads, mortgage interest write-offs, subsidies for farmers, corporate write-offs and low tax rates for the upper crust. Everybody gets a little something, some get a lot.
No one in public housing has servants or dines on caviar. Instead, individuals have marginal shelter which most people would not want if they could avoid it. You just don’t see too many people with decent homes or apartments lining up to get one of those spiffy public housing units.
If we want to improve public housing then make employment or job training mandatory for virtually all adults who get housing subsidies — and then make sure we provide job training that will lead to employment and that jobs exist within our borders for everyone who wants to work.
The country did very well in past years when the top marginal tax rate was 92% under President Eisenhower, 91% under Kennedy, 77% under Nixon and Johnson, 69% under Reagan and 39.6% under Clinton.
The reality is that America has no budget short-fall. Instead we have a collection problem. The biggest subsidy of all is that we do not tax fairly — that’s why the tax code is so complex and that’s why the top 1 percent engage tax attorneys at great cost.
Between low rates and vast loopholes, especially for corporations, not everyone pays their fair share. Go back to the tax rates of the recent past and there would be no deficit, no need to toss the poor out on the street and no reason to think that a dangerous breakdown of the social contract is somehow acceptable, moral or decent.