One objective of this blog is to encourage productive discussion and debate within the "comments" forum. Leaving comments has been made easier. No registration is required. Comments can be left anonymously. A Hassle free and easy forum to leave a comment. However, any inappropriate comments will be deleted by blog administrators. Thank you for commenting so your voice can be heard.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

My Political Rant of the Day - Does Anyone Care About We The People?

Nancy Folbre, an economics professor at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, has raised a very interesting point (click Here):
The struggle over the budget is not either/or, it is a three-way race with the third entrant getting no respect. “What I see is a three-way tussle among the rich, the not very rich and the not rich at all over who should pay the costs of balancing the budget” – that is the Republicans vs the Democrats vs the People, and the People aren't being asked to dance – just to pay the band.
I know that politics is often not a popular subject to discuss among friends, and increasingly young Americans seem to have given up on Republican vs. Democrat and just find themselves increasingly screwed.  And that is the jest of Ms. Folbre's argument, that the average American is getting screwed left and right by both parties but is expected to pay the bill.

So what is the latest?  The Senate's 'Gang of Six' (so essentially we are acknowledging that we have now become serfs and are being controlled by a few select oligaracy - where is the outrage?) and has ridden to the rescue – hide the silverware. Just whose rescue seems unclear, but mostly the usual suspects make out and the usual marks pay the bill. It starts with $500 billion in actual cuts, in exchange for which the debt ceiling gets raised, the bond market is happy and stock markets go wild. It includes a promise of $3.7 trillion in cuts over the next ten years – but doesn't really specify anything much except that Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security get screwed cut while Wall Street gets to keep their outrageous salaries classified as capital gains – the tax on which will fall.

Described by one of its authors as “the only plan that is going to ever pass”, the diet recommended by the Gang include reductions in deductions for health insurance, home mortgage interest, charitable gifts, even retirement savings. Medicare and Medicaid would be diminished and Social Security undermined. While most taxpayers will pay higher taxes under their plan, the top tax rate would drop from 35% to 23% and those big hedge fund incomes would be taxed as capital gains – which would be unchanged at 15%. And the alternative minimum tax, designed to force high-income families pay at least some bit of income tax, would be repealed. It proposes a “territorial tax system” which would be a windfall for US multinationals.

But what do WE THE PEOPLE want?

An NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll in late February found that 81 percent of people would support a surtax on millionaires to help reduce the budget deficit. A Pew Research Center poll in late May found that 66 percent favored raising income tax rates on those making more than $250,000 and 67 percent raising the wage cap for Social Security taxes.

Do you here any politician talking about that?  But there are alternatives.

Consider a largely invisible proposal for balancing the budget, the People’s Budget, released in April by the Congressional Progressive Caucus, which includes 83 members of Congress.
Its proposed budget savings include major cuts to military spending based on immediate withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan. Its proposed revenue sources include new tax brackets for the rich (from 45 percent on income over a million dollars a year to 49 percent on income over a billion a year), restoring the estate tax and eliminating the Bush tax cuts.

The Economic Policy Institute provides a more detailed supportive analysis. Proponents have also developed a three-way comparison with budget proposals advocated by President Obama and Congressional Republicans that allows you to register your own preference.

Deficit hawks (at least those who are not tax chickens) should welcome the People’s Budget, because it offers a plausible path to debt reduction.

Matt Miller of The Washington Post noted that the People’s Budget would, unlike the Roadmap for America’s Future advanced by Representative Paul Ryan, Republican of Wisconsin and chairman of the House Budget Committee, generate a budget surplus at a predictable point in the future, winning the “fiscal responsibility derby.”

The progressive tax policies endorsed by the People’s Budget have drawn remarkably strong support in public opinion polls, suggesting that the views of our most powerful elected officials don’t accurately reflect the views of the electorate.

As I said, We The People are reduced to puppets and serfs, while the mega-rich and corporations keep their private jets.

Empirical support for the view that sharp, immediate cuts in government spending would be good for the U.S. economy was never strong, and it’s getting weaker. The Economist is on the case, highlighting two new studies showing that austerity and growth don’t mix in the short term. ...
In short, the more closely you look at the evidence for the claim that cutting federal spending dramatically right now would be good for the economy, the less convincing that claim becomes.
House Republicans will not consider any form of tax increase, even changes in loop-holes that serve primarily the rich.

I don't mind paying my fair share of taxes and am appalled at the greed of corporations and many of the uber-rich.  How much is enough?


  1. I have been asking myself exactly the same thing my friend. Read this excellent article by Matt Taibbi

    Then contrast that article with the fact that right now, at the very same moment, millions of 99ers are on their hands and knees BEGGING for a jobs bill and unemployment extension. Or at least just for the ATTENTION of congress.

  2. I agree with you. It's not like anyone is even asking the super rich to pay more taxes than others, but for them to be paying less with tax breaks is absurd. That billionaires can write off private jets is pure greed. I don't think people making 250k a year should be taxed more. I see that as the middle class. I think people making over a million a year or have assets over 10 million should pay highest taxes. There should be a sliding scale going down to where our poorest citizens should pay nothing. Families making under 30 grand should have tax breaks, not the super rich. America has it all fucked up. It is all about greed.

  3. It is hard to understand that while we have two pointless wars going on that the super-rich are getting more tax breaks. During wars don;t we alll have to pay more? The same greed that is behind the wars is the same greed behind the top 1% of wealth in America. It is a small group of people who control everything. It is an elite group of greedy monsters that have created this crisis and expect us to pay for it. Janice

  4. Obama caved. I understand he is fighting a battle against people who will not budge.... but couldn't he have pulled some executive power? Susan

  5. Disenchanted American:

    So the "fat-cat" times will just continue based on what passed, which essentially changes nothing.