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A Budget for the Rest of Us
The other budget that the House won't consider

by Bryan Zepp Jamieson
June 5, 2011

The GOP made about the worst mistake a doctrinaire political party can possibly make.

They started believing their own propaganda.

They somehow managed to convince themselves that people were so distressed over government spending and the deficits that they would happily throw retirees under the bus and put Medicare on a for-profit voucher system, effectively destroying it. All the billions of dollars and thousands of manhours the right wing noise machine spent only succeeded in convincing the wrong set of people that Medicare had to be cut.

The Teabaggers said they wanted it, but the Teabaggers are for the most part dupes of the Koch brothers, who haven't noticed that behind the populist rhetoric lies a Wall Street agenda. And the vast majority of Americans are not Teabaggers. They like Medicare, and would be pissed off if they figured out that most of the debt comes, not from government spending, but slashing government revenues in order to give the wealthy and unneeded and even unwanted tax break, whilst getting into pointless and expensive wars in central Asia.

Five in six Americans opposed privatizing Medicare. Most REPUBLICANS opposed it. And now the GOP is caught in a cycle of tail-biting bluster, in which they are trying to disown the plan without appearing to disown it, while at the same time pretend that it's no longer a priority, even as they try to extort the Senate into accepting the same plan it voted down two weeks ago as a part of raising the debt limit so as to avoid a catastrophic default.

One of the questions the belligerent stooges of the GOP have been demanding is why don't {Obama, The Democrats, liberals in general} come up with something better if they're so smart.

That creates a false impression. Obama presented his budget several months ago, and to the utter mortification of the GOP, actually had more spending cuts than their original budget did! The Ryan Plan was, in part, meant to pave over that embarrassment, a humiliation that was exacerbated when the CBO scored their original budget and discovered that it only had $3 billion in cuts for the first year, and would increase deficits!

But if the Main $tream Media are ignoring the original Obama budget, they are completely shutting out mention of the fourth budget proposal that has been presented in Congress.

This budget would, according to the Congressional website on which it is detailed: • Eliminate the deficits and creates a surplus by 2021 • Put America back to work with a “Make it in America” jobs program • Protect the social safety net • End the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq • And is FAIR (Fixing America’s Inequality Responsibly)

Full details are available at this website: http://cpc.grijalva.house.gov/index.cfm?sectionid=70

In fact, it promises to eliminate deficits by 2014, and create millions of desperately-needed jobs right here in the United States.

Actually, here's what one of the plan's detractors, Moe Lane from The Minority Report, had in the way of complaints about the plan:

“Increase payroll taxes. Both sides. Reintroduce the tax hikes on small businesses that were threatened last year. Impose new tax hikes on highest bracket, reaching 47%. New taxes on foreign earnings. “Crisis responsibility fee.” Which sounds better than “Soak stockholders of banks for accepting TARP money tax.” “Financial speculation tax.” Which sounds better than “the twenty-first century equivalent of the Stamp Act:” it’s a tax on electronic stock transactions. $1,450,000,000,000 in new spending. Public option. Cuts to military. “

The horror. The horror. Now let's look at the details that have Moe so horrified.

Quoting from the plan itself, the increase in payroll taxes is as follows: “Raise the taxable maximum on the employee side to 90% of earnings and eliminate the taxable maximum on the employer side and increase benefits based on higher contributions on the employee side ” Not only would that assure SS would remain solvent once and for all, but would give it latitude to increase benefits, which have failed to react to massive increases in food and health care, two of the main expenses the elderly have to cope with. The plan is to tax ALL income with no upper cap, but reduce employee share from 50% to 45%.

The “tax hikes on small businesses” that were supposedly “threatened” last year was the move to close off tax loopholes for “small businesses” such as Exxon and GE. Similarly, the tax on income is a tax on money coming back into the US from businesses that have moved overseas to avail themselves of cheap labor and no health, safety, or environmental regulations. The government has been subsidizing them in doing this—at our expense. It's time it stopped. It also makes tax havens like the Cayman Islands a bit less appealing to the legal tax cheats. The TARP tax entails getting money back from banks who accepted it on grounds that they would use it to alleviate the mortgage crisis and then failed to do so.

Similarly, the “financial speculation tax” is an effort to bring speculators to heel. Food prices are up 29% over the past year, and gasoline has doubled, and it is NOT an issue of supply and demand. It's caused by speculation, huge money games at our expense. It's part of the “taxing money coming back into the US” that has Moe so exercised. They're overseas where we can't regulate the greedy bastards, but we can make them pay for using the security of the US to save their income.

The budget also calls for more progressiveness in income. Cap gains would be taxed at the same rate as regular income, and there would be new tax brackets: 45% for income over one million a year, and 49% on income over one billion a year. The estate tax would be changed so all estates under $3.5million (which is well over 99% of the estates in America) would be exempt, and “a 45% rate on the taxable portion of estates up to $50 million, a 55% rate on the portion of estates up to $500 million, and a 65% rate on the portion of estates worth over $500 million. ”

The plan also includes a public option in health care, and ending the “emergency funding” for the military actions in Afghanistan and Iraq by 2013.

The plan would increase investment in education, transportation and infrastructure, three areas that without exception pay back to society far more than they cost. The way America has been going about things has been the equivalent of quitting your job so you don't have to drive to work. This plan would invest “Invest $1.45 trillion in job creation, education, clean energy and broadband infrastructure, housing, and R&D ” These are all areas where the private sector simply isn't capable of doing the job, and only the cooperative and non-profit efforts of government can manage it. All items are vital to America's future as a country.

The Chinese understand this. They are spending vast amounts in these areas in order to overcome their structural weaknesses and become the dominant economic power of the 21st century. America, under the mad delusion that the “free market” can address these items, is abdicating its role.

Does anyone remember Clinton's plan to fix the economy and address the issue of “deficits” as far as the eye can see”? He proposed to raise taxes on the wealthy, and put money into infrastructure.

Republicans warned that his plan would smash the economy and leave the Dow Jones below 1,000 points by 1994. Clinton got his tax plan through congress without a single Republican vote, and not only did the economy fail to collapse, it boomed—the biggest boom in American history. And by the time his second term was up, deficits were a thing of the past, and Bush and Gore debated over what should be done with the coming string of budget surpluses. Bush fixed that in short order, didn't he?

So when Republicans tell you it can't be done and will destroy the country, remember they said the same things in 1992, and they are just as wrong and wrong-headed now as they were then. Obviously, with the Republicans controlling the House, this budget won't even get a hearing. Instead, we'll play mad games of chicken with Republican ideologues who will threaten to smash the economy through a forced default unless we follow the ongoing GOP road to ruin and funnel all the national wealth to the undeserving rich while reducing American workers and families to abject poverty.

We won't see the Progressive budget this year, or next.

But vote the Republicans out, tell Wall Street to go fuck itself, and you might see it in 2013.

At which point, America might begin to heal from the Republican attacks on everything the country once represented.

Posted: June 9, 2011

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