In Feb. 19 IssueBy John Thompson, Columnist
Good luck middle and poor America, you're getting ready to pay for the continued tax cuts for the rich. That guy who made $5 BILLION dollars on Wall Street last year? (topping his previous record of $4 BILLION in 2007). He gets to keep an extra 3 percent of those billions and we'll pay for it by cutting heating assistance to low income families. Congratulations.
By cutting Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program $2.6 billion dollars this year, which is the proposal made by President Obama, we can almost pay for one week of war in Iraq and Afghanistan. Get that? $2.6 billion cut from heating what is often the most vulnerable of society so that we can continue 2 wars at upwards $470 million a day, or about 6 days. Fine, it's what we voted for.
Oh, but we had greatly increased that fund a couple of years ago, Obama points out, and it's not as needed now. I really don't give a rats behind. Supplement their heat so they can pay for their medication, so they can take their grandchild to a movie, so they can buy something besides bologna. But when you don't mind funneling billions upon billions to Lockheed Martin, Boeing or any number of thousands of death dealing war contractors by making sure the poor remain just above starving… well, what can I say? That's the kind of society we encourage. Again, congratulations.
Will I beat up on the politicians? Nah. Why? They are only doing what we elected them to do. But it's more than that; it's how corrupted our system has become that it is what's going to get done no matter who we get in there. Honestly, I think beyond a total deconstruction of our political system the only help would be to continuously elect the farthest left candidates for a generation. Not going to happen with a populace who scream for smaller government and then become amazed that smaller government means cutting the very social programs that have been derided.
We want huge budget cuts but the government has to operate; so if you want to cut into the deficit then you're either going to have to cut services or raise taxes. Sound familiar? Our current Judge Executive has just said the same thing.
The federal government has an option we don't have as a county. We can't, nor would it make enough of a difference to tax the local "rich" at a higher rate than everyone else. But on a federal level it would.
Remember when Clinton raised taxes, then said he thought he raised taxes too much? That may be, but what ended up being the result? Not only a balanced budget, but a budget surplus that would have wiped out the national debt by now, if I remember right. I also remember that Republicans said it was all smoke and mirrors.
A populace who is unable to govern themselves maybe should no longer be allowed to. That is of course both a harsh indictment, but an unthinkable alternative. But if we're honest, we no longer govern nor truly chose who governs us, because anyone we chose immediately is caught up in a system designed; bought and paid for, by the wealthy.
We pushed for cuts, pushed for cuts, never considering the consequences. Where did you think the cuts were going to come from? Welfare subsidies for corporations? Ha! Closing the loopholes that allow the mega rich to pay a lower percentage in taxes than a lower-middle income earner? Not likely. No, it turns out that nearly half of the proposed $1.1 trillion in cuts that Obama outlined for the Republicans in his 2012 budget will come in the form of a five year freeze of non-security discretionary spending. $400 billion from programs that mainly benefit poor and working-class (aren't they becoming one and the same class?) Americans, such as heating assistance to low-income people and community-service block grants.
And this is his starting point, sure to be attacked for not going far enough by the right, which is becoming more and more dominated by the anti-society Tea Party. Cuts to Medicare and Social Security are sure to be on the table.
So why not? You know I'm a staunch supporter of Social Security. If you remember a couple of months back I made the argument that Social Security is viable and a necessary component of a civilized society. But let me play devil's advocate. Many of the Tea Party types out there are on Social Security, and of course they've paid into the system.
I also know that for the last decade or more, while inflation remained almost non-existent, Social Security beneficiaries were still getting cost of living raise beyond inflation. The last couple of years there haven't been a cost of living raise, so do we need to continue that freeze for 5 or 10 more years? Hey, we all have to do our part to make sure that someone making millions and billions do not have to have a 2 or 3 percent increase in their taxes.
If we really wanted to insure Social Security remained solvent there's a multitude of ways to do it. Take 10 percent of the defense budget. While we're at it we could take another 10 percent of the defense budget and just about literally double the education budget, instead of saying we need to cut it. We're already way behind other countries in educational spending as a percentage of GDP. That would leave the defense budget, or as Eisenhower and I like to put it, the military industrial complex budget, 80 percent of their operating budget.
But here's a better idea for saving Social Security. Remove the taxing cap. Right now a person pays into Social Security up to a $250,000.00 income.
Beyond that they are neither taxed, nor will they receive further benefit from. It wouldn't even have to be a flat out removal of a cap. It could be a Social Security supplemental tax; a graduated tax that begins at $250,001 and gradually increases.
Personally, I'd call it the "Social Security Supplement to Insure the Masses Don't Rise Up and Destroy Our Mansions and Yachts" tax.
Again, and finally, it's what you asked for.
As the great journalist H.L. Menckan once said, "Democracy is the idea that that Americans know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard."