Saturday, November 17, 2012

We Must Not Balance The Budget On The Backs Of The Poor-- Some Cuts Never Heal


I was worried Friday to read that Wall Street shill Tiny Tim Geithner had bragged that a deal to avert the so-called "fiscal cliff" (a term meant to terrorize Americans) is "within our grasp" and that Boehner had also asserted, when leaving a meeting at the White House, "I feel confident that a solution may be in sight.” But when Jim Dean called the term "Fiscal Cliff" a "Republican scare tactic," he only got it half right. It's a scare tactic of the political elites who embrace the corporate ideology and who distrust democracy-- and, alas, that doesn't just include Republicans. He wrote DFA members that "Republicans are ginning up the 'fiscal cliff' to scare Americans and force Democrats to extend the Bush tax cuts, while demanding cuts to vital programs like Medicare." I'm not so certain Obama and many of the Democrats around him need much any forcing.

In the video above you see lots of Bernie Sanders (I-VT)-- as well as other solid progressives, like Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Keith Ellison (D-MN). Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) pledged, "Over my dead body will they cut benefits to Social Security and Medicare." I'm sure she knew that she wasn't just referring to Boehner and Miss McConnell and that Mitt Romney is not President.

Harkin explained that the way to boost revenue for Social Security would be to get rid of the caps-- allow income for people who make more than $108,000 to be subject to the payroll tax, just like everyone else. He went further, explaining how doing so would allow beneficiaries to receive an additional $65 a month through 2050. "If you wanna fix Social Security, there it is. Make those making millions of dollars a year pay the same thing and the same rate as those making 40 or 50 or 60 thousand dollars a year," Harkin said. "This is not magic. It can be done."

Jim Dean's point, by the way was well-taken: no deal is better than a bad deal. And his reasoning is very solid:
The Bush tax cuts will expire anyway. That's right, the Bush tax cuts-- which are the single largest contributor to the deficit-- will end on December 31, even if Congress does nothing between now and then. That means taxes on the top 2% will go up and Republicans won't have any leverage to lower them again in the New Year.

  • Cutting Social Security and Medicare won't fix the deficit. Social Security is paid for by the payroll tax, which goes into the Social Security Trust Fund. Cutting Social Security won't add money to the general fund. Meanwhile, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office has said the Medicare cuts that Republicans are pushing would do little to affect long-term spending.
Thankfully, Nancy Pelosi, at least so far, is not among the Democrats willing to sell out working families, the way corporate shills like Chris Van Hollen and Kent Conrad have said they're eager to do.
Those issues-- Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid-- they should be in their own realm. Whatever adjustments would be made in Social Security should be there to strengthen Social Security, not to subsidize a tax cut for the wealthiest people in America and say that’s how we balance the budget. The same thing with Medicaid and Medicare… Sen. Reid and others have spoken out, we’re not going to touch any of the entitlements, so I think that gives you some indication of the likelihood of something like that happening… Unless somebody wants to define-- you are asking me if I would support what they’re saying. I don’t know what they’re saying by “structural.” Is that a euphemism for “I’m going to cut your benefit if you’re a middle-aged senior”? Is that what structural change means? No, I don’t support that.
We already covered the way Alan Grayson and other dedicated progressives are approaching the Obama-Boehner Fiscal Cliff bullshit. "Naomi Klein wrote a whole book about this, called The Shock Doctrine. This is an artificial shock. It's being induced in order to be able to justify policies you could not possibly justify on their merits, and I think that people are getting very frustrated about this. The polls clearly show that over three quarters of the population doesn't want any cuts in benefits in Social Security, or any cuts in benefits for Medicare, in order to be able to reduce the deficit. What they want, a majority, want cuts in the defense budget, and they want an end to the war in Afghanistan to reduce the deficit. And instead what we are seeing is this artificial creation [of a crisis], right after we saw a real crisis. We saw a real crisis in Hurricane Sandy, and that's what a real crisis looks like. An artificial crisis is being instituted to steal from us, to steal from the Middle Class, and to steal from people in need." These are the bills that have been introduced in the House so far:

This will be easier to read if you click on it

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