[Marxism] Bernie Sanders WSJ opinion piece
lnp3 at panix.com
Fri Jul 29 13:55:33 MDT 2011
Why Americans Are So Angry
Republicans want the entire burden of deficit reduction to be
carried by the elderly, the sick, children and working families.
By BERNIE SANDERS
The rich are getting richer. Their effective tax rate, in recent
years, has been reduced to the lowest in modern history. Nurses,
teachers and firemen actually pay a higher tax rate than some
billionaires. It's no wonder the American people are angry.
Many corporations, including General Electric and Exxon-Mobil,
have made billions in profits while using loopholes to avoid
paying any federal income taxes. We lose $100 billion every year
in federal revenue from companies and individuals who stash their
wealth in tax havens off-shore like the Cayman Islands and
Bermuda. The sum of all the revenue collected by the Treasury
today totals just 14.8% of our gross domestic product, the lowest
in about 50 years.
In the midst of this, Republicans in Congress have been
fanatically determined to protect the interests of the wealthy and
large multinational corporations so that they do not contribute a
single penny toward deficit reduction.
If the Republicans have their way, the entire burden of deficit
reduction will be placed on the elderly, the sick, children and
working families. In the midst of a horrendous recession that is
already causing severe pain for average Americans, this approach
is morally grotesque. It's also bad economic policy.
President Obama and the Democrats have been extremely weak in
opposing these right-wing extremist proposals. Although the United
States now has the most unequal distribution of wealth and income
of any major industrialized country, Democrats have not succeeded
in getting any new revenue from those at the top of the economic
ladder to reduce the deficit.
Instead, they've handed the wealthy even more tax breaks. In
December, the House and the Senate extended President George W.
Bush's tax cuts for the rich and lowered estate tax rates for the
wealthiest Americans. In April, to avoid the Republican effort to
shut down the government, they allowed $38.5 billion in cuts to
vitally important programs for working-class and middle-class
Now, with the U.S. facing the possibility of the first default in
our nation's history, the American people find themselves forced
to choose between two congressional deficit-reduction plans. The
plan by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, which calls for $2.4
trillion in cuts over a 10-year period, includes $900 billion in
cuts in areas such as education, health care, nutrition,
affordable housing, child care and many other programs desperately
needed by working families and the most vulnerable.
The Senate plan appropriately calls for meaningful cuts in
military spending and ending the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. But
it does not ask the wealthiest people in this country and the
largest corporations to make any sacrifice.
The Reid plan is bad. The constantly shifting plan by House
Speaker John Boehner is much worse. His $1.2 trillion plan calls
for no cuts in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and it requires a
congressional committee to come up with another $1.8 trillion in
cuts within six months of passage.
Those cuts would mean drastic reductions in Social Security,
Medicare and Medicaid. What's more, Mr. Boehner's plan would
reopen the debate over the debt ceiling, which is now paralyzing
Congress, just six months from now.
While all of this is going on in Washington, the American people
have consistently stated, in poll after poll, that they want
wealthy individuals and large corporations to pay their fair share
of taxes. They also want bedrock social programs like Social
Security, Medicare and Medicaid to be protected. For example, a
July 14-17 Washington Post/ABC News poll found that 72% of
Americans believe that Americans earning more than $250,000 a year
should pay more in taxes.
In other words, Congress is now on a path to do exactly what the
American people don't want. Americans want shared sacrifice in
deficit reduction. Congress is on track to give them the exact
opposite: major cuts in the most important programs that the
middle class needs and wants, and no sacrifice from the wealthy
and the powerful.
Is it any wonder, therefore, that the American people are so angry
with what's going on in Washington? I am too.
Mr. Sanders, an independent senator from Vermont, is a member of
the Senate Budget Committee.
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