If you talk to leading progressives these days, you’ll be sure to hear this message: The Democratic Party should embrace the economic populism of New York Mayor-elect Bill DeBlasio and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren. Such economic populism, they argue, should be the guiding star for Democrats heading into 2016. But the new, Right Wing Democrats say no…we can’t go back essentially to Liberalism.
Can’t go back to Liberalism…the political system that brought with it Social Security that took tens of millions, certainly hundreds of millions over the decades…out of poverty. Not a bad thing to do, was it…really? Liberalism…that aided the labor unions to get the 40 hour week…and no matter what deca-millionaire Rush Limbaugh says…created another good thing…the weekend. Rush of course thinks you should work six days a week, while he stays high on oxy-contin 90 percent of the time. Can’t go back to Liberalism and the minimum wage, pensions, 80% of our needs being met by companies right here in the U.S. and little things like Civil Rights, Medicaid and Medicare. All little things that really have not meant much to many people …have they?
With the Republicans firmly in control of obstructing government, the Democratic platform is basically what everyone in the lower 99% of the economic population wants. Yet income and opportunity equality are the worst that they have been since before World War II. If you are planning a political system, inequality must be a major factor to consider. In other words, your main emphasis better be on creating jobs here in the U.S., not obstructing jobs here while sending them abroad.
There seem to be a whole group of Democrats who have given up hope of creating a great society, a great, all-encompassing, opportunistic capitalist system that really works. That kind of Capitalism will come only from Liberal policies. We know that. For certain.
We know because we had that kind of system and it worked exceptionally well until Ronald Reagan came along…a kind of Anti-Christ politician to a truly Democratic society…and swept in with his Right Wing Conservatism—which, once implemented, eventually became our current Neo-Fascist system which is supported by money from the Right Wing rich. Our system, in which we have so much pride, could not handle this insinuation of capital and political power. We never anticipated, apparently, that Americans would be so greedy or so insensitive to the needs of their fellow man.
The Reagan-Bush-Cheney system said tax the poor, elevate and enrich the rich, privatize and thereby raise prices on everything, let nothing—not even water—be in the public domain….not even serving your country. Privatize that, or at least privatize the dying, while keeping the Generals safe in Washington for their next jobs as heads of military contractor companies.
And so prevalent was the attitude, the new pseudo-philosophy, this tin pot politics spread by people like Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck…all simply failed people in every other endeavor…that even some Democrats have taken it up. The Right Wing Democrats, who themselves have now taken to berating the Democratic party for its best work, berate the Progressives and try to isolate and ridicule the very word “Liberal” because they are pants-wetting afraid of Republican billionaires.
These Right Wing Democrats are not really Democrats…they are not even good Republican Moderates. Republican moderates from all the big Midwestern Republican states joined in on civil rights and workers’ rights and opportunity for all. The ones who did not were the old Dixiecrats, now the Tea Party.
We are creating virtually no new jobs outside the service industries. Since 2001 over 5 million jobs have gone to Asia. That is enough to bring our unemployment rolls down to 5% which is a reasonable level. Too many of our high paying jobs have only to do with the movement of capital among already very wealthy people. This is an illusion of national wealth, but, let’s face it…the stock market almost never has and does not now create wealth for the vast majority of Americans.
We are slipping quickly into the position of a second-tier nation. And that has horrific implications. Imagine, if you will, that the roughly 700 people who died on the streets of New York City last year increased to 7,000 and the number of cities where that occurred was increased from one to 50. Over 45 million people in the United States right now live on less than $22,000 for a family of four, less than $12,000 if an individual.
The median household income in the United States is about $50,000 and going down. So the poor are living on less than half that amount. The problem is that they have nowhere to go. The Republicans in Congress, mindful of their benefactors…that segment of the rich..oil men, owners of pharmaceutical companies, Wall Street brokers and hedge fund owners, bankers, and military contractors…and those individuals do not want to improve the economy.
If the economy goes up, inflation goes up and wages go up. Jobs are still going overseas. The second great gilded age of income inequality is no mistake. Once rich Republicans found that they could fool the people into thinking that they were doing well, it was a small step to simply spend whatever was necessary to continue the propaganda
The Right Wing Democrats have a few heros. Larry Summers is one. Educated, bright, popular among the very wealthy on both sides of the political spectrum, Larry Summers was the very symbol of the economic bulwark of the Right Wing Democrat. But even he has finally come to an end with trickle-down economic nonsense. After years of no recovery and a country on the verge of disaster, which we are, he pointed out one important fact. We have 1.3 million people who will soon run out of unemployment. But renewing unemployment insurance for another 27 weeks, while it may be necessary is not really the answer. The problem is long term. There is only one job for about every 5 unemployed people.
Summers says, and other economists agree, that it is past time for the country to begin policies that create job growth. We cannot tackle substantive issues like infrastructure and entitlements, so called, until we have created an economy that is on the move again. Growth of 2 to 2.5 percent is nothing. We need growth of 4.5 percent to create economic conditions that will support full employment.
The Right Wing Democrats say that while New York City may have elected a Populist Mayor, the country is more centrist and that there is no move towards a more populist Democratic Party. They say that the last time a New York City mayor won a race for governor or senator—let alone president—was 1869. They are not persuaded that Senator Warren from a highly educated Northeastern state can attract voters from across the country.
The fact is that nothing could be further from the truth. The American people have suffered huge losses in assets, income, civil rights, and economic power over the last ten years. Polls show that they are dissatisfied. Recent elections in Virginia and in Colorado show that the populist mood can overcome very large amounts of Right Wing money.
While it is true that what works in a blue state like Massachusetts will not always work in a state like Arkansas or even Indiana, the recent election of two strong Liberal Senators from that state gives every indication that the tide is turning. We see good support for the health care reform act even with all its start-up problems, many of which have been caused by the decisions of most Republican Governors to do everything possible to make it unworkable. We see a blowback on the states’ frequent decisions to reduce funding for education. And we have strong support for job creation.
The Populist movement is an outgrowth of the ability of oppressed people to communicate with one another freely. This is as real and as aggressive as the Occupy Movement. Was that a group of thugs–what Sean Hannity on Fox News called them? They were simply average citizens, speaking out against the tyranny of a financial class that has captured all the income and the growth from the economic system.
What we really need to worry about is not Occupy movements but governments who will arm their police with military weaponry and then train them in crowd control and even perhaps crowd intimidation. We’ve seen it in the past. The poor and the minorities become victims. We see the outlines now of the police state already as right wing military, some of whom were members of Latin American hit squads are training our police forces and as many pieces of military equipment originally built to defeat an enemy are being given by our military to state and local police to contain…or is it to prevent…public assembly.
Do these Right Wing Democratic political pundits in New York City and Washington, D.C. know what voters really believe? They are so concerned with what John Boehner is doing that they haven’t caught up to what is happening across the country. Oh, they’ll be surprised one of these days and say, as they did about the disasters of the Iraq war, “…no one could have known…” but, oh, yes, they could have known if they had really been paying attention. Here is a simple statement that may help.
The average citizen, if organized in 2016, perhaps even in 2014, is poised to crush the Republicans and remove them to a small corner of the country, the old Confederate states. In fact the Confederate states without Texas. Texas is turning blue already, even as Ted Cruz reads Sam I Am to his faithful kindergarten-level supporters.
The Right Wing Democrats not only echo the Limbaugh-like refrain that Liberalism is soft and unappealing to the average citizen. But is that true? Who speaks for the poor? Not Obama. He speaks for the average middle class citizen, most of whom do have concerns about the poor. So who speaks for the poor? Is there someone popular who speaks on behalf of the poor and downtrodden? Actually there is. He has a funny name. Pope Francis. He is popular with 69% of all Americans and over 90% of Catholics. And what has he been saying? That Christians must take care of those less advantaged. Does that sound familiar? Yes, it sounds like Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Harry Truman, Jack Kennedy and the ultimate Liberal practitioner…Lyndon Baines Johnson…all Liberal Democrats.
Who else is popular? How about John Boehner…the archetypical Republican…no…sorry. Only 22% of the people, only about 2 people out of ten, which probably means zero Democrats and zero Independents like John Boehner. Not only is Boehner slipping but the Tea Party is falling behind. Among Republicans something like 25 % think they have too much influence on Republican policies. And that’s a lot considering the Tea Party or Right Wing allies too scared of them to challenge are about half of the Republican Party. Among Democrats, 65% think the Tea Party is too far out there and among independents is it is 34%. That leaves about 1% who think the Tea Party is great!
The argument against the new Liberal attitudes is that these Liberal Democrats “want it all.” According to the Right Wing Democrats this fantasy says if we force the wealthy to pay higher taxes close a few corporate tax loopholes, and break up some big banks then—presto!—we can pay for, and even expand, existing entitlements.
Well….yes. Those happen to be the facts. What the Liberals really want is to raise some taxes from where they are now (the average person in the top percent..for example Bush and Cheney in the White House paid effective rates of 21%. So the top guys like Cheney (worth $80 million…Never had a private industry job until he used his military industrial complex contacts to get a job from Halliburton paying him $44 million dollars over several years. And that was before he gave them $12.5 billion in contracts in Iraq. On their way to a total of over $30 billion!)
Bush made something like $30 million. Here’s how he did it. Very simple. He was a President’s son. He sold his failing oil drilling company, Harken oil, to a man for an amount of money that it was not worth and then used that equity and his father’s name to invest in the Texas Rangers baseball franchise.
Bush’s job, though his title was President was literally public relations. According to reports and according to his own comments to reporters, his job was to sit in a box behind home plate and shake hands with people. When the influence peddlers were done and the deals were all signed, sealed and the baseball franchise was securely in the hands of a few rich Texans, Dubya Bush sold his piece, which had been a several hundred thousand dollar investment, for something like $21 million.
Let’s just make something very clear. According to the Congressional Budget Office, if we had kept everything the way Clinton had left it, we would have continued surpluses right into 2011, at which time we would not have had the $5.6 trillion debt Bush inherited….but no national debt at all. We would have paid off all our debt. Or at least could have had we wanted to. Instead, after Bush and Cheney’s policies, we now have $17 trillion in debt. You don’t have to be a genius to understand what happened.
Here’s the real reason for tax increases. If Uncle Sam takes 20% of your money in taxes and you keep 80%, or 8 dollars out of 10, why would you take any risks at all with that 8 dollars? Romney, for example, by shutting down U.S. companies, putting U.S. citizens out of work, made enough money so that he doesn’t have to work and has an income of $20 million a year on which he pays less than 15%. But if we took 70% of everything over a million bucks, he would find a way to invest that money rather than pay it to Uncle Sam. That has been the basis of most of American investment for the last 100 years.
Now, here, at this point, let’s talk a little about objectivity, and mass hysteria. Mit Romney did basically everything he was told to do from the time he was born. He was, in other words, a good little Mormon boy. So we shouldn’t be throwing rocks at a guy who basically did what he was told and has raised a good family and has, from time to time, done good things.
So what do we mean by hysteria? We don’t give a bad rap to other investment capitalists. But we knock Romney in an exaggerated way because he ran for President. Certainly he has that right and we have the right to vote him out. But to vote against him because he believes in some tinfoil hat religion that is just a 20th Century update of all the other tinfoil hat myths that people bow down to is ridiculous. There are people who think that Jesus is going to do a fly-bye of their neighborhood on a magic carpet and take them right out of their clothes to Heaven. So until you slam them and an lot of other idiotic beliefs…don’t knock Mormons. There are worse religions and far worse people who follow a religion.
And don’t knock making money. It can be quite respectable and can be put to very good use. Would it be better if there were no Google? Would it be better if there were no Facebook? Or laptops or I-phones? Of course not. Should people not invent things because they will get rich? Granted Wall Street and the bankers and oil men whose money comes pouring out of the ground from wells dug by their great grandfathers….that’s sick. But let’s face it..everyone who is a good solid, red-blooded American wants more. More money, love, respect…whatever.
Romney’s problem was that he should have just kept doing his dirty little deals and stayed out of politics. Because his politics are bad. His idea is to do to the country what he did to a lot of corporations. Bankrupt them, lay off all the workers and send the jobs to China. So his candidacy was bad for the country, for the people, for our security, and for the image of the Mormon Church. The idea that you can stand up in front of the Right Wing of Wall Street and with a straight face blame 47% of Americans (about 150 million people), for not liking you when you want to take their jobs away and send them to China…is pretty stupid.
What we have learned over the last 30 years is that Milton Friedman was right. People will follow their best interests. Where he was wrong was what they would find to be in their best interest. It turns out the best interest of a huge number of the rich of this era is to simply take the money and run and the hell with the country, to hell with their fellow citizens and to hell with job creation. What Friedman didn’t realize was that, given the opportunity, American capitalists would become greedy, power hungry tyrants sending the jobs to China or India and putting the extra profit in their pockets.
Those are the policies that the Right Wing Democrats supposedly think are so popular that opposing ideas, i.e., Liberal ideas, are confined to a minuscule number of millionaire publishers and media types who live in some kind of bubble in Manhattan. If Right Wing ideology is so strong, why did the citizens in our state voting, elect more Democratic Senators than Republican? Why did 54% of the people…having had 4 years already of Moderate Republican rule under Barack Obama, vote for more.
But then why do Tea Party members also win elections? Well, it is a good question. Where do these radical, irrational thoughts take hold? Sadly, it is very predictable. In the parts of the country where the Right Wing talk machine, the propaganda machine has taken hold. In Congressional districts in the upper peninsula and the western coast of Michigan, in Montana and Wyoming, in all the old confederate states, in parts of Ohio and in Western Nebraska, in West Virginia and parts of Kentucky, in Northwestern Iowa, in more desolate areas of New Mexico and in some ultra-wealthy Republican areas of California and Arizona. If you are uneducated or if you are settled in one of the more conservative areas of the walled-in rich, you are more likely to live in a Tea Party district.
But if you follow voting trends outside those areas, you will see that the Senators from Massacusetts were not the only Democrats elected. For example, Terry McAuliffe was elected in the Southern state of Virginia, opposing Ken Cuccinelli. If the ideas of the Right Wing were still strong, Cucinelli would have won in this traditionally Southern state. So if a Democrat can win in a former Confederate state, one can certainly win in Michigan, Ohio, Indiana (which recently elected a Democratic Senator,) or even Kansas. If you can show the people that they’ve been lied to by propagandists paid to keep the masses under their thumbs, then you can win in open elections.
Yes, of course, Americans are confused. And that is because of people like the Right Wing Democrats. Attacking Progressives irrationally simply to get into print is reckless. Stating that Progressives (Liberals) intend to return to the old 1930s and 1940s Big Government Liberalism is not only wrong, it is a deliberate lie. It is also irrational and reckless.
No one is suggesting that we bring the country to its knees. Indeed the only President who has done anything about reducing the deficit has been a Democrat. The only time Congress has initiated “paygo” legislation that said we will not spend on new legislation unless we can connect it to reduction in government spending of the same amount were Democrats.
You can spin this any way you want, and say that Republicans supported it. But you can’t spin the fact that during the period 2001-2008, when Republicans were in total power, our national debt went from $5.6 trillion and stable, to $13 trillion and an annual budget imbalance left for the next administration of $1 trillion per year! That wasn’t paygo or anything like it. Under Bush and Cheney, 50,000 factories and 5,000,000 jobs were sent to Asia. That alone reduced the amount of revenue entering the Treasury by a substantial amount because many of those jobs never returned and the ones that did were at wages half what the previous jobs earned.
That is not confusing. Do we still need jobs? Five years since the Bush Stock Market Crash, the renowned economist Larry Summers says that we still have a real unemployment rate of 10%. In five years Repbulicans have not allowed one jobs bill to pass out of Congress. Those that were initiated in the Republican House were tabled or voted down. Those that got to the floor of the Senate were filibustered.
Republicans have sabotaged jobs in other ways. Corporate taxes, which can be used to help restore American industry are no longer paid. Under Bush and Cheney, legislation was passed encouraging corporations to move their headquarters to Bemuda, or the Cayman Islands. So what does it all mean? It means that we know why there are no jobs and we know what to do about it. All we really need to do is elect Liberal Democrats who will say “no” to Right Wing treachery and help the average American working man. The idea that this is a return to Big Government is a ridiculous lie.
There are no new jobs because, unlike previous generations of (Liberal) politicians we have not worked with government to restore jobs, industries, wages and the Middle Class. In those instances where we have done the right thing, the Neo-Fascist lie machine has told the American people that, for example, the saving of the auto industry by Obama was a waste of time. Really? Even though mismanagement and a Bush-Cheney caused financial crisis forced unions to take dramatically lower wages and benefits, the revived and profitable auto industry now offers some of the best jobs, union jobs, in the country. The U.S. auto industry once again competes as a world-class industry with world-class products.
There has been an all-out total media campaign by the Right Wing to prevent health care reform…to keep the hundreds of thousands of private industry six and seven-figure incomes that would be replaced eventually by average civil servants in a more rational and more efficient system like Medicare. They pay hundreds of millions of dollars to their media contacts who lie about the Affordable Care Act every day, despite the fact that Americans are signing up for good health care plans for three-and four hundred dollars a month, and that is before government subsidies. Why do the health insurance companies continue to lie and propagandize and lobby and obstruct…cynically and tragically using their Republican governors to work against their own constituents?
Billions of dollars of profits will now go to paying for health care instead of paying gigantic health industry salaries. That is what it is all about. Nothing more. The increase in health care costs is already beginning to abate. We are bending the cost curve downward and there is nothing the health care industry can do about it because…surprise…like cheaper goods from China and teens going to the movies and video games…people will follow their own best interest. And they are already beginning to understand that paying 5% to handling billing between you and your doctor is better than paying 30% to pass the paperwork around…and it is less subject to someone determining that they should make something extra by cutting your health care out altogether.
The Right Wing Democrats want to invest more deeply in K-12 education, infrastructure, health research and clean energy. Good. Where do they get the money? They don’t. They are caught up in the same problem as the Republicans. Which is: how do you raise taxes on people who will not like it but whom you need in order to invest more in schools and other things? If you are a Right Wing Democrat, not sufficiently confident in the people, you will not raise taxes, change tariffs, bring jobs and money back home to the U.S. And the reason you will not is that you are afraid of losing your support among the few rich that do support you. Thus, you will always win half-victories and continue to screw some of the people some of the time. Their idea is to walk the knife’s edge of pandering to your campaign donors and justify the lack of support for the Middle Class by saying that it would be much worse if you lose.
The Right-Wing Democrats say that the idea that Liberal Populism is naïve and weak is foolish. Populism, the 19th Century social program grew from local to regional to a national movement. How did the people of the Occupy Movement even get to Wall Street or Washington D.C.? It was an outgrowth of popular support for an idea. The idea with which all the Occupy movements were connected was the thought that the top 1% has basically commandeered the country by buying up a large part of the real estate in the House office building and the Senate office building assigned to Republicans. The top 1% basically owns the Republican Party.
We found that out for certain during the health care reform debate. During that period, over $400 million dollars went to Republicans from large donors in the hospital, medical, drug and health insurance industries to prevent, nor make better, a health care reform plan that would begin to reduce health care insurance costs in this country. It has already. For the last three years, again according to the Congressional Budget Office, health care costs have gone down each year over the previous year’s costs. And that is before the biggest change, the one now coming up in 2014, where people will not only be able to buy health care in an open exchange where competition can drive down costs, but will receive government subsidies. Even better for Americans, many legislators are now talking about a simplified version of health care similar to the enormously better and cost efficient Medicare system.
This was the system that many famous Republicans…Ronald Reagan principal among them…long before the Tea Party…said would turn the United States into a Socialist Republic. Today’s Republican Party could have offered their own version of health care reform dozens of times in the last 30 years and the two could have been melded to make one stronger system. But the Republicans instead opted to take the money and offered 400 amendments, most of which were literally written by the health care industry to obstruct the process and the legislation. Even so, Democrats did allow 140 Republican amendments to be entertained, most of which both protected health insurance corporations and weakened and complicated the bill. Later, Republicans used the very amendments that they had introduced into the legislation to claim that the bill was too complicated.
The Right Wing Democrats not only take on basic rights, like…the right to have jobs in order to have income to live…but also the right to live if the government works to send all jobs to China. And it takes on the idea that we should have benefits that we pay for during our working years. They make all the arguments about why it does not work, but they join the Tea Party in saying that Social Security is a failed idea. The fact is that Social Security can be made solvent forever will one simple little tweak. But that tweak involved making those who now earn more than their counterparts in any previous generation pay a little more for their Social Security premiums now. That’s what Reagan and Tip O’Neill did. But the new Right Wing Democrats are afraid that they will lose votes from those who do not want to ever pay more taxes again.
Well, that is simply wrong. If we can cut taxes, we certainly can raise taxes. If we can cut taxes to the point that over 30 years we have indebted this country by $17 trillion, then we can sure as hell raise taxes to pay off those debts. That’s how it works. If you incur debts, you raise revenue…get a second job. You don’t throw grandma out onto the street and wall off her room.
Yes we have a situation with Social Security in which we need to take action. But it is not some monumental problem. We can make Social Security solvent for 100 years, with a very minor adjustment upward in the payroll deduction.
This is not some kind of “populist economic fantasy.” This is reality, simple use of the tax code to solve problem…done every day in Washington. And this is not a new situation. We have known and have had panels in Washington working on these solutions for years. The only people who do not want to discuss those solutions are the Right Wing Republicans and now apparently some Right Wing Democrats. Remember, technically, the United States government has borrowed funds from the surpluses…yes, surpluses…huge surpluses…accumulated in the Social Security system over the years. Now the Right Wingers want to keep that money and reduce payments to Social Security recipients. That is what this is all about. The Liberals say that this money should be returned and that appropriate adjustments should be made in the payroll deduction procedures to make the system solvent. This is not only possible, it is an easy fix…will not break anyone’s piggy bank.
Do Social Security payments now exceed the money coming in each year? Yes, they do. But will it be necessary to abandon Social Security or accept the reduced payments of only roughly 75% of what is paid now? No. But the ideas of many Liberal legislators should be addressed. We can not only make the system solvent, but provide reasonable retirement incomes for the generations to come. All we need do is make it clear that this is important to us. We need make it clear that fixed pensions are being destroyed by the Right Wing Republicans and Right Wing Democrats. The ideas being presented by the Right and by the Right Wing Democrats is that there is no alternative to cutting Social Security benefits or eliminating Social Security all together.
If we do not act, there will be no pensions, no 401ks large enough to cover retirement for most people and no Social Security. This is what has happened over the last 30 years since Republicans took control of government and particularly in the last 10 years, when the Republican Party gave way to a Neo-Conservative Party and the Neocons gave way to the billionaire and corporation sponsored, Tea Party…the Neo-Fascists.
There is no point in going into solutions. They have been offered by many Democratic Senators and by Democratic members of the House. They are all legitimate, all reasonable and all require some adjustment upward in Social Security payroll taxes.
Look…here is the overall problem. If you want your top income earners to pay less in taxes as a percentage of income than the very lowest wage earners, here’s what happens. When you lower the top rate from 70% down to 35%….everything scales down from there. The people under the top 1% don’t keep the old rates. They get scaled down rates, too. Every income level pays less. That’s why people like Laura Ingraham can get on the radio and rail at average Americans and say that half the country pays no taxes at all. The reason is that A. Bush lowered everyone’s taxes, and B. he shipped good jobs overseas so that the poor jobs that are here don’t pay enough for many people to actually pay taxes.
Bush lowered EVERYONE’s taxes, not just those on the rich. So, yes, it may not be possible for the top 1% to fund the entire government, but they could. They have assets of four times the total national debt. And corporations now basically pay no taxes. And workers, instead of being here in the U.S. and paying taxes here are either Chinese workers working in China or are U.S. workers here making minimum wages in retailers and thus paying minimal taxes.
And the idea that Senator Warren or any Liberal wants to pay billionaires Social Security demonstrates a lack of knowledge about the way Social Security works. If you earn over a certain amount, you pay the government back for the Social Security you receive. The same thing is true with SSI disability. Once you have other income, you are no longer eligible for disability income. But even if there were not these safety valves built into the system the principle is the same. You pay in your premiums, and when you retire you get the insurance that you have been paying for your entire life. If those premiums are too low, than raise them. If the money has been borrowed, then find a way to put it back. If Social Security is a ponzi scheme then so is every life insurance annuity plan.
What Liberal Democrats are saying is that we need to raise a little more revenue for the system, and then let the system pay out to people on the basis of what they have as retirement income. It is foolish to think that Mit Romney who has a “retirement’ income of $20 million dollars a year would be concerned a losing all of his potentially $30,000 or so maximum Social Security payout. But…if he had no income…had justifiably lost everything by investing in one the companies that he took into the ground, thereby losing everything—just as happened to the employees of those companies….then he’d be damned glad to have that $30 grand a year.
There are numerous ways to fix both Social Security and Medicare. Now, you may not want to do that. You may not want to pay more taxes, but you have a choice. You can let people die or you can help them live. You can vote to go to war or vote not to go to war. You can work and make a living or you can go somewhere and lie down and die. You can stand on top of a building and see a lovely view or you can jump. We have all kinds of choices in life.
Here are the choices for Social Security. Not complicated.
1. We can increase the payroll tax. This is not complicated and will not break anyone’s piggy bank at home. We just need to decide on how much and do it. Take a little more out of your pay check and raise the limit on what those in higher incomes pay up to $200,000 in income before we cut off making deductions.
2. Add revenues from sales taxes on specific items. For example, a penny sales tax on all financial transactions would pick up any shortfall in the revenues even before we raised the payroll deduction amounts for the wealthier citizens.
3. Invest half of the funds into higher rated investment funds. This would create revenues far in excess of what would be needed and would begin to run the solvency of the fund way out into the future, certainly beyond 2100.
Here are some ideas for Medicare, all of which will work.
1. Gradually transfer Obamacare into a single-payer system that works for everyone just like Medicare. That will drop the cost down by 30%. That 30%, over time, will zero out health care deficits permanently.
2. Eliminate Medicare completely and make it a single system so that all health care is paid for by taxes and those tax rates are set by how much the program needs to function. If people want to lower their health care costs, they can lobby for less expensive systems and vote for those who will provide them.
3. Make some serious changes in the way that medical care is delivered. More clinics where lesser maladies could be handled and screenings and vaccinations and the disbursement of drugs. We need to continue to reduce the cost of pharmaceuticals and investigate the costs of all procedures.
4. Set up long term catastrophic health insurance that people will be forced to buy that goes right along with Social Security. Make it a separate deduction. It would cover two things. One, it would cover long-term care and two, it would cover major problems…anything costing over $100,000. Yes it would be a new cost, but that amount, over time, would be a minimal cost.
So those are the solutions to the problems of being too Liberal. What you do is be even more Liberal. But you take the revenues out through systems that already exist. There are no new programs. Nothing gets bigger. The one thing that is different from the last 30 years is that people pay adequate taxes to cover the needs of the people who live within the boundaries of the country.
What the Neo-Fascists are saying is very simple. If you join with us, we will eventually make you better off than your neighbor. We will pit you against your neighbor and create a society where the one who follows us, the Tea Party, us the Republicans, or us, the Right Wing Conservatives will be rewarded and anyone who wants a totally equitable society will not only be shunted aside, they will be punished.
This is what is happening in Wisconsin, for example. If you are a teacher making an average of $46,000 per year, rather than looking for a way to honor your health care coverage and pensions…we will simply cut them. And we will eliminate your union’s ability to bargain…so you really have no way to negotiate yourself out of this situation.
Now the idea of public investments versus entitlements is an interesting concept. Here’s what these Right Wing Democrats are saying. You can have these entitlements, pay for them, keep them pretty much as they are by doing the things we mentioned. But, they say, if you do keep them, then you cannot afford improvements in education, financial aid for students and other infrastructure investment. They are wrong.
We have brought federal government spending to the lowest percentage versus GDP since something like 1950. But if you go back to the beginning of the Bush Administration we had taxes only 4.4% higher than they are today, no wars, no prescription drug bill and a budget not only in balance, but a budget, according to the CBO, that would have eliminated all the then $5.6 trillion in debt by 2011.
So the Right Wing Democrats are swallowing the Neo-Fascist baloney as fast as it can be churned out. There is no fiscal problem that we cannot fix with a modest, rational change in policy. Obviously, if we made people who now make $500,000 annually pay 50% on every dollar over that, and made those who make over $1,000,000 per year pay 70% on every dollar over that, and do that for just 10 years, we would end our deficit problems.
Remember, people never pay exorbitantly high tax rates. That isn’t even the intent of the policy. Instead, they will invest their money before it is eligible to be taxed. We would simply make them invest in U.S. corporations with U.S. jobs. Of course, in addition to income tax adjustments we should place a tariff on products that U.S. companies bring in from abroad, made for them by foreign workers.
We can cut the number of jobs being sent abroad by simply using tariff revenues to create a high-tech manufacturing sector in this country better than any other anywhere in the world. We have the educational system in place to do it. We merely have to make these kinds of adjustments in policy.
The result would be better jobs, more exports, higher wages and greater revenues for the U.S. Treasury. It is true that everyone would pay slightly higher income taxes, not just the rich, who would pay substantially higher rates. We do not penalize one segment of the population with taxes. We raise or lower all taxes. That is why we have so little in current federal revenues coming in. The rich are not the only ones paying low taxes. But when raise taxes we should do it for policy reasons.
This policy changes is obvious. We need to create jobs and growth and funds for retirement and security for all Americans, not just the rich. What we are doing now is simply pandering to the rich. Some of the very rich are using large amounts of their own money to hold down the rest of society. That is not only economically foolish but it is morally and ethically wrong.