29 November 2010

Robert Reich on Fiscal Hypocrisy, and some comments on the lack of patriotism of those hypocrites

Please read Robert Reich on fiscal hypocrisy (Huffpo today).  It's not just Republicans, but many Democrats, who crow about deficits but are unwilling to do anything about cutting corporate welfare or increasing taxes on the wealthiest Americans.

I say:

Time to make DEEP cuts in military expenditures, end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as quickly as humanly possible, and begin the process of dismantling the empire. (See the late Chalmers Johnson's last book, of that title, or Andrew Bacevich's Washington Rules, on the same subject). These unfunded wars and out of control military costs are the main factor causing the bankruptcy of our nation. As these scholars have analyzed, I'm convinced correctly, this juggernaut is consuming our resources but not making us safer... quite the contrary.

Time to increase taxes DRAMATICALLY on the very rich, AND, after a two year moratorium, MODESTLY on the middle and upper middle class. And to reform the tax structure to make it vastly simpler and fairer, with far fewer loopholes and deductions available only to the rich and big corporations, and to tax financial trading much more heavily, actual production less heavily, with net revenue increases which are needed for the substantial infrastructure and jobs investment we need to restore our economy to prosperity and eventually begin reducing our national debt. 

Time to control health care reimbursement rates (both public and private), and amend the health care law to move steadily towards taking the profit out of health care.

Time to examine the Department of Homeland Security, and other aspects of the "national security state," which by some estimates is responsible for $1.2 trillion expenditures since 2001, with very little real cost-benefit analysis, as a place to look towards making deep cuts after analyzing what we really need to defend our nation against foreign terror threats in a reasonable and sustainable way.

There is, however, no need to cut social security, which is off budget. Lower income people already pay more in regressive payroll taxes than income taxes; the idea that the debt should be balanced on their shoulders is flat out unconscionable, not to mention fiscally totally irresponsible, since it would amount to a default on debt to our own people. The only reform needed to social security is to lift (or even remove) the income cap for payroll taxes; and consider making payroll taxes progressive, like the income tax. There is a sound philosophical argument for financing retirement security (and health care) from progressively imposed revenues.

These fiscal policies, combined with greatly INCREASED public investment in renewable energy and transportation infrastructure, INCREASED investment in education, especially higher education, and research designed to foster new, renewable energy and other green high-tech industry, will help our economy recover full employment and prosperity. The debt will then begin to take care of itself.

People who think they can preserve the privileges of the well off, and low taxes for the rich, and balance the budget on the backs of America's dwindling middle class and seniors, are fools, and their policies, if allowed to be enacted, will spoil our economy, increase income inequality, and ultimately destroy the very fabric of  our Republic.

Which is why I call these people, mostly Republicans, but some Democrats, unpatriotic. 

Sadly, most of these reforms are politically infeasible right now. But those of us who see a better future and what's obstructing it have a moral obligation to continue to point this out, as often and in as many ways as we can. 

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