Tag Archives: tax policy

Austerity Politics v. Posterity Politics

31 Jul

Are we keynesians or would we prefer to be serfs? It’s an election year, soCourtesty Billy Hathorn Wiki Commons we get to weigh on this and other questions. I really think we need to be thinking about creative economics. Market-based economics that are sustainable, that create useful commons instead of quarterly profits, dividends and obscene bonuses. We all get to decide how to make that happen.

As for me, I will be voting for posterity economics. Raise taxes and reinstate the steeply progressive tax rates that discourage bald-faced greed and encourage investment in useful infrastructure. You will hear that taxing the rich won’t raise the funds that we need, that we will have to tax the middle class. That is a calculated threat by the rich to discourage taxing the rich. And besides, look at the demographics, where is this vaunted middle class?

Where are the middle class jobs?

Time to downsize? Ouch!  Click me please

A couple of stories from the Washington Post this morning caught my attention:

The Mittster is chillin’ in Israel for a few days after his tour of the London Olympics where he wowed them. well, maybe not. but anyway, he’s out to Israel now. Checking the real estate in Jerusalem. Making contacts with car elevator contractors in case he decides to build a get away place in the Other Holy Land (not salt lake).

Mittster did have kind words for the Israeli health care system. Unfortunately that health care system is exactly the kind of big government interference that the right wing is certain will destroy the soul of a great nation. Here is a piece of the WAPO article on that:

 

Romney praises health care in Israel, where research says ‘strong government influence’ has driven down costs

 

Posted by Sarah Kliff on July 30, 2012 at 11:10 am

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney had some very kind things to say about the Israeli health care system at a fundraiser there Monday. He praised Israel for spending just 8 percent of its GDP on health care and still remaining a “pretty healthy nation:”

When our health care costs are completely out of control. Do you realize what health care spending is as a percentage of the GDP in Israel? 8 percent. You spend 8 percent of GDP on health care. And you’re a pretty healthy nation. We spend 18 percent of our GDP on health care. 10 percentage points more. That gap, that 10 percent cost, let me compare that with the size of our military. Our military budget is 4 percent. Our gap with Israel is 10 points of GDP. We have to find ways, not just to provide health care to more people, but to find ways to finally manage our health care costs.

Romney’s point about Israel’s success in controlling health care costs is spot on: Its health care system has seen health care costs grow much slower than other industrialized nations.

How it has gotten there, however, may not be to the Republican candidate’s liking: Israel regulates its health care system aggressively, requiring all residents to carry insurance and capping revenue for various parts of the country’s health care system.

Israel created a national health care system in 1995, largely funded through payroll and general tax revenue. The government provides all citizens with health insurance: They get to pick from one of four competing, nonprofit plans. Those insurance plans have to accept all customers—including people with pre-existing conditions—and provide residents with a broad set of government-mandated benefits.

Read the whole article? Go for it.

It’s too bad that the conservatives have no sense of humor or appreciation of irony. They really miss out on the best that their leaders have to offer.

Second piece from the WA Post that jumped out at me:

 

 

 

As ‘fiscal cliff’ looms, debate over pre-Election Day layoff notices heats up

 

 

 

 

By , Published: July 30

 

 

 

The deep federal spending cuts scheduled to take effect at the start of next year may trigger dismissal notices for tens of thousands of employees of government contractors, companies and analysts say, and the warnings may start going out at a particularly sensitive time:

Days before the presidential election.

Read the whole piece. I dare you.

I hope that the Dems find a semblance of spinal material and will hold certain feet to the fire. Imagine a budget cut so severe, so fair that it would even cut into defense jobs. Well, try to imagine that. What are the chances?

Each moment we are faced again with the choice of austerity politics or posterity politics. Think on.

 

 

 

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Tax Rate Facts

11 Jul

Washington Post has a story on tax rates.

I know that a lot of people will think that the low tax rates are a good thing, and they may be in a few ways, but these low tax rates translate into austerity political decisions, cuts in services, cuts to environmental protection, cuts to education, cuts in regulatory functions. The same folks who will cheer these low tax rates (even at the same moment that they complain about high taxes and advocate for more tax cuts) will also cheer the cuts in non-military governmental functions.

This is fine, I support free speech. I respect the right to espouse ideas, no matter how crazy they may be, but it is weird when working class and working poor, middle class folks start drinking this 1% koolaid. This is our task. Somehow we have to reach these folks and help them understand that our wildly expensive military adventures, drone murder program, kidnap and torture foreign policy are very destructive to our future as well as being morally indefensible. We have to help these folks understand that the 1% oligarchy are cooking the books as well as the globe with their planet for profit approach to the natural world.

We have to understand that taxes are necessary. Here is what George Washington had to say about taxes:

It is essential to bear in mind that toward the payment of debts there must be revenue; that to have revenue, there must be taxes; that no taxes can be devised which are not more or less inconvenient and unpleasant.

George Washington, 1796

Here is a bit of the WAPO piece. I think the facts are important. If you have questions about tax revenue and trends, read this piece.

 

 

 

In 2009, Americans paid lowest tax rates in 30 years to federal government

 

By , Published: July 10

 

Americans paid the lowest tax rates in 30 years to the federal government in 2009, in part because of tax cuts President Obama sought to combat the Great Recession, congressional budget analysts said Tuesday.

A sharp decline in income — especially among the wealthiest Americans, who pay the highest tax rates — also played a role, according to the report by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. Household income fell 12 percent on average from 2007 to 2009, with income among the top 1 percent of earners decreasing by more than a third

 

 

 

 

 

Personal Pos

 

 

 

(The Washington Post/Source: Congressional Budget Office) – Average federal tax rates

The Power of Clicktivists! Really? Is there any power there?

15 Sep

Signed a petition this morning online through PDA to ask the super committee to save a trillion dollars by fixing Medicare Part D. The change requested would allow the Feds to negotiate drug prices with Big Pharma instead of the current model. I haven’t studied this hard, but you don’t have to study much to know that the ability to negotiate prices is a good idea. It’s kind of free market stuff, isn’t it? Doesn’t the right love the power of the free market? Let’s see how far this thing goes. Senator Kyl has jumped off talking about savings from attacking Medicare fraud, but the CBO guy told him point blank, this approach does not address the deficit and tax changes needed.

I also responded to a request from the FCNL – Friends (quakers) Committee on National Legislation and sent the following letter to my Senator, Patty Murray:

I live in Chehalis, Wa and have been pleased to have you as my Senator.

In my lifetime I have watched the tax table leveled and it has had disastrous effects on the US economy and US politics. The well-to-do, the middle class, and the poor continue to pay their fair share. The “haves” and “have mores” as George Bush called them have had their tax burden greatly relieved and now we face a budget deficit that is a pretext for cutting essential government services that are important to the majority of Americans, but mean little or nothing to the have mores.

In addition to the tax structure tilted to the rich, there is a question of war profiteering and the failure to raise taxes to pay when this country goes to war as it has done too quickly in this century.

The Pentagon budget has doubled in the last 10 years–without even counting what our country has spent on the two wars. It now amounts to more than half of the money Congress appropriates to federal programs each year.

But the main problem is falling revenues and that related directly to the tax hatred and demagogery. A steep tax structure promotes investment in infrastructure, jobs and factories instead of second, third, and fourth homes for the captains of industry.

You are in a very difficult position. It seems you are the only woman on the Super Committee and perhaps this country’s needs more matriotism and less patriotism to turn it around. I send my thoughts to you with the prayer that you will stand larger than a single person on this committee and that you may turn the country in a new direction from your position.

Be strong, be well. Do wonderful things.

Sincerely,

I don’t have much time for this email activism, but I took a minute this morning. I am generally more directly involved in political action. I spend more time making signs and materials and engaging in political action than I do sending signing online petitions pleading for change in public policy. But I took a couple of minutes for this stuff this morning, mainly because FCNL asked me to take a minute.

The Friends, the Quakers, were the folks who ran the underground railroad moving enslaved humans to freedom when slavery was legal in part of our country. They probably wrote letters and signed petitions as well, but some of the friends of that era believed action was required.

We stand on the shoulders of giants. Will we stand? Do we stand for anything?

Which side are you on, boys and girls?

Be strong, be well, DO wonderful things.

Ask the Right Question – on jobs and taxation policy

31 Aug

The Young Turks have an entertaining video up from a town hall meeting with Representative Hultgren.

It’s short and tells the story.

The woman asks the right question about the Bush tax cuts, prosperity and job creation. The same question could/should be asked in a broader time frame. Since 1980, the tax table has been flattened in the model that Reagan and his acolytes have wanted and if this model worked to create prosperity, where is the prosperity? Why don’t we look at the tax model that existed in the time frame that created prosperity? The Eisenhower era tax table had tremendous incentives for businesses and the wealthy to invest in infrastructure instead of facing a top tax rate of 91% (essentially confiscatory at obscene income level). There is no incentive now for business leaders and planners to invest in their businesses when they can take huge bonuses instead and try to keep up with the Madoffs in a contest of conspicuous consumption. Fix the tax structure, fix the economy. Get the incentives right and things will turn around.

The Backbone Campaign

23 Aug

and Washington CAN had a vision they wanted to share with Paul Allen, Jeff Bezos, Steve Balmer and a few others.

Don Smith has the story at Washington Liberals

Organizing 101: 10 questions, Part I

30 May

Tacoma activist Arthur M sent along an email and link about organizing that I think is right on. Thanks, friend.

Here is the link if you want to read the whole article. It’s 14 pages and I recognize that we live in a world of tweets and sparkle fingers today, so I want to tweet this article down a bit.

It’s funny, email seems so 1999 now. I still rely on email and I do not like telephone calls or telephones, but emails seem superfluous to blogging and the resultant give and take. Now I am thinking/wondering if blogging is becoming superfluous, being replaced by more interactive social networking tools. Not sure about that. I am continuing to blog, but also becoming more involved in social networking stuff.

Back to Organizing. Thanks again to The End of Capitalism for this work. I recommend reading the whole text, but here is Part 1:

“We aren’t done, we’re not leaving, and we’re in this together.”

1. What Is Organizing?

A. How to actually organize and build lasting radical organizations, particularly in terms of maintaining radical politics while reac10 questions about organizihing beyond insular communities

B. Without a sense of why they are there or a program about which to talk with people, door knocking will yield few productive results

C. Build Dual Power, Confront State Power. Building coalitions, political infrastructure, and visionary, alternative institutions that prefigure the types of social relationships we desire — while simultaneously confronting the state, right-wing social movements, and other forms of institutional oppression. One without the other is insufficient

2. How Do We Build Intergenerational Movements? (A Challenge to Young and Old!)

A. Recognizing that the struggle is for the long haul means that no generation can or should exist in a political vacuum

B. Most people do not work in productively intergenerational groups or live intergenerational lives outside tightly pre10 questions about organiziscribed roles (e.g., teacher-student)

C. We have a responsibility to find and work with the teenage radicals who are just now becoming political conscious and active

3. What Role Do Militancy and Confrontation Play?

A. People want to not just register their dissatisfaction with the war through petitions and periodic protests but actually end it

B. Develop a strategy that incorporates a sense of direct action in line with the state of local movement

C. Maintain relationships with other activists and groups who may not have engaged in the same tactics but who remained committed and sympathetic

D. Continually expand the movement numerically, while simultaneously increasing the militancy of those prepared to take risks.

E. Build mass movements where militant tactics can be present without dividing the movement

4. What about Anti-racism and Multiracial Movement Building?

A. The left, like U.S. society in general, remains significantly divided by race, so proactive measures are needed to create multi-racial spaces

B. The relationship of race to gender to class is still a challenging one for many U.S. radicals to grasp and organize around

C. How do we build a radical power base among white people that is profoundly anti-racist to contribute to toppling white supremacy?

I think the groups that M & I are working with in Olympia are very much about 1. C. right now. I feel good about the dual power. More of the ten questions sometime soon.

Solidarity.

Big Mike on the Budget

26 May

Thanks to Move On. Also, thanks to Don at Wa Liberals for sharing this video.

Disclaimer: some other mike, not small blue mike, not mikewmd, not olymike. That’s not me in the video. I don’t have that much hair. But the mikes stick together, so here it comes:

You are up, Big Mike! Break it down for us.