Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Real Class War

The Real “Class War” 

The super-rich are treating small businesses and working people like fish in a barrel.

The current debates surrounding cutting the deficit and the mounting national debt underscore class struggle and class conflict at the heart of capitalism. Addressing the mounting deficit will require reversing over 30 years of supply-side economics, which has slashed taxes on the corporate rich and, along with unpaid wars and out-of-control military spending, has left the U.S. $14 trillion in debt, three-fourths of it from Republican presidents.
But instead of addressing the real causes of the deficit and national debt, the corporate elite — and their allies in both political parties — are targeting Medicaid, Medicare, and even Social Security, which has nothing to do with the deficit or debt and has a $3 trillion surplus!
Why is Congress making severe budget cuts when hundreds of profitable corporations are paying extremely low taxes or none at all? Fortune 500 companies like General Electric, Boeing, Verizon, Bank of America, and Citigroup pay no federal taxes. If you paid as much as $10 in taxes this year, you paid more than these pampered behemoths.
These and hundreds of other American companies use overseas and offshore tax havens to shelter their profits while claiming losses here in the U.S. These companies shift the responsibility to pay for our shared defense, roads, bridges, education, and public services onto small businesses and individuals. According to a recent report by the Institute for Policy Studies, over the past 50 years there has been a decided transfer of the tax burden away from the wealthy and multinational corporations onto the rest of us small fry.
The wealthy are paying the lowest tax rates in 50 years. A report by Wealth for the Common Good shows that the 400 richest people in America control more wealth than 150 million of their fellow citizens. And they are effectively taxed at just a 16 percent tax rate, while the working class pays up to 35 percent. These oligarchs' effective tax rate has dropped by two-thirds since the Eisenhower administration.
Income and wealth have become extremely concentrated in the hands of the super-rich. The richest 1 percent own nearly 40 percent of all wealth and get 25 percent of all income. The top 10 percent own more wealth than the bottom 90 percent, and they are taxed a lower rate for wealth than workers pay on wages. While CEO pay has skyrocketed, wages have declined, and the number of unemployed and working poor continues to grow. Just who is it that is waging class warfare?
If we are serious about addressing the deficit and paying down the debt, we have to repeal the Reagan and Bush tax cuts for the wealthy and cut corporate welfare and military spending — not, as the Republicans keep demanding, Medicare and social programs.
The Republicans want to cut gaping holes in the safety net to allow for more tax cuts for the corporate rich. The current GOP budget proposal includes $4.3 trillion in program cuts but offsets those cuts with $4.2 trillion in tax cuts, leaving only $155 billion in real budget cuts over the next decade.
Contrary to the propaganda of the Tea Party and its corporate sponsors, we are not broke. If corporations and households with $1 million of income paid the same tax rates they did in 1961, we would collect $716 billion more a year — $7 trillion over a decade. That is more than all the budget cuts proposed by the Republicans.
The American people seem to be ahead of their representatives in Congress. Vast majorities, even of Republicans and Tea Party supporters, oppose cutting Social Security, Medicare, or Medicaid and support cutting military spending and raising taxes on the corporate rich. The Progressive Caucus — the largest in Congress, believe it or not — has proposed a "People's Budget," which takes a top-down approach to cutting spending and raising taxes, but it is being ignored by the corporate media. I wonder why.
There is indeed a class war, but it is being waged by the oligarchs and corporate rich against the working class. Let's stop all the talk of budget cuts until corporate tax dodgers and the wealthy pay their fair share of taxes.
Jim Maynard, a well-known local activist, is the organizer of the Memphis Coffee Party Progressives & Democratic Socialists of America.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Progressive Budget: Tax the Rich, End the Wars, Cut Oil Subsidies, Invest in Jobs

House progressives offer budget plan: Tax the rich, end the wars, slash oil subsidies, invest in jobs

Liberal Dems claim the plan eliminates deficit by 2021
WASHINGTON – As the focus on Capitol Hill shifts [1] to America's long-run fiscal woes, Congressional progressives are one step ahead of the White House and Democratic leaders in offering a counter-proposal to the House GOP approach.
The broad sketch proposes to end the Bush-era tax cuts on high income earners, enact a surtax on millionaires and billionaires, increase the the estate tax and eliminate corporate tax loopholes and subsidies for oil and coal companies. It also aims to create a public health insurance option, end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and invest $1.45 trillion in "job creation," energy, housing and education programs.
The revenue-heavy proposal [2] (PDF) stands in stark contrast to the spending cuts-oriented plan put forth by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) -- and championed by GOP leaders [3] -- that slashes $6 trillion in federal programs (including Medicare and Medicaid) while significantly reducing taxes for wealthy Americans and corporations.
"This budget is transparent, straightforward and realistic about where we are in America right now," Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), co-chair of the progressive caucus, told Raw Story. "The Ryan plan, for all the credit it gets for thinking big, doesn’t reflect the reality of the American economy. It destroys the successful programs that made this country strong, especially Medicare and education, and doesn't even try to explain how it creates jobs. It reflects a faith that making government disappear will somehow create prosperity."
The plan is a nonstarter in the GOP-led House and would have a hard time winning over more than a handful of Democrats in the Senate. But Grijalva and his progressive caucus co-chair Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) wrote a letter urging Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), the top Democrat on the budget committee, to consider their ideas in the Democratic counter-offer this week.
In contrast to the Ryan plan, which the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office says will eliminate the deficit by 2040 [4], the progressive proposal -- which its authors have dubbed the "People's Budget" -- promises to yield surpluses by 2021, though it doesn't provide numbers to back the claim.
"We need an alternative that actually creates jobs, closes corporate tax loopholes, ends wasteful subsidies, protects Medicare and education, and puts this country back on the right track," Grijalva said. "We believe the American people deserve a choice, and that’s what we intend to give them."
While the Ryan proposal is likely to pass the GOP-led House when it's taken up this week, the progressive blueprint is highly unlikely to reflect the official Democratic opening bid. President Barack Obama is poised to unveil his fiscal 2012 budget [5] Wednesday, and it's believed to seek spending cuts while returning high-income tax rates to Clinton-era levels.
Both parties agree on the need to reduce the nation's massive long-term deficits. And the progressive leaders framed their proposal in terms of who will pick up the tab: the wealthy, or struggling Americans. The GOP proposal, they argue, would "tak[e] trillions of dollars from the pockets of the middle class and giv[e] ever more generous windfalls to millionaires and large corporations."
Republicans vociferously oppose increasing taxes -- including on the wealthiest earners and corporations -- warning that doing so would hamper the economic recovery. America's budget problems, they argue, are caused by excessive spending as opposed to a revenue shortage.
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Monday, April 4, 2011

From Memphis to Madison-The Struggle Continues

From Memphis to Madison, The Struggle Continues

Forty-three years ago, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in Memphis, where he had traveled to support AFSCME sanitation workers striking for the right to collective bargaining. The struggle for workers' rights continues today in Wisconsin, Ohio, Florida, New Hampshire, Michigan and other states throughout the country.

Join the Movement!

1968 Memphis Sanitation Workers Say Stand Strong, Stand Together | AFL-CIO NOW BLOG

1968 Memphis Sanitation Workers Say Stand Strong, Stand Together | AFL-CIO NOW BLOG

43rd Annual March Honoring MLK in Memphis April 4 2011

About 500 people representing several unions join the Memphis AFSCME Local to honor Dr. Martin Luther King on the 43rd Anniversary of his murder in Memphis Tennessee April 4, 1968.

MLK came to Memphis to stand WITH public workers and unions representing sanitation workers in Memphis.  It was his last stand for justice and equality.