Don’t Make Us Work ‘Till We Die!

There was a time on this country when We, the People were in charge, and our government worked for us. Through our government we did things for each other and for our economy, and when we had economic success we paid back toward more such investment. Things are different today and We, the People are no longer in charge. In fact, We, the People are thought of now as “the help.” And lately the Powers That Be have been thinking they aren’t getting quite enough work out of us. So they want to make us Work ‘Till We Die.
The country has a budget deficit caused by tax cuts for the rich, huge increases in military spending, wars, covering problems caused by the Great Recession, and interest on the Reagan/Bush debt. To address these deficits the Powers That Be are coming up with plans to raise the retirement age, eliminate Medicare and cut the rest of the things We, the People do for each other — while, of course, dramatically cutting taxes on the rich.
In response the Strengthen Social Security campaign is launching Don’t Make Us Work ‘Til We Die — a website, actions, video and petition.
Local Actions April 28!
Click here to find an event near you.
Virtual Rally!
If there is no event near you, you can participate in their Virtual Rally.
This is great. Print out a sign and take a picture of yourself holding the sign. Email it to: [email protected] with your City & State in the subject line, and be part of the Virtual Rally.
Sign ideas:
* Don’t Make Me Work ‘Til I Die
* Don’t Make My Kids to Work ‘Til They Die
* Make Your Own

What Others Are Saying
Left In Alabama: Don’t Make Us Work ‘Til We Die,

There will be rallies in 18 states — 52 of them at last count — on April 27 and 28 where current retirees will demonstrate how hard or even impossible it would be for them to continue working at the jobs they retired from.

Digby: Don’t Make Us Work Until We Die.

Evidently, this is the new fate for many more of the elderly. Between raising the retirement age, skimping on the benefits, wage stagnation and economic wipe-outs like the Great Recession, young and old alike will be competing for all those low paying jobs. But since three and four generations will all have to live under the same roof, perhaps they can come up with some sort of job share concept so that they can work in shifts and someone will be at home to take care of the children. As long as it doesn’t inconvenience the employer, of course.

Richard Eskow at Work ‘Til You Die: The Alternate American Reality – And The Reality

The retirement age is already scheduled to increase, and raising it even more is nothing less than cruel. That idea’s part of the political trend toward “austerity economics,” a resurgent anti-government ideology that’sengendered a wave of enthusiastic – no, make that orgiastic prose – from well-fed pundits. Their display of almost snuff-movie-like excitement should have been predictable, but I found it shocking anyway.

AFL-CIO Now Blog: Tell Lawmakers, ‘Don’t Make Us Work ‘Til We Die’,

There is a scary scenario in store if the Republican budget, drafted by Rep. Paul Ryan, is ever implemented. Take a look at this new video from Strengthen Social Security, Don’t Cut It, that takes us to a new dimension where “politicians are cutting our Social Security and Medicare and forcing us work until we die.”
The Serlingesque video is part of a new campaign to fight back against the Republican budget and other proposals to raise the retirement age, turn Medicare over to Big Insurance and slash Medicaid for seniors, children and people with disabilities.
Next week on April 27 and 28 in more than 50 cities in 18 states, activists from the Strengthen Social Security, Don’t Cut It coalition—the AFL-CIO and the Alliance for Retired Americans are part of the coalition—will hold events at congressional district offices to tell their lawmakers hands off Social Security. Click here to find an event near you.

The Main Street blog

Everyone who has worked in a physically demanding job knows what increasing the retirement age will mean. It’s one thing to preach the necessity of this from behind a desk in a cushy office. It’s another thing to be a miner, nurse, truck driver, cook, carpenter, janitor, or a waiter at age 67 – if our bodies last that long. For those who are among the still unemployed/underemployed, and over the age of 55, the promise of Social Security in the future is what keeps us going. We can’t let them pull the rug out from under seniors who have worked long and hard, and paid in to the Social Security Trust Fund.

Dean Baker at CEPR: Why Do Real Men Want to Cut Social Security?

It really speaks volumes about the nature of politics in Washington that in order to be accepted as a serious participant in the budget debates, it is now necessary to affirm a willingness to cut Social Security. This is bizarre from many different angles.

Blue Hampshire
Suburban Guerrilla
Ellen’s Illinois Tenth Congressional District Blog: Days of Action to Protect Social Security/Medicare,

April 27th and 28th will be days of action to protect Social Security and Medicare. The themes are “Don’t Make Me Work Until I Die” and “Don’t Make My Kids Work Until They Die.” Here’s the video:
… If you’re ok with foregoing retirement and health care when you need it most so some CEO of a multinational can walk away with billions (trillions) and take his jobs to India, China and Pakistan, then go ahead and vote for Republicans and do nothing on April 27th and 28th, but if you want US jobs and a US middle class that provides for a dignified retirement, then join Strengthen Social Security for its events, virtually if you cannot make a meeting.

Crooks and Liars
susan the bruce
Dirigo Blue: SAVE THE DATE: Day of Action for Social Security: Don’t Make Us Work ‘Til We Die
This post originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.
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Reporters Duped By Republicans (Again)

So how often do you see stories about reporters being duped by Republicans? It has become “dog bites man” — something so common you don’t bother anymore to report it…
“Earth Is oval-shaped.” Reporters are duped into writing “he said, she said” stories where they report that sine one side says one thing, the other side says another, the answer must be somewhere in the middle.
“Both sides do it.” Reporters are forced by corporatist editors to put “the other side does it too” into stories about Republican extremism. All Republican leadership says something really extreme but some guy on an obscure blog said Bush was like Hitler so both sides are the same.
“Controversy.” 99% of scientists say global warming is a threat. An oil company-funded hack says it isn’t. Reporters write that there is controversy over the issue, that it isn’t “settled.”
And today, reporters say the Republican plan doesn’t end Medicare because they still name it Medicare even though it is privatized and defunded. See: PolitiFact Insists Republicans Don’t Want To End Medicare (VIDEO) | TPMDC

If Democrats proposed to turn Medicare into a system that only provided free veterinary services to seniors, would Republicans be lying to say Dems wanted to “end Medicare,” without including the caveat “as we know it”?
Of course not. But that’s more or less the charge PolitiFact is leveling at Democrats over a new DCCC ad (below) which flatly charges Republicans with proposing to “end Medicare.” The House GOP budget, which passed with all but two GOP votes over unanimous Democratic opposition, would over time replace the single-payer, government-run Medicare program with a different system that subsidizes private insurance plans for beneficiaries. Those subsidies would work like vouchers — they would increase in value year-on-year at a much slower pace than the rate of the rise of health care costs, thus leaving seniors exposed to increasing costs as time goes on.

How Fix Deficit

Sam Smith at Dirty Hippies: A simple country boy’s solution to the budget “crisis”
Go read his suggestions… then:

Once we’ve done these things, then let’s see where we are.
I know, I’m just a simple country boy. And I didn’t major in math by any stretch. But it looks to me like this plan has us up over a trillion dollars in five years (maybe a whole lot sooner, depending on how we parse item #4).
From where I sit, it just doesn’t seem right to go after the little guy first just so we can make sure that Charlie Sheen, Paris Hilton and the Koch brothers can have a tax cut


Yet Another Poll Shows… Plutocracy Stupid, Democracy Smart

This post originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.
Yet another poll is out, showing that the public wants taxes raised on the rich and on Wall Street and the giant multi-national corporations, and does not want cuts in the things We, the People do for each other. Other polls show the public wants cuts in military spending, and increases in spending on infrastructure and other job-creation, economy-growing investment. And, in fact, if we did these things the deficit problem — caused by tax cuts for the rich and increases in military spending — would be fixed. So why do Washington deficit-reduction plans always do the opposite?
From today’s Progressive Breakfast,

Yet another poll shows strong support for raising taxes on the wealthy, opposition to Medicare and Social Security cuts. W. Post: “The Post-ABC poll finds that 78 percent oppose cutting spending on Medicare as a way to chip away at the debt … 72 percent support raising taxes [on family income over $250,000] … “

Meanwhile, in DC the insider story is that the “Gang of 6” is “closing in” on a “deficit deal.” In all likelihood it will (they all do) end up being about cutting taxes for the rich and cutting the things We, the People (government) do for each other and cutting investment in the things that make our economy grow: infrastructure, education, science, job-creation, etc…
Serious People
Another popular DC-insider deficit plan is called “Simpson-Bowles.” This plan was put together by a right-wing Republican, former Republican Senator Alan “three hundred million tits” Simpson and a Wall Streeter, Erskine Bowles, a member of the Board of Directors of Morgan Stanley. This plan (they all do) cuts taxes for the rich and cuts the things We, the People (government) do for each other. It is put together by “serious” people so it is considered “serious.”
Poll after poll shows one thing, DC plan after DC plan does another. The public isn’t considered “serious.” Republicans and Wall Streeters are considered to be “serious.” In fact, things the public wants and needs are not considered at all in today’s DC. Democracy is not “serious.”
Democracy vs Plutocracy
In January I wrote about this phenomenon in, Sen. Conrad Plutocracy Plan Vs. Democracy Deficit Commission. Back then the deficit plan was (they all do) to cut taxes on the rich while increasing them on everyone else, and cut Social Security, even though Social Security has nothing whatsoever to do with the deficit. I wrote,

This is what happens when Wall Street and conservative Republicans design a plan: give even more to the already-wealthy few, gut what our government does for We, the People.
Here is the real deficit commission that you would expect to see if we were a democracy instead of a plutocracy: It would have 100 members:

  • 98 of the 100 members would make less than $250,000 a year.
  • 50 of the members would come from households in which the total income of all wage-earners is less than $50,221.
  • 17% of the commission members would be un- or underemployed, and would be wondering why they are on a deficit commission instead of a jobs commission.
  • 19 people on the commission would receive some form of Social Security benefits, 12 of those as retirees. And on this deficit commission they get to talk when the ones making over $250K propose cutting Social Security.
  • 43 of the commission members would have less than $10,000 saved up for retirement. 27 of those less than $1,000.
  • The commission would include the right proportion of factory and construction workers, and people who work in a kitchen, and waiting tables, and teaching, and nursing, and installing tires, and all the other things that people do except, apparently, those on DC elite commissions. (People who do manual labor get an extra vote each on what the retirement age should be.)
  • Include people who are on active duty in the military – the people who said they don’t need that expensive plane, but couldn’t get body armor.
  • 60 members would not have college degrees.
  • 13 members would be receiving food stamps.

What The Public Wants Is Smart
And guess what, when you take a poll, you are measuring what the public wants. A poll shows what would happen if the deficit plans were drawn up by regular people. And POLLS SHOW they want tax increases on the rich and cuts in military. They want jobs programs and infrastructure investment and investment in the things that grow the economy. They want a Medicare-For-All health care plan, and in fact other countries have proven this solves the long-term health care cost problem.
Plutocracy Stupid, Democracy Smart
Here’s the thing: what the public wants actually would fix the borrowing. And what the plutocrats want would make it worse. The deficit is the result of tax cuts for the rich, increases in military spending, spending on the recession and long-term cost increases in health care. So fixing that means putting taxes back where they were before the deficits, realizing that the Soviet Union is gone, investing to grow the economy, and implementing a Medicare-For-All plan like the rest of the world has.
And that is what polls show the public wants to so.
So maybe the public isn’t that stupid after all. Maybe democracy can work. The plutocrats plans are stupid, because the plutocrats just greedily give everything to the plutocrats, and sacrifice everyone’s future, even the plutocrats’.
Plutocracy stupid, democracy smart, fire baaaad!:

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I Am Hosting Fairness Doctrine Radio Wednesday

I will be co-hosting the Fairness Doctrine radio show Wednesday from 1-3 ET Wednesday. Please call at 617 328 3526 in or email questions and comments to [email protected]
Listen Live: The show airs on several AM stations around the country. Wherever you are you can also listen to the show live on the Internets at Cyberstation USA. Click “Live Radio.”

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Why Trump Gets Traction From Trade

This post originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.
Donald Trump is getting traction. He is talking about trade, jobs, China, manufacturing, China, jobs, China and China — and it is resonating with a public sick of being told to ignore what they can see in front of their faces. “Nobody, other than OPEC, is ripping off the United States like China,” he says. And he climbs in the polls.
Why is blowhard Donald Trump getting such traction from talking about trade problems with China? Self-funded, Trump doesn’t require the support of the multi-national corporate/financial elite to be heard. He is able to use his own money to push his way into the conversation. So unlike politicians captured by the cabal that runs our politics, who have to get past the corporate-journalism gatekeepers to raise money and be heard, he is able to give voice to things that are right in front of our faces.
Poll After Poll After Poll Shows Public Wants…
Trump can read polls and poll after poll after poll shows that Americans are concerned about jobs, and are especially concerned about how our economy is sending the good jobs and factories out of the country. They are asking why they can’t buy things here that are made here. Whether Trump believes what he is saying or not is irrelevant, he understands what the people are thinking, and is giving voice to those sentiments.
Polls show the public wants tax increases on the rich, a focus on jobs not deficits, and more investment in infrastructure, education, transportation and alternatives to oil.
A recent Alliance for American Manufacturing poll found that “We have lost too many manufacturing jobs” is the top concern among independents and working-class voters.

Other highlights from the poll include:
• A majority believe the U.S. no longer has the world’s strongest economy—a title they want to regain
• Voters are anxious about the economy—specifically China debt, spending and loss of manufacturing
• 86 percent of voters want Washington to focus on manufacturing, and 63 percent feel working people who make things are being forgotten while Wall Street and banks get bailouts
• Two-thirds of voters believe manufacturing is central to our economic strength, and 57 percent believe manufacturing is more central to our economic strength than high-tech, knowledge or financial service sectors
• Across all demographics, voters’ economic solutions center on trade enforcement, clean energy, tax credits for U.S. manufacturing and replacing aging infrastructure using American materials, a surprising overlap between Tea Party supporters, independents, non-union households and union households.

People are sick of their factories being packed up and sent out of the country to places where people and the environment are exploited. They understand this is done to pit them against workers with no right, in order to lower wages, benefits and rights. They want something done about it.
Trump is giving voice to these sentiments. He is saying what people are thinking. Trump says, “We tell China, that if you don’t stop manipulating your currency, we’re going to put a 25 percent tax on your products that come into the United States.”
But Turn On Your TV And…
But turn on your TV or open a newspaper and you get pundit after pundit saying we need to cut taxes on the rich even more, and cut the resulting deficit by cutting back on the things We, the People (government) do for each other and for our economy.
The Elite Are Threatened

Here is a typical elite-media response to Trump’s message: CNN Money: How ‘The Donald’ could incite a trade war

Donald Trump’s call for a 25% tariff on Chinese goods is winning him a lot of attention as he weighs a presidential run in 2012.
“They have manipulated their currency so violently towards this country, it is almost impossible for our companies to compete with Chinese companies,” Trump told CNNMoney in January, during which he laid out plans for his 25% tariff.
Trade wars could arise: Imposing a tariff on China would do little more than irritate the world’s second largest economy, economists say.
… China could also respond by closing its increasingly important market to U.S. exporters, which would be a major blow to American jobs and manufacturing. China has become the No. 3 market for U.S. exporters, with sales jumping 31% from the previous year.
And that doesn’t even count the goods being made in China by U.S. companies. General Motors sells more cars in China today than it does in the United States, for example.
“The sad story is we don’t have much leverage,” said Lardy. “But a tariff certainly would not advance our interests.”

This response to Trump shows why Trump is resonating. In a piece that appears to be an ad for the Chinese Exporters Assn, CNN worries that responding to China’s manipulations could “irritate” them, which could lead to a trade war, and says there is nothing we can do to get our jobs back so we should just accept anything China does. We have already in a trade war with China for some time and everyone can see that we are losing. But this story takes the pro-China position typical of Wall Street and DC insiders.
Filling The Vacuum
The media gatekeepers won’t allow the voice of working people, and working people respond when they finally hear a voice speaking up for them. When the corporate/media elites ignore issues like China and trade you get blowhards like Trump moving up in the polls. The cororate/financial gatekeepers have engineered the information channels to such an extent that blowhards like Trump can gain traction by filling the vacuum and voicing what the polls say the public is thinking.
Here are a few more examples of Trump on China and trade:
Dire Warning From Donald Trump – China Will Destroy Our Country

Conservative News Media on YouTube: “The Obama administration isn’t equipped to negotiate with and handle the Chinese. … Donald Trump said the Chinese are ripping us off and the Chinese can’t deal with it. … Donald Trump says the Chinese aren’t playing fair. … We need to trade with everybody but we need to be sure it is fair.”

And, finally, Frank Sobotka:

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That Republican Vote To End medicare

Last week Republicans voted to end Medicare. The press isn’t reporting this. It doesn’t become without a series of votes to come and the president won’t sign it, but is their budget proposal.
Think Progress says it better than I can: MEDICARE — Broken Contract

THE END OF MEDICARE, PERIOD: The GOP budget does not “reform” Medicare. It does not provide seniors with the same coverage Members of Congress receive. And it does not end Medicare “as we know it.” The GOP budget ends Medicare, period. The centerpiece of the House Republicans’ plan is a proposal that repeals traditional Medicare and replaces it with a health insurance voucher that loses its value over time. Because the value of the Republicans’ privatized Medicare replacement does not keep up with the cost of health care, their plan will gradually phase out Medicare as its increasingly worthless vouchers will eventually only cover a very tiny fraction of the cost of a health insurance plan. Worse, as President Obama told the nation last week, the GOP budget immediately fritters away much of the savings from eliminating Medicare with hundreds of billions of dollars worth of tax cuts for the very wealthiest Americans. The rich get richer, and America’s seniors are tossed out into the cold.

Conservative Tax Tricks – Did Tax Cuts Grow The Economy?

This post originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.
It’s Tax Day, so let’s talk about taxes.
Conservative ideology says cutting taxes makes the economy grow. This Tax Day let’s explore whether this is, in fact, the case. In the last few decades we as a country have conducted textbook scientific experiments with taxes. Under Reagan we dramatically cut taxes at the top, under Clinton we raised them a bit, and then under Bush we cut them again. So now we can look at what happened: Did cutting taxes make the economy grow?
Science vs Ideology
Science describes, ideology prescribes. The scientist looks at what actually happens and tries to describe it. The ideologue says, “If only people would do so-and-so then such-and-such would happen.” (And a unicorn.)
Conservative ideology says, “taxes take money out of the economy,” and “people won’t work if they are taxed,” “businesses will hire more people if their taxes are cut,” and “government is standing in the way of job-creation.” (And a unicorn.)
Science looks at the effect of tax cuts on growth in the past, and over time. Then policy can realistically be adjusted for the best outcome.
What Actually Happened
Since 1980 we have cut taxes a lot, then raised them, then cut them. Did the cuts result in economic growth, and did increases result in recessions?
Reagan Tax Cuts
Ronald Reagan applied ideology to our government’s finances and cut taxes from the then-top rate of 70% down to 50%, and then, later, to 28%. (George HW Bush raised top tax rates to 31%.) The top corporate tax rate was cut in 1987 from 46% to 40% and the next year to 34%. It turned out that if only (and a unicorn) didn’t work out so well when it hit the wall of reality. Now We, the People are suffering the consequences.
Conservatives say that the economy boomed, and more revenue came in because of the tax cuts. What actually happened was government deficits and the resulting accumulated debt exploded, while our defunded government has since been unable to maintain the infrastructure and public structures (laws, courts, regulations, protections, schools, etc…) that keep our economy competitive and our standard of living high. All you have to do is look at the record. Let’s do that here.
In 1981 — Carter’s last budget year — the on-budget (not from Social Security) tax receipts were $469 billion which was a 16% increase over the prior year. 1982 tax receipts were $474.3 billion, down to 1.1% over 1981, and the on-budget deficit shot up to $120 billion, a shocking increase of 62% in a single year! 1983 receipts were $453.2 billion, a drop of 4.4%, creating a deficit of $208 BILLION — an increase of 73%! In just those two years following the tax cuts our debt increased by $328 billion!
Then Tax Increases
A panicked Congress passed the 1984 Deficit Reduction Act, the largest tax increase in our history. (Not so much on the wealthy, of course.) Tax receipts climbed to $500.3 billion, a 10.4% increase, and the deficit shrank almost 11% to $185.6 billion. But this was still very high. So in 1985 Congress passed the Gramm-Rudmann-Hollings Anti-Deficit Act, and in 1985 tax receipts were $548 billion, a 9.5% increase. But by then the huge military spending increases and the interest on the debt were kicking in — “structural” deficits were established — and the deficit increased to $221 billion, an increase of 19%. (The “Tax Rates And Growth Over Time” charts below show that economic growth declined.)
When conservatives tell you, “Reagan cut taxes and revenue increased,” they don’t mention those huge tax increases. Nor do they mention the revenue drop following the tax cuts. The size of the economy increases over time anyway, so there is a natural rate of increase that occurred as well. Saying the Reagan tax cuts increased revenue is like saying you skipped lunch and gained a few pounds, without mentioning the 12-course dinner with three deserts.
Clinton Raised Taxes, Bush Cut Them
In 1993 Bill Clinton fought to raise top tax rates on the wealthy from 31% to 39.6%. Conservatives said the tax increases would destroy the economy and kill job growth. There is an eight-year record showing what actually happened after taxes were raised. Then in 2001 George W Bush cut taxes again and unfortunately there is another 8-year record of the consequences.
A comparison of economic performance under these two-term presidents and their tax policies is as close as we can get to a carefully-structured science experiment. Let’s see what happened.
GDP: Clinton vs Bush

(Chart from CAP: Three Good Reasons to Let the High-End Bush Tax Cuts Disappear This Year. Note that the chart period does not include the effect of the financial crisis.)
Jobs: Clinton vs Bush

Real Median Household Income: Clinton vs Bush

(Chart from CAP: Three Good Reasons to Let the High-End Bush Tax Cuts Disappear This Year. Also does not include effect of financial crisis.)
Deficit: Clinton vs Bush

What do these charts tell us?
* Following the Clinton tax increases the economy did much better than it did after the ‘W’ Bush tax cuts.
* Following the Clinton tax increases job growth did much better than it did after the ‘W’ Bush tax cuts.
* Following the Clinton tax increases real median household incomes did much better than it did after the ‘W’ Bush tax cuts.
* Following the Clinton tax increases the deficit went down and eventually the government started paying off its debt. The deficits exploded after the ‘W’ Bush tax cuts.

The results of the tax experiment show that tax cits didn’t improve anything but did cause an impressive increase in debt. And the resulting debt interest payment will be a drag on our economy until something (hint) is done to reverse the cause of the deficits. (Hint, hint.)
Tax Rates And Growth Over Time
The longer-term picture tells the same story. The record shows that in periods of highest taxes the economy grows the most and in periods of low taxes is grows the least. While this does not prove causation, it certainly contradicts conservative claims that high taxes kill growth and jobs, while low taxes boost growth and jobs.
Top tax rates:
Top Tax Rate

Growth over the same period: (12-quarter rolling average nominal GDP growth.)

Trend line of growth, with top tax rates:
Top Tax Rate vs GDP

Top tax rates and national debt:
Top Rate vs Debt

Investing In Our Economy Grows Our Economy.
From Tax Cuts Leave Nothing Behind — Infrastructure Investment Leaves Behind Infrastructure,

If we spend money on tax cuts, the next year we only have debt and pay interest on the debt. …
A properly functioning democratic government that is not obstructed by ideology invests and regulates and protects and ensures that all businesses get a chance to succeed or fail on their merits, not on lobbying and tax breaks and crony contracts and by crushing smaller businesses. A properly functioning democratic government is able to tax the most wealthy and powerful to help pay for the necessary investment in infrastructure, public structures, education and the rest of the things that keep the economy going into the future.
If we spend money on improving the country’s infrastructure, we get all the job creation that comes from that work, and the next year you have that infrastructure there to help drive the economy.

Lowering taxes can provide a short “stimulus” boost while it is consumed, but at the cost of borrowing the money instead of taxing to pay for government, with the resulting long-term drag on the economy from paying the interest on that borrowing. Obviously the same amount of stimulus used for investment in infrastructure, education or direct job creation instead of taxes would have more immediate effect and the resulting payoff usually more than covers the interest. Borrow to invest, not to consume.
Tax cuts don’t grow the economy, they grow the debt.
Tax CUTS Take Money Out Of The Economy
From Tax Cuts Are Theft,


A beneficial cycle: We invest in infrastructure and public structures that create the conditions for enterprise to form and prosper. We prepare the ground for business to thrive. When enterprise prospers we share the bounty, with good wages and benefits for the people who work in the businesses and taxes that provide for the general welfare and for reinvestment in the infrastructure and public structures that keep the system going.

Since the Reagan Revolution with its tax cuts for the rich, its anti-government policies, and its deregulation of the big corporations our democracy is increasingly defunded (and that was the plan), infrastructure is crumbling, our schools are falling behind, factories and supply chains are being dismantled, those still at work are working longer hours for fewer benefits and falling wages, our pensions are gone, wealth and income are increasingly concentrating at the very top, our country is declining.

Societal Effects
Beyond the terrible budgetary consequences of tax cuts for the rich we also saw societal consequences. The social contract was broken, the wealthy were no longer asked to pay back society for the opportunity we had provided. Since it no longer took time to build a fortune there was a shift in business models from building long-term, sustainable, customer-supportive businesses to fast-buck, customer-exploiting, job-killing outsourcing, everything-to-the-top schemes. The incentive to reinvest in healthy communities disappeared.
And there is the incredible concentration of income, wealth and power among a top few, and its effect on democracy, the rise of plutocracy, and the destruction of the middle class asthese effects cause job opportunities to fade (click for funny video)
Again, from Tax Cuts Are Theft,

. . . We must recognize and understand these tax cuts for what they are. They are a broken contract. These tax cuts for the wealthy are theft. And we must recognize the Reagan Revolution for what it has cost us. Our democracy has been corrupted and our political system has been captured. A wealthy few are taking all of the benefits of our efforts for themselves. The lack of investment in infrastructure, courts, schools and other public structures is making our country less competitive in the world. The Reagan Revolution is stealing our future.

It Didn’t Work So Do More?
Today ideology still dominates and conservatives are calling for even more tax cuts. In spite of the record, the ideologues still say, “A recession is the wrong time to raise taxes” because “taxes take money out of the economy.” Just last week House Republicans passed a budget that cuts rates for the wealthy, which were 90% for decades and then 70% before tax-cut fever brought us the huge deficit, to 25%. And also cuts corporate taxes – 90% of corporate stock is owned by the top 10% – to 25%. They say more tax cuts will “promote growth and job creation.” But all we have to do is look at the record to know what will happen if this takes effect.
And A Unicorn plus a candy mountain:

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Conservative Tax Tricks – Are We “Broke?”

This post originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.
Conservatives have been saying lately, “We’re broke,” and need to cut back on the things we (government) do to protect and empower each other. They have a unique definition of the word “we” when applied this way to Americans. For them “we” doesn’t mean “We, the People,” it means something different.
In the last few decades conservatives cut taxes on the rich. And then they cut taxes on the rich. And then they cut taxes on the rich. And then they did it even more. Finally, after cutting, cutting and cutting taxes on the rich they complain that there isn’t any money to run our government!
Speaker of the House John Boehner, Jan. 26: “Well, if you really want to talk about what the ‘Sputnik moment’ is,” he replied, “it’s the fact that we’re broke. And American people know we’re broke.” Again on Feb. 10: “We’re broke. Let’s be honest with ourselves.”
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker says Wisconsin is “broke,” too. (Therefore they have to get rid of unions???)
Conservatives even extend their nonsense to claim California is “broke” because it taxes the rich!
Are We Broke?
If the definition of “we” is “we” then we certainly aren’t “broke.” In fact just 400 of us have more money than half of the rest of us — 155 million people. Just 400 people have that much! That’s a whole lot of “not broke” right there.
Last year the top 25 hedge fund managers — just 25 people — had income of $22 billion. Those 25 people had more income than all the people in 440,000 average American families combined. (Median household incomeaccording to the Census Bureau in 2008 was $52,029.) That’s a whole lot of “not broke” right there, too.
And these are just two examples of how extreme the income inequality in our country has gotten. A few at the top have so much at the expense of the rest of us.
Where Did The Money Go?
Those 25 hedge fund managers have been granted a special tax rate of only 15%. Those 400 wealthy people who own more than half of the rest of us get much of their income from “capital gains,” dividends and other special low-tax gimmicks. The top few percent of Americans have been getting tax breaks since Reagan, and the result is that the rest of us have to make up the difference. We’re not “broke,” we’re paying for the gains at the top.
Joshua Holland, Tax Day Question: Who’s Paying What?,

The federal income tax bill for a person making $15,000 is 51 percent higher today than it was 30 years ago — a big jump.
… If you make $100,000, you’d be paying 33 percent less today than in 1981.
Someone making a really good living that brought in $250,000 would pay 47 percent less – that person’s federal income tax bill dropped from $126,953 in 1981 to $67,398 today.

It hasn’t just been income-tax cuts, either. The businesses owned by the top few percent have also been getting the breaks. Joshua Holland again, in How Big Business Gets a Free Ride by Lobbying to Raise Your Taxes, explains,

Well, consider this: in the 1940s, corporations paid 43 percent of all the federal income taxes collected in this country. In the 1950s, they picked up the tab for 39 percent. But by the time the 1990s rolled around, corporations were paying just 18.9 percent of federal income taxes, and they forked over the same figure in the first decade of this century. We – working people – paid the difference.

So what we are seeing it that the income at the top is rising:

While the taxes at the top are falling:

And the taxes paid by the corporations is also falling:

How Did It Happen?
Since the early 80s our economy has been restructuring itself in ways that send almost all of the gains to a few at the top. “Free trade” pitted our workers against exploited workers in a race to the bottom. Deregulation removed consumer and other protections, allowing corporations to become predatory and monopolistic. Meanwhile the tax system has been restructured to send the tax collections downward. One of the biggest tax shifts was increasing the Social Security payroll tax on those at the bottom and middle – money that was supposed to be set aside for their retirement — and using that money to fund tax cuts for those above. And now they claim all that money people were putting away is gone so we need to cut their retirement by moving the retirement age out. In addition the corporations are paying a lower share of the taxes as well.
America Is Not Broke
Simple answer to a simple question: America is not broke, we are richer than ever. But the “We” that make up We, the People are not sharing in the gains, while the “we” that make up the wealthy few are not sharing … anything. The tax cuts have stolen from us our ability to maintain our infrastructure, education our people, maintain our competitiveness in the world and take care of each other.
As Michael Moore said in Wisconsin,

“America is not broke, not by a long shot. The country is awash in wealth and cash. It’s just that it’s not in your hands. It has been transferred, in the greatest heist in history, from the workers and consumers to the banks and the portfolios of the uber-rich.”

Here’s Cenk on this:

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Run America Like a Business?

Yglesias サ How To Run America Like a Business: Get Rid Of All The Old People

If you’re trying to look at America from a balance-sheet perspective the problem is very clear. It’s not “entitlements” and it’s not “Social Security” and it’s not “Medicare” and it’s not “health care costs” it’s the existence of old people. Old people, generally speaking, don’t produce anything of economic value. They sit around, retired, consuming goods and services and produce nothing but the occasional turn at babysitting. The optimal economic growth policy isn’t to slash Social Security or Medicare benefits, it’s to euthanize 70 year-olds and harvest their organs for auction.

Will Any Conservative Sites Link To This? Fat Chance!

Will any conservative sites link to this at the White House website? Fat chance. Conservatives depend on people remaining ignorant of where tax dollars are actually spent.
Your 2010 Federal Taxpayer Receipt | The White House offers a breakdown of where your tax money is spent. At the site you can drill down into each of these to see more details.
National Defense 26.3% (Note that Veterans funding is broken out separately. I combine them in the chart.)
Health Care 24.3%
Job and Family Security 21.9%
Education and Job Training 4.8%
Veterans Benefits 4.1%
Natural Resources, Energy and Environment 2.1%
International Affairs 1.7%
Science, Space, and Technology Programs 1.2%
Immigration, Law Enforcement and Administration of Justice 2.0%
Agriculture 0.8%
Community, Area, and Regional Development 0.5%
Response to Natural Disasters 0.4%
Additional Government Programs 2.4%
Net Interest 7.4% (Note that they use net, which subtracts interest received, instead if how much we pay out on the Reagan/Bush debt, which is approx twice as much.)
Social Security is separate and self-funded.
I made a pie chart: (click for larger)
To fix the budget deficit:
1) Fix the hole in revenue by putting top tax rates back to where they were before Reagan.
2) Cut military spending. We spend more than all other countries combined.
3) Fix the health care cost problem. We spend much more per person than other countries. You know why.
4) Much of that big “Job and Family Security” slice goes away if you create jobs.