Sen. Conrad Plutocracy Plan Vs. Democracy Deficit Commission

This post originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.
If you saw this morning’s Progressive Breakfast, you know that Senator Kent Conrad has an op-ed in Politico, “Priority no. 1: Pass long-term budget plan,” in which he proposes steps to do something about the borrowing caused by the tax cuts for the rich that he just voted for. (And if you didn’t see this morning’s Progressive Breakfast you really ought to sign up to receive it every day. Click here and scroll to the bottom to sign up.)
In his op-ed Sen. Conrad claims that the President’s National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform — the “deficit commission” — released “a plan.” This is surprising, because the deficit commission did not release a plan. The commission was assigned the task of coming up with an overall package that, taken as a whole, could receive 14 votes from the commission’s members. Instead co-chairs Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles, a conservative Republican and a Wall Street representative (a Director of Morgan Stanley) — released a plan of their own that did not get the required support of the commission. Just two guys, not the commission.

Saying “the deficit commission” recommended anything is a deception that pushes the Wall Street-favoring plutocracy plan from those two guys. Others one the commission also released plans that were much more aligned with the public interest than Wall Street’s interests, but Conrad ignores those plans. There was The Schakowsky Deficit Reduction Plan: A Proposal That Actually Strengthens Social Security and doesn’t raise taxes on the middle class. There was Andy Stern’s Invest in America plan. There was EPI’s plan, Investing in America’s Economy: A Budget Blueprint for Economic Recovery and Fiscal Responsibility. And there was a comprehensive plan from The Citizens’ Commission On Jobs, Deficits And America’s Economic Future. Conrad ignores those plans, favoring the Wall-Street/Simpson/Bowles plutocracy plan.
Conrad says the Simpson/Bowles/Wall Street plan-for-plutocracy has “three basic principles [that] can serve as the foundation for a long-term deficit-reduction package.” These are:
1) Address our long-term budget issues now without damaging our economic recovery. Good start.
2) Cut taxes on the rich while increasing them on everyone else. The plan goes off the rails.
3) Cut Social Security, even though Social Security has nothing whatsoever to do with the deficit. The hidden agenda comes to light.
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.

You get the idea. (2010 census data on race, marital status, etc. not yet located.) This democracy deficit commission would probably start fighting deficits by putting top tax rates back where they were when we didn’t have huge deficits. It would probably understand that we don’t have to pay to keep the Soviet Union at bay. It would recommend that we invest in our people and our infrastructure instead of giving even more to the already-wealthy at the expense of the rest of us. It would release a plan that is much more like the The Citizens’ Commission On Jobs, Deficits And America’s Economic Future plan than the Wall-Street/Simpson/Bowles plutocracy plan that Sen. Conrad is pushing.
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