Richard (RJ) Eskow makes some good points in between in some exasperation and exaggeration, Why Progressives Keep On Losing and the Right Keeps On Winning
Congratulations! The “grand compromise” will cut nearly thirty nine billion dollars in needed government spending, which proves how “serious” everyone is about reducing the deficit. The grand compromisers could have cancelled the next ten years of tax subsidies for oil companies and cut the deficit by forty billion, but apparently that’s not how serious people do things.
Eskow points up another facet to the debate leading up to the budget compromise ( keep in mind the Senate still has to vote on the budget and some of the riders being hailed as a partial victory for cheerleaders of the Scarlet Letter school of cultural values may change). Besides subsides for oil, we have subsides for coal and natural gas. We have subsidies for big agri-corporations (62% of farmers do not receive subsides). While I support aid to Israel, it was established in 1948 and to date has been the single largest beneficiary of US foreign aid. Most of Israels’ current aid in in the form of military aid – the Obama administration has approved about $9.9 billion in aid for FY 2011. American Progress reviewed a report by the non-partisan Government Accountability Office’s (GAO) report on government waste. Note that no where in the report does it say attacking the reproductive health of women or making the nation’s air/water more toxic will be big money savers, Report Identifies $15 Billion to $20 Billion in Government Cost-Saving
*Realign the Defense Department’s military medical command structures: $281 million to $460 million annually
*Eliminate duplicative tax breaks for ethanol production: $5.7 billion annually
*Reduce farm payment programs: $800 million over 10 years; $5 billion annually
*Revise essential air service program: $20 million annually
*Improve management of federal oil and gas resources: $1.75 billion over 10 years
*Dispose of unneeded federal real property: $3 billion by the end of FY 2012
*Increase TSA baggage screening systems: $470 million over five years
*Clarify availability of customs fee collections: One-time savings of $640 million
*Improve Social Security data on pensions from noncovered earnings: $2.4 billion to $2.9 billion over 10 years
One area that is tricky is elimination of “duplicate services”. What seems like duplicate services from a distance might not be on close examination. Considering the short sightedness or intractibility of the right-wing conservative mindset is not surprise that a Republican rider to eliminate funding for extra IRS agents was part of the budget compromise. One area where we all would have benefitted by making sure taxes were properly collected,
GAO also believes we can save by eliminating duplicative tax breaks and improving the IRS’s ability to collect taxes already owed to the government. Specifically, the report recommends the United States can enhance revenue collections by:
*Improving debt collection. The IRS recovered only $6 billion of $129 billion in tax debts in 2008 using written notices. Tax debts not recovered through inexpensive written notices must be collected through more expensive phone or in-person methods.
*Improving outreach to reduce revenue losses due to overstated real estate tax deduction. Nine million taxpayers overstated their federal deductions for local real estate taxes in 2001 by an average of $85. This resulted in a $2.5 billion loss.
*Improving tax compliance of self-employed owners of unincorporated businesses. The IRS estimates that $68 billion of the $345 billion gross tax gap can be attributed to underreporting by sole proprietors.
*Identifying businesses not filing tax returns. The IRS can save by using third-party data to find businesses not filing required tax returns.
*Improving tax compliance of S corporations. Sixty-eight percent of S corporations misreport net income. The IRS estimates that $85 billion in taxable income is not correctly reported as a result.
*Strengthening enforcement of tax evasion. Creating an agencywide strategy to enforce tax evasion can help close the tax gap.
Between ending unproductive and sometimes egregiously wasteful subsides, and collecting revenue even the compromise was doable without causing any major pain to the middle-class and working poor. here all I am doing is playing by the game Republicans, many Democrats and certainly the vast majority of the media have created – that we do have a monstrous out of control nation destroying debt which leaves us no choice but to make drastic budget cuts. There is no out of control spending. The Bush and now Obama tax cuts costs $2.5 trillion over the years 2001-2010 – which includes interests on the debt – that is something Republicans, tea smokers and Obama share responsibility for the years 2010 and beyond. So there is no reason to listen to the twisted attempts by the Right to dump the entire debt into Obama’s lap. That is just the Right’s general tendency to not act like responsible grown-ups.
While the multitude of Republican governors and conservative state legislators latest rounds of attacks on the rights of women to have autonomy over their own bodies is would be a higher priority in comparison to defunding subsidies for women’s health care in the DC area, that also, is another grossly out of whack conservative priority and point of hypocrisy on the moral principles, Ignore this Mr. President. You already ignore me.
As for banning the District from using its own tax dollars to help poor people pay for a legal procedure, how is that any different than what the Supreme Court just allowed Arizona to do in allowing tax credits for religious schools? So in other words, tax expenditures are okay if they fund things the right-wing wants, but somehow all money is tainted if in any way it goes to something rightwingers do not want – even if a majority of the residents of the jurisdiction support that tax expenditure.
If the Right knows how to manage money, if the Right has its Constitutional ducks in a row, if the Right believes in pure unadulterated meritocracy – then why are the rest of us subsidizing thier private indoctrination centers.
That said, the blogger at that link has most of what happened during the health care debate wrong. We could have a replay where Obama pounds the table and goes medieval on Republicans and there still were not enough votes for a public option or a Medicare buy-in for younger workers.
The more time people have to go over Paul Ryan’s Road map to gutting Medicare and fiscal disaster, the more they find the numbers do not add up, Ryan Budget Plan Produces Far Less Real Deficit Cutting than Reported – Plan’s $4.3 Trillion in Program Cuts, Offset by $4.2 Trillion in Tax Cuts, Yield Just $155 Billion in Deficit Reduction
That means that, despite proposing $4.3 trillion in what would be the most severe and wrenching budget cuts in U.S. history — two-thirds of which would come from programs for people of low or moderate incomes — the plan barely reduces deficits at all over the next decade. That’s because his budget cuts are offset by $4.2 trillion in tax cuts that would go disproportionately to those at the top. In essence, at least for the next decade, this plan is far less a blueprint for addressing deficits and far more a proposal to redistribute large amounts of resources from those at the bottom to those at the top.
Mark Steyn, for those who have probably never heard of, is one of the Right’s biggest flame throwers and a perennial welfare queen. Where most people show humility and regret over their ignorance, Steyn shows his like a monkey at the zoo shows his ass and flings poop at by-passers. Ending America as We Know It. The Democrats’ solution to the problem is to deny there is one.
Ending Medicare as we know it? Say it ain’t so! Medicare, we hardly knew ye! It’s an open question whether Americans will fall for one more chorus of the same old song from Baucus, Harkin, Podesta, and the other members of America’s wrinkliest boy band. But, if this is the level on which the feckless patronizing spendaholics of the permanent governing class want to conduct the debate, bring it on:
Paul Ryan’s plan would “end Medicare as we know it.”
The Democrats’ “plan” — business as usual — will end America as we know it.
Literally, as Representative Wasserman-Schultz would say. One way or another, Medicare as we know it is going to end. So, if you think an unsustainable 1960s welfare program is as permanent a feature as the earth and sky, you’re in for a shock. It’s just a question of whether, after the shock, what’s left looks like Japan or looks like Haiti.
My comrade Jonah Goldberg compares America’s present situation to that of a plane with one engine out belching smoke. But, if anything, he understates the crisis. Air America doesn’t need a busted engine, because it’s pre-programmed to crash. Our biggest problem is Medicare and other “entitlements”: They’re the automatic pilot of Big Government. Whoever’s in the captain’s seat makes no difference: The flight is pre-programmed to hit the iceberg, if you’ll forgive me switching mass-transit metaphors in mid-stream.
Let’s start out on a positive note and acknowledge that he is correct – Jonah Goldberg is his “comrade” in proto-fascist doublespeak. Other than that the typical Bizarro World view embraced by those to whom the word accountability in part of some foreign language cipher which they could not understand if they moved their brain from their sphincter muscle to their fat heads. Medicare and Social Security are insurance programs. We have them because we live in a free market system. That system has some great positive qualities, but it is not perfect. From 1900 to 1927 the USA had 10 recessions. Some mild and some severe. As is usually the case the working and middle-class paid the price. This was before Social Security brought millions of elderly Americans out of poverty. Between 1927 and the present we have had 14 recessions – which includes The Great Depression and the Great Recession. Seeing that the financial powers that be, regardless of how or how much they are regulated always find a way to screw over the average American and Washington’s long history of reacting rather than being proactive in protecting us all from the excesses of the nations; centers of financial power, we as a nation – the adults anyway, decided the least we could do is provide a thin safety net. One of the reasons we have not had the extreme wide-spread hunger and homelessness of th early 20th century or massive street demonstrations is because of that safety net. Part of which is the insurance program Steyn (The National Review) describes as “welfare”. Medicare is a program that working Americans contribute to, exactly like the legendary family rainy day fund. Medicare is not the cause of the federal budget crisis. Lack of revenue (Partly because of the extended tax cuts of the Bush era. Partly because of corporations using loopholes to avoid paying any taxes) , the Great Recession caused by conservative economic policies and lack of regulatory enforcement and high unemployment ( which also means less revenue). Just as President Obama and many progressives are willing to trade a cut in corporate tax rates for closing some of the loopholes and a corporate minimum tax, I would be willing to trade-off some of Medicare if the Right will create the perfect market economy. Everyone who works forty hours a week gets a living wage, a good portable health care plan and a guaranteed retirement fund. Thus far so one seems to be able to do that. We’ve had 24 bad to severe economic down turns in the last 110 years. Every time we fix the system, radical conservatives either tear the regulations down, do not enforce it or water down new regulation with the help of people like the Koch brothers, the ironically named Freedom Works and their myriad astroturf lobbying groups. Steyn, The National Review and the right-wing bloggers who linked approvingly to Steyn’s deluge of misinformation, spin and lies wants everyone to believe that some how the free market system will do a sudden about-face and poor children, the disabled and seniors can rely on their fantasy market perfection to take care of them. Ending Medicare would be a death sentence for millions of Americans. With knowledge of the free market’s system hit and miss record who wants to gamble their and their family’s life on the Right’s fantasy version of what is really “Ending America as We Know It”.
“Stupidity is the deliberate cultivation of ignorance” William Gaddis