Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Obama debt-reduction plan is best thing he's proposed yet

Posted By on Tue, Sep 20, 2011 at 12:18 PM

President Obama seems to have finally gotten a couple of messages: 1) John Boehner and congressional Republicans aren’t interested in cooperating with him, and 2) the president's progressive base of voters is infuriated by his repeated caving to said Boehner & Co. The result of the Prez’s sudden clarity is a $447 billion jobs plan and a strategy to cut long-term debt, largely by raising taxes on the mega-wealthy who’ve enjoyed a cushy ride for three decades.

The Obama plan is a far cry from the GOP’s draconian — hell, dystopian — vision. Boehner & Co. want to make deep cuts in Medicaid spending, raise no taxes at all, and turn Medicare into a quasi-private insurance plan that would put the burden of reducing the deficit on the backs of the elderly who have paid into Social Security their whole working lives. The White House would, instead, bring Medicare savings by allowing the system to negotiate lower drug and physician costs for recipients of benefits, and would bring in at least $1.5 trillion in new tax revenue over the next decade, specifically from the richest two percent of Americans — in other words, from those who essentially own the country and have made a killing during the nation’s dire financial crisis.

Needless to say, Republicans are exhibiting their usual rhetorical tic, calling Obama’s plan . . . . wait for it . . . “class warfare.” Who'd-a guessed? Rep. John Fleming (R-La.), for instance, was on MSNBC yesterday, charging that Obama’s plan will kill job creation (what job creation?) and claiming that although he earned $6.3 million last year, he couldn’t afford Obama’s tax hike, which, for him, would amount to around $4,500.

The charge of class warfare is sadly hilarious, considering that during the past three decades — that is, since the beginning of the pro-big-business Reagan era — national wealth has been increasingly concentrated in the hands of fewer and fewer people. Today, the top 1 percent of Americans own more than 50 percent of all assets in the U.S.; they also own more than 70 percent of all financial assets. In the meantime, of course, 7 million manufacturing jobs — a third of the jobs in the whole economy — were moved overseas; record numbers of Americans are struggling to survive financially; and many of the biggest corporations are raking in record-setting profits, while their CEOs enjoy record-shattering bonuses. Faced with these kinds of facts, it’s hard to disagree with Texas writer Jim Hightower who says class warfare has been in effect in America for some time, as a small minority of money gluttons redistributed the national wealth upward and into their own pockets.

Obama’s plan isn’t perfect, but it’s better than anything he’s come up with so far, and it's certainly preferable to the ongoing real class warfare being waged by the mega-rich on the rest of us. It’s a plan he should have been pushing for months, if not years. We’ll see how the Prez fares when it’s time to cobble together final legislation, but at least for the time being, Obama isn’t giving away the farm to the GOP, and he’s looking like more of a fighter than we’ve seen since the 2008 election.
For a bonus explanation of U.S. economic policy over the past 30 years, here’s an excerpt of a report from CommonDreams.org, a liberal think tank:

Dramatically lower taxes on the wealthiest people in the country; meanwhile, undercut the working and middle classes by shipping their jobs overseas so corporations can profit by paying Chinese and Indian workers 5% of what they pay American workers; send the finished products back to the U.S. and sell them to former workers with now-downsized jobs by getting them to take on onerous levels of debt; when that is still not enough to keep the economy afloat, have the government increase its debt, in the process binding those former and downsized workers with government debts that they will carry for the rest of their lives; have the whole system laundered through big banks who create nothing, but take a piece of the action on every transaction; make sure these banks are "too big to fail" so that when they fail, the downsized, indebted workers can be made to disgorge the last of their remaining assets in order that the banks and their owners don't suffer any losses on their predatory investments that went bad.

Repeat this process until the working and middle classes have been milked of all of their assets and their wealth has been transferred into the hands of the richest people on earth.

Poor, pitiful Rep. John Fleming, the multi-millionaire who cant afford a tax hike
  • Poor, pitiful Rep. John Fleming, the multi-millionaire who can't afford a tax hike

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