Finally, finally, Senate Democrats have begun to take the first tiny, timid baby steps toward fiscal responsibility as they begin to explore the possibility of modestly raising taxes on millionaires. Senate Budget Committee Chair Kent Conrad (D-ND) is reported to be exploring a budget proposal featuring a 50-50 split of spending cuts and tax hikes to address deficit reduction, which would make him half right. At a Democratic policy lunch last week, the Dem's draft 2012 budget proposal featured a 3% surtax on persons making $1 million or more.
Actually, Conrad's proposal would make him perhaps a quarter right, as the current Capitol Hill obsession with debt and deficit reduction is a nonsensical Trojan Horse that would cripple the middle class by dismantling the mechanisms of the society they depend upon, while threatening to sink the nation's tepid economic recovery.
Raising taxes on the ultra-rich, who've spent years devoured most of America's wealth, is the only road to fiscal sanity, and the vast majority of Americans know it. Poll after poll reveals Americans overwhelmingly understand that the rich must be made to pay back their share to the country that has graced them with the good life. A tiny sliver of the population has run off with the wealth of history's greatest economic engine, and they are squandering it on power-grubbing legal schemes, union-busting, Enronesque accounting scams, and slathering themselves with so many designer labels they look like prissy Nascar drivers.
Now, Republicans are holding the nation hostage over raising the debt ceiling, normally a pro-forma event, with demands for trillions of dollars in more cuts to vital government services.
On the slightly saner side, Conrad has been working with Senate colleagues on various budget proposals, all of which would cut about $4 trillion off the federal deficit over 10 years. House Democrats had earlier proposed budgets that raised some taxes on the very rich, but they had been shot down by the plutocrats' Republican toadies in that chamber. The Congressional Progressive Caucus' tie-dye and patchouli invoking "People's Budget" would have ended most of the Bush era tax cuts, reduced defense spending, and implemented incremental 1% tax hikes on millionaires to eliminate the federal budget deficit by 2021 without destroying Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid.
Republicans, on the other hand, covet plundering the Social Security trust funds so they could hand the money to their Wall Street cronies. More infamously, Republicans schemed to hand all the money in Medicare to their insurance company cronies, then pawn off future seniors with vouchers that the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office revealed wouldn't cover even a third of premium, deductible, co-pay and other health care costs.
Rep. Paul Ryan's (R-WI) Medicare-busting plan has temporarily been put on the back burner after a tsunami of angry opposition and blistering polls. Republicans figure unlimited corporate money unleashed by a GOP-friendly Supreme Court, along with Republican vote-delivering Diebold machines will yield them the Senate and the White House in 2012, so they can resume their Medicare and Social Security plundering schemes then, even if their debt-ceiling hostage-taking fails on that count.
Meanwhile, Democrats have begun taking tentative baby steps toward balancing the budget with a few taxes on the ultra-rich. Most Americans are unaware that 20% of the population owns 84% of the nation's wealth, while the bottom 40% owns just three-tenths of one percent. The rich have devoured the country's wealth, and lust for more. Republicans like Ryan want to cut their taxes a further 10%, and continue to lavish oil moguls and agribusiness with fat subsidies.
Unfortunately, the dialogue on Capitol Hill is still all about debt and budget deficits, although those problems are in fact fabrications that have nothing to do with America's fiscal well-being. Republicans who scream the loudest about deficits clearly care nothing about debt, as their only goal, unchanged for thirty years, is to reduce taxes on the rich by slashing services for everyone else.
Republicans scream about deficits only to cover their schemes to plunder Medicare and Social Security for their plutocrat masters. Everyone needs to remember Republicans were the ones who took the budget surpluses of the Clinton years and handed it to the very rich in the form of the Bush tax cuts. It was this handful of wealthy elites whose greedy, short-sighted narcissism and frat boy indulgence crippled American communities and tanked the global economy. It was America's Paul Ryans and Michele Bachmanns (R-MN) whose moronic me-first, anti-social Ayn Randian self-idolization cratered a great nation and brought the free world to the brink of insolvency at the behest of plutocratic overlords who don't even know how best to serve their own needs.
That these swaggering self-promoters blame the American people for the catastrophe they created is the height of insolence. America needs to tax the ultra-wealthy not just to balance budgets, but to curb the investor-fueled buy-outs, mergers and acquisitions that choke off entrepreneurial diversity and to halt gratuitous paper profits fabricated through asset liquidation, offshoring, outsourcing, and pyramid accounting scams designed not to grow the economy but to extract every larger mountains of tax-free cash.
Meanwhile, the nation's ability to function has become crippled. Across the nation, every community cannot field cops and firefighters and teachers for their children. The poor, elderly and infirm are increasingly pushed aside, access to health care denied so they will die horribly and miserably in squalor. The environment is laid waste by corporate polluters who act as though they can move to another planet once they've used up this one. Business and industry oversight is stifled to allow corporate snake-oil peddlers unfettered license to plunder and steal.
What America needs is to rebuild its economy, create new industries and new jobs, and prepare future generations to meet the challenges of an evolving world. America needs to buttress its sound foundation to care for its elderly and infirm. The constant harangue over deficits is all nonsense. The bond markets have no problem scarfing up as much American debt as they can lay their hands on. There is still nothing more sound than US Treasuries.
There is no issue that cannot be addressed, no problem that cannot be fixed, no challenge that cannot be met if American takes in hand the the revenue crisis created by years of coddling the indolent ultra-wealthy. By addressing the catastrophic imbalance of a tiny handful of shameless billionaires possessing four-fifths of the greatest wealth in world history, America can easily nurture its young, care for its elderly, restore its waters and wildlands, and fulfill for every American its promise of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.