Friday, December 03, 2010

Fat Cats vs. We the Sheeple

Deficit reduction is the hot topic in the MSM these days. Various ostensibly "bipartisan” panels are meeting behind closed doors and deciding exactly how much fleecing the citizenry can stand, in order to ensure that a regular supply of money flows unimpeded into the higher income brackets. The media has been dutifully reporting the recommendations presented by these panels of aristocrats (or, aristocats?) without question;  certainly without positing other, more obvious solutions that would impact the wealthy more than the rest of us. In other words, its business as usual.

Excuse me, but General Electric paid NO corporate income tax last year, and you want me to work until I’m 70 years old to pay some bankers year-end bonus? Go fuck yourself!! You know who else paid no federal income tax last year? Bank of America. Yup, one of the largest recipients of taxpayer bailout money had sufficient profits to pay out millions of dollars in bonuses to its top executives, but had a federal tax liability of exactly zero. Let’s see, who else……..oh, I almost forgot, Exxon Mobil also paid NO federal income tax last year, despite raking in $10.3 billion in pretax income. How do they do it? Easy, they report all of the losses in the United States, and declare all of their overseas income, which they don’t have to pay taxes on. Yup, the US Government rewards giant corporations for moving their operations overseas by giving them massive tax breaks.

I'm really having trouble wrapping my mind around this. Rather than suggesting that corporate welfare be eliminated to substantially reduce the deficit, the bipartisan commission actually suggested REDUCING the corporate income tax rate to 26% from 35%! (Presumably this would only apply to those corporations whose accountants aren’t smart enough to figure out how completely elude their tax liabilites.) It's still kind of breathtaking to actually see it written down in the same document that purports to be a responsible approach to the deficit.

 Other highlights from the commission:

 -Collapsing today's five income tax rates into three brackets: 8 percent for the lowest incomes, 14 percent for middle incomes and 23 percent for the wealthiest. (Note the wealthiest would see the most significant reduction in their federal taxes under this plan);

 -Ending $1.1 trillion in popular tax breaks ranging from deducting mortgage interest to receiving health insurance from employers on a pre-tax basis. (That would broaden the tax base and make virtually all Americans pay more in taxes.);

 -Increasing the federal gas tax by 15 cents a gallon to pay for transportation improvements. (I actually agree with this one);

 -Raising the age at which Americans can get Social Security benefits - to 68 by 2050 and 69 by 2075 - reflecting that Americans are living and working longer. (Unless you are poor, or black, in which case you’ll likely die at your desk).

 The deficit reduction seems to forget the fact that the 6-8 billion dollars we’re spending EVERY MONTH in Afghanistan would be better spent here at home, but are you really surprised?

And then there's the tax cuts, which honestly deserve a post all to themselves.The most conservative estimates show that continuing the Bush tax cuts for those making over 250k a year adding adding four trillion dollars to the deficit. Let me say that slowly. Four. Trillion. Dollars. Yet the Deficit Commission declares that they need to get their money by strip mining Social Security and Medicare, Medicaid and from raising taxes on the middle class? Bullshit! (Firedog Lake has a great posting on the Obama administration's duplicity on this issue.)

 The current hysterical urgency surrounding the need for immediate deficit reduction, smells a lot like the manufactured urgency that was used to sell the bank bailout package. Remember how that ended up? Don’t buy it. There’s money aplenty. (After all, we keep printing it when we run out.) This is all a matter of choices, and the banks and the fat cats are making those choices right now, while we the people are distracted by dancing B list celebrities and shiny electronic things. I don't know about you, but I'm more than a little concerned that Americans are behaving more sheepish now than at any time in our history. Now would be an excellent time to get out in the streets and make a little noise. Anybody? Anybody?

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