Hey US, Need Money?

September 29, 2008

Start here:

On Wednesday, September 24th, right in the middle of the fight over billions of taxpayer dollars slated to bail out Wall Street, the House of Representatives passed a $612 billion defense authorization bill for 2009 without a murmur of public protest or any meaningful press comment at all….

Our annual spending on “national security” — meaning the defense budget plus all military expenditures hidden in the budgets for the departments of Energy, State, Treasury, Veterans Affairs, the CIA, and numerous other places in the executive branch — already exceeds a trillion dollars, an amount larger than that of all other national defense budgets combined.
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Hmmm, so while we whine about the fat cats on Wall Street, almost no one is crying about the war profiteers who are cleaning the treasury out. Never mind that our world image is now shit, never mind that our actions are making more terrorists, never mind that we are a torture nation who invaded a country to steal it’s resources; besides all that, we are breaking our own backs and no one is talking about it.

Between a trillion plus a year and massive tax cuts for the filthy rich, does anyone really wonder why we are broke as a nation?

Want a solution? Start with this:

In 1932, during the final year of the Hoover Administration, Republicans and Democrats agreed that immediate action needed to be taken to confront an economic crisis. The crisis they agreed upon was not the Depression’s day-to-day impact on ordinary Americans, but instead, the need for new revenue in the face of a soaring budget deficit.

The initial proposal was a regressive sales tax. It had bipartisan support among congressional leaders, but prompted an unexpected popular revolt….

After the sales tax was defeated, Congress instead enacted the Revenue Act of 1932, a progressive tax measure that more than doubled the tax rate on top incomes, doubled the estate tax, and raised corporate taxes by almost 15 percent.

The Revenue Act of 1932 laid the groundwork for the progressive income tax system that prevailed in America for the next 45 years, as we built the largest middle class the world had ever known under Roosevelt, Truman and Eisenhower (Ike rebuffed appeals from his fellow Republicans and kept top marginal rates above 90%).

So here’s the question: what’s the progressive opportunity presented by the defeat of today’s bill?

Is it making Wall Street pay for Wall Street’s own bailout by enacting a tiny transaction tax on Wall Street trades, as proposed by a group of House Democrats led by Oregon’s Peter DeFazio?

Is it tough regulation, including a resurrection of Glass Steagall?

Is it both?
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That would help, as would cutting our defense spending in half today. Not hard to figure out.

Let me add that if all of us would quit living on credit, that would help. And maybe we should stop electing the same people over and over, that would help too. But hey, enjoy your 62 inch plasma TV in your McMansion tonite because you won’t be able to fit it in your cardboard box tomorrow.

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