Our deficit and debt came from cutting taxes on the rich and big corporations, increasing military spending and sweetheart deals with big pharma and health insurance companies. Elite “solutions” always involve cutting back what We, the People do for each other while keeping taxes low for the rich and big corporations. The latest “Gang of 6” solution is being pushed hard, manipulating a sense of inevitability, but is just more of the same. Don’t be fooled, there is significant opposition. Grassroots organizations oppose it, progressives in Congress oppose it and The American Majority opposes it. But you won’t hear that from our elite media.
The Latest Back-Room Deal From Well-To-Do Elites
If you are following the day-by-day accounts of the back-room debt-ceiling “crisis” negotiations, the latest “deal” to emerge out of closed-room, secret negotiations between well-to-do elites is much like all the other deals that come out of closed rooms of well-to-do DC insider types: keep taxes low on the rich and corporations and cut back the things We, the People do for each other and for the non-Wall Street parts of our economy.
These insiders serve the interests of the biggest corporations and the extremely well off, not the interests of regular people, entrepreneurs and small businesses that democracy protects and empowers. Their closed rooms never include low-wage working people, unemployed people, teachers, mechanics, roofers, carpenters, veterinarians, lab technicians, trash collectors, nurses or law-enforcement officers in them.
If all you hear from is America’s elite media you would think the problem is solved and everyone is happy. You would think this is inevitable, and you must go along or be blamed for obstructing. The “gang of 6” deal is supposedly “bipartisan.” They say it is receiving a “warm reception” in Congress. For example, the Washington Post, New debt plan gains support in Senate, describes the “warm response” the proposal received in the Senate,
In the Senate, the plan received a warm response, both during the invitation-only morning session and during separate luncheon briefings for Democrats and Republicans. Sen. Lamar Alexander (Tenn.),the No. 3 Senate Republican, offered strong support. And Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), a leader in the GOP on budget issues, backed the plan as well, after dropping out of the Gang of Six in mid-May.
“There was palpable relief from folks in that room this morning. Like they were saying, ‘Here’s something we can actually be for,’ ” said Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-Va.), a Gang of Six member who has relentlessly pressed his colleagues to reach consensus.
And the NY Times is on the bandwagon: Bipartisan Plan for Budget Deal Buoys President,
Financial markets rallied on the news. And with time running out before the deadline of Aug. 2 to raise the government’s $14.3 trillion debt ceiling, Mr. Obama’s quick embrace of the plan left House Republicans at greater risk of being politically isolated on the issue if they continue to rule out any compromise that includes higher tax revenues.
Higher tax revenues? Actually the deal lowers tax rates for the wealthy and big companies. It raises revenues by removing things like the mortgage interest deduction for the rest of us.
Not So Fast
But if you look at polls you start to see that the American Majority has come to some very different conclusions about how to fix America’s deficit problems. The pubic says solve this problem the same way most economists say we should solve it. The public wants cuts in military spending, and increases in spending on infrastructure and other job-creation, economy-growing investment. The public wants taxes increased on the rich and big corporations. The public does not want Social Security benefits cut. The public wants health care reformed in the ways that the rest of the world has discovered saves money while providing better care.
Not So Fast, says the CPC
The Congressional Progressive Caucus says, “Not so fast!” Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) co-chair Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva today released the following statement on the Senate “Gang of Six” budget proposal:
House “Gang of 70-Plus” to Senate “Gang of Six”: We Outnumber Your Plan to Slash Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security
“This terrible plan could cut Medicare and Medicaid to unsustainably low levels and put seniors’ well-being at risk. Anyone who wants to pass it through Congress should remember that more than 70 House Democrats have already pledged their opposition, and more are signing on every day. The letter we sent to Leader Pelosi July 8 vowing to oppose any cuts to Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid as part of these budget negotiations has become a growing wave of House resolve to protect these programs. We’re keeping it open for more signatures, and our Gang of 70-plus has the ‘Gang of Six’ completely outnumbered. Newly minted Rep. Janice Hahn signed on as one of her first official acts as a Congresswoman – that’s how quickly it’s picking up momentum.
Republicans have already said they won’t vote for any package, period, because of their opposition to a functional economy. House Democrats hold the key to whatever plan can pass Congress. That’s why the Senate ‘Gang of Six’ proposal is dead on arrival. Instead of toying with ways to slash vital programs in just such a way as to make different budget numbers align on paper, Congress and the White House should follow the path of our People’s Budget: creating jobs, protecting Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, ending corporate subsidies and millionaire tax giveaways, and ensuring our economy works for everyone rather than a greedy few.”
Not So Fast, Says Senator Bernie Sanders
Sen. Bernie Sanders has issued the following statement on a deficit-reduction proposal by a group of senators called the Gang of Six:
“While all of the details from the so-called Gang of Six proposals are not yet clear, what is apparent is that the plan would result in devastating cuts to Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and many other programs that are of vital importance to working families in this country. Meanwhile, tax rates would be lowered for the wealthiest people and the largest, most profitable corporations.
“This is an approach that should be rejected by the American people. At a time when the rich are becoming richer and corporate profits are soaring, at least half of any deficit-reduction package must come from upper income people and profitable corporations. We must also take a hard look at military spending, which has tripled since 1997.”
Not So Fast, Says MoveOn
Here s a statement from Justin Ruben, Executive Director of MoveOn.org on the Gang of 6 proposal:
“While details are sketchy, the “Gang of 6″ proposal appears to ask seniors, the middle class and the poor to bear the burden of deficit reduction, with cuts to Social Security benefits, billions in stealth cuts to be named later, and no real effort to make corporations and millionaires pay their fair share. MoveOn’s 5 million members are counting on Leader Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Reid, and other Democrats to stand by their promise to reject any benefit cuts to Social Security and Medicare. We cannot allow a minority of Tea Party led Republicans in the House to hold our nation’s economy hostage in order to protect tax breaks for the rich and corporations, while forcing cuts to programs families depend on. The President and Democrats in Congress must stand up for everyday Americans and not give into politicians more interested in protecting their corporate backers than ensuring our economy recovers.”
Not So Fast, Says Citizens For Tax Justice
Citizens For Tax Justice issued a statement, “Gang of Six” Plan Would Reduce Revenue and Encourage Corporate Tax Dodging,
Because our tax system allows U.S. corporations to indefinitely “defer” U.S. taxes on their offshore profits, it already encourages corporations to move jobs overseas and to disguise their U.S. profits as “foreign” profits by shifting them to tax havens.
There would be even more incentives for corporations to do both these bad things under the “territorial” tax system promoted by corporate lobbyists and included in the Gang of Six plan.
Not So Fast, says Strengthen Social Security Campaign
Nancy Altman, Co-chair of the Strengthen Social Security Campaign, released a statement (read the full statement here) in response to the release of the Gang of Six’s “Bipartisan Plan to Reduce Our Nation’s Deficits.”
“The Gang of Six proposes immediate and significant cuts to Social Security benefits, and a process for addressing the program’s funding shortfall projected to appear 25 years from now. The process would virtually guarantee devastating cuts. This plan breaks faith with the American people, who overwhelmingly oppose benefit cuts.
“The Gang of Six framework contains very few specifics but one is glaring – the immediate cuts that would affect all 55 million Social Security beneficiaries by changing the way the annual cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) is calculated. Their plan would substitute the less accurate and less-generous chained consumer price index (CPI) for the current CPI in calculating the COLA. This breaks a promise made by many politicians to not cut the benefits of anyone over age 55.
Not So Fast, Says American Majority
- NBC News/Wall Street Journal, July,58% want tax increases on the wealthy as part of a deficit solution vs 36%.
- Pew Research Poll, June 15-19, 60% say Keep Social Security and Medicare benefits as they are vs 32% say change them to reduce deficits.
- McClatchy/Marist, 64% support raising taxes on income above $250,000.
- And finally, this Gallup Poll just out today: Concerns About Economy, Jobs Outweigh Worries About Deficit,
Americans name the economy and unemployment/jobs as the most important problems facing the nation, as they have all year, despite the dominant focus in Washington on the federal debt ceiling. The deficit comes in third as the top problem.
Politicians In Peril
Politicians who are fooled by this manipulated sense of inevitability, and who ignore deficit solutions the public wants, are asking for trouble. If they support these back-room deals made by elites the public won’t support them.
In addition Democrats who support any deal that cuts Social Security and/or Medicare undermine their ability to campaign as the defenders of the people, of Medicare, of Social Security over the interests of the wealthy and giant corporations.
Dave Johnson (Redwood City, CA) is a Fellow at Campaign for America's Future, writing about American manufacturing, trade and economic/industrial policy. He is also a Senior Fellow with Renew California. Dave has more than 20 years of technology industry experience including positions as CEO and VP of marketing. His earlier career included technical positions, including video game design at Atari and Imagic. And he was a pioneer in design and development of productivity and educational applications of personal computers. More recently he helped co-found a company developing desktop systems to validate carbon trading in the US.
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