The “debt ceiling” and “fiscal cliff” scenarios are well choreographed dog-and-pony circus acts brought to you by the same people who crashed the economy in 2008, with the help of their bought-and-paid-for politicians from both the Democrat and Republican parties. Social Security and Medicare have nothing to do with the budget deficit because their funding is separate and paid into special trust funds from money that working people have deducted from their paychecks. They are earned income benefits.
Currently, the Social Security Trust Fund is solvent until the year 2020. If any adjustments need to be made to Social Security it should be to make individuals who earn over $109,000 per year pay Social Security tax on gross salary, which currently they do not. Likewise, Medicare should not be cut, instead it needs to be expanded to cover every man, woman, and child in the U.S..
The reason this should be done is because this is the only viable solution to our current health care crisis that will reduce costs and cover everybody’s health care needs. Currently, the U.S. has the highest health care and prescription drug costs in the world, but ranks only 38th in quality of care, slightly above Uzbekistan. This is due to the control of our health care by corporate health insurance companies who annually earn billions of dollars in profits by denying people health care and circumventing the advice of doctors, resulting in the unnecessary deaths every year of over 40,000 Americans.
So what’s really going on in Washington D.C.?
The answer is classic “Shock Doctrine!”
As Naomi Klein brilliantly describes in her 2007 book Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, this is a technique used by corporate special interests through their Democratic and Republican political puppets to steal public taxpayer money for private corporate profit, using either natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina or man-made crises like the artificially created “debt ceiling” and “fiscal cliff” dramas.
The current so-called “fiscal cliff” crisis is using the cover of real budget deficit problems as a smoke screen to begin defunding and eventually privatizing Social Security and Medicare. The main beneficiaries of this will be the same Wall Street banks and investment companies that crashed the economy in 2008 and then received trillions of dollars in taxpayer bail-outs. The 2008 financial crisis would have been even worse if Social Security retirement funds had been privatized and in the hands of Goldman Sachs.
So what is the cause of the current deficit problem?
1) A sluggish economy with high unemployment and too many low-wage and part-time jobs, thus a lower level of tax revenue being collected. This is a result of not enough investment, by both government and business, in job creating ventures. Instead we have seen the export of good paying jobs in the last 15 years to sweat-shops in low-wage countries by means of NAFTA, the China Trade Preference Treaty, and other corporate neo-liberal trade policies.
2) Tax cuts for the rich and corporations since 1981, resulting in millionaires and billionaires paying less of a percentage of their income in taxes than workers earning $30,000 per year or less. General Electric earned over $12 Billion in profits in 2010 and not only paid zero in taxes, but received a $2 million tax refund.
3) Corporate welfare, which includes millions of dollars in tax payer subsidies to the oil companies, subsidies to McDonald’s for the cost of marketing chicken McNuggets internationally, and a multitude of other outrageous giveaways of public tax dollars for private corporate profits.
4) The wars and foreign military aid. This one is the 800-pound gorilla in the room that the corporate media pretends does not exist. Over $5.2 trillion in the last ten years alone went to the Dept. of Defense, and an additional amount of undisclosed funds to maintain the nearly 1000 foreign U.S. military bases. Foreign military aid accounts for over $50 billion per year, with most of it going to governments with some of the worst human rights violators in the world including Columbia, Egypt and Israel.
Correcting the above causes of the deficit is what needs to be done, as well as a Green Jobs program to rebuild our deteriorating physical and telecommunications infrastructure and to build a clean, inexpensive and sustainable energy future.
This would require a World War II scale of investment by the federal government, which would stimulate the economy and provide the jobs and necessary tax revenues (in addition to cuts in the above-mentioned wasteful spending) to pay down the deficit and create a significant surplus.
The ultimate question, however, is how are we going to make the above happen?
Most of the above policy recommendations are supported by a majority of the American people, as reflected in numerous public opinion polls. So why is the corporate media not discussing these issues and why are most of the politicians of both parties ignoring our wishes and demands?
Let’s begin asking our representatives and senators these questions, and if they refuse to return our phone calls or don’t give us a satisfactory answer, then let’s go to their offices, homes and places of worship and ask them.