The GOP’s Big Heist

by James Wallace Harris, Tuesday, November 21, 2017

If only Congressmen carried guns, we could call their tax reform armed robbery. Republicans feel they have a mandate from America to cut taxes – that’s not true. Since Reagan, they have transformed themselves into an anti-tax cult. Conservatives have brainwashed themselves to believe God and his only begotten daughter Ayn Rand have put them on Earth to cut taxes. They will commit any crime to get what they want, believing they are faithful jihadists fighting the evil forces of the big government. This anti-tax religion has given conservatives meaning and purpose in life, empowering themselves with self-righteousness to believe their end goal justifies any means. They will lie, cheat, steal to get what they want, and they lack all integrity. Embracing Donald Trump proves that.

1040 Tax Form

Our tax system certainly needs reform, but there’s a difference between a real tax overhaul and slash and burn tax cutting. Conservatives want to make America great again but want to do it on the cheap. A great civilization costs money, big money. The cherished belief that a smaller government is better is merely another rationalization to cut taxes. We all want to live in a great society. We all want security. We all want fairness and justice. Unfortunately, the rich believe they deserve all the wealth and don’t care what happens to the rest of us. Their main delusion is they earn their money so it’s theirs to keep.

Americans want a society where work and effort pay off in success. But no one earns millions, or billions, through solo hard work. The rich whine they shouldn’t be taxed at a higher rate than ordinary people, ignoring they enjoy the fruits of our society at rates ten, hundreds, thousands of times that of ordinary Americas. Paying taxes at a higher rate should be their fair payment for membership in a minority that gets to fly in private jets, sail in big yachts, and dwell in multiple mansions while a poorer majority struggle to just get by in small homes, driving old Toyotas, and fantasizing about living the good life by binge-watching television.

The idea of trickle down wealth is just another rationalization to be greedier. Wealth trickles up from the common people. The masses are the slaves that give the rich their obscene lifestyles. To refuse universal healthcare, living wages, a safe infrastructure, and minimum standards of living only makes the wealthy obscenely obscene. If the rich keep hijacking all the wealth, they will starve the base society that supports their luxury lifestyle. Our economic system is a symbiotic relationship between capital and labor, but the rich want it to be a vampiric relationship. What happens will they kill their host?

We can have a great America, a great civilization only if we buy it. It does not come from Voodoo economics. The rich should not get any tax cuts at all and should be paying somewhat more than what they pay now. We should enact a 50% bracket until the national debt is paid off, the infrastructure is rebuilt, a fair universal health care is put into place, and a minimum living wage established, including a guaranteed minimum wage.

When we’re reorganized, rebuilt, out of debt, and America is truly great again, then we can roll back taxes. Right now, a tax cut is like a person with bankruptcy level debts deciding to cut back on their work hours. We need to reorganize the tax system, so it brings in more money, not less, and it needs to be equitable to all.

I have been reading a lot of articles on this tax overhaul. Take the time to read the ones I list below. Overhauling the tax structure is immensely complicated. Republicans tout simplistic mumbo-jumbo to rationalize their greed. If they get what they want, it will only hurt America. We live in tough times, a time when the tough should get going. Instead, our tough leaders are stealing the nation blind. We face countless threats to our survival. Instead of spending the money to fight those threats, we’re giving more money to the super-rich so they can pollute even more with bigger private jets, bigger yachts, and more mansions.

The trouble with conservatives is they’ve embraced a single-solution philosophy – cut taxes. That’s why they want to shrink the government, cancel health care and other social programs, do away with K-12 and Higher Education, ignore environmental issues, cut regulations, and anything else that gets in the way of them taking all the money in existence.

The real problem we face is wealth inequality. It will destroy America before climate change. The easiest way to understand what I’m talking about is to watch Robert Reich’s documentaries or read his books. Saving Capitalism just showed up on Netflix. The proposed GOP tax cuts will only transfer more money to the wealthy making inequality worse.

Do we really need these tax cuts now? Wasn’t overhauling the tax system the real goal? Are we getting tax-reform or being mugged? Taxation is an incredibly complicated problem, so is it fair to leave it in the hands of true believers whose faith is founded on attacking expertise and science? As citizens, we’re at the mercy of our leaders. Shouldn’t important issues require referendums? Should we leave such monumental decisions to GOP fanatics working behind closed doors? Shouldn’t tax reform come in easier to understand modular changes that the wisdom of the crowds votes on? Wouldn’t passing 25 separate tax reform changes over a period of years be wiser than one big bill that no one understands?

Read these articles, study the infographics and statistics. Consider using 5 Calls to let your representatives know what you think.

 

JWH

Occupy Wall Street v. The Tea Party

Occupy Wall Street protests have the reputation of being about diffused public anger with no real political agenda.  The Tea Party has always been rigidly focused on anti-taxes but defines itself around the Contract from America platform that its followers stick closely to in their political campaigning.  From their start in 2009 the Tea Party quickly organized into a grass roots federation of citizens that got many people elected around the country and in congress.  But the Tea Party isn’t 100% a single structure either, with several web sites using the Tea Party name and each having slightly different platforms.

If the Occupy Wall Street movement wants political success they too will need to organize across the country into a political movement.  First off, they need a better name, and second they need a political platform that will counter challenge the conservatives and define their movement.  And they need to coop the Democratic party like the Tea Party has taken over the Republican party.  Third parties just don’t work, unless they think Americans are ready for a complete change.  But looking at list of American political parties and their history makes this doubtful.

The phrase “occupy Wall Street” just doesn’t ring true for a long term political party moniker.  I’m not sure what these young new protestors want, but they sound like an Egalitarian Party because of their identity with the 99%.  Since the Occupy Wall Street protests quickly found sympathy with people in other countries they would do well to make it a world-wide movement.  The old phrase, Think Globally, Act Locally applies well to them because of their environmental demands.

In a world of global communications, global economy, global environment, why not a global political movement?  However, if they don’t stay focused on the critical issues they will bog down and divide their followers.  If you look at the various political platforms on the Tea Party sites you  see how they’ve broaden their anti-tax focus to other issues – for example look at the Non-negotiable 15 Core Beliefs at the TeaParty.org site that deal with guns, English and family values.

The Tea Party advocates a small government movement where individuals are expected to pull their own weight.  The Occupy Wall Street movement advocates economic fairness for all in a society that favors the rich.  Both are about money.  The Tea Party people want more money for their economic freedom by paying less taxes at the local, state and federal levels – thus the emphasis for a small government.  The Occupy Wall Street movement is about protecting the individual rather than the bottom line, and that means social engineering, big government and more taxes.  There is a direct conflict of goals.

Our society is politically polarized and getting more polarized all the time.  I fear this process is only going to get nastier.  The 2012 election will probably be a lot like the one in 1968.

JWH – 10/18/11

Balanced Budget Amendment

There is a movement among the most conservative of Republicans to get an amendment to the Constitution that requires the federal budget to balance every year.  Mike Lee, one of these newly elected Republican Senators has written a book The Freedom Agenda:  Why  a Balanced Budget Amendment is Necessary to Restore Constitutional Government.  I’m a liberal and his case is even convincing to me.  The most damning evidence he has is the federal budget was 2 percent of the GDP a hundred years ago and is 25 percent in 2011.  It’s obvious the government can’t keep growing.  He also points out the national debt is over $14 trillion dollars, equal to every man, woman and child owing $50,000, and those same people are running their up their bill by $5,000 a year.  OK, Senator Lee, you’ve convinced me we’ve got to do something, but what?

First off, we need to clarify some things.  If the current budget is truly 25% of the GDP, it’s because of extra spending due to the recession and the cost of the war in Afghanistan – so 25% is not the natural figure.  In fact, that percentage should automatically lower and rise with good times and bad.  But Senator Lee, lets assume the budget is too big and that we have to pay down the national debt.  Is this the time to do it?  The federal government is always a job stimulus feature of our economy, so to monkey with it now probably means causing more unemployment.  But I assume you Republicans are going to get your way and we’ll start spending cuts.  However, this is also were the bargaining starts – as well illustrated by recent weeks of gridlock between the White House and Congress.

The difference between conservatives and liberals is how big should the budget be.  What if 20% of GDP is the perfect figure for Democrats and 15% is what the Republicans would love?  We need to decide just how big the government needs to be.  I’m willing to agree it’s too big, and we’re spending too much, and we’re running up too much debt.  But how we cut spending and reduce the debt will be a war in Congress for years, even if the Tea Party leads the nation to pass a balanced budget amendment (BBA), which has been tried several times before and has never passed.

Passing a balanced budget amendment is almost a fantasy, but it would have a far better chance of becoming a reality if Republicans would change their mind about new taxes.

Instead of crying “No new taxes” we should be crying “No more tax cuts” until the deficit is drastically reduced.  And Senator Lee, I know you guys are adamant about about no new taxes, but I think if you seriously want to change the size of the federal government and reduce the deficit you should be willing to repeal all of the Bush tax cuts.  If the rich feel put upon by just rolling back their cuts, we should roll back all of the Bush tax cuts until the deficit is close enough to where a balanced budget amendment would work.

Now I’m not against drastically cutting the federal budget, but we should be careful not to hurt the economic recovery, which is mighty weak at best.  I think Americans public can handle more taxes right now than higher unemployment.  We know what balancing budgets are doing to the states and its not pretty.  I’d hate to see more hardships brought on across the nation by hacking away at the federal budget too.  However, if your goal is really a BBA, then conservatives have to consider increasing revenue.

I think the balanced budget is a great idea in theory.  My wife and I have been far happier now that we balance our budget and no longer go into debt.  Debt is a terrible thing, but sometimes bad things happen and you have to go into debt, even nations.

Let’s imagine that the Balanced Budget Amendment passes.  I know you Republicans also want it passed with a rule that says taxes can only be raised with a supermajority.  Let’s not go there right away.  Let’s plan for bad times, because there will always be bad times.  I suggest we have two automatic taxes in case of war or recession.  The War Tax would automatically kick in if the military has to spend more than it’s share of the balanced budget because of a war or warlike action.  And a Recession Tax would automatically kick in if the government needs to pay to help people during bad economic times.  And logically, we could also have automatic tax reductions in good economic times if we have a surplus (after we pay off the national debt).

What this would allow is the creation of a steady state balanced budget that is tied to a certain percentage of the GDP.  We should determine that percentage in the future after the deficit is paid off and when we can figure what size government is the absolute best for the economy.  Personally I’d prefer a prosperous economy and that might mean a larger government than conservatives want, but if Republicans can whittle away the government and still having a thriving economy, so be it.

I am just an ordinary citizen watching two giant political parties fight over their ideals, but it’s scary and creates uncertainty about the future, which I’m sure is felt by all my fellow citizens.  I know the arch conservatives want lower taxes immediately and they are using the fear of an uncontrolled rising deficit to concoct a plan to reduce the size of the government.  As a Democrat I’ll buy into the idea the deficit is insane – let’s reduce it.  I’ll even buy into the idea of a balanced budget, but you guys need to give in on taxes until we solve the deficit.

What if we repeal the Bush tax cuts and apply them to the deficit and then cut the federal budget to the size it was before the recession, and then work on balancing the budget.  Then while we’re paying off our national debt work on slowly reducing the annual budget with program cuts.  Then when we see drastic deficit reductions and an improved economy we can gradually reintroduce the Bush tax cuts.

Republicans think they have a mandate from the people to cut taxes, and I’m sure most citizens would love lower taxes, but I also think most citizens don’t want to see millions more Americans put out of work from cutting budgets.  What’s happening in the states is more than just cutting the fat.

The Bush tax cuts grew the deficit dramatically, so applying such revenue back into paying off the deficit should reduce it just as quickly.  If you really want a balanced budget then the quickest way to get one is pay down the national debt so it’s practical.  If you try to pay down the national debt with program cuts now you’re only going to scuttle the economy.

JWH – 7/27/11

The Barbarians at the Liberal Gates

Republicans have dug in their heels and swear they’ll die before they allow any new taxes.  What does this mean?  I think they have two main motives:  greed and the destruction of liberal ideals.  This is no big news, but what does it mean really?  Republicans have fixated on lowering taxes for decades and I think this is mainly due to ordinary old greed, but they have come up with so many justifications to achieve this goal, that they have developed an anti-liberal philosophy to promote tax cuts.

They think big government is taking their money, and so they’ve developed a philosophy against big government.  But what does having a big government mean?  Or more precisely, what does having a small government mean?

Civilization has always meant bigger and bigger government.  All throughout history whenever a civilization would develop barbarians would come along and attack it because it was an easy source of booty.  Protecting civilization began the ever spiraling costs to support big government and big military.  There are two kinds of people in this world, those who want to build civilizations and those who want to tear it down.  Civilizations take a lot of money to create and run, and history shows there are essentially two sources of wealth to run a civilization, taxes or conquering other civilizations, which is essentially a non-citizen tax if you will.  Europe flowered during the Renaissance by taxing the natives of the Americas, Africa, Middle East and Asia, as well as the heavy burden of taxes they imposed on their own citizens.

Like it or not, great civilizations cost a lot of money.  During the course of the last five hundred years we also saw the growth of liberal ideas.  It’s no longer socially acceptable to attack a primitive society and steal their wealth to build your own society.  Either through colonists, armies or corporations.  And the history of corporations are really the history of private business plundering the resources of other nations through price speculation.

However, things have changed.  The nations of the Earth are no longer in flux and national stabilization has set in, and corporations are no longer tied to specific countries, but work worldwide.  This means vast booms of generating wealth through exploiting other people is tapering off.  Nations are having to compete as equals, and the wealth of governments depend more and more on internal taxes based on economic productivity of their citizens.

In other words, if the United States wants to be the leading civilization of the world, the cost of that civilization is on the backs of its taxpayers.   Our military might will wane as the world stabilizes.  So will our influence.  So what will make us the great nation we believe we are?  As all nations become more capitalistic, we’ll no longer be the richest.  For the longest time, we were great because we championed freedom and democracy, and liberal ideals – but they are spreading worldwide too.

So what kind of nation will we be if the Republicans get their way and cut social programs and other spending, and reduce the size of the federal government?  I can’t help but believe we’ll be more like India or Egypt than Germany, Japan, England, South Korea or France.  We’ll have a democracy with lots of poor people.  We’ll have lots of beggars, criminals and lower class people, a small middle class, and a few very wealthy people that stand out in stark contrast.

We won’t have the arts, science, and infrastructure of a #1 nation, and instead start developing the look of a decaying empire.

The greed of the wealthy to avoid taxes will lead to a downward spiral of employed people, or people who look and act employed because of social programs.  Social Security and Medicare allow millions of Americans to contribute to economic activity as if they were employed.  We already have more young well trained people wanting work than we have jobs, so to throw millions of older, well experienced people to compete with them will ruin the job market and raise unemployment to new high levels.  Employment levels have always been an illusion in our country.  Unemployment is high now because we can’t maintain the fevered economic activity of unnatural economic booms. 

We can only get to 5% unemployment when the economy is booming and support big social programs.  If we cut out social programs and followed a balanced-budget economy we’d probably have 25% unemployed, if we were lucky.  Some economists are saying we already have a real unemployment rate of 15% or higher now. 

If we pursued a totally efficient economy we’d probably put half the workers out of work.  Just think what a flat tax rate would do to bookkeepers, accounts, tax advisers, and other bean counters.  Just imagine our society if no one used a credit card, or if everyone spent money like economic advisers advise.  A large part of our economy is based on inefficiency, buying things we don’t need, social programs, crime, crazy unsafe business schemes and stupid unproductive speculation.

Liberal ideals have progressed until they believe that all people, regardless of gender, race, creed or sexual orientation deserve equality and a minimal standard of living and medical care.   Pursuing those ideals has created an ever growing segment of our economic activity.  Reversing those ideals will destroy our economy.

Just watch the news to see how all over the country governmental services are being cut back.  This is the dismantlization of our civilization.  The barbarians are at the gates looking to sack our civilization.  And all of this just to save a few bucks on their taxes.

Barbarians have always wanted wealth for themselves.  Civilized people have always wanted to share the wealth.

JWH – 7/9/11