What’s wrong with this picture: The right-wingnuts are saying the US is financially broke and deep cuts must be made to core safety net programs—food stamps, Head Start, Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security—while simultaneously arguing that the tax cuts implemented by President George W. Bush, benefitting mostly the ultra-wealthy, must be extended and military spending must not be cut.
Meanwhile, David Korten has identified two additional deficits facing the American citizenry that are at least as corrosive as the fiscal deficit:
- Social capital deficits (rising poverty and inequality)
- Biosystem capital deficits (environmental sustainability)
John Cavanagh, writing for Yes!, outlines seven ways to end all three deficits in an equitable and sustainable manner. The proposals come from an Institute for Policy Studies report, “America is Not Broke:”
- Tax Wall Street: Institute a tax on all stock and derivatives transactions (annual return: US$150 billion)
- Tax corporations and eliminate tax haven abuse: Force corporations to report—and pay taxes—domestically (annual return: US$100 billion)
- Raise taxes on the ultra-wealthy: Implement US Representative Jan Schakowsky‘s (D-Illinois) Fairness in Taxation Act, adding five additional tax brackets on incomes over US$1 million (annual return: US$79 billion)
- Tax pollution: Implement a carbon tax (annual return: US$75 billion)
- End fossil fuel subsidies: Cease all government subsidies of the fossil fuel industry (annual return: US$12 billion)
- End military waste: Eliminate waste in the military while maintaining security (annual return: US$109 billion)
- Close one third of US overseas military bases and shut down operations in Iraq: The Cold War has been over for more than 20 years (annual return: US$21 billion)
That’s almost US$550 billion annually, with the first three alone taking care of the fiscal deficit.