Thank you “Super Committee!” You Failed, Now Maybe the Rest Of Us Can Succeed
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Thank you to Super-Committee Republicans who remained intransigent in their insistence of governing by and for the 1%, protecting their self-interest and the interests of the Super-Rich and Wall Street Bankers. Thank you to the Super-Committee Democrats who, though they revealed their willingness, if reluctant, to do the same by putting drastic cuts to vital domestic and earned benefits programs on the table next to revenue-raisers, stood up against a bad deal. The Democrats on the Super-Committee were responsive to the 99% in the end.
The undemocratic, appointed Joint Select committee of six Democrats and six Republicans, the “Super-Committee,” failed to reach an agreement that would have unnecessarily imposed untold hardship on the vast majority of those of us already struggling in a bad economy. If this inability to reach a terrible deal is “failure”, can you imagine what “success,” defined by this crowd would have looked like?
Here’s what success should look like, and thanks to the Super-Committee fail, we might just have the time and political space to achieve some of it: My colleagues at the Institute for Policy Studies have a newly released Report: America Is Not Broke: How to Fix the Crisis While Making the Country More Equitable, Green, and Secure.
The report illsutrates that the current economic crisis presents us all with the opportunity and challenge to use our nation’s vast wealth to create a sustainable economy which functions well for all of us.
The Institute for Policy Studies comes up with Seven times the total savings that the Super-Committee was charged with finding. Not only would this be success in correcting national priorities and positively affecting the long-term debt, these tax and spending reforms would create a society that works for 99% of us.
If we had the political will to actually achieve success, we could achieve at least $824 billion per year by doing the following:
1) Generate revenue equitably: Going beyond rolling back the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy. The report proposes reforms would generate $375 billion per year. These proposals ensure that Wall Street and the wealthy pay their fair share and also call for a small tax on trades of stocks, bonds, and derivatives as a way to both generate revenue and discourage high-risk, high-frequency trading.
2) Ensure that security spending actually makes our country more secure: A total of $252 billion per year could be raised from smart reductions in the military budget by reducing the enormous number of overseas U.S. military bases; eliminating obsolete and wasteful defense programs; ending the war in Afghanistan as we end the war in Iraq
3) Create a clean, sustainable environment: Eliminating corporate welfare for the oil industry and introducing new taxes on pollution could generate an estimated $197 billion per year in revenue. These changes would create incentives to adopt green technologies and reduce our nation's dependence on foreign oil.
Finally, though not outlined in the report as it is more difficult to achieve, its important to note we need true health care reform so that escalating health costs do not overtake even the most responsible debt-reduction steps. With the current health system, CBO projections show devastating consequences for our long-term debt. But, for instance, if we had universal access to health care and the same per person costs as Canada, we would save $1.2 trillion a year, with $600 of the savings going to the government.
Taken together, this formula for success would put us squarely and strongly on the path to both fiscal sustainability and toward a more equitable and flourishing society.