Reader Rant: About Those Deficit-Reduction Commission Suggestions …

by on November 12, 2010 · 47 comments

in Economy, Election, Popular, Reader Rant

obama-deficitreductionBy Nancy Witt

President Obama appointed 18 people to come up with suggestions for lowering the deficit. Yesterday, when Pres. Obama is outside of the country and will be until Sunday, they released their suggestions. I won’t go into detail about all of the things, but will mention two in particular that have me up in arms:

1. Social Security – raise the retirement age and lower the benefits

I am so mad that they are using SS as part of the reason for the budget problems. The SS trust funds would have had enough money in them til at least 2035, but the funds have been raided so that to honor the commitments made, they have to pay interest to get the money to pay the SS payments due. SS RULES did NOT cause the shortfall; taking the money and putting it into general revenue to pay other bills, like the defense budget, etc did.

It’s like me having an acct. in a bank, and the bank just takes that money for their own use, and then says I can’t manage my money as there’s nothing in the acct. It is not my fault, the money isn’t there, and I shouldn’t be blamed.

Social Security was set up to be self-funded and has been all along, and should not even be discussed with the rest of the federal budget that is financed by federal taxes. FICA taxes fund Social Security benefits; totally separate budget that pays out benefits and pays the salaries of the SS workers. FDR would roll over in his grave if he knew of this proposal and how his program is being maligned.

The SS Commission and many others are lying about the true reason they want to change the rules. They just want it to cut down on the federal deficit. It’s easier to blame entitlements than to focus on other budget items; ie, the huge defense budget for example that is larger than all other countries combined.

2. Taxes – cut the top rate from 35% to 23% for personal income tax, and corporate tax rate from 35% to 26%

I don’t need to go into why this isn’t the way to go, because the last 8 yrs. of the lower rate put in by Pres. Bush hardly made a dent in creating jobs, and the billions less that came into the Treasury certainly didn’t help with the deficit increase that came about in his administration.

In the 50’s when Dwight Eisenhower was president, the top tax rate was 90%! Remember how few women had to work back then? Of course our world got a lot more complicated, but it just goes to show, that there was a much higher rate that still got the job done.

My suggestion is that we all contact our congress members and Pres. Obama, and make sure they know how we stand on these two things at least, and whatever you dislike/like about the other points brought out. We can’t let this commission get away with this.

{ 46 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Shane Finneran November 12, 2010 at 3:35 pm

Indeed, both the tax portion and the social security portion of the deficit reduction plan are unbelievably crass. Here’s the prescription: “more taxes on middle class, less taxes on upper class.”

If you haven’t yet figured out that Obama’s administration is effectively a conservative one, is this the punch in the face that will wake you up? The right wing didn’t win back control this past November 2… the right wing never lost control.

Paul Krugman’s column in today’s NY Times had some zingers:

from the beginning…”It seemed obvious, as soon as the commission’s membership was announced, that “bipartisanship” would mean what it so often does in Washington: a compromise between the center-right and the hard-right.”

in the actual presentation…”The goals of reform, as Mr. Bowles and Mr. Simpson see them, are presented in the form of seven bullet points. “Lower Rates” is the first point; “Reduce the Deficit” is the seventh.”

here’s the bottom line…”what the co-chairmen are proposing is a mixture of tax cuts and tax increases — tax cuts for the wealthy, tax increases for the middle class. They suggest eliminating tax breaks that, whatever you think of them, matter a lot to middle-class Americans — the deductibility of health benefits and mortgage interest — and using much of the revenue gained thereby, not to reduce the deficit, but to allow sharp reductions in both the top marginal tax rate and in the corporate tax rate.”

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avatar Ian November 13, 2010 at 2:23 pm

Shane, be careful listening to Krugman, he advocated that the Federal Government and Federal Reserve create a housing bubble (the bubble that created our current crisis) in 2002 in an attempt to counteract the recession following the crash of the Nasdaq bubble. And now he is advocating an inflationary monetary policy that will effectively be a dramatic cut in Social Security.

He doesn’t think that his followers/readers are smart enough to realize that devaluing the currency is the same as cutting social security. The fact is that the path that our central banking and federal government are on (a continuation of Bush’s policies) will create the same effect as direct cuts to Social Security benefits. The difference is that his solution is dishonest and slight of hand.

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avatar Danny Morales November 13, 2010 at 3:00 pm

Ian- Be careful in listening to Shane! Instead of making ad hominem argruments(another fallacy) based upon your mind reading skills (” He thinks that his followers/readers etc….”) to make a point, I suggest that you….Forget about it! After all, some people are just 2muchfun to take seriously. Don’t you think?

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avatar Ian November 14, 2010 at 2:44 pm

Danny, I guess the facts don’t matter when they don’t fit your dogma. As for ad hominem arguments you might want to study up on your logical fallacies, as that one doesn’t apply to my comment, since Krugman did, in fact, advocate a housing bubble, and he does now advocate inflationary monetary policies.

Some people are just2dumb and misinformed to take seriously. Don’t you think?

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avatar Danny Morales November 14, 2010 at 5:26 pm

Thank you Ian for taking my comments seriously. I’m glad you don’t take any of this personally and are respectful enough of others to refute their positions logically. After all I think it was Keynes who said “In the long run …we’re dead!” So keep up that fight of yours. In our hearts we know you’re right!

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avatar John Lawrence November 12, 2010 at 6:25 pm

In my blog today I suggest letting the Bush tax cuts expire as they were supposed to and then adopting a flat tax cut for every American taxpayer. Of the $3.7 trillion that the Bush tax cuts would add to the deficit next year and every year thereafter that they are kept in effect, instead a flat tax cut of $5000. could be given to every American taxpayer and the deficit could still be reduced by $3 trillion! For those with tax liabilities of less than $5000. a rebate could be given of $5000. minus their actual tax liability. It’s absolutely ridiculous that the wealthy have rigged the tax system so as to cause not only huge deficits but the largest transfer of wealth from the poor and middle class to the rich in history!

The lame duck Congress could actually pass my plan using their Democratic majority in the House and reconciliation in the Senate to avoid the filibuster just as Bush did when he passed his tax cuts 10 years ago.

For more see my post at http://willblogforfood.typepad.com/will_blog_for_food/2010/11/the-flat-tax-cut-give-everyone-a-tax-cut-and-reduce-the-deficit-at-the-same-time.html

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avatar Marilyn Steber November 12, 2010 at 6:57 pm

Never to be one to state the obvious, I will remind y’all that the conservatives spend the future of our nation when they are in power and then bitch about deficits when “liberals” are in the white house. Yeah, I acknowlege Clinton is to blame somewhat but he left a surplus when Bush came in. Our debt was 5.6 trillion when Clinton left office and 12.3 when Bush left. It is a shame that Alan Simpson was on this commission. I’m sick of Obama’s effort to be bi-partisan. Can I hear an Amen?

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avatar Patty Jones November 12, 2010 at 9:49 pm

Amen sister!

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avatar RB November 13, 2010 at 5:58 am

I agree Social Security should not be used to resolve the budget deficit.
However Social Security has its own problems. There are to few current workers covering those it retirement and we retire too early compared to current life expectancy.
I expect the retirement age will be raised and some increase in the tax will be the compromise solution. I also fear the federal government will inflate to reduce the burden of the required payouts on the debt and SS. The dollar has already been driven down in value and commodity prices are already inflating.

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avatar Frank Gormlie November 13, 2010 at 8:41 am

RB – nothing is wrong with social security. Maybe, just maybe, by 2035, there might be a shortage. But it’s nothing like the condition that George W and the repubnuts describe. It is in fact a red herring. Put that in your pipe and smoke it! (no disrespect here meant, just still on my third cup of joe).

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avatar Nancy November 13, 2010 at 11:09 am

Good points made, but the main point still remains that Soc. Sec. itself is not in trouble, and that’s what we need to tell our politicians.
Why fix something that is not broken? The real problem is that it needs to be locked up (remember Al Gore’s suggestion?) and not gone into for paying other things. At least these guys should be acknowledging what’s true: that the funds should still be there but aren’t due to their raiding, and they shouldn’t be counting the Social Security benefits being paid out as coming from the federal budget, when they’re coming from the SS budget. This year though, for the first time they are paying out more than what’s been taken out, but that’s beside the point. The trust fund money even pays for the government employees who administer the program, which is one of the best managed programs ever.

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avatar RB November 13, 2010 at 11:17 am

Your right that SS is good over the short term. But the long term viability requires changes to secure benefits for and confidence from the younger workers.

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avatar Nancy November 13, 2010 at 11:27 am

Before the current economic crisis hit, it was estimated that SS funds would be in trust fund to pay through 2042, but that’s since been refigured and changed to 2037-2040. And that’s beyond “short term” for me, and going along with their plan now will mean the funds will still be used to fund other govt. budgets that should be looked at that are funded from general revenue (federal taxes).
FICA (SocSec) taxes coming out of paychecks and self-employed people should be used strictly for SocSec. as it was intended to.
Any this commission has the nerve to promote cutting taxes even more for the wealthy. Down the road, they’ll be promoting 401k’s for everyone, instead of Soc. Sec.

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avatar Frank Gormlie November 13, 2010 at 11:31 am

Heck, the “long term viability” of the US economy and capitalism itself is in doubt.

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avatar Danny Morales November 13, 2010 at 2:12 pm

No doubt here, Frank. Let capitalism die. Or rather, like the animal world mature (not Freud?!!) or evolve (please not Darwin!!!) into its next stage. In the context of this discussion let me add the lifting/raising of the cap for FICA liability. What is it now? Incomes up to and including $130k? How is that fair?…and the lockbox? Why not? The ideas are all around us (see: but the political economy has gone global (no news here) w/no regard for the general welfare much less the protestations of us mortals. So the struggle continues…sometimes open sometimes hidden and aren’t you glad I didn’t mention Marx?

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avatar Ian November 14, 2010 at 2:47 pm

Why do you keep perpetuating the simpleton mindset with regard to capitalism?

On that note, how is the European economy and socialism doing? Any doubt there?

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avatar Ruby September 9, 2014 at 7:30 pm

RB,

Reagan almost quadruplws the social security tax (it was less than 5% when he took office and it was raised to 15.8% before he left office.) The reason he gave was that it was to cover the baby boomers’ retirement. The calculations the Reagan administration made were pretty much on target–as Frank G. pointed out, there might be a small deficit by 2035. It’s just an excuse to practice austerity and transfer even more of the total wealth upward.

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avatar david November 14, 2010 at 12:38 am

“all history heretofore is the history of class struggle” Karl Marx
any body remember the american academic who announced during the reagan years that “history is finished” that was truly funny. milton friedman was wrong, Marx was right. if you want a little primer from 1905 giving a pretty accurate description of the modern american economy and the global implications try Lenin’s “imperialism, the highest stage of capitalism” we could all use a little socialist political economy right now, that is if you are truly committed to truth and not just defending some fantasy market theory;
i know its a tough place for american liberals to be in, hoping to put a kinder gentler face on the a ruthless class of thieves that will stop at nothing to survive but the rationalizations are getting mighty thin and the world is getting harder for good working people to flourish in.
capitalism is dying. obama, try as he might can’t save it because every reasonable solution threatens someone’s profit margins. and that dog aint gonna hunt. obama is committed to the survival of capitalism and a class that will take all of us down with it. there is not going to be a new era of boom with millions of jobs, the current class of capitalists have arrived at the final stage of their exploitative reign using government policy to transfer wealth upward. the reason that social security is at risk is because the kitty has been raided. the money that was supposed to be set aside so that after working hard for forty five years and arriving at old age with the daily pains that are inescapable from hard work one might hope for a couple of years of working in the garden or sitting in the noon day sun on an ocean pier has been stolen by real human beings who live in opulent luxury.
i say to the progressive readers here, we should have drawn the line at health care. we are the ones who should have been at the town halls confronting the politicians and demanding universal single payer health care. we have to draw the line at social security, no age extensions . no cuts in benefits. and if the state needs to find revenue for needed social programs that service the majority then bring the troops home and tax the fucking rich!

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avatar Danny Morales November 14, 2010 at 1:31 am

David- Thank you for your enlightening comments. I would further suggested Demitrov’s “Against War and Facism” for anybody interested in fighting the good fight over the long haul.

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avatar Frank Gormlie November 14, 2010 at 9:36 am

C’mon Danny, there are a lot more more current treatises, articles, posts, books than that, my god!

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avatar Ian November 14, 2010 at 2:54 pm

bwahahahahaha…….

I would be weary of calling run-on sentences, shit-box punctuation, a total misrepresentation of fact, and conceptual schizophrenia enlightening.

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avatar david November 14, 2010 at 4:36 pm

i think i hear the angst of being on the losing side

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avatar Danny Morales November 14, 2010 at 5:39 pm

david-i smell a wiff of facism!

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avatar Frank Gormlie November 14, 2010 at 6:24 pm

fascism or facism ? smells the same.

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avatar Ian November 15, 2010 at 12:14 pm

Sorry, but we are all losing with the current state of government/big-business collusion.

The difference is that I have an understanding of what is actually happening (what we have is not capitalism, as you state) and you have your dogma that you want to reinforce.

I would suggest going back to school and learning to write, as writing is thinking, and if you cannot think you have no hope.

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avatar RB November 14, 2010 at 5:12 am

I am reminded of the joke that frequently did the rounds at factories and other places of state-funded labor. “We pretend to work and they pretend to pay us!”

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avatar Danny Morales November 14, 2010 at 8:40 am

RB- How about these maxims of capitalism:
“Your rights end at the workplace door”
“Arbeit Macht Frei”
and others. The point here is not about getting into a polemic about political economy but rather if getting old sucks in a market economy. Judi, Sunshine and Anna have posted at various times about the struggles of working class women to have a personal, professional and public life in class society. It remains for us to honor them by figuring out “What Is To Be Done?”- and then doing it! It appears as though we are immersing ourselves further in the capitalist “Jungle” with the outcome becoming a “Friendly Facism” that we all can be complacent with… well most of us anyway.

Yes Judi, getting old sucks…and there is no santa

Forget about it…let’s breki at the Old Town House

“Manufacturing Consent”
Danny

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avatar Frank Gormlie November 14, 2010 at 4:28 pm

The original OB Rag grew out of the new left, which was a rejection of the old left, a rejection of the bureaucratic-autocratic state-capitalist empires that Russia and China both built. The new left listened to people like Herbert Marcuse – who is alot more recent than Lenin or Trotsky. Please, those who call yourselves “Marxists” – remember, first Marx said he was not a “Marxist”, second, for crissakes, there’s been a whole hell of a lot of what under the bridge since the 1905 fight in Russia. If you are a true “marxist” then you have a whole hell of a lot of analysis and studying to do. For example, what happened in the Soviet Union? What happened in China? How could China call itself “socialist” after murdering its own people in the uprising in Tienmen Square?

Okay, okay, a little (a little!!!) off topic, apologize for that, but whenever I see or read comments by people who don’t seem to understand the flow of history, then I go into rant-mode.

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avatar Danny Morales November 14, 2010 at 5:48 pm

Frank- Methinks the anti-communist hem of your garment is showing! Give me a decent interval to answer your above questions before I’m forever banned from this blog.
Don’t take it personal. Its just business.-

In Solidarity,
Danny

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avatar Frank Gormlie November 14, 2010 at 6:24 pm

That’s a darn-right insult, mi amigo. Gracias

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avatar david November 14, 2010 at 2:42 am

i remember that pamphlet. wasn’t the complete title ” united front against war and facism”?always down for the long haul, always ready for a righteous struggle!

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avatar Danny Morales November 14, 2010 at 8:43 am

me two!

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avatar david November 14, 2010 at 7:41 pm

frank, i quoted Marx. i did not declare that i was a marxist so i am not sure what that rant was about. i mentioned lenin because i think it is important that the current crisis in global capitalism not be seen as a a singular event that caught us all by surprise. the political economy of earlier writers is crucial for a more complete understanding for those who may lack a more historical context. i am in no way discouraging new analysis of where we find our selves and suggestions of how to act. i do think it is wrong to deny a rich history of revolutionary thought at a time when we need well considered observations.
i do understand that the flow of history goes well beyond 1969. i understand that the new left was a break with the post war american communist party and rightly so. but the old left has a far deeper and more noble reach into american history than you allow. when i was young and new to social activism i was inspired to meet americans who had volunteered to go to spain to fight facism. i met old lefty dock workers who had participated in the san francisco general strike. i read stories about american cowboys who organized into unions, salty sailors who stood up for other workers . in the 1930’s it was old lefties who organized the auto workers who became the heros of the working class during the depression, unlike the despicable tea party that poses as populist in our current depression.so you see a contradiction between the new left and the old left. i do not. more importantly i think it is wrong for those of us with rich experience in both to sit by quietly and condemn those new to the concept of class struggle to having to reinvent the wheel.
socialism in the soviet union failed for reasons both external and internal. and those failures are actually best understood by using some basic tenets of dialectical materialism. china can call itself socialist all it wants. that is not what constitutes socialism anymore than the u.s calling itself a democracy makes it democratic.you went on a rant because i mentioned marx and lenin. i have been calm in my response but now allow me a moment. china and russia had revolutions that overthrew what can only be described as monstrous rulers. those revolutions did not result in socialist paradises. GET OVER IT! your so ready to accuse me of not understanding the flow of history but your liberal naiveness leads you to want only the good and not the bad. the very concept of a historical flow is kind of like that paul simon song “slip slidin away”.some change comes slowly and some changes rapidly.
if i write something here that reflects a red point of view i welcome a challenge. but don’t disrespect me with red baiting.

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avatar Frank Gormlie November 14, 2010 at 7:55 pm

Sorry, not bending to your bait. I was not insulting you by inferring that you were a wannabe “marxist” but you throw it back to me, my “liberal naiveness” and accuse me of redbaiting. Well, mi amigo, you need to understand criticism from the left – and that’s what you got.

But go ahead, use our platform for your rants … and raves… come back and tell us something you can rave about.

Here is the quote that sent me on my rant: “if you want a little primer from 1905 giving a pretty accurate description of the modern american economy and the global implications try Lenin’s “imperialism, the highest stage of capitalism” ”

Sure, we all need to study imperialism, but to tell everyone they need to seriously read – more than anything else – Lenin’s over 100-year “primer” – is a bit much. But hay, go to it.

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avatar david November 14, 2010 at 8:45 pm

facts and facts only. no where did i say you should seriously or above all else read lenin. what i did do is point out is that commentary on the global crisis has a historical past. are you denying this or think that someone new to all this might not gain by knowing of earlier theorists.
i am all for smart criticism but your using the common rightwing tactic of saying “you don’t get it” i think i amply demonstrated that i get it responding to your questions about russia and china in an albiet short space.
my goal here was not to rant but to try to bridge a gap between the present and the past. i think were in for some really hard times. progressives are in a very weak position and i think that is largely due to the absence of of a world wide socialist movement. i get it that there were huge set backs and the capitalists won the day in the eighties. the right is filling the vacumn and we both know where that will lead.
but it is your platform and if this not the place for an experienced revolutionary to share some past lessons or to argue for what i think is a proven systematic view then i will respectfully leave the stage

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avatar Frank Gormlie November 15, 2010 at 9:18 am

Okay David, then rant away.

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avatar Marilyn Steber November 15, 2010 at 9:22 pm

Yes, David, rant away. Please explain, though, why you don’t use the shift key. This is not to insult your communication. I corresponded with a lady for months who wrote in all caps and when I asked why she was yelling, she confessed she didn’t know how to do otherwise on a keyboard. I am a liberal progressive, otherwise known (by Conservatives) as a pu*s*ie, so I try to be understanding of handicaps–or even, allcaps.
On the other hand, I am also an old lady and find it hard to read your rants without rules of punctuation.

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avatar Ian November 15, 2010 at 12:30 pm

You clearly have no understanding of what capitalism is, it was not capitalists that won it the eighties, it was the corporatists. If you want to learn from history you have to be honest, manipulating concepts to fit your dogma will not allow you to bridge any gap.

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avatar Danny Morales November 15, 2010 at 4:11 am

While we’re on the subject of Nancy Witt’s rant about the deficit reduction commission…criticism and self criticism are still viable means of maintaining discipline but without corrective work they lead to disunity and dissolution.
– Butt Hay ( Go for It!)

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avatar Frank Gormlie November 15, 2010 at 9:18 am

DM – we did get off-message didn’t we.

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avatar Danny Morales November 15, 2010 at 7:22 pm

Frank-Yeah, but when it comes time to impliment the decisions of the commission the underlying ideaologies will be readily apparent! So that is to be the fight…between those who use this new medium to reach a deeper understanding of the issues coupled w/a broader reach of the message and those who speak from a narrow (may i dare say sectarian) perspective

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avatar Ian November 15, 2010 at 12:25 pm

You rightly distinguish what the Chinese are doing from what is truly socialism, yet you want to call the U.S. and global economy a failure of capitalism? What we have is as far from capitalism as what the Chinese are from socialism.

Why the dishonesty and conceptual schizophrenia?

Why not tell the truth rather than trying to fit the facts to your preconceived notions?

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avatar Danny Morales November 15, 2010 at 7:46 pm

Ian-So in the context of this discussion (deficit reduction) would you please direct us to a capitalists “truth” that is devoid of insults, personal attacks, defense mechanisms and egomania. I challenge you to keep Paul Krugman out of it and explain your position on this and other issues in a civil and reasonable manner. I welcome you to use the facts when they’re on your side, reason when its applicable, and to pound on the table when neither. The whole world is watching. You can do it! I have faith in you.

Respectfully,
Danny

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avatar RB November 15, 2010 at 10:38 am

The President and the Commission should be thanked for this initial work to help control the the country’s level of debt. We all can find elements that we dislike. It is better to have these discussions and look for a solution before there is a Greek-like crisis. While one side will look for only cuts and the other side will look for only tax increases, I expect the results will be a compromise and taxes will go up and spending will come down.

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avatar Danny Morales November 15, 2010 at 7:07 pm

RB-So what taxes should be raised and what spending should be cut? With/Without …And after all it’s what the shoutings all about- P. Floyd

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avatar RB November 16, 2010 at 8:24 am

I am of the opinion we consume too much and save too little. I favor taxes on consumption rather than production. Foreign goods and services avoid production taxes but could not avoid consumption taxes. I am also of the opinion that tax policy must not favor foreign production over local manufacturing.

I would increase taxes on products that cause harm to the individual or society. I would increase taxes on gasoline, campaign contributions, gaming, sugar products, fast food, cosmetic health products and services, lawyer services, etc., and require complete product costs, through taxes, to reflect the social cost of the product or service. To help business compete worldwide, help local jobs and the country’s trade deficit, I would lower business income taxes on products sold as exports. I would make every worker part of Social Security, every part time or full time job, every government or non-government job would be required to contribute. I would raise the SS cap on income and SS rates on employees and employers until the system is balanced for 100 years.

As for cuts, I would close all military bases in Europe and most world wide.
I would index the retirement age for new members of SS for life expectancy. I would end farm subsidies, require community work for most welfare, and reduce governmental budgets by a small amount until the budgets are balanced and or the unemployment rate is under 6%.

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