FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

War on the Poor

by Tom Turnipseed

This week the U.S. House of Representatives will take up an economic stimulus package that indicates just how much the House has sold out to the big corporate and wealthy interests at the expense of poor and working class people. It is class warfare. According to a New York Times editorial on October 20, the bill has $54 billion in accelerated tax cuts with every penny going to the top 30% of taxpayers and half going to the top 5%. 80% of the benefits from the capital gains tax cuts would go to the top 2% of households, and, according to the Congressional Budget Office, only $2.3 billion of the $100 billion stimulus for 2002 would be spent on benefits for unemployed workers who would be the most likely to spend it to stimulate the economy.

It is also poor economics because it would lower rates on capital gains held more-than-one but less-than-five years and if investors took advantage of the lower rates to raise cash, share prices would drop. Elimination of the corporate alternative minimum tax would cost $25 billion in 2002 and would not guarantee any new investment, but would give a windfall to companies that usually find a way to elude taxes anyway. Such corporate tax breaks would reduce their taxes on the state level and force states to reduce spending, hindering economic recovery.

Unemployment in South Carolina climbed from 4.2% in August, 2000 to 5.4% in August, 2001, with 28 of our 46 counties having more than 6% and 9 counties over 10%. Since the August unemployment figures were reported, several other big layoffs have been announced. On October 19, the South Carolina Board of Economic Advisors, who are our state’s official economic forecasters, predicted a $310 million reduction in budget estimates for the current budget year. The reduction is the largest dollar amount in history and will result in 4.2% state budget cuts across-the-board.

For the past decade or so, the increasing income disparity between the wealthy and the poor and working class has been unprecedented in U.S. history. If the average pay for production workers had risen at the level as CEO pay, the annual workers salary would be $120,491.00 – not $24,668.00. The wealthiest 1% of Americans control about 38% of America’s wealth. The bottom 80% control 17% of America’s wealth. The top 1% of stock owners have 48% of stock holdings.

Congress already delivered a bonanza to the wealthy earlier this year when they passed the Bush tax cut plan that gave about 25% of the largesse to the richest 1% and well over 50% to those with incomes over $100,000.00. Congress should subsidize an increase in unemployment benefits that will give money to the poor and working class whose safety net was diminished by “welfare reform.” They will spend their money at the grass-roots level that will really stimulate the economy. Congress should increase spending for better public education, health care, housing, and transportation to benefit everyday people — the poor and working class.

Rather than declaring war on the poor and working class, Congress needs to declare war on our fossil fuel and nuclear energy dependency which has a lot do with the “War on Terrorism.” Saudi Arabia has been our biggest oil and military buddy in the Arab world for 70 years. 10 of the 19 September 11 hijackers were Saudis and Saudi Arabia has also been identified as the major financier for the most radical, terroristic networks of Islamic fundamentalists, including Osama bin Laden’s Al Queda organization. To further substantiate how oil policy dominates our foreign policy, Chris Mondics reported for Knight Ridder Newspapers on October 21 that the U.S. government “actively supported a proposal by Houston-based energy developer Unocal to build a 1,000 mile pipeline through Afghanistan to link gas fields in Turkmenistan” and worked with the Taliban until 1998 to cut such a deal even though the U.S. knew of bin Laden’s terrorist activities.

Our only long-term solution is to develop renewable energy sources like the wind and the sun and encourage conservation, but the politicians who run our government are subservient to the giant energy cartels who control fossil fuel and nuclear power. They spend enormous sums to fight wars for oil and gas and subsidize about anything big energy asks for but they see no big campaign contributions in helping develop alternative sources of energy. For example, South Carolina’s U.S. Rep. Lindsey Graham, who is running to replace the retiring U.S. Senator Strom Thurmond, voted against a $30 million increase in renewable energy programs in 1995, and against a $45 million dollar solar energy research and development bill in l996.

Hopefully, the South Carolina Congressional Delegation and the entire Congress will address the needs of the poor and working class in the stimulus bill debate this week and will also take a stand for conservation and renewable energy. CP

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

January 23, 2017
John Wight
Trump’s Inauguration: Hail Caesar!
Mark Schuller
So What am I Doing Here? Reflections on the Inauguration Day Protests
Patrick Cockburn
The Rise of Trump and Isis Have More in Common Than You Might Think
Binoy Kampmark
Ignored Ironies: Women, Protest and Donald Trump
Gregory Barrett
Flag, Cap and Screen: Hollywood’s Propaganda Machine
Gareth Porter
US Intervention in Syria? Not Under Trump
L. Ali Khan
Trump’s Holy War against Islam
Gary Leupp
An Al-Qaeda Attack in Mali:  Just Another Ripple of the Endless, Bogus “War on Terror”
Norman Pollack
America: Banana Republic? Far Worse
Bob Fitrakis - Harvey Wasserman
We Mourn, But We March!
Kim Nicolini
Trump Dump: One Woman March and Personal Shit as Political
William Hawes
We Are on Our Own Now
Martin Billheimer
Last Tango in Moscow
Colin Todhunter
Development and India: Why GM Mustard Really Matters
Mel Gurtov
Trump’s America—and Ours
David Mattson
Fog of Science II: Apples, Oranges and Grizzly Bear Numbers
Clancy Sigal
Who’s Up for This Long War?
Weekend Edition
January 20, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Divide and Rule: Class, Hate, and the 2016 Election
Andrew Levine
When Was America Great?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: This Ain’t a Dream No More, It’s the Real Thing
Yoav Litvin
Making Israel Greater Again: Justice for Palestinians in the Age of Trump
Linda Pentz Gunter
Nuclear Fiddling While the Planet Burns
Ruth Fowler
Standing With Standing Rock: Of Pipelines and Protests
David Green
Why Trump Won: the 50 Percenters Have Spoken
Dave Lindorff
Imagining a Sanders Presidency Beginning on Jan. 20
Pete Dolack
Eight People Own as Much as Half the World
Roger Harris
Too Many People in the World: Names Named
Steve Horn
Under Tillerson, Exxon Maintained Ties with Saudi Arabia, Despite Dismal Human Rights Record
John Berger
The Nature of Mass Demonstrations
Stephen Zielinski
It’s the End of the World as We Know It
David Swanson
Six Things We Should Do Better As Everything Gets Worse
Alci Rengifo
Trump Rex: Ancient Rome’s Shadow Over the Oval Office
Brian Cloughley
What Money Can Buy: the Quiet British-Israeli Scandal
Mel Gurtov
Donald Trump’s Lies And Team Trump’s Headaches
Kent Paterson
Mexico’s Great Winter of Discontent
Norman Solomon
Trump, the Democrats and the Logan Act
David Macaray
Attention, Feminists
Yves Engler
Demanding More From Our Media
James A Haught
Religious Madness in Ulster
Dean Baker
The Economics of the Affordable Care Act
Patrick Bond
Tripping Up Trumpism Through Global Boycott Divestment Sanctions
Robert Fisk
How a Trump Presidency Could Have Been Avoided
Robert Fantina
Trump: What Changes and What Remains the Same
David Rosen
Globalization vs. Empire: Can Trump Contain the Growing Split?
Elliot Sperber
Dystopia
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail