FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Crisis on Withering Heights

by RALPH NADER

Where is the revenue coming from to help reduce the tidal waves of red ink during the massive deficit spending by Washington to bolster Wall Street greed, stimulate the economy and rescue homeowners?

The scale of federal deficit is witnessed by the new frequency with which the dollar word “trillions” is used in the news media. An adjustment of major proportions is needed. It was only ten years ago when economists projected out the Clinton?s budgetary surpluses as “as far as the eye can see.” They were scurrying to figure out how this surprising surplus was going to affect the U.S. Treasury bond market. How quaint!

So, who is going to have to pay more into the Treasury? Not the oil and gas industry whose advertised protests against removing unjustified tax breaks are saturating the radio and television stations. Not the real estate or defense industries. Certainly not the financial industry.

How about the very wealthy? Well Barack Obama is letting George W. “red-ink” Bush?s tax cuts expire. So people earning over $250,000 a year will pay more. Mr. Obama plans to give 95% of the taxpayers some tax relief. Granted the Federal Reserve is printing money big time now, in order to spend it fast.

The right-wing, commercially-funded Think-Tank establishment wants tax cuts across the board. And the Cato Institute’s fellows are also defending foreign tax havens! But most corporatists still want an even bigger military budget which already devours fifty percent of the entire federal government?s discretionary budget. Their faith is that future economic growth will dissipate deficits whose purpose ironically is to promote growth

On Capitol Hill?better described as Withering Heights during the past decade?there is little interest or fortitude to confront the revenue question. Who or what can you tax more to make a difference on the massive deficits?

For starters, close the “tax gap” which is defined as the difference between taxes owed and taxes actually paid. This amount is estimated to be $290 billion every year by the IRS. Several thousand more IRS tax collectors will pay for themselves many times over and help preserve some public sense of fairness by those Americans who regularly do pay their taxes.

This figure of $290 billion does not include the huge tax shelters and offshore tax havens harboring trillions of dollars from U.S. corporations and very wealthy Americans who do not wish to share onshore tax responsibilities. Some members of Congress, notably Senator Byron Dorgan, want legislation to bring back some revenues from these tax escapees.

Another huge source of revenue, with very little if any fallout on the average taxpayer, would be a Wall Street sales tax on speculative derivatives (not stocks or bonds). With an estimated $500 trillion traded in such bets on bets or bets on debts last year, a 1/10th of 1% sales tax could bring in $500 billion yearly.

Consumers pay sales taxes in most states of 5 to 7 percent on necessities, while Wall Street?s casino gamblers buy trillions of dollars in derivatives and pay no sales tax. Unfair! Also such a transaction tax will help tamp down wild and destabilizing speculation, which has already pushed our economy to its knees.

A carbon tax would be another important source of revenue to keep the deficit lower and provide incentives to shift faster to energy efficiency and renewable energy such as various kinds of solar and geothermal.

There are other activities that our society as a whole would rather see diminished that can be subjected to increasing taxes. These could include the addictive and gambling industries and anti-social behavior such as corporate crime and fraud. Note that companies do not hesitate imposing “penalties” on consumers for far lesser infractions of their private, one-sided, fine print credit card and other form contracts.

Of course another $300 billion could come to the Treasury if Congress just restored the tax rates on corporate profits that were paid in the relatively prosperous nineteen sixties.

Then there is the reasonable argument that if taxes on “unearned income” — that is dividends and capital gains on investments?should never be lower than the tax on “earned income” by human labor. Well, today, taxes on the former — capital gains and dividends?can be half the rate as income taxes on work. Bringing them closer together could raise more revenue or bring down worker taxes in the process.

With huge deficits coming on like fiscal tornados for future repayment, Congress and President Obama have to face the music and stop dodging the question as to when they are going to be paid for and by whom?

Otherwise bankrupt corporate capitalism may be on its way to bankrupting its savior: Washington socialism!

RALPH NADER is a consumer advocate and three-time presidential candidate.

 

Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer and author of Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us! 

More articles by:
May 24, 2016
Sharmini Peries - Michael Hudson
The Financial Invasion of Greece
Jonathan Cook
Religious Zealots Ready for Takeover of Israeli Army
Ted Rall
Why I Am #NeverHillary
Mari Jo Buhle – Paul Buhle
Television Meets History
Robert Hunziker
Troika Heat-Seeking Missile Destroys Greece
Judy Gumbo
May Day Road Trip: 1968 – 20016
Colin Todhunter
Cheerleader for US Aggression, Pushing the World to the Nuclear Brink
Jeremy Brecher
This is What Insurgency Looks Like
Jonathan Latham
Unsafe at Any Dose: Chemical Safety Failures from DDT to Glyphosate to BPA
Binoy Kampmark
Suing Russia: Litigating over MH17
Dave Lindorff
Europe, the US and the Politics of Pissing and Being Pissed
Matt Peppe
Cashing In at the Race Track While Facing Charges of “Abusive” Lending Practices
Gilbert Mercier
If Bernie Sanders Is Real, He Will Run as an Independent
Peter Bohmer
A Year Later! The Struggle for Justice Continues!
Dave Welsh
Police Chief Fired in Victory for the Frisco 500
May 23, 2016
Conn Hallinan
European Union: a House Divided
Paul Buhle
Labor’s Sell-Out and the Sanders Campaign
Uri Avnery
Israeli Weimar: It Can Happen Here
John Stauber
Why Bernie was Busted From the Beginning
James Bovard
Obama’s Biggest Corruption Charade
Joseph Mangano – Janette D. Sherman
Indian Point Nuclear Plant: It Doesn’t Take a Meltdown to Harm Local Residents
Desiree Hellegers
“Energy Without Injury”: From Redwood Summer to Break Free via Occupy Wall Street
Lawrence Davidson
The Unraveling of Zionism?
Patrick Cockburn
Why Visa Waivers are Dangerous for Turks
Robert Koehler
Rethinking Criminal Justice
Lawrence Wittner
The Return of Democratic Socialism
Ha-Joon Chang
What Britain Forgot: Making Things Matters
John V. Walsh
Only Donald Trump Raises Five “Fundamental and Urgent” Foreign Policy Questions: Stephen F. Cohen Bemoans MSM’s Dismissal of Trump’s Queries
Andrew Stewart
The Occupation of the American Mind: a Film That Palestinians Deserve
Nyla Ali Khan
The Vulnerable Repositories of Honor in Kashmir
Weekend Edition
May 20, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Rob Urie
Hillary Clinton and Political Violence
Andrew Levine
Why Not Hillary?
Paul Street
Hillary Clinton’s Neocon Resumé
Chris Floyd
Twilight of the Grifter: Bill Clinton’s Fading Powers
Eric Mann
How We Got the Tanks and M-16s Out of LA Schools
Jason Hirthler
The West’s Needless Aggression
Dan Arel
Why Hillary Clinton’s Camp Should Be Scared
Robert Hunziker
Fukushima Flunks Decontamination
David Rosen
The Privatization of the Public Sphere
Margaret Kimberley
Obama’s Civil Rights Hypocrisy
Chris Gilbert
Corruption in Latin American Governments
Pete Dolack
We Can Dream, or We Can Organize
Dan Kovalik
Colombia: the Displaced & Invisible Nation
Jeffrey St. Clair
Fat Man Earrings: a Nuclear Parable
Medea Benjamin
Israel and Saudi Arabia: Strange Bedfellows in the New Middle East
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail