FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Manufacturing Poverty

by CHERI HONKALA

On December 10, community leaders all across the country held vigils and rallies outside Congressional offices to defend the safety net and protest the so-called “fiscal cliff” negotiations in Washington, DC. It was part of a coordinated national campaign on International Human Rights Day, the 64th anniversary of the signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Among other provisions, the Declaration proclaims the inalienable human right to jobs, housing, health care, education, and social security.

The “fiscal cliff” is an artificial crisis created by Congress as a ploy to dismantle the safety net programs the American people have built up and relied on for generations. In their own words, corporations want to “use the fiscal cliff as an opportunity” to push for tax cuts for themselves and benefit cuts for the rest of us.

Although the “fiscal cliff” is allegedly about the federal budget deficit, many proposals actually under discussion show that it has nothing to do with the deficit whatsoever.

For one, President Obama proposed a so-called “chained CPI” formula that would cut Social Security benefits, especially for the poorest and most elderly. Social Security currently runs a 2.7 trillion dollar surplus, is a separate fund that by law cannot increase the deficit, and in fact has never contributed a penny to the deficit in its entire 77-year history.

Another proposal is a $134 billion corporate “tax repatriation holiday”. This would INCREASE the deficit and proves that the “fiscal cliff” is really designed just to raise corporate profit even if it means plunging millions of Americans into poverty.

Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and affordable housing have been and are now fully funded and paid for through our payroll and income taxes, and are supported by an overwhelming super-majority of voters. They are the property of the American people and the inheritance we have prepared for our children and grandchildren. A “grand bargain” or any other kind of compromise that in any way diminishes or weakens these programs in order to enrich corporations is totally unacceptable.

The idea that America has become so impoverished that it can no longer afford the most elementary necessities of its people is patently absurd. As a nation we are richer and more productive than ever. Despite declining industrial employment, our manufacturing OUTPUT is higher now than it has ever been, thanks to the technological revolution. The attacks on the safety net are deliberate efforts to artificially introduce poverty in the midst of plenty.

The solution to the deficit is not difficult: it is to make banks and corporations pay their taxes. In the 1940s, corporations paid 50% more taxes than individuals. Today, they pay 75% LESS than individuals. There is no shortage of money. Corporations continue to reap record profits year after year, but they are paying fewer taxes.

Jill Stein and the I have a plan that addresses the deficit, and more importantly the unemployment epidemic and the looming climate crisis. It is called the Green New Deal that  would create millions of jobs providing human services and building sustainable infrastructure. What we have in America today is not a deficit problem at all but a human rights problem. The time has come for us to reject the poverty agenda of the “fiscal cliff” promoted today by both Republicans and Democrats. The time has come to provide a job, housing, health care, and education to every American.

Cheri Honkala was the Green Party candidate for vice president of the United States. She is co-founder of the Kensington Welfare Rights Union (KWRU) and co-founder and National Coordinator of the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign.

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

January 16, 2017
Paul Street
How Pure is Your Hate?
Robert Hunziker
Global Warming Clobbers Ocean Life
Patrick Cockburn
The Terrifying Parallels Between Trump and Erdogan
Kenneth Surin
The Neoliberal Stranglehold on the American Public University
Lawrence Davidson
Is There a Future for the Democratic Party?
Robert Fisk
The Foreign Correspondent in the Age of Twitter and Trump
Dale Bryan
“Where Do We Go from Here?”
David Swanson
The Deep State Wants to Deep Six Us
Dan Bacher
Obama Administration Orders Speedy Completion of Delta Tunnels Plan
Mark Weisbrot
Obama Should Make Sure that Haitian Victims of UN-Caused Cholera are Compensated
Winslow Myers
The Light of the World
Bruce Mastron
My Latest Reason to Boycott the NFL: Guns
Weekend Edition
January 13, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Gregory Elich
Did the Russians Really Hack the DNC?
Jeffrey St. Clair
The President Who Wasn’t There: Barack Obama’s Legacy of Impotence
Anthony DiMaggio
Ethics Fiasco: Trump, Divestment and the Perversion of Executive Politics
Joshua Frank
Farewell Obummer, Hello Golden Showers
Paul Street
Hit the Road, Barack: Some Farewell Reflections
Vijay Prashad
After Aleppo: the State of Syria
John Wight
Russia Must be Destroyed: John McCain and the Case of the Dodgy Dossier
Rob Urie
Meet the Deplorables
Patrick Cockburn
The Russian Dossier Reminds Me of the Row Over Saddam’s WMDs
Eric Sommer
U.S.-China War: a Danger Hidden from the American People
Andrew Levine
Are Democrats Still the Lesser Evil?
Linda Pentz Gunter
What’s Really Behind the Indian Point Nuclear Deal?
Robert Fantina
Trucks, ‘Terror’ and Israel
Richard Moser
Universal Values are Revolutionary Values
Russell Mokhiber
Build the Bagdikian Wall: “Sponsored News” at the Washington Post
Yoav Litvin
Establishment Narcissism – The Democrats’ Game of Thrones
David Rosen
Return of the Repressed: Trump & the Revival of the Culture Wars
Robert Koehler
War Consciousness and the F-35
Rev. William Alberts
The New Smell of McCarthyism Demands Faith Leaders Speak Truth to Power
John Laforge
Federal Regulator Halts Move to Toughen Radiation Exposure Limits
Norman Pollack
Farewell Address: Nazification of Hope
David Swanson
Imagine the Confirmation Hearing for Secretary of Peace
CJ Hopkins
Why Ridiculous Official Propaganda Still Works
Ron Jacobs
Striking in Reagan Time
Missy Comley Beattie
The Streep
Graham Peebles
Climate Change: The Potential Impacts of Collective Inaction
Uri Avnery
Confessions of a Megalomaniac
Kenneth Worles
Black Without a Home: King’s Dream Still Deferred
Geoff Dutton
The Russian Patsy
Jill Richardson
The Coming War on Regulations
Jeremy Brecher
Resisting the Trump Agenda is Social Self-Defense
Peter Lee
Is Obama Behind the Hit on Trump?
Christopher Brauchli
Why Did Congress Do It? Because They Can
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail