Working towards peace and sustainability

Fiscal Crisis? Please Join Us in Speaking Out Now on Priorities.

The Federal Budget is out of whack. We all can agree on this. 

Part of the reason is the deep recession we're in. Whenever the economy tanks, tax revenues decline and expenses go up. In addition, however, repeated tax cuts over the past several decades have left us with what's called a structural deficit. This means that, even at full employment, we aren't taking in sufficient revenue to fund needed government expenditures. 

Since the Reagan administration there has been an ongoing push to eliminate taxes--particularly for the wealthy--and to make those we keep less progressive (i.e. having higher rates for those with more income, basing tax policy upon ability to pay). We have cut marginal tax rates for the wealthy, put capital gains in a very low-tax category, and created so many loopholes that many profitable corporations pay no taxes at all. It's no wonder we've had to borrow money every year, even when the economy was much stronger than it is now. 

Despite the fact that our tax collections are at virtually unprecedented low rates, the GOP majority in the House is refusing to consider any measure to shore up revenue. Instead, they insist on balancing the budget by making deep cuts in almost every facet of government, from social insurance programs, to environmental safety, sustainable energy, transportation, housing, etc. It seems like the only thing exempt from their budget ax is the Pentagon. 

This is just plain WRONG! And it must be stopped. 

We, at Peaceworks, are also not at all happy with the approach being taken by President Obama. Saying that everything, even our social insurance programs, including Social Security, are "on the table," is not right. Social Security does not contribute a dime to the deficit. It is funded out of a separate account and is self-funding through payroll taxes. By design, this account has run a surplus for more than two decades in order to prepare for expected outlays as more baby boomers retire. The S.S. Trust Fund holds more than $2.6 trillion in U.S. Treasury bonds. Saying we have to cut Social Security to deal with the deficit is just downright dishonest. What we do need to do is to make sure we have sufficient revenue coming into the government to pay for our current expenditures and service our debt. 

This is doable, keeping taxes far below their historic rates. Sadly, the wealthy (not all, but many), who constitute a politically very influential group, and who have received almost all the increase in our national income in recent decades, are pushing hard to keep from paying taxes that they can easily afford. They would rather see programs cut that, among other things, feed the hungry, provide other needed social services, protect the environment, etc. 

WE MUST PUSH BACK:  Peaceworks urges you to join in visible demonstrations, including one we are co-sponsoring Wednesday, July 20, and to contact both Congress and President Obama. We also urge you to raise your concerns with friends, family, neighbors, co-workers and others, as well as to consider writing letters to the editors of local and regional papers.

OUR MESSAGES:  We are urging our elected officials to aim for a balanced budget, once the economy has recovered, and to increase revenues significantly by eliminating tax cuts for those in upper income brackets. Further, we are urging a prompt end to U.S. wars and interventions overseas, and substantial reductions in military spending. Simply ending the Afghanistan War would save more than $2 billion per week. Hundreds of billions more could be cut from Pentagon spending each year and the U.S. would still have the most powerful, capable and expensive military in the world. 

We are also pointing out the need to decouple the discussion of Social Security from the question of budget imbalance. Social Security will need additional funding eventually, but shortfalls don't arrive for another 25+ years. This is an entirely separate problem from what to do this decade about our deficit.

PLEASE CONTACT THEM:  Please take just a few minutes to contact your two U.S. Senators, the President and your U.S. Representative. 

Senators: Our friends at ProVote have provided a toll-free number for calling our Senators: 877-264-4226. 

President Obama: The White House Comment Line is 202-456-1111 

Representatives:  You can get phone numbers for mid-Missouri U.S. Reps, as well as other contact info for the above officials if you CLICK HERE.

If you live somewhere other than mid-Missouri, your Rep's info can be found if you CLICK HERE.   

FOR MORE INFO:  Anyone interested in learning more about Social Security and the current attack on this critical social insurance program is encouraged to visit the following:

National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare 

The Strengthen Social Security Campaign

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

The Economic Policy Institute  and two specific articles from their site:
"Debt, Deficit Deal Shouldn't Include Social Security" and
"Social Security and the Federal Deficit."