Austerity is a government policy of deficit-cutting; lower spending and a reduction in the amount of benefits and/or public services provided, while sometimes coupled with increases in taxes (but not necessary).
Can we all agree on this definition? If so, let's look at progressive Richard Eskow's counter "austerity" plan:
Say what you will about Rep. Ryan's budget proposal, it's a vision. (...) It may not be a good vision, but it's a vision.
Where's the progressive vision for 2021? Where's the dream people can seize upon and make their own? Where's the ideal that can energize activists? Where's the extreme position from which the Democrats can be "bargained down" so that they, too, can only get 20% more than they asked for when the negotiations began? If they're not going to do it, we have to do it for them.
Here's a start: First increase Social Security retirement benefits by 15%, across the board, by lifting the payroll tax cap and imposing a financial transactions tax. Second, increase income taxes on a sliding scale that goes up to 60% for the highest earners in the country. (It's been as high as 90% during periods of our greatest prosperity.) Third, add $500 billion to our stimulus spending over the next two years, and keep adding it until unemployment is down to 4%. Fourth, immediately add a public option, "Medicare For All" plan that's voluntarily available to Americans of all age brackets.
Before I go into this nonsense, let me state that you should honestly read that whole article. He is one progressive who admits the true power of the Tea Party; its independance from the Republican Party and bottom-up, grassroot nature. Sure some members of the Tea Party should get involved in the Republican Party (at least at the local level), but the Tea Party and Republican Party should remaine seperate for all times. Eskow thinks progressives are too married to the Democratic Party to really be effective. However I am not too worried about them learning this lesson or getting their act together. Just look at what happen to the Coffee Party.
- First increase Social Security retirement benefits by 15%, across the board, by lifting the payroll tax cap and imposing a financial transactions tax.
15%? My goodness! And he wants to pay for it by raising and imposing taxes!!
Look, right now we are taking out of Social Security more than we are putting into it. That wouldn't be much of an issue, but all that is sitting in the Social Security office is boxes of IOUs from the federal government. So we are adding to the debt to pay back what should have been a locked box. I honestly think that any real reform of Social Security means that in the future, the US Treasury can no longer borrow money from Social Security. It just can't happen any more.
And if lifting the payroll tax cap wasn't bad enough, he wants to impose a financial transactions tax for which (I hope) would go to help pay for this increase in Social Security benefits. Now I am no economist, but even I can see this would stifle financial transactions in an economy where banks are not loaning anything to anyone already. Banks and financial firms would also just transfer the burden of this tax to their customers.
- Second, increase income taxes on a sliding scale that goes up to 60% for the highest earners in the country. (It's been as high as 90% during periods of our greatest prosperity.)
Ah yes. Tax the rich. Bill Whittle shows us that you can't eat the rich:
If you are going to raise taxes for the rich, you should raise it for everyone. If we are honestly that bad off that we must increase taxes, everyone must put skin in the game.
- Third, add $500 billion to our stimulus spending over the next two years, and keep adding it until unemployment is down to 4%.
Yeah, like the first $700+ Stimulus really worked the last time round. 'Nuff said.
- Fourth, immediately add a public option, "Medicare For All" plan that's voluntarily available to Americans of all age brackets.
I like it how he leaves off how we are going to pay for a public option or that a public option would drive every insurance company out of business. Hell, a public option couldn't even pass a Democrat control congress and with a Democrat in the White House. What makes Eskow think he will get one now?
More Of The Same
So this is his answer to Paul Ryan's plan? Richard Eskow's ideas are not reform based or even comes close to the definition of austerity. They are more of the same ideas that have failed. I can understand if they would like to cut spending and raise taxes*, but more spending and more taxes would not cut our deficit or debt.
People, we don't have a tax or revenue problem. We have a spending problem. It's not just over-spending, but the millions of pork barrel projects that is not always needed or useful. We need to get it into their heads that it is our money, not theirs. Unless we as a nation can get our spending under control, taxes and revenue will be the last of our worries. And I'm all for reforming the tax system here in the United States, but let's also work on our spending problem.
*Not to say that I agree with that idea. Raising taxes would only encourage more spending.