There’s also this, from a must-read article in The Nation by George Zornick
[T]o listen to most media coverage of the deficit debates—and too often, the rhetoric thrown about by Republicans and some Democrats—one comes away thinking the only way to get the fiscal house in order is via “entitlement reform” and deep domestic spending cuts, along with higher taxes and fewer loopholes.
But this just isn’t so. For example, the Congressional Progressive Caucus crafted a “People’s Budget,” which eliminates the deficit within ten years while creating a $31 billion surplus—all while protecting valuable programs like Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. You can read the entire budget here (PDF), a one-page summary here (PDF), and an outside analysis by the Economic Policy Institute here (PDF).
Here are some of the plan’s features.
Ends the recently passed upper-income tax cuts and lets Bush-era tax cuts expire at the end of 2012
Extends tax credits for the middle class, families and students
Creates new tax brackets that range from 45 percent starting at $1 million to 49 percent for $1 billion or more
Implements a progressive estate tax
Eliminates corporate welfare for oil, gas and coal companies; closes loopholes for multinational corporations
Enacts a financial crisis responsibility fee and a financial speculation tax on derivatives and foreign exchange
Enacts a healthcare public option and negotiates prescription payments with pharmaceutical companies
Prevents any cuts to Medicare physician payments for a decade
Responsibly ends our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to leave America more secure both home and abroad
Cuts defense spending by reducing conventional forces, procurement and costly R&D programs
The key theme of this plan is to put investment and job creation up front, while protecting the programs that many Americans rely upon for their economic well-being during a recession. Even Bill Clinton, no flaming liberal, called the plan “the most comprehensive alternative to the budgets passed by the House Republicans and recommended by the Simpson-Bowles Commission.”
And that would be why nobody is even talking about it.
The important thing to note here is that the idea that “entitlements” must be cut is nonsense and the people deserve to know what the alternatives are. There is no law of nature that says anything has to be passed right now and it shouldn’t be. If we lived in a thriving and healthy democracy, these competing visions would form the basis of our upcoming election debate. Instead we will have a kabuki campaign built upon a Village consensus that social insurance is unaffordable and taxes are a form of punishment.
But it doesn’t have to be that way.