Destroying the American Dream

Political Washington keeps cutting vital social benefits – Linked on our blogs with Stephen Lendman, USA. – Published on Global, by Stephen Lendman, December 21, 2011.

… Corporate greed and profits over people priorities launched nationwide OWS protests in hundreds of US cities for change. Mindless of growing public rage, political Washington keeps cutting vital social benefits needing increases during hard times. With real unemployment approaching 23%, earlier cuts affected:  

  • Pell Grants help for college tuitions;
  • federal wages;
  • the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) to help impoverished families have heat in winter;
  • the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP);
  • community healthcare centers;
  • nonprofit health insurance cooperatives;
  • HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and other disease prevention programs;
  • WIC (Women, Infants, and Children) grants to states for supplemental foods, healthcare, and nutrition education for low-income families;
  • Head Start, providing comprehensive education, health, nutrition, and parent involvement services to low-income families with children;
  • the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (targeted earlier with more coming), providing food stamps for poor households;
  • community development block grants for housing, overall reducing HUD’s budget by $1.1 billion;
  • Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) first-responder funding;
  • energy efficiency and renewable energy programs;
  • Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) clean/safe water and other projects;
  • National Institutes of Health (NIH) medical research;
  • the National Park Service;
  • vital infrastructure and transportation needs;
  • other non-defense discretionary spending.

New cuts will sustain Wall Street, militarism, favoritism, waste, fraud, and other rewards for Washington’s usual special interests. They’ll benefit at the expense of ordinary people losing out … //

… In addition, middle America will be harmed, violating Franklin Roosevelt’s pledge that:

  • “We put those pay roll contributions there so as to give the contributors a legal, moral, and political right to collect their pensions and their unemployment benefits. With those taxes in there, no damn politician can ever scrap my social security program. Those taxes aren’t a matter of economics, they’re straight politics.”
  • Key is that maintaining a payroll tax holiday of any amount is another step toward privatization. It’s also a sure way to kill America’s most important ever poverty reduction program.
  • Doing so will replicate how 401(k)s destroyed private pensions, leaving workers at the mercy of marketplace uncertainties that can wipe out life savings during hard times.
  • Key also are better ways to provide stimulus without harming Social Security. According to the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP), one way is by reinstituting the 2009 Making Work Pay Tax Credit. It expired at yearend 2010. Doing so would add much more stimulus than a payroll tax holiday.
  • It would give workers a refundable tax credit, increasing the size of the paychecks. At 6.2% of earned income, it provides maximum $400 for working individuals, $800 for married taxpayers filing joint returns.
  • A payroll tax holiday is a bad idea any time, besides doing little to stimulate economic growth. “The most efficient way to boost consumer spending is to put money into the hands of people who will spend it quickly rather than save it.” It’s most effective when low and middle-income workers get it, not high-end ones who’ll save, not spend, their windfall.
  • “A payroll tax holiday does not score well on this front – too little of the benefit goes to lower-income households struggling to make ends meet and too much goes to higher-income taxpayers, who are likely to save a significant (portion) of any new resources they receive.”
  • The Making Work Pay Tax Credit doesn’t harm Social Security. Indefinite payroll tax holiday extensions may destroy it. Republicans have long sought it, as well as ending Medicare since its 1965 enactment.
  • With considerable help from Democrats and Obama, their chance finally arrived. Only public anger may stop them.

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