It’s been a rough couple of weeks for our country. The partial shutdown of our government has been at various times annoying, frustrating, tiring and anger inducing. I believe most Congressional Republicans know they are fighting a loosing battle but are so fearful of loosing their support from wealthy backers and their conservative constituents at home that they are willing to gamble with the well-being of our country, its citizens and our international reputation.
Today the Republican shrillfest shifted from fevered cries about defunding Obamacare to yet another of the party’s holy grails: entitlement reform. If they can’t screw Obama over the ACA, why not screw the middle class, right? And Paul Ryan is leading the charge. No surprise there! The surprise is that they think their tea party base will let go of Obamacare and support a path that could reduce their hard-earned social security and medicare benefits.
If I hear one more Republican politician or partisan talking head say that the middle class needs to share the pain and accept cuts to programs to keep the USA from going over the fiscal cliff I think my head will spin, exorcist style. Where have these people been for the last 30 years? Since the Reagan presidency, the middle class has taken way more than its fair share of pain. Its time for the folks who reaped the lion’s share of the benefit from trickle down economics to pay us back. We’ve been robbed, with our government’s blessing.
Here is what we need to do to make it right:
- Pass a financial transaction tax on investment transactions. This is a small tax; about half of one percent; and it would be paid by brokers and investment firms; not individual investors.
- Extend the FICA portion of the payroll tax to 100% of income; not just earned income. That takes care of Social Security and it’s the least Wall Street can do after wrecking our economy to make a quick few million bucks.
- Phase out the capital gains tax rate starting with incomes of $250,000 per year. Let’s not kid ourselves; the wealthy have not been using their capital gains to invest in business here in the USA. Why should we continue to give it a favored tax rate?
If we do these things, the “pain” goes where it belongs and we can leave Social Security and Medicare alone. For many of us in the endangered middle, it’s the only pension we have. While the top 2% were raking it in, we lived through layoffs, wage cuts, stock market crashes, bursting housing bubbles, and out of control health care and college costs. Our 401K’s are just not where they should be – if we have one at all.
Why, you ask, am I bothering to put these ideas out there when we cannot even pass a continuing resolution to fund our government? When Republicans are beholden not to the people of this country but to wealthy donors and will not raise taxes – even to keep our children fed and educated, our roads and bridges repaired and our veterans cared for?
Because I know this won’t last forever. We’ll make it through – and when we do, we have to be ready with a slate of policies and programs designed to repair our country and our people. There are things we can do to help ourselves if we have the will and they have nothing to do with shutting down our government or defaulting on our debt.
It’s time for the middle class to rise again.