[thx to Co. Leg. Steve White for agreeing earlier today to endorse this, in principle; email firstname.lastname@example.org to get more of my colleagues on board!]
[see: "Jan Schakowsky Introduces Bill To Raise Taxes For Wealthiest Americans" by Lucia Graves:
[for more re: Schakowsky's H.R. 1124 see http://www.opencongress.org/bill/112-h1124/show too!]
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WHEREAS, a March NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll found that the most popular way to reduce the federal deficit was to place a surtax on federal income taxes for Americans making more than $1 million per year, with 81 percent of respondents agreeing with that statement, and a more recent ABC News/Washington Post poll found 78 percent of Americans opposed to cuts to Medicare, and
WHEREAS, any more federal cuts to programs crucial to Dutchess County senior citizens like Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid will indubitably bring more pressure to bear for property tax hikes on the local level; the middle class is shrinking and deficits are rising because too many in power are giving a pass to special interests who aren't paying their fair share, and
WHEREAS, raising the eligibility age for Social Security represents a huge benefit cut for older Americans; the average life expectancy for an American who makes it to age 65 is in the range of 82 years; that would give an American who reaches retirement age under the current system roughly 17 years of Medicare coverage; that number would under the President's proposal drop to 15 years; that's a roughly 12 percent cut in benefits, and
WHEREAS, if one excludes Social Security income, more than 80 percent of people over the age of 65 get by on less than $20,000 per year, and the average Social Security check is about $1,100 a month; this would be less than an hour's pay for many of the Wall Street honchos whose greed and incompetence brought down the economy, and
WHEREAS, the President's plan to change the annual cost-of-living adjustment formula for Social Security would reduce benefits for someone in their seventies by 3 percent, in their eighties by 6 percent and in their nineties by 9 percent, and
WHEREAS, currently, the top marginal tax rate of 35 percent applies to income starting at $373,650, and the tax code fails to distinguish between earners making a few hundred thousand dollars a year and those making a few hundred million dollars a year, and
WHEREAS, in the United States today, the richest 1 percent owns 34 percent of our nation's wealth (more than the entire bottom 90 percent, who own just 29 percent of the country's wealth), and the top one-hundredth of 1 percent now makes an average of $27 million per household per year; the average income for the bottom 90 percent of Americans is $31,244, and
WHEREAS, Rep. Jan Schakowsky's Fairness in Taxation Act of 2011 (H.R. 1124) would create new tax brackets for earners making between $1 million and $1 billion annually, with tax rates starting at 45 percent with the millionth dollar and increasing on a sliding scale; the legislation would also tax capital gains and dividend income as ordinary income for those earning over $1 million in a given year, and
WHEREAS, if enacted in 2011, the Fairness in Taxation Act of 2011 would raise an estimated $78.9 billion in its first year, according to Citizens for Tax Justice; $1-10 million earners would pay 45%, $10-20 million earners would pay 46%, $20-100 million earners would pay 47%, $100 million to $1 billion earners would pay 48%, and those earning $1 billion and over would pay a 49% federal income tax rate, and therefore be it
RESOLVED, that the Dutchess County Legislature strongly urges Congress to pass and President Obama to sign into law the Fairness in Taxation Act of 2011, to stop any more federal cuts to programs crucial to Dutchess County's senior citizens (Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid), and be it further
RESOLVED, that a copy of this resolution be sent to President Obama and Dutchess County's delegation of Congressional representatives.
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"Go Gang of 70" by Katrina vanden Heuvel
"Dear House Member: Raise the Debt Ceiling. Love, Ronald Reagan" by Greg Sargent
"Debt Ceiling Delusions" [current Nation editorial]
Fact: "Overwhelmingly, multiple polls show that voters oppose deep cuts in or radical transformation of Medicare (78 percent opposed in a Washington Post poll); by large margins, voters support a surcharge income tax on millionaires and billionaires, which is similar to the higher rates Rep. Schakowsky proposes (81 percent in a March NBC/Wall Street Journal poll)-- and a majority favors military spending cuts as a first step in deficit reduction (56 percent in the Post poll)."
(from David Moberg's May 23rd piece: "What Americans Want: The People's Budget"/In These Times):
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From http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/03/16/jan-schakowsky-income-tax_n_836624.html ...
Jan Schakowsky Introduces Bill To Raise Taxes For Wealthiest Americans
First Posted: 03/16/11 08:37 PM Updated: 03/17/11 11:25 AM
WASHINGTON -- Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) announced legislation on Wednesday that would create new tax brackets for earners who make significantly more than the baseline for the current top income bracket.
Currently, the top marginal tax rate of 35 percent applies to income starting at $373,650, and the tax code fails to distinguish between earners making a few hundred thousand dollars a year and those making a few hundred million dollars a year. "LeBron James and LeBron James's dentist: same difference," New Yorker financial columnist James Surowiecki quipped last year during early debate over the extension of the tax cuts enacted under former President George W. Bush.
Meanwhile, income inequality continues to soar, as Schakowsky, one of the 18 members of President Barack Obama's debt commission, noted on Wednesday.
"In the United States today, the richest 1 percent owns 34 percent of our nation's wealth -- that's more than the entire bottom 90 percent, who own just 29 percent of the country's wealth," she said during her prepared remarks at a press conference. "And the top one-hundredth of 1 percent now makes an average of $27 million per household per year. The average income for the bottom 90 percent of Americans? $31,244."
Schakowsky's bill would create new tax brackets for earners making between $1 million and $1 billion annually, with tax rates starting at 45 percent with the millionth dollar and increasing on a sliding scale. The legislation would also tax capital gains and dividend income as ordinary income for those earning over $1 million in a given year. A full list of the new brackets appears below:
$1-10 million: 45%
$10-20 million: 46%
$20-100 million: 47%
$100 million to $1 billion: 48%
$1 billion and over: 49%
If enacted in 2011, Schakowsky's Fairness in Taxation Act would raise an estimated $78.9 billion in its first year, according to Citizens for Tax Justice, a liberal lobbying group. CTJ was unable to provide further projections, however.
Reps. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) and Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.), co-chairs of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, partnered with Democratic Reps. Jesse Jackson, Jr. (Ill.), Donna Edwards (Md.), Bob Filner (Calif.), Jerry Nadler (N.Y.), Steve Cohen (Tenn.), John Yarmuth (Ky.) and Peter DeFazio (Ore.) to cosponsor the bill.
"The middle class is shrinking and deficits are rising because Republicans are giving a pass to special interests who aren't paying their fair share," Ellison said at the press conference. "This bill is part of a plan to level the playing field."
As the battle over the budget for the remainder of fiscal year 2011 continues to unfold on Capitol Hill, Schakowsky has been insisting that there are more progressive ways to reduce the country's $13.7 trillion debt. She said she hopes her bill can broaden the focus of the debate, and Yarmuth offered similar sentiments in remarks to reporters Wednesday.
"Yes, we have a spending problem," said Yarmuth, "but we also have a revenue problem. We're only asking that those of us who have done extremely well bear our fair share of the problem."
Yarmuth told reporters that a number of his Republican colleagues had told him in confidence that it would be difficult for them to vote against Schakowsky's bill were it to come to a vote. "It will just be very interesting if we can get it up to a vote," he said.
A recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll found that the most popular way to reduce the federal deficit was to place a surtax on federal income taxes for Americans making more than $1 million per year, with 81 percent of respondents agreeing with that statement.
Katharine Myers, a Pennsylvania millionaire who made her fortune off the royalties from the Myers-Briggs personality test created by her mother-in-law, told reporters at Wednesday's press conference that she believes the wealthy should pay substantially higher taxes -- all of them.
"Someone once said, 'Why don't you donate money to the government?' Well that would be like putting a grain of sand in a beach," Myers said. "It needs to apply to everybody."
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From http://www.commondreams.org/view/2011/07/12-10 ...
Published on Tuesday, July 12, 2011 by The Nation
Don't You Dare: Obama Peddles Worst of GOP Thinking on Medicare-- If Obama Hikes Medicare Eligbility Age, That'll Be a 12 Percent Benefit Cut
by John Nichols
The word in Washington is that President Obama has, in negotiations with congressional Republicans, offered to raise the Medicare eligibility age from 65 to 67.
A report in the Washington Post quoted "a Democratic official familiar with the discussions," while other media outlets quoted multiple unnamed sources with knowledge of the talks the president and congressional leaders have been engaged in with regard to raising the debt ceiling. All the reports suggest that Obama would trade the change in the eligibility age for a Republican agreement to accept some new taxes.
Obama essentially acknowledged as much Monday, when he said: "I'm prepared to take significant heat from my party to get something done."
And rightly so.
The president's proposal does not resemble a plan that mainstream Democrats would suggest, let alone support. In fact, it roughly resembles a plan advanced last month by Senators Tom Coburn, R-Oklahoma, and Joe Lieberman, I-Connecticut.
That the White House appears to be peddling proposals that parallel those of conservative senators represents an exceptionally troubling development, as even considering a hike in the Medicare eligibility age represents the worst of Washington-insider thinking.
1. Raising the eligibility age represents a huge benefit cut for older Americans.
The average life expectancy for an American who makes it to age 65 is in the range of 82 years.
That would give an American who reaches retirement age under the current system roughly 17 years of Medicare coverage.
That number would under Obama's proposal drop to 15 years.
That's a roughly 12 percent cut in benefits.
2. Raising the eligibility age would not save the money that proponents of the cut suggest.
Raising the eligibility age creates new pressures on a health-care system that is already dysfunctional for older workers who are laid-off or under-insured. Far from saving money, a spike in the eligibility age simply shifts the problem to other accounts. For instance, if the federal government is providing aid to the uninsured under the health-care reform plan, folks aged 65 to 67 will just have to seek that aid -- as opposed to tapping into the already functional and efficient Medicare program.
Worse yet, the aid would be for the buying of insurance from the private sector, which will charge its highest prices for insuring the older and more vulnerable uninsured. Thus, more cost to the taxpayers.
3. Raising the eligibility age harms the struggle with unemployment.
The smartest move for older workers who do not have access to Medicare until there are 67 will be to keep working.
That means that jobs will not come open for younger workers who are entering the labor market or have been laid off.
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From http://www.commondreams.org/view/2011/07/19-1 ...
Published on Tuesday, July 19, 2011 by CEPR.net
President Obama's Big Deal: Cuts for Social Security, But No Taxes for Wall Street
by Dean Baker
The ability of Washington to turn everything on its head has no limits. We are in the midst of the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. Even though the recession officially ended two years ago, there are still more than 25 million people who are unemployed, can only find part-time work or who have given up looking for work altogether. This is an outrage and a tragedy. These people's lives are being ruined due to the mismanagement of the economy.
And we know the cause of this mismanagement. The folks who get paid to manage and regulate the economy were unable to see an $8 trillion housing bubble. They weren't bothered by the doubling of house prices in many areas, nor the dodgy mortgages that were sold to finance these purchases. Somehow, people like former Federal Reserve Board Chairman Alan Greenspan and his sidekick and successor Ben Bernanke thought everything was fine as the Wall Street financers made billions selling junk mortgage and derivative instruments around the world.
When the bubble burst, one of the consequences was an increased budget deficit. This is kind of like two plus two equals four. The collapsing bubble tanked the economy. Tax revenue plummets and we spend more on programs like unemployment insurance and foods stamps. We did also have some tax cuts and stimulus spending to boost the economy. The result is a larger budget deficit.
All of this is about as clear as it can possibly be. The large deficit came about because the housing bubble, which was fueled by Wall Street excesses, crashed the economy. Yet, we are constantly being told by politicians from President Obama to Tea Party Republicans that we have a problem of out-of-control spending.
The claim of out-of-control spending is simply not true. It is an invention, a fabrication, a falsehood with no basis in reality that politicians are pushing to advance their agenda. And that agenda is not pretty.
According to numerous reports in the media, President Obama wants a "big deal" on the budget, which will involve cuts to Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security. The last is especially ironic, since Social Security is financed by its own designated tax. Therefore, it does not contribute to the deficit. If there is no money in the Social Security trust fund, then benefits will not be paid.
The plans to cut to Social Security also seem perverse since we know that the vast majority of retirees are not living especially well right now and the benefits already are not especially generous. If we exclude their Social Security income, more than 80 percent of people over the age of 65 get by on less than $20,000 per year.
The average Social Security check is about $1,100 a month. This would be less than an hour's pay for many of the Wall Street honchos whose greed and incompetence brought down the economy.
Yet, when President Obama preaches equality of sacrifice, it is the elderly and the poor who are supposed to do most of the sacrificing. His plan to change the annual cost-of-living adjustment formula for Social Security would reduce benefits for someone in their seventies by 3 percent, in their eighties by 6 percent and in their nineties by 9 percent.
These are huge cuts. The Republicans are screaming bloody murder because President Obama wants to raise the top tax rate by 4.6 percentage points. Imagine that he proposed raising taxes on the wealthy by twice as much. That is effectively what he is proposing for people in their nineties who are entirely dependent on Social Security.
And he is proposing to impose this tax on seniors who had nothing to do with the crisis, while leaving Wall Street untouched. A modest tax on financial speculation could raise more than $150 billion a year or $1.5 trillion over the course of a decade.
It is striking that a financial speculation tax (FST) has not been mentioned in the debt discussions. The European Union has been actively debating the imposition of a FST ever since the crisis. The European Parliament voted for such a tax by a margin of more than 3 to 1. The United Kingdom has had an FST for decades. It raises the equivalent, relative to the size of its economy, of almost $40 billion a year just by taxing stock trades. Even the International Monetary Fund has come out in support of increased taxes on the financial sector.
Presumably, the continuing power of the financial industry explains why few in Washington are discussing an FST. After all, a director of Morgan Stanley, Erskine Bowles, was the head of President Obama's deficit commission.
And this explains why we are looking to gut Social Security and Medicare in response to Wall Street's wreckage of the economy. The basic story is that the average worker and retiree will have to sacrifice because of the damage that the Wall Street crew did to the economy. That is what democracy in America looks like now.
© 2011 Center for Economic and Policy Research
Dean Baker is the co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research
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From op-ed page of today's Times-- http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/21/opinion/21kristof.html ...
Bonuses for Billionaires
By NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF
Published: July 20, 2011
The first few times I heard House Republicans talk about our budget mess, I worried that they had plunged off the deep end. But as I kept on listening, a buzzer went off in my mind, and I came to understand how much sense the Tea Party caucus makes.
Why would we impose "job-crushing taxes" on wealthy Americans just to pay for luxuries like federal prisons? Why end the "carried interest" tax loophole for financiers, just to pay for unemployment benefits - especially when those same selfless tycoons are buying yachts and thus creating jobs for all the rest of us?
Hmmm. The truth is that House Republicans don't actually go far enough. They should follow the logic of their more visionary members with steps like these:
BONUSES FOR BILLIONAIRES Republicans won't extend unemployment benefits, even in the worst downturn in 70 years, because that makes people lazy about finding jobs. They're right: We should be creating incentives for Americans to rise up the food chain by sending hefty checks to every new billionaire. This could be paid for with a tax surcharge on regular working folks. It's the least we can do.
Likewise, the government should take sterner measures against the persistent jobless. Don't just let their unemployment benefits expire. Take their homes!
Oh, never mind! Silly me! The banks are already doing that.
LET JOBS TRICKLE DOWN Leftist pundits say that House Republicans don't have a jobs plan. That's unfair! Granted, the Republican-sponsored Cut, Cap and Balance Act would eliminate 700,000 jobs in just its first year, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, but those analysts are no doubt liberals. America's richest 400 people own more wealth than the bottom 150 million Americans, and the affluent would feel renewed confidence if the Republican plan passed. We'd see a hiring bonanza. Each of those wealthy people might hire an extra pool attendant. That's 400 jobs right there!
Cut, Cap and Balance would go even further than the Ryan budget plan in starving the beast of government. Sure, that'll mean cuts in Social Security, Medicare and other programs, but so what? Who needs food safety? How do we know we really need air traffic control unless we try a day without it?
ROOT OUT SOCIALISM Republicans have been working to end Medicare as we know it but need to examine other reckless entitlements, such as our socialized education system, in which public schools fritter resources on classes like economics and foreign languages. As a former Texas governor, Miriam "Ma" Ferguson, is said to have declared when she opposed the teaching of foreign languages: "If English was good enough for Jesus Christ, it's good enough for us."
For that matter, who needs socialized police and fire services? We could slash job-crushing taxes at the local level and simply let the free market take over:
"9-1-1, may I help you?" "Yes, help! My house is burning down!" "Very good, sir. I can offer you one fire engine for $5,995, or two for just $10,000." "Help! My family's inside. Send three fire engines! Just hurry!" "Yes, sir. Let me just run your credit card first. And if you require the fire trucks immediately, there's a 50 percent 'rush' surcharge."
CHILL OUT ABOUT THE DEBT CEILING House Republicans like Michele Bachmann are right: If the debt ceiling isn't raised, some solution will turn up. As Representative Austin Scott, a Republican from Georgia, observes: "In the end, the sun is going to come up tomorrow."
We got through the Great Depression, didn't we? It looked pretty hopeless in 1929, but in just a dozen years World War II bailed us out with an economic stimulus. Something like that'll come along for us, too. Ya gotta have faith.
CONSIDER ASSET SALES While Democrats are harrumphing about "default," Republicans have sagely noted that there are alternatives in front of our noses. For example, why raise taxes on hard-pressed managers of hedge funds when the government can sell assets?
Fort Knox alone has 4,600 tons of gold, which I figure is worth around $235 billion. That's enough to pay our military budget for four months! And selling Yosemite, Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon would buy us time as well.
RENT OUT CONGRESS If the debt ceiling isn't raised, we could also auction members of Congress for day jobs: Are you a financier who wants someone to flip burgers (steaks?) at your child's birthday party? Why, here's Eric Cantor! Many members of Congress already work on behalf of tycoons, and this way the revenue would flow to the Treasury.
Finally, if we risk default, let's rent out the Capitol for weddings to raise money for the public good. Wouldn't it be nice to see something positive emerge from the House?