For weeks now Obama and the Congress have been arguing over what to do about raising the US government debt ceiling. The US debt is now more than $14 trillion – meaning this is how much more the US government has spent than it has taken in.
There is a real crisis of the economy. And it is true that those who run the government have spent trillions of dollars more than the tax dollars collected. But is there a real analysis and discussion of how the money has been spent? Of course not!
The news is full of reports about the crisis and concerns that if Congress doesn’t approve raising the limit on debt spending, it could trigger a deeper economic crisis. And this is probably true. But, like the current crisis, it is really a manufactured crisis and one that those who really control the government – the banks and large corporations – intend to take full advantage of.
What are the solutions being discussed – by both Democrats and Republicans? They say cut social spending. Cut Medicare. Cut Social Security, Cut Federal funding for state programs. The only disagreement is over how much these programs should be cut.
There is no discussion of some of the major causes of the debt. How about the more than 12 trillion dollars used to bailout the banks, insurance companies and large corporations during this last economic crisis? How about spending on the wars on Iraq and Afghanistan that has cost close to 1.5 trillion dollars? (That is $1,500,000,000,000!)
These wars are huge moneymakers for the arms manufacturers and all companies linked to the military – from production of vehicles, weapons and uniforms to the oil used for transport, building and running bases and everything else. Maintaining a soldier in these wars costs one million dollars each.
And beyond that, the banks and the wealthy are the ones who lend the money to the government. They buy the government debt. It is not just China and other countries that are owed. So, those who created the economic crisis three years ago and were bailed out, using trillions of dollars of our tax money, are the ones the government is in debt to.
Not only do large amounts of our tax dollars go to support the rich and their corporations, they pay less in taxes than in the past. Up until the 1970s for every dollar that individuals paid in income tax, corporations paid $1.50. Today for every dollar that individuals pay in federal taxes, corporations pay 25 cents. And many of the biggest corporations pay no taxes at all. The super rich, those who control hedge funds or CEOs who get large bonuses, often in stock, are taxed at only 15 percent – a little more than half of what a worker pays.
The Democrats talk about raising taxes on the very rich – just a small amount. But there will be no tax increases on the rich or their corporations. Members of both parties say that increasing taxes on the corporations and the rich will threaten the economic recovery. But just who is recovering and from what? The corporations are reporting record profits; the gap between the rich and the rest of us is greater than ever.
That is their problem, not ours. We should not pay for the crisis of a system that serves them by having programs we have paid for cut to add to their riches. That is theft. Saying that we are not entitled to these programs after we have paid for them with our taxes is like saying we don’t have the right to money we put in the bank!
Whatever so-called solution the politicians come up with, it won’t benefit us. They will continue to follow the golden rule that guides their actions – those with the gold make the rules. It is disgraceful. But it is the way capitalism system functions – protecting the interests of the wealthy at the expense of those who really do the work of the society. It couldn’t be clearer – we need a different system. We need a system that benefits us all, not just a wealthy few.