Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Debt Ceiling Talk and the Assault on Common Sense

In the political stalemate surrounding the budget talks and the decision as to whether or not the debt ceiling will be raised, it seems as though common sense has been dragged to a back alley and been beaten senseless.
Before demanding cuts in Social Security, Headstart, and Pell Grants, why not take a step back from the cliff and logically review the financial status quo?
There's an inherent lack of fairness in our tax system that urgently needs to be addressed. How is it possible, for example, that Exxon-Mobil turned a $19 billion profit in 2009, and received a $156 million tax rebate from the IRS? Citigroup, in addition to receiving $45 billion in bailout funds (not to mention the federal government agreeing to absorb potentially hundreds of billions of dollars in losses on "toxic assests") turned a $4 billion profit, and paid no tax. These are but two examples from a very long list of corporations that are not only avoiding paying any federal income taxes, they're actually receiving huge refund checks from the IRS!
No one is arguing that our budget woes could, or should, be solved on the backs of these large corporations, but conversely we're all in this together, and fairness ought to have a place at the table. The U.S. Public Interest Research Group estimates $210 billion in revenue would become available by closing off-shore tax havens. Another $23 billion would be generated by making sure hidden profits made by hedge fund and private equity managers are accounted for. There's not an ounce of common sense in the fact that millionaire hedge fund managers pay a lower tax rate than teachers or police officers.
There's not an ounce of common sense in allowing corporations that shift hundreds of billions of dollars overseas every year to shift their tax burdens (responsibilities) to the rest of us.
Accorting to The Big Picture, corporate taxes as a percentage of federal revenue were 27.3% in 1955, as opposed to 8.9% now. With government increasingly "off their backs", one wonders what's happened to all that additional revenue? It doesn't appear to have been funneled into job creation!
Just as we can't afford not to raise the debt ceiling (defaulting on our obligations = soaring interest rates), it makes no sense not to include sensible revenue enhancements (raising taxes) as a key component in tackling our financial crisis. Close loopholes, raise the tax on corporations (albeit slightly), and ask those who are currently earning millions of dollars to pay their fair share. And, just in case common sense is still a viable option, how about bringing our troops home from Iraq and Afghanistan? As of 12:58 p.m. EST, the cost of these wars was $1,223,006,125.00 and growing http://costofwar.com/en/

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