Friday, February 27, 2009

The Obama Budget: A Return to Equality

by Doug Drenkow

Stoked by the changes going on in DC, I just had to share with you, below, a few excerpts from today's most-e-mailed article in the New York Times online. And remember: This isn't about "class warfare" -- even though that is what you'll continue to hear from those on the Right who, as the article reports, for some 30 years have been effectively looting the national treasury and all the other wealth created by the hard-working, anything-but-rich people of this great nation.

No, this is simply about restoring fairness and wisdom to our economic policies. Why, even the rich will ultimately be enriched if the poor and middle class have more money, since it is the "anything but ordinary" Americans (as Obama so wonderfully put it) who buy most of the goods and services sold by the companies the rich are invested in. There's a word for that phenomenon: It's called "progress."

Our nation, plundered by greed, will be restored by hard work and common sense. And I don't know anything more American than that.

A Bold Plan Sweeps Away Reagan Ideas

By David Leonhardt

The budget that President Obama proposed on Thursday is nothing less than an attempt to end a three-decade era of economic policy dominated by the ideas of Ronald Reagan and his supporters. ...

More than anything else, the proposals seek to reverse the rapid increase in economic inequality over the last 30 years. They do so first by rewriting the tax code and, over the longer term, by trying to solve some big causes of the middle-class income slowdown, like high medical costs and slowing educational
gains. ...

[T]he average post-tax income of the top 1 percent of households has jumped by roughly $1 million since 1979, adjusted for inflation, to $1.4 million. Pay for most families has risen only slightly faster than inflation.

Before becoming Mr. Obama’s top economic adviser, Lawrence H. Summers liked
to tell a hypothetical story to distill the trend. The increase in inequality, Mr. Summers would say, meant that each family in the bottom 80 percent of the income distribution was effectively sending a $10,000 check, every year, to the top 1 percent of earners. [emphasis mine]

Mr. Obama’s budget reflects that sensibility. Budget experts were still sorting through the details on Thursday, but it appeared that various tax cuts and credits aimed at the middle class and the poor would increase the take-home pay of the median household by roughly $800.

The tax increases on the top 1 percent, meanwhile, will most likely cost them $100,000 a year. ...

And if the economy remains weak into next year, as many forecasters expect, Congressional Republicans will try to pin the blame on the looming tax increases on the affluent.

It was Chris Matthews (or perhaps his likewise great MSNBC colleagues Keith Olbermann or Rachel Maddow) pointed out, can you even imagine a U.S. politician on the national scene, let alone in an address to a joint session of Congress, unabashedly calling for higher taxes on the wealthy even just a couple years ago?

It's horrific that it took a financial crisis that has us not just "on the brink" but actually going over -- The GDP shrunk by 6% last quarter! -- but finally it seems like some common sense has finally been pounded into the American psyche. 69% of the public thinks Obama's doing the right things on the economy; and after watching the Obama speech, over 80% think the economy will get better.

But like any wounded animal, the Right is now more dangerous than ever. And you and I know they are capable of anything to keep their power. However, what they don't seem to realize is that the people at large -- the everyday households whose consumption accounts for two-thirds of the GDP and whose votes put the hands on the levers of constitutional power -- are the real "powers that be" ... as long as we are properly informed and not misled.

And that is precisely why I am surely stoked by the events ongoing. We have an extraordinary leader in Mr. Obama -- Damn my slowness in finishing my Web site / portolio; I need to apply for a job with his administration! -- and in this economic crisis unlike any we've ever seen -- comparisons to the Great Depression may even be inadequate if things continue unabated -- eyes and minds are being opened, unlike I've ever witnessed before. As Obama says, we have great challenges but also a great opportunity to do a lot of good.

But just remember, it was 30 years of lower taxes on the rich -- and fewer regulations on their financial shenanigans -- that got us into this mess in the first place. The only thing that will get us out of it will be tax breaks targeted to and investments in the things that help the other 95% of the population. As the song says, This Land Is Your Land!

Media Conglomerates, Mergers, Concentration of Ownership, Global Issues, Updated: January 02, 2009




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