Cutting the Deficit: Sacrificing Workers to Save the Rich

There’s class warfare, all right, but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning.

— Warren Buffett

The most important and popular social and tax programs in the United States are threatened by a self-styled “Bipartisan National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform”.  Appointed by President Obama on February 18, 2010, co-chaired by two longstanding champions of Wall Street:  ex Senator Simpson (R, WY) and former Clintonite White House Chief of Staff Erskine Bowles.

The Commission Report issued November 10 proposes to slash social security payments, reducing recipients to poverty, raise the retirement age to 69 ensuring that millions of workers will die before they can retire, or enter retirement in ill health; reduce or freeze cost of living increases through inflation indexes which understate by half the rises in food, gas, hospital and education.  The Commission proposes deep cuts in Medicare, increased Medicaid co-pays and slashing $54 billion from graduate medical education.  The Commission proposes to eliminate tax breaks including deductions for home mortgage interest payments while taxing employer provided medical insurance.

The same Commission Report proposes to reduce capital gains and income taxes for the rich by up to 24%.

President Obama and the Republican leadership praised the Commission and wants “to give them space to work on it”.

The so-called crisis of Social Security is a result of the Republican and Democratic governments siphoning off payments into the general fund.  The forthcoming shortfall (2030) can be easily remedied by lifting the payroll tax ceiling, for the rich, taxing all earned income.  Medical costs can be reduced by 50% by replacing the for profit corporate health insurance and pharmaceutical corporations with a non-profit national health system, similar to successful programs in Europe and Canada. Both Medical plans and Social Security can be easily funded by imposing a 1%sales tax on the sale of stocks and bonds.

The deficit proposals put forth by Obama’s Bipartisan Commission threaten to push the one-third of retirees who depend mainly on their social security payments into the food kitchens or destitution.  The added cost and reductions in health care will increase the mortality rate among working families.  The increase in retirement age will result in “work until you die”, with no time for leisure, travel or grandchildren.  It is time to send a message to Washington:  cut Social Security and Medicare and home interest deductions and you will visit Washington on your own time.

James Petras, a former Professor of Sociology at Binghamton University, New York, owns a 50-year membership in the class struggle, is an adviser to the landless and jobless in Brazil and Argentina, and is co-author of Globalization Unmasked (Zed Books). Petras’ most recent books are The Politics of Empire: The Us, Israel and the Middle East (2014) and The Arab Revolt and the Imperialist Counterattack. He can be reached at: jpetras@binghamton.edu. Read other articles by James, or visit James's website.

3 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. Don Hawkins said on November 29th, 2010 at 12:01pm #

    The increase in retirement age will result in “work until you die”, with no time for leisure, travel or grandchildren.

    Well James just the way the cookie crumbles and no time is correct.

  2. Deadbeat said on November 29th, 2010 at 9:02pm #

    bozh writes …

    james still avoids positing causation or solutions. so, canada has a good health care. but kills innocent people and supports nato and israeli crimes.

    This sounds like a cheap shot as James Petras has written many articles posted here where he in fact draws people attention to the taboo topic of Zionist influence and power.

  3. bozh said on November 30th, 2010 at 6:08pm #

    i was not denying influence of uncles sam, tom, pedro, moshe, et al— i have said that petras does not posit cause[s] for any of the uncle’s influence.
    nor doe she offer a solution in pieces he i have to date read.
    but then which columnist does that? tnx