Progressives across the US are condemning President Obama’s deficit-reduction commission for its proposal, released today, to cut Social Security payments while lowering corporate taxes and the highest income tax bracket.
The commission, put together by the White House in February, released a draft report (PDF) Wednesday that proposes deep cuts to domestic and military spending that would reduce the deficit by $4 trillion over the next 10 years. But the way in which the proposal goes about achieving those reductions has come in for heavy attack from progressive politicians, labor leaders and commentators.
“If you’re sincerely worried about the US fiscal future — and there’s good reason to be — you don’t propose a plan that involves large cuts in income taxes,” economist Paul Krugman wrote in the New York Times. Krugman pointed to an article in the Times outlining the commission’s strategy:
The proposed simplification of the tax code would repeal or modify a number of popular tax breaks — including the deductibility of mortgage interest payments — so that income tax rates could be reduced across the board. Under the plan, individual income tax rates would decline to as low as 8 percent on the lowest income bracket (now 10 percent) and to 23 percent on the highest bracket (now 35 percent). The corporate tax rate, now 35 percent, would also be reduced, to as low as 26 percent.
The commission is also proposing that Social Security contributions be increased, so that 90 percent of income is taxable, as opposed to 82.5 percent as is currently projected. Despite the increases in payments, the plan calls for a reduction in benefits for most Social Security recipients.
Additionally, the retirement age would be raised gradually, reaching 68 in 2050 and 69 in 2070.
The commission’s proposals aren’t binding, and may not necessarily end up as law. Proposals will only be sent to Congress if they garner the support of 14 of the 18 commissioners on the panel. The Hill reports that at present there isn’t that level of support on the commission for the proposal to reduce Social Security.
BERNIE SANDERS: SOCIAL SECURITY CUTS ‘REPREHENSIBLE’
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), a self-described democratic socialist, called the commission’s proposal “reprehensible,” reports The Hill.
“The Simpson-Bowles deficit reduction plan is extremely disappointing and something that should be vigorously opposed by the American people,” Sanders said.
He was joined by Richard Trumka, head of the AFL-CIO labor umbrella group.
“The chairmen of the Deficit Commission just told working Americans to ‘drop dead,'” Trumka said. “Some people are saying this is plan is just a ‘starting point.’ Let me be clear, it is not.”
President Obama established the commission in February of this year, in response to growing concerns about the US government’s budget deficit, which is hovering above $1.3 trillion for the second fiscal year in a row.
“These are tough times, and we can’t keep spending like they’re not,” the president said. He appointed former Clinton White House chief of estaff Erskine Bowles, and former Republican Sen. Alan Simpson as co-heads of the commission.
Followers of the commission’s progress had been expecting something along the lines of today’s preliminary proposals for some time now. In August, ex-Sen. Simpson was criticized for referring to Social Security as a “milk cow with 310 million tits!” in an email.
The comment was widely interpreted as a sign that the commission would move towards reducing Social Security benefits.
Trump’s tax law threatened TurboTax’s profits — so the company started charging the disabled, the unemployed and students
The 2017 tax overhaul vastly expanded the number of people who could file simplified tax returns, a boon to millions of Americans.
But the new law directly threatened the lucrative business of Intuit, the maker of TurboTax.
Although the company draws in customers with the promise of a “free” product, its fortunes depend on getting as many customers as possible to pay. It had been regularly charging $100 or more for returns that included itemized deductions for mortgage interest and charitable donations. Under the new law, many wealthier taxpayers would no longer be filing that form, qualifying them to use the company’s free software.
Trump’s packed Supreme Court backs ‘forced arbitration’ that bars workers from taking abusive bosses to court
Corporations are rapidly rendering sexual harassment, race and gender discrimination, life-threatening workplaces and wage theft immune to employee legal action.
They achieve this by forcing the vast majority of non-union private-sector workers to sign away their rights to go to court or use class or collective arbitration. Instead many millions of workers are being forced to forgo these efficient legal ways to resolve issues and to file individual arbitration claims.
A new report from the Economic Policy Institute and the Center for Popular Democracy says that by 2024 more than 80% of non-union private-sector workers will find courthouse doors chained shut by forced arbitration clauses that ban lawsuits and collective actions. (EPI is a nonprofit, nonpartisan think tank created in 1986 to press the needs of low- and middle-income workers in economic policy discussions.)
Corporations can legally put carcinogens in our food without warning labels — here’s why
A recent study by the Environmental Working Group revealed something horrifying: Glyphosate, the active ingredient in the popular weedkiller Roundup, was present in 17 of the 21 oat-based cereal and snack products at levels considered unsafe for children. That includes six different brands of Cheerios, one of the most popular American cereals.
I've written before about the limits of corporate free speech when it comes to public safety, but on that occasion I discussed this insofar as it involved corporate-sponsored climate change denialism. Yet here we have something more tangible, more direct: The safe glyphosate limit for children is 160 parts per billion (ppb), yet Honey Nut Cheerios Medley Crunch has 833 parts per billion and regular Cheerios has 729 ppb. While the potential risks of glyphosate are fiercely debated, many scientists believe that it is linked to cancer.