It's remarkable how in the current debate about the U.S. debt ceiling, the extravagance of American military spending is seldom even mentioned. In its fiscal 2010 budget, the United States gave $685-billion to the Department of Defense – more than the total military spending of the next 20 countries combined. Does the U.S. need to maintain at least 94 air force bases at home and abroad? Does its navy alone require as much money as the combined amount that Russia, Germany and Japan spend on their entire defence budgets?Linda McQuaig, Toronto Star
Of course not. But to raise such questions in Washington now might be considered un-American, while to eviscerate budgets in health and education is considered patriotic.
There are likely few characters less loved in America these days than hedge fund managers — widely regarded as among the archvillains of the 2008 Wall Street meltdown.Lawrence Rafferty, writing at Jonathan Turley's blog:
So, months ago, when Washington embarked on a frenzied search for ways to reduce the massive U.S. deficit, a tax loophole that allowed hedge fund managers to pay tax at the exceptionally low rate of 15 per cent certainly seemed like low-hanging fruit.
Cancelling the loophole would save the treasury $20 billion over 10 years, and the public would surely be unmoved by the pain inflicted on hedge fund managers — the top 25 of whom took home an average pay last year of $880 million each.
But as the stakes rose in the bizarre negotiations over the country’s debt ceiling, the Republicans managed to push reluctant Democrats into taking all tax increases off the table. All deficit reduction was to come exclusively from government spending cuts, hitting the middle and lower classes hard.
Perhaps this seems like evidence of how resistant Americans are to tax increases. In fact, it shows no such thing. Rather, it shows how a band of far-right Republican Tea Party extremists — financed initially by the billionaire Koch brothers — have managed to effectively take control of the U.S. political system and block the will of the American people.
For the past two years, Americans have repeatedly told pollsters that they support higher taxes on the rich as a way to reduce the deficit. A Washington Post poll last month, for instance, found 72 per cent supported raising taxes on those earning more than $250,000.
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In fact, the “debt ceiling” is an artificial creation. The U.S. Constitution doesn’t call for one. Except for Denmark, no other advanced democratic nation has a debt limit. Overseeing government spending is what the political process is all about.
But a radical rump of Republicans, threatening to pull the trigger, succeeded in forcing Democrats to abandon tax increases on the wealthy — at a time when America’s wealthy are as rich as the tycoons of the Gilded Age. Feeling the gun at their temples, the Democrats joined the Republicans in the quest for deeper spending cuts — which will only make the disastrous U.S. unemployment situation worse.
So while programs helping students, the elderly and the poor have been picked over with surgical precision, hedge fund managers can get back to work destabilizing financial markets with full peace of mind, knowing they’ll continue to enjoy a tax rate lower than the mechanics who service their private jets.
. . . A very easy solution to the U.S. Debt problem is to simply tax the wealthy and corporations at 1960 levels and according to one source, the debt would be erased within a decade.
Also: Debt Deal Would End Subsidized Loans To Grad Students, Produce Savings Equal To Only Three Months In Afghanistan, Zaid Jilani, ThinkProgress