By Michael Collins
Some of us have known this for a long time. Some of us just found out and some will find out very soon. There are few, if any, elected officials who really care about our interests unless we’re one of the few thousand ultra rich who control Congress and the White House.
The Obama-Republican tax plan was just approved in the United States Senate. It will become law soon. What did we lose?
The Senate put the Social Security system at risk with a 33% cut to employee payroll taxes, from 6.2% to 4.2% of wages. Social Security is doing well with a $2.5 trillion surplus. But this major change begins the starvation of the system. Those who voted in favor will turn around sometime soon and say that Social Security is faltering. Of course, their cynical actions will be at fault. They’ll conveniently avoid mentioning that.
The Obama-Republican plan keeps the tax rate on investment income (capital gains) well below the rates for income taxes and below the capital gains rates in 2000. Wall Street ruins the economy with their shady deals then gets more tax breaks on their shady stock deals.
The wealthiest citizens get an extension of the “temporary” Bush era tax cuts. We’re told that these huge tax cuts are worth it because they’ll get the economy going again by producing jobs. We had nearly 10 years of the Bush tax cuts and guess how many new jobs have been added to the economy? None, when you factor in population growth.
These tax cuts will cause $900 billion in lost revenues. Supporters of these tax breaks will talk your ear off about balanced budgets. Apparently, they see no connection between giving away $900 billion and increasing the budget deficit.
This legislation has nothing to do with new jobs or a balanced budget. It’s all about enhancing income of those at the very top.
Senator Bernie Sanders said he’d stop the madness. Last Friday he stood up and spoke for hours outlining the glaring problems with the Obama-Republican program. People thought it was a filibuster. It wasn’t. There was no legislation to filibuster on Friday. Yesterday, when it really counted, Senator Sanders sat on his hands as the one sided brawl between The Money Party and the people took place on the Senate floor. There was no filibuster. Mighty Bernie had struck out.
But Sen. Sanders performed a valuable public service for those in charge. He provided the appearance that there might be at least one principled Senator left who was ready to hold the line.
We need our “heroes.” Without them, we might realize that we’re entirely on our own in the fight against the wholesale theft of the peoples’ hard work and wealth.
Before Sen. Sanders, there were the liberal Democrats in the House of Representatives. They promised to vote against the president’s health care reform bill if it didn’t have a viable public option. Guess what? They sat on their hands just like Senator Sanders as health care reform became a health insurance industry bailout.
Before Sanders there was presidential candidate Obama. He was the breath of fresh air, the sincere man for the people with the brains to pull off real “change.” But we had to have “hope” and before that, we had to believe him.
These public figures and many more promised to correct the chaos and depravity of the Bush era. It’s all a scam. A new war, more bailouts for Wall Street, the continued assault on the Constitution, and lower taxes for the super rich are what we got.
One Winner Only
The appearance of a political opposition is the essential window dressing required to fool people into thinking that there’s actually more than one side that will be heard on any public issue. There isn’t. The ultimate winners are the great accumulations of wealth represented by that bipartisan coalition that has no permanent friends or enemies, just permanent interests – The Money Party.
The Money Party is on a roll. From 2002 through 2007, 70% of the nation’s income growth has gone to just 1% of the population. That 1% wants an end to Social Security, even more tax cuts, and capital gains tax rates well below the income taxes the rest of us pay.
There is no time to feel disappointed, upset, or betrayed by the big con game masquerading as democracy. There is no reason to expect that any political leader will be honest. For those we allow to lead, the only incentive for honesty is a fear by politicians that they’ll be tossed out of office and prosecuted for fraud if they fail to do their jobs.
The United States is still a great country because the vast majority of people are hard working, honest, and willing to live peacefully with their neighbors and, when given a chance, with the rest of the world. The enemies of greatness and progress are the politicians and their patrons who insist on having their way on every issue, who take every thing that isn’t nailed down; and, who create fake dramas and diversions to further the distortions and censorship of the corporate media . They will not go quietly into the night. They will employ every trick available to retain power.
An effective movement for real change should express the positive values of the vast majority. Of fundamental importance, it requires citizens who trust elected and appointed official only while those officials prove their fidelity to the peoples’ interests and the laws of the land. If you want heroes to do the job, just remember all the false heroes we’ve endured.
If we’re willing to reach the end our life justified by the fight rather than the victory, informed by principals rather than personalities, we acquire an enduring wealth beyond the reach of those in charge.