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Economic commentary

End the wars! Tax the rich!

Commentary by Masao Suzuki |
August 7, 2011
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San José, CA - The recent federal debt limit deal passed by the House and Senate and signed into law by president Obama promises at least $2.1 trillion in spending cuts and lower interest payments over the next ten years. This deal did not include any savings from ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, or from restoring higher taxes for the rich. It was a victory for the Tea Party-backed Republicans and benefits the rich and Wall Street. At the same time programs serving poor and working people will be the target for cuts and the deal opens the door for cuts in Social Security and Medicare.

According to the Congressional Budget Office, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan could cost more than $1.5 trillion over the next ten years. The Bush tax cuts for the rich will cost about $600 billion dollars over the same period of time. Ending the wars and restoring the taxes on the rich would save more than $2 trillion, and, including savings from lower interest payments, would save about $2.6 trillion, more than the recent debt limit deal.

Let’s be clear. The real issue is not the deficit, it is about keeping taxes low for the rich and continuing to fund our present and future wars, while cutting programs that serve poor and working people. Social Security and Medicare did not cause the federal debt. In fact ever since the FICA payroll tax that pays for Social Security and Medicare was raised in the 1980s, these two programs have run surpluses and have helped to pay for the wars and tax cuts for the rich.

Half of all workers have no private pension plans, so Social Security is their only guarantee of income security when they retire. For more than a quarter of seniors who are lower-income, Social Security provides over 90% of their retirement income. About 40% of seniors have no private health insurance, and would suffer the most from any cuts in the Medicare.

Unfortunately, the fact is that the vast majority of politicians in Washington D.C. are more beholden to Wall Street and/or the Tea Party than they are to the interests of poor and working people and seniors. What is needed to be build a mass movement for economic justice that can unite workers, both union and non-union, and oppressed nationality communities, especially African Americans, Chicanos, and Latinos, who have the least income and wealth are who are hit hardest by cuts in government services. Students and youth and seniors are especially vulnerable to these cuts. We need to demand that the politicians bring our troops home now, end the Bush tax cuts for the rich, and protect Social Security, Medicare, and other government programs.

End the Wars!
Tax the Rich!
No cuts to Social Security, Medicare, and other programs for poor and working people!

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