Author Archives: progressivenetwork

Thought for the day

“The very word ‘secrecy’ is repugnant in a free and open society.”

— John F. Kennedy, 1960

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Filed under National govt & politics

Top 5 problems with the tax deal

email from MoveOn, 12/14/10:

Everyone knows that the “deal” that President Obama agreed to with Republicans will extend George W. Bush’s reckless millionaire tax bailout—but what a lot of folks don’t realize is that there are lots of other terrible parts of it, too.

Unemployed Americans desperately need their benefits extended to get by in this economy—so Republicans held them hostage to force through a slew of horrible economic policies in this deal. Here are just a few that you might not have heard about.

Share the list by going here….

Top 5 Problems with the Tax Deal

Problem #1: The deal is a stealth attack on Social Security.

The deal will lower the payroll tax—the tax that funds the Social Security trust. This is a trap for Democrats. Republicans have been coming after Social Security for years and this cut is the biggest threat to the vital program in decades. It will cut one-third of Social Security’s funding this year alone and when we need to restore the payroll tax back to its current level, Republicans will cry “tax increases” and could gut it permanently. 1

Problem #2: For nearly one in three workers, it’s a tax increase. Continue reading

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Filed under Economy, Labor, Tax

Obama Threatens Social Security

by William Greider, The Nation, December 9, 2010

The most dangerous feature in the president’s proposed compromise on taxes is not the $700 billion tax cut for billionaires. It is the Trojan horse provision that threatens to destroy Social Security by undermining the longterm solvency of the social insurance system.

Barack Obama has proposed to knock two percent off the FICA deductions every worker regularly contributes to the Social Security Trust Fund, the money set aside for their future retirement benefits. Obama’s one-year tax relief sounds attractive and workers can surely use the money, but the consequences could prove deadly for the federal government’s most popular program.

Doubtless, that is not Obama’s intention—he regularly calls for strengthening Social Security—but the president has bought into a Republican proposition favored by conservatives who would love to do away with this New Deal creation. They know this will deprive the trust fund of $120 billion in annual revenue and that shortfall will sooner or later have to be made up to sustain future benefits. Can you imagine Congress finding $120 billion for Social Security amid all the other fiscal pressures?

For that matter, can you imagine Congress turning off this modest tax break for working people once it’s in place? If you believe that, you probably believe Obama is going to fight to recover the $700 billion tax giveaway to billionaires while he is in the midst of his reelection campaign.

Nancy Altman, a thirty-year policy expert and co-chair of Social Security Works, fears this perverse policy turn “will lead inexorably to killing Social Security.” The right-wing agitators will renew their claim that Social Security is unsound and should be privatized, only now their case will have a little substance. Democrats in Congress should discard Obama’s proposal before it damages the crown jewel of the federal government. …

keep reading at The Nation

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Filed under Economy, Labor, Tax

Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain

By John Grant
This Can’t Be Happening, 12/12/10

It is the climactic scene. Dorothy and her friends stand before the great Wizard of Oz. Toto wanders off and yanks back a curtain to reveal a man busy manipulating levers. Whistles and smoke bombs go off, and the great Oz thunders: “Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!”
____________

The federal government, the military and the Library of Congress have all ordered those under their power not to look at the material published on the WikiLeaks website because it is illegal and looking would make them criminals. Meanwhile, Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks founder, is still jailed in Britain because his condom “malfunctioned” while having sex in Sweden with a woman who has connections to anti-Castro Cubans and US intelligence.

This raises a very real question: How is the US approach to WikiLeaks any different from the tyrannical Chinese government’s crack down on websites publishing things Chinese leaders fear and want to control?

Despite all the “leader of the free world” propaganda hammered into us since first grade, are we really any different? As my dad liked to say, the Chinese were civilized when our WASP ancestors were living in trees. Is it time we stopped letting ourselves be deluded that we’re “exceptional” in the world?

The US government campaign to close down WikiLeaks uses the same tactics as the campaign by the Chinese to thwart its website enemies. They both rely on the intimidation of funding sources, they both publicly smear leaders of the criminalized website and they both use their nation’s legal system, since, in both China and the United States, the legal system has been designed by the powerful class of people most likely to be embarrassed by the revelations on “subversive” websites.

Here’s a novel idea: To make up for the undeserved Nobel Peace Prize given last year to Barack Obama and in line with the more appropriate Peace Prize given out this year to Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo, next year maybe the Nobel Committee should give the Peace Prize to Julian Assange. Especially if he’s in prison.

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Filed under International - other, National govt & politics