Monday, February 28, 2011

HERE'S HOW WE SAVE $1.1 TRILLION (and more) ...

So Republicans are poised to push a government shutdown to make a point.

Just what that point is isn't entirely clear when you consider how Republicans sat by and watched as President Bush turned hundreds of billions in surpluses into trillion dollar deficits ... while adding $5 trillion to our national debt (currently budget deficits are projected to hit $1.1 trillion this year).

Hey, I have an idea. If the Republican Party is really interested in reducing deficits and our national debt why doesn't the GOP work with President Obama. They could go after spending programs administered by the IRS which grant specific tax breaks to individuals and corporations, while robbing the Treasury of much needed revenue. These exemptions are the king of tax breaks and corporate loopholes.

So, how much are we talking about? Let's try at least $1.1 trillion in tax breaks. Here's a small sample of these tax breaks from the Center for American Progress' Seth Hanlon:

* If you're wealthy enough you get a tax exemption on your capital gains income (because Wall Street's gambling is more important than actual work).

* If you inherit land you get a tax break (because getting free land is such hard work).

* You get a tax break for your charitable contributions (look, you have to admit that it's not real charity if you're getting a tax break for being kind).

* If you have an individual retirement account  you get a tax break on the income you use to invest (because everyone agrees that income used to invest in a "free market" should be sheltered and protected, right?).

* Then we have private "employer-provided" health care, which covers 60% of Americans under 65, but is actually paid by the American taxpayer (and this was before health care reform).

These and other tax breaks account for approximately $1.1 trillion ... or about the same amount that our budget deficit is expected to hit this year. And we haven't even touched the $100 billion per year that U.S. PIRG estimate U.S. firms save by locating their companies off shore for tax purposes.

If you're not too excited about going after this pool of tax break goodies (even I like the mortgage deduction), why don't we try going after the $88.7 billion in tax breaks that wealthy Americans will benefit from this year? Think about this one.

Everything from million dollar estates (no longer taxed when they are passed on) to tax breaks for vacation homes and "estate planning" are granted tax deductions under our current tax code. Yet, the Republican Party doesn't want to touch these giveaways for the rich. After all, it's so much easier to cut programs for children and the poor (because Jesus clearly supported the money lenders when he was here on earth, right?).

We could also start looking at corporate income taxes for 2012 (which are projected to hit $329 billion) and Wall Street compensation packages (at least $135 billion in 2010), but you get the point.

Our budget picture could improve dramatically, and overnight ... if only our members of Congress would get their priorities straight, and grow a pair.

- Mark

No comments: