Staying Alive on the Fiscal Cliff
Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and affordable housing are fundamental human rights, and Washington DC is negotiating with corporations, says author and organizer Sandy Perry.
On December 10, a diverse group of some fifty community leaders held a vigil and rally outside Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren’s office to defend the safety net, whose fate now hangs in the balance with the so-called “fiscal cliff” negotiations in Washington, DC. It was part of a coordinated national campaign of actions held all over the country on International Human Rights Day.
The rally was in response to a corporate-led effort called “Fix the Debt” that is clamoring to dismantle the safety net programs the American people have supported and relied on for generations. In their own words, they want to “use the fiscal cliff as an opportunity” to push for tax cuts for corporations and benefit cuts for working people.
The only appropriate way to address these negotiations is with a mass upsurge to defend these programs. Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and affordable housing are fundamental human rights and are supported by an overwhelming super-majority of the American people. A “grand bargain” or any other kind of compromise that in any way diminishes or weakens the safety net in order to enrich corporations is totally unacceptable.
When unscrupulous politicians talk about “entitlement reform” this means they are trying to plunder our inheritance and take away our rights and those of our children and grandchildren. Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid are the property of the American people. They have been and are now fully funded and paid for through our payroll and income taxes.
The idea that America has become so impoverished that it can no longer afford the most elementary necessities of its people is patently absurd. As a nation we are richer and more productive than ever. Despite plunging industrial employment, our manufacturing output is higher than it has ever been thanks to the technological revolution. We have the second-highest industrial production in the world, only recently having been overtaken by China, a country with four times our population.
The solution to the fiscal cliff is not difficult: it is to make banks and corporations pay their taxes. In the 1940s, corporations paid 50% more taxes than individuals. Today, they pay 75% LESS than individuals. There is no shortage of money. The Silicon Valley 150 made over $100 billion in profits last year. The problem is that they do not pay their share of taxes. Apple only paid a Federal tax rate of 9.8% last year, and funnels much of its local revenue through a subsidiary in Reno to avoid California State taxes. It was just reported that Google recently avoided $2 billion in taxes by using international tax shelter strategies known as “Double Irish” and “Dutch Sandwich”.
Even today, prominent Silicon Valley leaders and politicians such as Mike Honda and Sam Liccardo are lobbying for a “tax repatriation holiday” that would allow corporations to skip out of up to $134 billion in taxes on overseas profits.
We depend on the promises of politicians like these at our peril. If we the people cannot come together to defend our rights, we do not deserve to have them and will in fact lose them very shortly.
“Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low......The rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain.” – Isaiah 40:4
Great article! Great photos! Great people! The One Percent, their hirelings and sycophants would replace what little we have of social security with vast social insecurity. With their persistent rant about the "Fiscal Cliff," they would toss us all under the economic bus - if they could, they'd toss us off a physical cliff.
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