Of Sequester, Squander, and How Congress Sold Out the People

Search form

Of Sequester, Squander, and How Congress Sold Out the People

Of Sequester, Squander, and How Congress Sold Out the People
Fri, 3/1/2013 - by Carl Gibson

 

Back in the days when I used to be a legislative reporter for Mississippi’s NPR affiliate, I was covering a story where Gov. Haley Barbour refused to stop cuts to mental health programs and schools in Mississippi with money from the rainy day fund. My favorite Southern legislator, Rep. Steve Holland of Plantersville, had this to say:

“There’s hay in the barn, but we’re not feeding the horses.”

Likewise in Washington, there’s plenty of money to avoid the $85 billion in sequester cuts that will be coming in March. Some of the worst cuts will be to programs like the Low-Income Heating Assistance Program, early childhood education, and federal funding for immunizations and vaccinations for children.

Congress would like to have us believe that there’s no money to pay for those programs, even though the Senate unanimously approved a $700 billion military budget in December on a 98-0 vote. And in the last ten years, we’ve spent almost $800 billion on “homeland security,” but there’s no help for hungry families who will be losing food assistance thanks to the sequester.

The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program has cost us approximately $400 billion to date, and was recently grounded indefinitely due to faulty construction. If it becomes operational, the program would have a whopping $1 trillion budget. Even John McCain has called the program a“scandal and a tragedy.”

But for some reason, we can’t find the money to keep federal meat inspectors employed, who will lose their jobs after the sequester cuts take hold in March. And even though “Too Big to Fail” banks are still getting their $83 billion annual subsidy, there’s somehow not enough money to keep federal air traffic controllers employed when the FAA is forced to absorb $600 million in cuts from the sequester.

Corporate tax loopholes bleed out at least $100 billion a year in lost revenue, and simply closing them would be more than enough to offset the sequester. A 1% sales tax on all Wall Street transactions, like the kind introduced in new legislation by Rep. Peter DeFazio andSen. Bernie Sanders, would generate at least $100 billion in new revenue every year.

Cutting our military budget in half, from approximately $700 billion to $350 billion, would provide plenty of tax dollars to pay for job creation and social safety nets, which would reduce the deficit by default and still mean the U.S. is #1 in global military spending. Given all of these options, none of us should believe our congressmen for a second when they try to sell us the lie that our country is broke.

Austerity economics have never improved an economy in history, ever. We were recovering from the Great Depression until FDR took the advice of neoliberal economists and focused his efforts on cutting deficits instead of creating jobs, which led to the recession of 1937. Austerity in Greece and Spain has caused unemployment levels to skyrocket, and their economies to sink further into depression.

Austerity in the United States won’t have any effect on the economy, except cost us more tax dollars as more unemployed people are forced to depend on the shrinking safety net for survival. The sequester is simply more proof that our government is putting bank bailouts, military contracts and corporate tax loopholes above the needs of their constituents. And it will only get worse until we throw them out.

Article Tabs

It seems the people of the world are factually correct when they label the United States the greatest threat to peace in the world.

In a new study released last week, the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty tracked laws in 187 cities over the past five years and found an uptick in nearly every type of anti-homeless ordinance.

After winning 1.2 million votes, Spain's newest political party wants to raise minimum wages, abolish tax havens, nationalize banks rescued with public funds and establish a guaranteed minimum income.

Labeled a “hate group” by progressive social and political organizations, the Alliance has amassed a substantial track record marginalizing LGBT equality efforts and attacking women’s reproductive rights.

The Premier of the Province, Kathleen Wynn, is being given another chance to respond to growing calls from the Indigenous community to protect their Territorial Rights.

In the 80s and 90s they called them "IMF Riots" – but what the biggest international investment organizations and consultants now see happening looks a whole lot bigger.

Posted 4 days 20 hours ago

The Pulitzer Prize winning journalist interviewed Harvard professor and MayDay SuperPAC founder Lessig Lawrence about his plans to break the hold of big money on American elections.

Posted 6 days 20 hours ago

A New York shell fisherman is fighting back against retribution for speaking out against environmental violations.

Posted 6 days 19 hours ago

Part 3: Chris Hedges interviewed Harvard professor and MayDay SuperPAC founder Lawrence Lessig about his plans to break the hold of big money on American elections.

Posted 4 days 20 hours ago

Patient details were shared with organizations including private health insurance companies, many based in the United States.

Posted 4 days 20 hours ago
Letter from a College Student: Occupy Remains Underdeveloped

The Occupy Movement's inspiring intentions are moving and worth starting a revolution for, but their calls to change have fallen on deaf ears of the majority of those who fall under the 99%.

The mainstream media's focus on Edward Snowden has trumped the real story — which is what the NSA revelations tell us about how our networked world actually works and the direction in which it is heading.

Twitter has a reputation as an open platform for expressing one's opinions. Last week, it agreed to censor a pro-Ukrainian Twitter feed in Russia. It also blocked a "blasphemous" account in Pakistan. It's not the first time Twitter has censored politically sensitive accounts. Now, it seems, Twitter's reputation as a platform for free speech is at risk.

The People's Permit

Permits? We don’t need no stinking permits, say the organizers of the Occupy National Gathering, scheduled for July 4 in Philadelphia.

How to Build a Grassroots Power Base

If we want to move the country in a progressive direction, the politics of denunciation must work in sync with the politics of organizing—which must include solid electoral work.

Sign Up