That’s a wrap. The Supercommittee Show is over, brought to you by corporate media that continue to peddle horse-trading, the blame game and the mini-drama of who compromised and who didn’t to consumers.
What’s missing from the coverage is what matters—a recognition that the inside-the-Beltway crowd has a misplaced obsession with short-term deficits and debt rather than the real crisis of our time: joblessness, growing inequality and building a more sustainable, Main Street economy.
There are in fact many alternatives out there worthy of attention—ideas that are more reasonable, more equitable and accomplished far more fiscally responsibly and in hold more promise for bettering people’s lives than anything considered by a Supercommittee and Congress heavily mortgaged to corporate dough. The Progressive Caucus’s People’s Budget is one example. And now, a recently released report by the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS), America Is Not Broke.
IPS focuses on twenty-four fiscal reforms that amount to an estimated $824 billion in potential revenue per year—seven times the total savings the Supercommittee was charged with identifying. The revenues are found in three categories: taxing Wall Street, corporations and the wealthy; taxing pollution and ending environmentally harmful subsidies; and cutting military spending. IPS is uniquely positioned to offer a comprehensive report like this because it has experts working year-round on defense, energy and fair taxation issues. Many of the reforms called for are widely supported in opinion polls, and reflect the kind of broad, bold vision that Democrats should embrace if they want to connect with the 99 percent.
“The report reminds people that we’re not broke, we’re actually a rich country,” says co-author Sarah Anderson, director of the IPS global economy project. “Instead of getting so bogged down in the horse-trading deals in Washington, we should be thinking about how we can actually use this crisis as an opportunity to harness our wealth in ways that will make us stronger for the future—more equitable, with a cleaner environment, and a sane defense policy.”
In the more equitable category, that means implementing ideas whose time has come like a modest financial transaction tax, stopping tax haven abuse and creating additional tax brackets for individuals earning over $1 million annually as well as eliminating the tax preference for capital gains and dividends. These reforms alone could bring in up to $329 billion per year. Want a little more accountability for the economic crisis? How about a levy on the Big Banks with more than $50 billion in assets? It could bring in $9 billion a year, recoup some of the costs of the crisis and provide a deterrent against excessive leverage.