Should the wealthiest Americans pay more taxes to help fix our Federal deficit?
You may have heard a lot of talk about the fiscal cliff. What exactly does that mean? Well, in 2010, President Obama and Congress agreed that if a new national budget was not agreed upon before the first of January then a special plan will go into effect. Many economists say that this special plan will send the entire country, once again, into a recession because there will be increases in taxes and huge spending cuts...causing unemployment to rise dramatically...hence the plan will send the country down a fiscal cliff.
The cartoon above by political cartoonist Khalil Bendib, expresses the opinion that the fiscal cliff will not affect the wealthiest Americans and thus they are able to parachute down and land safely.
Ok. So, that's the situation, but let's examine why the President and Congress cannot agree on a new budget that perhaps will not send the country into a tailspin.
Creating a budget is simple idea, but can be an extremely complex process. The Federal Government must develop a plan that determines what money it should spend annually along with what money it should receive from taxes, making sure that it does not spend way more than it receives... unfortunately, the Federal Government has spent way more than it has received for the past 12 years, but let's not get into that now. Here is where the argument gets most heated:
In the Bay Area city of Richmond, there is a Soda Tax campaign in full swing. Supporters of the campaign have created art to represent their stance on Measure N, including the mural pictured above. Students have mixed reviews. Scroll down below to read their thoughts from last week's Do Now activity.
The “Nanny State” refers to either a protective, caring government OR a government that interferes in matters that should be private decisions. It depends upon your point of view. So should the government take care of us or mind its business?
Do Now #35 posed “the question of whether the government has a right to decide what's good or bad for us,” in relation to sin taxes – that is taxes levied on sins, such as smoking and gambling.
Now New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has proposed passing a law restricting restaurants, movie theaters and sports arenas from selling sugary sodas in sizes larger than 16 fluid ounces. In the same vein Richmond voters will decide in November whether to levy a soda tax. As KQED’s State of Health blogger writes
So when New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg proposed limiting portion sizes on sugary drinks, I wasn’t surprised when opponents of the idea labeled it a “nanny state” tactic …………….and
The “nanny state” label has gone viral — 470,000 hits on Google when I search “bloomberg nanny state.”
Clearly the “Nanny State” is a loaded term, political shorthand, suggesting overprotection, nosiness, meddling in private lives. It becomes a debate about liberties. Continue reading »
What should Congress do about our national debt? Should the pain fall on the wealthiest Americans or on government programs, such as Medicare?
Why can’t Congress agree on how to handle debt? In August this year Congress resorted to setting up a special committee to find a way through the impasse over the budget deficit. The plan was to find reductions by bringing together 12 members of Congress in a Congressional Supercommittee. The goal was $1.2 trillion in deficit reductions over a decade.
As a bipartisan committee - meaning both political parties were represented equally, with six Democrats and six Republicans working together - the hope was that both sides could agree on a way to resolve the crisis.
Charged with framing recommendations on budget cuts for Congress to vote on by November 23, the committee faced clear choices: either to increase taxes or cut entitlements, meaning public programs, such as Social Security, healthcare and education.
Fundamentally this impasse is about political difference, highlighting the gulf between the two parties. Republicans in the committee attacked Democrats for opposing budget cuts to popular domestic programs, programs such as Medicare and Medicaid. They maintain that Democrat leaders insist on over-spending and, as such, adding to the deficit. Democrats, on the other hand, said Republicans wouldn't accept any plan which involved raising taxes for the wealthiest Americans.
This is the deadlock. How is the pain to be divided up – should it fall on the wealthiest Americans in the form of abolishing the tax cuts instituted by George W Bush and reducing taxes, or should it be born by social programs, such as the public programs that provide benefits for the 14 million unemployed Americans? This would put hundreds of government programs on the chopping block to be cut as early as 2013.
Alice Rivlin, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution who served as budget director for President Clinton, said, “Each side was prepared to offer more if they thought the other side was operating in good faith, … Each side distrusted the other. The Democrats were afraid to offer serious entitlement cuts because they thought the Republicans will just take that and not give any revenues … The Republicans said if we offer serious revenues, the Democrats will just take that and they're not serious about the entitlement cuts."
KQED Forum segment Clock Ticks for Supercommittee.
The congressional deficit reduction supercommittee faces a Wednesday deadline to reach an agreement on reducing the deficit. If the panel does not reach a deal, $1.2 trillion will automatically be cut from defense and domestic spending in 2013. We look at the politics behind the deliberations.
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KQED News segment For Debt Committee, No Final-Hour Deal Apparent. Nov. 21, 2011
Monday is the last day the congressional supercommittee can reach a deficit-reduction deal and still make its Wednesday deadline. The legislation has to be publicly available for 48 hours before a vote, and the clock is ticking. But instead of announcing an agreement, the committee is widely expected to admit it has failed.