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View Diary: The Left's Sequester Leverage (299 comments)

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  •  Be careful about ag subsidy cuts (9+ / 0-)

    We have cheap food in the US because of these subsidy packages. I am not saying that there shouldn't be changes just that we need to consider unintended consequences.

    Remember how milk was in danger of doubling in price because of the GOP failure to reauthorize? Cutting sugar, wheat and corn subsidies present the same risk to family budgets. Given our triangular econommy this could harm the bottom 40% with an additional sudden increase in need for the snap program. (Also under GOP attack.)

    We definitely need to propose smart cuts as an alternative to the GOP but lets make sure our cuts don't result in downstream harm.

    As I wrote yesterday a small chained CPI (maybe .01 vs the truly horrible .03 multiplier) could be accepted if in exchange we were able to secure protection for Medicare beneficiaries from future premium increases. (Medicare premium increases are directly absorbed under current law by beneficiaries with a direct reduction in spendable income from SS.)  This in effect becomes a small insurance premium that prevents future economic loss for recipients.)

    Another example, We could propose and insist that SS taxes resume at 250k through 400k per year. (Al Franken had proposed a similar donut hole approach in a book that led up to his successful senate run.)

    We have got to stop fighting rear guard efforts and instead bring real alternatives that protect and enhance SS/Medicare revenue streams.

    Another alternative is to propose reforms to the 401 k System. (A good start is phasing out the tax advantage for earners over 250k per year.) The current 401k system costs more in tax breaks than it yields in real savings. Teresa Ghradelli suggested Guaranteed Retirement Accounts. (See for the pdf) These are not private accounts carved out of SS instead they represent ADDITIONAL retirement savings at a significant tax savings for the treasury.

    My point is that we as progressives need to take the lead on entitlement reform from the perspective of improving benefits while reducing costs through smarter spending strategies.

    •  You are right (9+ / 0-)

      We need to do this carefully, with a scalpel and not an axe (as someone put it above). I just picked out the AG subsidies as they were handy and they should indeed be changed/reformed/phased out/reduced.

      But you are quite right on all your points. For instance, I would go into negotiations with the GOP (and not just the formal ones, but the "negotiations by media" that have already started) proposing to eliminate the cap on Social Security contributions (now at $113K in wages/salary).
          "But we are done with taxes," Boehner and McConnell say, sputtering.
           "That's what YOU think...."


      "God has given wine to gladden the hearts of people." Psalm 104:15

      by WineRev on Fri Jan 04, 2013 at 07:53:04 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  get rid of ag subsidies (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        MPociask, Creosote

        open market to competition and price won't go up.  years ago, NZ did away with all ag subsidies and their markets and economy have soared.

        avg farm income is substantially higher than overall avg w/o subsidies and it jumps significantly when adding in the subsidies.

        forcing ag to be more cost effective would help the economy and the environment.

        mittens=edsel. no matter how much money is spent to promote it, if the product sucks, no one will buy it.

        by wewantthetruth on Fri Jan 04, 2013 at 08:00:31 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Could the chained cpi (5+ / 0-)

      be structured in such a way that lower incomes are protected and higher incomes would be capped on the benefit side?

    •  The reason for the milk price increase (5+ / 0-)

      would have been because of ag subsidies, not as result of any cuts, but as a result of increased milk subsidy. The government was going to have to increase the subsidies which would result in higher milk prices.

      Ag subsidies now mostly go to agribusiness. Corn, sugar, and wheat are definitely not the best foods to subsidize if you want to subsidize food. All three cause tremendous health problems in a large portion of the population; probably the three foods that contribute to type II diabetes to name just one problem with them. Most corn production goes for HFCS, fodder,  and ethanol, one a bad "food type product," one an unhealthy food for cattle, and one not a food at all. Also, corn is a heavy feeder; much better food could be grown with less damage to the environment than corn if we did not so heavily subsidize corn.

      You can't scare me, I'm sticking to the Union - Woody Guthrie

      by sewaneepat on Fri Jan 04, 2013 at 08:10:33 AM PST

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      •  A thousand times this (5+ / 0-)

        If you look at what every nutritionist says, fruits and vegetables are essential to a healthy diet.  Heck, they're half the plate on the latest federal guideline, My Plate!  And, not that I follow their advice on this one, a low-sugar diet.

        So of course, we don't subsidize fruits or vegetables, but instead, the mass production of cereals and sugar.  There's a great graphic out there comparing the White House vegetable garden to the food we subsidize.  Ah, here it is -

        I'd be all for an overall lowering,  and remixing of our farm subsidies.  If we want people to eat more spinach and kale, let's make spinach and kale affordable.  If we want people to eat an apple or handful of nuts instead of a candy bar, let's make apples and tree nuts affordable.

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