Republicans are proclaiming a great holy war against the federal deficit. It’s all fake because nobody in our history has inflicted more deficit damage than the Republicans under Bush; and Dick Cheney himself declared, "Deficits don’t matter." Nevertheless, our vestigial news media have bought into the crusade.
Then the co-chairs of the President’s fiscal commission issued a report filled with draconian remedies (e.g. removing the tax deduction on home mortgage interest) that angered everyone, left and right, but would resolve less than a third of the problem even if every last tablespoon of caster oil in the whole package were swallowed.
The only real deficit problem is the future of Medicare, and the only reason that’s a problem is the insane rise in healthcare and health insurance costs – which the co-chairs largely ignored.
So it’s time for us amateur kibitzers to take over and tilt with the deficit. Here’s a starter list of ideas (to which we hope you will add):
1. Shorten Supreme Court Justices’ robes.
Save 36 yards of fabric a year (2 yards per robe, 2 robes per justice), cut down on toxic chemicals used in dry cleaning the wool blend, and eat the leftover sheep (our nation cries out for more mutton).
This may not save much, but we thought we ought to start with the enablers of the Republican spending spree – see below.
2. Tax political contributions as income.
Why? Because that’s how the legislators treat their war chests – as personal treasure, like Sarah Palin’s wardrobe — so that’s how the IRS should treat it.
3. Eliminate corporate tax deductions for political contributions.
Thief Justice Roberts and Thief Petty Officers Scalia, Thomas, Alito, and Kennedy opened the floodgates to corporate money on the grounds that corporations, like individuals, are entitled to free speech. But individuals are not entitled to take tax deductions on their political contributions. Corporations — although they can’t deduct direct contributions to candidates — can pour all the money they want to into the "educational arm" of a political organization under section 501 (c)(3) of the IRS code – so they wreck opposing candidates with attack ads, buy elections, and then deduct whatever it costs them to undermine the democratic process.
4. Eliminate corporate deductions for membership dues and other payments to trade associations (read, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce) that engage in political activity.
5. New corporate tax: "Pay SOMETHING, for Christ Sake!"
25% of the Fortune 500 companies have been paying no corporate income tax whatever, cheerfully exploiting all the loopholes that they’ve bribed congressmen to enact. They still whine piteously every election (and through all their puppets in Congress) about the U.S. having one of the highest corporate tax rates – but they don’t pay it. They’re corporate welfare queens.
If you or I have big deductions, the IRS insists that we pay at least an Alternative Minimum Tax. We never get off scott free — why should the corporations?
The absolute minimum corporate tax (Pay SOMETHING for Christ sake!) could be set at the prevailing average rate of Ireland, Belgium, and those other countries the corporations love to cite.
Penalty for evasion: federal prison terms (they laugh at fines) for all CEOs, CFOs, and compliance officers of their accounting firms.
6. Since Eliot Spitzer wiped out, dig up Eliot Ness.
First step might be to replace attorney general Eric Holder with somebody who might actually prosecute criminals. Holder is a reverse-Diogenes, searching through the world with his lantern, looking for a dishonest man, and unable to find one.
7. Get rid of all the HMOs.
They’ve added nothing to healthcare except costs. Quality has slipped. Patients are cheated and discarded. Costs have soared, and so have insurance company profits, fat executive salaries, and voluptuous bonuses. Medicare operates much better and on much lower administrative costs. So if we provide Medicare for everyone, who needs HMOs?
Most of the new Medicare users will pay their own premiums (as present users do), and the savings from ditching the HMOs will more than pay for the subsidies to those who can’t pay.
8. A Liar’s Tax
Political attack ads – smears and jeers — will always be with us. But some are outright lies, and those should become expensive. Campaign ads could be judged by the journalism schools at Columbia and Northwestern, and the offending candidates and their funders assessed at $50,000 a lie, multiplied by the number of times the ad ran.
For the last six weeks of a campaign, the same tax would apply to unregistered liars such as Karl Rove, Rush Limbaugh, Dick Armey, talk radio ranters, Glenn Beck, and Fox News.
Of course any such notions would be fought, claw and fang, by zombie legislators on behalf of their corporate masters. Occasionally, their death grip can be loosened by exposing the bribers and the bribees by name, but these will be small, hard fought steps on a long journey.
Life is a marathon, not a sprint.
Finally, to anyone who regards these proposals as less than serious, please turn off your yammering, lying, baboon-infested radio, then smash it to smithereens. From now on take your music intravenously, by I-Pod, and get actual facts and genuine political information from Daily Kos and Rachel Maddow.
It’s the Republicans who are less than serious with all their empty, hypocritical flag-waving about deficit reduction – as witness what happened when they were in complete control under George W. Bush. The deficits skyrocketed (as they had under Reagan), then the unregulated economy exploded.
Their trickle-down supply-side zero regulation ideology proved calamitous, so they’re overhauling it by crying out for exactly the same things, only louder.