Grace Ross: Sequestration - What It Means
Tuesday, February 26, 2013
When they were talking about changing federal laws so that we would no longer have protections around air pollution they called it something like “blue skies” legislation. When they talk about “saving Medicare” these days, they’re usually talking about gutting our protections that we’ve all been paying taxes into forever.
It turns out the definition of sequester – the basis of the word sequestration – means to seize, to separate, to hold in trust pending the resolution of a claim or debt. So when our federal government is talking about sequestration you would think it would mean they are talking about, for instance, putting aside money for our futures together; however, I’m not sure they can even conceptualize the concept of a future together even though the entire point in government is having a way of together deciding where we want our futures to go.
After the Great Depression there were a number of calls for us to come together as a nation, coming together around the Second World War, coming together and rebuilding our economy. A simple request that everybody contribute meant that under President Eisenhower the top tax bracket (that is the slice of big money that the very wealthiest have that the rest of us don’t have) was actually taxed at 91 cents on the dollar. The wealthy made plenty of profits under this policy because it turns out that when most of the money is held by the folks who do most of the purchasing – that is regular folks – that the very wealthy make a lot of money off of all the stuff they’re producing that we buy.
We regular folks haven’t actually recovered at all from the “Great Recession” it turns out. The top one percent has gotten 100% of all of the increase in income that’s happened since the recession supposedly ended. The rest of us are still in exactly the recession we were in. In fact, we’re marginally worse off since it turns out that, of all the new income created, we got negative one percent of it.
The one percent is doing really, really well. They are just not being asked to contribute to the recovery like they were expected, and then required to do, when the entire nation was trying to recover from the Great Depression. Perhaps that’s because our government chose to use all of its resources to protect their resources in this last major downturn instead of looking forward to building a trust for our future.
That brings me back to the question of sequestration.
The “sequestration” proposal that’s on the federal government’s docket is not about holding anything in trust for the rest of us, anyone actually, while a debt gets paid off.
What they’re talking about doing is cutting most of the things that provide not only services to the vast majority of people, but also tons of jobs. Last thing we need right now is fewer jobs. They haven’t managed to create practically any jobs, even though the so-called “job creators” have had more money than they knew what to do with. What job creation has happened has more or less just tracked the increase in working age population across the boards.
The electeds are calling it sequestration when it’s about letting the very wealthy continue to escape taxation on tons of money and cutting basic necessities that you and I need.
Trust me, the cuts are so devastating that if they go forward as proposed, any forward motion that was in our economy will not only come to crashing halt, but in fact will backslide significantly. The basic rule here is it’s the money that flows into our local economies, our local communities, and the pockets of regular people that drive an economy. So long as the top electeds and the pundits refuse to admit that, they are not going to do anything to help turn the overall economy around. At some point, even the money that the very wealthy have is not going to keep growing (unless they really are just printing in the basement of the Federal Reserve).
There is another proposal out there. It’s not impossible to balance our budget as a federal government without cutting into the things that could eventually help move the economy forward. The proposal, called the Balancing Act, would cut 1.7 trillion in cuts, would bring in 737 billion in revenue and actually turn the financial situation around while creating a million jobs.
The proposal is being made by Congresspeople Keith Ellison and Raul Grijalva. It includes actual revenues by getting rid of limitations on certain deductions in taxes and closing loopholes such as the carried interest, jets and yachts, the international tax system, foreign earned income credit, estate tax, S-Corporation loop holes. It ends corporate deductions for stock options, fossil fuel subsidies, would cut small amounts of Pentagon waste (most of which have been acknowledged by various members in the defense community) and would invest in jobs to the tune of $275 billion in all areas that have already proven their economic rebound value.
It’s not impossible to balance our budget. We could do it and actually do what sequestration means: to stop giving away the government’s money in ways that will never provide a future of the vast majority of us while we supposedly pay down a debt; instead it will hold the money back in our government’s hands for the wellbeing of the fast majority of us.
If they do what they’re trying to pass off as sequestration, you are going to feel it in cuts and job losses at every level. I would like to know when the money they’re taking away from all of the economy building initiatives is going to come back? Like to the children who no longer have headstart, loose classrooms and to the many of us who won’t have jobs to put money on the table or keep a roof over our head. They are not even talking about asking for the trillions back that continue to be used by the financial industry to destroy homeownership across our country.
No, it’s pretty straightforward. We need a new anti-dictionary that gives the opposite meaning to words than they’ve traditionally had so that we can understand government speak. Or maybe there’s just one word we all need to learn the definition of to understand our government: It’s called obfuscation.
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