The political process driving the decisions about our nation's economic priorities is absurd. It's hard to pry facts out of the discussions by pundits & political operatives. Luckily there are some people doing research, trying to get some actual information.
In particular, the Republicans in Congress are publicly taking a stand for the mega-wealthy top 1% - by proposing to raise the Medicare eligibility age, instead of raising tax rates a few percentage points on the top earners.
Speaker Boehner & the House GOP are taking some flack for their crappy proposals from other conservatives, albeit for the wrong reasons.
Raising the Medicare age is one of the many stupid, bad ideas floating around these budget discussions right now. It's insane that it's considered "shared sacrifice" when the budget is balanced by screwing old, poor, & sick people. Meanwhile, millionaires and mega-corporations making record profits on the whole are expected to be given a pass.
Paul Krugman summed up the masochist aspect of this approach to economics perfectly:
I like to personally look into things deeply before making conclusions, so I've actually visited the budget proposal sites for both parties:
The White House
House of Representatives Budget Office
Here is my official analysis of all the budget details:
Although I've read the overviews and scanned some of the content, looking at all those tables & numbers makes me remember how happy I am to not be an accountant. I'm just not too interested in reading pages of charts & figures.
All I know is that things are getting worse for many people & alot better for a few. There are ways to balance society & the economy so capitalist markets can exist, with government playing an effective role in regulating society for the benefit of the population-at-large.
...I know, I'm a real dreamer.
Anyway since I'm not really trying to pick apart details, I've seen some charts recently that reflect general trends. These trends should be at the center of any discussion of revenues vs. spending cuts to public programs.
First of all, the idea that we should completely avoid taxing the extreme wealth in this country is idiotic. Of course, we also need to cut imprudent government spending & continually reform it all aspects. However, rich people & corporations can obviously afford to sacrifice for the system more than someone disadvantaged or barely getting by. The ultra-wealthy are enjoying the lowest tax rates in 50 years. The financial crisis can't be that bad if we don't need their "sacrifice" too.
Here's a NYT chart showing the tax rates of the past 50+ years:
One of the funny things about hearing how the Obama Administration is "anti-business" is that corporate profits in general are at record highs. Unfortunately, worker's wages are at an all-time low in relation to GDP. If Chairman 'MAO'bama was really the Great Communist Menace, this would be the exact opposite:
I also think it's clear that the government has a role to play in subsidizing certain industries. The idea of a completely "Free Market" is delusional. People think "entitlements" & "welfare" are giant drains on the economy, but government enables bad behavior through corporate welfare on a much larger scale. The way Wal-Mart takes advantage of its workers is a prime example.
Think by Numbers:
Of course, many of these problems have solutions... some that neither party are willing to advance.
One idea that makes too much sense is a "Medicare-for-All" approach to healthcare. Everybody pays into the healthcare system & it is disengaged from private industry. I don't see why an employer should be responsible for providing private health insurance. It seems like this is an area where the federal government absolutely needs to be involved in taxation to "provide for the general welfare."
Anyway, trying to figure all these problems out is crazy, and it's why I have no desire to get into politics. However, I think it's every citizen's right & duty to speak up about how we think a solution could be found.