What Fresh Hell Is This?

December 11, 2012

Follow-up to "We Won't Be Sold Out" Rally

We blogged about the "We Won't Be Sold Out" rally yesterday. Here's a snippet of video (courtesy of Joy Sabl) from the event which occurred in the pouring rain:

You can see the text of a follow-up email which was sent to Sen. Bob Casey's Pittsburgh staffer by Democracy for Pittsburgh after the jump.
Dear Mr. Ferruchie;

Thank you for coming down to meet with our sodden representatives. I'm sending the following on behalf of Democracy for Pittsburgh, based on discussions with members, but it happens to also align well with the stance of PA for Democracy and Democracy for America.

No Bad Deals
DFP strongly supports the DFA national stance that we'd rather fail to reach a compromise than settle for a bad compromise. We feel that blanket changes to eligibility ages are a cut--and unacceptable. We have members, friends, family and neighbors who can attest that, for many of the hardest working people in society, 65 is not the "new middle age." Not for the construction worker who's battled tendinitis since his 40's. Not for the cafeteria worker who slipped a disk at age 50. Not for the postal worker with arthritis, walking on chilblains and bunions. There may be some people with rewarding jobs and good health who who would be willing to take deferred retirement and deferred medicare, to help smooth out the "baby boom bump," the following "dip," and the "boomlet" after that. But raising the age of retirement or medical in any blanket, non-voluntarily way is cruelty, and a false savings. So are further cuts to our already fraying social safety net.

Use the "cliff" to reconsider priorities / Focus on short-term needs, long-term needs, and long-term benefits
While we do not take any delight in the real pain caused by across-the-board cutbacks in many cost-effective social programs, life saving research, etc, we note that there is likely no other way to achieve cuts in defense spending than by passing over that so-called "cliff." Much military spending is directed to items that we hope not to use. The defense budget is uniquely rich in what are, de facto, jobs for jobs' sake (not to mention pork-barrel deals and sweetheart deals whose military justification has dwindled). In a strong economy, that's--arguably--tolerable. In a weak economy, we need to get more for our jobs budget than the jobs themselves. Military projects should have to compete with non-military projects for re-authorization. Within the military budget, we should focus on healing the wounded warriors and displaced veterans returning to our shores.

Tax capital gains
In the absence of a wealth (or holdings) tax (forbidden by the US constitution) we must have a robust tax on dividends and, in particular, on capital gains. Despite watching, repeatedly, how low taxes on capital gains (and to a lesser degree, dividends) primarily drive investment bubbles, disruptive robo-trading and short-sighted profiteering rather than job growth, we continue to nod when people claim that low capital gains taxes drive the creation of US jobs.

Return the upper tax brackets to their (historically modest) Clinton era levels. Please use your office and your media time to explain to people that even billionaires will get lower tax rates on their first ~$85,000 of income (~$140,000 for married, filing jointly), will have only slightly higher rates for the next ~$90,000, and only feel an overall increased pinch well above that income level. Please talk in terms of the "break even" when discussing new rates or new brackets.

Invest in education and in making healthcare accessible and affordable. We will reap benefits in job growth and resulting tax revenue.
Take advantage of low interest loans to pay off high interest loans, and to invest for this future. Do not identify a short-term, baby-boom driven deficit as a key problem. Focus instead on providing acceptable alternatives to cost-ineffective programs.

Encourage fair wages
If the minimum wage had kept pace with inflation, it would approximate a living wage. We would thereby have far less of a drag on our social services, and significantly higher tax revenues. Moderate and lower income workers almost universally pay their fair share of taxes--through payroll deduction, for starters. In contrast, corporations and top income earners spend vast sums--which are deductible, in many cases--for tax help and investment advice designed to help them pay as little tax as possible.

Thank you again for your time, responsiveness, feedback and help.

--Joy Sabl

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