We Need a “Rout” of Wolves to Evict the ‘Stench’ of Skunks Occupying Washington

We Need a “Rout” of Wolves to Evict the ‘Stench’ of Skunks Occupying Washington

Dave Lindorff   Sunday 4 December 2011  Nation of Change

Clearly, on the evidence of these two measures working their way through Congress now, we have a federal government that has run amok, that is responding not to the people but to narrow corporate interests that seek to both impoverish the citizens and to prepare for greater levels of public unrest and rebellion by putting into place the tools of a police state.

The US Con­gress is such a craven bunch that you re­ally have to turn to Olde Eng­lish to aptly de­scribe them.

Con­sider that on Thurs­day, by a vote of 93-7, the Sen­ate ap­proved a Na­tional De­fense Au­tho­riza­tion Bill that ef­fec­tively de­fines the US “home­land” as a war zone, and that al­lows for the in­def­i­nite in­car­cer­a­tion with­out trial of any­one, in­clud­ing US cit­i­zens and Green Card hold­ers, with­out trial, in bla­tant vi­o­la­tion of the Sixth Amend­ment of the US Con­sti­tu­tion and of fun­da­men­tal in­ter­na­tional ju­di­cial stan­dards.

These elected rep­re­sen­ta­tives, so ready to sell out the fun­da­men­tal rights of the peo­ple and the na­tion’s her­itage, can be best de­scribed, using Olde Eng­lish usage, as a “con­gress” of ba­boons, or a “cow­ardice” of curs, a “sneak” of weasels” or per­haps just a “stench” of skunks.

And it’s not over. Both houses of Con­gress are also con­sid­er­ing a pro­posal by Pres­i­dent Obama of a mea­sure that will se­ri­ously un­der­mine So­cial Se­cu­rity — a fur­ther cut in the So­cial Se­cu­rity 12.4% pay­roll tax by 3.1% for work­ers and a match­ing 3.1% cut in the 40% share of that tax paid by em­ploy­ers–mea­sures which taken to­gether would gut the So­cial Se­cu­rity Trust Fund by more than $350 bil­lion in one year.

This theft from the pub­lic is being de­ceit­fully pre­sented as a tax break, as if So­cial Se­cu­rity “taxes” were just like the in­come tax we pay. It’s not at all that. First of all, the em­ployer’s share of the pay­roll tax is just like the em­ployer con­tri­bu­tion to a worker’s pen­sion or 401(k). It’s your money they are con­tribut­ing, be­cause it is used to cal­cu­late your re­tire­ment ben­e­fit amount, to if they pay less, you are get­ting less. The same is true of the pay­roll tax you see de­ducted from your pay­check.

It might hurt just as much as the in­come tax that is with­held when you look at how it re­duces your take-home pay, but while the in­come tax mostly ends up to pay for end­less wars, for tax give­aways to cor­po­ra­tions, and for things like oil-de­ple­tion al­lowance sub­si­dies to the oil com­pa­nies, the pay­roll tax is your money and is put into the Trust Fund to cal­cu­late your re­tire­ment ben­e­fit!

Cut­ting the amount de­ducted from your check may or may not re­duce the amount of your ben­e­fit (that’s un­clear), but if Con­gress does this with­out com­pen­sat­ing for the cut by tak­ing money from some other tax, such as a sup­ple­men­tal tax on the rich, to com­pen­sate for the loss of funds in the Trust Fund–and that is what the Re­pub­li­cans in Con­gress are de­mand­ing with their re­fusal to pass any new taxes on the wealthy–then it just strength­ens the hand of those who are claim­ing that So­cial Se­cu­rity is going “bank­rupt,” and that the sys­tem needs to be “re­formed” by re­duc­ing ben­e­fits or de­lay­ing the re­tire­ment age.

This is sup­posed to be our Con­gress, but it is close to pass­ing leg­is­la­tion that is a huge prepara­tory step to­wards fas­cism, turn­ing the mil­i­tary into a do­mes­tic po­lice force within the coun­try’s bor­ders, and re­turn­ing the US to a pre-Rev­o­lu­tion­ary era when po­lice and sol­diers could grab peo­ple, charge them with trea­son, sedi­tion or ter­ror­ism, and just lock them up or even ex­e­cute them with­out trial. In­deed, that kind of be­hav­ior is why we had a rev­o­lu­tion back in 1776!

 And this same Con­gress is stealth­ily un­der­min­ing So­cial Se­cu­rity and Medicare, the two most im­por­tant lega­cies of the New Deal and the Great So­ci­ety eras, and unar­guably the two most pop­u­lar pro­grams run by the fed­eral gov­ern­ment.

Article imageAnd it’s not just Con­gress. Pres­i­dent Obama started this prob­lem off when he re­neged, once elected, on his cam­paign promise to close the mil­i­tary prison camps at Guan­tanamo and to run a gov­ern­ment that re­spected the Con­sti­tu­tion. He did nei­ther, con­tin­u­ing to en­dorse de­ten­tion with­out trial, and ac­tu­ally ex­pand­ing on the Con­sti­tu­tional crimes of his pre­de­ces­sor, Pres­i­dent George W. Bush, by or­der­ing the sum­mary ex­tra-ju­di­cial ex­e­cu­tion of at least two Amer­i­can cit­i­zens, who are as­sured the right to a trial by a jury of their peers under the Bill of Rights of the US Con­sti­tu­tion.

 He also came up with the truly lousy idea, passed by Con­gress last year, of cut­ting the So­cial Se­cu­rity pay­roll tax by 2% from it’s nor­mal 6.2% level. Now he’s tripled down on the same scam by propos­ing in­creas­ing that cut to 3.1% for work­ers and an­other 3.1% for em­ploy­ers!

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 This wreck­ing ball aimed at the So­cial Se­cu­rity pro­gram is being sold as an “eco­nomic stim­u­lus” pro­gram, when al­most any econ­o­mist will read­ily ex­plain that it won’t work. First of all, since the pay­roll tax re­duc­tion goes to every per­son who pays the FICA tax, it means not just low in­come work­ers will get it, but also wealthy “work­ers.” And while the sav­ings for a per­son earn­ing min­i­mum wage would be just $500, and would cer­tainly be spent on some­thing (though not nec­es­sar­ily on Amer­i­can goods, since half of the things peo­ple buy are im­ported!), the sav­ings for a wealthy per­son earn­ing above the So­cial Se­cu­rity tax­able max­i­mum of $106,000 would be $3300, and would likely not be spent, but rather saved, doing noth­ing to boost eco­nomic ac­tiv­ity.

Fur­ther­more, the 3.1% re­duc­tion in pay­roll taxes paid by em­ploy­ers would not likely lead to any ad­di­tional hir­ing — the sup­posed jus­ti­fi­ca­tion for giv­ing them the same re­duc­tion — but would just be used to in­crease prof­its and div­i­dends to wealthy in­vestors. In fact, this scheme was tried once back in the 1970s dur­ing the Carter ad­min­is­tra­tion, and has been heav­ily re­searched, with econ­o­mists find­ing no ev­i­dence that the pay­roll tax “hol­i­day” led to any new jobs. The best char­ac­ter­i­za­tion of this whole idea is not an old Eng­lish word, but an old Amer­i­can one: cocka­mamie.

Clearly, on the ev­i­dence of these two mea­sures work­ing their way through Con­gress now, we have a fed­eral gov­ern­ment that has run amok, that is re­spond­ing not to the peo­ple but to nar­row cor­po­rate in­ter­ests that seek to both im­pov­er­ish the cit­i­zens and to pre­pare for greater lev­els of pub­lic un­rest and re­bel­lion by putting into place the tools of a po­lice state.

Any­one who doubts this need only look at the co­or­di­nated at­tacks on the Oc­cupy Move­ment, with SWAT-style para­mil­i­tary po­lice sweep­ing through en­camp­ments in cities across the coun­try, tear­ing down tents and bru­tally ar­rest­ing the young ac­tivists bold enough to chal­lenge the cor­po­ratist fed­eral gov­ern­ment’s poli­cies and to frontally crit­i­cize the work­ings of Amer­ica’s vaunted cap­i­tal­ist sys­tem.

The 2012 elec­tion is going to be a wa­ter­shed, but it is not much of a choice on offer. We have two cor­po­ratist par­ties vying for the spoils of gov­ern­ment, nei­ther of which is re­motely try­ing to re­sist the bur­geon­ing power of the cor­po­rate oli­garchy, and both of which are mov­ing ahead to cre­ate a po­lice state and to vi­ti­ate two key so­cial pro­grams.

Where to turn? Per­haps the can­di­dacy of Rocky An­der­son, the for­mer mayor of Salt Lake City, who has an­nounced the for­ma­tion of a new Jus­tice Party, and who has said he in­tends to run for pres­i­dent on its ticket. An­der­son is quoted in Utah’s De­seret News as forth­rightly say­ing that the Amer­i­can peo­ple “want to see an al­ter­na­tive party. They rec­og­nize that these two mil­i­tarist, cor­po­ratist par­ties have brought us to this dis­as­trous place to where we are today.”

Let’s hope he’s right! It’s going to take a “rout of wolves” to oust the ba­boons, curs, weasels and skunks from Wash­ing­ton and turn this dis­as­ter around.

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