"Joy and pleasure are as real as pain and sorrow and one must learn what they have to teach. . . ." -- Sean Russell, from Gatherer of Clouds

"If you're not having fun, you're not doing it right." -- Helyn D. Goldenberg

"I love you and I'm not afraid." -- Evanescence, "My Last Breath"

“If I hear ‘not allowed’ much oftener,” said Sam, “I’m going to get angry.” -- J.R.R. Tolkien, from Lord of the Rings

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Jan Schakowsky

I may have mentioned this before, but 1) she is my representative in Congress; and 2) she's serious. As a counter to the joke perpetrated by Erskine Bowles and Alan "310 million tits" Simpson, co-chairs of the Catfood Commission, she's come up with her own plan -- and it actually does something about the deficit. (The link is to a pdf file that for some reason has all the detail pages sideways. Don't ask me to explain that.) Here's her summary and critique:

* My plan recognizes the need to create jobs – a deficit-reducing strategy – that some, incorrectly, view as just more spending. Their plan does not include up front investments to lower the unemployment rate. It is important to note that if America’s unemployment rate were still at its pre-recession level of 4.5%, we would only be facing a modest deficit.

* Their plan addresses rising health care costs by asking elderly Medicare beneficiaries to pay more out of their own pockets, even though they already pay about 30% of their mostly meager incomes (the median income for seniors is $18,000 per year) on their own. Their plan cuts Medicare by $110 billion by imposing higher cost-sharing requirements on seniors and people with disabilities. Mine requires Medicare to negotiate with pharmaceutical companies for lower prices like the Veteran’s Administration does, bringing down the cost to seniors and the government by billions of dollars. It also would implement a public option, which we already know would save $10 billion by 2015.

* Their plan cuts the bloated military budget, which is a very good thing. Mine does as well, but not by freezing noncombat military pay for three years or by cutting military health care benefits. These military families are not getting rich serving our country and should not be the target of deficit reduction.

* Responding to Republican calls to slash spending, the Bowles-Simpson plan calls for deep cuts in domestic discretionary spending. Using the Bowles-Simpson formula, the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities calculates a 22% cut in current funding levels in 2020, jeopardizing everything from nutrition and education to medical research and job training.

* Amazingly, their plan opens a new huge loophole to incentivize companies to outsource jobs. By adopting a territorial tax system, U.S. based multi-national corporations will never have to pay taxes on profits earned from subsidiaries in foreign countries.

* Finally, the Bowles-Simpson plan would require cuts in Social Security benefits. The good news is that they acknowledge that Social Security has nothing to do with the deficit, and their plan is to make Social Security solvent for the next 75 years and not to use it for debt reduction. The bad news is that average benefits for middle-income workers (average lifetime earnings of between $43,000 and $69,000 per year) could be cut up to 35% depending on when they retire. There is no need to cut Social Security in order to save it as my plan proves.

I have highlighted just a few of the ways that the Bowles-Simpson plan further erodes the middle class and threatens low-income Americans. There are many things in their plan that are also in mine, however. I appreciate that there has been consensus that the defense budget must be subjected to scrutiny and trimming in ways never seriously suggested before. It is very significant that tax expenditures, or as they call “tax earmarks," all those deductions that are largely skewed to the wealthy, are finally being recognized for what they are – spending, but through the tax code.

Schakowsky is smart enough to realize that the deficit isn't going to come down as long as the economy is in the toilet. Pity Bowles and Simpson aren't that clever -- or they think we're not.

And here's some commentary on Schakowsky's plan from Pat Garofalo at The Wonk Room


phnx55mn said...

Your Congresswoman is a gem. Thanks for playing her song, it's the one I've been dying to hear.


Hunter said...

My only complaint about Schakowsky in the past has been that she doesn't push hard enough -- and now that's starting to change.

And I can't think of an issue on which we have any substantial disagreement. She's even a member of the congressional LGBT Caucus. And happily, she's in a safe seat -- this district is so blue it's practically indigo.