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Letter to the Editor: Fiscal Cliff an Artificial Crisis

Former Green Party presidential candidate Cheri Honkala claims the fiscal cliff isn't about the reducing the deficit, it's about cutting social programs.

To the Editor:

The fiscal cliff is an artificial crisis created by Congress as a ploy to dismantle safety net programs the American people have built up and relied on for generations. In their own words, corporations want to "use the fiscal cliff as an opportunity" to push for tax cuts for themselves and benefit cuts for the rest of us. 

On December 10, community leaders all across the country held vigils and rallies outside Congressional offices to defend the safety net and protest the so-called fiscal cliff negotiations in Washington, DC. It was part of a coordinated national campaign on International Human Rights Day, the 64th anniversary of the signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Among other provisions, the Declaration proclaims the inalienable human right to jobs, housing, health care, education and social security.

Although the fiscal cliff is allegedly about the federal budget deficit, many proposals actually under discussion show that it has nothing to do with the deficit whatsoever. 

For one, President Obama proposed a so-called chained CPI formula that would cut Social Security benefits, especially for the poorest and most elderly. Social Security currently runs a 2.7 trillion dollar surplus, is a separate fund that by law cannot increase the deficit, and in fact has never contributed a penny to the deficit in its entire 77-year history. 

Another proposal is a $134 billion corporate "tax repatriation holiday." This would INCREASE the deficit and proves that the fiscal cliff is really designed just to raise corporate profit even if it means plunging millions of Americans into poverty. 

Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and affordable housing have been and are now fully funded and paid for through our payroll and income taxes, and are supported by an overwhelming super-majority of voters. They are the property of the American people and the inheritance we have prepared for our children and grandchildren. A "grand bargain" or any other kind of compromise that in any way diminishes or weakens these programs in order to enrich corporations is totally unacceptable.

The idea that America has become so impoverished that it can no longer afford the most elementary necessities of its people is patently absurd. As a nation we are richer and more productive than ever. Despite declining industrial employment, our manufacturing OUTPUT is higher now than it has ever been, thanks to the technological revolution. The attacks on the safety net are deliberate efforts to artificially introduce poverty in the midst of plenty.

The solution to the deficit is not difficult: it is to make banks and corporations pay their taxes. In the 1940s, corporations paid 50% more taxes than individuals. Today, they pay 75% LESS than individuals. There is no shortage of money. Corporations continue to reap record profits year after year, but they are paying fewer taxes. 

When Jill Stein and I ran for President and Vice President, we had a plan that addresses the deficit, and more importantly the unemployment epidemic and the looming climate crisis. It was called the Green New Deal that would have created millions of jobs providing human services and building sustainable infrastructure. What we have in America today is not a deficit problem at all but a human rights problem. The time has come for us to reject the poverty agenda of the fiscal cliff promoted by both Republicans and Democrats. The time has come to provide a job, housing, health care and education to every American.

Sincerely,

Cheri Honkala, 2012 Green Party Candidate for Vice President
Director, Poor Peoples Economic Human Rights Campaign

John Q. Public December 30, 2012 at 06:45 PM
job, housing, health care and education? In what order? If you are suggesting people should work to support their housing, health care and education needs, I'd agree with you. Unfortunately, many feel I am obligated to pay for their housing, health care and education, and give them a job. That doesn't work well.
Eve December 30, 2012 at 11:20 PM
If you gave them a decent job they could pay for their own housing, health care and education.
big jon December 30, 2012 at 11:41 PM
If they stopped doing drugs,alcohol,being lazy and if they actually cared and worked hard at school they would get good jobs
Eve December 31, 2012 at 12:37 AM
All of THEM do not do drugs, are not alcoholics, nor are they lazy, but I work with some who are all of the above, but I guess it is okay if they are not black and live outside of Norristown.
big jon December 31, 2012 at 12:53 AM
Yes not all but 90% of them are...and I said nothing about the color of there skin
Mike Shortall Sr January 01, 2013 at 05:49 PM
You guys are funny. You want to speak about pie-in-the-sky solutions with absolutely no ideas as to how to finance them aside from raising tax rates on EVERYONE, which is the only way you can finance such giveaways. I call them giveaways because there is no way - without substantial expansion of the Economy - that you can find jobs that will pay enough that will provide "... housing, health care and education to every American." You don't flip a switch and all this in the way of human services just appears. It has to be grown economically, something that 51% of the Electorate couldn't grasp back in November. Even taking your suggestion to build sustainable infrastructure requires financing that only comes from growing a vital economy. So how will you do that? And if your answer is to increase taxes - significantly - on everyone at a certain level of income (regardless of what that amount is), then you really haven't got a clue! Everyone - other than the physically/mentally unable or incorrigibly unemployable - enjoys a higher quality of living when the Economy is growing and succeeding.
gerhard sweetman January 03, 2013 at 04:54 PM
Rules Truth,nothing but,whole truth. Words with no numbers are lies Monolphys save $ but are problems, provide alternates plan B

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