Tuesday, February 07, 2006

The Poor Get Poorer

The President’s 2007 budget proposes $2.7 trillion in spending neccessary to increase defense and homeland security. There is $18 billion for rebuilding from the hurricanes that devestated the poor in the Gulf Coast region. Other programs such as energy programs will get $4.1 billion (huge surprise), while 141 programs that primarily help the poor, children, the elderly, veterans and the handicapped will see their money drastically cut or eliminated. The cuts are needed to reduce a deficit caused, in part, by the war and to support the continuation of the war. They are also to pay for damage from the devastating hurricanes.

The soldiers who risk their lives in Afghanistan and Iraq do so with heroism and grit. The soldiers and their families are making brave and sometimes horrific sacrifices. Why should the same socioeconomic group that makes up the bulk of the fighting force also sacrifice the most financially? Some of us do not believe that we should have invaded Iraq, some of us do. What we all can agree upon is that the cost of the war should not trickle down to those who are fighting and their families. The cost of hurricane rebuilding should not cut programs that will help those most effected by the hurricanes.Why is this happening?Why are programs for the poor cut to pay for a war and storm damage that has benefited the wealthy oil companies and defense contractors? The money that's cut will go to wealthy cotractors hired to rebuild or Haliburton KBR. Huge, sometimes record profits for them, while killing and maiming the poor and middle class soldiers and causing emotional and financial hardship for their families is terrible.

A report, entitled “Shifty Tax Cuts: How They Move the Tax Burden off the Rich and onto Everyone Else,” from United for a Fair Economy (UFE) indicates that between 2002 and 2004, the Bush tax cuts to the top 1% of US income earners redirected billions of dollars in revenue that could have eliminated virtually all of the budget shortfalls in every state.These tax cuts and our government's incestuous relationship with large corporations are the reasons why.

The report identifies five main areas of shifting tax burden:
FEDERAL TO STATE — a 15% shift in tax burden between 2000 and 2003.
PROGRESSIVE TO REGRESSIVE — at the federal level, a 17% decline in the share of revenue from progressive taxes and a 135% increase in the share of revenue from regressive taxes.
WEALTH TO WORK — A tax cut on unearned income — such as inheritance or investment — of between 31% and 79%, but a tax hike on work income of 25% since 1980
CORPORATIONS TO INDIVIDUALS — a 67% drop in the share of federal revenues contributed by corporations and a 17% rise in individuals’ share.
CURRENT TAXPAYERS TO FUTURE GENERATIONS — record deficits that shift the tax burden to our children and grandchildren

Corporate welfare is not a valid reason for the poor and middle class to have to shoulder the financial burdon in same war that they are making all of the physical sacrifices. The Military Industrial Complex must not be allowed to continue to overshadow the citizens of this country.Wealthy corporations should not supplant the working class and poor in importance to our Federal government.

Posted by Andre M. Hernandez
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