America’s Financial Priorities

Our two unfunded wars, Iraq and Afghanistan, has topped $1 trillion.  Our  unfunded $160 billion tax cuts were signed into law, for which all other bills were held hostage for its passage.  Our oil companies like BP and Exxon/Mobil can deduct from their taxes drilling exploration, oil recovery operations, percentage depletion allowances, passive investments, domestic manufacturing, foreign taxes, marginal well production, clean up costs, and fines.  Our businesses like Walmart receive tax deferments and tax incentives from our local governments as incentives to come into our communities.

Our banking and financial industries speculated on our housing market, marketed and sold sub prime mortgages.  They bundled and sold faulty mortgages as products, all of which led to our housing market crash.  TARP program was initiated in November of 2008 and was intended to secure our large banks by purchasing “toxic assets” from our flailing banks’ balance sheets and avert repossession for struggling home owners.  But before President Obama was sworn into office and just as critics feared, our banks and financial institutions are either hording the money or are using it to take over weaker rivals. Bank of America and Wells Fargo are able to forgo paying state and local income taxes.  Wells Fargo is also able to forgo paying their federal income taxes as well.  The cost of TARP was $2.9 trillion.

Representative John Boehner says, “We’re broke!”  So in order to balance our budget, funding for certain programs must be cut.  There are no funds available for low income heating assistance, Corporation for Public Broadcasting, EPA, the Health Care Bill, family planning, welfare, federal job training, high speed rail, climate change, energy reform, NASA, and National Institutes of Health.  To further enhance our budget, GOP senators threaten to derail all bills that don’t cut the national debt.

Our police, firefighter, teacher, and other public unions are being scapegoated for budgetary shortfalls.  Most notably, Governor Walker of Wisconsin blames collective bargaining and health care contributions for his state’s budget shortfall of $137 million.  State Senator Erpenbach however, brought to light that Governor Walker gave away $150 million of business tax cuts.

With the National Deficit topping over $14 trillion, draconian cuts and austerity measures are being proposed.  It is worth investigating where our money went.  Precisely who are making sacrifices?  Who are benefiting from these policies?  Are “we broke” because of entitlement programs, or is it due to the multitude of tax giveaways to businesses?

-As Oil Industry Fights a Tax, It Reaps Subsidies, New York Times, 7/4/10
-”Free Lunch”, David Cay Johnston
-Paulson abandons plans to buy up America‘s toxic mortgage assets, Guardian, 11/13/08
-No Taxes for Bank of America ((NYSE: BAC) and Wells Fargo (NYSE:WFC), American Consumer News, 3/29/10
-Boehner: “We’re Broke”, Politico, 2/10/11
-GOP leaders forced to deepen proposed budget cuts, Chicago Tribune, 2/11/11
-GOP Reveals Plan for Deep Cuts to EPA, Job Training and More, CBS News, 2/9/11
-GOP Senators Threaten To Derail All Bills That Don’t Cut Debt, Huffington Post, 3/10/11
-The Wisconsin Teachers’ Crisis: Who’s Really to Blame?, Time, 2/18/11
-What’s at Stake in Wisconsin’s Budget Battle, Online WSJ, 2/19/11
-Lawmaker: Gov’s plan has torn Wisconsin apart, CBS News, 2/19/11