See the text of Bernie Sander’s speech about Democratic Socialism, wherein he writes:
I don’t believe government should own the means of production, but I do believe that the middle class and the working families who produce the wealth of America deserve a fair deal.
I believe in private companies that thrive and invest and grow in America instead of shipping jobs and profits overseas.
I believe that most Americans can pay lower taxes — if hedge fund managers who make billions manipulating the marketplace finally pay the taxes they should.
In fact, Sanders is a social democrat, not a democratic socialist.
The polls may tell us we’re divided on who to vote for, but in our hearts I think we all want similar things: to ensure kids can get a strong start in life, to have a college degree or a professional trade to be within everyone’s reach, to have clean and safe places to play; and to live in safe and vibrant neighborhoods.
A good public budget plans for today’s priorities, for future needs, and for the unexpected — and taxes allow a community to pay for the public goods and services for which it has planned.
The latest Eyman Initiative, I-1366 (which just squeaked by with a 51% yes vote) could threaten all of that — but only if we let it. I-1366 says the Legislature has to either reduce the sales tax rate by one penny — which would, over the next 6 years alone, cut $8 billion from K-12 and higher education, mental health services, foster care and more — or vote to put a constitutional amendment on the 2016 ballot that would give a super-super minority of 17 out of 147 legislators the power to effectively stop any future tax reform, including closing corporate tax loopholes.
There are four ways our elected leaders can respond. Only one really has any hope of helping:
- The Legislature can do nothing and hope that the state Supreme Court finds I-1366 unconstitutional. That is a hope, not a certainty.
- The Legislature could vote to repeal the initiative, but that takes a two-thirds vote of both houses, which is unlikely given the prolonged partisan showdown over the budget this past year.
- The Legislature could vote to put the undemocratic constitutional amendment proposed by I-1366 on the ballot, but again, that takes two-thirds vote of both houses. Unlikely at best.
- The fourth option is to do Eyman one better, and double the sales tax decrease proposed in I-1366. Here’s why — and how.
Washington’s sales tax hits low- and middle-income people much harder than the wealthy, because people with less money have to spend more of it on the basics. Low income families contribute $1 out of every $8 they make for sales and excise taxes. Middle class families contribute $1 for every $13. The top 1 percent of families, those receiving more than a half-million dollars a year, contribute $1 for every $63 they receive. Under this system, cutting the sales tax is a big help for middle class and working class family finances … if that money is replaced with new revenues to fund the public services on which we all depend.
On the other hand, if we reduce the sales tax without a new source of revenue we can forget about reducing tuition at our colleges or reducing class sizes in our elementary schools. The only way we can pay for shared priorities like education, health care, stamping out forest fires, and public parks is if that money is replaced … and more.
So, let’s take a lesson from our neighbors in Idaho and Oregon and forty-three other states where people who receive more, pay more in taxes toward our community priorities — so all of us can have access to these public goods now and in the future. That is called an income tax!
Here is a dead-simple way to do it: the Legislature entirely exempts the first $50,000 of income from taxation, then the tax steps up the income ladder, so the effective tax rate is zero for families at $50,000, 2 percent for families at $100,000 ($2,000 in taxes), 5 percent for $500,000 of income, and 10 percent for a million dollars or more of income.
Washington has a lot more wealthy people than most other states. They just don’t pay their fare share of taxes. This progressive income tax would fix that and bring in $7.5 billion a year. Combined with a 2-cent sales tax decrease, as opposed to Eyman’s 1 penny, and legislators will have lowered taxes on three out of four households in our state — and still meet our government’s duty to fund the foundations of economic opportunity and a prosperous economy.
A bold legislature would take advantage of Initiative 1366 to pass this tax reform to benefit all of our citizens. But will they be bold?
Originally published at EOIOnline
Bernie’s statement on regime change never being a good idea, and mentioning Guatemala, Mossadegh, and Allende is heading toward the vision of what we actually need to do. End our imperial foreign policy, start closing our military bases overseas, focus on our domestic problems. Whether it’s a winning issue with a majority of the public is another matter. They have been quite literally scared out of their wits with a decade of BS propaganda about the “evildoers,” and on and on. Older voters got the Cold War BS. It’s hard to both educate and win in the same campaign. That’s why he’s focused on domestic economic issues, a broad consensus that working families are being screwed already exists.
When foreign policy comes up, IMO, he should frame talk about pulling back within the first 150 years of American foreign policy, not the more recent anti-imperialist strain of criticism that has been effectively marginalized by the corporate war mongers. Avoid foreign entanglements, spread democracy abroad by be a shining example here at home. In that vein, he needs to bring up his opposition to the USA PATRIOT Act and domestic spying more too. Clinton is very vulnerable there.
Saying that we need to have a discussion about why the American military is being used around the world to protect our supposed “commercial interests” when those commercial interests increasingly consider themselves global corporations, not American ones, might also prove useful. They ship our jobs overseas, they invest overseas, they offshore their profits, they avoid US taxes, but without the US military, the global casino economy and resource extraction racket they’ve created is vulnerable.