Thursday, May 05, 2011

We need an emergency jobs program now !

            We need an emergency jobs program now.
Unemployment and underemployment remain at crisis levels. We need jobs—and we need them now.  Wall Street has gotten its bailouts. Now it’s past time for Main Street to get some immediate help.
Counties, states and cities  are again cutting services; police, fire, health care.  And the state has cut k-12 education and higher education and now will cut more if Republicans continue to block  tax extension on the rich.  These cuts are a direct result of the looting of the economy by finance capital  in the economic crisis.
            At the same time,  GE, Bank of America, Exxon, etc. manages to evade taxes while off-shoring jobs.   In a struggling economy, these companies obtain tax refunds, while bringing in billions (GE earned 14.2 billion and received a tax benefit of 3.2 billion).  Offshore tax havens, tax loopholes and tax breaks (tax expenditures), allow these corporations to rake in billions while you and I   struggle to pay our  taxes. 
            And the shell game goes on –
Taxes have been progressively lowered on the upper 1%, starting with Reagan and continuing to the point where Warren Buffett famously observed that he paid taxes at a lower rate than his secretary.  The justification for these cuts, entirely unsupported by  evidence, is that jobs are created.  In this upward distribution of wealth, 1% of the population tripled their share of after-tax percentage of our nation’s total income from 1980 to 2006, and captured 75% of the economy’s growth between 2002 and 2006 (Buchheit, DePaul University). Meanwhile, the bottom 90% saw their share drop 90%.

            It is past time to tax the corporations and the rich.  We should collect fair taxes and pay for vital services first; fire, police, schools, health care, etc. 

Although the Great Recession officially ended in June 2009, the US economy has failed to provide the jobs needed for long term, sustained growth. The  tax subsidies, budget cut mania costs jobs and makes the recession worse.  At the current rate of job creation most economists believe we would not recover the 8 million jobs lost until 2016. To generate the growth required to employ both the unemployed and underemployed, we need a serious commitment to job creation such as that embedded in HR 870- -the jobs bill introduced by Rep. John Conyers, Jr. (D- MI).
             We need to  rebuild America’s schools, roads and energy systems. America still has at least $2.2 trillion in unmet infrastructure needs. This requires tax sources.  The rich and the bankers are the appropriate sources. We should put people to work to fix our nation’s broken-down school buildings and invest in transportation, green technology, energy efficiency and more.
      We need to increase aid to state and local governments to maintain vital services. State and local governments and school districts have a $178 billion budget shortfall this year alone—while the continuing  recession creates a greater need for their services. States and communities must get help to maintain critical front-line services, prevent massive job cuts and avoid deep damage to education just when our children need it most.
"Taxes are the price we pay for living in a civilized society." 
- Oliver Wendell Holmes, former US Supreme Court Justice

California has long relied on mostly short-term solutions to our budget problems, which has done us no long-term favors. The health of California's public schools depends on stable tax revenues. It is time to demand action to restore fairness to the system and make sure everyone is paying their fair share.
The bottom 20% of wage earners in California pay 11% of their income in taxes, while the top 1% of wage earners only pays 7.8%. Corporate income grew over 400% from 2001-2008 compared to 28% for personal income. And additional tax loopholes were provided to big corporations in the 2008 and 2009 budgets, worth $2 billion annually.
The cost of funding state services has shifted from corporate to personal income tax payers. When Proposition 13 was passed, responsibility for funding public schools shifted from the taxpayer to the state.  Now the state is in financial crisis and cannot foot the bill. We must reevaluate how we are funding our government and make it fair and equitable. The fact of the matter is California is a moderate tax state, ranking 15th in taxes and fees compared to other states, even though we have the 8th largest economy in the world.
Investing in public education (dollar for dollar) grows the economy more than tax cuts and corporate subsidies. Dishearteningly in 2009, California ranked 43rd in per-pupil spending. And given the drastic funding cuts of the past 3 years, we’re not moving in the right direction. Our goal is simply to have the adequate amount of per-pupil funding needed to provide all students the opportunity for a quality public education.
See the AFL-CIO jobs agenda.
and report on corporate profits at

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