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The Nation: Time for Fair Share Politics

March 31, 2011- The lunatics are running the asylum that is Congress.

At a moment when nearly two-thirds of US corporations don’t pay any federal income taxes, and companies are sitting on trillions in cash while refusing to hire new workers, the only thing we hear when it comes to tax reform is that we need to cut the corporate tax rate.

You just can’t make this stuff up.

Yet it’s par for the course in this take-no-prisoners, slashonomics budget debate, where fighting to protect programs that help people get basic needs like housing, healthcare and heat is derided, but no corporate loophole is left unprotected. The debate in Washington has almost always been out of touch with the realities of people’s lives, but that gap has now widened into a gulf—perhaps greater than we’ve seen in generations.

Yet I still have hope.

A strong inside-outside strategy to reset, reboot and reframe the budget debate is emerging. The spirit, energy and outrage we saw in Wisconsin is being sustained and nurtured in communities across the country. Driven by progressives allied with the labor movement, people from a great range of backgrounds are standing up and delivering a message: our problem isn’t one of caring too much for working people and the most vulnerable and it won’t be solved by cutting vital investments. Our problem is freeloading corporations that need to pony up their fair share.

What demoralized progressives need to remember is there are allies on Capitol Hill showing real moxie, and doing what they can to offer real alternatives that respond to rising suffering, inequality and corporate greed, rather than shrink from it.

Consider the good Senator from Vermont, Bernie Sanders. Always the people’s champion, he’s called for closing corporate tax loopholes to raise more than $400 billion over a ten-year period. He’s also introduced legislation that would impose a 5.4 percent surtax on millionaires and yield up to $50 billion per year. In the House, Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky introduced the Fairness in Taxation Act, which would create new tax brackets for millionaires and billionaires. (According to an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll, the most popular way to reduce the deficit is through a surtax on millionaires, preferred by 81 percent of Americans!)



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