President Obama seems to have seized an historic opportunity to resolve the nation’s deep fiscal deficit problems. His publicly stated goal is eminently fair – in principle – to ensure that everyone should share the pain. If a deal is struck, we’ll have to see whether or not the pain is equitably distributed. Here are some obvious examples of places to make cuts or tax increases:
* Tax deductions for corporate jets and yachts
* Tax deductions for “second homes” (AKA vacation retreats)
* The bonuses of hedge fund managers, which are taxed at capital gains rates – lower than some of their secretaries
* The multi-million-dollar incomes of corporate CEOs, which increased an outrageous 23 percent on average last year to more than 320 times as much as the workers
* Farm subsidies for absentee millionaire landowners
* Offshore tax havens for corporations and millionaire/billionaires
* Ethanol subsidies for an industry that is now doing just fine, thanks to a mandate that it be mixed into our gasoline
* Pork barrel military spending on well-healed defense contractors
* Oil and gas “incentives” for an industry with record profits, which even former President George Bush (a one-time oil man) said were unnecessary back when oil was at $55 a barrel
* Rescinding the Bush-era tax cuts, which lined the pockets of the monied class rather than the middle class
* Eliminating the preferential treatment of capital gains over ordinary income
* Eliminating or greatly reducing home mortgage interest and property tax deductions
* Changes to Social Security and Medicare that don’t penalize the poor, like adding a means test for high income retirees and raising the cap on contributions to make the wealthy assume a more progressive share of the burden
If you have other “candidates” in mind, please add them to the list.
Did I hear some of you say “dream on,” “get real” and otherwise cynical responses. Well, why not at least compile a wish list. Then we’ll see just how much the deal-makers in Washington achieve – or how far short they fall.