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Part 1 of Carolyn Federoff's speech
Carolyn Federoff, vice chair of the American Federation of Government Employees' HUD council (and Local AFGE 3258 president), gave a masterful takedown of conservative budget talking points at the Massachusetts AFL-CIO convention. Federoff takes a look at the current budget deficit and tackles Republican suggestions of spending cuts and explains how they just won't work. In a "Back to the Future"-like presentation, she shows a picture of the cabinet and takes away members as she hypothetically cuts parts of the budget, showing how even if you cut the major portion of the federal government, you still fall hundreds of billions of dollars short of closing the gap. The reality, she says, is that there is no way to balance the budget without increasing revenue. Even cutting all of the following programs (which would cause massive problems for the populace), would still leave a gap of nearly $200 billion:
Again, cutting all of this still leaves a deficit of nearly $200 billion and, it turns the U.S. into one of the poorest and most destitute countries in the world. Of the remaining spending, 60 percent of it is from earned benefit programs such as Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, for which the recipients have paid into the program and deserve to get the services they paid for. They also produce their own revenue streams that help cover most of their costs for the forseeable future, even if nothing else changes.
Some conservatives argue that we need to cut Social Security, despite the fact that it is already a meager program. The average benefit works out to be about $14,000 a year for and more than half of the people on the program, this accounts for more than half of their annual income. For 15 percent of recipients, this is all of their annual income. Cutting the program (or the health care programs associated with it) would devastate people's lives and it still wouldn't balance the budget.
Federoff says the only real solution is to increase revenue and she offers a number of ways to accomplish that, particularly since federal income taxes are at their lowest levels since 1958:
She also points out the obvious fix to funding for Social Security, eliminating the cap on earnings. While 94 percent of workers pay Social Security taxes on 100 percent of their income, the upper six percent is only taxed on the first $110,000 of their income. The rest of their income they have no Social Security taxes deducted from. If the wealthiest Americans paid taxes on all of their income the way the rest of us do, Social Security would have no budget shortfall in the lifetime of almost anyone reading this post.
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Part 2 of Carolyn Federoff's speech