Debt Ceiling

Why do we now have such a large federal budget deficit?

1. Ten years of the Bush tax cuts enacted in 2001 and 2003 have accumulatively cost $2.5 trillion dollars in federal revenues.  The tax cuts primarily benefited wealthy individuals and corporations, turned the modest budget surpluses under the Clinton administration into growing deficits, but failed to promote economic growth. Tax revenues remain depressed as even fewer workers are employed at decent wages following the onset of the Great Recession. 

2. The costs of the lengthy wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are being paid for by borrowed money rather than taxes. 

3. When the great recession broke out following the financial collapse caused by reckless speculation on the housing derivative markets, the federal government borrowed more money to bail out banks and other financial institutions.  The Obama Administration also administered a modest but costly economic stimulus program that alleviated the worst consequences of the crisis, especially for state and local governments and for the unemployed.  However that stimulus funding has lapsed, threatening millions of vital jobs in education and other public services at the state and local levels.

What is really at stake in the Budget Debate in DC?

A manufactured crisis over raising the debt ceiling is being used by Republicans and conservative Democrats to attack Social Security and Medicare, which are highly popular, cost efficient and vitally needed government “entitlement” programs. Our values as a nation are expressed in the national budget, in how we raise our national revenues and prioritize our spending. 

 

What are Republicans Up To in DC? 

Republicans are holding the country hostage by refusing to raise the debt ceiling; they will only do so if the federal government caps domestic spending at a fixed percentage of GDP and passes a balanced budget amendment. Both of these policies would have disastrous long-term results for the U.S. economy.  The Republicans also refuse to raise taxes, even by permitting the last set of “temporary” Bush-era tax cuts to lapse.  Their real aim is to hamstring government from having any positive role in society.

 

The Republicans’ concern for the “deficit crisis” is hypocritical. Conservative policies of tax cuts for the rich and deficit-financed military expenditure are the real causes of our deficit problem, not excessive government spending on health, education, and child care. Nearly half of the total $14.2 trillion total debt owed by the United States government derive from loss in government revenue due to the Reagan and Bush tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations and by their administration’s huge increases in military spending.

 

Is the Obama Budget an acceptable alternative? 

Whereas the Obama proposal would permit some revenue growth by allowing the last Bush tax cuts for the rich to lapse and would limit the threats to Social Security and Medicare, it is inadequate.  It would freeze the “Discretionary expenditure” that constitutes only 17 per cent of the federal budget. This rather miniscule portion of the budget is what funds education, transportation, child care, and investments in energy, infrastructure and job training.  Freezing these items at current levels would neither encourage sufficient economic growth to reduce unemployment, nor would it provide for adequate transfers of funds to state and local governments to prevent the expected millions of layoffs of public employees.

Is there an alternative? 

The People’s Budget of the Congressional Progressive Caucus Restores a Humane Budget by Taxing the Wealthy and Cutting Unnecessary Military Spending.  By restoring progressive taxation and enacting prudent, but major cuts in “defense” spending we can have a humane federal budget that funds productive public investments for our future. The People’s Budget for fiscal year 2012 put forth by the 88 Democratic House members (plus Senator Bernie Sanders, I-VT) of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, is guided by these principles. This budget, which calls for an end to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and major cuts in defense spending, preserves all funding for anti-poverty programs and radically expands public investments infrastructure, education, job training, and alternative energy by $300 billion a year – while bringing the total budget into balance by 2021. 

Why don’t we read about the People’s Budget in the Mass Media? 

The mass media have bought into the mantra being produced by the “noise machine” funded by the corporate right-wing that pretends that the U.S. has a real deficit crisis that can be solved only by slashing needed government programs and thereby throwing the most vulnerable groups in society under the bus.  The Obama administration and conservative Democrats believe this snake oil remedy as well, and seek to “compromise” with the Republicans who are hell-bent on their destruction. The rational solutions of raising tax revenues from the wealthiest individuals and most profitable corporations and slashing unneeded military spending in order to fund vital social programs and provide the infrastructure for future growth are rejected out of hand as politically impossible.  

What could change this lose-lose dynamic?

Only determined, sustained and militant intervention by all who suffer from misplaced national priorities (nearly all of us!)

LGBT Activism: A Brief History with Thoughts about the Future

April 01, 2017
· 67 rsvps

Historian John D'Emilio's presentation will do 3 things: Provide a brief explanation of how sexual and gender identities have emerged; provide an overview of the progression of LGBT activism since its origins in the 1950s, highlighting key moments of change; and, finally, suggest what issues, from a democratic socialist perspective, deserve prioritizing now. John co-authored Intimate Matters: A History of Sexuality in America, which was quoted by Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy in the 2003 Lawrence v. Texas decision that ruled state sodomy laws unconstitutional. 1 pm ET; 12 pm CT; 11 am MT; 10 am PT.

  1. This webinar is free for any DSA member in good standing.
  2. You need a computer with good internet access.
  3. Your computer must have headphones (preferred) or speakers; you can speak thru a mic or use chat to "speak".
  4. If you have questions, contact Peg Strobel, peg.strobel@sbcglobal.net.
  5. If you have technical questions, contact Tony Schmitt, schmittaj@gmail.com, 608-355-6568.

Film Discussion: Documentaries of People's History in Texas

April 02, 2017
· 30 rsvps

Join DSA members Glenn Scott and Richard Croxdale to discuss videos produced by People’s History in Texas (PHIT), a project that brings to life the stories of ordinary people in significant socio-political movements in Texas. They will discuss The Rag, their newest documentary, which tells the story of an influential underground paper based in Austin, Texas, from 1966-77. Click here to view Part I (the early years as an all-volunteer paper covering the student, anti-Vietnam and Civil Rights movements), Part II (the impact of Women’s Liberation on the paper) and Part III (building community: covering local politics, nukes, co-ops, feminist institutions). But also check out the video on the Stand-Ins about a group of university students who led a movement to desegregate Austin’s movie theaters in 1961. 8 ET/7 CT/6 MT/5 PT. Here's a blog post about PHIT.

What Is DSA? Training Call

April 05, 2017
· 11 rsvps

If you're a new DSAer, have been on a new member call, but still have questions about DSA's core values/strategy/core work and how to express these ideas in an accessible way to the media, as well as to friends, family and others who might be interested in joining DSA, this call is for you. 

We will talk through the basics of DSA's political orientation and strategy for moving toward democratic socialism, and also have call participants practice discussing these issues with each other. By the end of the call you should feel much more comfortable thinking about and expressing what DSA does and what makes our organization/strategy unique. 8 pm ET; 7 pm CT; 6 pm MT; 5 pm PT. 70 minutes.

Feminist Working Group

April 12, 2017
· 30 rsvps

People of all genders are welcome to join this call to discuss DSA's work on women's and LGBTQ issues, especially in light of the new political reality that we face after the elections.  9 pm ET; 8 pm CT; 7 pm MT; 6 pm PT.

DSA New Member Orientation Call

April 16, 2017
· 36 rsvps

You've joined DSA - Great. Now register for this New Member Orientation call and find out more about our politics and our vision.  And, most importantly, how you can become involved.  8 pm ET; 7 pm CT; 6 pm MT; 5 pm PT.

Film Discussion: The Free State of Jones

June 11, 2017
· 10 rsvps

Join Victoria Bynum, Distinguished Professor Emeritus of History, Texas State University, San Marcos, to discuss The Free State of Jones. STX Entertainment bought the film rights to Bynum's book of the same title. She also served as a consultant and appears in a cameo scene. What was the Free State of Jones? During the Civil War, an armed band of deserters led by Newt Knight, a non-slaveholding white farmer, took to the swamps of southeastern Mississippi and battled against the Confederacy in an uprising popularly known as “The Free State of Jones.” Joining Newt in this rebellion was Rachel, a slave. From their relationship, there developed a controversial mixed-race community that endured long after the Civil War had ended. View the film here for $6 before the discussion. 8 ET/7 CT/6 MT/5 PT.