State and Local Budget Cuts

Q. I hear that state and city government budgets are in the red. Is that bad?

A. It’s bad. State and local governments provide the bulk of basic public services. With these governments facing budget shortages of some $200 billion (out of annual expenditures nationwide of $1.7 trillion dollars), essential services are at risk. These include public education and health, police and fire, transportation, parks, libraries and building and repair of most sewers and water mains, not to mention funding half the costs of unemployment insurance and Medicaid. Without more money coming in, most localities will witness significant layoffs of police and fire personnel, while close to 200,000 of the nation’s 3.4 million K-12 teachers may receive pink slips by September 2011.

Q. Don’t our elected officials have the situation in hand?

 

A. Few do. Politicians from both major parties are pushing fiscal austerity measures that slash essential services instead of raising revenues to let these services continue. With 29 million American adults either unemployed or underemployed, it makes no sense to have policies that will lay off as many as 300,000 state and local employees and another 100-200,000 teachers over the next 12 months

 

 

Q. How did all that happen?

 

A. This fiscal crisis is an outcome of the Great Recession, which was caused by unregulated financial speculation. Over the past three years, property values dropped precipitously and mass unemployment led to major declines in sales and income tax revenue. State and local governments lost more than 10 per cent of their income. The federal stimulus package helped cushion some of this shortfall, but that funding is just a trickle today and expires in September 2011.  If state and local governments lay employees off, it will only lengthen and deepen the crisis. Meanwhile, Wall Street and corporate America sit – thanks to taxpayer bailouts -- on $2 trillion of uninvested profits. Tax policies that favor the rich starve government of needed money while shifting the tax burden from the wealthy and the mega-corporations to ordinary citizens.

 

 

Q. What can we do?

 

A. Three things: First, return to a system of aid from the federal government to states and localities (this “revenue-sharing” was originally a Republican concept). That alone could begin to stabilize state and local finances. Second, base our federal, state and local tax policies more on ability to pay. Third, cut the military budget drastically. 

 

 

Q. More taxes? Aren’t we taxed enough already?

 

A. There is plenty of money to fund basic public services if we go to where the money is. The richest 10 per cent of the population reaped 90 per cent of the growth in income and wealth over the past 30 years. Corporate lobbyists have structured tax loopholes so that the U.S .has the lowest effective corporate tax rate of any democratic society. Restoring income and corporate tax rates to what they were before the Reagan and Bush II tax cuts (to levels existing under Republican President Dwight Eisenhower) would return $500 billion annually to the federal treasury. Enacting an anti-speculative 0.25% tax on all financial transactions would bring another $400 billion per year to our national treasury. And if states such as California, New Jersey, and New York restored their top-bracket income tax rates to 1970s levels and eliminated tax giveaways to corporations and commercial real estate interests, they could readily make up much of their fiscal shortfall.

 

 

Q. Do we dare cut military spending?

 

A. Our imperial military budget of over $700 billion/year funds two unjust wars and 280 military bases around the globe, including in South Korea, Japan and Germany. This is a drain on the economy and does not add a dime to real defense.

 

 

Q. How can we change the various governments’ ruinous fiscal policies? 

 

A. Better policies won’t be granted from on high by politicians funded by corporate interests. Fairer policies will only come through democratic protest and mobilization that forces elected officials to serve the people and not powerful private interests. That’s why Democratic Socialists of America will be working with people across the nation to mobilize against state and local cuts in basic human services and in favor of fair tax policies and sane national priorities that put human needs ahead of empire and corporate greed.

DSA Queer Socialists Conference Call

May 25, 2017
· 33 rsvps

Join DSA's Queer Socialists Working Group to discuss possible activities for the group and its proposed structure. 9 pm ET/8 pm CT/7 pm MT/6 pm PT.

 

What Is DSA? Training Call

May 30, 2017
· 40 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.

Film Discussion: Rosa [Luxemburg]

May 31, 2017
· 92 rsvps

Join DSA member Jason Schulman to discuss the film Rosa, directed by feminist filmmaker Margarethe von Trotta. View it here at no cost before the discussion. Marxist theorist and economist Rosa Luxemburg (1871-1919) played a key role in German socialist politics. Jason edited Rosa Luxemburg: Her Life and Legacy and has a chapter in Rosa Remix. 9 ET/8 CT/7 MT/6 PT.

Film Discussion: The Free State of Jones

June 11, 2017
· 26 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.

Introduction to Democratic Socialism

June 13, 2017
· 5 rsvps

Join Bill Barclay, Chicago DSA co-chair, and Peg Strobel, National Political Committee and Feminist Working Group co-chair, on this webinar for an overview of what we in Democratic Socialists of America mean when we talk about "socialism," "capitalism" and the goals of the socialist movement. 9:30 PM ET; 8:30 PM CT; 7:30 PM MT; 6:30 PM 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 Bill Barclay, chocolatehouse@sbcglobal.net.
  5. If you have technical questions, contact Tony Schmitt, schmittaj@gmail.com, 608-355-6568.

Film Discussion: Pride

September 10, 2017
· 7 rsvps

Join DSA members Eric Brasure and Brendan Hamill to discuss the British film Pride (2014). It’s 1984, British coal miners are on strike, and a group of gays and lesbians in London bring the queer community together to support the miners in their fight. Based on the true story of Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners. The film is available for rent on YouTube, Amazon, and iTunes. 8 ET/7 CT/6 MT/5 PT.

Film Discussion: Union Maids

September 24, 2017
· 5 rsvps

 

Join DSA member and labor historian Susan Hirsch in discussing Union Maids (1976). Nominated for an Academy Award, this documentary follows three Chicago labor organizers (Kate Hyndman, Stella Nowicki, and Sylvia Woods) active beginning in the 1930s. The filmmakers were members of the New American Movement (a precursor of DSA), and the late Vicki Starr (aka Stella Nowicki) was a longtime member of Chicago DSA and the Chicago Women's Liberation Union. It’s available free on YouTube, though sound quality is poor. 8ET/7CT/6MT/5PT.