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.

Film Discussion: When Abortion Was Illegal

March 26, 2017
· 16 rsvps

Directed by Dorothy Fadiman, When Abortion Was Illegal (1992, nominated for an Academy Award, Best Documentary Short Subject) reveals through first-person accounts the experiences of women seeking abortion before the Supreme Court legalized abortion in Roe v. Wade in 1973. We are one Supreme Court nominee away from a return in many states to back-alley abortions. Join Amanda Williams, Executive Director of the Lilith Fund, to discuss challenges to reproductive justice and abortion access. (Lilith Fund funds abortions for women in need in the Central and South Texas area.) Learn about how to participate in April Bowl-A-Thons to raise funds for low-income women. View the film here for free before the discussion. 8 ET/7 CT/6 MT/5 PT.

DSA New Member Orientation Call

March 30, 2017
· 50 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.  9:30 PM ET; 8:30 PM CT; 7:30 PM MT; 6:30 PM PT.

LGBT Activism: A Brief History with Thoughts about the Future

April 01, 2017
· 57 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.

Introduction to Democratic Socialism

April 04, 2017
· 57 rsvps

Join Rahel Biru, NYC DSA co-chair, and Joseph Schwartz, DSA Vice-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 PM ET; 8 PM CT; 7 PM MT; 6 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 Joseph Schwartz, schwartzjoem@gmail.com.
  5. If you have technical questions, contact Tony Schmitt, schmittaj@gmail.com, 608-355-6568.

What Is DSA? Training Call

April 05, 2017

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
· 18 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
· 8 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.