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.

Introduction to Socialist Feminism Call

April 30, 2017
· 79 rsvps

Join Philadelphia DSA veteran activist Michele Rossi to explore “socialist feminism.” How does it differ from other forms of feminism? How and when did it develop? What does it mean for our activism? 4-5:30pm ET, 3-4:30pm CT, 2-3:30pm MT, 1-2:30pm PT.

DSA Webinar: Talking About Socialism

May 02, 2017
· 39 rsvps

Practice talking about socialism in plain language. Create your own short rap. Prepare for those conversations about socialism that happen when you table in public.

Join us for our latest organizing training for democratic socialist activists: DSA’s (Virtual) Little Red Schoolhouse.

This training is at 9:00pm Eastern, 8:00pm Central, 7:00pm Mountain, 6:00pm Pacific, 5:00pm Alaska, and 3:00pm Hawaii Time. Please RSVP.

Instructor:

Steve Max, DSA Vice Chair and one of the founders of the legendary community organizing school, The Midwest Academy

In Talking About Socialism you will learn to:

  • Have a quick response ready to go next time someone asks you about democratic socialism.
  • Create your own elevator pitch about democratic socialism and DSA.
  • Use your personal experience and story to explain democratic socialism.
  • Think through the most important ideas you want to convey about democratic socialism.
  • Have a concise explanation of what DSA does, for your next DSA table, event or coalition meeting.

Training Details

  • This workshop is for those who have already had an introduction to democratic socialism, whether from DSA's webinar or from other sources.
  • If you have a computer with microphone, speakers and good internet access, you can join via internet for free.
  • If you have questions, contact Theresa Alt <talt@igc.org> 607-280-7649.
  • If you have very technical questions, contact Tony Schmitt <schmittaj@gmail.com> 608-335-6568.
  • Participation requires that you register at least 45 hours in advance, by midnight Sunday.

 

Film Discussion: The Free State of Jones

June 11, 2017
· 19 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.