by Edith Bell

On Monday, April 15, from noon to 2:00 pm next to the Squirrel Hill post office on Murray Avenue, the Women’s international League for Peace and Freedom, Coalition for Peace Action and the American Friends Service Committee Pennsylvania (AFSC PA) will sponsor their annual  educational rally and penny poll.  There will be literature on the Federal Budget and an opportunity to share how you would spend your tax dollars if you were in charge.  Plus songs by the Raging Grannies.

Come join us and help distribute flyers!

Information: 412-661-7149

Our tax system is skewed to benefit the wealthy. The richest people and corporations pay little or no taxes, while half of our Federal Budget is spent on current and past military.  Congress is concerned about fixing the federal debt with cuts across the board.

The highest current tax rate for top incomes is 35%.  Dividend and capital gains earnings are taxed at 28%.  In 1957 under President Eisenhower, all income over $200,000 was taxed at  91%.

The question is often asked, why rich people should pay more, and a flat tax is proposed as fair.  It is not.

A person, earning $1,000 per month, pays for food, shelter, transportation, healthcare, and nothing is left.  $100 for taxes means skimping on meals or meds.  At $10,000 per month, you can manage on $9,000 without hurting, and at $100,000 per month, like many CEO’s get, you would not even notice the difference.

The Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) recently published a report  America is Not Broke with specific suggestions for potential new revenue, which would improve our economy, and it includes proposals for reasonable cuts in the military budget, which would not hurt U.S. security.

The IPS report proposes reforms for  new revenues of $824 billion, consisting of:  $197 billion raised from taxing pollution and cutting environmentally harmful subsidies; taxing Wall Street, corporations and the wealthy $375 billion; and cuts in military spending of $252 billion.

Go to <http://www.ips-dc.org/reports> for details.

Since the creation of jobs is on everybody’s mind, the loss of jobs by cutting military spending will cause major objections.   The Pentagon has wisely spread its productions to almost all congressional districts, so that no congressman will vote for cuts in his/her district. The production of the F35, a new fighter plane, not yet proven to work, is a $400 billion project. The reasons for its relative immunity are a stark illustration of why it is so difficult to cut the country’s defense spending. Lockheed Martin has spread the work across 45 states — critics call it “political engineering.”

However, the Pentagon is not a big job-creator in comparison to other government spending.  One billion federal dollars pays for 11,200 jobs in the Military — or 16,800 jobs in Clean Energy Technology, or 17,200 jobs in Health Care, or a whopping 26,700 jobs in Education.

The Congressional Progressive Caucus has now proposed a “Back to Work” Budget which puts the emphasis back where it belongs: the creation of seven million jobs, the preservation of the “entitlements,” and full funding for domestic social programs. Deficit reduction will be achieved by increasing the number of working Americans, by raising taxes on the rich and by making reductions in the Pentagon budget. For more details: http://cpc.grijalva.house.gov/back-to-work-budget/

It is going to be a hard battle to convince Congress, and it will involve displacement and retraining of many workers; but in the long run, there will be more people productively employed, and we’ll have a more peaceful and greener world.

Edith Bell is coordinates the Pittsburgh branch of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, and is a member and former board member of the Thomas Merton Center.