Archive for September, 2011

Cutting Entitlements

According to the Oxford English Dictionaries, an “entitlement” is:

Entitlement: noun

the fact of having a right to something:
full entitlement to fees and maintenance should be offered
you should be fully aware of your legal entitlements

the amount to which a person has a right:
annual leave entitlement

And according to Wordsmyth, the word “entitlement” is derived, obviously, from the word “entitle,” which for our purposes is defined as:

Entitle: verb

to give a right or legal claim to.
You are not entitled to the proceeds of the sale.
Are we entitled to freedom?

Let’s talk for a few moments about entitlements. I keep hearing a lot of buzz about entitlements, and how we need to cut the levels of spending on these programs to help stave off an economic disaster. When talk of entitlements begins, the three programs that immediately come to mind are Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.

I’m not the first person who has tread along the path I’m about to follow, but, I don’t recall ever hearing or reading anything that uses the word “entitlements” when talking about something other than Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid.

I am happy to announce that I have, single-handedly, solved the debt crisis in America. I have also made sure that Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid will never have to be touched. Nor will educational programs. Nor will housing programs. Hell, we can even afford to give every man, woman, and child in the United States free health care. Okay, so it wasn’t a solo job – I had some help around the web. Be that as it may…

All we have to do is get strong, and cut out the entitlements that no one ever calls “entitlements.”

I’m talking about corporate welfare. Tax incentives for big business, to use a tired out old euphemism. But, by definition (remember, “to give a right or legal claim to”), these incentives are nothing more than entitlements. So, let’s look at those entitlements, shall we?

I’m going to go out on a limb here. There is no fiscal crisis. There really is not. Or, there wouldn’t be, if we could force our lawmakers to cut out the two trillion dollars in corporate welfare. Yes, you read that correctly. Two trillion dollars, with a “T.” So, where does it go?

Well, I’m going to show you where it goes. I’ also going to show you just how much money this country could save if we could simply get the corporate welfare queens off the government teat.

Potential Savings – 2011 – 2015: $80 Billion. According to Taxpayers for Common Sense, oil companies will receive $80 billion in tax breaks and incentives. This, to an industry that recorded more than $855 billion dollars in profits over the past decade. Do they really need these tax breaks? Really?

Potential Savings – 2011 – 2015: $199 Billion. The deferral of taxes on income of U.S. controlled corporations abroad has to end. Our government rails at industry for shipping jobs overseas, and then gives those same companies who are shipping the jobs out – I hope you’re ready for this – $199 billion in tax deferrals, according to an estimate by Citizens for Tax Justice. Wait, Mr. President – I thought we were supposed to encourage companies to keep jobs here? Why are we rewarding them for sending jobs out of the country? Personally, if you’re serious about creating jobs, I would take the opposite tack – penalize the hell out of any corporation that ships jobs overseas.

Potential Savings – 2011 – 2020: $550 Billion. The Sustainable Defense Task Force states that weapons research, development, and procurement activities “now routinely cost taxpayers over $200 billion a year. Procurement costs are up 110% in real terms since 2000. Setting aside war-related expenditures, DoD ‘peacetime’ spending on research, development, and procurement has increased 75% in real terms.” According to the Task Force, this estimate focuses on cuts that reasonably have a “corporate welfare” component, primarily weapons systems that don’t work and/or aren’t needed to fight an enemy that does not exist. Yes, I did indeed say it: Cut the freakin’ military budget, already.

Potential Savings – 2011 – 2015: $141 Billion. Citizens for Tax Justice states that accelerated depreciation on equipment can result in a very low, or even negative, tax rate on profits from a particular investment.

Potential Savings – 2011 – 2020: $52 Billion. Small, family-run farms are disappearing. Trust me, I live in a farm state, and they’re pretty much a thing of the past. Instead, we now have factory farms, run by huge “Agri-businesses.” Cutting subsidies to Agribusiness wuld both help to sustain the family farm, as well as saving the taxpayers over $52 Billion. Taxpayers for Common Sense

Potential Savings – 2011 – 2015: $76.7 Billion. According to a Citizens for Tax Justice estimate, this is the amount of money we could save if we were to end this corporate tax deduction that provides virtually no benefit to the economy and is blatant corporate welfare.

Potential Savings – 2011 – 2015: $24.2 Billion. The legal method of “cooking the books” known as Last In, First Out (LIFO), must be prohibited. This is legal fraud. Citizens for Tax Justice estimates that we could save $24.2 Billion over the next four years by ending this accounting practice, which companies use to hide their true profits.

Potential Savings – 2011 – 2022: $650 Billion. Wall Street receives indirect corporate welfare/subsidies via a regulatory system and infrastructure investment for which it pays virtually nothing. the Congressional Progressive Caucus estimates that some $650 Billion could be saved by encating a very tiny Derivatives & Specualtion tax.

Potential Savings – 2011 – 2021: $70.9 Billion. By imposing a Financial Crisis Responsibility Fee on the largest banks as a repayment of the corporate welfare extended via bank bailouts for financial crisis, which was precipitated by those banks to begin with. The Congressional Professional Congress estimates that his is worth $70.9 Billion to the American people.

Potential Savings – 2011 – 2020: $50 Billion. According to estimates based on figures by Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D, New York), We could cut $5 Billion in spending every year by eliminating this tax break to drug companies, a break given to help pay the cost of direct-to-consumer advertising. Think about that – we are paying the drug companies so that they can advertise to us.

Potential Savings – 2012 – 2021: $157.9 Billion. The Congressional Progressive Caucus states that barring the government from negotiating Medicare prescription drug prices is just an indirect corporate subsidy. The government must be allowed to negotiate these prices.

So, there you have it. Do the math, folks. I did, and I came up with a total savings by the year 2022 – eleven years from now – of $2,049,027,000,000. I want to put that in words rather than digits, because I think it might have more of an impact. That is two trillion, 49 billion, 27 million dollars.

Debt crisis solved.

You see, all of those things listed above, in some sense of the word, can be quite correctly labeled as entitlements. But I don’t hear much about cutting them. Perhaps now that I’ve laid them all out so conveniently, someone will find some common sense.

And now, returning to reality…

None of these things will be cut. We all know it. This is the ultimate government betrayal.

They have had their way with us. They didn’t bother with dinner or a movie, they didn’t ask for our consent, and when we said, “Stop!” they refused to listen.

Welcome to America.

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