When a multi-billionaire like Warren Buffet complains that tax rates on the rich are too low, you know there is something truly unfair about the US tax system. In fact, the regressive tax code that provides endless loopholes and tax breaks to millionaires, billionaires, and corporations, stands as the clearest evidence of the economic war that has been waged by the richest 1% on poor and working class people for decades.
Shifting to a system of taxation that puts human needs at the center of economic policy is what the Socialist Party USA's presidential ticket of Stewart Alexander and Alex Mendoza is all about. We know that this means more than just tweaking tax rates -- it is about revolutionizing the way we think about private wealth, private property and public budgeting.
All of the talk in Washington D.C. about trade deficits, the national debt burden on future generations, and the need to slash "entitlement" programs such as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid amount to one thing -- they are all attempts to avoid a serious conversation about how the richest 1% and corporate America have avoided taxation for decades. Budget deficits on the Federal, state, and local levels could all be easily alleviated and our society would finally move beyond the restrictions imposed by neoliberalism over the last 30 years by shifting to a progressive tax structure.
As socialist candidates for the presidency, we make the following proposals
A progressive tax structure, including:
a steeply graduated tax system for personal income
the taxation of capital gains
an estate tax that places limits on the transfer of capital generation to generation
Proper taxation of the financial assets of the 1%:
a tax on Wall Street transactions
the assessment and taxation of stocks, bonds and funds held in offshore accounts
the creation of a serious corporate tax structure without loopholes
Taxation that ties capital to the community:
punitive taxation on multinational corporations and other large employers who seek to move their businesses elsewhere
taxes on all businesses to be paid into a fund that supports community educational, cultural and development projects.
Reversing State and Local bankruptcies:
a Federal Fund to bail out bankrupt state and local governments
encouraging state and local governments to adopt similar tax strategies
These changes will free up billions of dollars for necessary social programs while also allowing our society to move beyond the stranglehold of multinational corporations and the richest the 1%.
But raising more funds through progressive taxation is only half the battle. Democratic socialists want to help create a society in which grassroots democracy plays a role in everyday life. That's why we support initiatives such as participatory budgeting. Participatory budgeting allows all community members to have a determining voice in how money is raised and what it is -- or isn't -- spent on. This will move the US beyond the neoliberal spending model being imposed by Democrats and Republicans.
Imagine having the process of budgeting -- a process that seems like such a distant terrain dominated by corporate funded experts and mainstream politicians on the take -- made accessible to you. Imagine being able to help to envision, design, get funding for, help to build, and ultimately enjoy a new park in your neighborhood. Imagine being able to vote down a proposal by a local fat cat to cut the budget of your child's school. All of these things are possible under a truly democratic system of participatory budgeting.
Such changes as the ones outlined above will mark a new moment in American economic history -- namely the creation of an economic democracy. We think it is high time for the 99% to raise their demands for just taxation and to back those demands with equally important desire for a democratic voice in decisions made in all parts of the economy. The Alexander/Mendoza campaign is the only ticket raising such demands.