Sunday, January 4, 2009

A program to save the working people of New York

The following is flyer that I and others wrote and handed out at a mass rally of New York State workers opposing the Governor's Budget cuts.

New York, thanks to the worldwide economic crisis, faces a projected state budget shortfall of over $13 billion. In a move worthy of Herbert Hoover, Governor Paterson wants to cut education, healthcare and local government and levy new taxes on everything form haircuts to cable TV.

Working people already bear the brunt of this crisis. A trillion-dollar “bailout” of our tax money has already gone to the titans of Wall Street. Yet the Governor wants New York’s public employees to shoulder more than others. He wants to confiscate a week’s pay, a “lag,” meaning we work a week but don’t get paid for it until we die or retire. He wants us to re-open union contracts to give back what we won at the bargaining table and earned through hard work.

The gap between the rich and the poor in the United States has never been so severe. Today the top 1% of the population is wealthier than the bottom 95%. The richest 400 people possess more wealth than the bottom 150,000,000 people, combined. But the rich are not being asked to pay for the crisis their own greed created -- we have bailed them out. Now Governor Paterson asks us for further sacrifice. Instead, we can make New York a better place to live and work!

A 4-point plan to solve the state’s fiscal crisis:

Tax the Rich!
Those with top incomes in the state previously paid over 15% in taxes. Today they pay less than 7%. More than 400 New Yorkers make over $35 million per year. By requiring those who make over $250,000 per year to pay their fair share in taxes, and with an additional 1% income tax surcharge for those with incomes over $1 million per year, the state would erase the projected budget shortfall.

Tax All Financial Transactions!

When you buy a new shirt you pay sales tax (8% or more for 85% of New Yorkers). However, when a Wall Street investor buys or sells $1 million in stocks or futures or bonds or interest rate swaps, he pays no tax. All financial transactions should be charged a minimum tax, for example a national tax of one-half of 1%, an amount estimated to yield over $150 billion in national revenue. This would also deter the day trading and speculation that exacerbates wild price swings. New York would completely rescue its state budget with a tiny state tax of just 5/100ths of 1% per financial transaction.

End the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan!
The Iraq war costs around $5,000 per second. The US plans to further escalate the war in Afghanistan. New York National Guard members fight in Iraq and Afghanistan and US troops are stationed in over 120 countries around the world. We can no longer tolerate spending trillions for war. New York’s share for the war in Iraq alone has been more that $66 billion, $12 billion this fiscal year. If the taxes paid by New York residents for war in Iraq and Afghanistan went into the state treasury instead, it would balance the state budget.

Single-payer healthcare!
When we lose our job we lose our health insurance. A single-payer health system, like proposal in Congressional bill HR 676, will insure that ALL people have ALL necessary medical care. It would also yield a massive economic stimulus, liberating money that now goes to out-of-pocket health expenses and creating healthcare jobs. It would remove the confusion, waste, advertising and profit of private health insurers. A single-payer medical care system would reduce health spending in New York by at least $20 billion annually.

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