Beware of the Cowardly Deficit Vulture

It Nests with Corporations, Squawking for Tax Breaks, Bailouts and Military Contracts that Have Little to do with National Security

There's an invasive species in our national discourse, a recent
arrival in our civic forest. It's the "yellow-bellied deficit vulture,"
recently spotted circling the Capitol building and heard squawking on
syndicated talk shows.

You can identify the vulture by its distinct screech it uses to
selectively attack spending choices like unemployment benefits for
hard-pressed workers. The vulture flaps furiously about President Barack
Obama's spending in response to the worst economic meltdown in 60
years. But it is close-beaked about the previous decade, when both
parties in Congress and President George W. Bush borrowed trillions of
dollars to fight two wars and give tax cuts to corporations and the
super-wealthy. He's also eerily silent about the $1 trillion over 10
years in military spending waste, identified by the Sustainable Defense Task Force
watchdog panel.

That's because the yellow-bellied deficit vulture has powerful
interests to defend and is determined to keep some things "off the
table." Fortunately, this vulture is conspicuous with its bright
tail-feathers of excessive political partisanship.

To be clear, the vulture is distinct from the vigilant "deficit
hawk," which, like most Americans, is concerned about the national
deficit and its impact on our economy and future generations. It can
recognize the urgent need to assess the causes of the deficit and make
thoughtful choices going forward. A mature hawk knows that budget
politics are complicated and that borrowing is the path of least
resistance for both major political parties. It understands the pressure
that politicians face from powerful constituents that want both tax
cuts and preferential spending.

That's why a mature deficit hawk would reconsider the prudence of the
2001 and 2003 tax cuts for households with incomes over $250,000, which
are due to expire at the end of this year. Retaining
the tax cut would add $826 billion to the national debt over the next

But the deficit vulture takes flight when faced with the possibility
of reversing reckless tax cuts for multi-national corporations and the
very wealthy. Instead, it appears bold about cutting retirement benefits
for future generations.

Seasoned hawks also demonstrate support for two proposals that would
generate over $200 billion per year and strengthen the U.S. economy:
closing overseas tax havens and instituting a financial speculation tax.
This is wisdom we should follow.

U.S. multinational banks and corporations use overseas tax havens to
reduce or avoid taxes, adding billions to the deficit and creating phony
subsidiaries in places like the Grand Cayman Islands. They compete unfairly
against responsible domestic businesses that pay taxes.
tax-dodging costs responsible American taxpayers an estimated $43
billion to $123 billion a year.

A financial speculation tax is a modest levy on financial
transactions, such as the purchase and sale of stocks, bonds,
derivatives, and swaps. One
proposal would
collect a penny on every four dollars of financial
transactions, generating an estimated $177 billion a year. Hawks in
England and Taiwan have secured such taxes on securities that encourage
productive investment and discourage the kind of reckless trading that
crashed our economy.

Here in America, the yellow-bellied deficit vulture is doing all it
can to make sure we don't consider these proposals. It nests with
corporations, squawking for tax breaks, bailouts, and military contracts
that have little to do with national security. We can't allow this bird
to distract us from the serious national discussion we need to have.

This column was distributed by OtherWords.