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Report: America – Not as Broke as You'd Think



November 28, 2011

RICHMOND, Va. - The Congressional "super committee" failed to cut more than $1 trillion from the federal deficit. The debate centered on drastic spending cuts that could potentially hurt the nation's poor, working poor and elderly.

However, a new report by the Institute for Policy Studies challenges the ideas that the United States is broke and austerity measures for average Americans are the only way to fix it. Sarah Anderson, global economy project director with the Institute, contributed to the report.

"We identified a number of fiscal reforms that could raise as much as $824 billion a year and do it in ways that could make our country stronger, as well as putting people back to work."

New taxes on Wall Street, corporations and super-wealthy individuals could raise more than $375 billion a year, according to the report. It is an idea that polls suggest a majority of voters favor, although many politicians still argue that during a recession is no time to raise taxes on anyone.

The Pentagon is responsible for more than half of federal discretionary spending. Anderson says it is hard to argue that all of that spending is making America safer. She acknowledges that thousands of jobs are tied to the military budget, but adds, "The good news is that studies have been done that show that, dollar for dollar, federal spending in areas like education and health care actually creates more jobs than federal spending on the military."

The proposals in the report to cut military spending include ending the war in Afghanistan, reducing overseas bases and trimming the nation's nuclear arsenal, for annual savings of more than $250 billion.

Another proposal is to tax companies that pollute the environment, which would raise revenue and also encourage alternative energy use, she says.

"Reducing the very wasteful subsidies going into the fossil fuel industry can be done, but we need the political will to do it."

According to the report, the United States could save about $19 billion a year by eliminating government subsidies for industries such as ethanol and so-called "clean coal."

The report, "America is Not Broke," is available at http://tinyurl.com/7tmqzec.

Monique Coppola, Public News Service - VA