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Progressive Politics in Minnesota, the Nation, and the World

Immigration Reform Needs Big-Picture Approach

Category: US Politics
Posted: 05/19/07 23:21

By Christopher Truscott

The immigration proposal forged by a bipartisan group of senators seems just fine and marks a decent starting point in dealing with this contentious and important issue.

But if we only focus on reforming bureaucratic processes and increasing border enforcement we're doing little more than treating the symptoms of a much larger problem.

If we truly want to reform our immigration system we have to play a leading role in breaking the cycle of unspeakable poverty in which millions from the Rio Grande to Cape Horn struggle to endure each day.

Absent that, no amount of border security, guest worker programs or pathways to citizenship will significantly stem the flow of northward migration ? illegal or otherwise.

Thomas Jefferson once said, "Widespread poverty and concentrated wealth cannot long endure side by side in a democracy."

Certainly if he were with us today he'd say the people of the Americas cannot meet their full potential so long as just one-third prospers and two-thirds languish.

Christopher Truscott can be reached at chris.truscott@gmail.com. He thinks in the long-run places like Bolivia, Venezuela and Paraguay will be more important than Iraq.
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Minnesota Showdown Over Tax Fairness

Category: Minnesota Politics
Posted: 05/17/07 12:33

copied from Progressive State Network newsletter....

Written by Nathan Newman

With a stroke of his veto pen, Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty blocked one of the most progressive tax plans in the nation: tax cuts for 90% of the state's homeowners to be paid for by an income tax increase on the wealthiest 28,000 taxpayers in the state.

Analysis by the Minnesota Budget Project had shown that the wealthiest 1% of Minnesota households (those married families making more than $354,758 per year) paid only 9% of their income in state and local taxes, far less than the 12% of income paid by most middle class families in the state.

To rectify this regressive tax system (unfortunately all too common in states), the Minnesota legislature approved a budget that created a new income tax rate of 9% of income to be levied on incomes over $226,230 for single filers and incomes of $400,000 or more for married couples. This revenue would be used to limit property taxes to no more than 2 percent of family income, returning the difference in refund checks. Polls showed that 72 percent of voters favored the higher tax rate for the wealthy as a way to lower property taxes, but Gov. Pawlenty chose to protect his wealthy campaign contributors rather than allow property tax relief for the middle class.

Responding to Pawlenty's veto, the legislature is preparing a pared down budget without the income tax increase, but also without the property tax relief or planned increases for early childhood programs that had also been part of the program.

It's unfortunate that Minnesota had a chance to enact model tax fairness legislation, but instead will likely end up with a status quo budget due to the Governor's veto.
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Conservatives on Capitalism

Category: US Politics
Posted: 05/16/07 19:12

By Tom Hammond

Nothing is more sacred to Conservative Republicans than Capitalism. They worship at the altar of Capitalism with each and every breath. With George W. Bush controlling the White House the past six years and Republican control of the Congress, one would expect this to be the golden age of Capitalism in America. Where do we stand today?

The American economy is growing at an anemic annual rate of 1.3 %. The economy of Communist China, by comparison, is expanding at a spectacular 11%. America is currently running record trade deficits with China and is borrowing hundreds of billions of dollars from the Chinese to give tax breaks, mainly to the wealthy.

American corporations are shifting America?s manufacturing base and millions of jobs to China, as well. China has been artificially propping up its currency to get an unfair trade advantage while the American dollar is on the decline.

Maybe President Bush can convince the Communist Chinese to share their secrets to running a Capitalist economy. It seems they are more adept at it than we are.
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