How to Solve Budget Crises? Tax the Rich and Make Banks Pay

The alternative to austerity is bold progressive economic policy.

In These Times and Kartemquin Films May 31, 2017

The same banks who were responsible for the foreclosure crisis in 2008 are now making huge sums of money from predatory loans made to state and city governments.

Tonight is the dead­line for Illi­nois law­mak­ers to pass a bud­get this ses­sion. If they fail to do so, the state will con­tin­ue it’s near­ly two-year impasse, which has slashed social pro­grams and desta­bi­lized communities. 

“Toxic swaps" contribute to widespread austerity policies, such as cuts to the CeaseFire violence prevention program in Chicago.

This episode of Strand­ed by the State looks at the role big banks have played in accel­er­at­ing bud­get crises across the coun­try. The same banks that were respon­si­ble for the fore­clo­sure cri­sis in 2008 are now mak­ing huge sums of mon­ey from preda­to­ry loans made to state and city governments. 

These tox­ic swaps” con­tribute to wide­spread aus­ter­i­ty poli­cies, such as cuts to the Cease­Fire vio­lence pre­ven­tion pro­gram in Chica­go. The episode also points toward alter­na­tive solu­tions to the cri­sis in Illi­nois: recov­er­ing mon­ey from the banks and enact­ing a pro­gres­sive income tax.

Illi­nois has not passed a real bud­get in near­ly two years, the first state to go that long with­out a bud­get since the Great Depres­sion. Repub­li­can Gov. Bruce Rauner has refused to sign off on any bud­get that doesn’t also cur­tail col­lec­tive bar­gain­ing rights, lead­ing to a show­down with the state’s Democrats. 

Strand­ed by the State—an 8‑part video series pro­duced in part­ner­ship with Kartemquin Films — fol­lows the fam­i­lies, work­ers and stu­dents liv­ing through these de fac­to bud­get cuts, show­ing the ways they dete­ri­o­rate the fab­ric of Illi­nois com­mu­ni­ties. The series incor­po­rates data con­nect­ing the sit­u­a­tion in Illi­nois to long-term trends of aus­ter­i­ty nation­wide, includ­ing the stag­ger­ing cuts pro­posed in Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s first budget.

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