Monday, September 13, 2010


Ever wonder why we can’t seem to get away from the furor over President Obama’s mild proposal to take back some of the immense tax cuts for the rich that Bush the Second slid through Congress?

We’re only talking about people who earn more than $250,000 a year – 2 percent of the population, and they’d get to keep those windfall tax cuts for the first $250,000 of their income. Someone who earns $260,000 in gross adjusted income would see taxes go up only on that last $10,000. So the only people sustaining any real damage would be those whose earnings are in the millions. But how do you damage someone making $40 million? The answer is, you don’t – not by asking them to pay 39.6 percent on those last few millions. The top rate now is 35 percent. Incidentally, when Eisenhower was president the top rate was 91 percent.

So why all the fuss? Because those few people who sit atop the asset pyramid have, particularly over the last few decades, created a vast army of hacks whose principal job is to convince the rest of us that any legislative moves to establish fairness, by undermining these plutocrats, would somehow hurt all of us. So for the next couple weeks we’re going to hear a lot about how taking back some tax cuts for incomes over $250,000 will cripple the country and wreck “small business” (Joe the Plumbers) even though owners of small businesses are an entirely separate group of people who’d be untouched by the proposal. Don’t expect the corporate media to correct the fallacy. The weak-minded and ill-informed are quicker to accept it, but hammer away at decently intelligent people hard enough and often enough and even they might start to believe two and two is five, particularly when they become desperate, as so many American are these days.

Just who are the hacks spreading this bullshit and where do they reside? Some of their lairs can be found in the Cato Institute, the American Enterprise Institute, the Heritage Foundation, the Hoover Institute, the John Templeton Foundation, thousands of corporate lobbying groups in Washington and state capitals (including sinister institutions that labor for “families,” all the Murdoch enterprises, and thousands of legislative offices in Washington and state capitals. They all pay good wages for spreading propaganda and have recruited an entire army of mercenaries who write unceasing op-ed page pieces, snag “news” show interviews within the corporate media and repeat and repeat their Big Lies. Typically they don't stay in one job but ride a cutthroat career circuit. Their opponents are backed by far less generous resources.

I’m paid nothing for this blog. I started it because I felt I had to do something when Bush Junior sent my son to Iraq (twice). I also use it as a feeble attempt to sell my books (check out two of them on the right side of the page). But when I used to work as a straight-ahead journalist and my political opinions weren’t known, I was offered Dark Side positions on editorial boards and in congressional committee offices. I’d be lying if I said the temptation wasn’t strong, and I know plenty of people who went over. A good friend recently signed on with one of the institutions I named in the previous paragraph. Ethical positions that pay decently are fewer and fewer as print media die. And why try to work on the side of the angels when even a victory doesn’t spell victory? Lately victory just slows down the betrayal. Allow me to explain.

Sorry to keep hammering on this, but why did Obama select Frank and Jesse James (Timothy Geithner and Larry Summers) to drive the economic train? Probably for the same reason the Clintons wrecked the welfare system, rammed through world Trade Organization and NAFTA agreements that enriched mega-corporations at the expense of everyone else and worked closely with Republican Dick Armey to retract FDR’s cherished Glass-Steagall Act that prevented banks from making wild bets with their depositors’ money. But The Republicans still impeached Bill for lying about a few stray blowjobs. You can’t buy these people off. And Obama won't be able to placate them either. The army is in place and the tanks are fueled and on the move.


Grist said...

Ivan, well said. It’s worth repeating again and again that our former graduated income tax (as you say, “when Eisenhower was president the top rate was 91 percent”) coincided with the greatest economic development in American history. It also coincided with the G.I. Bill—a free college education for all U.S. armed forces veterans, like your son is or someday will be—with the result that we had the best-educated workforce in history.
I hope your son returned from Iraq without too much damage (I assume no soldier could be sent there even once without some harm). You, keep up the good work.

Christina said...

i love it when you speak the truth.

Bart Everett said...

Families making $250,000 in the Los Angeles area are not "rich." Same goes for those in other large urban areas. The "rich" are those who can make that kind of money in the hinterlands.

Almost a Socialist said...

Dear Ivan:

My next door neighor's family is from Mexico. He considers himself a true blue Republican because he is a Catholic and thinks abortion is a sin. His house is in foreclosure and his wife on unemployment benefits. Yet he has been convinced that Obama was really born in Africa, and the Republican's are going to make things better, and that Sarah Palin would make a great president!

Let's face it. The far right have done a GREAT job of interweaving white, Christian religious fervour with a great lobbying effort, while the left have tried appeasement because they need big business as well.

The Great Depression hit ALL classes, even the robber barons, so hard that it forced change. The Great Recession has only affected the working class. The age of conspicuous greed and the GOOL 'OLe BOYS of Wall Street is still up on us, and still running this country.

What catastrophe is going to stop more of the same?

As for $250 not being rich? Wake up. You try living on the $7 a day the food stamp program sets.

Ivan G. Goldman said...

Regarding Bart's point that $250K doesn't make you rich in the big city: the 4.6% hike for the last $10K in earnings for the hypothetical taxpayer making $260K comes to $460, a not insignificant sum. But those protesting this hike would be more creidble if they hadn't so overwhelmingly supported a trillion-dollar war of choice in Iraq and then complained (now that a Democrat's in the White House) that the federal debt is too big. You want wars? Pay for them.