So, NPR requested to speak to some of the potential “victims” of the surtax:
We wanted to talk to business owners who would be affected. So, NPR requested help from numerous Republican congressional offices, including House and Senate leadership. They were unable to produce a single millionaire job creator for us to interview.
Undefeated, NPR next requested the same thing from business groups that have also fought the proposal. Again, no example could be produced.
Eventually, the reporters placed a request for business owners that would be affected by the tax to respond, and they did — only the answers they got were mostly like Jason Burger, co-owner of a company called CSS International Holdings.
Mr. Burger’s company is an international “infrastructure contractor”:
“If my taxes go up, I have slightly less disposable income, yes…But that has nothing to do with what my business does. What my business does is based on the contracts that it wins and the demand for its services.”
Burger says his Michigan-based company is hiring like crazy, and he’d be perfectly willing to pay the surtax.
“It’s only fair that I put back into the system that is the entire reason for my success,” said Burger.
So again, Republicans are manufacturing disastrous consequences for policy proposals that are quite sound.
Now, it is possible that the businesspeople who responded to NPR on Facebook are prone to be more liberal, but the fact that both the Republican party and business trade groups couldn’t provide a single example of an small entrepreneur who would decide not to hire based on his personal taxes is illustrative of how the conservative mind works.
Thinks are true because I feel they are true. Damn the evidence.
- GOP backs payroll tax extension but rejects surtax on millionaires (politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com)
- Does the GOP Really Love You? (inc.com)
David Sirota, writing at Salon.com examines the results of two new studies on education and found that the principle factor deciding of students perform well is — money.
The first report, from Stanford University, showed that with a rising “income achievement gap,” a family’s economic situation is a bigger determinative force in a child’s academic performance than any other major demographic factor. For poor kids, that means the intensifying hardships of poverty are now creating massive obstacles to academic progress.
Because of this reality, schools in destitute areas naturally require more resources than those in rich ones so as to help impoverished kids overcome comparatively steep odds. Yet, according to the second report from the U.S. Department of Education, “many high-poverty schools receive less than their fair share of state and local funding.” As if purposely embodying the old adage about adding insult to injury, the financing scheme “leav(es) students in high-poverty schools with fewer resources than schools attended by their wealthier peers.” In practice, that equals less funding to recruit teachers, upgrade classrooms, reduce class sizes and sustain all the other basics of a good education.
Put all this together and behold the crux of America’s education problems in bumper-sticker terms: It’s poverty and punitive funding formulas, stupid.
For years, private education corporations have consistently blamed teacher unions for poor results in our nations schools, but the reports shoot down this myth. Sirota:
We’ve also learned that no matter how much self-styled education “reformers” claim otherwise, the always-demonized teachers unions are not holding our education system back. As the New York Times recently noted: “If unions are the primary cause of bad schools, why isn’t labor’s pernicious effect” felt in the very unionized schools that so consistently graduate top students?
The conclusion is that in order to improve education for all students, we must combat poverty and reform the funding system:
Instead, America’s youth need the painfully obvious: a national commitment to combating poverty and more funds spent on schools in the poorest areas than on schools in the richest areas — not the other way around.
Within education, achieving those objectives requires efforts to stop financing schools via property tax systems (i.e., systems that by design direct more resources to wealthy areas). It also requires initiatives that better target public education appropriations at schools in low-income neighborhoods — and changing those existing funding formulas that actively exacerbate inequality.
I have been saying something similar for years.
My two-part proposal has been 1) to create an affordable model school infrastructure and make sure all schools meet the standards (physical plant, class size, resources, and 2) pool all school funds at the state level and distribute them based on a per-student amount to every school.
Schools in poverty-stricken areas would be given additional funds to meet needs (nutrition, etc.) not found in wealthier areas.
As Sirota notes, it’s a tough sell in the current political environment, but it’s one of the most important obstacles to ensuring the prominence of American for generations to come.
Today Ezra Klein posted an interesting piece about the Euro crisis that confirms what I have thought for some time.
You may have heard the standard right-wing talking point that the current economic woes in Europe are directly tied to entitlements. Conservatives made a similar claim about the US deficit, which is why we’ve been talking about that side of the equation instead of higher taxes until recently (thank you OWS).
Both claims, of course stretch the truth — a lot.
The economic downturn (due to the subprime mortgage disaster) and tax cuts for the wealthy are the prime factors in the US deficit.
Entitlements are also not the boogeyman in the European crisis.
Klein’s piece, “A larger welfare state can mean a lower deficit” highlights the case of Germany, which has a hefty welfare state — but didn’t suffer from any of the problems faced by Greece and other Euro-zone countries:
Take Germany. They have a pretty big welfare state: pensions, health care, paid vacations, unemployment benefits equal to two-thirds of one’s income. Indeed, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development keeps track of social spending — unemployment, old-age pensions, health care, etc — as a percentage of GDP. In 2007, Germany spent 25.2 percent of their GDP on such things. Greece spent 21.3 percent on social policies. Yet Greece is in crisis, and Germany is fine.
As recently as 1965, the cost of those two systems competed neck-and-neck. That year, Canada spent 5.9 percent of its GDP on health care. The United States spent 5.7 percent. But around that time, Canada was transitioning to its current single-payer system. Over the next four decades, the growth of health-care costs slowed in Canada while it accelerated in the United States. By 2009, Canada was spending 11 percent of its GDP on health care — and covering everyone. The United States was spending 17.4 percent of its GDP and leaving 45 million uninsured. In dollar terms, we’re spending $3,600 more per person, per year, than Canada.
I’m not an economist, but there seems to be some consensus in the articles that I have read that what Klein states is true.
I have seen no convincing evidence that European woes are principally caused by entitlement spending.
In fact, Klein makes a good argument that a strong healthcare system could act as a bulwark against deficit:
If the United States had Canada’s health-care system, and Canada’s per capita health-care costs, we would have a much “larger” welfare state, but we wouldn’t have a deficit problem. Assuming we weren’t spending that money elsewhere, we wouldn’t even have a deficit. Likewise, if any country in the euro zone maintained the United States’s health-care system and our health-care spending, it would have a smaller welfare state, but it would be sagging beneath a debt burden far more onerous than anything anyone in Europe is facing today.
- Contrary To Republican Rhetoric, Europe Is Not In Trouble Because Of Spending And Debt (thinkprogress.org)
- The European Debt Crisis in Three Graphs (bostongazette.wordpress.com)
- A Bankrupt Uncle Sam Hypocritically Lectures Europe On Debt (forbes.com)
From the press release:
Sanders’ Saving American Democracy Amendment would make clear that corporations are not entitled to the same constitutional rights as people and that corporations may be regulated by Congress and state legislatures. It also would preserve the First Amendment guarantee of freedom of the press. It would incorporate a century-old ban on corporate campaign donations to candidates, and establish broad authority for Congress and states to regulate spending in elections.
This needs to be done.
Corporations have their hooks into every politician at almost every level, and right-wing media has done a nice job selling people on the idea that corporations ARE people.
The only way we will ever have a responsive government is if we get the corrupting power of money out of the game.
Ideas should be introduced and debated on an even playing field and live and die based on their merits — not on a marketing campaign by whoever spends the most.
A fact sheet linked from Sander’s press release makes a strong case:
Before Citizens United, corporations had to abide by the ruling in Austin v. Michigan Chamber of Commerce that limited their participation in elections to political action committees. PACS are funded by voluntary contributions from the employees of a corporation, as opposed to the general treasury fund. The Supreme Court also determined that limitations on corporate spending in elections were permissible in McConnell v. FEC, a decision that upheld portions of the McCain-Feingold reforms that aimed to reign in corporate electioneering.
Because of Citizens United, corporations are now allowed to tap into their profits to spend money advocating for or against candidates of their choosing. Even worse, they can do it anonymously. By undermining the very concept of campaign finance laws, like the ones limiting individual contributions to candidates, the Citizens United decision even threatens a 1907 law passed by Congress prohibiting corporations from directly contributing to candidates. If we don’t take action, before we know it, the Supreme Court could rule that corporations can directly to contribute to candidates for public office.
Read the proposed amendment here.
I’d love for this to pass, but I doubt there’s a chance of that happening.
In today’s Dish, Andrew Sullivan discusses the Defense Authorization Bill:
The president has mercifully agreed to veto the bill that would allow the US military to seize and detain without any due process anyone, including American citizens, who are suspected of terrorism, even in the US itself. A future Republican president might throw torture in with this toxic brew.
The veto is a relief. But the US Senate has thrown its weight behind gutting the core, most basic freedom upon which all others follow: habeas corpus. It has endorsed the notion that the government can do whatever it likes to any citizen it merely suspects of being involved of terrorism. It is a hole through which the entire framework of the constitution could disappear. One more terror attack, and we would have authorized soldiers to break into citizens’ homes at will, round up any citizens the government deems suspicious, and deny them any recourse.
Having seen a number of Facebook posts on the subject and the silence from the right on this important issue, I agree with Sullivan on the following sentiment:
A healthcare mandate is an outrage; gutting habeas corpus is just fine. Go figure.
Obama has a real problem with the progressive base of his party. His centrist stance and coziness with Wall Street are being noticed more and more.
His reluctance to call out and decry things that are obviously wrong and extremely anti-American also reflects poorly on his leadership.
He has repeatedly caved in to Republican demands, and has started negotiations squarely to the right of center — where the only compromise is to move to the far right.
To paraphrase a recent satirical segment on the highly recommended Onion News Network, Obama has reached an agreement with Republicans that will allow them to kick him in the balls whenever they like in exchange for nothing.
Obama is giving us few reasons to support him, and his seeming indifference to headlines like “Pregnant Seattle protester miscarries after being kicked, pepper sprayed” isn’t going to change that dynamic.
In a November 19 post, Reich gives the following advice to the Deficit Supercommittee (which has since disbanded, after failing to reach an agreement):
1. Make no cuts before unemployment is back under control (down to 5%).
2. Make the boost big enough. We need a huge jobs program with components like the New Deal’s Civilian Conservation Corps and Work Progress Administration to restore our infrastructure.
3. Raise taxes on the super rich and tax all income (capital gains included) at the same rate. Restore the tax structure to pre-1980 levels and put a 2% surcharge on income over $5 million.
4. Cut the real welfare — military spending and corporate subsidies. Savings = $400 billion annually.
Reich’s closing plea, of course, fell on deaf ears:
Do you hear me, Washington? Do these four things and restore jobs and prosperity. Fail to do these, and you’ll make things much, much worse.
Unfortunately, there’s not a chance any of this will get through in this political climate.
It seems like we are constantly in a battle to mitigate damage from bad policy and those actively on a misguided crusade to make things much worse, and not making any headway in actually fixing the problem.
I don’t have any great expectations for the State of the Union address tomorrow night.
Paul Krugman has been critical of the signalling coming out of the White House:
The Competition Myth
Robert Reich has a blog summarizing how our country got to it’s current state and what the president should do about it:
The State of the Union: What the Presideny Should Say
There’s much truth in what both of these economists say.
But Obama has spent much of his time trying to appease business interests and surrounding himself with the movers and shakers from the very corporate enclave that helped create our current economy.
It’s not clear exactly what helpful policies will be allowed to see sunlight in a setting in which the president is bending over backwards to satisfy big business.
- Report: Obama to Call for New Investments in State of the Union (news.firedoglake.com)
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