"If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich." ~ John F. Kennedy, in his Inaugural Address on January 20, 1961
* NOTE: This is personal and comprehensive (and scathing but honest and accurate) observation on the status of the current Republican Party --- written by an ex-Republican.
CAUTION! Contains adult material that may not be suitable for children.
Two different political philosophies on charity and taxes
More than ever, and mostly because of the Great Recession, many Americans now need government assistance, such as Medicaid and food stamps. Instead of responsibly padding the federal piggy bank in anticipation of a national emergency during the "good times", the Republicans recklessly raided the cookie jar, drastically cut taxes for the rich, ignorantly de-regulated the banks (albeit, with Bill Clinton's help), brutally outsourced millions of jobs under George W. Bush, who also gave us two controversial wars --- all that combined, is what had decimated our budgets and created our huge deficits --- putting a huge strain on our social programs today (aka "entitlements").
And after all their carnage was complete, after wrecking the economy and putting millions of once-middle-class Americans out of work, the GOP had the raw audacity to point their crooked finger of blame at President Obama...but why? Was it because, like FDR, Obama had cared about the poor and middle-class? Or was it because Obama was too much like Theodore Roosevelt, the last Republican who cared about a "Square Deal" for the poor and average working Americans?
Or maybe it was really because Obama was half black.
The Democrats (for the most part) want to preserve our social safety nets. The Republicans, in very stark contrast, want just the opposite during these harsh times of severe economic hardship for millions of Americans. The GOP just wants to cut, cut, cut!
Ever since the unemployment rate was at 10.2%, when over 15 million people were out of work in October of 2009, most Republican state legislatures had thought that then was a good time to lay off thousands of government workers and to slash unemployment benefits. And some had even introduced drug tests in order for the jobless to qualify for those government "hand-outs", but the GOP lawmakers did not apply the same means testing for their own government salaries.
Across the board, the Republicans have been saying for over four years (beginning exactly on the same day that Obama was first sworn in as our President) that our country's number one priority should be the annual budget and the national debt --- so that our futuristic children (the great-grandchildren and the great-great-grandchildren) would not be saddled down with the burden of our debt, and so therefore, be forced to live among The Walking Dead.
When the Republicans forget who caused the debt, this phenomenon is known as a "deficit attention disorder".
The Democrats feel much differently about real people than the Republicans do...they care about the children, the poor, the disabled and the elderly that we already have among us --- those who are currently living in the "here and now".
The Republicans claim we can't afford to feed our children and old people, and that it's not because we lack the necessary revenue streams, but because of wasteful government spending (as though, feeding people is also "wasteful" spending.)
Tax evasion (and fair taxation) is a major revenue problem
But we DO have a revenue problem --- and it's because of an under-funded tax collection agency that's battling tax fraud on a massive scale. (After all, how can we be expected to feed all those poor and lazy people if we can't bilk those poor and misunderstood billionaires?)
Last year the IRS identified roughly two million tax returns that were potentially fraudulent from tax year 2011, a sharp increase that has the agency struggling to keep up. The agency's shrinking resources and growing responsibilities are making it next to impossible to prevent delays and backlogs.
On a budget of $11.8 billion in the 2012 fiscal year, the I.R.S. collected $2.52 trillion, meaning it brought in $214 for every dollar it spent. In other words, hiring more tax auditors to find tax cheats would be a great investment. But the Republicans argue, that with more tax cuts for the rich, they won't cheat as much!
While the IRS had pushed last year to increase its 2012 budget by $1 billion, the 2012 budget that was ultimately passed by Congress, had actually cut the IRS's budget by about 3%.
The national taxpayer advocate, an independent position with the I.R.S. that Congress created to assist taxpayers in resolving problems, has criticized Congress’s recent budget cuts to the I.R.S.
But in spite of those cuts, the IRS is boasting that so far, it has collected $5 billion from offshore tax cheats, even though in 2011 a study showed (Download the PDF file) that 18-23 % of total reportable income may not properly be reported to the IRS. This gives rise to a 2009 “tax gap” in the range of $390-$537 billion every year in lost tax revenues (That's a lot of food stamps!)
The IRS launched its first voluntary amnesty program in 2009 (when Mitt Romney had closed his Swiss bank account with UBS), and its second amnesty program in 2011. This year the agency introduced its third program. The IRS plans to examine the impact of their Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Programs -- which lures in tax evaders with the promise of reduced penalties --- but still, no jail time. Although....
Marie Estelle Curran, a 79-year-old widow in Palm Beach, Florida had inherited a Swiss bank account from her late husband worth $43 million. For nine years, instead of reporting her income to the IRS, she moved the money from one bank to another, even setting up a shell company in Panama. She is set to be sentenced next month (March 2013) and could face six years in prison. (Bankers get out of jail free, but grandma gets hard time? I doubt it.)
Who sounds more creditable? Who can we believe?
When the Speaker of the House John Boehner and the House Majority leader Eric Cantor tell us, "We don't have a revenue problem, we have a spending problem" --- do you really believe them, or do you ONLY watch Fox News 24 hours a day?
In his closing argument during the O.J. Simpson trial, Johnnie Cochran had plead to the jury, "If it doesn't fit, you must acquit". How many people were convinced that O.J. was innocent?
When Michael Steele, the Republican Party's first African American to head the RNC, was immediately selected in the aftermath of President Obama's election, how many people were convinced that it was for merit alone, and not mostly to counter the first black president? (Some referred to him as a "token", and there were rumors that Oreo cookies were involved.)
How many people believe that a congressional member of the Tea Party, who hails from a Southern state, which has a long and well-documented history of voter suppression laws, isn't in any way bigoted, biased, prejudiced, or racist --- and would never suppress anyone's vote?
If you believe any of that, then MSNBC's Al Sharpton has a bridge to sell you.
Part of the GOP plan to divide and conquer
How many people believed, that when Newt Gingrich had called Obama the "food stamp president", it wasn't to divide whites and blacks --- and was sneakily implying that the whites were the nice, hard working middle-class people, who were being forced to support the lazy and poor unemployed blacks?
If Eddie Murphy had tried to convince you that he was really white, and secretly a member of the Ku Klux Klan, would you believe him? If not, then how can you possibly believe the Republicans about not having a "revenue problem", especially when you know for a fact, that we have a huge problem with income tax evasion?
And why would anyone believe Newt Gingrich or any Republican for that matter, who comes from a Southern state and believes that it's mostly black people who are sucking up the government's revenues and living on food stamps and welfare, but never mentions corporate welfare?
If the Republicans had ever wanted to discriminate against someone, and suppress their votes (because poor people don't vote, or shouldn't vote), maybe it should be the white people, not the black people that they should shun --- because most likely, there were almost as many poor white people voting for Obama as there were poor blacks and Hispanics combined.
Poverty is now officially bipartisan..."We are the forty-seven Percent!"
Bigotry and racism
All throughout 2009 and 2010, when we heard all the Republicans in congress and the Tea Party members rail against ObamaCare®, it was ridiculous to think that it wasn't at least partially driven by bigotry and racism. We weren't blind, we saw their protest signs. "Black people getting more free stuff" was the underlying (if not, subliminal) message we heard.
And who are these Tea Party people anyway? Just Dixiecrats, reincarnated.
And the same thing had occurred when we heard from all the GOP's presidential candidates last year. It was so obvious --- it was thick enough to cut with a knife. Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum were the two most obvious offenders. (Herman Cain was the exception, but as a multi-millionaire, he didn't care too much about poor people in general...and would have lowered his own taxes with his 999 Plan).
We have all known a bigot in our lifetimes, or may have once been one ourselves. And many of us have bigots in our own families. Remember the TV show All in the Family? We all know a bigot when we see one; but to hear a Republican bigot deny this, it reminds us of Shakespeare: "Thou doth protest too much."
It was almost laughable; they all looked like lying fools...or as the fabulous Reverend Al Sharpton had once said in a TV ad, "They got the blueberry pie all over their face, they were the ones eating the pie!”
And still today, after over 30-plus attempts, the Tea Party-led Republicans are still wasting time and passing legislation in the House to repeal ObamaCare® --- even though they know these bills (and abortion bills) could never pass in the current Senate. (They remind me of bigoted old dogs with crusty old bones.)
And what's even more atrocious is, the Republicans have vainly attempted to turn the argument around, by falsely saying Obama hates all white people (such as his mother and grandparents). The pot calling the kettle black (with every pun intended).
More Whites are Poor
In 2011, as a percent of the entire U.S. population, there were more blacks (35%) living in
poverty than whites (13%); but by the number, there were far more whites (25,865,700) living in poverty than
According to the U.S. Census, they reported that in 2010, the poverty rate for:
Whites was 13.0% (30,849,009), and in 2011 went down to 12.8% (30,849,000) --- a change of -0.2% (most likely due to government assistance)
Blacks was 27.4% (10,929,000), and in 2011 it went up to 27.6% (10,929,000) --- a change of +0.2%
But this doesn't tell the whole story either, because government assistance (e.g. TANF and SNAP) keeps people from ever being counted in the poverty rate. But even so, the rate for whites is lower compared to the total population, but the number is much greater, even though black people in the United States have a much higher risk of living in poverty than white people.
And when we look at people living in extreme poverty --- households making less than 50 percent of the "poverty threshold" (Excel files for download) --- of 20 million people who live at this alarming level, about 42 percent are white and 26 percent are black.
More Whites are also on Food Stamps
As of February 8, 2013, the latest data shows that 47.7 million Americans now rely on food stamps -- and 36% are white, while only 22% are black. Poverty has not just been a problem for minorities in urban neighborhoods (or those living in the rural areas of Southern states), but it is also beginning to devour what was a majority white middle-class in the suburbs as well.
The New Poor
A study from Stanford University shows that back in 1970, 65 percent of America’s families lived in “middle-income” situations. By 2008, only 43 percent of U.S. families lived in middle-income neighborhoods. Meanwhile, over that same period of time, the share of families living in either poor or rich neighborhoods essentially doubled.
This is the new demographics (besides just the Latinos) that the Republicans missed in the last election --- the people whose policies they've helped exasperate (by making them poorer), so naturally they're going to vote against them.
According to the Social Security Administration, 50% of all workers in the U.S. workforce nets $26,966 a year or less (that's people of all races, colors, creeds, etc.)
Obama received 63 percent of the votes of Americans making less than $30,000 and 57 percent of those making between $30,000 and $50,000. Above $50,000, Romney won 53 percent of the votes of Americans making between $50 and a $100 thousand and 54 percent of the votes of Americans making above $100,000.
When the Republicans tried to divide the nation (and the vote), they used race (e.g. "food stamp president"). But then they accused Obama of dividing the country by using class [warfare]. But when white people lose their jobs (or are severely under-paid) and need food stamps to feed themselves and their families, they're not going to vote for an old rich white guy who promises to cut food stamps, they'll vote for a black man who at least acts as though he cares. (The Republicans call food "free stuff".)
PHOTO BELOW: During the Great Depression, and especially in the Dust Bowl, most poor people were white --- but just like today, the Republicans didn't want to give them "free stuff" either. And back then, just like today, the Republicans had also accused the unemployed of being lazy drunks.
“Three or four million heads of households don’t turn into tramps and cheats overnight, nor do they lose the habits and standards of a lifetime. They don’t drink any more than the rest of us, they don’t lie any more, and they’re no lazier than the rest of us. An eighth or a tenth of the earning population does not change its character which has been generations in the moulding, or, if such a change actually occurs, we can scarcely charge it up to personal sin.” – Harry Hopkins, Federal relief administrator under Franklin D. Roosevelt – 1933
* Note: I Photoshopped "coffee and donuts" in the picture to read "stuff" :)
Pompous, cheap, stingy and hypocritical millionaires
Vice-presidential loser Paul Ryan (who last year wanted the capital gains tax rate for the rich to be 0%) is currently touting more budget cuts that would eliminate food stamps for 1.8 million adults and children --- and would also eliminate Meals on Wheels for our seniors.
And what was the GOP thinking by running Mitt Romney for president last year, the poster boy of wealth and excess? "I'm not concerned about the very poor. We have a safety net there." The net he promised the voters he would cut.
People like Mitt Romney (and many billionaires on the Forbes Fortune 400 list) have always acted as though they're entitled to earn millions every year. And Mitt Romney, who doesn't care whose pension he steals. represents everything that's gone wrong for the poor and middle-class in this country over the past 40 years --- and it's only getting worse.
That's why black people get "free stuff", for the same reason why white people like me do; because unless you were rich to begin with, the Republican Party has been screwing us all.
There's far more poor people than there are rich people, and there will only be a growing number of poor white people in the future. Instead of a "lost decade", we will most likely have a "lost generation".
But in all fairness to the current Republican leaders, they don't hate all black people, unless of course, they're poor. But they do hate all poor people, that's why God made so many of them, just to piss off the Republican politicians.
And that's also why, at this rate, only the richest (and/or the dumbest) people will ever be voting for any future Republican candidates, no matter what color they are. But if they do, may God help us all.
* Full Disclosure: I know these things, because I too was once a Republican, and ignorantly believed everything the GOP leaders and Fox News had told me --- But no more! --- And that's why I hate Republicans and the Fox News channel. Thank God I've finally seen the light!
Related Post: Republicans Think I'm A Lazy Black Man