Thursday, April 14, 2011

Will Obama Blink in 2012?

This morning as I was sitting outside on the front porch with my morning cup of coffee, my mind began to wander (as if often does). I began to wonder about the reproductive process of mammals in the wild. When I had reflected on the wildlife documentaries I had watched in the past on NatGeo, I pondered whether or not these wild animals had actually enjoyed mating. It looked to me to be more of an obligatory action taken to further the species, rather than a pleasurable act (unlike we humans). Especially for the females, who seem to be more dominated than wooed; as though forced into brutal submission, rather than romanced. They looked as though they couldn't wait to be done with the whole thing, and thinking "Hurry up dammit and get it over with! You're killing me!!!" They didn't seem to enjoy it at all.

That's how I feel when the Republican Tea House People keep attempting to cut unemployment benefits, Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security, and all the other "social programs" and the so-called "entitlements" for poor and old people like myself. I feel like I'm being forced into submission and dominated by a political party who doesn't seem realize that the other half of the population doesn't enjoy it at all. We don't like getting screwed either.

All throughout 2009 and 2010 the Tea Party bitterly complained about having Obama-Care™  "rammed down their throat". But it appears to me that it is THEY who are now doing all the "ramming". Now the Tea Party fanatic Paul Ryan wants to ram Medicaid vouchers down my throat; and he wants to charge me $6,000 for the pleasure - while at the same time also offering more tax breaks for the corporations and uber-rich. It makes me wonder who the Tea Party really works for. (Mister Ryan, please....don't tread on me!)

 Last December Obama "blinked" by not letting the Bush Tax Cuts expire. But yesterday the battle lines were drawn: Obama said, "I did it once, but I refuse to do it again."

The GOP and Tea Party wasted no time letting us know that they weren't very happy, judging by all the whining I heard from the Fox News commentators - and it appears that the GOP will do everything they can to get the Bush Tax Cuts made permanent (maybe even lowering them), and all at the expense of destroying our "big" government budget. Instead, they'd rather just cut government spending on the poor and middle-class...Cut! Cut! Cut! Cuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuttttttt!!!! 

Barney Frank says that the word "government" (whether you think it's too big or too small) is just a name we use to describe something we all want to do together. But the uber-rich have already seceded from the Union. They have their private schools and gated communities, and many have their own islands. They just don't want to pay any taxes to run a government - to pay for such things such as Social Security and Medicare, stuff that everybody else needs and uses.

According to the Washington Post President Obama’s budget plan has two plausible ways to get to its number, while Paul Ryan’s budget has none. The GOP's argument has always been, "It's not a revenue problem, it's a spending problem", totally ignoring the lack of taxes that the ultra-wealthy people and corporations have not been paying.

As far as the uber-rich, in 2010 fund manager John Paulson led the list with a record $4.9 billion in personal earnings. The top 25 hedge fund earners took in $22.07 billion in 2010. Thanks to a generous tax loophole these billionaires will pay a top tax rate of 15 percent instead of 35 percent. Closing that loophole on just those 25 individuals – just 25 guys who wouldn’t miss a penny of it - would raise $4.4 billion, which is enough to rehire 126,000 laid-off teachers.

And Paul Ryan thinks that it's just our "envy" of the rich that drives our desire to see them get taxed more fairly. The pompous bastard must think we are all very "little" people indeed!

The Democrats, the Progressives, the Liberals, the Socialists, and the "Far Left" (as well as grandma and most Republican voters) favor taxing the rich, but the Democratic and Republican leaders in Congress are at the total opposite spectrum of the debate on this issue. And this is precisely why I might write an upcoming article titled "Why I went from the Far-Right to the Far-Left" (Since losing my job in 2008, and going from middle-class to abject poor, I skipped the "middle" entirely since they had no room for me either).

In case anyone has forgotten how we got to where we are today (deregulation and tax cuts), read my movie review of Inside Job.

The Bush Tax Cuts are again set to expire on December 31, 2012. There’s a very easy solution to fixing the federal budget: Just let all the Bush Tax Cuts expire. President Obama can accomplish this without any negotiations or another compromise of any sort. That's what should have happened last December.

The Bush Tax Cuts that were extended last December reduced the 6.2 percent Social Security payroll tax on all wage earners by two percentage points for only one year, putting a little more money into the pockets of workers, but was quickly taken back in increased food, gas, and energy costs. For a family earning a median wage, it would amount to about $19.23 a week per household.

That was the bone that was thrown at the working-poor and middle-class by the Republicans in the Obama Compromise to give the uber-rich vast windfalls. The top rate of only 15 percent on capital gains and dividends for the very wealthy (bankers, CEOs, etc) remained in place for two full years.

Example: C.E.O. Philippe P. Dauman of Viacom made $84.5 million. Viacom has said that the compensation was "inflated by one-time stock awards linked to a long-term contract signed last year". In other words, like most CEOs, he was paid an employee compensation package which included stock-options. After a year he can cash out his company stock and only pay a 15% capital gains tax...putting him in a lower tax bracket than you and I.

Also at the top was Ray R. Irani, the C.E.O. of Occidental Petroleum, who took home $76.1 million last year, up 142 percent from the previous one. Last year, the board awarded Mr. Irani a $33 million cash bonus plus $40.3 million in stock awards, more than double what he received in 2009. Millions of dollars in capital gains and paying a 15% tax.

The chief executive of Ford Motor, Alan R. Mulally, made $26.5 million in total pay, up 48 percent over the previous year as a result of big stock option awards (only paying a 15% capital gains tax).

John F. Lundgren, chief executive of Stanley Black & Decker, whose pay rose 253 percent, to $32.57 million, after a huge stock award. And none on these capital gains taxes goes towards the funding of Medicaid, Medicaid, or Social Security - that's a payroll tax that the working stiffs pay in hourly wages or base salaries...the ones we just had cut by 2% in the Obama Compromise.

Corrugated-cardboard magnate Dennis Mehiel bought his 10,350-square-foot four-bedroom home in September of 2005 for $15.5 million. In the summer of 2009 he put it on the market for $29.5 million. He would have had to pay a 15% capital gains tax on the $14 million difference in the profit he made. He was on MSNBC this yesterday morning (pictured below) and admitted that his tax rate should be nearer to the 50% level, or at the very least, where it was during the Clinton era (when we actually had a budget SURPLUS).

And in addition to keeping the current Bush tax rates on incomes above $250,000 for couples or $200,000 for individuals like Dauman, Irani, Lundgren, Mehiel, and Mulally, the Obama Compromise also set an exemption on estate taxes of $5 million per person and a maximum rate of 35 percent (as in the case if Dauman, Irani, Lundgren, Mehiel, or Mulally were to pass away and leave their huge fortune to their wives or children). Under the pre-Bush tax rate on estate taxes, there was an exemption of only $1 million per person and a maximum rate of 55 percent.

Russell Simmons is a successful African-American businessman, the co-founder of the pioneering hip-hop label Def Jam, and creator of the clothing fashion lines Phat Farm, Argyleculture, and American Classics. In his open letter to Obama he writes: "When we talk about cutting, if we don't talk about reversing the unfair Bush tax cuts on rich people like me who get richer just by breathing, if YOU don't personally challenge America day in and day out for a more balanced economy between rich and poor, between fair and unfair educational outcomes, and in favor of basic services while reforming entitlements, you risk the very passion that you will need -- in your constituents and in your own deeply compassionate heart - to win today, forget the future...Nowhere in all your deep and thoughtful remarks did you talk about the elephant in the room that affects ALL Americans, irrespective of color: the growing ranks of poor Americans - Americans struggling not just to meet their mortgage payments, but to eat, sleep under a roof, educate their kids, and pay their basic bills...Of all Americans, the poor are not just the real victims of this recession; they are the victims of a thirty year campaign of smear and neglect, to strengthen the rich on the backs of the rest of America in the dim and ultimately futile fantasy that the rich getting richer will somehow trickle down."

Warren Buffett has said, "I think that people at the high end, people like myself, should be paying a lot more in taxes. We have it better than we've ever had it." In another interview I saw him say that keeping the current Bush Tax Cuts for the rich "won't necessarily mean we'll create more jobs".

And even President Obama himself was willing to take the tax hit.

Just like last December, the Bush Tax Cuts are again set to expire on December 31, 2012. So what happens at the end of 2012? Do we tax the bankers and C.E.O.s? When was the last time a rich man hired you? How many jobs did Paris Hilton create? Or do we just keep cutting services that hurt the poor and middle-class while the deficit continues to grow as the rich just get richer?

See this informative video: "Democracy is hanging by a thread because of plutocrats and their paid ass-kissers!"

By the end of 2012 the economy might be two years further along into its super-sluggish "recovery" (if we don't end up having a double-dip recession or the world doesn't come to an end). But I suspect the government-manipulated unemployment numbers will still be much too high by then, because all those wealthy so-called "job creators" weren't doing THEIR job (and that's not even taking in to account the millions of Americans who aren't even being counted any longer, such as the 99ers).

But the good news is, Obama’s re-election will be behind him by that time (because I doubt that the Tea Party darling Sarah Palin or any other fanatical Tea House Party or Republican candidate will win). At that point, Obama's choice would be very easy. All he would have to do is refuse to extend the tax cuts on incomes over $250,000 a year. He can say he favors a tax cut for income under that level, but he won’t have to follow through on that pledge, because Republicans will never agree to pass a tax cut for JUST the little guys down in the ditch anyway. We saw that happen last year.

In a hostage standoff where one party (the Republicans) secretly hates the hostage (the working-class), and the other party (the Democrats) are at best indifferent to the hostage, then the hostage (you) are probably going to die. End result: All the Bush Tax Cuts will just magically disappear starting in 2013. But if your household is earning $50,000 a year, would that extra $19.23 a week really make much of a difference in paying your mortgage? Would you miss that 20 bucks if you knew the budget could be balanced, the sanitation workers and firemen could stay on the job, and 15 million of your fellow Americans could find work? Wouldn't it be nice to finally start repairing our infrastructure before someone else dies in a collapsing bridge? Even rich people need roads and bridges.

Obama could blame Republicans for letting taxes go up on the hard-working middle class, and he would be right. Wasn't it the Republicans who held the middle-class and the unemployed hostage last year?

Letting the Bush Tax Cuts to simply expire could slice $4 trillion off the national debt just 6 years after their expiration in 2012. It would reduce the budget deficit to about 2.5 percent of gross domestic product, which means it would be out of the danger zone. The Bush Tax Cuts took 10 years to dig us in to this hole of debt, so it will tax a few more years to dig ourselves out.

And then maybe our sick and elderly friends, ex-co-workers,  neighbors, and relatives won't have to be thrown like refuse into a city landfill because of budgets cuts by the radical and "social conservative" Republicans and Tea Party freaks. And just who the hell are these Tea Party Patriots anyway, do they even know?

See this documentary: The Billionaires Tea Party - "The Tea Party movement has taken American politics by storm. But is this truly a populist uprising or one of the greatest feats of propaganda ever seen? Australian filmmaker Taki Oldham sets out answer this question, finding that behind the movement’s rhetoric of ‘freedom’ versus ‘socialism’ lies a highly coordinated network of shadow groups, funded by the likes of billionaire ideologues Charles and David Koch. Are the Tea Party protestors really just pawns in a plan to replace government with a privatized America?"

I say kill the damn Bush Tax Cuts for the uber-rich. Their mansions and yachts didn't do a damn thing for me. Just the opposite - they would prefer that I be homeless and hungry, and living on the street without any kind of medical care. It was the Republicans who opposed the creation of Medicare and Social Security. But the GOP doesn't mind one bit about "corporate welfare". Yet the GOP dares to accuse Obama as the one who's engaging in class-warfare...the damn GOP hypocrites!

As an alternative, I propose this: The Congressional Progressive Caucus People's Budget FY12 Memorandum (PDF format). It eliminates the national deficit by 2021 (website)

Now all we can do (both the Democratic AND Republican voters) is wait, hope, and pray that the NEXT TIME the radical Republican leaders in Congress (beholden to the ultra-wealthy and big corporations) don't call Obama's bluff and make him blink...again.

Also read:

Tax the Super Rich now or face a revolution


The Real Housewives of Wall Street

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