Thursday, July 26, 2012

America's Problem: Dumbed Down Republican Voters

Continued Financial Fraud, Massive Job Outsourcing, Poor Regulatory Enforcement, Excessive Defense Spending, Political Corruption, Corporate Greed, Historically Low Taxation and Runaway Tax Evasion...Everything the GOP Leadership Supports.

Is that the new standard for American exceptionalism? Is America only the greatest country in the world just because we might have a little less corruption and greed than most other countries?

Russell Wasendorf Sr., the prominent commodity futures executive and CEO of Peregrine Financial, has recently confessed to “misappropriating” customer cash for almost 20 years. Add him to the long list of financial swindlers. Authorities say another $215 million is missing. But the Peregrine CEO has no regrets about misleading federal regulators. Wasendorf also denies living large. “I don't live a lavish lifestyle.”

Wasendorf’s non-lavish lifestyle includes a million-dollar condo in Chicago, a near-million-dollar home in Iowa, a private jet valued at over $7 million, and a $100,000 wine collection. Wasendorf is now facing criminal charges that could keep him jailed for decades.

Back in 2008 after Lehman Brothers failed, Russell Wasendorf had once said that it comes down to "a lack of transparency and communication. When you have these mammoth investment banks taking positions that they can't even evaluate, you have a very big problem in our financial services industry." Oh really?

But Wasendorf is just one of thousands that has bilked and gamed our system for years, those that the GOP wants to tax, regulate, audit less. Just ask Mitt Romney. What's he hiding in his tax returns? Why is he running for president instead of being prosecuted for tax evasion for having $100 million in a retirement account.? I was told by H&R Block one year that claiming work boots as a tax deduction might raise a "red flag" with the IRS. A multi-million dollar IRA account doesn't raise any red flags? (Mitt Romney's ties to IRS Commissioner)

Over the past 30 years, notes an analysis of IRS tax data this past spring by economists Emmanuel Saez and Thomas Piketty, incomes for America’s top 1 percent more than doubled. Average incomes for the nation’s top 0.1 percent, over that same span, more than tripled; and at the tippy top of America’s economic summit — the top 0.01 percent — average incomes more than quadrupled --- but their tax rates have steadily declined.

After inflation, average incomes for America’s bottom 90 percent actually fell — by 4.8 percent — between 1980 and 2010. As higher paying manufacturing jobs have been outsourced to Chinese workers for $1 an hour, executives like Tim Cook of Apple are getting sweet deals like $377 million in Apple shares averaged over a 10-year vesting period. His tax rate? He would pay a tax rate of 15% for capital gains (if he doesn't have a Swiss bank account) while a teacher earning $50,000 a year would be in the 25% tax bracket.

Cheap labor = larger CEO pay. They bribe lobby their local congress-person for favorable regulations and lower tax rates. Then complain government is too big and ask politicians to cut spending for the poor, public education, and Social Security (to "starve the beast", us).

Meanwhile the feds have to print and borrow money to pay the bills because the money supply is being horded by the upper echelons, held in off-shore accounts, and being invested in cheaper labor forces in Asia. That's why the GOP likes to bust local labor unions, to drive down labor costs domestically for even larger CEO paychecks. It seems earning 300 times their employee's wages isn't enough, they want to take in 400 times more. They call this being "globally competitive".

And then there is tax evasion. The lead researcher on the Tax Justice Network’s new research, James Henry, formerly served as the chief economist at the prestigious McKinsey corporate consulting group. In the Network’s new report, "The Price of Offshore Revisited", he mines a wide range of public and private sector data sources to gauge capital flows in and out of “offshore” secrecy jurisdictions all around the world.

These tax havens, notes Henry, host over 3.5 million "paper companies", thousands of "shell banks" and insurance companies, and tens of thousands of "shell subsidiaries" for the world’s largest banks, accounting firms, and energy, software, drug, and defense companies.

This vast web, aided and abetted by weak and poorly enforced government regulations, has enabled fewer than 100,000 people — just .001 percent of the world’s population — to “control over 30 percent of the world’s financial wealth.”

Americans make up, we know from various previous surveys of the world’s ultra rich, almost a third of the global super wealthy. That would put the American share of unrecorded offshore private assets as high as $10 trillion.

But the GOP doesn't want to tax them, regulate them, or audit them. Just the opposite. The Republicans want to tax, audit, and regulate them less, while cutting food stamps for the poor, disability for those that can no longer work, and Social Security and Medicare for the sick and elderly (to "starve the beast", us).

Why do average Republican voters earning low to middle-class wages (less than $50,000 a year) always vote against their own best interests? Fox News dumbs them down the same way Southern plantation owners kept their slaves dumbed down. It's all about control, dominance, greed, and power.

Multi-millionaire Nick Hanauer said in a recent speech: "Somebody like me makes hundreds or thousands as times much as the median American, but I don't buy hundreds or thousands of times as much stuff. My family owns three cars, not 3,000. I buy a few pairs of pants and shirts a year like most American men. Occasionally we go out to eat with friends. I can't buy enough of anything to make up for the fact that millions of unemployed and under-employed Americans can't buy any new cars, any clothes, or enjoy any meals out. Nor can I make up for the falling consumption of the vast majority of middle-class families that are barely squeaking by, buried by spiraling costs and trapped by stagnant or declining wages."

Nick Hanauer Speech at TED University (Video & Text)

The big corporations and their CEOs have always squeezed as much as they could from consumers, no matter what the tax rates were...corporate taxes on  their companies or capital gains on the CEOs themselves. How many Fortune 500 companies went bankrupt because of taxes?

They will knowingly sell dangerous products for a profit after a cost/benefit analyses, and because of "limited liability" in the corporate law, the CEOs never have to take personal responsibility for their actions. The corporation gets slapped with a small fine (which is calculated into their decision making if they were ever to get caught), and the CEO rarely goes to jail.

And then there's the outsourcing of jobs for cheap labor. Mitt Romney created low-paying jobs in America and outsourced whenever possible...just like most CEOs have been doing after the end of the Vietnam War.

And ever since 1921, the Republicans created the preferential capital gains tax for the ultra-wealthy (only 12.5%) when the top marginal rate was 90%. Then we had the "Roaring Twenties" before the Great Recession under the first businessman to become president...Herbert Hoover.

Then after a second businessman became president (George W. Bush), he lowered the capital gains tax rate from 20% to 15% (when under Clinton, the top marginal rate was over 39%). Then we had the housing and stock market crash in 2008 and the Great Recession.

Now Mitt Romney wants to lower taxes "20% across the board", saving himself millions, while only saving most of us a few hundred dollars, that will quickly disappear with higher energy, food, and housing costs.

But you are intelligent, and you already knew all this, right? So then, why is the presidential race so close? It should be a blow out!

Oh yeah....41% of Republican voters have been dumbed down by Fox News. Americans support raising the tax rates on the ultra-rich by a two-to-one margin, says a new Pew Research poll. But almost half the nation's Republican voters, 41 percent, feel that hiking taxes on income over $250,000 would “hurt the economy.”

A bill passed by the Democratic Senate majority yesterday that would increase taxes on dividends and capital gains (up from 15% back to 20% under Clinton). The capital gains tax was once over 40%, and would still be about only half as much as the top marginal rate of 39.6%. The GOP claims many "elderly people" rely on capital gains (And all this time I thought most of the elderly relied on Social Security, which the GOP wants to cut.)

Under the Democratic measure, individuals earning over $200,000 and couples making at least $250,000 would see their top rates rise from 33 percent and 35 percent today to 36 percent and 39.6 percent in January.

The Democratic bill would also boost the top tax rate paid by people who inherit estates to 55 percent, exempting the first $1 million in an estate's value. The GOP measure would maintain today's 35 percent top rate and would not tax the first $5.12 million of an estate's value. (But the GOP thinks that those earning $25,000 a year or less should "put more skin in the game".)

Democrats would impose top tax rates next year of 20 percent on dividends and capital gains, two sources of income enjoyed disproportionately by the wealthy. The GOP top rate would remain at the meager 15 percent rate.

The GOP version of a bill coming up for a vote also ignores some tax credits for low- and middle-income families that Democrats want to extend for college costs; for some low-income couples and large working families; and for families with children.

Social Security taxes would still remain "capped" for the wealthy...meaning millionaires and billionaires pay no tax after their first $110,000 of "regular wages" that they might earn in a base salary and pay no Social Security or Medicare tax at all on any capital gains income, which is the bulk of their income.

But even if the Bush tax cuts were allowed to expire (just for the rich), the ultra-rich STILL wouldn't be paying their fair share of income taxes.

The super rich hold $32 trillion in offshore havens, but a minority of idiots won't tax them, which is the only way we can ever claw this money back from the evil hoarders who never think they have enough. Ask Mitt Romney if he has enough.

The wealth of the world’s wealthiest, the figures from the new World Wealth Report show, increased a whopping 18.9 percent in 2009 and another 9.7 percent in 2010. The world’s millionaires have upped their assets by over $9 trillion the last three years. Meanwhile we're being paid sub-standard wages trying to cope with the ever-rising costs of the bare essentials.

These global millionaires now total some 11 million individuals in a world of over 6 billion. They hold a combined $42 trillion in wealth. Most of that $42 trillion sits in the vaults of the world’s super rich, those individuals with at least $30 million in investible assets.

Since when did Mitt Romney ever care about HALF of the wage earners in this country who earn less than $25,000 a year? Never. Obama always did. It's almost funny to hear Romney utter the words "middle-class". I can almost imagine what he and his wife say at the dinner table.

~ The Robin Hood Campaign ~

Imagine if the U.S. could raise hundreds of billions, not from ordinary people, but from those who can most afford it. The pay pools at JPMorgan Chase and the nation’s six other largest banks totaled $156 billion in 2010 alone.

All told, this level of financial transaction taxing would raise over $300 billion a year from Wall Street, money, notes the Robin Hood campaign, that could “stop foreclosures, fund new jobs, and help repair the social safety net.”

The Robin Hood campaign is calling for a 0.5 percent tax on stock trades — the equivalent of a 50 cent tax on every $100 of trading — and a smaller levy on Wall Street's heavier-volume, casino-style trading in derivatives, currency, and other speculative instruments.

No comments:

Post a Comment