Tag Archives: Fair Taxes

Perfect Communication Example That Illustrates Why The DFL Wins And Republicans Lose

MPR’s Tim Pugmire wrote an article yesterday about an overhaul of tax policy for Minnesota possibly being in the works to make taxes simpler and fairer.

In the article there were two distinct differences in how Republicans talk and how Democrats talk, and I believe they are prime examples of why Republicans lost the legislature this year, and have little hope of getting it back soon.

Ann Lenczewski, the DFL’s new chairwoman of the House Tax Committee said of policy changes:

“I would hate to think Democrats would view the confluence of the majorities with the governor’s office as an OK to not work with Republicans and all Minnesotans,” she said. “So, hopefully the conversation will be inclusive and varied. That means there will be strong disagreement, and that’s OK.”

On the other side of the aisle, outgoing Republican chairman of the House Tax Committee Greg Davids said:

“Well, anytime someone says ‘tax fairness,’ that means increased taxes on everyone, and that’s exactly what the proposal will be.”

So we have the DFLer saying we need to work together to solve problems and create a long-term solution to continuous budget problems.  And on the other side we have a grown man stomping his feet and saying he won’t! he won’t! he won’t! like it even though he has no idea what the proposals will actually be.

It’s like two little kid sitting at the table with a plate of Christmas lutefisk in front of them.  One is pouting and refusing to even try it, and the other is saying, if I try it and don’t like it can I still have some lefse? Maybe that is a bad example… I’ll change it to brussel sprouts.  So the kid says if I try the lutefisk and don’t like it can I still have some brussel sprouts? (Cue rim shot!)

I think locally and nationally people spoke out against pledges that prevent compromise when trying to get important work done, like the no tax pledges Grover Norquist and Phil Krinkie requires. And I think people spoke out about political leaders not working together, being overtly antagonistic, and completely unable to get things done for partisan reasons. David Gregs must not understand that, and my fear is that David Hann may be worse in the Minnesota senate.

I just hope DFLers don’t do what Congressional Democrats did from 2008 to 2010, and keep trying to get along with Republicans, to their own detriment. I hope if Greg Davids wants to sit on the floor, whining and crying, they just ignore him and go about the business of making Minnesota stronger without his or the rest of the Republican’s help.

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The Richest Americans vs. The American Dream for the Rest of Us

It was about a year ago that Michelle Bachmann said we’re running out of Rich people in America.  I remember the quote, but I don’t remember the context.  It had something to do with President Obama, but I refuse to spend my time looking up why Michelle Bachmann said anything. 

Is it true?  Are we really running out of “rich” people, or is there just less opportunity in this country to get rich.  For the past 30 years, we have been told that the rich make the country successful, “they create jobs!”  So we’ve cut taxes, we’ve allowed tax loopholes to stay, eliminated tariffs, bent over backwards to make concessions to the rich and corporations, and what have we gotten in return? A poverty rate that has only increased since the 1970s.  Shouldn’t there be more rich people by now?  Bill Maher and Michael Moore have thrown out the statistic that the Forbes 400 richest Americans have more wealth than the bottom 50% of the United States population.  In pure numbers, that means 400 people have more than 155 MILLION Americans. 

Do you think that is sustainable?  I would not be shocked at the possibility of a revolution during my lifetime if we continue to move toward a society of financial extremes in wealth and poverty.  It might not be called a socialist or communist revolution, but it would fit into that category.  It would be a class war.  Historically, revolutions occur when the basic needs of people are not being met, or when basic rights are being trampled by the government.  I’m not sure we don’t have both of those right now in some cases.  

But when a statement like that is made, you can hear right-wing talking heads bring up that the left is trying to foment class-war.  Maybe a little class awareness at least would be a good thing.  The median income in America is $48,000.  Of those 155 million Americans who make less than $48,000, I have a feeling that they have felt the biggest brunt of the negative economic and political decisions that have been made to benefit the richest Americans.  A vast majority of people making under $48,000 didn’t gain because of the mortgage bubble, the energy bubble, the hi-tech bubble or whatever bubble.  No, more often they were hurt by the outcomes of the decisions and policies made to benefit the richest Americans.  How many Minnesotans have lost their jobs or are at risk of losing their house because of the greed of the richest Americans. 

These richest Americans are responsible for many of our problems.  I’m not discounting the fact that many people work because of these Americans, but without them, the services, items or whatever would still be needed and provided by many others making a great living.  Anyway, who thinks most of the richest of the rich didn’t gain their wealth without taking advantage of somebody else?  Even with all the good things Bill Gates has done or intends to do with his fortune, his fortune was built to its prestigious level with collusion and ruthless anticompetitive practices.  And while the richest may not always break laws to get rich like Madoff, Hecker, Lay, Skilling, Petters, or whoever, it is hard to justify paying less than a living wage, either in America or overseas, when the owner, CEO or shareholders earn billions.  In my mind it is criminal that companies like 3M, Exxon, Apple, Massey, Cargill and even the company that supported my family, Ford, take shortcuts to save money risking the health and future of workers, consumers and communities. 

So what do we do?  Give up hope?  Retreat to our television or following Charlie Sheen instead of turning this around before it is too late?  There are those of us that still want the American Dream, an ideal that we are all richer when everyone has the opportunity to be successful.  Thomas Jefferson wrote:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Great words, and isn’t that the American Dream?  Everybody should have the same opportunity to be successful.  But I’m not sure that is the case.  I’m not sure that a government that continues to stress that the freedoms of those 400 richest Americans are more important than the interests of 155 million Americans or more is truly moving us toward the American dream.  I’m not sure a government that eliminates rights and freedoms is even American, in the true sense of what it means to be American. 

Political outcomes during the rest of this decade could be the watershed for our future.  Franklin Roosevelt prevented revolution during a crisis eight decades ago by compromising despite his personally held economic beliefs.  Based on what is going on across the country in Republican politics, I’m concerned that the only way today’s Republicans  would compromise is by giving in to the desires of the richest Americans even if that means deception and violence.  What’s next after that, but full blown revolution? 

“We have this fantasy that our interest and the interest of the super rich are the same. Like somehow the rich will eventually get so full that they’ll explode and the candy will rain down on the rest of us like they are some kind of piñata of benevolence. But here is the thing about a piñata, it doesn’t open on its own, you have to beat it with a stick.”  — Bill Maher

Eisenhower and Reagan Quotes Are Still Pertinent Today

I posted the following two posts on Facebook recently:

“President Eisenhower supported trade unions, Social Security, and progressive taxation. Ike said that opponents of trade unions were “fools.” He called opponents of Social Security “stupid.” And he said that the way to balance the budget was to “tax the rich.””

 

“Where free unions and collective bargaining are forbidden, freedom is lost.” ~Ronald Reagan”

I received a comment that basically implied that a past quote does not make it pertinent in today’s context. I think there is a lot of relevancy in those quotes today.  I think you would have a hard time finding a quote from FDR, Truman, Kennedy, Johnson, Carter or Clinton that so contradicts the current Democratic agenda of national healthcare, the rights of worker, the importance of a strong public education system, the need to eliminate poverty or a fair taxation system.  Those are all major tenets today of Democratic policy, as they have been for decades.  And while the Democratic Party has moved to the right during that time, the Republican Party has moved rapidly and unsustainably far to the right recently.  The quotes from the above Republican standard bearers reflect that that move to the right. 

The Party is becoming so dogmatic that icons of the party would probably be excluded today.  Recent attitudes have seen moderate Republican after moderate Republican drummed out of the party.  Arlen Specter, Lincoln Chafee, Lisa Murkowski, the Override Six… Jim Ramstad, a good Congressman, probably would have had GOP opposition in the last couple elections if he had stayed, and Arne Carlson is a pariah. 

I think there will be a return to moderation at some point.  I think Republicans who are more willing to follow Reagan’s ideals rather than using his name as some sort of conservative badge to prove their worthiness, will begin taking back the party. There are Independents today who are true Republicans, but have left the party officially because of Tom Delay, Karl Rove, Dick Cheney, Sarah Palin, Michelle Bachmann, John Boehner and even celebrities like Glenn Beck.  These people are not mainstream Republicans like Reagan was who appealed to so many independents.  They are not the future of the Party.  They are temporary attention seeking zealots in the mode of Joe McCarthy. 

They place Reagan on a pedestal, but only seem to remember the things that pertain to today’s agenda.  They ignore the deficit growth, tax increases, his hatred of nuclear weapons and his desire to avoid conflict.  One of the stupidest things I heard around the recent election was a series of interviews with Republican candidates who were asked living or dead who they would like to have dinner with.  A few conservatives said a family member or Jesus, but the majority said Ronald Reagan.  It seemed very contrived to me.  These no compromise, no middle ground Republicans don’t belong in Reagan’s company.  Reagan said if 80% of what he wanted passed, it was a success.  80% is a loss in the mind of so many Republicans in power, Walker, the Fitzgerald brothers, Boehner, Pawlenty…  The only correlation between Reagan and some of these extremists is the little “(R)” after their name.  It certainly isn’t intelligence or an understanding of political success.