Tag Archives: Tax the Rich!

Biggest lie in politics right now: Millionaires and billionaires are job creators.

Biggest lie in politics right now:  Millionaires and billionaires are job creators.

The Truth: You and I making less than $100K are the job creators because we create jobs by spending almost all (if not all) the money we take home.  There is no job creation unless there is a demand for product.

A $5000 tax cut to a millionaire does not create more product demand.  Millionaires already have more than enough money to spend.  But if I get $300 extra in cash, every cent of it leaves my possession.  Some of it will go to the Kowalski family, some of it will go to Target, some of it will go to my church, some of it might go to Best Buy, maybe a movie theater and local restaurant.  All of it is profit to the location I deliver it.

$5000 in tax cuts to a millionaire or billionaire is nothing more than additional profit and investment cash.  A tax cut for the wealthy does not create more demand.  You and I having cash in our pockets to spend creates product demand.  You and I having cash in our pockets to spend creates jobs.  You and I are the job creators.

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Who is the adult? Governor Dayton who is willing to compromise or the GOP (Greedy Old Party)?

In the “you have got to be kidding me” political world that we unfortunately seem to be living in right now, Republican leaders and right-wing bloggers are attacking Governor Mark Dayton for saying he is willing to compromise on the budget.  He is willing to go halfsies!  $1.8 billion in raised taxes on the wealthiest 2% of Minnesotans and $1.8 billion in Republican tax cuts.  That seems like a very adult and very logical reconciliation to a budget problem that they have less than a week to solve without paying legislators more and thus costing taxpayers more for a special legislative session. 

I don’t completely agree with it necessarily, but at least Governor Dayton is being the grown up in the room trying to resolve the problems of the whiney and time wasting Republican legislators acting like selfish toddlers.    

Let’s see, one side wants to negotiate (Governor Dayton) and one side WILL NOT compromise because they are greedy and want to get their way (Republican Legislators.)  Who is the public going to blame if there is a shutdown?  I suspect it won’t be the party that was willing to negotiate and for weeks asked Republican leaders for a full budget to at least get the negotiations started (yeah, let’s not forget that Republicans still have not submitted a full budget plan.)  No, I suspect the Republican led legislature who refused to compromise will be the ones getting blamed, and they should. 

63% of Minnesotans support a budget that includes both tax increases and cuts.  27% of Minnesotans support at cuts only budget.  So who are the Republican legislators trying to please here, the majority or their base? 

Republicans who refuse to compromise will be loved by their base, what’s that 27% of the voters?  But when the campaigns kick into gear in a few months, it will be the DFL Party, the party of progressives, farmers and workers, as well as education, compassion and compromise, against the GOP, not the Grand, but the Greedy Old Party, the party of the richest Minnesotans, CEOs and pawn shops, as well as the party of taking away rights, fiscal meltdowns and selfishness.

I guess if we can survive the next legislative session led by selfish Republican legislators, it should be slam dunk in 2012 for the DFL.  Amy Klobuchar will crush Dan Severson, Chris Barden, Dave Thompson, or whichever candidate the Greedy Old Party picks.  And she along with President Obama will lead a ticket that retakes both Minnesota houses, which will be led by forward thinking politicians in Paul Thissen and Tom Bakk.  Governor Dayton, Speaker Thissen, Senate Majority Leader Bakk… I’m dreaming of a golden age of growth and improvement in Minnesota, truly a better Minnesota, but we need to get through this mess and past these selfish Republicans right now.

Spread the word about who is willing to compromise.  Now is not the time to be a timid Democrat.  Speak up.  Call Governor Dayton’s office and tell him to stand strong, and tell him you support him on the budget.  We can’t sit back and just wish or hope for a Better Minnesota, otherwise we will end up in the struggles Wisconsin is fracturing under.  Even a baby step out of the political closet is a positive step toward a Better Minnesota.  Do it!

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

Jottings and Questions V

Catholic & Lutheran Bishops have urged Governor Dayton and the Legislature to preserve access to basic needs for the state’s poor.  It’s funny how GOP wants the poor, disabled, elderly, mentally ill, public school districts, colleges and universities and middle class workers to sacrifice for this 5 billion dollar deficit, but they don’t think the wealthiest Minnesotans should sacrifice a little with a small tax increase?  …no, I guess it isn’t funny.

If free-market or trickledown economics work, why are there 50 million people living under the poverty line?

When I was asked as a candidate about nuclear power, and the nuclear power moratorium, I stated I was not a fan of nuclear power, nor would I support lifting the moratorium.  My reasoning was that in the first place, we still don’t have a way to recycle or store the used nuclear waste, but my main reason was that it just takes one disaster, one terrorism action or poor design to harm innocent people.  I was told how many good union jobs it would create, how much the technology has improved, how many safety backups there were, and that it was possibly the safest energy America can produce.  The problem is that we cannot predict everything that can happen.  We can keep learning and improving, but a single disaster every 20-30 years impacts communities, including children and families around it.  It isn’t just worker’s taking a risk, neighborhoods are at risk.  Maybe instead of spending so much on nuclear power, the government should stop subsidizing nuclear power and begin investing more money in new, clean and safe energy technologies.

Farmington and Lakeville both have senior centers.  In fact, in Farmington the Rambling River Center was moved and updated recently, and in Lakeville the Senior Center is at capacity and the council has discussed moves.  Senior centers are a good thing, but why don’t we have teen or rec centers in Farmington or Lakeville?

When I was a kid growing up in South Minneapolis, the Foshay Tower and the IDS were the two buildings that poked up over the trees.  The IDS and the Foshay were the Minneapolis skyline.  The other day I was sitting by a window looking at the Foshay Tower in the not too far distance.  It is a great building, and worth noting a little of its history and a couple facts.  It was the first skyscraper west of the Mississippi and was finished just before the start of the Great Depression in 1929.  It stood as Minnesota’s tallest building until the IDS passed it during construction in 1972.  It is still the second tallest concrete skyscraper, second only to the Empire State Building in NY.  When I was working on the senior paper for my history degree, I and one other student did concentrations on Minnesota history.  My senior paper was on the history and disappearance of local breweries in Minnesota, hers was on Wilbur Foshay and the lawsuits that followed his financial ruin due to the Great Depression and Ponzi schemes.  It is an interesting story, worth learning more about, and it is a great looking building.

Pollution billionaire David Koch sees the heating up of the planet as good news. From a New York Magazine interview: “The Earth will be able to support enormously more people because a far greater land area will be available to produce food.” Yeah, that’s the ticket…

As tax season winds down, I want to remind people to fill in the box on your Minnesota income tax forms for the State Elections Campaign Fund.  It doesn’t reduce your tax refund or increase your tax payment if you owe, it simply is used to determine how much public funding goes to state candidates in your district.  In district 36, more Republicans checked the box than DFLers, resulting in the Republican candidate receiving $2087 more dollars to use for the 2010 election.  $2000 is a mailer!  The southern Senate districts of 33, 34, 35 and 36 have the largest ratio of Republican checkoffs.  It is hard for progressives to win if they can’t compete from a money standpoint.  Fill in the box, the DFL code is 13!

Dayton: A responsible governor with a sensible budget. (Not sure the GOP has a plan.)

President Reagan famously said the nine most terrifying words in the English language are “I’m from the government and I’m here to help.”  Boy that sure seems true today.  When Republicans are in charge, it is really scary for the average citizen.  In Wisconsin there are protests and shutdowns happening because Governor one-term, I mean Walker and his Republicans cronies think it is OK to take away worker’s rights.  (Political insight: Not sure that was the smartest or most sensible thing to do in a state with a history of being pro-labor.)

Thankfully, we have a smart and sensible governor here in Minnesota.  After 8 years (12 if you count Ventura’s term) of irresponsible leadership from the governor’s office under T-Paw, who was hell bent on proving government can’t work, only to be proven wrong by DFLers in the legislature, we finally have a leader more concerned about the future of our state than a personal political agenda.

His budget proposal proves that.  Dayton’s budget is responsible and balanced.  He is addressing the problems that have caused our reoccurring deficits, and doing it responsibly with difficult cuts that, yes, will affect vulnerable Minnesotans, but there are also tax increases for the very richest Minnesotans.  He even put responsible rules in place to end the highest taxes on the richest Minnesotans after a couple years when we are hopefully fully recovered from the mess previous governors let us get into. 

Governor Dayton is doing exactly what he said he would do by investing in education and protecting the middle class.  95% of Minnesotans will not pay an extra penny of tax, and he is not asking teachers to take a pay cut, unlike the Republicans who are not only proposing cuts to teacher’s income, but proposing to increase the profits of giant corporations by letting them pay less in taxes when we have a deficit.  You really can’t make that up…

Dayton realizes the importance of investment.  Investing in education will make our state stronger in the future.  Despite what Republican leaders are saying, investment is not a bad word, and if they plan to turn the word investment into a negative, our future is going to be even worse.  I invest in a retirement fund, a college fund for my boys, I invested in a car I thought would save me money in the long run, we invested in a home that is worth a lot more than we paid for it, I invest my time and energy into making my community a better place to grow up in.  Investments are a good thing.  Investments make the future better.   And I expect my tax dollars to go towards making the future better.  That means investing in infrastructure that will keep our state growing, investing in public education and public colleges so that Minnesota is a hotbed of innovation, invention and ideas, and I expect my tax dollars to be invested in ensuring the safety of our citizens.

Kurt Zellers and Amy Koch called Dayton’s use of “investment”  a “fancy word” for tax and spend.  Absurd!  Dayton’s budget is very reasonable.  I guess to Republicans the “worst” part about this bill is that people who make hundreds of thousands of dollars will pay more to enjoy the benefits of living in this state where they likely made hundreds of thousands.  Pat Kessler on WCCO said a family making $200,000 will pay an extra $139 in taxes under Mark Dayton’s plan.  That is $5 each bi-weekly paycheck!!!   Poor well-off Minnesotans!  How will they be able to retire?

And the smug Republicans in the legislature cry about that extra $139 like it will break our economic back.  Then at the same time the tears are pouring down they propose that a corporation’s tax be cut in half.  That makes sense.  (Read that again with extra sarcasm.)  Let’s balance the budget by taking in half the revenue!  Seriously!  Think about it, a family making $200,000 takes home roughly $150,000 after taxes to spend, INVEST, or do whatever they want.  So that family will pay an extra $139 under Mark Dayton’s plan.  A corporation with $150,000 in taxable profits would keep over $7,000 under the Republican plan.

So which is the plan that will responsibly fix our deficit?  In reality, I guess we don’t know yet because the Republicans keep proposing incremental fixes.  Only Governor Dayton was responsible enough to layout an entire plan.  Come on Republicans!  You wanted this job and have gloated over getting it.  Step up and show us your plan to fix the entire deficit.  Then listen to the people.  Do you really think they will choose more potholes, worse school, more crime and more corporate profits over the wealthiest Minnesotans paying a little more in taxes?  I think I know the answer, and 2012 is looking better and better.