Posts Tagged Republican Congress
It should come as no surprise that Jim Wallis, social activist and self-described Christian Evangelical preacher, is not very happy with Obama’s surrender on the issue of keeping low tax rates for America’s wealthiest citizens. What many people probably don’t realize is that Wallis is not the only Evangelical that disagrees with the socio-economic agenda of the Religious Right, who have long been supporters of trickle down economics. In today’s Huffington Post he attacks the upside down socialism that has been saddling America for the past 25 years while pointing out the fallacy behind the Republican’s strongest argument for extending the lower rates:
…most of the people who will be keeping their tax cuts are not job creators. After all, how many jobs will the Goldman Sachs traders create, or the hedge fund gamblers, or the celebrities who dominate our lives? Almost none. On the contrary, they have been the “job destroyers,” having wrecked this economy and the lives of so many people.
They are already getting richer because of our taxpayer bailout, and now we’re giving them more tax breaks and estate tax bonanzas. There is socialism in America, but it’s only for the rich. Risk has been socialized for some of the very richest people in the country, and then, the “free market” pain is distributed to all the rest.
Our national economic philosophy is clearly now to reward the casino gamblers on Wall Street and to leave the majority of the country standing outside the casino with a tin cup — hoping that the gamblers are at least big tippers. More tax breaks and benefits for the very wealthiest people in America is not only bad economics and bad policy; it is fundamentally immoral. In a letter to the president signed by over 100 religious leaders, we said just that.
So far, they haven’t listened.
Wallis and many other Christians believe that, if this is the Christian Nation that the conservatives are saying it is, then it is the nation’s obligation to look out for those who are not as fortunate as the rest of us. As some as they say in their letter to the President:
Extending the Bush tax cuts for the most fortunate while ending unemployment benefits and cutting back services for the poor does not reflect the values of faithful Americans. For that reason, we urge you to let tax cuts for the most fortunate expire as scheduled at the end of the year.
The Republican argument for making permanent the Bush tax cuts for wealthy Americans might seem to make sense, until we realize there are at least six important things they are not telling us:
1. Even if only the middle class tax cut remained in effect, then everyone would still see no increase in their tax rate on the first quarter million dollars they earn (or less). The tax increase (or return to the old rate) is only on the earnings above that mark.
2. The new rate amounts to an average marginal increases of only around 5%, on income earned above this first quarter million.
3. Income tax rates are at the lowest level in 60 years. From 1944 to 1964 the top rate was a draconian 90%. When Reagan came into office the top rate was 7o%, which he helped bring down to 28%, though the average marginal top rate during his two terms was 54%.
4. The $250,000 dollar number is for adjusted gross income, after all personal and business exemptions and deductions. So you would have to make much more money than that to have an adjusted income of a quarter million dollars (Unless you are single, have no children and no mortgage payment or business deductions. Right!)
5. During the Bush era, America went to war for the first time without raising taxes to pay for it (with the possible exception of the early years of Viet Nam). In the last ten years we have waged two wars, and not only were taxes not raised, they were cut. While the tax cuts are soon to expire, the two wars are still in progress.
6. The idea that those making over $250,000 dollars in annual adjusted gross income are “job creators” is quite simply a fallacy:
Think about it – who do you know that makes that kind of money? Doctors and attorneys typically come to mind. Bankers. Media and financial consultants. Let’s not forget professional athletes, entertainers and musical artists. College and university deans and presidents. High level government officials and politicians. Stock brokers and hedge fund managers. Political pundits and television talking heads. There’s nothing wrong with these folks earning a lot of money but – there is not a job creator in the bunch.
But what about the CEOs and corporate executives of our largest companies? While they may have increased their companies’ stock portfolios, along with their own compensation packages, in many cases they have done so by moving as many American jobs overseas as possible. Since the first Bush tax cuts of 2001, America has lost over $5 million manufacturing jobs and closed over 42,000 factories. Of course, Wal-Mart has grown tremendously and was able to hire back many of those people at less than 20% of their former wage, and with none of the benefits. It is no mystery that Wal-Mart has based its success on the availability of cheap, sub market-priced foreign merchandise that was once made in the US.
Meanwhile, they are refusing to extend recessionary jobless benefits, saying that this $300 dollars a week is a disincentive for the unemployed to get off their lazy asses and start looking for a job. Of, course there are no jobs out there now. And when those unemployed are no longer able to spend that $300 dollars a week, there will probably be even fewer. But when you look at the typical net worth of our federal elected officials ($765,00 for a House member, $2.4 million for a Senator) it is understandable that they might be a little out of touch with middle the middle class and which Americans they more closely identify with.
Republican Congresswoman, Michele Bachmann, claims she is a “Fool for Christ”, whatever the hell that means. But this is how she explains what it means to her:
“If I felt that’s what the Lord was calling me to do, I would do it,” she answered. “When I have sensed that the Lord is calling me to do something, I’ve said yes to it. “
Which means she must hear the Lord calling her to lie. Because on Good Morning America this ex-tax attorney, who used to work for the IRS, told a whopper:
“Well, remember again what this is. It’s a massive tax increase, and it’s on the people who are the job creators,” Bachmann said. “And people want to think that these are millionaires, sitting in leather chairs, lighting their cigars with $100 bills. That’s not what we’re talking about. These are people who, who are carpet layers who maybe employ two or three other guys, or a plumber, maybe himself and his brother, and it’s $250,000 in gross sales for their business. They’re the ones that are looking at massive tax increases.”
Which is total crap, and of course, she knows it. She’s an expert. The proposed increase (which is not really an increase, only a return to an old rate after the temporary tax cut has expired) is on all those who earn over $250,000 in adjusted income, business owners or not. This is after all itemized deductions including mortgages, business expenses and other legal shelters. So what we are really talking about here are people who make way more than a quarter million bucks a year. Now maybe the Christian counseling center she and her husband own (which receives Federal entitlement dollars, by the way) makes that much moolah but not too many carpet layers and plumbers do. At least not in her home state of Minnesota. Most of these folks are doctors, lawyers, bankers, corporate executives and university professors. Not job creators.
Now I expect most politicians to lay down a line of bullshit every once and awhile (or at least once a day). But this little lady is a Born-Again, Bible thumpin’, 10 Commandment preachin’ Fool for Christ. Right? The same Christ that said the rich should hold on to as much of their money as possible to give poor people an incentive to work harder so they might land a sweet job working for the government with a side line taking advantage of other people’s religious psycho-superstitions with the help of Federal subsidies.
How freakin’ embarrassing for those of us who might still want to call ourselves Christian. Congress is looking more and more like the Temple that Jesus lost his temper in. If only the Neo-Evangelicals were right and he was coming back any day now. Some people are going to look mighty foolish.
- "Some men look at constitutions with sanctimonious reverence, and deem them like the ark of the Covenant, too sacred to be touched. They ascribe to the men of the preceding age a wisdom more than human, and suppose what they did to be beyond amendment." -Thomas Jefferson
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- "You can’t just keep pulling bodies out of the river; you’ve got to send somebody upstream to see what or who is throwing them in." -Jim Wallis
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