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Your Estate Is Now Safe

By "your", I don’t actually mean yours. I guess I do, but only if you own one of the top .2% of the biggest American estates who have been suffering under the onerous and tyrannical estate tax system. It’s tyrannical because the government actually claims that your heirs should have to pay taxes on money they inherit from you. You know, like they would have to pay on lottery money or unemployment benefits that they’ve been contributing to their whole working lives. If you ever need to take advantage of that unemployment insurance you’ve paid for, you have to pay federal taxes on that money. But dammit, taxing your heirs for receiving money they didn’t earn is a bridge too far!

I am a firm believer that if you had the forethought to be born into a filthy rich family, you shouldn’t be penalized for having better boot straps than the poor bastard who thought that being born to poor people was a good life plan. Why the fuck should you pay taxes on the money that you didn’t earn, but watched (when you weren’t at your tennis lesson) your parents earn. Or worse yet, weren’t around when your grandparents earned it, but are clearly bootstrapped to. I mean, being born to wealthy people is hard work. Why should a rich person have to pay taxes on money that drops out of the sky for them, the way you pay taxes on the money you spend 40 – 60 hours a week working for? I mean, it’s not the rich guy’s fault that you’re the kind of sucker who obtains money by working for it. Why are we punishing the innovation of being born rich?

We all know that the best way to stimulate the economy and create jobs is to let Paris Hilton have her grandfather’s money for free. She’s obviously going to spend it in a much smarter way than the government, who will probably squander it on a road or a republican war that even republicans don’t want to pay for.

Let me explain how the estate tax works for the 99.8% of you lazy moochers who aren’t familiar with it. In 2015, any inheritance you (again, I don’t mean you, you fucking loser) get is tax free for the first $5.43 million dollars. I’m sorry, when I said $5.43 million dollars, I mean per person. So if you’re inheriting from Mummy and Papaaa, you get $10.86 million dollars of free money. Just to give you a little context, the amount that was free in 2001 was $650k per person.

To recap, right before we launched two wars, heirs of large estates got $1.3 million dollars of free money from Mamaaa and Papaaa. Today, since we’re still paying for those wars, they get $10.86 million dollars of free money. That’s today, but don’t worry because republicans in the house just voted to make things more fair. They want to make the entire estate free for the heirs. They really are a party of the people. There are precisely 5,500 people whose estates will be affected by this bold move to fight the power and stand up for the middle class.

Obviously, the estate tax is an attempt to loot money from hard working children of billionaires, and it must not stand! Let’s review the origins of the estate tax. The estate tax was born in 1916, and it was proposed and passed under the auspices of fair taxation. Cordell Hull, who sponsored the legislation said,

"I have no disposition to tax wealth unnecessarily or unjustly, but I do believe that the wealth of the country should bear its just share of the burden of taxation and that it should not be permitted to shirk that duty."

Representative William Cox, who supported the estate tax said,

"It is the first successful attempt to make wealth bear its just and proportionate burden of taxation."

At its original implementation in 1916, the estate tax was set at 10% of all estates worth over $5 million dollars. It went up very quickly. For 1917, it was 15% on all estates worth over $5 million dollars. But in 1917, it was raised again to 15% of net estate in excess of $5 million plus war estate tax 10% of net estate tax in excess of $10 million. Huh. So because we were at war, the legislators at the time thought that raising taxes would be the prudent and fiscally responsible thing to do. Oh, but we’re just getting started on the increases. By 1932, the estate tax was 45% of net estate in excess of $50 million. And then here a’come FDR to raise it to 60% of net estate in excess of $50 million in 1934, but that didn’t last long. By 1935, he increased it to 70% of net estate in excess of $50 million. And then came 1940, where there was another war to pay for. He increased the estate tax to 70% of excess of net estate over $10 million plus a defense tax of 10% of the total tax computed under the basic and additional estate taxes (in effect, maximum tax was 77%). From 1941 until 1977, they decided not to fuck around with all that language and just set the estate tax at 77% of excess of net estate over $10 million. Can someone remind me when the golden era of economic expansion in the US was again? Jimmy Carter came in and changed the tax to 70% of excess over $5 million. And then Ronny, patron saint of the wealthy, set it at 65% of excess over $4 million for 1982, 60% of excess over $3.5 million for 1983 , and 55% of excess over $3 million for 1984 – 1988. For 1987 – 1998, the rate was set at 55% of excess over $3 million (effectively 60% for estates in excess of $10 million but less than $21,040,000 because of a surtax to phase out benefits of the graduated rates and unified credit). That was as low as Ronald Reagan could conceive of dropping it. But fear not, Buckley v Valeo was starting to being in dividends. For 1998 – 2001, Bill Clinton set the rate at 55% of excess over $3 million (effectively 60% for estates in excess of $10 million but less than $17,184,000 because of a surtax to phase out benefits of the graduated rate).

To be clear, the intention behind an estate tax was twofold. It was the best way to pay for things because what better time to tax someone, than when it’s on money they didn’t break their backs earning? The second purpose was to prevent oligarchy. FDR correctly said,

"Great accumulations of wealth cannot be justified on the basis of personal and family security. In the last analysis such accumulations amount to the perpetuation of great and undesirable concentration of control in a relatively few individuals over the employment and welfare of many, many others."

I don’t care if you like that or not. FDR was right, and there’s nothing you can say to change that empirical fact.

Huh. As soon as we lowered the Paris Hilton tax, wealth started to become mega-concentrated in the hands of a smaller and smaller number of people. Today. 400 people own the same wealth as 50% of Americans. That is not a fucking accident. Taxation is always a redistribution of wealth. It always had been, and it always will be. First worlds have never been built in any way other than through an involuntary taxation system. The question is, do we want to redistribute across, or up?

During the time when the top estate tax was set at 77%, the top corporate and income tax rate was higher (at 91%). This forced reinvestment in companies and the country. There was no incentive to loot money from your company or your country because you were just going to pay it all out in taxes. That’s what created the greatest economic expansion in the history of our country. Again, I don’t care if you don’t like it. It is what it is and all of your theorizing and quantum physics, parallel universe nonsense isn’t going to change the empirical facts of what happened.

So let me share some estate tax fun facts so that you can really see (in case you’ve been confused for fifty years) who republicans champion.

  • In 2013, among estates that paid any tax at all, the effective tax rate was 16.6%. To put that into perspective, if you make 40k per year, your federal tax rate is 25%.
  • In 2013, a total of one hundred and twenty (that is the largest nonpartisan number I could find) small businesses and small farms paid any estate tax at all.
  • The largest estates are comprised of 55% in unrealized capital gains. This is money that has never been taxed. Not once. Capital gains become "realized" when you sell them. That’s when you pay taxes on them. If you’ve never sold stocks, that your parents bought for you when you were born, taxes have never been collected on that wealth. So a billionaire would have a very large amount stashed in unrealized capitalized gains, since they’re never really having to face a situation where they have to sell the stock they’ve been sitting on for generations, so that they can buy a sandwich.
  • Repealing the estate tax entirely, as republicans want to do, will cost $269 billion dollars over the next ten years.

So you decide: is the GOP the party of the people? Are you the person they’re fighting for? Let’s be clear, someone is going to have to pay that missing $269 billion dollars. Just like someone has been paying for every top tax rate cut. That unicorn republicans keep referring to, where spending less is an option has never happened. Remember, they never paid for their last two wars. Wars that will cost us money until their invention ISIS, and every other terrorist group that forms as a result of destroying Iraq are completely eradicated. And bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb, bombing Iran isn’t free either. So if you’re opposed to negotiating with Iran, you’d better get ready to pony up your share of that war plus the $269 billion dollars you want Paris Hilton and the Walton miscreants to have.

Someone has to pay. Who do you want that someone to be?               



Too Honest

I’ve had a week to mull over Mitt Romney’s now infamous 47% tape, and my final conclusion is that Romney is too honest a republican. Nothing he said in that tape in regard to “poor” people (he was actually talking about the middle class) is any great departure from his party, either in rhetoric or in action. He didn’t make up that 47% figure.

He just repeated something that has been floating around in republican ideology for decades now. The 47% is the GOPs go-to demonization group when they don’t have Muslims, Russians (Romney is still clinging on to them as a threat), gays, or minorities to fall back on. You probably all know by now, that the 47% number that republicans like to toss around isn’t really accurate. It includes retirees, who don’t pay taxes on their social security checks (which represent the taxes they paid their whole lives), veterans deployed in combat zones, students, and the disabled.

It also includes the working poor. This is a particularly interesting group, with regard to the republican rhetoric. You see, the working poor don’t pay federal income taxes (they do pay sales taxes, gas taxes, payroll taxes, and state income taxes) because they get a deduction called the “earned income tax credit”(or EITC). The EITC in combination with the Child Tax Credit usually wipes out their federal tax burden. Where did these tax credits come from? Republicans. Milton Friedman (yes, that Milton Friedman) cooked up the EITC deduction. It was passed in 1975 under a democratically controlled congress, and signed into law by Gerald Ford. The idea behind the EITC was that if working people didn’t make very much money, minimizing their tax burdens would keep them working, and therefor off any public assistance programs. Makes sense, right? It made sense to Ronald Reagan. He was a big fan of the EITC.

Shouldn’t all republicans, past and present support this? It’s a tax credit. I thought they were all for people paying less taxes? What the fuck is the problem? Shouldn’t the GOP look upon these people as being American heroes for finding the taxless utopia they say they want? And why is it that modern republicans refer to Mitt Romney as a financial genius when he writes off $77,000 a year to maintain a fucking dancing horse, in order to minimize his tax burden, but a married couple with two kids making $30,000 a year can’t take a $3,363 EITC deduction without being freeloaders? Why is there such disdain for one class of people taking a relatively minute tax write off, when there’s nothing but praise for another class taking much more robust deductions?

The answer is obvious; the middle class and the working poor don’t have lobbyists, and therefore aren’t real people. They’re abstractions that don’t get any consideration at all. So much so, that republicans can’t even see that this class of people are doing what the GOP platform is based on; not paying taxes. Republicans have worked themselves up so much in their demonization, that they are no longer capable of consistency.

To them, Mitt Romney didn’t say anything wrong in that speech. He just got caught telling the truth. No one has talked about this, but did you hear any booing or jeers on that tape? I didn’t. I heard laughter when Romney said that he would have a better shot at getting elected if he were Mexican. Really , Mitt? Your father would have been the CEO of a major car company in the 50s if he were Mexican? He would have been elected to be the Governor of Michigan if he were Mexican? He would have been able to send you to Harvard and given you millions of dollars of seed money to start Bain Capital if he were Mexican?

These people have spun themselves into an inexplicable state of victimhood by putting themselves up on pedestals from which to look down on everyone outside of their class. They really believe that they are the anointed ones, being preyed upon by the rest of us. They’re entitled to $77,000 a year for dancing horses, while being galled by the idea of anyone taking $3,363 a year to feed themselves.

These people aren’t rational anymore. They see themselves as both anointed and victims simultaneously. What’s worse, they have absolved themselves of any civil responsibility. They are the elite puppet masters that make the world go round, and yet they bare no responsibility for fixing the country’s problems because problems they don’t have aren’t legitimate problems. Poor people are poor because they are lazy, and therefor not a problem. Rape victims that get pregnant obviously weren’t raped, since their bodies allowed he pregnancy to happen. Poor kids that want to go to college should just borrow the tuition money from their parents. Rising health insurance costs aren’t their problem because they don’t ever have to worry about being able to afford to buy health insurance.

The elite in that room don’t bother me nearly as much as the people that will vote for them. Romney was dead wrong when he said that “the 47%” won’t vote for him. An alarmingly large percentage of them will. Remember the tea party rallies full of senior citizens in medicare and social security? Remember how they were riding around on their fancy scooters that medicare paid for, while screaming about how they were being tread on? No, these are the real assholes among us. I can understand the 1% trying to protect their own self interest. I can’t understand the bottom 20% that go along with this crap, just so that they can elevate themselves in their own minds by punching down at the fictional people below them on the social totem poll.

Mitt Romney didn’t write off a constituency that the republican party cares about. He just made the mistake of saying that they’ve been written off out loud. He was too honest, and his crime was that he was careless enough to say out loud, what his party believes.


Never Play Poker With Republicans

That’s actually not fair. You can play poker with them, as long as you make sure you get the money from them up front. If you let them play on credit, you’re going to get fucked. They’re never going to pay you what they owe you.

Think I’m being unfair? Let me give you the basis for that advice.

All of this talk about not raising the debt ceiling is bullshit. And frankly, I don’t even know why congress has to vote on whether to raise the debt ceiling. It’s a bullshit vote. They already voted in the affirmative to spend the money that necessitated raising the debt ceiling. If they were concerned with government spending, they should have voted “NO!”

But they didn’t. They voted for all of the crazy ass spending that added to our debt. They voted for “emergency supplementals” to keep two wars going, they voted to spend money on medicare part D, and they voted to pass obviously bogus budgets that didn’t include these expenditures, year after year.

They voted to spend the money. So when the debt ceiling issue comes up for a vote, they’re basically voting on whether to welch on their debt.

Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. This is about whether or not they want to honor their word. Period. It’s not about spending more money, and it’s not about “making sacrifices”. They spent the money, and they did it with every single entitlement they now want to cut in the budget. As an aside, they’re called “entitlements” because it’s your money. You’re entitled to get it back, exactly as you were promised you would. Anytime a republican uses “entitlement” as if it were a dirty word, you should set them straight. Let them know that you’re damned well entitled to get your money back, and they should be entitled to theirs too.

And don’t let an idiot republican tell you that we shouldn’t raise the debt ceiling. If they try, let them know that they’re deadbeat welchers that won’t ever be allowed to play poker with you, unless they show you the money first.

See how simple this issue really is?


Sadomasochistic Voting

I know I’ve been a little absent lately, but not because I haven’t been paying attention to what’s going on. I’ve been so completely stunned by the bullshit coming out of Washington, that I needed to form my thoughts and do my research. And boy, did I research!

I’m going to disspell every stupid fucking thing that republicans have said in regard to the budget over the past three weeks, and I’m going to do it without sharing a single opinion.


The first thing that I looked at was states’ GDP relative to their corporate tax rates. The tax rates among states range between 0% and 12%. I was surprised to find that Iowa had the highest tax rate by far at 12%. The next closest state was Minnesota with a 9.8% flat corporate tax rate. Here are the top ten states with the highest corporate tax rates (for the purpose of this post, I used the highest rate in states that have tiered tax rates):

Iowa – 12%
Minnesota – 9.8%
Illinois – 9.5%
Alaska – 9.4%
New Jersey – 9%
Rhode Island – 9%
Maine – 8.93%
California – 8.84%
Delaware – 8.7%
Indiana – 8.5%

Then I looked at the states with the highest GDP:

California – 1847B
Texas – 1224B
New York – 1144B
Florida – 744B
Illinois – 634B
Pennsylvania – 553B
New Jersey – 475B
Ohio – 472B
North Carolina – 400B
Georgia – 398B

That’s interesting, the state with the highest GDP (by far) is also one of the states with the highest tax rates. In fact, three out of the top ten states for GDP are also on the list of states with the highest corporate tax rates.

So that made me want to look at the states with the lowest corporate tax rates to see what their GDP is:

Washington – 0%, 323B
Nevada – 0%, 131B
South Dakota – 0%, 37B
Wyoming – 0%, 35B
Texas – 1%, 1224B
Ohio – 1.3%, 472B
Kansas – 4% – 123B
Colorado – 4.6%, 249B
Michigan – 4.95%, 383B
Mississippi – 5%, 92B

That’s weird, only two of the states with the lowest corporate tax rates are in the top ten for highest GDP. And one of those two states is Texas, where the oil developed before the low corporate state tax rate did.

Why aren’t any of the companies that put California at the top of the GDP food chain in any of the four states with no corporate taxes? Paying less taxes is what creates jobs, right? Shouldn’t all the jobs be in Washington, Wyoming, Nevada, and South Dakota? Washington ranks 14th for GDP. Nevada, South Dakota, and Wyoming rank 36th, 41st, and 48th. Why are Wyoming and South Dakota so unproductive, given their nonexistent corporate income tax rates? Weird.

Another weird thing that stuck out at me as I was compiling this data, is that five of the top ten highest states for GDP are solid democratic states. Three are republican and two are purple. Six of the lowest states for GDP are solidly republican, while four are democratic. That’s going to be relevant further down in this post.

The numbers clearly debunk the bullshit myth that low taxes = job creation so let’s move on.

The next thing I looked at was per capita income in each state. Seven of the top ten states with the highest per capita income are decidedly blue states. The other three are solidly red. Of the ten states with the lowest per capita income, seven are solidly red, one is blue, and two are purple.

I found it interesting that the top and bottom earners have an inverse proportion in political leanings. That inverse relationship led me to look at some other statistics, which produced some fascinating data;

Of the ten states that spend the most on K-12 education, eight are blue, while only two are red.

Seven of the states that spend the most on K-12 education are in the top ten for highest GDP.

Of the ten states that spend the least on K-12 education, nine are red, one is purple, none are blue.

Only one of the ten states that spends the least on K-12 education even cracked the top twenty for GDP.

What does any of this have to do with the title of this post? I’m finally getting there. Look, you know when you live in a shitty place. When you’re in a poor state or a poor neighborhood, you know it. There’s are no illusions about your lot in life. The biggest difference between republicans and democrats is that republicans fundamentally believe that shitty is normal, and that there’s no such thing as a government that can change that. They believe that government will only fuck things up more. Democrats believe (despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary) that government exists to serve the people. And it turns out that democrats were right. I say were because all of that is evaporating before our very eyes, but that’s another post.

So why do republicans keep voting for shitty government? Because it allows them to be right in their belief that government blows and on a visceral level, being right is all you need. They expect government to blow, so they’re not let down when it does. They keep voting for people that offer them more of the same non-governance bullshit that keeps them poor and uneducated because they’re sadomasochistic. They’re sadomasochistic, but they’re right!

The data here is clear; the democratic way is better. It’s better for you because it’s better for your neighbor. When your neighbor’s kid has a shot at a good education and a bright future, they won’t grow up, having to resort to robbing and killing you in order to survive. It makes sense to tax corporations and the mega-fucking-rich because they use more taxpayer resources than you do. This way works!

There’s no fucking reason to vote for the “screw your community, it’s each man for themselves” platform, unless satisfying your sadomasochistic tendencies is more gratifying to you than watching your kid graduate for college is.

The budget cuts that passed this week are going to speed up our race to the bottom. Make no mistake, Obama made this happen. He backed himself into a corner when he agreed to extend the Bush tax cuts. And if you didn’t see this week coming when that happened, you just weren’t paying attention.

The most fucked up thing about this, is that Obama is turning me into a sadomasochistic voter. When 2012 rolls around, despite my best efforts in the primaries, Obama is going to be our nominee. And in November, I’m going to have to hold my nose and vote for him for one single reason; the supreme court. The only thing that Obama is going to do for me, is to appoint a non-whacko to the court.

And what’s worse than the forced sadomasochism, is that I don’t get to enjoy the upside that republicans get. There’s no satisfaction in shitty government for me. It’s all pain and no gain for bitchy.

I need to figure out a way to make this sadomasochism thing work for me. Does anyone have any advice they can give me? What type of equipment should I invest in? Nipple clamps? And when I cut myself, where’s the best place to do it? Any and all suggestions are welcome!


Being America Costs More

Did anyone watch 60 Minutes on Sunday? If you missed it, you can watch the clip that supercharged my bitchiness here. I thought I was going to watch a clip on how US corporations use overseas tax havens to get out of paying their fair share of taxes. What I instead saw, was a propaganda piece about how the US should lower corporate taxes in order to keep jobs in America.

Oh where to start expressing my rage?

First of all, jobs will continue to leave the US as long as we have higher human rights standards. As long as we insist on safe, fair working conditions, labor will be cheaper in other places. So if you want to keep jobs in America you would have to turn employees into wage slaves, desperate to earn money in any condition. That’s what the union busting epidemic is about, but that’s another topic. As long as we have laws that protect the worker, we’re going to have higher labor rates. Period, end of story. If you want to keep jobs here, you’re going to have to be prepared to work side by side with your ten year old child for twelve hours a day.

Now that we have one implausible, bullshit argument down, let’s move to the other inane point made in this piece.

For this piece, 60 Minutes interviewed the CEO of Cisco. I give him credit for doing the interview, but everything he said was fucking ridiculous. He was talking about businesses moving to Ireland and Switzerland because they have more “reasonable” corporate tax rates. And he went onto caution the US government that it was driving businesses away by having high tax rates. Honestly, I can’t believe this douchecanoe runs a company. I would expect that a person who runs a company would have more business savvy that this. Okay, that’s not true. I actually have come to expect that people that run companies are know-nothing asshats that inherited their lot in life through luck of birth. But I didn’t always have such bitchy, low expectations of CEOs. They drove me to my low opinion of them by saying stupid shit like, “The US better lower its tax rate, or we’re going to leave.”

Here’s the deal, Switzerland and Ireland can have lower tax rates because the US is taking care of their high ticket item in terms of their countries’ budget. We essentially provide defense for all of Europe. They don’t have to spend as much on defense because we do. Does anyone honestly think that Ireland is prepared to defend themselves in a war with another country? No, of course not! Because if Ireland ever gets attacked, the US will jump right in to defend them. Why do you think the Italians or the French aren’t really leading the Libyan mission? Because the lack the tactical and operational capabilities that the US has. Like it or not, we have the strongest military in the world because we spend exponentially more of our GDP on defense than anyone else does.

Am I in love with this situation? No, but that’s how it is. We are the world’s military. And as long as that’s the case, being America just fucking costs more. Deal with it.

These asshat American CEOs who are oblivious to that fact need to bitch slapped repeatedly until they’re cured of their stupid. In their childish fantasy world, they get to drive around in a Ferrari that they paid Hyundai prices for. Idiots! Honestly, just when I’m thinking that politicians are the dumbest people in America, a CEO pipes up to disprove me.

We essentially have two options for keeping jobs in America, according to our CEOs. We can either go back to the days of treating our workers like shit in order to maximize profits, or we can seriously reduce our biggest expenditures; defense, medicare, and medicaid. The latter two go back to treating our citizens like garbage. All three would put us on a fast (er) track to giving up our position as leaders of the free world.

Is that what these idiot CEOs want? For America to become devolve? No, I don’t believe they do. I just believe that they’re incapable of seeing past the next dollar in earnings.

Being the leader of the free world isn’t cheap. And we’ve spent the last thirty years dropping corporate taxes, and taxes on the super fucking rich enough to have a pretty good idea of where the threshold is for revenue that we need to generate in order to maintain our position in the world.

The smartest thing that Obama can do right now, is to lower corporate taxes. Yes, you heard that right. He needs to lower corporate taxes, but he also needs to make the new rate a flat tax. If he took the corporate tax rate down to a flat 28% and eliminated all right offs, we would bring in more revenue. And it would be a win, because republicans wouldn’t have an argument to make against lower taxes. Right now, US corporations pay around 6.6% of total revenues. That’s just not enough to keep America, America.

Being America just fucking costs more than being anyone else.


A Shitty Deal

Not the kind from the internal Goldman Sachs emails. No, this is a shitty deal to end all shitty deals. I am of course, referring to Obama’s tax cut deal.

Has anybody looked at the details of the detail he struck? He actually went far beyond Bush’s original nation crippling tax cuts. Here are some highlights;
– The top 2% of wealthiest Americans get to stay at the 36% rate they’ve enjoyed for ten years.
– The estate tax goes down from 55% to 35%.
– Capital gains taxes get cut down to 15%

Just so that we’re clear, all of the above cuts benefit ONLY the wealthiest among us. None of these cuts benefit the middle class. The estate tax cut is even worse than it sounds. Not only did Obama cut the estate tax by 20%, but he also raised the level at which the estate tax kicks in from $1 million to $5 million. How many middle class Americans have $3 million dollar estates to hand down, do you think? Capital gains isn’t money that you earn. It’s money that your money earns. It’s stock appreciation, property appreciation, etc. The capital gains tax rate is now FAR lower than the tax rate we all pay on our paychecks.

95% of Americans don’t enjoy capital gains. WHY should any tax rate be lower than the taxes paid on earned income? That’s just crazy. Nothing should be taxed lower than your paycheck. That should be the baseline rate upon which all other tax rates are increased from.

25% of all of the tax cuts in this “compromise” benefit just the top 1% of Americans. Yeah, that’s equitable.

Did I forget to mention that this deal includes a payroll tax cut? Sounds nice, right? Here’s what it actually means; less money will be taken out of your check for your social security contribution. This will hasten the social security shortfall that wasn’t otherwise going to happen until 2037. You understand where this is going, don’t you? This is going to lead to cutting social security. This is a topic for a whole post unto itself, so I’m going to move on.

We don’t have the money to pay for these tax cuts, so we’re going to add to our already astronomical debt in order to make it happen. This growing debt significantly weakens our economy.

Now democrats will say that this deal was necessary in order to save the unemployed from running out of benefits. I say, bullshit. Unemployment benefits are a means to help people to tread water until the coast guard comes to save them. The problem with this deal is that the coast guard is never coming.

Turning this economy around requires a two pronged approach. The first part of recovery was programs like the stimulus package. The government has to step in to be the spender of last resort. When Americans have no money to spend, and corporations aren’t generating revenue because Americans are broke, that’s when the government must step in. Spending money in infrastructure projects creates jobs across a very large supply chain. The second part of an effective recovery plan is to ensure that Americans can tread water until the unemployment rate comes down. This includes programs like unemployment insurance and food stamps. These two programs not only help the recipients, but they also create exponential economic activity.

The idea is that the infrastructure projects will create jobs that cascade over a big supply chain. These jobs will in turn, generate taxable income which will ostensibly help us to pay down our debt and strengthen the federal government so that is has the resources to invest in more job creation programs. The unemployment and food stamp benefits are supposed to help people hang on until that supply chain grows enough to create jobs for the unemployed.

Obama’s deal weakens the federal government by increasing the debt twofold. We’re borrowing money to give to the rich, and we’re borrowing money to keep people on unemployment. Since there’s no further stimulus in this deal, it’s essentially all gratuitous spending with no job creation component.

Nobody is going to show up with jobs for the unemployed. The ’99ers” are going to become the “198ers”. Since I’m in the business of hiring people, let me confirm something that you already know. The longer someone is unemployed, the more unemployable they become. Hiring managers have a viscerally bad reaction to people that haven’t been able to find a job in a year. The 99ers won’t be employable until the unemployment rate dips below 5%. Once that happens, there will be a labor shortage that will make them more attractive to employers.

Nothing about this plan is going to get the unemployment rate down. Obama didn’t “save” the unemployed. He just insured that they’re going to be treading water in their current miserable state of unemployment forever. This plan just prolongs their misery. And they’re still being held hostage by republicans. I can assure you that Obama is going to have to make another appalling deal to “save” unemployment insurance by this time next year. My prediction is that the jobs report for February, when all of the seasonal retail jobs are gone, will be appalling.

This really was the grandaddy of all shitty deals.

And the worst part? Obama is now defending the bullshit republican tax policy. He’s forcing democratic house members to do the same, thereby undermining the democratic position for years to come. We’re never going to get out of this debt because there’s no one left to stand up for sound fiscal policy.

You’re burning down the house with your shitty deal, Obama. Thanks for nothing!


A Multi-Tasking Machine Of Spinelessness

Did anybody read the title and not think that this post was going to be about Obama?

I’ve reached the end of my rope with this president. The tax cut deal was the straw that broke bitchy’s back.

I’ve been of the belief that one of Obama’s problems is that he lacks conviction. I’ve graduated from “belief” to “certainty. He’s not passionate about anything to fight for it, or to even hold his ground.

I honestly thought I voted for a born leader when I cast my vote for him. Turns out that what I got is a middle manager with no real future. He tries to stay under the radar by capitulating to everyone in perpetuity; the quintessential middle manager.

The only belief that he seems to hold firm to, is that there’s always a middle ground to be found. Sadly, he defines “middle” as being slightly less than republicans are demanding, but far more than they ever expected to get.

Just four short weeks ago, all of the republican leaders were sending very strong signals that they would sign a tax bill that excluded the stinking rich if that was all they could get. Did Obama miss that? Was he busy creating a new playlist on his iPod to watch CNN that week? Seriously, what the fuck? Boehner couldn’t have been more clear about his willingness to cave. Don’t believe me? Watch!

And yet Obama still caves by giving them two more years of billionaire tax cuts, thereby increasing our deficit by another 140 billion dollars.

Here’s a fascinating breakdown of the relationship between the top marginal tax rate and the unemployment rate. This graph tells us that there’s an excellent chance that the unemployment rate in this most precarious of times, is very likely to stay high as a result of prolonging these tax cuts.

Can anyone guess what republicans are going to run on in 2012? Could it be the fucking deficit and the unemployment rate?

And what do you think Lloyd Blankfein is going to do with all of the extra cash in his savings account? Is he going to hire people, or is he going to use the money to bitch slap Obama in the 2012 elections by contributing to whoever his republican opponent is?

On the upside, Obama is figuring how to let republicans do three times as much damage with one single kick in the testicles. This saves them a lot of effort. While I admire his deference to Mitch McConnell, in making sure that he (McConnell) doesn’t tire himself out by having to expend more energy than necessary to turn Obama into a eunuch, I wish he would find just a little deference for the people that voted for him and the platform he ran on.

This latest buckling was like so many before it, unnecessary and damaging to us all. You see, we’re having to borrow more money from China so that Jamie Dimon doesn’t have to pay 3.5% more in taxes (as if his accountant can’t find loopholes to cover that).

This s bad for all Americans, but Obama is particularly bad for democrats. Each time he caves into republicans, the thing that he caved in on becomes the thing that Obama owns. These tax cuts for the rich will no longer be referred to as the “Bush tax cuts”. No, they’re the Obama tax cuts now.

Make no mistake – extending these tax cuts is the worst possible thing that can happen to our economy.

And no, this didn’t have to happen (something I hear from democrats all the time). Obama didn’t have to cave. 76% of Americans don’t want these tax cuts extended. He could have leveraged that political capital to stop a compromise from happening. He should have held a prime time press conference to spell out what republicans are trying to do to us, and named names in the process. He should have done this on the day that republicans blocked the tax cut vote on Saturday. He instead made a half assed effort to make his case.

Either he sucks at politics, or he wanted to extend these tax cuts all along.

Democrats already have a serious messaging problem. Having a leader that is willing to shit all over the basic tenets of the democratic party isn’t helping.

I’m worried that Obama is going to irreparably damage the party if he caves in on cutting social security. NO ONE wants for social security to be cut. Well, no one except the people that made out like fucking bandits on these tax cuts anyway. 76% of Americans (republicans and democrats combined) feel adamantly that social security should not be touched. If Obama does so much as raise the retirement age, democrats will forever be the party that cut social security.

Obama’s capitulation has escalated beyond the point of just being frustrating to the democratic base; it’s reckless and dangerous for the country and it will decimate the democratic party.

I’m well past the irritated with this president stage. I’m scared shitless of him in a way that I haven’t been scared by a president in my lifetime. If


Another Disastrous Concession; Tax Cut Edition

David Axelrod just confirmed that Obama is going to cave in on tax cuts for the rich. I’m feeling demoralized, to say the least. This is another example of unnecessary acquiescence that hurts America, by Obama. We can file this one with Van Jones, Shirely Sherrod, and ACORN.

Look the strategy on this one should have been very simple since most Americans, democrats and republicans alike, are opposed to this. Democrats should have done nothing but ask republicans, “How are you going to pay for this?” like simpletons, stuck in broken record mode. That’s all they should be saying about anything. Regardless of what the question being asked by the reporter is, every single democrat should respond with, “How are republicans going to pay for the tax cuts they didn’t pay for the last time around?”. If the question is, “How about those Giants?” The reply should be, “How are republicans going to pay for extending the tax cuts for the rich?”. PERIOD. No other words should be coming out of their mouths until republicans cave.

Another prong of this strategy should be for Obama to continue the praise that he offered to Ronald Reagan during the campaign. Breathe, breathe, and hang in with me for a second. Obama should repeatedly exclaim that he intends to set tax rates where the great and wise Ronald Reagan set them. Over and over, in perpetuity, Obama should be regurgitating out the “Great and wise Ronald Reagan” line.

You wanna know where Reagan had the top tax rate? It was at 50%. Do you wanna know what we’re talking about today? We’re talking about going from 36% to 39%! Are you fucking kidding me with this shit? Off the top of my head, if that 3% difference we’re debating equates to 3/4 of a trillion deficit dollars over the next ten years, I’m going to go ahead and say that if we went back “the great and wise Ronald Reagan” rates, we would be able to raise roughly enough to pay off Bush’s deficit in five years.

This wasn’t a hard fight to win but once again, Obama didn’t even try. Axelrod claimed that they didn’t want to “jeopardize” the middle class tax cuts in order to fight to let the disastrous Bush tax cuts expire. That’s the kind of bullshit false choice that makes me extra, supersized bitchy.

Let me go a step further. I want to raise the corporate tax rate back to 91%, where it was under Eisenhower. That was the tax rate that got us out of the great depression. It works well because it forces companies to reinvest profits, rather than to let their executives pocket the money. Personally, there’s nothing that the government can squander that money on that would be less offensive to me than watching Paris Hilton snort it. Watching the government spend that money on $400 toilet seat covers would be less disgusting to me than watching Lloyd Blankfein spend it on anything. Yeah, I’m the jackass.

Guess what Obama? That extra 3% that you’re letting good old Lloyd keep is ultimately going to be spent on spanking you with his wallet in the 2012 election. Nice move, jackasses. You have once again managed to fuck the country and fuck yourselves.

I can’t imagine why 29% of democrats that voted in 2008 stayed home in 2010.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – You BLOW, Obama administration!


Jerks, Freeloaders And Ingrates

That’s what the Cranicks of Obion, Tennessee are according to Kevin Williamson of The National Review. You see, their house burned down while firefighters watched a few days ago. Why? Because they didn’t pay their annual fee of $75 to the fire department from a neighboring town in order to be eligible for services from that fire department.

Kevin Williamson isn’t alone in his assessment of the Cranick’s fate. Take a look at the charming comments here.

I think that most Americans agree that this is an asshole point of view. And most of the opinions on the web express moral outrage over what happened here, so we can take comfort in knowing that the assholes are outnumbered by the rest of us. But I can’t just leave my thoughts at “they’re just assholes”. It’s more than that. They’re idiots. Sure if you’re mean enough, you can take modicum of twisted satisfaction from the belief that these deadbeats got what they deserved. But what about everyone else? What about the neighborhood that now has a burned out house on the block, thereby lowering everyone’s property value? What about the kids? Did they get what they deserved? What about the bank that holds the mortgage on a home that is most definitely going to go into foreclosure over this? What about the community that now has more homeless people living in it? Does being panhandled by a ten year old child while getting your morning coffee sound beneficial to anyone?

The “mean girls” of the world are completely incapable of thinking their meanness through. They take too much satisfaction from being mean to put any thought into the long term effects of their nasty utopia.

But they’re fucking morons. I don’t want to waste any more time talking about them. Let’s talk about the far left liberals who see this incident as proof that privatization doesn’t work. They’re wrong. There was no corporation involved here. The fire department involved in this incident was a neighboring town’s fire department; i.e. a government entity.

Let’s be clear about what happened here; a government agency sat back and watched a family’s home burn down because that family didn’t pay the annual fee that would have given them access to that fire department’s services. Don’t worry, I’m not getting all “pro corporate” on you. I’m just trying to get the facts straight here. This was a failure of government. Two governments, to be exact. The local government in Obion failed to create the infrastructure that would ensure fire response in their town. The South Fulton government failed, when they instructed their fire department to sit back and callously watch as someone’s house burned down to the ground.

Here’s the most absurd part of this whole thing – the local representatives for Obion (all republicans) voted down a 13 cent property tax increase to create a fire department for Obion! This was bad government. And this is why so many people believe that government is bad.

This tragedy wasn’t a result of privatization gone wrong. And if you’re using it to make that point, you’re creating a false argument. Do I support the privatization of community services? Fuck no, I’m not an idiot.

This story does demonstrate why that won’t work. The Cranik’s failure to pay the annual fee of $75 (I’ve spent more than that on lunch!) demonstrates that voluntary fees for these types of services don’t work. They need to be paid for through mandatory taxation. Who among us hasn’t made choices about what we cut from our monthly expenses when times are tough? Who among us hasn’t dropped health insurance at one time or another because we simply couldn’t afford it? Haven’t we all taken that gamble before? You need to eat every day, so that’s not an expense that can be cut. You need a roof over your head, so that’s not an expense that can be cut. So when you look for expenses that can be eliminated, it’s human nature to take a gamble with expenses that don’t appear to be an immediate need. Don’t be so fucking judgmental with other people, because I know you’ve done it yourself.

You can’t do that with taxes. They’re taken out before you can even make those decisions. It’s out of your hands, so the fire department will put out the fire in your house. And these services are cheaper if every single member of the community pays in.

I have no idea how the South Fulton fire department came up with that $75 per household figure, but it sounds rather arbitrary to me. What if only 50% of Obion residents paid in? Would it still cost South Fulton $75 per household to respond to Obion fires? What if 100% of Obion residents paid in? Would it cost less than $75 per household? Who the hell knows. I do know that they had already used resources to arrive at the scene, so not putting out the fire before it spread was just inane.

The house shouldn’t have burned down while the people that could have stopped it watched. Most reasonable people can agree on that. How to prevent it from happening in the future shouldn’t be approached from an ideological perspective. It should be based on reasonable solutions. Two local governments failed. That doesn’t mean that government sucks (I’m talking to you, intellectually lazy conservatives and teabaggers). It means that you need to improve the government because there is no more efficient way to run fire departments, than to centralize through one entity. The homeowners failed, but this service should never have been provided on the basis of a voluntary “fee”. I don’t know why or how some people can look at a “fee” as something that’s better than a tax. You need a fucking fire department!

Personally, I think that fire departments should be run on a state level with partnerships on the county level. It seems to me that centralizing shared services would lower the overall cost. And the taxes to pay for fire departments should be collected on a state level. This ensures that you have an even per capita contribution and allocation. But that’s just my opinion, and I’m certainly not convinced that my way is the best way to do it. Maybe there are advantages to having each municipality run their own fire departments. That’s a debate I’m happy to have. But I will not entertain the “government = bad, so no government = good” bullshit. That’s just stupid and lazy.

If you don’t believe that good government is possible, then you ensure that you will never get good government.


Fun Facts

I’ve been listening to republicans try and diminish the 162,000 jobs that were created last month all weekend. I find it ludicrous on it’s face, that they’re complaining that this administration hasn’t managed to clean up after their unmitigated disaster fast enough! Here’s a newsflash for John Boehner; if your party hadn’t made such a huge mess of the economy, monthly job creation numbers wouldn’t even make headline news!

But beyond the obvious absurdity of the republican reaction to the job creation numbers, there’s a history of fun facts that I thought everyone would find interesting.

Let’s start with this – George W Bush didn’t create his first job until the beginning of his second term. That’s right, not one single fucking job for 4 years. And you wanna know who he put the onus on for that? You guessed it, it was Clinton’s fault. I have audio of Bush, Cheney, Rove, and Fleischer, and McClellan all blaming Clinton for the lack of job growth. Given how they handled Bush’s poor performance, republicans naturally feel that it’s unfair for Obama to ever so much as hint at the fact that the mess we’re in now is Bush’s fault.

Here’s another fun fact; in the last 60 years, the only person that created fewer jobs than a Bush was Eisenhower, in his second term. Poppy and W were the #2 and #3 worst presidents for job creation. Here are some numbers (the numbers represent millions of jobs created):

Truman 1949 -1952 5.2
Eisenhower 1953 – 1956 2.7
Eisenhower 1957 – 1960 0.8
Kennedy/Johnson 1961 – 1964 5.7
Johnson 1965 – 1968 9.8
Nixon 1969 – 1972 6.1
Nixon/Ford 1972 – 1976 5.2
Carter 1977 – 1980 10.4
Reagan 1981 – 1984 5.2
Reagan 1985 – 1988 10.8
Bush 1989 – 1992 2.5
Clinton 1993 – 1996 11.6
Clinton 1997 – 2000 11.5
Bush 2001 – 2004 (0.1)
Bush 2005 – 2008 5.1

It’s interesting that Poppy Bush didn’t blame Reagan for his abysmal performance, isn’t it? Jimmy Carter, by the way, kicked some job creation ass!

Another fun fact; wages went up not at all under the 8 years of George W Bush. So he didn’t create any new jobs, and for those that were employed, he kept your wages stagnant.

Now let’s look at some other fun facts – spending. The numbers on the right represent the change in spending relative to GDP:

Truman 1949 -1952 -23.9
Eisenhower 1953 – 1956 -10.4
Eisenhower 1957 – 1960 -7.9
Kennedy/Johnson 1961 – 1964 -6.7
Johnson 1965 – 1968 -6.8
Nixon 1969 – 1972 -5.4
Nixon/Ford 1972 – 1976 -0.9
Carter 1977 – 1980 -2.8
Reagan 1981 – 1984 +7.3
Reagan 1985 – 1988 +11.2
Bush 1989 – 1992 +12.2
Clinton 1993 – 1996 +3.0
Clinton 1997 – 2000 -9.8
Bush 2001 – 2004 +5.6
Bush 2005 – 2008 +6.3

Can you figure out who the fiscal conservatives are?

When I look at these sets of numbers I have to ask, “Where did the money under republicans go?” We saw less job growth and higher spending under republicans. Their approach is to spend more and tax corporations less. Keep in mind that when republicans talk about cutting taxes, they’re never talking about cutting your taxes. They’re talking about cutting corporate taxes. I hate to break it to you, but you’re not making “game changing” money. Adjusting your  taxes up or down 3% – 6% amounts to your annual latte spending. And as they cut corporate taxes and increase corporate tax loop holes, they accomplish nothing in terms of creating jobs for you.

In Reagan’s case, all of that wild spending went into defense which created a crap load of defense jobs. Ironically, Reagan is the best example of how government can effectively create jobs.

These numbers don’t lie. I’m not an ideologue. I like living in the fact based community.

So next time you’re trapped at Thanksgiving dinner with your republican relatives, show them these numbers and help disabuse them of the mythology that they’ve been spewing for all of these years.