ChrisWeigant.com

Friday Talking Points [177] -- Corporations Are People, Mitt?

[ Posted Friday, August 12th, 2011 – 17:17 PDT ]

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: the Iowa straw poll is meaningless. Unless you attach "meaning" to a process which seems designed to show the world the power of candidates to outright purchase votes, which I have to say, I do not.

The Republican debate last night in Iowa wasn't as meaningless, but will also soon be forgotten as Republican presidential candidate debate season really gets into full swing.

Having thus sneered at the two events in the political world which got the most coverage last week, allow me to sneer at the media in a more free-floating fashion. A few things caught my eye this week, as spectacular examples of outright failure by the mainstream media. Add these to the enormous list of issues which the media considers absolutely taboo to discuss on the airwaves of America, I guess.

The first was the coverage given to Rick Perry's prayer-fest in Texas this past weekend. This event did garner a lot of media attention, since Perry had all but confirmed he was about to jump into the presidential race. But while the media ran lots of clips of Perry speaking, they refused to delve into the other speakers' bigotry -- with the notable exception of Rachel Maddow. The mainstream media's storyline was: Rick Perry talks about Jesus. The real storyline should have been: Rick Perry palling around with some folks who have espoused some very scary thoughts, in the name of religion. After all, this is entirely appropriate subject matter for presidential candidates, as Barack Obama's minister found out four Augusts ago. So why aren't these supposed "men of the cloth" being given the same scrutiny Reverend Wright got?

The second instance is more subtle, and could probably be explained away as merely overzealous soundbite editing, if it wasn't part of an ongoing media blackout of one subject in the whole debt debate. Mitt Romney got a few hecklers in the audience at an appearance yesterday, it seems. Here is how Huffington Post reported one of the instances of heckling:

Speaking at the Des Moines Register soapbox, Romney was also interrupted by a heckler who asked if if [sic] he supported "scrapping the Social Security payroll cap so that rich people pay their fair share into the trust fund?"

Romney responded, "There was a time in this country where we didn't celebrate attacking people based on their success. We didn't go after people because they were successful. I've watched this president go across the country attacking people, and I... and I am... if you want to speak, you can speak. But right now it's my turn, so let me continue."

When I saw video of this on the evening news (even on PBS, I might add), the only thing they showed was the end bit, where the heckler and Romney are attempting to shout each other down, simultaneously. The question the heckler asked, notably, didn't make the cut.

The issue of "scrapping the cap" on Social Security taxes is one that you almost never hear of on mainstream media. Whenever the discussion of "saving Social Security" comes up, three stark choices are presented: "you can raise the retirement age, you can cut benefits, or you can raise taxes." Not a single word about the cap on earnings. Which is a shame, because an overwhelming majority of Americans -- when the idea is explained to them accurately, in polling -- support the idea. The media, it seems, doesn't even deem it important enough to mention.

But perhaps I'm being too harsh. The reason the clip was edited down so much was that the other heckling clip was so much better -- Romney misspeaking, and then instead of just immediately walking it back, actually digging the hole deeper. In answer to a question about raising taxes on corporations, Romney answered (at first) that he wasn't going to raise taxes "on people." When the questioner yelled back "Corporations, not people!" Romney could easily have said something along the lines of "Sorry, I meant to say corporations -- I'm actually not going to raise taxes on people or on corporations, and here's why...." It would have just melded the whole thing into standard Republican dogma, and Romney would have been safe.

Instead, he doubled down, with "Corporations are people, too." More on this later, in the talking points, of course.

The third thing the media continues to ignore could be summed up as: "any good Democratic ideas on the federal budget or jobs legislation." Representative Jan Schakowsky just introduced a bill that I'd be willing to bet would be astoundingly and enormously popular -- if anyone ever hears about it. Again, from a Huffington Post article:

Titled the “Emergency Jobs to Restore the American Dream Act,” the plan would cost $227 billion and would be implemented over two years. It would be financed by separate legislation introduced by Schakowsky called the "Fairness in Taxation Act," which would raise taxes for Americans who earn more than $1 million and $1 billion. It would also eliminate subsidies for big oil companies while closing loopholes for corporations that send American jobs overseas.

The congresswoman said that her plan would create 2.2 million jobs and decrease the unemployment rate by 1.3 percent.

"If we want to create jobs, then create jobs," Schakowsky said in a press release. "I’m not talking about "incentivizing" companies in the hopes they’ll hire someone, or cutting taxes for the so-called job creators who have done nothing of the sort. My plan creates actual new jobs."

Think that would play in Peoria? I do. Unfortunately, this plan will simply be ignored by the media, as it has been ignoring the Democratic plan to eliminate the federal budget deficit in ten years -- the "People's Budget" -- something no Republican budget plan (including Paul Ryan's) even comes close to doing.

Instead, we get the media spotlight on whether a Newsweek cover photo of Michele Bachmann is "sexist" or not. My personal feelings -- I agree with Joan Williams: the photo's not sexist (equally as embarassing shots of male politicians regularly appear in the media), but the headline might just be. However, Bachmann being asked last night about whether she's a "submissive" wife or not is fully fair game, since the debate questioner is doing nothing more than quoting Bachmann herself, from a public appearance. If she brought it up, then it is entirely fair game and in no way sexist. Married politicians can claim privacy for their family life up to the point where they try to exploit their family life for select audiences, in an effort to curry favor. From that point on, it is fair game indeed, no matter what gender the politician.

One final grammatical note, and then we'll get on with the awards and talking points. There seems to have been a lighting evolution of a political term these past few weeks which bears pointing out (to those interested in such things, either linguistically or politically). While some giant corporate media outlets tried to push the term "Super Congress" (or "super Congress") for the new special joint budget committee, the term which won the day turned out to be "super committee." But this quickly morphed into first "super-committee" and then just as speedily moved on to "supercommittee." This is notable because this sort of thing in the English language usually takes a period of years (if not decades). Compound words start as two (or more) individual words, then move on to the hyphenated form, and finally arrive as a single word. It just usually doesn't happen this fast.

Personally, I think the term is as silly as "Super Duper Tuesday" was, in the last presidential election cycle. In fact, I'm thinking of banning "supercommittee" from my keyboard, and instead referring to it more soberly as the "joint committee" or "special committee." Which just proves I can be a real stick-in-the-mud type of guy, I guess. Or should that be "stickinthemud"?

 

Most Impressive Democrat of the Week

Enough nonsense, let's get on with the awards portion of our show.

Before we get to the main award, a quick Honorable Mention goes out to the aforementioned Jan Schakowsky, for putting some real jobs legislation on the table. Even if the media ignores it, this is the sort of thing Democrats should be doing right about now.

Our Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week award has to be awarded a wee bit late, due mostly to Gabby Giffords' triumphant return to the House being so impressive last week. But, while Giffords was definitely the right choice, someone fell through the cracks as a result, which we feel needs rectifying.

Because the Obama administration just did something good. The news was all but buried in the debt ceiling crisis, but it was good news all the same. Democrats should be touting this accomplishment to the skies, but we'll get to that aspect of it in the talking points.

I'm talking about the announcement by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius that birth control prescriptions would soon be provided for free to millions of American women. As part of what its detractors call "Obamacare," health insurance plans will have to offer The Pill for free. While there are some loopholes in the new regulation (typical grandfather clauses, and the "religious exemption"), within a very short time millions of women will receive this benefit.

For which they can thank President Obama, "Obamacare," and more specifically Kathleen Sebelius. H.H.S. could have punted this particular political football, but they didn't. It is rare that governmental action is so directly felt by the populace at large, but this one qualifies.

For her bold announcement -- even if we are a bit late in awarding it -- Kathleen Sebelius is our Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week.

[Secretary Kathleen Sebelius doesn't seem to have an official H.H.S. contact page, but you can always send your comments to her boss at the White House contact page, to let them know you appreciate her efforts.]

 

Most Disappointing Democrat of the Week

We've got two minor awards this week, before we hand out the MDDOTW. The first goes to whomever in the Obama re-election campaign was the source of the quotes in Politico this week, which not only indicated that the Obama camp's strategy is to paint Mitt Romney as "weird," but also that they had to "kill" Romney. By week's end, the Obama folks were desperately trying to walk this back -- going so far as to suggest that anyone on the campaign staff who used the word "weird" would be fired. To the unnamed sources goes a special (Dis-)Honorable Mention award, with "shot yourselves in the foot" oak clusters.

Sigh.

Senator Claire McCaskill also gets a (Dis-)Honorable Mention award, for reportedly saying "I'm not for extending the unemployment benefits any further." Although she also tried to backtrack from this statement, this also goes into the "With Friends Like These..." file.

But for the second week in a row, our Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week award just has to go to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. Because Harry announced his three picks for the special joint committee on the budget last week, to the astonishment of many Democrats.

John Kerry was deemed mostly-acceptable. Patty Murray was deemed mostly-acceptable. Both of these senators are big fans of the military-industrial complex, but as Democrats go, they weren't bad picks.

But then came the third name: Max Baucus.

Really, Harry? You really want to give Max that much power? Remember, Harry, only one Democrat has to cross the aisle for a Republican plan to pass. And you are trusting the whole ball of wax to... Max Baucus? Really?

It's easy to see that this pick could come back to bite the Democratic Party in a very painful way, as Thanksgiving rolls around. For passing over literally dozens of names who would have been much much better picks, this week's Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week is, once again, none other than Harry Reid. Don't say we didn't tell you so when Baucus defects, Harry.

[Contact Majority Leader Harry Reid on his Senate contact page, to let him know what you think of his actions.]

 

Friday Talking Points

Volume 177 (8/12/11)

I write these talking points every week for fun and amusement, and to provide readers with a way to speak about Democratic issues in the best way I can dream up.

But, being an amateur at it, I respect the people on the Democratic side who are the true professionals at this sort of thing. So when Drew Westen writes an editorial on the subject for the New York Times, I pay attention.

Westen's piece may not be an easy read for Obama fans (its title gives this away: "What Happened to Obama?"). But the points Westen makes are excellent. The way I usually sum up his editorial's theme is: "Who could have imagined that Barack Obama's biggest problem as president would be not being able to communicate his ideas (and his ideals) well?"

In any case, I just had to start out with my humble talking points this week by encouraging everyone (who hasn't already) to read Westen's article for yourselves.

 

1
   Thank Obama for your free birth control

Democrats are notoriously bad at one of the basic tenets in politics -- when your party achieves something you think the American people will like, then you have to point it out to them repeatedly to cement in their minds who was responsible for improving their lives. As I said, this is basic, basic politics, but so far I haven't heard many Democrats saying any version of the following.

"Millions of American women will soon be enjoying a healthcare benefit which will change their lives for the better. Next year, health insurance plans will be providing free birth control prescriptions to American women. It has been outrageous that Viagra is covered by most health insurance, but not birth control -- and this disparity will now be largely fixed. But this didn't happen in a vacuum. Democrats were the cause. Democrats care about young women who can't afford birth control, because their health insurance doesn't cover it alongside the erection pills for men. Every woman should remember this next year, and thank President Obama and the congressional Democrats for their free birth control prescriptions -- because Republicans certainly didn't have anything to do with it."

 

2
   We got your "uncertainty" right here...

This is just so obvious, I'm astonished more Democrats aren't making this case.

"Throughout the entire first half of this year, the Republicans warned us all about, quote, uncertainty, unquote, in the marketplace. Uncertainty was the reason business wasn't booming in America. If the markets could just see some certainty out of Washington, then all would be well. I guess that went out the window, huh? Would any of you describe last week's rollercoaster on the Dow as 'certainty'? For the first time in American history, the nation's credit was threatened by a political party for partisan gains. Our credit rating was downgraded because Wall Street specifically said that they expect even more uncertainty from Washington now that the debt ceiling has become a political football. Republican leaders are actually now bragging about how they're never going to allow the debt ceiling to be raised again without forcing the country through the same exact brinksmanship which was cited as the reason for our downgrade. Republicans are sending a message to Wall Street which is loud and clear: 'Expect more uncertainty from us. We will force this uncertainty issue, whenever we get the chance.' If the media weren't so lazy, they would be busily digging out quotes from Republican leaders uttered just a few months back about the dangers of uncertainty, and asking them why they are now so bent on assuring that, far into the future, uncertainty will be guaranteed."

 

3
   Tea Party downgrade

This one is easy, and Democrats are actually starting to use it. But it should be used as often as possible. Rinse and repeat, as it were.

"If you read the actual report from Standard and Poor's, you'll see that the reason we just got downgraded was the brinksmanship in Congress. It wasn't the debt or the budget so much as S&P's pointed out, it was the fact that the Tea Party Republicans in the House are playing a dangerous game with the American economy. Make no mistake about it -- this is the 'Tea Party downgrade'. The entire thing can be laid at their feet. It wasn't the plan that passed, it wasn't the Tea Party plan that didn't pass, it was the fact that the Tea Party is willing to take things to the brink without a care in the world for what it does to America in the meantime. The Tea Party dared Wall Street to downgrade America by playing political games with our full faith and credit, and Wall Street obliged them with their Tea Party downgrade."

 

4
   Corporations are people, too?

We've got to take a few shots at the Republican frontrunner, Mitt Romney, here. Call it the pre-season for the presidential campaign, if you will.

"I heard that Mitt Romney told a crowd in Iowa that, quote, corporations are people, too, unquote. Wow. I mean, that's just... wow. I had to check to make sure Mitt wasn't joking around or something, but no -- that's his new campaign slogan, I guess. I can just picture Barbara Streisand singing 'Corporations who need corporations, are the luckiest corporations in the world,' can't you?"

 

5
   Romney bragged to Standard and Poor's about raising taxes

OK, that one was somewhat of a cheap shot. This next one, however, cuts to the bone (at least, in Republican circles).

"Mitt Romney was awfully quiet during the whole debt ceiling debate, and after Standard and Poor's downgraded America's credit rating. Perhaps this last was because, as governor, Mitt actually bragged to S&P's about how his state had raised taxes and closed loopholes. Mitt was trying to talk S&P's into upgrading Massachusetts' credit rating at the time. I wonder how many Republican primary voters are aware of this story?"

 

6
   Two very red districts in Wisconsin

This was a disappointing story from last week, but Democrats should put it into some perspective when asked about it. Or, if you prefer (as I did, this week), just revel in Wisconsin's Labor past.

"It is true that the recall effort in Wisconsin failed to turn over control of the state senate to Democrats, but the story isn't as big a defeat as you might think for the progressive movement. Recall elections are rare, and Wisconsin Democrats managed to replace two Republicans -- in what are very red districts -- with Democratic state senators. That's a mighty big accomplishment right there, even if it did fall short of taking back control of the state senate."

 

7
   Has anyone asked Bert and Ernie?

And, because it is now officially the "silly season," we have the following item -- which it would not surprise me in the least if some Democrat got asked during an interview in the next week or so. Sigh. Happy August, everyone....

"I realize there is a push to convince Sesame Street to have Bert and Ernie get married and live together as a same-sex married couple, but seriously, has anyone asked Ernie or Bert what they think? Because they're the only two opinions which matter, in such a personal decision. That's what Democrats would like for everyone to enjoy, after all -- the ability to make the decision on their own, without interference from their neighbors or the state."

-- Chris Weigant

 

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Cross-posted at: Democratic Underground
Cross-posted at: Democrats For Progress
Cross-posted at: The Huffington Post

 

36 Comments on “Friday Talking Points [177] -- Corporations Are People, Mitt?”

  1. [1] 
    dsws wrote:

    Corporations aren't people. But taxes on corporations are taxes on people. It seems clear that that's what Romney was trying to say.

  2. [2] 
    BashiBazouk wrote:

    If Corporations are people, then what is soylent green again?

  3. [3] 
    Michale wrote:

    The first goes to whomever in the Obama re-election campaign was the source of the quotes in Politico this week, which not only indicated that the Obama camp's strategy is to paint Mitt Romney as "weird," but also that they had to "kill" Romney.

    It's like the Arizona shooting (and the subsequent hysterical hypocritical outcry from Democrats) never happened.

    Good call, CW...

    By week's end, the Obama folks were desperately trying to walk this back -- going so far as to suggest that anyone on the campaign staff who used the word "weird" would be fired.

    Note that it appears that calling Romney "weird" is the graver offense. Not the fact that they Obama administration wants to "kill" Romney...

    Apparently......

    "There is no Arizona..."
    -Jamie O'Neal

    Michale.....

  4. [4] 
    Michale wrote:

    dsws,

    Good point...

    Michale.....

  5. [5] 
    Michale wrote:

    Question for the gallery..

    Do ya'all think that Corporations deserve ANY credit for the contribution that they have made to society??

    Michale....

  6. [6] 
    Michale wrote:

    It would be financed by separate legislation introduced by Schakowsky called the "Fairness in Taxation Act," which would raise taxes for Americans who earn more than $1 million and $1 billion. It would also eliminate subsidies for big oil companies while closing loopholes for corporations that send American jobs overseas.

    Now, see... This is a plan that even *I* could get behind!

    Why aren't Democrats screaming this plan to the high heavens??

    Probably because the Democrats who are worth more than a million or a billion don't want to pay the higher taxes...

    Michale.....

  7. [7] 
    dsws wrote:

    Do ya'all think that Corporations deserve ANY credit for the contribution that they have made to society?

    Whether corporations deserve credit is up to the investment banks and the bond markets.

    Ok, seriously: no. Corporations don't deserve any credit (or blame), because they aren't people.

    Entrepreneurs deserve credit for starting businesses. Bank employees who evaluate business plans well, and loan money to viable start-ups but not to stupid money-pits deserve credit for doing their job. People who put their money at risk by becoming limited partners in sound start-ups but not bad ones deserve credit for it. When it's useful to incorporate a business, managers who do so deserve some credit for it. (Not much, because it's pretty routine to incorporate a business when it gets big enough.) People who save money, which provides the financial capital for corporations via banks or bonds or bond funds, deserve credit for it. People who put their money at risk by buying stock deserve credit for it. The inventors of the joint stock corporation, some centuries ago, deserve credit for figuring out how to fund trading voyages without having a sole owner go bankrupt when his ship doesn't come in. Legislatures deserve credit for letting them do it.

    But that's all the credit there is to go around. None is left for the corporation itself. You can't have it both ways: if taxes on corporations are really taxes on people, then credit to corporations really belongs to people, not corporations.

    The thing is, they have their reward. They get it as bonuses, dividends, stock-repurchase payments (essentially the same thing as dividends), and interest. They haven't earned any additional goodwill on top of that, that would excuse them from bearing an appropriate share of the tax burden.

    Why aren't Democrats screaming this plan [increase taxes specifically on firms involved in international trade] to the high heavens?

    Basically, many are. Not necessarily that particular version, but stupid protectionism infests my side of the aisle about as much as yours. Unlike almost all Democrats and probably all Republicans, I would be against protectionism even if it did "succeed" (by making the rest of the world poorer so we look better in comparison). I say that people in poor countries have just as much moral right to opportunity as people in rich countries.

  8. [8] 
    LeaningBlue wrote:

    Titled the “Emergency Jobs to Restore the American Dream Act,” the plan would cost $227 billion and would be implemented over two years. It would be financed by separate legislation introduced by Schakowsky called the "Fairness in Taxation Act," which would raise taxes for Americans who earn more than $1 million and $1 billion. It would also eliminate subsidies for big oil companies while closing loopholes for corporations that send American jobs overseas.

    Personally, I have a somewhat center-right view of taxes on uber-income (as opposed to uber-wealth, which is not always the same thing). If the tax law were amended so as to make it very difficult to avoid tax on high income, I suggest that it would be equitable -and a huge source of revenue- to tax seven-figure-plus income at long term capital gain rates. Why? Because in a very real economic sense, such incomes are, generally, returns to human capital. E.g., if Julia Roberts is paid $20 million to make a film, it's a return to, and an assignment to the owners of the film of, her personal capital, not a payment for how hard she works to act in that film.

    While on the topic of films, I find the narration provided by David McCullough in Seabiscuit a very wonderful and moving explanation of the power and purpose of the arguably "socialist" programs of the New Deal. I'm not at all center-right when it comes to public works employment in economic depression. The nation, I fear, is at risk of depression even in the statistical measure of it, with an accelerating probability of it in fact, regardless of the outcome of next year's elections.

    Finally, to not end this post on a down note, this.

    Some snippets (and comment) from CW's lead-in to the Talking Points

    (1) Volume 177...

    (2) I write these talking points every week...

    (2a) [and they are linked above the fold on what is probably the highest-traffic progressive website]

    (3) But, being an amateur at it...

    Now, particularly with Bert and Ernie being mentioned in one of those talking points, I think it would be appropriate to all to sing to Chris the Sesame Street favorite we all know from our, our children's, and/or grandchildren's formative years :

    "One of these things is not like the others, One of these doesn't belong ..."

  9. [9] 
    dsws wrote:

    There should be a wealth tax, and capital gains should be taxed at least as much as any other income. But capital gains tax should be on real capital gains, not inflation.

  10. [10] 
    LeaningBlue wrote:

    A fair rate for capital gains is purely a political question, and actually I'm pretty close to your view.

    On "wealth," inheritance tax laws with strong eleemosynary incentives which serve to preclude the formation and perpetuation of oligarchy is essential to our System.

    But on high income, my above point and view is that punitive, or even sharply rising, marginal rates is neither fair nor needed.

  11. [11] 
    Michale wrote:

    dsws,

    The thing is, they have their reward. They get it as bonuses, dividends, stock-repurchase payments (essentially the same thing as dividends), and interest. They haven't earned any additional goodwill on top of that, that would excuse them from bearing an appropriate share of the tax burden.

    I was speaking more existentially...

    Most of the things we have today can be traced back to corporations footing the bill for RnD....

    As I pointed out in a previous commentary, Unions deserve credit for the good they have done on behalf of the workers..

    In that same vein, corporations also deserve credit for the good they have done..

    I just was wondering if ya'all agree...

    LB,

    I was wondering what your thoughts are on the latest Appeals Court ruling on CrapCare and the mandate???

    Michale.....

  12. [12] 
    Michale wrote:

    I was wondering what your thoughts are on the latest Appeals Court ruling on CrapCare and the mandate???

    In an effort to be a little more mature about the subject, I will refrain from using the term "CrapCare" and call it DunselCare... :D

    Actually, DunselCare isn't really appropriate either..

    ObamaCare???

    Michale.....

  13. [13] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    dsws [1] -

    Oh, I know, the point Romney was making is a valid one, in some respects. But then the point Hillary Clinton was making when she said "lobbyists are people, too" was also equally valid. On a political level, however, I think both quotes are a negative for the candidate.

    BashiBazouk [2] -

    Bonus points for the Soylent Green quip! Ha!

    :-)

    Michale [3] -

    Note that it appears that calling Romney "weird" is the graver offense. Not the fact that they Obama administration wants to "kill" Romney...

    I noticed that too, but I didn't ding them for it mostly because the "weird" quote was sourced to (according to the article's author) quite a few campaign folks, whereas I think the "kill" quote was just one source. In other words, the "weird" thing seemed to be the bigger problem. Which is why Axelrod felt he had to push back. But I'm confident that Axelrod would also fire anyone he could trace the "kill" quote back to, as well.

    Michale [5] -

    Corporations are not inherently evil, but neither are they inherently good. The problem I have is the percentage of federal taxes they contribute, as measured against the percentage that middle-class Americans pay. Twenty or thirty years ago, corporations paid a fairly big slice of the tax burden. That percentage has dropped over time until now, when they pay a tiny tiny fraction of what middle-class workers pay. It's the balance I have a problem with, in other words.

    Michale [6] -

    More to the point, why aren't the media covering it? Democrats can scream all they want, but if it doesn't make it through the filter of the media, then most Americans never hear the screams.

    dsws [7] -

    Whether corporations deserve credit is up to the investment banks and the bond markets.

    OK, that was funny!

    The only thing I'd add to your serious section would be the fact that the concept of a "corporation" exists solely to protect the owners of a business from being sued. "Corpus" the root of corporation and incorporate means "body" and on a purely legalistic level, Mitt is wrong, because the corporation itself is a legal "person" as well (something Mitt didn't admit). When a corporation gets sued, the corporation is the one to defend itself in court. If they lose a whopping big lawsuit which awards the entire value of the corporation to the winner, then the corporation will cease to exist and be liquidated. BUT the corporate officers will not be personally liable, so their yacht and mansion will not be taken from them. In the British world, this is even more obvious, because the term isn't "Incorporated" (or "BigCompany, Inc.") it is "Limited Liability Corporation" (or "BigCompany, LLC"). The liability limit is the main reason for incorporating in the first place.

    I'd also like to say that "Mitt didn't admit" (which I didn't even think about, when writing) sounds pretty cool, and I may use it further in the future, whenever I can squeeze it in. Heh.

    LeaningBlue [8] -

    When I am compensated at even a tiny fraction of the rate of Julia Roberts, I promise I'll start calling myself a "pro," how's that?

    :-)

    I did like your use of Sesame Street, I have to admit, though.

    LeaningBlue [10] -

    I'd agree with you if the tax rates were progressive all the way up the scale -- like they were in WWII and Eisenhower's time, for instance, with a top tax rate of 90%. However, the uber-wealthy already get a huge break because the tax brackets stop increasing the tax rate at less than a million bucks. So someone making $800,000 is taxed at the same rate as someone making $800,000,000. That's a big tax break, right there, for the uber-wealthy.

    Michale [11] -

    I hear your point about corporations and innovation. And I'm glad to see you give the Unions some credit, too, for things we enjoy today (40 hr. workweek, workmans comp, overtime, no child labor, etc.). But I do have to point out one further thing -- while Bell Labs (and many other corporations) do indeed invest heavily in R-n-D, a lot of very basic research is also funded by the government. From public universities which do cutting edge research (Berkeley, for instance) to private universities which get government grant money, a lot of the R-n-D is paid for by taxpayers. To say nothing of Pentagon R-n-D, which doesn't just cover weapons and weapons systems, but also has given us (in recent times) GPS and the very Internet we're communicating over.

    But I'm quibbling, I realize. I do agree that corporations improve our lives in many ways, by investing in R-n-D. What I object to is GE paying zero in taxes -- not GE itself, on an existential level, in other words.

    -CW

  14. [14] 
    dsws wrote:

    A fair rate for capital gains is purely a political question, and actually I'm pretty close to your view.

    I don't believe in fair. When one of my kids stubs his toe, fairness would tell me to take a hammer and give everyone else om the family a good whack on our toes.

    It's the same with taxation. Taxes are about as much fun as getting your foot smacked with a hammer, and they should be allocated to cause as little harm as possible. If we must whack someone's foot, figuratively speaking, (and we must, if we're to meet our debt payments and other obligations), we should only go after the people who happen to have steel-toed boots. It doesn't hurt them.

    But some of them sure do seem to like seeing the folks with only sandals writhe in pain.

  15. [15] 
    dsws wrote:

    the tax brackets stop increasing the tax rate at less than a million bucks

    To normal people with income less than a hundred thousand, it seems as though anyone with income close to a million is pretty darn affluent. So fairness arguments aren't likely to get much traction in favor of having a low marginal rate on the 800,001st dollar of income. The argument I call the "canasta tax", on the other hand, doesn't really kick in until people really are pretty darn affluent.

    Suppose Hoyle's put a 90% tax on the game of canasta. Now you get a hundred points for a red three; under the tax you would get ten points and Hoyle's would get ninety. Likewise you would get half a point for a seven, instead of five points, and so on down the line. The number of points needed to meld or go out would also be reduced by 90%, of course.

    The game would not change at all. Just as we have calories for thermodynamics and kilocalories (aka big-C Calories) for nutrition, people would keep score in deci-points and just call them points.

    Beyond the first few million, you've got your yacht and your mansion and anything else you can think of to buy. At that point, more money is just a matter of keeping score. A sky-high tax rate on that income would be a canasta tax. There's no good reason not to have one, as long as it's set up so that it doesn't distort the economy when people try to avoid or evade it.

    But even though $800,000 is already an obscene amount to pay a manager whose workers are paid so little they get more from welfare and food stamps than they are by their supposed employer, it's not in canasta-tax territory.

  16. [16] 
    LeaningBlue wrote:

    Beyond the first few million, you've got your yacht and your mansion and anything else you can think of to buy. At that point, more money is just a matter of keeping score.

    Two points regarding this. First, the more minor: consumption does not, surprisingly, drop of sharply. But, again, that's of minor societal importance.

    Far more important is the curtailment that would happen in risk capital. Venture capital, the likes of which financed Google or Facebook, also finances the innovations in such things as, say, variable refractive index glass for vision restoration, or anti-cogging generators for alternative power. That can't be done with debt, and corporations, with few exceptions, eschew innovation.

    Very high tax rates would require a commitment by Congress to support and subsidize venture research far beyond the levels that now exist. And then, you have to ask yourself: would a GS- rated analyst with the Small Business Administration be as good at the allocation decisions as people whose own capital was going at risk?

  17. [17] 
    LeaningBlue wrote:

    "I was wondering what your thoughts are on the latest Appeals Court ruling on [Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act] and the mandate???"

    Haven't read it yet, although I have read the 6th (Cincinatti) Circuit's June decision. Anyway, it's going to the Supreme Court, without a flicker of doubt.

    But I will tell you what is really starting to pi$$ me off about the reporting of this: the judges are all identified by who appointed them to the Appeals, and, in the "more detailed" analyses, who appointed them to a Federal bench initially, and if a Democrat-appointed judge opined against it, or a Republican appointed did the opposite, well, mein Gott!

    Could it be that it was badly argued? Or maybe the appeal was framed differently? Have we lost all faith in the deliberative ability of judges, and just suppose that they, like everyone else in the country, are becoming a mob of partisan hacks?

    Sorry, it's late and I'm cranky.

  18. [18] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    dsws [15] -

    OK, I have to say the canasta example went right over my head.

    On the bright side of things, I just read a bunch of original James Bond novels, and I now know the rules for baccarat for the first time.

    :-)

    -CW

  19. [19] 
    Michale wrote:

    CW,

    I guess my beef is the inherent knee-jerk reaction that the Left has with their "Corporations are evil" mentality..

    Ironically enough, it's the same inherent knee-jerk reaction that the Right has with their "Unions are evil" mentality. Yes, I am also guilty of that even though I am not of the Right..

    BOTH sides need to take a step back and acknowledge the good that Corporations and Unions have done.

    I agree with you, however, that the tax issue is a big point... Funny you should mention GE, eh?? :D

    I guess what Romney SHOULD have said is that "Corporations are Americans, too.."

    LB,

    Could it be that it was badly argued? Or maybe the appeal was framed differently? Have we lost all faith in the deliberative ability of judges, and just suppose that they, like everyone else in the country, are becoming a mob of partisan hacks?

    I couldn't agree more. It's ironic that, when Obama was elected, it was all about "No Red States, No Blue States, just a UNITED States..."

    I honestly and truly wish Obama would have delivered..

    But I was more interested in your opinion of the mandate itself.

    Do you think it's constitutional?? Why or why not??

    Michale.....

  20. [20] 
    Michale wrote:

    I honestly and truly wish Obama would have delivered..

    To be fair to Obama, he had a lot of help destroying bipartisanship from BOTH sides of the aisle...

    It's just sad to see so much promise go down in flames...

    (Grammatical side note.. Why is it "up in smoke", but it's "down in flames"??? Since we're here, why is something that travels by car a shipment and something that travels by ship, cargo?? :D)

    Anyways... It's really pathetic all the demonizing and 'us vs them' memes (memeii?? memerium??) that is becoming the norm.. :(

    Michale....

  21. [21] 
    Michale wrote:

    Speaking of Unions....

    ~Labor unions are growing increasingly angry at President Obama and with good reason. In what some are saying is a slap in the face to the labor unions, the Democratic convention will be held in a right to work state, North Carolina. Twelve labor unions will sit out the convention and while Obama may assume that at the end of the day he will get their support, he may be underestimating the electoral impact of having some of the Democrats’ most ardent supporters refusing to take to the streets, go door to door and generate enthusiasm for a democratic victory in 2012. In addition, the unions are none too happy with the three free trade bills (South Korea, Panama, Colombia) that Obama will sign, as they are net job-killers and provide more tax havens for wealthy corporations.
    -Taylor Marsh

    Michale

  22. [22] 
    LeaningBlue wrote:

    Michale, in spite of the irrelevance of so doing, I'll comment on the Commerce Clause either later tonight or tomorrow. Today I have marching orders from the Higher Authority.

    Instead, I'm going to make a purely political irrelevant statement: I think it's going to be Bachmann. For these reasons:

    1. Mitt's mistakes and extemporaneous gaffes in Iowa have doomed him;

    2. Rep. Paul's peculiar blend of libertarianism and corporatist apologist provides him with too much dissonance for any point on the spectrum;

    3. The "field" is just the field.

    4. Perry is flawed. (He was Al Gore's chairman in Texas, for goodness sake, when he was a socialist, I mean a liberal, no, a Democrat). One of the lessons out of the WI primaries is they don't turn out well for personally flawed or impure candidates.

    5. The candidacy and election of a black man, and the nean miss of a women as candidate (and it was the Clintons' turn, BTW) has in a weird way engendered some bizarre political correctness. Witness the "Sexist! No man would be asked about being submissive to his husband!" from the debate.

    When partisans run against someone they truly hate, particularly if they think that man is badly wounded, they go as close to the wall as they can to get their candidate. I think that's Bachmann.

    And while I won't underestimate her or her machinery, I couldn't be happier right now. Except about my Sunday schedule.

  23. [23] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    agreed on the golden umbrella strangling social security, which we benignly call a "cap."

    someone who makes 100 thousand pays 6%
    someone who makes 100 MILLION pays 1%
    anyone who thinks that's fair, raise your hand.

    also agreed on mitt romney's corporations are people too (wacka-doo, wacka-doo, wacka-doo). too bad bob mcallister from Wonderama isn't still around to sing it.

  24. [24] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    regarding the "Submissive" comment, bachmann could have blown that criticism out of the water if she'd just answered with a wink and a nod, e.g. "i thought all you lefties wanted to keep what happens in the bedroom private, don'cha know?"

  25. [25] 
    Michale wrote:

    LB,

    Michale, in spite of the irrelevance of so doing, I'll comment on the Commerce Clause either later tonight or tomorrow.

    Well, it might be irrelevant insofar as our ability to influence the outcome...

    But it's a great topic for debate..

    It's rather ironic...

    The Left accused Bush (with some validity) of taking his eyes off the ball vis a vis the terrorist threat in Afghanistan by going after Hussein in Iraq...

    The irony is that Democrats took their eye off the ball vis a vis the economy and jobs by pushing Obamacare....

    As I am fond of saying (ad nasuem :D) there is little difference between the actions of the Right and the actions of the Left...

    Anyways, you appear to be very intelligent and well-versed in these subjects and I am very interested in your thoughts...

    I probably won't agree :D but that doesn't dampen my curiosity... :D

    "Curiosity killed the cat but, for a while, I was a suspect."
    -Michael Wright

    Today I have marching orders from the Higher Authority.

    I hear ya there!! :D

    1. Mitt's mistakes and extemporaneous gaffes in Iowa have doomed him;

    Awwww, com'on... What has he said that is worse than Obama comparing himself to Martin Luther King???

    4. Perry is flawed. (He was Al Gore's chairman in Texas, for goodness sake, when he was a socialist, I mean a liberal, no, a Democrat). One of the lessons out of the WI primaries is they don't turn out well for personally flawed or impure candidates.

    I actually kinda like Perry.. He seems to be a straight shooter and doesn't mince words or try to define what the meaning of 'is' is... I can even forgive him for being associated with the crazed sex poodle (don't EVEN get me started!! Seriously :D)

    "Don't. Please don't. Every pun, every joke, done to death. Seriously."
    -Dr Daniel Jackson, STARGATE SG-1

    But his religious aspects rubs me the wrong way, as all religious aspects do.. I am as agnostic as they come and I firmly believe that "freedom OF religion" also means "freedom FROM religion"...

    I am still not sold on Bachmann.. I would much prefer a Palin presidency..

    http://sjfm.us/temp/palinpres.jpg

    :D

    But I have to admit that a small part of that reason is just to see the Left implode with indignation that a Republican woman usurped Hillary's rightful place.. :D

    Poet,

    someone who makes 100 thousand pays 6%
    someone who makes 100 MILLION pays 1%
    anyone who thinks that's fair, raise your hand.

    "That's re-donk-ulus!!"
    -Donkey, SHREK 4

    :D

    too bad bob mcallister from Wonderama isn't still around to sing it.

    Ohmygod!! Not only did you date yerself, but ya also located yerself... :D Wasn't Wonderama a local LA show???

    Do ya remember HOBO KELLEY??? :D

    regarding the "Submissive" comment, bachmann could have blown that criticism out of the water if she'd just answered with a wink and a nod, e.g. "i thought all you lefties wanted to keep what happens in the bedroom private, don'cha know?"

    Perfect! :D

    Michale.....

  26. [26] 
    Michale wrote:

    Gallup: Obama job rating sinks below 40% for first time
    http://www.latimes.com/news/politics/la-pn-obama-approval-20110814,0,2481281.story

    And the Dem Primary season begins....

    Michale.....

  27. [27] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    Michale [20] -

    I can play this game!

    Why do we drive on a parkway and park on a driveway?

    Why do fat chance and thin chance mean the same thing?

    If pro is the opposite of con, what is the opposite of Congress?

    Heh.

  28. [28] 
    dsws wrote:

    OK, I have to say the canasta example went right over my head.

    Points in a game only matter for keeping score. If you multiply all the numbers of points by ten, it makes no difference, kind of like measuring in centimeters or inches doesn't change any actual distances.

    Money after the first few million dollars only matters for keeping score. All billionaires can afford to buy whatever they want, so more money only matters when comparing one's fortune with those of one's fellow billionaires.

    Well, it makes sense to me. I guess that's part of why you have the soapbox and I don't.

    Why is it "up in smoke", but it's "down in flames"??? Since we're here, why is something that travels by car a shipment and something that travels by ship, cargo?

    Something goes up in smoke when it burns and the smoke rises, whereas it goes down in flames when it's an airplane that's been shot down. Anything that gets transported is a shipment because ships were the major carriers of goods, and what they're loaded with is called cargo because "cargo" is Spanish for load. ("Charge" is from the same Latin root.)

    Why do we drive on a parkway and park on a driveway?

    A park is originally an enclosed area, such as a corral or a car-park. (The noun is older than the verb.) Parkway follows obviously from the familiar noun meaning of "park". I don't know about "driveway", but it sort of makes sense to contrast a maintained road with a mere "way" from carriage-house to street.

    Why do fat chance and thin chance mean the same thing?

    "Fat chance" is sarcastic.

  29. [29] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    if olive oil is made of olives and corn oil of corn, what is baby oil made of?

  30. [30] 
    dsws wrote:

    And if vegetarians eat veggies, what do humanitarians do.

    Can we stop yet?

  31. [31] 
    Michale wrote:

    Can we stop yet?

    Wait! Just a few more!! :D

    If a person with multiple personalities threatens suicide, is that considered a hostage situation?

    Why do we put suits in a garment bag and put garments in a suitcase?

    Since Americans throw rice at weddings, do Asians throw hamburgers?

    :D

    Michale.....

  32. [32] 
    Michale wrote:

    No, I’m writing a note to Warren Buffett. But look, I’m a little fed up with these people who come on, you know, their big op-eds, all these admonitions. Why doesn’t he set an example and send a check for $5 billion to the federal government? He’s got about $40 billion. You know, you had a plan up there, I talked to Howie Carr at Boston where the super-rich could contribute an extra amount. It was something like one-tenth of one percent did it. You get all this noise from these big rich folks. Let them send checks and set an example instead of writing op-eds.
    -Pat Buchanan

    Hmmmmmmmm

    Now why didn't *I* think of something like that.. :D

    One simply CANNOT argue the logic....

    Michale.....

  33. [33] 
    scout wrote:

    Actually corporate barons saw long ago the need to have themselves legally defined as "persons" in the late 19th century.

    For all legal purposes a corporation is deemed a person to this day.

    Romney knows this better than anyone, and what he said was literally true.

  34. [34] 
    Michale wrote:

    Scout,

    Very good point and dead on balls accurate...

    It's typical that the Left would twist the meaning to further their own agenda...

    As it is typical that the Right does the same thing..

    Michale.....

  35. [35] 
    dsws wrote:

    Everyone knows corporations are legal "persons". Romney knows, the heckler knows, the left knows, the -- well, I can't actually speak for the right, but they've got to know too.

    In context, it was clear that the word people meant actual people, not legal "persons". Legal personhood wouldn't be a reason not to tax corporations, and it wouldn't be something for a politician to make a point of.

    When I say that Romney was right about the specific point, that's somehow twisting the meaning to further my agenda? Now that's just bizarre.

    Maybe it wasn't directed at me, but as far as I recall I'm the only card-carrying leftist here offering a take on what Romney said.

  36. [36] 
    Michale wrote:

    dsws,

    Maybe it wasn't directed at me, but as far as I recall I'm the only card-carrying leftist here offering a take on what Romney said.

    It definitely was not directed specifically at you. :D It was directed at the Left and Hysterical Left who will take anything the Right says and twist it to fit their own agenda...

    It's like that picture that floated around during the Bush Administration with Bush looking thru a pair of binoculars with the caps still on.

    The Left had a field day with that, even though anyone with more than two brain cells to rub together would realize how out of context it was..

    And yes, the Right does the same thing to the Left...

    Michale.....

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