Category Archives: taxes

National Public Radio, Not Another Penny

This is a call for anyone still giving money to NPR, please stop. If you want to send money to support real journalism, try the Nation, MoJo, Harpers or one of the few remaining progressive radio shows like Jimmy's favorite Seder or Hartmann. Even if you listen to the 18 hours per day of classical music programming on NPR, the following story should be more than enough to provoke you to send those checks elsewhere get an IPOD.

Thursday morning before the House vote on extending the Bush tax cuts, NPR ran non-stop Republican propaganda. Marketplace ran this interview with Republican Representative Dave Camp without any opposing viewpoints, of course, but with lots of cheerleading. The points made in this interview are so unbelievably preposterous, I almost puked up my sausage-egg-and-cheese-on a sesame bagel while driving down Route 1. The points are summarized below:

1. The economy is in terrible shape and we need to change direction. Therefore it is an imperative that we do not change the tax policy that we have been using for the last 8 years. Because it has worked so well. Good point Dave.

2. The pre-Bush era tax rate above an income level of $250,000 is devastating for small businesses, because “half” of such income comes from small businesses. Of course, as you know from previous posts and this direct reporting done back in July no more than 3% of small businesses are impacted by the rate above $250,000.

This numbers game reminded me of a classic line in the Naked Gun about Nordberg's chances of surviving after getting shot like 40 times. Its about 1/3 of the way into this clip, which I just had to post in honor of the passing of Leslie Nielsen this week.

So “small business” is half of the reported income above $250k, but that's only pertains to 3% of small businesses. Just like Nordberg has a 50/50 chance of surviving, but there's only a 10% chance of that. Makes you think of the old saying: lies, damned lies, and statistics.

Of course, I do not expect anyone on NPR to ask questions about the source of stats quoted or how they were arrived at. (They used to, like 10 years ago, which is the last time I sent them a check, though I still get a letter from them monthly asking for cash.) But what happened next was what really stunned me. The very next segment at the top of the hour led off with a reference to 'Mitch McConnell's confidence that the senate will extend tax cuts for all Americans'. There was no rational discussion of the facts, just that statement, straight from the Republican's message machine. I felt like I was listening to Fox Radio.

Poor little rich boys

We can't let the people who've been hit the hardest by this recession, and who need to create the jobs that will get us out of it, foot the bill for the Democrats' two-year adventure in expanded government.” – Senate Minority Leader, Mitch McConnell (R-KY)

Can't go to bed without pointing out the jackassedness of this comment by the ranking GOP Senator.  He is of course referring to the expiration of the Bush tax cuts for fools earning over $250,000 a year.  Just let that sink in… “the people who've been hit the hardest by this recession“…

That's right, asshole.  Them rich folk done been hit so hard they can barely afford to pay the MARGINAL TAX ON ALL DOLLARS EARNED OVER $250,000.  Meanwhile, in the real world

Forty-four million people in the United States, or one in seven residents, lived in poverty in 2009, an increase of 4 million from the year before, the Census Bureau reported on Thursday.

The poverty rate climbed to 14.3 percent — the highest since 1994 — from 13.2 percent in 2008.

Over the past two years these scumbag Senators have managed to thoroughly crush any delusions I once had about the possibility of national crisis giving birth to transformative change in this country. And I mean the good kind of change, not the teabag variety that is currently suffocating the last vestiges of moderation in the Republican party.  [Note to you Mainers – Olympia is next].

What I'm trying to say is, the expiration of the Bush tax cuts are the only thing I care about politically these days.  There's really nothing else on the horizon that's going to elicit more than indifference or disgust out of me.  The class divide gets greater every day and it's completely unsustainable for a healthy society.  I'll have to dazzle you with charts and graphs some other time, but for now I'll just say, NO MORE TAX CUTS FOR YOU RICH MOTHERFUCKERS.

Who am I kidding, here's a chart

What this says to me is, if the Democrats really feel the need to be total pussies about this, then they better at least give me a new marginal tax bracket at $500,000, which is where the real highway robbery begins to kick in.  Otherwise I don't want to hear any more bullshit about “deficit reduction”.

More Class Warfare Please

Oregon voters pass tax increasing measures by big margin

Oregon voters bucked decades of anti-tax and anti-Salem sentiment Tuesday, raising taxes on corporations and the wealthy to prevent further erosion of public schools and other state services.

The tax measures passed easily, with late returns showing a 54 percent to 46 percent ratio. Measure 66 raises taxes on households with taxable income above $250,000, and Measure 67 sets higher minimum taxes on corporations and increases the tax rate on upper-level profits.

This kind of thing needs more attention.  It’s true, after all, that some people are a drain on society.  And those people are called “fat cats”, draining the average citizen of their hard-earned dollars.  We’re long past due as a society to level the playing field.  It’s shocking how much more responsible Oregon is compared to their dysfunctional neighbors, California, where they require 2/3 majority in the state legislature to approve tax increases (making the senate filibuster rules seem sane by comparison).  Guess who bears the brunt there?

Then of course there is South Carolina, where the Lt. Governor recently said this:

My grandmother was not a highly educated woman, but she told me as a small child to quit feeding stray animals. You know why? Because they breed. You’re facilitating the problem if you give an animal or a person ample food supply. They will reproduce, especially ones that don’t think too much further than that. And so what you’ve got to do is you’ve got to curtail that type of behavior. They don’t know any better

You stay classy, South Carolina!

Franken v. Thune

Here is some quality Senatorialization on the part of Al Franken today….  As you watch this, keep in mind that Sen. Thune is being groomed as the Republican Obama of 2012 – the young, handsome senator with no record and no baggage, on whose persona the teabaggers of America can project all their hopes and dreams…

Republican congressmen are worthless.  Smack ’em down!

(H/T TPM)

Rich Man Step On My Poor Head

Professor Krugles brings us this nice graph chronicling the rise of our corporate masters:

What you’re seeing is the percentage of total income as earned captured by the richest 0.01% of the population.  The ridiculous jumps in income inquality of recent years have clear parallels with the run up to the Great Depression.  Interestingly, the data only runs through 2007, so does not yet reflect last year’s market crash.

Unlike the correction that happened in the 30’s, I have absolutely zero expectation that the astronomical earnings percentages of recent years will collapse back down to reasonable levels.  So far the government has shown no willingness to rein in the bankers, having spent trillions of dollars propping up their criminal enterprise, while the bankers rub our collective noses in it for the trouble. Meanwhile, the bankers are able to pocket all that loot, because the top marginal tax bracket is pathetically low by historical standards.  (Not just the tax rate itself, but, more importantly, the income threshold).  Check this graph out:

Note that all dollar amounts have been adjusted for inflation.  And yes, the spread from the highs of the 1940’s (upwards of $70 million!) to today’s threshold ($372,951+) is so outlandish that the y-axis has to be represented in logarithmic form in order that the graph be legible.  The top marginal tax rates in those days were nothing to sneeze at either:

Make no mistake, these were taxes on the super-wealthy.  We haven’t had a proper tax on millionaires since roughly 1970, at which point those marginal millions were being taxed at a 70% rate. (Bear in mind, the marginal rate means that only those dollars over and above the threshold are being taxed at the highest rate.  That first $50 grand, etc, is being taxed at the same rate as everyone else.  Not everyone understands this.)

Getting back to the present reality, the failure to obtain proper warrants for all the bailout money, or even to enact the most minimal of financial reforms (much less tax reform), is truly enfuriating. The one big reform so far has actually been a step backward: relaxing shitcanning mark-to-market accounting rules that previously forced an honest valuation of company assets.  Suddenly – magically! – toxic assets are not so toxic, the stock market is up, and the crisis is over!  (Oh, wait…)

I obviously know nothing about high finance.  But all the financial regulation in the world means precisely squat if no one enforces it.

Most former and current SEC officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were discussing confidential legal matters or were not authorized by the agency to comment. But in a report last month, the Government Accountability Office, after interviewing many enforcement lawyers, concluded that the SEC penalty policies in 2006 and 2007 “led to less vigorous pursuit of corporate penalties, may have made penalties less punitive in nature and could have compromised the quality of settlements.”

During Cox’s tenure, penalties imposed on companies fell 84 percent, from $1.59 billion in 2005 to $256 million in 2008.

For a long time now, rich folks have been wringing money out of this country like sweat from ONE’s teeshirt after hoops in the summer.  (Or hoops in the winter…  Or a brisk walk…  Or a short nap…) And just like ONE’s sweat, by the time everything is over, it’s all on our backs.  (Ugh, this metaphor is making me ill, wrap it up…)

I have no faith that government regulators can ever truly curtail Wall Street shenanigans, which is why the only practical solution is to re-institute some new top marginal tax brackets.  Currently the cutoff for the top bracket is $372,951, with a rate of 35% (set to revert to 39.6% when the Bush tax cuts expire at the end of this year).  I hereby propose an additional tax of 50% on all dollars earned annually over and above… (cue Dr. Evil)… one million dollars.  By historic standards, that’s downright modest.