Greg Sargent hits Chris Christie dead center.
In an interview with CNN’s Piers Morgan, NJ Gov. Chris Christie attacked Warren Buffett for calling for higher tax rates on the wealthy. “Yeah, well he should just write a check and shut up,” Christie said. “Really. And just contribute. The fact of the matter is that I’m tired of hearing about it. If he wants to give the government more money, he’s got the ability to write a check. Go ahead and write it.”
It’s kind of remarkable that Republican officials in positions of real influence and responsibility continue to repeat this silly line in public without any apparent sense of embarrassment.
Let’s try to walk through this really slowly. The problem that Buffett and other wealthy people are trying to solve by calling for higher taxes on their class isn’t simply that they as individuals would like to be contributing more towards the tax burden, but can’t. Rather, the problem as they’ve identified it is a society-wide one: We need a massive boost in revenues to keep society functioning at acceptable levels and to address profound and intractable fiscal problems that threaten the country’s future.
This problem will not be solved if Warren Buffett writes a check. Buffett’s point is that the scale of the problem requires his class as a whole to chip in a bit more to solve it. So doing will require relatively minimal sacrifice, and will prevent more of the burden for maintaining a functioning society — which helps enable wealth in the first place — from falling on those who are far less equipped to bear it. This won’t happen unless taxes are raised on the very wealthy. Voluntary contributions won’t quite cut it. This requires a society-wide solution.
Nothin’ but net. Buffett’s got a lot of money, but he can’t make a dent in the national debt. A bunch of Warren Buffetts can. What Christie — and the rest of the Republican Party — is doing in response to Buffett’s argument is pretending to be stupid. At least, I hope they’re pretending. They pretend to completely misunderstand what he’s saying, which allows them to offer a strawman in response.
“By the way, the ‘just shut up’ response to inequality is not exclusive to Christie,” Sargent points out. “As you’ll recall, the GOP’s likely standard-bearer, Mitt Romney, recently opined that we should confine our discussion of these matters to ‘quiet rooms.’”
That’s because it’s an argument for which they have no answer. They want us to shut up about it, so they can stop pretending to be so dumb.
Stories to Watch: 9/26/11
Finally. I needed to get some bandwidth issues taken care of and it took me a lot longer than I thought it would. I think I’ve got it squared away now, but I’ll run diagnostics later tonight to make sure. I’ll set them up to run overnight. For once, I’ll be productive even while I sleep. Now here’s the news…
Greg Sargent takes on the idea of a third party by pointing out that there isn’t exactly a third position on most issues for that party to take. Hence, it would be redundant. I’d go a bit farther and point to parliamentary systems where several parties exist; those tend to be narrowly focused parties (dealing almost exclusively with environmentalism, women’s rights, copyright reform, etc.) that wind up as part of one coalition or another along the conservative/liberal divide. All we do in the US is skip the coalition building part. You may agree, you may disagree, but it’s always nice to see a sound, logical argument. Paul Krugman also takes a stab at the issue.
The House and Senate continue to wrangle over disaster relief spending as the government faces a possible shutdown. David Dayden of Firedoglake makes an excellent case for Democrats sticking to their guns.
Allegations of the use of excessive force get awfully hard to deny in NYPD crowd control during the Occupy Wall Street protests. I want you to stop a moment and consider the political shitstorm that would ensue if police treated ‘bagger protesters this way. I guess it’s OK to abuse liberals.
Speaking of ‘baggers, how racist can they be? How’s this?
The DNC capitalizes on the bloodthirsty and hateful nature of the crowds at GOP debates.
Finally, Florida Gov. Rick Scott is just a clown.
News Roundup for 9/20/11
America’s Second Least Useful Pundit, After Bill Kristol
-Headline of the Day-
"Yup, moderates and independents support taxing the rich."
If there’s one hobby you might consider taking up, it’s David Brooks avoidance. The New York Times columnist and TV talking head suffers from a really bad case of High Broderism that dictates that the only wise course for a politician — especially a Democratic politician — is straight down the center line of the interstate.
In his latest reality-challenged column, Brooks becomes very sad that President Obama has chosen a lane with his deficit reduction and job creation plans. “In his remarks Monday the president didn’t try to win Republicans to even some parts of his measures,” Brooks complains. “He repeated the populist cries that fire up liberals but are designed to enrage moderates and conservatives.”
See, when the chips are down, moderates always side with conservatives. Is there any evidence of this? Not especially, but don’t try to tell David Brooks that. It’s heresy in his Church of the Almighty Middle.
And don’t try to point out reality either. It’s not going to sink in. If Brooks hasn’t wised up by now, he’s never going to. But that doesn’t stop Greg Sargent from giving it the old college try.
"[A]s it happens, strong majorities of moderates and independents support tax hikes on the wealthy as the best way to close the deficit,” he points out and provides big poll numbers to prove it. Will taxing the wealthy “enrage” moderates? No. How do we know that? Because someone asked them!
Note to Dave: mindreading acts are unnecessary in a world where polling exists.
Seriously, the best first step you can take in understanding American politics well would be to swear to remain forever in ignorance of what David Brooks thinks. (Plum Line)
When you really think about Republican economic talking points, they don’t make a whole lot of sense.
Click to embiggen
Which would explain why a lot of people don’t really think about them. (McClatchy)
"American Family Association Freaks Out Over Ice Cream Named After Testicles."
This is a real thing. (Wonkette)
Stories to Watch: 9/19/11
Making zucchini pancakes to go with some fish. I don’t have a recipe, I’m just going to wing it by adapting my sourdough pancake recipe. Wish me luck. Now here’s the news…
The best take I’ve seen on Republican Rep. John Fleming, who barely manages to scratch together an existence on a mere $400k in profit a year, from Scott Lemieux of the blog Lawyers, Guns, and Money: “Again, the central premise of the contemporary Republican Party is that people making $400K+ a year are living a hardscrabble existence, while a teacher or police officer making $50K a year is enjoying a pampered life of unimaginable luxury.” The worst part about all this? The morons in the Tea Party or who listen to talk radio believe exactly that.
Greg Sargent sees President Obama turning the “class warfare” charge around and putting it where it belongs — around Republicans’ necks.
Meanwhile, Obama vows to veto a deficit reduction bill that doesn’t balance cuts with tax increases on the wealthy.
More bad press for Rick Perry as the Justice Dept. determines that Texas’s redistricting is gerrymandering that violates the Voting Rights Act.
Bill O’Reilly seriously overestimates his own popularity.
Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell will die tomorrow after a long and pointless battle with reality.
Just in case you missed it, Andrew Breitbart wants to kill you. So stay frosty.
Ed Rollins, Michele Bachmann’s former campaign manager and current talking head, says Shelly’s got enough resources left to fight in Iowa, then she’s done. Expect her to amp the crazy up to eleven, because that’s been working so well for her so far.
Finally, Andrew Sullivan looks at polling and finds that Obama’s plan to soak the rich looks like it’s already really popular.
Can Democrats Blow the Upcoming Payroll Tax Fight?
It’s hard to see how Democrats could lose this one — at least, in a PR sense. As Democrats prepare a push to extend a payroll tax break, Republicans oppose it. All of a sudden, tax breaks add to the deficit. They didn’t used to, but they do now. Republicans are consistent only in their disregard for logical consistency. When the tax cuts benefit the very rich, they don’t add to the deficit. When they don’t… Well, that’s a different story. And, of course, there’s the fact that President Obama is for extending these particular cuts, which — by the reactionary reasoning of the party — means they must be bad.
New York Times:
It is hard to find a tax cut that Congressional Republicans dislike. Unless it is a tax cut pushed by President Obama.
In a turning of the tax policy tables, Democrats are increasingly hammering on Republicans who oppose the president’s proposal to extend for a year a payroll tax cut passed last year with bipartisan support.
That tax cut — which reduces workers’ contributions to Social Security this year to 4.2 percent of wages, from 6.2 percent — expires in December. The White House would like to extend it for another year. But Republicans in Congress are balking, arguing that such a cut adds needlessly to the nation’s budget deficit, and should be replaced with an overhaul of tax policy instead.
"All tax relief is not created equal," a spokesperson for Eric Cantor said. "If the goal is job creation, Leader Cantor has long believed that there are better ways to grow the economy and create jobs than temporary payroll tax relief."
And, of course, Cantor is right. There are better ways. The problem is, he doesn’t like those any better. What Eric Cantor likes is continuing an economic policy that has now been failing to create jobs for a decade. the supply-side, trickle-down, fairy tale economics rule the day in today’s GOP. It hasn’t been working, it won’t ever work, and cultic Republican belief in it is what’s keeping congress from getting anything done.
Which brings me to this:
Americans are plenty angry at Congress in the aftermath of the debt crisis and Republicans could pay the greatest price, a new Associated Press-GfK poll suggests.
The poll finds the tea party has lost support, Republican House Speaker John Boehner is increasingly unpopular and people are warming to the idea of not just cutting spending but also raising taxes — anathema to the GOP — just as both parties prepare for another struggle with deficit reduction.
So raising taxes on working people to help fund tax cuts for the rich? That’s really not going to fly. And Democrats are planning to force a vote on the extension in the fall. “One way or another, there will be a vote on extending these tax cuts,” says Chuck Schumer, “if [Republicans] oppose it they are for tax cuts for the rich but not for the middle class.” Greg Sargent describes Democrats as “giddy… about the politics of the payroll tax cut fight.” Even if they lose, it’s fodder for campaign ads in 2012; “Rep. X voted against tax cuts for working families, so he could help pay for the tax cuts his big money donors demanded. Call Rep. X. Ask him why he won’t protect working families like yours.”
But if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that Democrats can screw up even a gimme. Maybe President Obama will continue his brilliant strategy of working to end fights rather than to win them. Maybe Senate Blue Dogs will break ranks and run to the Republicans’ defense. Whatever the route to defeat, it’s extremely possible that Democrats will find it.
Which means it’s up to us. When the battle heats up, the pressure has to come from the bottom. We have to flip the party hierarchy and make it clear to dems that they work for us, not vice versa. We have to bang phones and write letters and do the work that democracy demands.
And, when this issue is behind us, we move on to the next. It doesn’t end. It never ends. Democracy is a work in constant progress. If we want Democrats to fight, we have to fight too.
Stories to Watch: 7/6/11
I barely slept last night. I don’t know what the problem was, but all I did was toss and turn. Hoping for better luck tonight — I’m certainly exhausted enough. Now here’s the news…
GOP Sen. Jeff Sessions complains that asking the wealthy to pay their fair share is “rather pathetic.” Greg Sargent calls the Republican position on the issue “surreal.”
The Ninth Circuit Court reaffirms that DADT is unconstitutional and reinstates a ban on its enforcement anywhere.
The rightwing blogosphere is horrified to learn that ACORN is getting taxpayer dollars — despite the fact that there’s no longer any such thing as ACORN. Hey, if you can’t freak out over imaginary problems, what can you freak out about?
President Obama calls Republican hostage-taking like it is.
John Boehner’s new rules for the House of Representatives are turning that chamber into a hopeless mess of incompetence and error. There’s a reason why Republicans think government doesn’t work — they suck at getting it to run.
Finally, Swing state voters agree with liberals that the wealthy should pay more. No doubt, Jeff Sessions finds them “pathetic” as well.
The Deficit isn’t Caused by Jets Alone
I’m not sure what to think. On Monday, The Hill ran a piece reporting the White House had basically caved on the Bush tax giveaways to the wealthiest Americans.
The White House, seeking an agreement to raise the nation’s $14.3 trillion debt ceiling by Aug. 2, on Monday said it would not insist that any deal include an end to former President George W. Bush’s controversial tax rates on the wealthy.
President Obama’s tactics are coming into focus as he huddles with congressional leaders to try and break the deadlock on increasing the debt ceiling.
Before a meeting Monday between Obama and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), White House officials said the president would push to close tax breaks for major oil and gas companies; end tax loopholes for corporate jets; and impose regular income tax rates on the carried interest earned by investment fund managers.
And, at a press conference yesterday, he called for just that. “If we choose to keep those tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires, if we keep the tax break for corporate jet owners, if we choose to keep tax breaks for oil and gas companies that are making hundreds of billions of dollars, then that means we’ve got to cut some kids off from getting a college scholarship,” the president said. “That means we have to stop funding certain grants for medical research. That means that food safety may be compromised. That means that Medicare has to bear a greater part of the burden. These are the choices we have to make.”
"More broadly, Obama stopped just short of saying he would not accept a final deficit deal without a high end tax hike," Greg Sargent wrote at the previous link. "But his presser made it clear that he will will relitigate this fight and make it central to the campaign. And while we should keep in mind that Obama did ultimately cut a deal on the high-end tax cuts last time around, those who are hoping he will continue to make a strong moral argument in favor of ending them should be pleased by what they heard."
Really? I should? Ending tax subsidies for Big Oil would be great, but will ending a tax credit for corporate jets actually do anything? I mean, how much can that possibly be? Sure, it’s nice to hear the president “make a strong moral argument” against our tremendously unfair tax code, but wouldn’t it be even better to suggest targets that would actually even things out a little bit?
It’s easy to single out fatcats in corporate jets — mostly because they do deserve to pay more. But they deserve to pay a lot more. Our current economy situation is largely the fault of bankers and corporate execs, yet any move toward leveling of the tax burden is always symbolic.
Here’s hoping that Obama abandoned seeking an end to the high-end tax cuts only as a way to get a deal on the debt limit. Here’s hoping he goes into the campaign for reelection calling for an end to the free ride for the super-rich. Here’s hoping he continues to call for shifting the tax burden back to those who can afford it and away from working people.
But as he does, here’s hoping he means it.
Stories to Watch: 6/29/11
Finally got a Griper Blade post up. And the week’s only half done. Now here’s the news…
Here’s a pretty good argument that Michele Bachmann is on the same skyrocket-then-crash trajectory suffered by Donald Trump and Herman Cain.
President Obama tells people attending an LGBT Pride Reception at the White House that certification of the repeal of DADT will be “a matter of weeks, not months.”
According to Greg Sargent, Obama “was clearly out to pick a major public fight with Republicans over tax cuts for the rich” with his press conference today. Let’s hope Sargent’s right.
But this is also a sign that the debt-limit talks with the GOP have collapsed for good. “The best advice I’ve gotten for assessing the debt-ceiling negotiations was to ‘watch for the day when the White House goes public,’” writes Ezra Klein. “As long as the Obama administration was refusing to attack Republicans publicly, my source said, they believed they could cut a deal. And that held true… But today they went public. The negotiations have failed.”
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee wants you tomake John Boehner cry. Geez guys, people like a little challenge. The guy cries when his corn flakes get soggy. My suggestion for the next fundraiser; “Make John Boehner Shoot Milk Out of His Nose!”
A three-judge panel finds healthcare reform constitutional — a major step in establishing it’s legality. For those keeping track of the decisions so far, it’s not looking good for the antis; MSNBC reports, “This brings to four the number of court decisions upholding the law. Two other courts have declared it unconstitutional on its long march to the Supreme Court.”
Trying to pump up his dismal approval ratings, Florida Gov. Rick Scott resorts to robocalls — because being called by a robot during dinner is just everyone’s favorite thing. Nice to see he’s put as much thought into this as he has into everything else.
Finally, is Tim Pawlenty secretly pro-choice?
In Recall, Fake Democrats are at Wisconsin Taxpayers’ Expense
This is what’s known as “fiscal responsibility” among Republicans.
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
A Republican effort to stall recall elections by forcing Democratic primaries to be held will cost taxpayers at least tens of thousands of dollars, a check of local election clerks shows.
Meanwhile, the top Senate Republican said Tuesday that all GOP recall targets were familiar with the plan to delay the recall elections by fielding fake Democrats in primaries. Earlier, some of those recall targets claimed they didn’t know about the plan.
So here’s the point; Republicans are playing fast and loose with taxpayer money for political gain. Here’s Greg Sargent’s take on it.
This is not huge money on the state level. But this story is nonetheless very revealing. Keep in mind that the number one justification Wisconsin Republicans offered for taking away the collective bargaining rights of public employees — the proposal that got this whole fight started — has been that it’s necessary to protect Wisconsin taxpayers! In his February address at the height of the crisis, Walker claimed he was pursuing the rollback of bargaining rights in order to protect the “millions of taxpayers from all across this state who know we’re doing the right thing.”
Now that Wisconsin GOP state senators are staring into the recall abyss, however, Wisconsin Republicans are willing to waste the money of those very same taxpayers on a scheme to tamper with Dem primary politics in a last-ditch effort to push back the recall elections in hopes of saving their hides.
What really gets me here is that this is the sort of thing that’s been sinking Republicans all along. Voters saw the Assembly lie about the scheduling of a vote, in order to pass it while Democrats were out of the chamber. We saw the Senate ignore an open meetings law for the same reason. GOP efforts throughout all this have been characterized by dirty tricks. People don’t like that. And now, here they are, pulling yet another dishonest tactic.
If Republicans are being recalled for reasons in addition to union-busting — and they are — these would be those reasons. And these would be the reasons that Democrats have been enjoying more success in their recall efforts. And now they’re willing to waste taxpayer money to save their butts.
They may think it’s a brilliant maneuver, but I really doubt it’s helping them any.
Stories to Watch: 5/18/11
I’m making chili. If there’s one thing that’s easy to throw together, it’s chili. Besides, it’s cold and wet and dark. Chili is practically required. Now here’s the news…
Limbaugh proves he doesn’t even understand math, let alone economics.
The GOP stands up for the poor, downtrodden oil industry.
Awesome snippet from Teagan Goddard: “After Rick Santorum said that Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) ‘doesn’t understand how enhanced interrogation works’ — despite the fact that McCain was tortured during the Vietnam War — Greg Sargent asked McCain’s office for a response and received a one-word reply: ‘Who?’”
Minnesota Republicans move to ban same-sex marriages. Sooner or later, they’re going to run out of people to hate — and then they’ll be screwed.
Newt Gingrich gets more whiny every day. You may not be able to dig your way out of a hole, but I’m not sure you can complain your way out of one either.
GOP bigs are now hoping Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels gets into the race. Then they’ll find out he can’t win either and the search for the elusive “None of the Above” will continue.
Rep. Peter King of the “GAAAH! Muslims!!” fame says he’s open to being drafted for a presidential run. And then there’s the sound of crickets.
Once again, we’re reminded that lovably boring character actor, former Nixon speechwriter, and all-around rightwing nutjob Ben Stein is really just a horse’s ass.
Finally, scientists discover a new class of planets that are lonely, sad, and rejected by their peers.