My latest column for FoxNews.com refuting the myth that corporations are taxed too much — by presenting the facts that corporations pay few taxes, especially considering the enormous benefits they get from our government.
The Republican Party is now officially out of touch with the vast majority of the American people. While there was no real doubt of this before, Republicans did a better job of feigning mainstream populism on and off. Until last week, when the GOP proudly stood its ground against not only core American values and principles but even mainstream popular opinion.
First, it was taxes. Republican House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and Republican Senate Minority Whip John Kyl petulantly abandoned debt negotiation talks with Democrats because the Republicans are firmly opposed to any repeal of tax breaks for the super rich. Here were are, a nation that has always relied on those who get the most out of America to give the most back — now at a time when, as the profits of the rich continue to reach record levels, unemployment and economic stagnation for the rest of us remains. All the Democrats want to do is restore the upper tax rates to the levels under President Clinton, then the economy was thriving — not even to the much, much higher levels under past Republican presidents like Reagan or Eisenhower. And almost two-thirds of Americans agree that we should raise taxes on the rich to address the deficit.
Yet the Republicans continue to push irresponsible and unpopular cuts to Medicare and Medicaid. It should now be apparent to every American that the Republican agenda in these respects does not prioritize the economic health and well-being of the hardworking American middle class but, rather, the greedy interests of wealthy campaign donors and Wall Street. The GOP would rather create even richer billionaires than create more jobs for working people. The GOP would rather give handouts to insurance companies than make sure our seniors can keep affording their health care.
Meanwhile, in an historic vote on the right side of history and basic human decency, New York has enacted marriage equality for same-sex couples. Four — count ‘em, four! — Republicans in the state senate voted in support of the law. Meanwhile, 53% of Americans — a majority — support same-sex marriage. And, as we know from the history of comparable civil rights struggles, public opinion will only grow more favorable. And, unless they do something, the Republicans will grow even further out of touch.
In the short term, this doesn’t bode well for Republicans in 2012. Apart from the fact that they don’t seem to have a candidate who possesses both a genuine smile and a genuine knowledge of American history, the Republicans are quickly losing public opinion on every political issue on which they’ve sought to demagogue in the past. It will get harder and harder to gin up fear about gay marriage and divide voters as public opinion tips further toward marriage equality. And despite having successfully elevated the deficit as a political issue in 2010, the Republicans are showing a pathetic lack of leadership in seriously solving the problem — meanwhile, putting our entire nation at risk of default. In fact, the very same deficit crisis Republicans played up to win in 2010 will likely be their downfall in 2012.
But in the long term, I worry about the health of our democracy, such as it already was, when one of the two major political parties is so beholden to special interests that it increasingly ignores the interests of not only all voters but even its own base. The Tea Party, albeit entertaining, has meant that Republican figures like Michelle Bachmann hold greater sway than someone like John Huntsman or Gary Johnson who, while I may not personally agree with their politics, I can objectively state they are more in line with the American mainstream than Ms. Bachmann could ever dream to be.
Which makes the surge of Bachmann and the pro-rich petulance of Cantor and Kyl a dream for the Democrats in 2012 — but, ultimately, a nightmare for our collective political future.
On June 23, 2011, Van Jones and MoveOn.org launched a new force for change in America. I covered the launch event for the great website HyperVocal. Read my piece and share it around.
Time magazine's Richard Stengel has written a great piece asking whether the Constitution still matters in America (spoiler alert: YES!). I appeared on America's Live with Megyn Kelly (with fill-in host Shannon Bream) to defend the Constitution as a living, evolving document. Take a look and tell me your thoughts on the issue.
After more than 17 years working for Coca Cola, three years ago Verone was laid off. He’s had some part-time work since then, but nothing steady. Yet his medical concerns — a growth in his chest and two ruptured disks — have been steadily growing. So Verone, who lives in Gaston, North Carolina, walked into an RBC bank branch and handed the teller a note, explaining that he was armed and demanding $1. That’s right, one dollar. Verone then sat down on a couch and waited for police to arrive and arrest him. He’s hoping for a three year sentence — just long enough so the 59-year-old will qualify for Social Security when he’s freed, and can get health care in prison in the meantime.
Republicans who want to cut spending on Medicare by making seniors pay more of the costs out of their own pockets should look at Mr. Verone and think twice. The GOP hurries to explain that current Medicare recipients won’t be affected by their slash and burn policies. But soon-to-be seniors like Verone? If Republicans privatize Medicare, when Verone turns 65 his out-of-pocket costs will more than double. Something tells me he’ll rob another bank.
McKinsey and PricewaterhouseCoopers are arguing that rising health care costs will continue to rise because of health care reform. The truth is, health care costs are rising because insurance company profits are rising — all the while American health outcomes are plummeting. We’re literally paying more and more for worse and worse care. Yet the GOP seems to have perpetual faith that insurance companies will put your health care needs above their corporate interests. Similarly, the GOP seems to think that if it wishes hard enough, pigs will fly. But wishing something doesn’t make it true.
Meanwhile, Richard James Verone — who we can assume worked hard his entire life, was playing by the rules trying to get another job but just, simply, couldn’t make it — we shouldn’t give him the basic dignity of basic health insurance coverage paid for in part by tax dollars he helped pay for most of his life because…. because why, exactly?
When Social Security and Medicare were originally created, Republicans attacked both as socialism — apparently because, God forbid, America was putting the needs of all its citizens ahead of the needs of corporate CEOs. Well, then, God bless America. And God bless Richard James Verone for reminding us all that Republicans and McKinsey executives care more about the health of big business profits than the health of actual people.
You may have heard that, in what he thought was a joke, Mitt Romney told a group of unemployed Americans, “I’m unemployed, too.” He meant it to be funny, but it was a strikingly sad statement about how fundamentally out of touch not only Mitt Romney is — but how most big business CEOs and millionaires are out of touch with the plight of ordinary people.
When you are used to making more money in a day than most workers make in a year, even when you’re out of work you’re not really in the same league as the average unemployed or underemployed Joe and Jane. And pretending you are is plainly insulting.
But what’s more, Mitt Romney’s callousness and aloofness reveals a fundamental flaw with the notion that running a successful business qualifies you to run a successful government. The problem hinges on the definition of “success”. A successful business makes money for investors and CEO shareholders, even if it does so by dismembering the American economy and sending jobs overseas — as Romney did at Bain. In other words, often the most successful businesses make money for the few at the expense of the many.
Successful government, on the other hand, works for everyone — creating opportunity not just for those at the top but also those at the bottom and everywhere in between. Plus successful government doesn’t hand the reigns of power over to corporations, no matter how much campaign money they give, but acts as a vital check and balance to the private sector so that the dangers of unchecked greed are not unleashed.
Mitt Romney got rich by helping break the back of the American economy. That does not make him qualified to be president. In fact, if there’s any justice in the world, he really should be unemployed.
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