Gingrich Blames Elite Media, Crowd Goes Wild

Gingrich plays victim. Blames media for what his ex-wife is saying.
Newt: CNN ‘Despicable’ To Bring Up ‘Trash’ Open Marriage Story | TPM2012
Watch out, people, this snake is the worst of the right. Dangerous, just doesn’t care what he says. He will destroy everything. So far beyond Bush and Rove…
Even if he doesn’t get the nomination, his just being there is whipping the right into a frothing, riotous mass that is going to be very bad for the country and world.

Why Keep The Capital Gains Tax Break?

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Mitt Romney’s ultra-low tax rate on his ultra-high income is reviving questions about the breaks and perks that the wealthiest of the 1% receive from the rest of us. One of these is a special low tax rate for investments — as if anyone needed special tax incentives to induce them to make a bundle.
High Incomes At The Top
How much does Romney make? We won’t know until we get a chance to see his tax returns — if we do — but Romney described his $374,328 income from speaking fees last year as “not very much.” If $374K is “not very much” of his income … well … at least we can understand why he feels he can casually make $10,000 bets as if he was just pulling a dime from his pocket.
In his post What Mitt’s Taxes Could’ve Paid For (If Not For Those Cushy Tax Breaks), Richard Eskow writes,

1,470 households made more than a million dollars and yet paid nothing — zero, zip, nada — in Federal income tax in 2009.
[. . .] The top 25 hedge fund managers in the US made $22 billion in 2010.

Low Taxes At The Top
Mitt Romney’s admission that he probably pays a 15% tax rate shows us what is going on. For you or me, when our taxable income passes about $35,000, we start paying a 25% rate, much higher than Mitt pays on his millions on income. (That doesn’t mean we pay 25% on money up to $35K, which is what most people think. It means any additional money we make after the $35K is taxed at that higher rate rate. If we make $35,001 we only pay an increase of ten cents. That’s how tax brackets work.)
Lots Of Money To Use To Attack The Deficits
This special low tax rate on capital gains is sucking a lot of money out of We, the People’s ability to pay for our schools, military, infrastructure, etc, which is part of why we are borrowing so much. How much? Continuing to steal from Richard Eskow’s post,

As we wrote earlier, eliminating these tax breaks would add as much as $44 billion to our bottom line in the next ten years. Or to put it another way:
Ending cushy breaks for these 25 billionaires could also reduce the deficit by as much as $44 billion. Paging all deficit hawks!
In 2008 the taxable income of everyone earning above $100,000 was $3.4 trillion. If we concentrate our tax reform on the upper end of that spectrum — the Romneys, not the folks in the $100-$400 thousand range — we know that every percentage point in increased collection comes out to another $34 billion per year. That ain’t chicken feed.

Why The Low Capital Gains Tax Rate?
The justification for a special tax rate for gains from investing capital is supposed to be to provide an incentive to invest. But there is already a really good incentive to invest: to make a bundle of cash. Piling a special “incentive” on top of making a bundle of cash creates market distortions – moving investors away from deciding where to put their money based on the value and merits of the investment and toward tax-reduction schemes.
The necessary precondition for investing capital is having capital. So a tax break on the return from investing capital is by definition a break for the well-off. Here is the reality: capital gains are taxed at a lower rate because most of the income of the 1% is from capital gains, and most of the income of the 1% is from capital gains because the tax rate is lower. The “incentive to invest” should be making a good investment, period.
I’ll bet you $10,000 that getting rid of this tax break helps fix the deficit, and leads to a saner investment climate. (Of course, I’m kidding, I think that is a lot of money.)
This post originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.
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Did The President’s Jobs Council Go All Corporate?

President Obama’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness (“Jobs Council”) issued a report calling for fewer regulations and lower corporate tax rates. This doesn’t have to be a bad idea.
The Report
The Jobs Council report, Road Map to Renewal makes a number of recommendations. Here are the main points – please click through for the details:

  • Prepare the American Workforce to Compete in the Global Economy
  • Foster a Climate that Lets Innovation Thrive
  • Adopt an “All-In” Strategy on Energy
  • Revitalize the American Manufacturing Sector
  • Enhance American Competitiveness through Smart Regulatory Reforms
  • Reform the Outdated Tax System to Enhance American Competitiveness

Council Heavily Weighted Toward 1%
The Jobs Council is heavily, heavily, heavily weighted to tilt toward the 1%. The list of members reads “Chair and CEO” with a smattering of ultra-wealthy finance types thrown in, and then a couple of token union leaders.
The Objections
United Food and Commercial Workers president Joseph Hansen abstained from voting. AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka released a 1635-word dissent. In the dissent Trumka writes, (emphasis added)

I agree with the overall spirit and a number of the specific recommendations in today’s report … I absolutely agree … that the United States is falling behind our international counterparts in investing in modern infrastructure, education, and skills; supporting a vibrant manufacturing sector; developing cost-effective and globally responsible energy practices; and supporting innovation. …
Unfortunately, I believe the report downplays the need for a proactive role for the U.S. government in many of these areas; fails to address the significant additional revenues needed to address the challenges identified on an appropriate scale; and in many cases erroneously identifies the root causes of the underlying structural problems.
… the report addresses regulatory issues as if we were not in the midst of a prolonged economic crisis whose proximate causes clearly included inadequate regulation of business, and in particular financial markets and institutions.
With respect to corporate tax reform, I believe that corporations as a group pay too low a share of taxes to support the kind of infrastructure investment and education/skills upgrades that are so urgently needed at this time… The report places way too much emphasis on statutory tax rates, mentioning only as an aside that the effective rates paid by corporations are much lower, and that overall corporate tax revenues as a percent of GDP are the fourth lowest in the OECD.

Yes, We Can Cut Corporate Taxes … If
Actually, we can cut corporate taxes, increasing our international competitiveness, while We, the People still fund our democracy and get paid back for our investment that enabled the prosperity of the corporations. Here’s how: Cut corporate taxes, but raise taxes on the 1%er owners of the corporations. Stop the nonsense of lower capital gains tax rates, and restore pre-Reagan top tax rates. Also, require corporations to either use their cash or pay it out to shareholders instead of just sitting on it as many do now.
Capital gains are taxes at a lower rate because most of the income of the 1% is from capital gains, and most of the income of the 1% is from capital gains because the tax rate is lower. The “incentive to invest” should be a good investment, period.
What does cutting corporate tax rates accomplish? First, by cutting corporate tax rates the right ways our companies could become more competitive with companies in other countries. This can be an incentive to locate companies here. But we don’t have to just sacrifice this revenue by any means. Instead we can tax it when it becomes personal income. But cutting corporate tax rates without increasing personal income tax rates to make up for it — which happens to be the DC elite consensus as voiced by Simpson-Bowles — is complete folly, nothing more than another scam by the 1% to rob We, the People. It is essential that a cut in corporate tax rates happen at the same time as taxes on the resulting personal income are increased, along with requirements that corporate money is either used inside the company or paid out to shareholders.
Look at this chart, which tells you everything you need to know about the who what when where and why of corporations. Corporate wealth is also personal wealth. When you hear about corporations doing well, think about this chart:
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Yes, the top 1% also own 50.9% of all stocks, bonds, and mutual fund assets. The top 10% own 90.3%. And it’s most likely only gotten worse since these figures were gathered.
Cut The Right Regulations
When the elite DC consensus calls for cutting regulations, they mean regulations that hamper the 1%’s ability to fleece us even more. But there are regulations that actually do impede competitiveness.
Here is what usually happens in DC. After Congress passes laws the regulatory bodies translate the laws into a regulatory framework. This is where the giant companies and their lobbyists get to work. The work they do is influencing these agencies to write regulations that help them, the 1%er corporations that can afford to swarm the agencies with lobbyists — and that obstruct their competition. So we end up with a situation where small businesses and startups don’t have a chance making it through the regulatory maze. They either have to hire specialized, $1000-an-hour DC law firms to help them out, or give up. This is by 1%er design, not because of “big government.”
So yes, there are regulatory impediments to competition, but I don’t think this form of “cutting regulations” means what the 1%ers on the Jobs Council and the big corporate-elites think it means.
Education
On education, the Jobs Council recommends,

In order to stay competitive in a global age, we must invest in our future by ensuring Americans have the right education and skills to realize their full potential and drive our nation’s economic success. … These measures will create a purposeful educational system that produces work-ready graduates, satisfied employers with access to a talented labor pool, and a vibrant economy poised for growth and success.

Trumka writes,

With respect to the education section of the report, I believe that the Jobs Council’s education recommendations begin and end in the wrong place: focusing on providing businesses with an endless supply of workers — as opposed to supporting, improving and sustaining a strong public education system.

So the report calls on government to reconfigure our education system to provide companies with trained worker-bees, which means companies don’t have to cough up the dough themselves to train their own workers. The report actually goes even further, basically calling for government to replace think-for-yourself education with do-what-we-say job training. There’s a difference. And they ask for this after already asking for tax cuts, too. Sheesh.
The Rest
On energy the 1%ers of course mean “drill, baby, drill.” But the council is correct, we do need to go “all-in” on energy, with massive Green Energy investment, freeing us from the damage Big Oil and King Coal do to our environment, our economy, our politics and our democracy.
On manufacturing the council notes that since 1980 manufacturing has slipped from 20% to only 9% of total employment,. The report calls for adding “three to four percentage points of global value added market share—an ambitious but achievable goal.” They say we should :take share from our global competitors.” There are wonky but great suggestions like “cluster development” and important ideas like going after in promising new manufacturing sectors. The President has formed an Office of Manufacturing Policy that is taking up many of the kinds of recommendations in this report.
In fact, we also need to rewrite our trade agreements so they provide a win-win for the working people here and across our borders, and incentives to manufacture here rather than move jobs, factories, companies and industries out of the country.
And So In Conclusion
Trumka sums things up nicely at the end of his dissent:

Perhaps most profoundly, the report does not ask the critical question: why is our country suffering a manufacturing crisis, complete with massive job loss and a structural trade deficit, when countries with higher overall taxes, higher wages, and more robust health, safety and environmental regulations are enjoying trade surpluses?
The answer lies in the view that we share with so many of our fellow Americans: that our country has become dominated by the interests of the wealthiest 1% at the expense of the remaining 99%. It turns out that a country run in the interests of the wealthiest 1% systematically underinvests in public goods;systematically silences, disempowers, and underinvests in its workers; and in the end is less competitive and creates fewer jobs than a country that focuses on the interests of the 99%.

Echo and amplify what Trumka said: Perhaps most profoundly, the report does not ask the critical question: why is our country suffering a manufacturing crisis, complete with massive job loss and a structural trade deficit, when countries with higher overall taxes, higher wages, and more robust health, safety and environmental regulations are enjoying trade surpluses?
This post originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.
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How Conservative Propaganda Works

Main headline at Drudge Report, with a picture of Harry Reid, “Most Futile Ever,” linking to a Moonie newspaper story: Congress logs most futile legislative year on record – Washington Times.
Republicans filibustered everything. And then they campaign on Democrats not getting anything done.
Democrats don’t do anything to point out to the public that filibusters are occurring, don’t even explain to the public that Republicans filibustered everything, instead talk about how they want to work with Republicans. So the public only sees the results.
Republicans understand that their leaders are “strong” and call Democrats “weak.”
So Republicans turn out for elections, Democrats are discouraged, dispirited.

The People At The Top Who Can’t Lose

Daily Kos: When Mitt Romney came to KansasCity

Mitt Romney represents the economy of the people who can’t lose. We read about these people all the time. They get hired as CEOs of major corporations, drive those corporations into the ground, and still they walk away with multi-million dollar golden parachutes. They run scams and schemes that bring the American economy to the precipice of total collapse, and not only is nobody prosecuted, but they are bailed out with taxpayer’s money dollar for dollar. The workers get cuts in salary and benefits, if not layoffs, while the CEOs simultaneously get huge bonuses. Wall Street firms like Bain can launch a hostile takeover of a steel mill, load the company up with debt, cash out, and leave the wreckage for a bankruptcy court to deal with. When you can’t lose, you don’t have free market capitalism. You have a rigged casino. We have a class of people running the economy in this country who, no matter what they do, can’t lose.