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There is a growing class divide. The speed and breadth of power corporations and the wealthy have been accumulating is shocking, and this country is morphing into something that benefits only a select few.
The public is also making political and economic choices based on wrong information given to them by conservative groups and pundits masquerading as news, i.e., FOX News, and these decisions are to their/our detriment.
With this site I want to get out the real news and share my thoughts and views on our politics and current events.
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Category Archives: class warfare
Since the 2010 election, we have seen an unprecedented number of voter restriction laws that are specifically designed to restrict voting for minorities, the poor, college students, and the elderly, and we are now starting to see the effects of these laws.
Paul Carroll is an 86-year-old World War II vet from Ohio, and he has lived in the same town for 40 years. He was denied the right to vote on Tuesday after a poll worker denied his identification, a photo ID from the Department of Veterans Affairs because it did not contain an address, as required by Ohio law. Carroll told the Cleveland Plain Dealer that he got the ID from the VA after his driver’s license expired because he doesn’t drive anymore:
“My beef is that I had to pay a driver to take me up there because I don’t walk so well and have to use this cane and now I can’t even vote,” said Mr. Carroll who has lived in Aurora nearly 40 years, running his own business, Carroll Tire, until 1975.
“I had to stop driving, but I got the photo ID from the Veterans Affairs instead, just a month or so ago. You would think that would count for something. I went to war for this country, but now I can’t vote in this country.”
Carroll was offered a provisional ballot, but the type was too small for him to read and “I was kind of perturbed by then,” he said.
This is not an isolated problem. Tennessee voter authorities denied a 96-year-old woman a voter ID last year because she didn’t have an original copy of her marriage license.
We are fighting for democratic rights in other countries and yet, since the Republicans big wins in 2010, they have been working state by state to restrict access to the voting booth. They have not even bothered to be subtle about who they are trying to disenfranchise, the people who tend to vote Democrat. This is their game plan. They know a majority of Americans do not support their agenda so this is the best way to get back into office…voter suppression.
Congressional Republicans are pledging to fight the new requirement that health insurance plans cover birth control. I am going to make a prediction — their hardline stance on this issue will backfire . As it turns out birth control is wildly popular with both men and women and even among Catholics who tend to be the most vocal in their opposition. There is poll after poll showing strong support for contraception being available to all women.
According to a Public Religion Research Institute survey released Tuesday, 58% of Catholics supported this new requirement, 58% of Americans agreed that “employers should be required to provide their employees with health care plans that cover contraception and birth control at no cost.” There was only 40% of people polled that disagreed.
Doctors For America conducted a study that showed 11.2 million women ages 15 to 44 use contraceptives. The study also showed that 58% of women use contraception for other conditions unrelated to pregnancy prevention including the treatment endometriosis, acne, regulation of menstrual cycles, and menstrual pain just to name a few.
Regardless of these facts the Republicans are now condemning the new requirement that all women have access to contraception. They are trying to make the argument that it is a First Amendment issue and about religious freedom.
Speaker Boehner called it an “unambiguous attack on religious freedom in our country” and vowed to repeal the regulation.
Senate Minority Leader McConnell said “make no mistake: the Obama administration’s decision to force religious hospitals, charities, and schools to comply with a mandate that violates their religious views is abhorrent to the foundational principles of our nation.”
Senator Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire said “It violates our First Amendment to the constitution. This is not a women’s rights issue. This is a religious liberty issue.”
Rick Santorum has even come out being completely against birth control. In a recent interview he said “many of the Christian faith have said, well, that’s okay, contraception is okay. It’s not okay. It’s a license to do things in a sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be.” I am guessing he thinks sex is for procreating…that’s it.
This doesn’t have anything to do with religious freedom. Republicans are hoping they have found a social issue that is going to energize their base. In every election they try to find some social issue to demonize and use against Democrats like gay marriage or abortion. Now it is contraception. However, they are going way to the right in their opposition, and unlike gay marriage or abortion, contraception is widely used and viewed positively by women and men across party lines.
The public is becoming more socially liberal and stoking this culture wars will ultimately be a bad move for the party.
JP Morgan is in the process of foreclosing on Helen Bailey, a 78-year-old former civil rights activist and current resident of Nashville, Tennessee. According to change.org, she is being foreclosed on because she cannot keep up with her mortgage payments.
Helen Bailey is a 78-year-old grandmother who participated in the civil rights movement, worked as a childcare provider for autistic children, and was a community volunteer. She has paid her mortgage since 1999, but now she can’t keep up the payments. All she wants is to stay in her home until she dies, in the neighborhood where she feels safe and has lived for nearly quarter of a century. She could have refinanced with a company willing to let her live in the house for free until her death, but Chase Bank would not reduce her principal by $9,000. She’s been paying 7% interest, well above most rates, so Chase could have decided they had made enough. Instead, they have started foreclosure…While Chase tries to tie itself to the incredible legacy of Martin Luther King, who really did believe in communities, Chase tries to throw a grandmother who marched for civil rights out onto the street.
Juxtapose this with the fact that JP Morgan Chase has just launched a project to digitize the documents of MLK along with other civil rights leaders to make them available online. Jamie Dimon, the CEO of JP Morgan, said “It’s important for JPMorgan Chase to support Dr. King’s legacy because of the important values he committed his life to promoting, such as equality, equal opportunity, and quality education for all. People like Dr. Martin Luther King are what made America what it is today. The values he espoused are the values that JPMorgan Chase also tries to stand for around the world.”
Gary Flowers, Executive Director and CEO of the Black Leadership Forum, Inc, responded to the news of the foreclosure. “JP Morgan Chase must practice what it preaches. On one hand, the bank cannot earnestly invoke the values of Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr. while devaluing the very principles for which he lived and died.”
Change.org has started a petition to save her house. To date more than 44,000 people have signed the petition.
Thanks to Occupy Wall Street the inequalities in our tax system have been at the forefront of our politics. The Republicans are contending that the “job creators” should not have to pay more in taxes and that in fact, if you take into account the state and local taxes, they pay anywhere from 40 to 60% of all tax revenue. The Institution of Taxation and Economic Policy have come out with a state by state breakdown (find your state here) showing who actually pays the most in taxes. They breakdown what the bottom 20%, mid 60%, and the top 20% pay. Not surprisingly every state confirms what the Democrats have been telling us, thanks to the Bush tax cuts, our nation’s rich pay the least.
Ten states—Washington, Florida, Tennessee, South Dakota, Texas, Illinois, Michigan, Pennsylvania,
Nevada, and Alabama—are particularly regressive. These “Terrible Ten” states ask poor families—those in the bottom 20% of the income scale—to pay almost six times as much of their earnings in taxes as do the wealthy. Middle-income families in these states pay up to three-and-a-half times as high a share of their income as the wealthiest families. “Virtually every state has a regressive tax system,” noted Gardner. “But these ten states stand out for the extraordinary degree to which they have shifted the cost of funding public investments to their very poorest residents.”
The state with the worst disparity is Mississippi. Their study shows that in the category of Sales and Excise Taxes the bottom 20% whose income is less than $16,000/year pay 8.5% of their income while people earning $39,000 to $70,000 pay 5.6%. The wealthiest in Mississippi earning over $319,000 a year pay JUST 1.2%. When calculating total taxes paid the bottom 20% pay 10.8%, people earning $39,000 to $70,000 pay 9.6%, and the top 1% pay just 6.3%.
There is class warfare going on, but just in case you were unclear who was waging that war, it is the very wealthy and their Republican figureheads. Cutting entitlement programs like Pell Grants, Medicare, and Social Security, which obviously helps the middle and lower class in our society, while simultaneously cutting taxes on the wealthy and corporations does not work….FACT! We have numbers on our side. We have history on our side. Anyone who tries to convince you otherwise is outright lying.
On Wednesday Senate Democrats proposed legislation that would ensure all millionaires pay a minimum federal tax of 30 percent, otherwise known as the Buffett Rule. The people over at Citizens for Tax Justice have come out with a study on the Buffett Rule (full report here) and the kind of impact it would have on our economy. I have broken down some of their findings below.
Revenue Impact Depends on the Extension or Expiration of the Bush Tax Cuts
The Buffett Rule would raise about $25 billion annually in years after 2012, while ending tax preferences for investment income would raise around $70 billion annually. These estimates assume the Bush tax cuts expire after 2012 as scheduled.
In 2012, or in any year in which the Bush tax cuts are in effect, the Buffett Rule would raise around $50 billion while ending tax preference for investment.
In other words, either of these policy options (the Buffett Rule or ending tax preferences for investment income) would raise more revenue if the Bush tax cuts are extended — but not nearly enough to offset the cost of extending those tax cuts.
Under the Bush tax cuts, long-term capital gains are taxed at a top rate of just 15 percent while other income is taxed at rates of up to 35 percent, and stock dividends are taxed at a top rate of 15 percent also. The ability of wealthy people with investment income to pay lower effective rates than people with ordinary income is therefore greater in any year in which the Bush tax cuts are in effect. And any policy option to remedy that problem will therefore have a larger revenue impact during any year in which the Bush tax cuts are in effect.
Of course, the Bush tax cuts include benefits that go far beyond breaks on investment income, and that’s why extending the Bush tax cuts would be extremely costly even if the Buffett Rule was enacted or all tax preferences for investment income were eliminated.
The Need for the Buffett Rule
A previous report from Citizens for Tax Justice explained how multi-millionaires like Romney and Buffett who live on investment income can pay a lower effective tax rate than working class people. As the report explains, there are two reasons for this.
First, the personal income tax has lower rates for two key types of investment income, capital gains and stock dividends, as already explained.
Second, investment income is exempt from payroll taxes (which will change to a small degree when the health care reform law takes effect).
The report compares two groups of taxpayers, those with income in the $60,000 to $65,000 range (around what Buffett’s famous secretary makes), and those with income exceeding $10 million. For the first group, about 90 percent have very little investment income (less than a tenth of their income is from investments) and consequently have an average effective tax rate of 21.3 percent.
For the second group (the Buffett and Romney group) about a third get the majority of their income from investments and consequently have an average effective tax rate of 15.2 percent. This is the problem that the Buffett Rule would solve.
The Republicans in Alabama are making news again and not in a good way. There are 2 Tea Party candidates running against Jo Bonner (R-AL), Pete Riehm and Dean Young, promising that if they are elected they will impeach President Obama. The crowd present for the debate responded to this with roaring cheer.
According to the Mobile Press-Register,
“First, I would cut off his funding. If that didn’t work, I would introduce a resolution describing what he’s done wrong. The last resort, which I am willing to take, would be to impeach him,” Young explained further. Riehm was equally unapologetic, saying, “failure to recognize wrong-doing is moral dereliction and, when you have the authority, failure to uphold the law is accessory to the crime.” Among President Obama’s crimes, argues Riehm, is his failure to defend the Defense of Marriage Act and failure to enforce federal laws on immigration and elections.
Bonner responded to this saying impeachment “is a serious charge, and you better have good reasons before making it.” Conservative columnist, Quin Hillyer, the moderator said the idea was “pure demagoguery.”
If that was not enough, Alabama state Senator Shadrack McGill used the bible to justify not raising salaries for teachers. At a prayer breakfast he stated that the bible says increasing teacher salaries would only lead to less-qualified teachers. That doubling teachers’ salaries (starting salary for Alabama teachers begins at $36,144) would not help education. In fact, keeping teacher pay low is a “biblical principle“:
“If you double a teacher’s pay scale, you’ll attract people who aren’t called to teach. “To go in and raise someone’s child for eight hours a day, or many people’s children for eight hours a day, requires a calling. It better be a calling in your life. I know I wouldn’t want to do it, OK?
“And these teachers that are called to teach, regardless of the pay scale, they would teach. It’s just in them to do. It’s the ability that God give ‘em. And there are also some teachers, it wouldn’t matter how much you would pay them, they would still perform to the same capacity.
“If you don’t keep that in balance, you’re going to attract people who are not called, who don’t need to be teaching our children. So, everything has a balance.”
McGill found justification in the Bible for not increasing teacher pay, but he evidently found nothing in scripture preventing him from approving a 67 percent pay increase for legislators in 2007, which increased annual salaries for the part-time legislators from $30,710 to $49,500. He said that the higher pay helped to stop corruption.
A 2011 report showed that while Alabama teachers have the highest starting salaries in the nation, the state lags far behind the national average for teacher pay. Currently, a part-time legislator in Alabama is making more than a full-time teacher with a Master’s degree and 15 years of experience.