Archive for steve benen

Let’s Talk About ‘Fair Share’

Posted in Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 21, 2011 by rottenart

Steve Benen has a good post today about the persistent meme that’s been making the rounds since the deficit became the holy grail of national political discussion: it’s not fair to ask the wealthiest Americans to pay more in taxes because they already pay so much! John Boehner, ever the voice of the oppressed 1%, said this:

“Come on. The top 1% paid 38% of income taxes in America. How much more do you want them to pay?”

“We are not going to engage in class warfare,” Boehner said, adding: “The president’s clearly trying to do it, and it’s wrong.”

Well, let’s just parse that a bit, shall we? As Steve puts it:

“Just as important, while these very Americans are paying a larger percentage of the nation’s overall income taxes, they’re also paying a smaller share of their personal income in income taxes.”

As a percentage of their income, they’ve seen their tax rate drop significantly. While the top 20% do pay the majority of the income tax, they also control around 90% of the wealth and account for ~80% of the income.  In fact, while the middle and lower classes have seen their wages stagnate and even decline over the past 30 years, the uppermost 1%  have seen their incomes soar by 275% in the same period. And those vast majority who Boehner thinks aren’t paying enough? They’re already poor and don’t make enough money to have to pay!

Beware the Republican bearing statistics about taxes and who pays their ‘fair share’.

Jim Inhofe, Ignorant as Ever

Posted in Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 11, 2011 by rottenart

I’ve never been been one to confuse Senator Jim Inhofe (R-OK) with an intellectual. His one-man mission to disprove climate change by simply refusing to acknowledge it is the very definition of willful ignorance. But his recent comments on rising oil prices cross the line from his usual lack of critical thinking right into jaw-droppingly stupid:

“A lot of people are saying that the gas prices that are going up are a result, partially, of what’s happening over there. That isn’t the real problem,” said Republican Senator James Inhofe, his party’s senior member on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee and a climate change skeptic.

Inhofe said that “the real problem” was President Barack Obama’s efforts to enact a cap-and-trade plan to curb emissions of greenhouse gases blamed by scientists for global warming.

Wow. Just to be clear, revolutionary tension in a region of the world that controls a huge chunk of oil resources and refining capability  isn’t as big a factor in oil prices as a bill that hasn’t been passed, isn’t law, has no likelihood of either anytime soon, and isn’t really anything more than a “goal” of the Obama administration, as Inhofe puts it. As Steve Benen points out:

Keep in mind, Inhofe isn’t just a strange guy on Fox News or right-wing talk radio; he’s the leading Republican senator on the Committee on Environment and Public Works. If the GOP takes back the majority next year, he’ll be chairman.

I didn’t think it was possible to make Tom Coburn look like the thoughtful, reasoned member of OK’s senatorial delegation but then Jim Inhofe went and opened his mouth. Again.


An Important (And Under-Reported) Issue for Small Business

Posted in Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on February 23, 2011 by rottenart

In America circa 2011, there certainly isn’t much on which politicians from either side of the aisle can agree. However, despite the vitriol, violence and outright lunacy, there is one constituency in the country who no politician will deign to disparage: small businesses. Obama singled them out in his SOTU speech and has spent the last few weeks selling them on his new economic proposals. The GOP, for its part, pays them a lot of lip service, though when it comes down to brass tacks, doesn’t really seem to care much for actually helping them out (it’s not even clear that they know what a ‘small business’ is). In any case, everyone can at least rhetorically agree that small businesses are the lifeblood of the US of A.

That’s why this piece from Steve Benen is so interesting. It seems Jeffrey Leonard, CEO of the Global Environmental Fund, recently wrote an article in the Washington Monthly about the issue of payment rates of corporations who contract, especially with the federal government (very large businesses), to their suppliers (small businesses). As it turns out, these very large businesses have benefited from a system gamed to favor them over the little guys. I know, go figure! What this means is that while the small businesses must pay their bills on time, every thirty days, just like you or I, big business can put their payment on a 3-4 month schedule. The result? Small businesses shuttering because big business doesn’t have to pay them what’s owed on time.

Now, I realize this isn’t the sexiest issue. But Benen and Leonard are really hitting on something that could potentially inject a whole shot of adrenaline into the small business community, allowing them to prosper, just like the giants. Just read some of the comments in the post, check out Jeffrey Leonard’s interview with Stephen Colbert and then go read the article. They’ll make you stop and think about how unfair the present system is as it stands and how easily it could be modified to make things more fair. As a small business owner from PA puts it:

“The last 10 years have featured a dramatic push to keep big corporations happy, much of it at the expense of smaller companies that are the real job, innovation, and creativity generators in the economy; and it’s way past time to level the playing field.”



The Perils of Republican Management

Posted in Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 21, 2010 by rottenart

Steve Benen over at Washington Monthly spots this potentially explosive story about Michael “Cow On the Tracks” Steele’s RNC. Now, when I say ‘explosive’ I mean it only insofar as the useless mainstream media would do some work to broadcast it to the public. It turns out the RNC is $7 million more in debt than its FEC filings had shown. Steve points out that this could be more than just a PR problem; it could also be illegal. Knowingly hiding your debt in FEC filings is a criminal offense and I find it hard to believe that the same RNC that spent thousands on a lesbian bondage club and tried to cover it up is also being forthright about its campaign finances. It seems like a story the news should be all over, doesn’t it?

Of course, leaving aside the legality, it’s simply a mind-bender. This is the party apparatus that is fighting to regain the levers of power in our government. Their current rallying cry is “Fiscal Discipline” as if they know anything about it. Well, this story makes it clear that they not only don’t know anything about it, they just don’t care. It’s common knowledge that bigwigs in the GOP have quietly been urging donors to refrain from giving money to the RNC, based on Steele’s – how do it put it nicely? – diarrhea of the mouth problem. Additionally, there’s a whole shadow network of political groups that are happy to funnel money from secret donors in nefarious ways into the GOP’s coffers. So, in terms of having cash on hand, I’m convinced that the GOP as a whole will be just fine. But it does speak to the larger point about management. Or mismanagement, as the case may be. Michael Steele has been spending like a drunken sailor in his tenure as head of the party. Which brings to mind another head of the Republican party some years back, who managed to take a $127 million budget surplus and turn it into a $455 million billion deficit. And, just like Steele and the RNC, he was able to do this through some really creative accounting.

Don’t worry if you don’t know who I’m talking about. If early indications are correct, then the Republican midterm strategy will be to make sure you’re reminded.

Reality Is Inconvenient

Posted in Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 17, 2010 by rottenart

In Arizona, right-wing wack-job J.D. Hayworth is giving John Mccain a run for his money when it comes to tacking to the right for the Republican primary. Other commentators have noted that this is a hard slog for Mccain; no matter how far right he swings, that’s not going to be good enough for the loons.

So, with that in mind let’s take a look at J.D. Hayworth: he’s a B-List radio jockey, in the same vein as Limbaugh, and he has long been a lightning rod in AZ. The rise of the Teabaggers obviously benefited his message, so he’s decided that running for office is a good idea. Like I mentioned, Mccain is a sell-out, RINO, commie, socialist no matter what he does, so I’m sure Teabaggers’ minds are made up.

A few days ago, Hayworth was quoted outlining his position against gay marriage in the same terms made famous by Rick “Man on Dog” Santorum: allowing gays to marry would eventually lead to men marrying horses.

I won’t go into the absurdity of that but rather, I’ll let the indefatigable Rachel Maddow handle it. Hayworth went on her show last night and she pressed him on the comment. I’m not that interested in his defense; he’s an ignoramus, ’nuff said. It is the way that he ended the conversation that got my attention and highlights the problem facing our national (and personal, for that matter) discourse:

…Maddow tried to explain that she looked for evidence to support Hayworth’s claim, and couldn’t find any. “Well, that’s fine,” Hayworth said. “You and I can have a disagreement about that.”

“Well, it either is true or it isn’t,” Rachel responded. “It’s empirical.”

Hayworth, perhaps unaware of what “empirical” means, replied, “OK. OK. I appreciate the fact that we have a disagreement on that.”

-From Washington Monthly, via Alex Koppelman

So, let that be a lesson and a warning to all you progressives who might deign to argue with a right-wing nutjob: empirical evidence Does. Not. Matter. All the bluster over global warming and evolution? Simply a matter of opinion, dontcha know. The reason that I even bring this up is because I have felt the frustration of this tactic many times while trying to make a reasonable point on Facebook, of all things. I know, you don’t have to tell me about the inanity of trying to argue on teh intranetz, but I am amazed at how often, when presented with information that directly refutes their position, conservatives will simply say, “let’s just say we disagree.”

Ok. Fair enough. From now on, my new strategy is just to disagree with anything inconvenient. Like gravity, or my gas bill. It’s simply Nat’l Fuel’s opinion that I owe that much money this month. I also will employ this tactic when PETA gets wind that I let Roxie, my cat, starve to death because it’s just those elite liberal scientists’ opinion that cats need food to live. I mean, I prayed for her! Won’t Jesus provide?

I can practically hear the rest of the world laughing. I’m fairly certain that international science institutions are scrambling to hire people who have a disagreement of opinion with the liberal bias of reality.

Lo, the sunset of the empire continues apace.