Final Big Lie Of Campaign '08: The Socialism
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Last week you heard
how to debunk the right-wing talking points about Ayers, Rezko and Acorn.
While those smears are still being promoted somewhat, a new one has
arisen. It's a right-wing staple.
When Obama was speaking with Joe the
Plumber, Obama said it's good to "spread the wealth around."
Well, that, combined with Obama's
plan for refundable tax credits and raising the tax rate on families making more
than $250,000 a year, set off a right-wing firestorm.
McCain all but called Obama a socialist:
At least in Europe, the
Socialist leaders who so admire my opponent are upfront about their objectives.
I want you to get the real flavor of
Here's Sarah Palin with Sean Hannity
a few days ago:
Barack Obama, when Joe the Plumber has become such a big issue in the
And we're talking about him again today--
I saw some signs when I was out there, you know, I'm somebody the
bricklayer, I'm somebody the hairstylist--but he doubled down.
He was asked this week, "Do you regret saying 'spread the
wealth?'" He said no!
So what is that philosophy? The
#1 issue on people's minds is about the economy.
It sure is.
So what does that mean to you?
Well, it means that finally Joe the Plumber was able to accomplish
something that none of us have been able to accom-plish--and that is to get
Barack Obama to candidly, finally state what his true intentions are for his tax
increases. And that is to take more
from our families, to take more from our businesses, what they have produced and
earned, and then spread that out according to his own priorities.
And with an Obama, Pelosi,
and Reed trifecta there, that could potentially be controlling Washington, D.C.,
I think our economy's in a world of hurt. Because
as Joe the Plumber suggested, that hints at socialism, is what he said…
An anchor on a Florida radio station
last week even point-blank asked Joe Biden:
WEST: You may recognize
this famous quote. From each according to his abilities to each according to his
needs. That’s from Karl Marx. How is Sen. Obama not being a Marxist if he
intends to spread the wealth around?
BIDEN: Are you joking? Is
this a joke?
BIDEN: Is that a real
WEST: It’s a real
BIDEN: He is not spreading
the wealth around. He is talking about giving the middle class an opportunity to
get back the tax breaks they used to have. What has happened just this year is
that the people making $1.4 million a year, the wealthiest 1%, good, decent
American people, are gonna get an $87 billion tax cut. A new one on top of the
one from last year. We think that the people getting that tax break and not
redistribute the wealth up, should be the middle class. That’s what we think.
It’s a ridiculous comparison with all due respect.
She couldn't resist taking a closing
shot at the end of the interview:
Getting back to the spreading-the-wealth question.
What do you say to the people who are concerned that Barack Obama will
want to turn America into a socialist country much like Sweden?
I don't know anybody who thinks that except the far-right wing of the
OK, Sen. Biden, thank you very much.
As we discuss this, you can pick and
choose what elements of the following to use, depending on whether you're
guiding an undecided voter towards the righteous path, or just blasting a
persistent right-winger. And it's
not just useful info for before the election.
If Obama wins, this cry from the right of "socialism" will be
with us all eight years!
Sources you'll hear include:
Newsweek, the Inter Press Service news agency, msnbc.com, the New York Times,
marketwatch.com, United for a Fair Economy, the Center on Budget and Policy
Priorities, and taxfoundation.org.
Interestingly, McCain isn't the first
Arizona senator to call Democrats socialists.
After Lyndon Baines Johnson agreed to run as John F. Kennedy's
vice-president, Senator Barry Goldwater of Arizona wrote Johnson a letter.
He said he couldn't understand how Johnson was able "to embrace the
socialist platform of your party."
Johnson wrote back, in part:
I think all of us have to decide for ourselves what represents a
"socialist" platform, and what represents the reasonable consensus
upon which a political party can honorably go to the country.
words for today.
know how well Goldwater himself did in 1964 when he ran against LBJ.
May that be a harbinger for 2008.
socialism charge against Obama fails on three counts.
of the hat to the blog perrspectives
-- perspectives with two r's -- for compiling some of the sources here.
When I started researching, I came across a post of his, and he had
sourced the info I was looking for.
McCain is screaming socialism because, he says, almost half of the people who
would get a tax refund under Obama, "pay no taxes."
true they pay no income tax because they earn so little.
But they do pay
federal payroll taxes on every dollar of their income. Not
to mention state and local taxes.
Second, and related, there's a bipartisan,
widely supported federal
program that already makes such refunds. It's
called the Earned Income Tax Credit, begun in 1975.
Low-income working individuals and families receive a refund in excess of
the tax they pay.
Well, Ronald Reagan called
the best anti-poverty, the
best pro-family, the best job creation measure to come out of Congress.
And in 1999, none other than John
the Earned Income Tax Credit "a much-needed tax credit for working
So I guess Ronald Reagan and the 1999
John McCain were socialists.
The third count that McCain's
criticism fails on, is the 2008 John McCain.
His own current health care plan gives
a $5000 tax credit to each and every family, regardless of whether they pay
Another element of the right-wing
"socialist charge" is that Obama won't renew Bush's tax cuts for the
Yet in 2001, when McCain voted
against those very same Bush tax cuts, he said:
I cannot in good conscience support a tax cut in which so many of the
benefits go to the most fortunate among us at the expense of middle class
Americans who most need tax relief.
McCain has himself defended the entire progressive tax system in the United
States, where the higher the income, the higher the rate someone pays.
show Hardball in 2000, McCain explained:
[W]e feel, obviously, that wealthy people can afford more…I really
believe, that when you are -- reach a certain level of comfort, there's nothing
wrong with paying somewhat more.
McCain, class warfare advocate. Who
woulda thunk it?
remember, all Obama's plan does, is restore the tax rates for the wealthiest
Americans back to where they were under Bill Clinton, to 39.6% from 35%.
all these reasons, I hope you can see how ridiculous the socialist charge
against Obama is.
to come. Stick around.
let's expand the frame a bit. You
might want to ponder:
almost half of families with children, earn so little
that they owe no income taxes?
The problem isn't that they're going
to get a bit of help from the federal government.
The problem is that our wage structure is so screwed up that people
working full-time jobs earn so little that they can't support a family.
Here's more food for thought:
We've been having reverse Robin Hood,
reverse socialism ever since Reagan took office.
From 1980 to 2006, the richest 1% of
Americans nearly tripled
their share of the national income, from 8˝ to 22 percent.
Yet their share of the tax burden
didn't go up proportionally.
You'll hear the right complain now,
over and over, that the wealthiest 1% pay 40% of the income taxes.
But to keep up with their 1980 ratio of share of income to share of
taxes, their share of income taxes should now be 49%.
Ever since Reagan, the tax burden has
shifted to the rest of us. All
Obama's plan does is shift some of the burden back where it was, and belongs.
And how about this:
The wealthiest 10% of Americans own
70% of all assets in private hands. And they want more tax breaks.
What, do they want to increase that
to 80% of the wealth? 90%?
How about 100%? Maybe they
can have it all. We can go back to
feudal times. Everyone else can
depend on the kindness and largesse of the lords and other nobles, to survive.
Finally, a word about corporate
taxes. The right is forever going on
about how heavy the corporate tax burden is.
Can you hear the violins in the
background? Are you getting out your
handkerchief to wipe away your tears at this tragic situation?
As with most things right-wingers
say, the opposite is true.
In 1952, corporations paid
32% of all federal tax revenues. You
know what that percentage was in 2003?
Must be way up there, huh?
The heavily burdened corporations. Probably
being forced to shoulder 40, 50% of the load now.
Must be for the right to be hollering
and complaining so much.
In 2003, the corporate share of the
tax burden had fallen to 7%.
Yes, you heard me correctly.
Seven percent. Down from 32%.
What are the ramifications of having
the type of severe economic inequality, that Obama is trying to address, and the
right-wing, with the 2008 John McCain as its cheerleader, is trying to maintain,
and even increase?
The United States is a member of the
Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the OECD.
It's mostly composed of the United States and members of the European
Union, along with a handful of other countries.
The OECD puts out all kinds of
reports. One of its recent ones addressed
Right-wingers claim that economic
inequality is fine, because it gives the poor an incentive to improve their
It turns out that
Among OECD countries,
social mobility as measured by the relative earnings of fathers and sons was
highest in the Nordic countries where the rich-poor gap was narrow, and lowest
in Italy, Britain and the U.S. -- all countries where the gap was significantly
Only Mexico and Turkey have larger
gaps between the wealthiest and poorest households, than the United States.
Only Mexico and Turkey have higher poverty rates than the US.
And wouldn't you know it
That gap has grown
particularly large in the U.S. since 2000 -- that is, under the administration
of President George W. Bush -- according to the report, which found that the gap
between the U.S. middle class and the wealthiest 10 percent has also increased.
The poor and the middle class both
being hosed by right-wing rule.
Here's what the head of the OECD
Social mobility is low in
countries with high inequality like Italy, the UK, and the United States… This
means that, in most high-inequality countries, dishwashers' sons are more likely
to be dishwashers and millionaires' kids can assume that they too will be rich
For more on the lack of economic
mobility in the US, you can check out podcast
What to do about this?
Social mobility can be promoted by
government policies such as progressive taxation, improvements in the social
safety net, job creation, and increasing investment in education.
Precisely the policies that
progressives advocate, and that Obama has at least started on the road down.
As an Oxford University economist put
If the government can take
on the role of lender of last resort, then we should think about the government
taking on the role of employer of last resort.
Put bluntly, governments
have to step up to the plate, as Roosevelt did in the Great Depression.
In other words, we need a new New
What would be the obstacle to this?
Of course, the right-wing free market
ideology that has held such sway in the United States, and increasingly around
the world, since Reagan took office.
Well, as you probably know, the
entire free market ideology has recent taken some severe body blows, probably
Everyone has watched as the Bush
administration felt it necessary for the government to step in and rescue the
financial industry. So much for free
markets correcting themselves.
And speaking of socialism,
we've all heard the bailout truthfully described as socialism for the
rich: privatize profit, socialize loss.
More than just that however, are the
explicit ideological admissions that right-wingers have had to make along the
On a minor note, the head of the
Securities and Exchange Commission, Christopher Cox, said
that he and other regulators have learned that "voluntary regulation does
The lessons of the credit
crisis all point to the need for strong and effective regulation…without major
holes or gaps.
Of major note is the recent testimony
of Alan Greenspan, former Federal Reserve Chairman.
Greenspan, the god of free market worshippers.
Greenspan, of course, had long opposed
financial regulations, even on the exotic financial instruments, derivatives,
that are the cause of the widespread and devastating nature of the current
Listen to some highlights from
Greenspan's recent testimony:
My Congressman. Henry Waxman, really
REP. WAXMAN: The question
I have for you is, you had an ideology, you had a belief that free, competitive
-- and this is your statement -- "I do have an ideology. My judgment is
that free, competitive markets are by far the unrivaled way to organize
economies. We've tried regulation. None meaningfully worked." That was your
You had the authority to
prevent irresponsible lending practices that led to the subprime mortgage
crisis. You were advised to do so by many others. And now our whole economy is
paying its price.
Do you feel that your
ideology pushed you to make decisions that you wish you had not made?
GREENSPAN: …[Y]es, I
found a flaw. I don't know how significant or permanent it is, but I've been
very distressed by that fact.
REP. WAXMAN: You found a
flaw in the reality...
GREENSPAN: Flaw in the
model that I perceived is the critical functioning structure that defines how
the world works, so to speak.
REP. WAXMAN: In other
words, you found that your view of the world, your ideology, was not right, it
was not working?
GREENSPAN: That is --
precisely. No, that's precisely the reason I was shocked, because I had been
going for 40 years or more with very considerable evidence that it was working
Yes, give people whose lives are
devoted not to creating products that people want to buy, or works of art, but
to manipulating money around, with the solitary goal of making huge stacks of it
for yourself, give those people free rein, let them operate in secret, don't
regulate them at all, and there won't be any problems?
Talk about or ideology-induced
So if you're talking to a right
winger about the financial system, or any issue for that matter, and he or she
still dares to bring up the free market as some sort of a god that will solve
the problem at hand, I guess you know what to tell them now.
Thankfully, much of the public
doesn't seem to be deluded this year. In
a recent CBS/New York Times poll,
the question was, which class would each of the candidate's policies favor.
Six in ten said McCain's policies
would favor the rich. In direct
contrast, a similar number said Obama's policies would favor the middle class
51% of the public told
Gallup, that they're in favor of heavily taxing the wealthy in order to
Ok, a great new Rush Limbaugh audio
clip up ahead. Stay tuned.
Some Americans are obviously still
deluded, and McCain is doing his best to keep it that way.
Have you noticed his recent sleight
Joe the Plumber asked Obama if he'd
pay more taxes if he bought a business that made more than $250,000 a year.
Obama said yes.
It turns out, though, that in
reality, Joe only earns about $40,000
a year. Joe would pay less taxes
But McCain, Palin and all the rest
have twisted things to make it sound like Obama would raise taxes on the $40,000
a year Joe.
Joe has bought into this.
As have many non-wealthy Americans.
One of the reasons I've heard that
many working- and middle-class Americans don't want to raise taxes on the
wealthy, is that they hope one day to be rich, so they don't want to pay more
taxes when they become upper class.
Do the rich figure, maybe one day
I'll lose my money, so I better advocate now on behalf of the poor and middle
Of course not.
The rich advocate on their own behalf.
So if you're poor or middle or
working class, advocate on your own behalf now.
If you become rich, then you can advocate on behalf of the rich.
In fact, you're more likely to become
rich if you advocate on your own behalf now.
You'll wind up with more money in your pocket to invest.
Here's a reminder of what we're up
against. It's Rush Limbaugh recently
on Fox News:
As a human being, I have
all kinds of admiration for Sen. McCain, and I truly hope that his campaign
pulls this out. It's crucial.
He represents, as the nominee of the Republican party, the stop sign to
this advance towards a far-left socialism. That
word's being bandied about, too.
And I was thinking, I
heard Dick Morris talking about it tonight, and I got to thinking, how many
people even know what it is now, who are under 50?
And how many people even think it's a bad thing?
Socialism is taught in the schools and the colleges as a good thing--it's
fair, from each according to his means, and so forth.
But it's transfer of
wealth! It takes from the
achievers--it punishes them--and it gives to people who are not achieving
things. You know, really, the Obama
camp wants to fundamentally alter the way this country exists.
They want to change the founding of this country, destroy the capitalist
system--in my mind, it is extremely serious stuff.
I ask you to imagine what Rush
Limbaugh and John McCain would say, imagine how the entire right-wing would howl
and scream, if they heard what this American radical said about them:
These economic royalists
complain that we seek to overthrow the institutions of America. What they really
complain of is that we seek to take away their power. Our allegiance to American
institutions requires the overthrow of this kind of power.
Pretty strong words, no?
Actually, I happen to have a live
recording of this American radical when he uttered these
Take a listen:
These economic royalists complain that we seek to overthrow the institutions of America. What they really complain of is that we seek to take away their power. Our allegiance to American institutions requires the overthrow of this kind of power. In vain they seek to hide behind the flag and the Constitution. But in their blindness they forget what the flag and the Constitution stand for. Now, as always, for over a century and a half, the flag, the Constitution, stand against a dictatorship by mob rule and the overprivileged alike. And the flag and the Constitution stand for democracy and not tyranny. For freedom, not subjection.
Requires the overthrow of this kind
Yes, that was FDR accepting his
nomination at the 1936 Democratic Convention.
So if you're called a socialist,
labeled a Marxist, told you're engaging in class warfare, just reply, well then,
all that mislabeling aside, I'm in good company. FDR and I, progressives
fighting for economic justice, that's just what we are, and just what we do.
Protecting Your Vote
Partially hyperlinked to sources.
For all sources, see the data
I want to give you a critical heads
up about the upcoming Presidential vote.
If you go to vote, and they say
you're not registered, you should contact
a voters rights group.
A good one is Election Protection.
Their number is 1-866-OUR-VOTE. That's
1-866-OUR-VOTE. Take it with you to
You could also contact a political
campaign, like Obama's.
You should cast a provisional ballot
only as a last resort, since they're often not counted.
If you're at the polls, and you
witness problems, or have concerns that you feel the public should be made aware
of, CNN has a voter hotline. Their
number is 1-877-GOCNN-08
Now, a pet issue of mine, is
electronic touch-screen voting machines, flipping votes from Obama to McCain.
There have already been reports
of this occurring in several states in early voting.
This happened in 2004, votes flipping
from Kerry to Bush.
Now, what should happen is, at the
first report of a touch screen machine flipping votes, Obama or Democratic
National Committee lawyers should be immediately sent to interview the voters in
question. If the voters are credible
and willing, a class action should be filed against the local and state
officials and the voting machine company, for denial of the right to vote, or
whatever the (probably several) legal grounds would be.
Most importantly: a temporary
restraining order should be sought to:
1 - forbid any further use of the
malfunctioning machines, and all machines of that make and model
2 - order the election officials to
provide a secure method of voting (paper and optical scan is one option), and
3 - impound the machines in question
to be evaluated by a panel of experts appointed by the court and agreed to by
Besides securing the vote, this might
be a way to gain access to the "trade secret"-protected software that
the voting machine companies have refused to let the public see.
Then we can find out if the vote flipping is actually part of some
deliberate software programming meant to systematically tilt the vote towards
Unfortunately, while the Obama
campaign and the DNC have been fighting against the purging of voter rolls, they
don't seem to be on the case at all with this vote-flipping.
I've been banging my head against the
wall trying to get them to pay attention.
Please try to publicize this need,
any way you can.
Another very important, and directly
I urge you, if you'll be voting on a
touch screen machine, bring a video-recording cell phone with you.
Record your vote.
I'm trying to get all progressive
advocates to publicize this idea.
Sooner or later we'll get a video of
an vote actually flipping right there on the screen.
Imagine the possibilities.
The network news would play that
clip, it'll go viral on YouTube, and the electronic voting machine fraud issue
will be on the front page of every newspaper.
A warning: in some jurisdictions,
taping is illegal in the polling area.
There's a website supported by some
heavyweights like PBS and Common Cause, called www.videothevote.org.
They told me they were going to publicize this "tape your touch
screen vote" idea. They also
said they'd put up a list of where taping is legal and not.
You might want to go check out the
As everyone is saying, voting is not
If it's at all possible for you, on
Election Day, if not also before, join in! Help
On the Obama website,
you can even download a list of swing state voters to call from the comfort of
your home. Plus the campaign is
organizing calling parties in
various cities and towns.
On Election Day itself, the ground
game, is crucial. The Obama campaign
website has a Take The Day Off to get out the vote for Barack effort going on.
In past years, the Republicans have
had by far the best ground game, getting their voters to the polls far more
effectively than the Democrats.
This year, Obama seems poised to
reverse that. His campaign has set
up a massive get-out-the-vote operation.
Please be a part of it.
I remember back in 1972.
I was in college in New York City, at Columbia.
I spent Election Day running up and down the stairwells of upper
Manhattan tenement buildings trying to make sure all the voters that had been
identified as McGovern supporters, had voted.
This year, I can't go outside because
of my breathing disability. But I
intend to download some lists of names to call from the Obama website, and do
the same thing as 36 years ago.
If you can do so, please, please do.
We're so close.
The minute McCain concedes, we can
start the hard work of pushing Obama to be far more progressive.
But before that, he has to get
We've got to stop the right-wing in
I pray the result this year will be
the exact opposite of 1972. A
landslide for Obama, a vastly lop-sided Democratic majority House of
Representatives, and a filibuster-proof, 60 seat-plus Democratic Senate.
Godspeed to us all!