Right-Wing Ramps Up Its Efforts To Protect The
Vulnerable, On-The-Edge-Of Collapse Wealthy From The All-Powerful Progressives
Out To Get Them
Partially hyperlinked to sources.
For all sources, see the data
Your sources today include:
mediamatters.org, the New York Times, the website of the Gallup polling
organization, quinnipiac.edu, politico.com, usatoday.com, and the website of the
City of New York.
Here's a little vignette
someone wrote in to a newspaper. It
seems that some New York City travelers were having difficulties in Florida with
weather, airline connections, you name it:
[W]e waited outside for
the hotel van in the howling wind, wearing light clothing suitable for Key West.
Other stranded passengers joined us, each enveloped in self-pity.
We were all ranting to
each other and to anyone who would listen on our cellphones, loudly cursing the
airline that had sent only two agents to reschedule hundreds of stranded
passengers lining the concourse.
As our van circled the icy
roads of the airport, a pleasant-looking woman wearing a “Mothers Without
Borders” sweatshirt spoke:
“If you want to see long
lines, you should see the ones in Haiti. Those women wait all day in the heat
for one cup of rice and a bottle of water, and then they must return the next
day to wait again.”
For the first time that
day, our intrepid group of New Yorkers was silenced.
The IRS had just announced some
reasonable measures to, in their words, "combat offshore tax evasion."
What's wrong with that? Shouldn't
everyone pay taxes they owe? Especially
the super-wealthy who are the ones who engage in offshore tax evasion?
In the bizarre world of Fox News, the rich and powerful who control the
world, are portrayed
as pitiful victims in need of protection:
audio: Brian Kilmeade, other Fox News personalities
Brian Kilmeade: I love those people!
Not content that the top five percent of income earners pay more than 70
percent of all the taxes in our country, so the agency is finding a new way to
squeeze the wealthy. I’ll stop for
IRS spokesman: We have a new global high-wealth
operating unit where we’re taking a unified look at the entire web of business
and economic entities controlled by high-wealth individuals so we can better
assess their compliance...
Male Guest: Talk
about very consumer-friendly!
Female Guest: That might be because the United
States is running out of money! The
problem? Many of these people are
the ones creating jobs. Those
high-wealth individuals. So is it
really a good idea to go after them?
Squeeze the wealthy!
Go after them!
How about Laura
Ingraham on Fox:
audio: Laura Ingraham
[M]ore Americans than ever are now deciding to leave
our country for good because of high taxes and onerous regulations.
If we continue down this road of vilifying and
penalizing prosperity, we'll have gone from soaking the rich to sinking them
Sinking the rich altogether!
Now since the right doesn't want to
be seen for what it is, shills for the rich, right-wingers try to cast their
concern for the wealthy, as actually being in the self-interest of average
Americans, who need jobs:
Megyn Kelly, Rep. Steve King
Megyn Kelly: Well,
the IRS is announcing a new plan specifically designed to target the rich.
Critics are now asking: are
those the same rich who create the jobs in this country?...
Well, Republican Congressman Steve King of Iowa
joins me live. Congressman, thanks
for being here. It sounds good in
principle, because who likes the rich? They
just—they seem like they have more than we do.
But, on the other hand, they are the ones who give us our jobs.
can almost hear, Megyn, the bitterness in Doug Shulman's voice when he announces
this. There's a tone of animosity
towards the rich when he speaks of this globalization—this game-changer—that
he referenced, to go out and build a network with Japan and Germany, Canada,
Australia, and Great Britain, to go after the wealth in the world to try to do a
more effective job of taxing that wealth and punishing the producers.
Now, no one ever got a job from a poor person.
A Fox nation graphic baldly stated: IRS
Target: Job Providers
The right's propaganda frames the
issue so that workers will say, yeah, those rich need their billions so I can
have a job, so let them evade their taxes.
You may already know the first point
I'm going to make, that the rich don't "create" jobs out of thin air
out of the generosity of their hearts, and so if they could only pay less taxes,
they'd be able to, out of sheer kindness, create some more jobs for us
No, an additional job slot is made
possible, when the owner of a business calculates that he or she can sell the
output of your job -- whether a tangible or intangible product -- for more than
they pay you to do that work.
Nothing wrong with that.
But the key point is, the only way
they can sell the product for more than they pay you to make it, is if someone
wants to buy it, if there's demand for the product.
Demand creates the conditions that
allow jobs to be created. What
increases demand? People having more money in their pockets to spend.
They have more money in their pockets to spend when their wages go up.
If you want to create more jobs, you
increase wages, not give more money to the wealthy, by letting them be tax
Society isn’t a pyramid standing on
its pointed head, a tiny sliver of the ultra rich supporting the rest of
society. No, society is a right-side up, if you'll forgive the expression,
pyramid, which rests on a broad foundation of the workers of the society.
I don't know if you remember or not, but in the past I've let loose with
tirades about how the top 10% own 70% of the wealth in the country, but they're
not satisfied with that. They
want more and more. How much more do
they want? 80%?
90% All of it?
I'd conclude, half in jest, that they seem to want to hearken back to a
feudal society, where everything is owned by the lord of the manor,
who provides the serfs necessities as he deems appropriate, out of the
kindness of his heart.
This current right-wing "don't
make the rich pay their legally owed taxes, because then they wont' give us
jobs" propaganda is the same thing.
The other major point for you to
consider here would be, how are the right's beloved rich doing?
If there were rich guys on the street corner begging for cash to make the
payments on their yachts, well then, maybe the right-wing's concern for their
plight, that they're being sunk, would make sense at least emotionally, if not
But the reality is, that the rich are
doing better than ever before in the history of the country.
For example, it recently came to
light, that contrary to popular belief, the executives of Bear Stearns and
Lehman Brothers were
not wiped out financially when their companies melted down.
Quite the contrary. Their net
take from 2000 to 2008 averaged a cool quarter billion dollars each.
These guys need no right-wing pity,
Likewise with the latest stat the
right-wing is hollering
about, and which you may have already had thrown in your face.
Laura Ingraham again:
audio: Laura Ingraham
Consider this staggering fact:
the top one percent of wage earners in America pay more than 40 percent
of the overall tax bill for the nation. And
the left is still arguing that the system is not progressive enough?
Notice how she said "wage
earners," as if the richest one percent earn their keep on hourly wage
More importantly, I've almost never
heard any progressive effectively counter this 1% pays 40% propaganda, with the
simple retort: "Yes, that's
because they earn so much of the national income pie."
This is a stat you've heard me say
many times: the richest 1% have nearly
their share of the national income pie in the last thirty years.
It went from about 8½ percent to 23 percent.
So if they earn 23%, and pay 40% of the taxes, that's not even enough,
given that we should have a much more progressive taxation system than that.
In fact, if you look at the stats,
their share of taxes didn't increase proportionally with their share of the
income nearly tripling.
So that's why their after-tax income
than tripled in thirty years.
While those at the bottom have, as
one writer put
it, "barely moved an inch."
According to government
figures, the total federal tax burden on the wealthiest 1 percent and even
higher of Americans, ranges from about 30-32%.
That includes income tax, social security and Medicare taxes, excise
taxes for gas, alcohol, etc, and corporate taxes.
If a person's making tens of millions
of dollars, it's hardly unreasonable that they pay 30-32% in federal taxes,
wouldn't you say?
Now wealth is unspent income, excess
income, accumulated over time. To
repeat what I've said many times, probably the most mind-boggling stat I've
encountered in doing this podcast, is that the richest 400 American families have
more wealth, than the entire bottom half of the nation, than 57 million
And that's who Laura Ingraham and her
ilk want us to be worried about?
Up next, I have two new juicy stats
for you in this realm. One may take
the place of the 400 families stat as #1 in the Blast The Right lexicon.
Here are the new stats, suitable for
use in your combat with the right.
First: the compensation Wall Street
paid itself in 2009 was greater
the combined budget gaps of all 50 states last fiscal year.
Wall Street racked up $145 billion, and 50 states bled with a $117
billion shortfall. Any connection?
Second, is the really super-amazing
stat that may become my #1 favorite. It's
built on several other public numbers. Let
me paint you the picture.
Last month a magazine calculated
that the top 25 hedge fund managers averaged $1 billion -- billion with a
"b" -- one billion dollars each
in compensation in 2009. These 25
guys together took home a $25.3 billion dollar paycheck.
Now, the right always replies, when
you bring up the outlandish compensation of those in the financial world,
"Athletes make a lot of money, why don't you complain about that?"
So I took a look at this.
What's the total payroll of Major
League Baseball? Every ballplayer
combined, on every team, their
total is only about two and three quarter billion dollars.
Gee, the 25 hedge fund managers got paid almost ten times as much.
Think of the amazing skills of these
professional athletes, and the joy and happiness they bring to millions who
follow their endeavors.
You know what?
If you combine the salaries of all the professional athletes playing
major league baseball, NBA basketball, and NFL football, the total is still only
about a third of what the 25 hedge fund managers made.
But there's more.
This sports comparison is a bit
light-hearted. Let's get serious.
There are over one million students
in the New York City public schools. Tens
of thousands of teachers instruct them. It's
not an easy job. And it's a
critically important one for society, creating an educated work force and voting
population that will one day run the country.
Collectively, all these tens of
thousands of teachers earn
only about one-fourth as much as the 25 hedge fund manager billionaires.
Wait, more to come.
Over ten thousand fireman serve the
people of New York City, risking their lives every day to stop conflagrations
from spreading, and rescuing those unfortunate enough to be stranded in burning
But the 25 hedge fund guys make more
than all the New York City firemen combined.
In fact, the 25 hedge fund guys make
more than all the teachers and firemen combined.
New York City has 8 million people.
Tens of thousands of New York City policemen risk their lives every day
to protect New York City residents from property crimes and crimes of violence.
As you may anticipate my saying, not
only do the 25 hedge fund guys make more than all the policemen in New York
City, but they make more than all the teachers, firemen and police in New York
And -- here's the grand finale --
if you add, perhaps incongruously, but most instructively, if you add
together the amount of money made in a year by all major league baseball
players, all NFL football players, all NBA basketball players, all the teachers
in New York City, all the fireman in New York City, and all the police in New
York City, you still wouldn't come anywhere near the amount of money that the 25
hedge fund managers somehow figured out a way to rake in as pay in 2009.
And the right-wing expresses concern
about the plight of the put-upon wealthy?
Is this screwed up, or what?
What kind of an economic system rewards two dozen guys shuffling piles of
money around and betting other people's money, thousands of times more, than
those teaching our children, than those risking their lives to protect the
citizenry from crime and fire?
What kind of a crazy system,
inappropriate rules, do we have?!
And to add insult to injury, the
hedge fund guys pay only a low 15% capital gains rate on much of their
compensation, while everyone else I've mentioned has to pay up to about 40% at
regular marginal income tax rates.
Up next, prospects for change,
including polling data -- some recent, some stretching back to the Great
Depression -- that'll give you another powerful mouthful to share with your
favorite, friendly local right-winger.
What are the prospects for change?
In the last year there's been rising
disaffection with government in general, and certain of Obama's policies in
particular, especially on health care.
Yet during that same time period, support
has remained steady at three-fifths of Americans in favor of tougher
measures to regulate Wall Street.
On the other hand, you have the
unfathomable financial power of Wall Street.
In the last ten years, the financial industry spent
more than $3.9 billion to influence policy in the nation's capital.
Of course, our friends the wealthiest hedge fund managers were part
of these heavy contributions.
Beyond Wall Street is the issue of
taxes on the wealthy in general. There
are some increases
upcoming. In 2013, the Medicare
payroll tax will go up just shy of a percent for individuals who make over
$200,000 a year, couples $250,000. And
a Medicare payroll tax of 3.8 percent will now apply to investment income --
interest, capital gains, dividends, the like -- of these same taxpayers.
But again on the other hand, Congress
seem to change the rule that allows hedge fund managers to pay a capital
gains rate of 15 percent on some of their income, instead of the higher,
ordinary income rate. The House has
passed such legislation, but the Senate blocks it -- Democrats as well as
Republicans. They're addicted to
those financial industry campaign contributions.
As far as raising the marginal rates
overall on the wealthy, Obama says he still intends to let the Bush tax cuts
expire on those $200,000 plus individual/$250,000 plus couples households.
What about raising the rates even more than that?
Despite all the right-wing loud
decibel propagandizing that the people want lower taxes, the people apparently
don't want lower taxes on upper income folks.
The people want higher taxes on them.
A recent Quinnipiac
This was supported by 60% of the
public, and, interestingly, an even higher percentage of those actually making
And get this: when the income threshold for the increased tax is raised to one million dollars, support shoots up to 72%, including a majority of Republicans!
I've often wondered why income
brackets don't increase as the millions pile on.
Shouldn't someone making $50 million a year pay more than someone making
one-hundredth that, $500,000 a year? Right
now, they pay the same rate.
Don't let a right-winger tell you
that the Quinnipiac poll results are an anomaly.
The Gallup polling organization has been asking the American public since
Do you think our
government should or should not redistribute wealth by heavy taxes on the rich?
Back in 1939 only a little more than
a third of Americans agreed. But the
number has climbed steadily, and now a majority of Americans agree with this
Congressmen and --women, listen to
To put these huge income numbers in
perspective, if one of those $1 billion hedge fund mangers were taxed at 99%,
he'd still be left with $10,000,000, an amount equal to four lifetimes of the
pretax earnings of the average American.
Speaking of those 25 hedge fund
managers who together made more than the combined salaries of all baseball,
football and basketball players plus all New York City teachers, firemen and
police -- speaking of them, remember that these hedge fund managers produce no
tangible product, no artistic or intellectual output.
any human being can use or enjoy. They
simply work to make as much money as possible by placing
bets utilizing outrageously complex financial instruments.
Remember, the purpose
of these financial instruments, as utilized by Wall Street generally, is to hide
a company's true financial condition, hide debt, avoid capital requirements,
But even that's not good enough for
the big shots on Wall Street.
They're now charged with outright
The Securities and Exchange
Commission just sued Goldman Sachs for creating financial
but not telling purchasers of those instruments that they were designed to fail.
So those purchasers lost their money.
It was a hedge fund manager, John A.
Paulson, who asked Goldman to create these instruments.
Paulson had identified a bunch of mortgage loan pools he felt would go
bad, and wanted to bet against them. So
he went to Goldman and Goldman created the instruments that allowed Paulson to
bet against these mortgage pools.
Goldman even told
prospective purchasers that these instruments were created with the advice of an
independent manager, but neglected to mention the small fact, that the manager
was betting on the instruments to fail!
I don't know why Paulson wasn't
indicted along with Goldman. I read
because he didn't sell the bad securities directly to anyone.
Can't they get him on conspiracy to commit securities fraud, or something
Anyway, in case you're wondering,
yes, Paulson was one of those 25 hedge fund managers who averaged a billion
dollars in earnings last year.
Paulson's political contributions
have mainly been to
Democrats. Houston, we have a
I agree with the commentator who called
these financial charlatans "traitors whose shell games broke the economy
and stuck us with the bill."
Yet it is just these types of high
income individuals that the right wing is crying crocodile tears over, because
the IRS wants them to pay the taxes they legally owe.
Before I close, I want you to see how
truly absurd it gets. The right is
trying to get us to worry that all these magnificent rich people, if we keep
picking on them, will leave the country. Stuart
audio: Stuart Varney
In the last three months of last year—the last
quarter of 2009—double the number of people for all of 2008 renounced their
U.S. citizenship. Gave back their
green cards. Essentially left the
country. Those are probably very
wealthy people who saw this move coming from the IRS and are getting out while
Throughout Europe, and now in America, if you’re
very rich, even relatively rich, you’re going to lose half your income to
taxation. Now, is that fair?
You’re certainly going to chase people away to the likes of Monaco,
where tax rates are much, much lower.
They'll all flee to Monaco. I
say, good riddance!
A Blast The Right mantra has long
been, that everything the right-wing does is designed to accomplish one of two
things: either (a) transfer wealth from everyone else to the already rich, or
(b) distract everyone else from the fact that (a), that wealth transfer, is
Plain and simple. You can't
get around it.
You have to face it,
and then be prepared for the consequences.
We once had a president who did, and
Listen to FDR:
We had to struggle with the old enemies of
peace--business and financial monopoly, speculation, reckless banking, class
antagonism, sectionalism, war profiteering.
They had begun to consider the Government of the
United States as a mere appendage to their own affairs. We know now that
Government by organized money is just as dangerous as Government by organized
Never before in all our history have these forces
been so united against one candidate as they stand today. They are unanimous in
their hate for me--and I welcome their hatred.
Would that we had such a President
You and I have to push Obama to be
such a president. Roll up your
sleeves, it ain't going to be easy.