I’ve been spending an inordinate amount of time watching MSNBC (love Rachel Maddow), the endless Republican debates (thank you Brian Williams for silencing the audience), reading the amazingly informative, intelligent blog and comments at Skydancing (http://skydancingblog.com/) and, of course, watching and loving The Daily Show.
Initially my reaction to Mittens releasing his tax returns was “Ho Hum.” He’s rich. Knew that. He pays his taxes at the legal rate. Knew that, too. Then I watched last night’s Daily Show and, thanks to the wonderful staff on the show, Jon Stewart provided some background information that it would be wonderful if every American knew. Mittens was shown stating that he pays his taxes according to the law and that he didn’t think the American people would expect (or want) a candidate who paid more than they actually owed. On the surface, that sounds reasonable. But Jon pointed out that Mittens didn’t tell the whole story. Back in 2007, Chuck Grassley (a Republican Senator) had sponsored a bill to raise the taxes on capital gains and carried interest. Mittens and his hedge fund, venture capitalist buddies formed a lobbying group to fight this bill. And, amazingly, the bill went nowhere. The tax rate on these ‘funds” remained at 15% instead of being increased to 35%. Watch the segment here:
On the same show, Jon’s guest was Elizabeth Warren who is running for Senate in Massachusetts against Tea Party favorite, Scott Brown. Here’s a link for the interview, Part 1: http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/tue-january-24-2012/exclusive---elizabeth-warren-extended-interview-pt--1?xrs=share_copy In the clip Ms. Warren says that the top 50 (I believe) companies in the U.S. spend more money on their lobbying efforts than they pay in taxes.
But back to Mittens. After The Daily Show I then moved on to Hardball. Matthews talked more about Mittens’ wealth -he makes from his investments about $ 58,000 A DAY! And he doesn’t actually WORK a single day a year. That’s more than I make in an entire year, working 35 hours or more 52 weeks a year. It got me to thinking about the Republican rhetoric surrounding the Obama Administration’s and the Democrats in Congress call for letting the Bush tax cuts expire for Americans making over $ 1 million dollars a year. The Republicans rallying cry: don’t increase taxes on The Job Creators! Taxing them more would stifle economic growth. It would prevent them from creating jobs to the unemployed and underemployed in America. And I thought, just how many jobs has Mittens created with his tax break during the time he stopped going to work? He left Bain Capital in 1999. He served as Massachusetts governor from 2003 – 2007. For all intents and purposes, Mittens has been “unemployed” for at least 4 years, years when our unemployment rate soared. If he is the astute business leader he says he is, why didn’t he come to the rescue with his reduced taxes windfall and start a business? Create jobs for people? Put that money to work to improve the economic outlook for hundreds or even thousands of Americans? How many of the other uber-wealthy like him who are living on the interest from their investments have taken the same path as Mittens? How many have simply sat back and kept their hands wrapped tightly around their wealth while the middle class collapsed, thousands upon thousands of families lost their homes and the ranks of the homeless swelled across the country?
The 1% are NOT job creators, they are wealth protectors – their wealth and that of their cronies. It’s THEIRS, all theirs and damn it, they are going to keep it for themselves. America, stop being fooled by the rhetoric, the empty catch phrases. The 1% understand self interest and it’s past time for average, every day Americans to do the same. Vote like your very life and livelihood depend upon it, because they do. Vote YOUR self interest, not THEIR self interest.