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Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Wyden and his real constituents dissed

You see, the rich are different from you and me: they have more influence. It’s partly a matter of campaign contributions, but it’s also a matter of social pressure, since politicians spend a lot of time hanging out with the wealthy. So when the rich face the prospect of paying an extra 3 or 4 percent of their income in taxes, politicians feel their pain — feel it much more acutely, it’s clear, than they feel the pain of families who are losing their jobs, their houses, and their hopes.
The whole thing is here.

Meanwhile, the Republican sob story about the Bush tax cuts helping "small business" includes in that "vulnerable" group giant companies like Bechtel, Tribune Co., and PriceWaterhouse Coopers. Too funny, and yet awfully sad.

The Bush tax cuts were terrible social policy, and terrible tax policy. They have contributed mightily to the polarization of our country, and to the deficits that the tighty-righties are now suddenly so up in arms about. If the tax giveaways of the 2000's all expire come New Year's Day, it will be a positive change -- even if some low-income tax breaks get lost in the process. And unless someone can up with a working majority in Congress about taxes in a hurry -- and that seems highly unlikely -- expire is exactly what Bush Tax World is going to do. Good riddance.

Comments (25)

One of those rare situations where the gridlock in Congress might actually cause a positive result.

I would rather allow the tax cut on my own well under 250K income expire than let these pigs continue to get one. So yes, maybe this is a case where gridlock will do some good. If the Republican take over the House and Senate voters will very quickly realize that they made a huge mistake by switching horses in mid-stream.

Shades of The Great Gatsby in that one passage of Krugman's writing.
I heard one broker tell President Obama in the town hall yesterday that he was tired of Wall Street being used as a pinata.
This, after the taxpayers of America went on the hook for over 13 trillion in loans and guarantees just on this one crisis.
That's not the national debt - I'm talking about the economic meltdown of 2008. We took on 13.2 trillion of financial exposure according to Bloomberg News to save Wall Street from its greedfest with derivatives...And now they're copping an attitude with us about how harshly they've been treated?
I finally watched that 5-minute video of Rick Santelli of CNBC whose rant about having a Tea Party to respond to having to pay other people's mortgages, is sometimes credited with starting the Tea Party movement. Although he mentions derivatives, he says little about the sins of his business, blaming our problems on people not being able to afford their houses.
So as usual, the anger is directed away from the true culprits on Wall Street, allowing them to continue on in a whining-victim mode about how badly we're treating them.
It's shocking and orchestrated, I'm sure. Even the angry dissidents are kissing Wall Street's ass: "It's Obama's fault. It's Bush's fault." Meanwhile Wall Street is saying, "Don't look over here at us! Just risk your economic future when we need help! Let us create the crisis and then take trillions from you to get out of it!"
And as the deception continues, the greatest country in the history of the world, heads for the trash heap.

It's the bananafication of the American republic!

Bill McDonald: . . Meanwhile Wall Street is saying, "Don't look over here at us! . .

Yes look at them too!

These people have no alliance to country or constitution. Have they all purchased "get away places" elsewhere with our treasury?

To paraphrase Matt Taibbi: Wall Street has gone from a vital role in our society where ideas get capital to start new businesses, to a bunch of greedy bastards who have determined that America is not going to make it and are now cashing out, grabbing as much money as possible to build their villas in other countries so they're ready when America ends.

From New York Magazine's "The Wail of the 1%":

But as Andrew Cuomo stoked public outrage by threatening to release the names of the bonus recipients, it became clear that the game was changing. When AIG employees had arrived at their desks that morning, they found a memo from [CEO Edward] Liddy asking them to return 50 percent of the money. The number infuriated many of the traders. Why 50 percent? It seemed to be picked out of a hat. The money had been promised, was the feeling. A sacred principle was at stake, along with, not incidentally, their millions.


Jake DeSantis, a 40-year-old commodities trader at AIG, was an unlikely face of Wall Street greed. Stocky and clean cut, with an abiding moral streak, he’d worked summers for a bricklayer .... He had canvassed for Obama in Scranton on Election Day and drove a Prius. His division at AIG was profitable. And since joining the company in 1998, he had never traded a single credit-default swap.


It was in this environment that DeSantis sent his remarkable resignation letter to the New York Times. In the letter, which ran as an op-ed on March 25, he compared himself to a plumber (“None of us should be cheated of our payments any more than a plumber should be cheated after he has fixed the pipes but a careless electrician causes a fire that burns down the house”) and announced that he would quit AIG and donate his bonus to charity. The letter, passionate and wounded and oddly out of touch with ordinary Americans, put a human face on Wall Street’s anger. When DeSantis arrived at the office the morning his letter appeared in the paper, the AIG traders gave him a standing ovation. In some quarters of the press, he was vilified. (As Frank Rich put it in the Times, “He didn’t seem to understand that his … $742,006.40 (net) would have amounted to $0 had American taxpayers not ponied up more than $170 billion to keep AIG from dying.”)

We truly live in a warped world when people who make a quarter of a million dollars a year can be grouped with the homeless as vulnerable and in need of props when only a few years ago they were paying a higher percentage in taxes and weren't crying as shamelessly about the inequity of it all.

I do have to say, I don't really consider someone with a $250,000 annual income as "rich" and I sort of wish the people pushing to roll back the Bush tax cuts on that upper bracket would stop using the word. There's a world of difference between a family making a quarter million and someone bringing in multiple millions of dollars a year (or tens of millions). It's certainly possible to be rich in assets and have an income of $250,000 (or no income at all). But there's no definition of "rich" any more than there's a definition of "middle class".

No, over $250,000 is rich, particularly when you're talking taxable income. It's the top 2% of those filing tax returns, and less than 2% of the overall population.

Then there's super-rich.

$250K is four times the median U.S. household income! That's rich by any sane definition of the term.

The threshold for extending the Bush tax cuts should be more like $75K. But like others here, I'd rather see them all go away than keep them for the six-figure crowd. We need to take a hard look at the Reagan tax cuts as well.

What is missing from the tax-cutters is an admission that even if we let the Bush tax cuts expire and the top rate goes back to 39.6%, we will STILL have a lower top tax rate than we did after he 1981 Reagan tax cuts which lowered the top rate to 50%.

You need to understand the politics and procedures of tax legislation to know that it is highly likely all of the Bush tax cuts will be made permanent, or at least extended.

For some reason some of you indicate that you believe that if no legislation is passed by Dec. 31, then the old tax rates will go into effect for 2011. This is not true. The Congress is certainly capable of passing retroactive tax cuts with legislation after Jan. 1, 2011 applying to all of 2011.

Here is what is likely to happen. The Republicans want a single vote on extending all of the Bush cuts, so that if Democrats vote no they can be said to be against middle class tax cuts and want to raise taxes on middle class taxpayers. The Democrats want two votes, one to extend tax cuts for those under $250k a year, and another for those over that amount. The Democrats may prevail in the House, but they will not get that vote in the Senate where Republicans will delay until the end of the Session.

Then, with enhanced membership in 2011, a probable House majority and a working if not actual Senate majority, Republicans will force a single vote. It will pass and Obama will face the prospect of signing it, or retreating on a major campaign issue and allowing taxes to rise for middle income families. He will probably sign it, and so the Bush tax cuts will be permanent or extended, and be retroactive to Jan. 1, 2011. This will then lead to huge cuts in social programs in an attempt to reduce the deficit.

Oh, and just so you read it here first. The Democrats tax vote will result in Sens. Lieberman and/or Nelson leaving the party, using the tax vote as an excuse, but really acting in their own self interest and self preservation. This may well gain the Republicans the Senate majority they might fail to win in the November election. With luck, these two will be defeated in Repubican primaries by tea party candidates.

Welcome to Political Reality 101.

Darrel P., $250k HAS to be rich. If you don't consider the top 2% of filers to be rich, then who is?

Personally, I think households above about $125k are rich. That's roughly the top 10% of all households in the country. (Wikipedia has old Census data (2004) that shows top 20% starts at $88k, top 5% starts at $157k.) Our view of the "middle class" has become very warped, given that a statistical middle class -- the third quintile -- is roughly $35k - $55k in HOUSEHOLD income. But in the popular media, those households are generally referred to as the working class, and the middle class tends to be those above $100k or so.

Obviously this is all about perception, not statistics, but I think it's worth reminding those who live in households making more than $125k -- myself included -- that we make a higher income than 90% of our fellow Americans. There are at least 250 million Americans who have it worse.

Larry Summers is going! Elizabeth Warren has landed a gig. Okay, a watered-down version of a gig. There is a possibility that President Obama has started to grow into the job. One thing I'm sure of is that President Obama has more of a chance to get better than W ever did.

With W our only hope was that he would lose interest.

We can still save this country. It's never too late until it is.

One other thing: I saw Bill Clinton on Letterman last night and he was absolutely brilliant.
We had a great mind as President, a relentless mind doggedly working to solve problems. Now think back to the endless criticism he got.
Yes, Obama has been a disappointment, but I still say we are way ahead having someone with the smarts to improve. It had to be overwhelming to drop into office at this time.

Maybe, just maybe, President Obama is about to become great. Getting rid of Larry Summers is a big start.

Elizabeth Warren is another positive. The annoying thing about watching the parade of Palin losers the GOP has come up with is that there are great women who would be terrific in government.

Why can't we get someone like Mia Hamm in politics? We have to stop rewarding these little fame whore, beauty pageant, TV personalities and turn to the great people that are out there ready to go.

There's still time to save this thing!

I'll fill you guys in on a little secret you won't hear from your friends or CNN/MSNBC: The comments above are the exact reason the Tea Party is so successful.

Forgive my grammar ;)

Miles, Semi-Cynic, and Jack Bog, "‘Super Rich’ Law Professor Retires From Blogging After ‘Electronic Lynch Mob’ Attacks His Position on Taxes":

Chicago is an expensive town -- Henderson is "the president’s neighbor in Chicago" -- in which to raise a family.

My niece and her husband employee about 130 people between their two companies in Portland. They work 6 to 7 days a week to ensure their companies are successful. Between the two of them, they will probably gross over $500,000 this year. So,we should steal from them in taxes for being young (40 year old's) for being smart, providing services people desire and are smart enough and now rich enough to say, "Good-bye Oregon."

"now rich enough to say, "Good-bye Oregon."

Jerry you do realize these are FEDERAL taxes right? They can move to AL or wherever and the FEDERAL tax hike will still apply

One that still leaves them w/lower taxes than Reagan did after the 1981 tax cuts.

Anyone who rakes in a half-mil a year and still works 6 or 7 days a week does so strictly as a lifestyle choice. Millions of people are forced to work equally long - or longer - hours, at what are likely more physically demanding jobs, but can barely pay the rent or put food on the table. Excuse me if I'm a little more concerned about their welfare than that of your privileged niece.

Maybe this vote could die via fillibuster and the taxes would die then and die long enough that the IRS would enforce the then existing law for however long it could be fillibustered.

Gardiner -- It wasn't clear if your comment was tongue-in-cheek or not, but that blog post you linked to is a perfect example of someone who has lost perspective. I'm quite sure the Chicago law professor and his pediatric oncologist wife honestly believe that they are just getting by on roughly $400k per year, with two kids in private school, a lawn service, a maid who comes by "several times a month", and a nanny for their youngest child. And that's the problem in our society right now, that those people have no concept as to how the other 98% live. In their social circles, they probably feel very average, certainly not "rich". Kind of like how no one in high school actually thinks they're popular -- certainly not as popular as the really popular kids.

Miles, tongue firmly in cheek. "Enough" is not a concept embraced by very many, although Mr Bill (Gates) and Mr Buffett, having amassed enough to be extraordinarily benevolent, have opined that "Enough is enough." Of course, they relish an enough that is so much more than the enough most can imagine.

Someone who appears to have no sense of enough has been castigated often in this forum: Jamie Dimon, current CEO of the House of Morgan. He certainly has stolen more than enough from the NW, although resolution of the matter of the theft of WaMu may yet instruct him in the boundaries of enough. He, like UChi law prof Henderson, owns a house in Chicago, where even he has found these hard times difficult:

Perhaps he has had enough of the financial crises he assured Congress banksters expect every five to seven years?


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Lange, Pinot Gris 2015
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Aix, Rosé de Provence 2016
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Cleto Charli, Lambrusco di Sorbara Secco, Vecchia Modena
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Edmunds St. John, Bone-Jolly Rosé 2016
Stoller, Pinot Noir Rosé 2016
Chehalem, Inox Chardonnay 2015
The Four Graces, Pinot Gris 2015
Gascón, Colosal Red 2013
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L'Ecole No. 41, Merlot 2013
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Penda Diakité - I Lost My Tooth in Africa
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At this date last year: 3
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