The wealthy are job creators. They must not be taxed as they were under Clinton, when we created 23 million new jobs. They must be taxed as they were under Bush, when we created almost none at all.

I think I’m going to repeat that every day until the best-off – especially hedge fund managers – are completely protected from any shared sacrifice whatsoever. This is the Republican mantra, this is Morning Joe Scarborough’s mantra, this is the Fox News Rupert Murdoch mantra – so now it will be mine.

In fact, I think we should go back to the days when only white men with property were allowed to vote. But – that being politically incorrect – at least the Republicans are making modern-day strides in that direction:

  • The Bush Supreme Court now allows the rich – and rich corporations – unlimited influence over elections, with the ability to swamp the airwaves with disinformation while keeping their identity secret (you may be Exxon, but you can call yourself “Everyday Citizens to Protect Wildlife”) and without penalty for distortion (if your tax cuts will benefit mainly the top 1%, just say “by far the vast majority” of your tax cuts will benefit “people at the bottom of the economic ladder”).
  • Republican governors and legislative chambers are doing all they can to keep the poor, the young, and the disabled from voting – because those constituencies tend to vote Democrat.  Here’s a 3-minute clip with the latest example from Ohio.  You will be astonished.  (Or these, days, maybe not.)

PRESIDENT CLINTON

Have you watched this speech?  Our country is in real trouble so try to find time . . . even if it means postponing a truly wonderful summer movie, like Midnight in Paris or X-Men: First Class.  (You need to find time for the speech and these wonderful movies.)

On the economy, President Clinton argues that budget-slashing is not appropriate until the economy is growing again.  Even the bipartisan Simpson-Bowles Deficit Commission agrees.  Otherwise, you run the risk of a vicious cycle: austerity that leads to even rougher economic times that lead to even less tax revenue that leads to even bigger budget deficits that require even greater cutting . . . and down and down you spiral.

No!

First you put people to work doing what desperately needs doing (modernizing our infrastructure).  Then, once the economy gets a head of steam, you can begin to reduce the deficit.

Having himself inherited a recession – and a deficit – and having left his successor “surpluses as far as the eye can see,” President Clinton may have more credibility in this area than first-term Tea Party Congressmen.

And yet, he notes, “The Republicans who control the House and have a lot of votes in the Senate have now decided – having quadrupled the Debt in the 12 years before I took office and doubled it after I left – that it’s all of a sudden the biggest problem in the world.”

So listen to President Clinton on the economy.  He says, “Everybody knows the stimulus was a failure.  Except it wasn’t.  The hole blown in the economy was about $3 trillion deep; the stimulus was $800 billion; even Albert Einstein couldn’t fill a $3 trillion hole with $800 billion.”

So now is not the time to be talking short-term spending cuts – even though it’s a good time to be talking long-term adjustments.

“The current governing philosophy of the Republicans in Congress,” President Clinton told the 1,000 college students in his audience, “is that America would be just fine if we could weaken the government more.  The government is the source of all of our problems.  There’s no such thing as a good tax, no such thing as a bad tax cut; no such thing as a good regulation, no such thing as a bad deregulation.  This idea that the government is the source of all America’s problems would strike the Founding Fathers as passing strange.  But it has had a great hold on America since the election in 1980.”

You need to watch the the whole thing.  There’s so much wisdom and perspective.  And just plain old things you may not have known.

(“When Barack Obama took office, America had exactly 2% of the market for these high-powered batteries that are necessary to run hybrid-electric and all-electric cars.  Because the Democratic Congress had previously provided a tax credit when they took office in 2007 for new green manufacturing jobs, and then in 2009 it was turned into the cash equivalent of a tax credit for start-ups, since a new business has no taxable income against which to claim a credit . . . [and two years later] America had 20% of the world market.  From two to twenty in less than two years, with 30 new factories built or under construction, 18 in Michigan.  But it was a secret to most voters.  If you knew it and you didn’t tell people, you were part of the problem.”)

(“The student loan program used to work like this:  students would get their loans from banks, the government would guarantee 90%.  The new program works like this:  the government sets aside a reserve, loans the money direct . . . so the interest rates are lower, first.  Secondly, every student in America will now have the option of repaying their student loan as a small fixed percentage of their income for up to 20 years.  This is huge.  This means nobody ever has to drop out of college again because of the cost.  And when you get out of school, if you want to wait a couple years to take a public service job, if you want to be a teacher or go into some other kind of community service, your loan obligation will be determined by your job not the other way around.  This is a massive thing!  And, to boot, it saves $60 billion in government subsidies to banks, $40 billion of which is put into guaranteeing for the next decade that Pell grants and work-study programs and everything else keep up with inflation, the other twenty reduces the deficit by $20 billion.  The Republicans propose to repeal that.”)

Did you know that we remain first in the world in the percentage of students going to college but have fallen from first to ninth in the percentage graduating with a four-year degree – “a calamitous development” – and “what does that tell you about the impact of cost?”

“They actually won seats in Congress saying [in effect], ‘vote for us, we’ll make student loans more expensive and harder to repay and by the way, we’ll increase the deficit.’”   But – and here he raises his voice and accompanies each syllable with a finger wag – “no-bod-y knew – and you cannot turn truth into power if you do not know.

Which is why Fox and the Koch brothers and the Citizens United case are so important.  If you can flood the airwaves with disinformation, you can keep people from knowing.  Or persuade them of “death panels” or that Iraq attacked us on 9/11.  It’s enough to elect leaders who will put the interests of the rich and powerful ahead of the common good.  It can lead to war.  It can lead to depression.  It matters.  And it’s why there is such a concerted effort to make it hard for the young and disadvantaged to register and vote.  That’s what you do if you want to tilt the outcome in favor of the rich and powerful.

“From World War II to 1980,” Clinton told the students in his audience, “the bottom 90% of us consistently took home 65% of national income, the top 10% took home 35%, the top 1% took home 9%.*  That was enough inequality to reward hard work, creativity, and good ideas.  Look how it’s changed since 1980, under the [government-is-the-problem, tax-cuts-for-the-rich] theory.  The bottom 90% share of national income has dropped from 65% to 52%, the top 10% has gone from 35% to 48%, the top 1% has gone to 22%.”

He talks about health care.  He talks about the role of corporations.

“It’s not true that government will mess up a two-car parade,” he says, giving a great example.

There’s so much here.  Watch the whole thing.  And then find a way to get others to watch.

“One of the most pervasive political movements going on outside Washington today,” he says, “is the disciplined, passionate, determined effort of Republican governors and legislators to keep most of you [college students] from voting next time.  There has never been in my lifetime, since we got rid of the poll tax and all the other Jim Crow burdens on voting, the determined effort to limit the franchise that we see today.

Watch the whole thing.  And then find a way to get others to watch.

*Doesn’t add to 100% because that third number – the top 1% — is included in the second number.  Another way of phrasing this: the bottom 90% took home 65%, the next 9% took home 26% and the top 1% took home 9% = 100%.

 

Comments are closed.