But first . . .

THE REBATE CHECKS

Nick Drury: ‘I find it ironic that the Republicans supported the current one-time tax rebate program that places most of the benefits in the hands of the poor and middle class as a means to stimulate a stalled economy, but favor the wealthy when making permanent* tax cuts.’

☞ Ironic? I find it true-to-form. To wit:

Paul deLespinasse: ‘Some time ago the matter of hedge fund managers’ ‘carried interest’ being taxed at the low capital gains rate was much in the news. Some hedge fund managers make more than $1 billion (with a B!) in one year. My question: Did these billion dollar managers get away with paying 15% federal income tax on it?’

☞ Yes. The Republicans blocked an effort to tax carried interest – which is nothing more than a performance bonus – as ordinary income. (Hedge funds typically charge their clients ‘two and twenty’ – 2% of the amount invested plus 20% of any profits they make. They report the 2% as ordinary income, but the performance fee as a capital gain, as if they had risked their own capital to make these gains. But they hadn’t. It’s truly an outrage.)

*Note that ‘making the cuts permanent’ means, among other things, actually going through with the scheduled cut in the estate tax on the wealthiest estates from 45% in 2009 to zero percent in 2010 and beyond.

And now . . .

JOHN McCAIN – VERY RICH!

So he and his wife are a couple maybe in the $100 million range – which even these days ain’t hay. Maybe you’re not impressed, but I’ll bet Cindy’s jet, a Citation Excel, is nicer than yours.

Excerpts from a recent Media Matters post:

. . . Last Friday, McCain released his tax filings – sort of. Not that there was any great media pressure on him to do so; while hounding Hillary Clinton to release her tax filings, the media ignored the fact that McCain had not released his – some even falsely claimed that he had already done so. Even after Clinton released hers, the media showed no interest in whether McCain would do likewise. So when McCain finally released an extremely limited portion of his filings – he released only those from the past two years, and only his, not his wife, Cindy’s – it came as no surprise that the media neither dug in with the appetite they brought to Clinton’s taxes nor demanded more.

The media even bought the McCain campaign’s bogus claim that John Kerry’s 2004 campaign provided a precedent for McCain to keep Cindy’s taxes secret. While the Kerry campaign did not release Teresa Heinz Kerry’s complete tax filings, it did release summary pages that showed, for example, her total income, which allowed The New York Times to analyze how much she benefited from the Bush tax cuts. John McCain once said those tax cuts unfairly benefit the wealthy; he and his wife are spectacularly wealthy, and McCain now supports those tax cuts – but we have no way of knowing how much money they save John and Cindy McCain. And the media don’t care.

Remember: Cindy McCain once was investment partners with Charles Keating, around the time McCain was breaking ethics rules by taking free flights on Keating’s jet and being reprimanded by the Senate Ethics Committee after urging regulators to go easy on Keating’s savings and loan. Yet the news media are content to assume that McCain is now clean as a whistle; no need to scrutinize his finances the way they scrutinize Clinton’s and Barack Obama’s. (On MSNBC in February, Time magazine’s Rick Stengel asserted that “McCain is so pure on this issue, ever since the Keating Five when he saw the light. … McCain has toed the line about lobbyists, about campaign fundraising.” How would Stengel know, if he and his fellow journalists refuse to actually examine McCain’s conduct rather than simply asserting his purity?)

On Tuesday, The New York Times ran what should have served as a reminder to other media outlets that stipulating to McCain’s purity is not journalism, it is cheerleading. The Times revealed that McCain helped Donald Diamond, one of his biggest fundraisers, purchase a stretch of California coastal land from the Pentagon – a purchase that netted Diamond a $20 million profit. Diamond explained: “I think that is what Congress people are supposed to do for constituents. … When you have a big, significant businessman like myself, why wouldn’t you want to help move things along? What else would they do? They waste so much time with legislation.”

☞ The rest of the post is strong, too, but on a separate topic – McCain’s ‘decrying’ a TV commercial that attacked one of the Democratic candidates. I can’t resist a snippet:

. . . On Friday’s Today show, McCain insisted, “I’ve done everything that I can to repudiate and to see that this kind of campaigning does not continue.”

. . . But the simple fact is that John McCain could stop the North Carolina Republican Party from running the ad in a heartbeat, if he really wanted to. As the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, he holds enormous leverage over pretty much every Republican on the planet. There are countless ways he could exercise that leverage to prevent the ad from running. . . . McCain could do any of those things or countless others. And he would, if he truly believed it is “imperative” that the ad not run. He would, if he was telling the truth when he said he would “bring every pressure to bear that I can to stop it.”

☞ We all honor McCain’s service. Or certainly should. But what of the rest?

The fact that he’s likeable (like George W. Bush) – and got mediocre grades (like George W. Bush) and comes from wealth (like George W. Bush) . . . and thinks invading Iraq was the right move (like George W. Bush) and wants to appoint ‘clones’ (his words) of the Justices George W. Bush appointed . . . and can’t keep straight whether Iran is Shiia or Sunni (as Bush couldn’t name the president of Pakistan) . . . and wants to make the tax cuts for the wealthy permanent, like George W. Bush (Dems want to keep them for your first couple hundred thousand in income, but go back to the Clinton/Gore rates for the rest) – does not necessarily make him the best choice to shoulder more responsibility than anyone else on the planet. Unless that is, you want a third Bush term. (May Day! May Day!)

Tomorrow: McCain’s economic savvy.

 

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