According to this CBS Sunday Morning commentary yesterday, 80% of all the growth in our collective income from 1980 to 2005 “went to the people who needed it least – the richest 1%.” The remaining 20% went to the bottom 99%.
And the prevailing Republican view has been that these richest 1% deserve the biggest tax breaks. Even in times of war. The wars themselves can be financed by borrowing from the Chinese (or from the Social Security Trust Fund or from our children, depending on how you want to spin it).
That Joe plumbers earning $30,000 and $130,000 a year are eager to sacrifice so much for folks making $3 million and $13 million a year is something relatively new. I don’t remember hearing a huge outcry in the Fifties among the middle class that the top federal tax bracket under Eisenhower was 90%
But there it is and here we are.
If YOU want to defer infrastructure repair and lay off teachers and cops in order to keep income above $250,000 taxed at the lowest rates in 80 years . . . vote Republican.
If YOU want your grandparents to pay an extra $4,000 a year for their prescription drugs (“the doughnut hole”) in order to keep income above $250,000 taxed at the lowest rates in 80 years . . . vote Republican.
If YOU want the cost of college to go back up in order to keep income above $250,000 taxed at the lowest rates in 80 years . . . vote Republican.
(And, a corollary . . . if YOU want to roll back safety, environmental, and consumer regulation, and think Obama was too tough on BP . . . vote Republican.)
There’s no need for ominous music here. And this is not a debating trick. The Republican positions are clear. They plainly state that they want to repeal the infrastructure component of the stimulus package (which was already too small). They refuse to allow extension of the tax cuts on income below $250,000 unless we also borrow $700 billion over the next decade to extend the cuts on income above $250,000. They filibuster to prevent establishment of a Bipartisan Deficit Reduction Commission (which had been their own idea until Obama signed on to it). They hope to cripple or defund the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau; wish we could abolish the minimum wage; oppose equal pay for women and equal rights for gays.
About half the country seems to share these priorities.* If that’s you, vote Republican.
*Or else they simply connect better with the Bushes of the world (a C student) and McCains (third from the bottom of his class of 897) and Palins (a D in economics) than they connect with snobby Rhodes Scholars (Bill Clinton) and Harvard Law Review editors (Barack Obama) who urge us to vote Democrat and keep America moving forward. Even a footnote like this will come off as snarky and elitist to some, helping to drive them to vote against their own self interest. But look: the country – and our species – face seriously complex challenges. Popularity and the common touch are important; but brilliance, rigorous education, and a long-term vision should also be prerequisites. And once we have a leader like that (as we did with Clinton and do with Obama), it hurts our future to work so hard at demonizing him. And trying to make him fail.
Alliance Fiber Optic Products lost the D from its symbol a few weeks ago but reported good earnings last week. The stock closed Friday at $10.02, up 25% since Aristides’s Chris Brown suggested it here last month. “It is probably trading at just over 5x forward earnings if you back out the $43 million in cash on the balance sheet,” he now advises me. “For a company that has consistently grown revenues over time, that still seems cheap.” So I hold on.