THE BIG PICTURE
Kennedy lowered Eisenhower’s top federal income tax bracket from 90% to 70%.
Johnson, Nixon, Ford and Carter left it there until Ronald Reagan lowered it to 50% in his first term – still too high – and then to 28% in his second, which overshot and launched us on our disastrous National Debt spiral.
(Less than a trillion dollars when Reagan and the Republicans took charge, it will be TEN trillion by the time Bush finally leaves. That’s a nation-damaging 70%-of-GDP-and-rising, up from a much more manageable 30%.)
Clinton took the top rate back up to 39.6%, turned the deficits into surpluses by the end of his Administration, and urged that we use that surplus to ‘Save Social Security first,’ which was another way of saying, ‘shore up the nation’s finances and economic reserves.’ Empirically, the Clinton/Gore tax rates seemed about right: Almost everyone prospered, very definitely including ‘the rich’; and our finances were sound.
His successor, our very own George W. Bush, immediately went back to the old Republican let-our-kids-and-grandkids-pay-the-bill ways, lowering the top bracket on earned income modestly, but slashing the top bracket on income from wealth.
- If you were an heiress with a $40 million capital gain, he cut your tax on that gain from $8 million to $6 million, adding the $2 million difference to our National Debt.
- If you were that same heiress with $4 million a year in dividends, you saw your tax slashed from about $1.6 million to $600,000 – with, again, the extra $1 million a year added to our National Debt.
These are the tax cuts Senator McCain wants to make permanent, adding to them by letting the estate tax expire – so billionheirs inherit tax-free – and lowering the corporate income tax so that, if you are that heiress, the corporation you own stock in will be able to pay you a higher dividend.
All of which might be fine, if we could afford it. I like rich people. By some measures – though not remotely by Senator McCain’s – I am a rich person. (Asked to define the point at which one moves from being middle class to being rich, Senator McCain answered, “if you’re just talking about income, how about five million?”)
But we can’t afford it. We are watching our country go down the tubes, month by month, and we need a strong, smart, inspiring young leader – who gets it – to set a new course and get us all pulling together (or as close together as a democracy ever pulls) toward the brighter days that are absolutely possible . . . but – if the last eight years of Republican stewardship have proven anything – are by no means assured.
MORE OF THE SAME – TWO 30-SECOND SPOTS
You won’t see this ad in safely-blue states, but in the toss-up states the point is being made that McBush both think the economy is strong. They just don’t get it.
And in this rather delightful one, the point is made that McCain, while not precisely the same as Bush, is pretty darn close – a point that Barack Obama has been making at practically every event this week. As in:
Now, for nineteen months of this campaign, we’ve been talking about changing the ways of Washington. Changing the policies of George W. Bush. Changing this country we love. And you know what, folks? We must be on to something – because now everyone’s talking about change.
I don’t know if you caught any of the performances in St. Paul last week, but it basically looked like every other convention they’ve had for the last few decades. Lots of yelling. Lots of name-calling. Lots of saying things that aren’t true. But this time, a whole lot of folks who’ve been running Washington for the last eight years actually got up there and told us that they are just the people to change it. They are basically asking us to put the bull back in charge of the China shop.
Seriously. John McCain, who’s been in Washington for twenty-six years, actually got up there on stage with what looked like his eight or ninth house in the background, and he said, “I’ve got news for the old, do-nothing crowd in Washington: change is coming.” Ok, Senator, well you let us know when it gets here because after twenty-six years we haven’t seen any signs of it yet.
Then John McCain stood up and said that if he’s President, it’s over – over – for the all the special interests and lobbyists in Washington – which I guess means that his campaign manager’s out of a job. And his campaign chairman. And the five other corporate lobbyists who actually run his campaign. They better watch out because John McCain’s coming for them.
He said that, quote, “We were elected to change Washington. But we let Washington change us.” And you know what? He’s right. Because today, the John McCain who once showed occasional independence from his party has racked up a record of voting with George Bush 90% of the time.
There’s a lot of words you can use to describe that kind of judgment, but change isn’t one of them.
Change isn’t four more years of tax breaks for the richest corporations in America, but not one penny of tax relief for more than 100 million middle-class families.
Change isn’t four more years of an energy policy that feeds our oil addiction with more oil and $4 billion more for the oil companies.
Change isn’t four more years of tax breaks for the very companies that ship American jobs overseas. That’s not change.
I know something about change. I’m a candidate who’s actually taken on the lobbyists and special interests, and I’ve won. I did it in Illinois, when I passed reform to stop politicians from pocketing campaign contributions for their own private use. I did in Washington, when I stood up to leaders in both parties to pass reform that stopped the lobbyist gift-giving and the free meals and the fancy jet rides subsidized by big corporations. Washington lobbyists do not run my campaign, they have not funded my campaign, and they will not drown out the voices of working people when I am President. That’s what I call change.
Change is a tax code that doesn’t reward the lobbyists who wrote it, but the American workers and small businesses who deserve it. I cut taxes for working families and I will cut taxes – cut taxes – for 95% of working families when I am President. That’s change.
Change is creating jobs in America by giving tax breaks to the companies that actually stay here.
Change is an energy policy that will eliminate the oil we import from the Middle East in ten years by investing in wind power and solar power and the fuel-efficient cars of the future that we will build right here in America. That’s change.
Change is a health care plan that will lower your premiums and cover you no matter what. Change is when your pensions are protected ahead of CEO bonuses, and when we finally keep the promise of equal pay for an equal day’s work in this country, because I want my daughters to have exactly the same opportunities as your sons.
That’s the change I’m offering in this race. That’s the change we need in this country. And that’s the change we’ll have when I am President of the United States.
All actors are idiots, of course, so their views should be ridiculed (well, except Ronald Reagan and Arnold Schwarzenegger and the late Charlton Heston), but here is a clip from Matt Damon (who must be an idiot, because he went to Harvard) – and he asks an interesting question.
(The truth is, of course, actors are not idiots and neither is Sarah Palin. There’s lots to like about her. But as President of the United States? As the most powerful person on a planet in crisis? Just because Dan Quayle never got tapped doesn’t mean it can’t happen. It several times has – once, after just 31 days.)
And one last video for your weekend entertainment, showcasing some of the messages John McCain has approved.
THE REAL McCAIN
Buy it for everyone you know – lest we make another colossal error and choose the wrong man.
Quote of the Day
So we went to Atari and said, 'Hey, we've got this amazing thing, even built with some of your parts, and what do you think about funding us? Or we'll give it to you. We just want to do it. And they said, 'No.'~Apple founder Steve Jobs
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