Wednesday, December 7, 2011

A New Pair for the President?

On Monday, 12/5, President Obama said, regarding Republicans trying to stop the continuation of the payroll tax cuts for hardworking taxpayers*, "Now, I know many Republicans have sworn an oath** [to lobbyist, Grover Norquist] never to raise taxes as long as they live. How could it be that the only time there's a catch is when it comes to raising taxes on middle class families? How can you fight tooth and nail to protect high-end tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans and yet barely lift a finger to prevent taxes going up for 160 million Americans who really need the help? It doesn't make sense."

The Republican response to this statement was (predictably) that these tax cuts need to be paid for.

And the President's response to the unashamed hypocrisy of Republicans ALWAYS saying that you NEVER have to pay for tax cuts because tax cuts pay for themselves - except for this ONE time that it doesn't help millionaires and billionaires, "...they haven't always felt that way. Over the last decade, they didn't feel the need to pay for massive tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans [referring to the Bush tax cuts in ’01 & ’03], which is one of the reasons we face such large deficits. So, forgive me a little bit of confusion when I hear folks insisting on tax cuts being paid for."

Obama, in front of reporters and cameras and other recording devices where people could see and hear him publicly fight for the middle class, pointed out the fact that Republicans fight ONLY for rich people and that they always fight against the needs of the middle class and poor.

Is Obama finally showing he has a pair of balls and is suddenly standing up to the increasingly-growing-more-fascist-by-the-day Republican Party for the first time since he attained the highest office in the land? Is he finally starting to fight for the middle class? Is the Occupy movement having an effect on politics?

We shall see. But listen to these virtually identical Occupy-themed words coming out of Obama’s mouth in a speech he gave in Osawatomie, Kansas on Tuesday, 12/6:

“…I believe that this country succeeds when everyone gets a fair shot. When everyone does their fair share. When everyone plays by the same rules. These aren’t Democratic values or Republican values. These aren’t 1% values or 99% values. They’re American values. And we have to reclaim them. …In the last few decades, the average income of the top 1% has gone up by more than 250 percent to 1.2 million dollars per year. I’m not talking about millionaires, people who have a million dollars, I’m saying people who make a million dollars every single year. For the top one hundredth of one percent, the average income is now 27 million dollars per year. The typical CEO who used to earn about 30 times more than his or her worker, now earns 110 times more. And yet over the last decade, the incomes of most Americans have actually fallen by about 6 percent. Now, this kind of inequality, a level we haven’t seen since the great depression, hurts us all. Inequality also distorts our democracy. It gives an outsized voice to the few who can afford high-priced lobbyists and unlimited campaign contributions. And it runs the risk of selling out our democracy to the highest bidder (I think he just said: fuck you, supreme court). It leaves everyone else rightly suspicious that the system in Washington is rigged against them. That our elected representatives aren’t looking out for the interests of most Americans.” 

Osawatomie is where Teddy Roosevelt gave his "New Nationalism" speech 101 years ago. In that speech, Roosevelt, a Republican, expressed the need for economic fairness and equal opportunity for all. Including health care and social security. And he especially attacked the fact that business interests controlled both established parties of government.

Hmm. Seems Teddy fought for the 99% way back in 1910. 

Do you think President Obama accidentally chose this place to give this speech that honors President Roosevelt’s speech? 

Full Text of Obama’s speech in Osawatomie, Kansas

And in case any of you still foolishly believe the talking point that the Occupy Movement has no coherent message: The 99 Percent Declaration

It's a bit more intelligent and comprehensive than anything going on in government right now. 

Good day. 

*You like how I used Frank Luntz's re-phrase, "hardworking taxpayers" against Republicans? (See December 2nd blogpost: "Spin Cycle")

**From Wikipedia:

Taxpayer Protection Pledge
As of late 2011, 238 of 242 House Republicans and 41 out of 47 Senate Republicans had signed Americans for Tax Reform's "Taxpayer Protection Pledge", in which the pledger promises to "oppose any and all efforts to increase the marginal income tax rate for individuals and business; and to oppose any net reduction or elimination of deductions and credits, unless matched dollar for dollar by further reducing tax rates."

In November 2011, Senate Majority leader Harry Reid (D-NV) blamed Norquist's influence for the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction's lack of progress, claiming that Congressional Republicans "are being led like puppets by Grover Norquist. They’re giving speeches that we should compromise on our deficit, but never do they compromise on Grover Norquist. He is their leader." Since Norquist's pledge binds signatories to opposing deficit reduction agreements that include any element of increased tax revenue, some Republican deficit hawks now retired from office have stated that Norquist has become an obstacle to deficit reduction. Former Republican Senator Alan Simpson, co-chairman of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, has been particularly critical, describing Norquist's position as "[n]o taxes, under any situation, even if your country goes to hell."

Americans for Tax Reform
Grover Norquist is best known for founding Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) in 1985, which he says was done at the request of then-President Ronald Reagan. Referring to Norquist's activities as head of ATR, Steve Kroft, in a 60 Minutes episode that aired on November 20, 2011, claimed that "Norquist has been responsible, more than anyone else, for rewriting the dogma of the Republican Party."

The primary policy goal of Americans for Tax Reform is to reduce government revenues as a percentage of the GDP. ATR states that it "opposes all tax increases as a matter of principle." Americans for Tax Reform has supported Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR) legislation and transparency initiatives, while opposing cap-and-trade legislation and Democratic efforts to overhaul health care.

In 1993, Norquist launched his Wednesday Meetings series at ATR headquarters, initially to help fight President Clinton's healthcare plan and eventually becoming one of the most significant institutions in American conservative political organizing. The meetings have been called "a must-attend event for Republican operatives fortunate enough to get an invitation", and "the Grand Central station of the conservative movement."

In 2009, Norquist received $200,000 in annual compensation for his part-time job (24 hours per week) with Americans for Tax Reform, plus an additional $22,419 in other compensation from ATR and related organizations.

As a nonprofit organization, Americans for Tax Reform is not required to disclose the identity of its contributors. Critics such as Sen. Alan Simpson, have asked Norquist to disclose his contributors; he has declined but has said that ATR is financed by direct mail and other grassroots fundraising efforts. According to CBS News, "a significant portion appears to come from wealthy individuals, foundations and corporate interests."

I would also like to point out that signing a pledge to a lobbyist is just about the most un-American, anti-Constitutional thing a politician can do – short of rape or murder. It shows you owe your allegiance to a lobbyist instead of the United States of America. Imagine if the President’s inaugural speech was about defending a lobbyist’s best interests instead of about defending America’s best interests. Fuck you, fascist Republicans. And fuck your fascist leader, Grover.

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