Wednesday, July 18, 2012

In context: Obama's ‘you didn't build that' comment

By Louis Jacobson
Published on Wednesday, July 18th, 2012 at 5:55 p.m.
Mitt Romney and other Republicans have pounced on a line from President Barack Obama that they say denigrates people who create and build businesses.

As Romney put it in a July 17, 2012, speech in Irwin, Pa., Obama "said this; ‘If you've got a business, you didn't build that. Somebody else made that happen.’"

Here are the relevant excerpts of the speech Obama gave in Roanoke, Va.:


"There are a lot of wealthy, successful Americans who agree with me -- because they want to give something back. They know they didn’t -- look, if you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own. You didn’t get there on your own. I’m always struck by people who think, well, it must be because I was just so smart. There are a lot of smart people out there. It must be because I worked harder than everybody else. Let me tell you something -- there are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there.

"If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business -- you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen. The Internet didn’t get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet.

"The point is, is that when we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together. There are some things, just like fighting fires, we don’t do on our own. I mean, imagine if everybody had their own fire service. That would be a hard way to organize fighting fires.

"So we say to ourselves, ever since the founding of this country, you know what, there are some things we do better together. That’s how we funded the G.I. Bill. That’s how we created the middle class. That’s how we built the Golden Gate Bridge or the Hoover Dam. That’s how we invented the Internet. That’s how we sent a man to the moon. We rise or fall together as one nation and as one people, and that’s the reason I’m running for President -- because I still believe in that idea. You’re not on your own, we’re in this together."

Friday, July 13, 2012

8 Right Wing Obama Myths Debunked

Right wing myths debunked Written by | July 13, 2012 | 4
Right wingers would like to make us believe that Obama is Un-American, Anti-Christian and worse.  Those of us who know the facts, understand otherwise. Below, we have exposed 8 right-wing myths attacking Obama for what they are – complete falsehoods.
Myth 1: The Obamas demanded and spent more money than any first family to move into the White House.
Fact: The Obamas paid for the renovations of the private living quarters in the White House with their own money rather than using the funds provided to all new first families.
Myth 2: The Obamas are Muslims (or atheists) who do not allow Christmas to be celebrated in the White House.
Fact: The Obamas are Christian and celebrate Christmas in a very traditional way during each holiday season at the White House. They also recognized celebrations and customs from other religions. What was different about the Christmas celebration was that the Obamas reused many Christmas ornaments from previous White House trees rather than buy new ones and used LED energy-saving lights.
Myth 3: Obama received extra money as part of his Nobel Peace award and he pocketed it all.
Fact: Obama received the same award as other Nobel laureates, but donated the award money for the prize to several charities.
Myth 4: Obama has been secretive and unwilling to allow public or media access.
Fact:  In only his first year in office, Obama held 23 town hall meetings, gave 158 interviews, and held 42 press/news conferences, as well as 411 speeches, comments, and remarks. * Note: Official numbers are not available on such things, but this seems to be a new record high in the White House.
Myth 5: Obama vacations more than any president.
Fact: In his first year in office, Obama took only 26 days of vacation (2009) * Note: Official numbers are not readily available on such things, but this seems to be a new record low and far lower than Bush
Myth 6: Obama was not born in America and is some sort of international “Manchurian” plant who supports other countries over America.
Fact:  Obama was born in Hawaii in 1961. He has been an internationalist president insofar as he took 10 foreign trips to 21 nations and met with 74 foreign leaders in only his first year in office (he also took 46 out-of-town trips to 58 cities and 30 states his first year in office).
Myth 7: Obama has not kept any of his campaign promises.
Fact: Official numbers are not kept on such things historically, but it appears Obama made more promises and discussed more policy issues during his campaign than any other presidential candidate. But, it also appears he has kept more promises than perhaps any other president. (As of 10/4/11) Obama has kept 147 of his campaign promises and another 197 of them are currently in progress; but he has broken 49 of them and compromised with Republicans on 44 of them; another 69 of his campaign promises have been stalled by Republicans. (Source: PolitiFact)
Myth 8: Obama is Anti-Reagan.
Fact: Obama promoted the celebration of the Reagan Centennial and established the Ronald Reagan Centennial Commission (June 2, 2009)
Popularity: 6% [?]

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Under Obama’s Tax Plan “just 3.5 percent of small business tax filers would pay a higher rate”

I want you to read this quote from Mitt Romney:
“What the President is proposing is therefore a massive tax increase on job creators and on small business.  Small businesses are overwhelmingly being taxed not at a corporate rate, but at the individual tax rate. So successful small businesses will see their taxes go up dramatically and that will kill jobs.”
And I want you to square that with REALITY.  President Obama’s tax plan will raise taxes on 3.5% of small business tax filers.  Now … you may ask yourself … if only 3.5% of small businesses were impacted by the plan – why would Republicans be so up in arms about it?  It’s because of LARGE CORPORATIONS and billionaires that want to avoid being taxed what is already a small rate relative to the average American.
Most people do not understand that the average worker pays 50% more in taxes than someone making $200 million a year.  Don’t believe me – read THIS.
 Republicans have perfected this little bait and switch approach for YEARS.  They tout their commitment to “protecting small business” and then what they actually do … is pass large tax cuts for corporations and really rich people.  THAT is the deal.  After all – it’s those corporations and billionaires that are helping fund those 3rd party attack ads … it’s those corporations who are donating hundreds of millions to defeat political opponents.
In other words – what Mitt Romney and the rest of the Republican party is parroting a lie to protect their wealthy donors.
Jared Bernstein – chief Economist at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities writes HERE:
“The upper-income cuts return $850 billion over 10 years to the Treasury, simply by reverting to the top rates under Clinton, when the wealthy fared perfectly well, the budget balanced, and growth was much stronger and more broadly shared than in the Bush years.  The fact that these upper-income increases hit only the top 2% — and that’s considering both households and small businesses — is also important.  They won’t hurt the wobbly recovery, as these folks are not income constrained in the first place.”
As Talking Points Memo writes HERE:
In its latest estimate last month, Congress’s nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation found that in 2013, just 3.5 percent of small business tax filers would pay a higher rate — about 940,000 individuals, many of whom are lawyers and doctors in partnerships. But those few percent account for 53 percent of all small business income.
GOP aides accept those facts but they say those few small businesses are the ones overseeing growing companies whom the nation is counting on to hire. According to a variety of analyses, the lion’s share of the tax hike would be absorbed by Americans earning well over $1 million.
Late in 2010, when the same debate played out, William Gale, co-director of the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center, called it a “myth” to suggest that ending the tax cut on top marginal rates would hurt small businesses.
As we’ve shown HERE – corporate profits are at an all time high:

As the Economist wrote HERE – lobbying politicians by corporations brings an investment on return “comparable to the returns of the most blistering hedge fund.”  In other words – you scratch my back … I’ll scratch yours.  You get on your knees … I’ll give you some cash.
And you’ll often hear this laughable claim that American corporations have the 2nd highest tax rate in the world!!!  Oh my god – run for cover and vote Republican.  But what does reality look like?  The only thing that matters when it comes to taxes is the EFFECTIVE tax rate – not the marginal tax rate.  America has a MARGINAL tax rate that is 2nd highest in the world … but after corporations take advantage of deductions etc – this is how America’s ACTUAL tax rates i.e. effective tax rates stack up against other major countries (source):

American corporations do not have high tax rates – bottom line.  End of story.  I’m Done.

And over time – this is what how much corporations are paying year to year.  Notice – the burden on corporations keeps going DOWN.  Remember – every $$$ a corporation doesn’t pay because of a special loophole equals a $$$ that you have to pay or a pot hole we can’t fix or a water line that doesn’t get repaired or a free lunch that we don’t give some kid at school.  Every $$$ a corporation doesn’t have to pay in taxes is a $$$ that goes directly to a shareholder and we know that 57% of all capital gains go to the 1%. (source)

Here are a few facts you may want to familiarize yourself with:
  • Corporate tax rates are at a 10 year low (source)
  • 26 corporations had tax REFUNDS over 4 years (2008 – 2011).  Americans PAID taxes so these corporations could continue to make billions in profits.  (source)
  • The U.S. spends double on it’s military what we tax corporations (source)
One more excellent example of just how unequal the tax code is by industry.
But the basic takeaway is that there are plenty of industries that are benefiting from the current corporate tax code, and are likely to fight like hell to preserve the breaks they’re currently getting. Moreover, as Appelbaum notes, a lot of these industries are the sympathetic ones: “High-tech industries pay relatively little in taxes. Utilities and other infrastructure providers pay some of the highest rates.

Source: Ezra Klein

Monday, July 9, 2012

How the 1 Percent and Transnational Corporations Hijacked Our Political System and What to Do About It
A major political realignment is the only way plutocratic control over our current elected officials in DC will change, according to Chuck Collins in his new book, "99 to 1: How Wealth Inequality Is Wrecking the World and What We Can Do about It." Truthout recently interviewed Collins. You can receive his book with a minimum contribution to Truthout by clicking here.
Mark Karlin: Given the frustration at impacting the grip of the plutocracy on the US and our government, let's start off with the subtitle of your book: "Wealth Inequality Is Wrecking the World and What We Can Do About It." What are some of the activities individuals can do to create change, because the oligarchs have control of Congress, for the most part, and the backing of a one-vote majority on the Supreme Court?
Chuck Collins: We need to recognize that the 1 percent and a few thousand transnational corporations currently have captured and hijacked our political system in Washington DC. Over 238 members of the US House of Representatives and 41 Senators have taken a pledge never to vote for a tax increase under any circumstances. Very little meaningful change will happen without a major political realignment.
To shift this, we need to work to eliminate legalized bribery through our current political campaign system. But we must also organize for bold proposals to reduce concentrated wealth and power. These include: taxing the 1 percent, inheritance taxation, shutting down the "off shore system" that enables corporations to dodge taxes, break up the megabanks, and establish federal charters for large corporations that require greater accountability and transparency.
MK: Who are the 1 percent? What characterizes them?
CC: To join the 1 percent, you have income over $500,000 and/or wealth over $5 million. Within the 1 percent there are good people who have devoted their lives and money to a fair economy. They are part of networks like Wealth for the Common Good and the Patriotic Millionaires.
But there are also "rule riggers" and "game fixers," the greedy people who use their wealth and power to rig the rules of the economy in their favor. These are the people, like the billionaire Koch brothers, that we must defend our communities from. They use their power in the form of campaign contributions, charitable foundations, and organizing their peers,
MK: You have a chapter, "How Inequality Wrecks Everything We Care About." You discuss how it disrupts our sense of community. Would you expand upon that?
CC: Extreme inequalities of wealth tear our communities apart. A growing body of research shows too much inequality undermines public health, happiness and social mobility. At the root of this, extreme inequality leads to a breakdown of social solidarity and a sense that "we are all in the same boat." Extremely unequal societies stop making investments in education, infrastructure, public health and public programs that create opportunity and sustain the common good.
MK: How are the rules rigged for the 1 percent?
CC: A segment of the 1 percent uses its wealth and power to tip the rules of the economy in their favor. These rules include tax policy, trade policy, and corporate regulation. Rule changes such as whether the minimum wage goes up or workers have the right to organize.
For the last 30 years, the rules of the economy have favored the wealth holders at the expense of wage earners, favor global corporations at the expense of small business. Taxes on rich have gone down since the mid-1950s.
MK: You have a chapter that claims "the sleeping 99 percent giant wakes up." There is no question, as Truthout daily covers this, that there is an increase in public protest movements and even corporate media coverage of income inequality (limited, but still more than in the past). Yet, many citizens of the US who are in the 99 percent support politicians who vote on behalf of the 1 percent. To what is the gap here due?
CC: Yes, its true. Right-wing organizations - and the media that they control - does a bang up job distracting people and deflecting anger that should be directed at the greedy 1 percent and the "built to loot" transnational corporations. But some of this is cracking - with the further erosion of the middle-class - has increased the percentage of the population that understand that shrink government, pro-rich policies aren't going to improve their economic security.
MK: Given the license to buy elections granted under the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision, what makes you hopeful that the super-rich can be removed from pulling the strings in DC?
CC: First, there is a huge awakening in a lot of different sectors about corporate domination and wealth inequality. Fewer people in the 99 percent are swallowing the snake oil - and recognize that "we the people" and representative government is the only countervailing power to runaway corporate power. Secondly, there are allies in the 1 percent like the Patriotic Millionaires. Third, people aren't waiting for President Obama to lead - they are taking action and pressing for what they believe - evidence of the "move our money movement" or "move to amend" resolutions at the local level to reverse Citizen United.
MK: Don't the ultrawealthy have more in common with their global equals in assets rather than with their own nations?
CC: Yes, the wealthy 1 percent in different nations have more in come as a global elite than they do with their own country-women and men. Their wealth is mobile and they are huge users of the "offshore tax haven system" - that give global capital the ability to avoid taxes, regulation and accountability.
MK: How does our current time period compare with the Gilded Age of the robber barons?
CC: There are amazing similarities. One hundred years ago was the last time the richest 1 percent had over 40 percent of all private wealth. Corporations dominated and corrupted our political system. Similar to 2008, extreme inequalities in 1929 contributed to economic instability and depression.
It's important to remember that we reversed these extreme inequalities of wealth between 1929 and 1940. We taxed concentrated wealth and made investments in education, like the GI bill, to expand education and housing opportunity.
MK: Advocates for the wealthy keep touting small businesses as the backbone of America. Yet, global corporate giants are in the business of putting small businesses out of business. Isn't that the case?
CC: The vast majority of small businesses are rooted in localities and are "built to last," as business journalist Jim Collins calls them. They won't stay in business for long if they mistreat their customers, employees and communities.
In my book I describe the couple thousand big global corporations that are wrecking the world as "built to loot" companies. Their business model is all about shifting their costs off their own balance sheet - shedding jobs, dodging taxes and trashing the environment - and leaving the rest of us to pick up after them. They are not "job creators," they are job destroyers.
MK: How did Wall Street and the emergence of financial firms that engage in everything from banking to hedge funds nearly bring down the Us economy with their manipulation of "funny money": financial manipulation of trillions of dollars that they basically xeroxed and have no relation to actual assets?
CC: Over the last 40 years, the financial sector gained more political clout - and they used that power to ward off regulation and oversight. Even today, Bank of America and the 5 other mega financial institutions have gained market share and power. We have to advocate for breaking up the megabanks, allocating their assets to community-based financial institutions that are meeting the real credit needs of our communities - not speculating in finance.
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