Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Not All Democrats Are The Same


Conservatives opposed Social Security and have been trying to undermine it since it was signed into law August 14, 1935, Right from the day it was proposed Republicans and conservative Democrats were howling at the moon that it was deepen unemployment-- their standard false argument against everything under the sun. The same crew also accused Social Security of being socialism-- since the words have many letters in common. Southern conservatives threatened to tank it if blacks were included and Republicans also worked hard to keep women from being covered.

The program has been successful and popular and has made it much more difficult for Republicans and conservative Democrats to attack it. But that doesn't stop them. Although, the conservative establishment Democrat running for president has not committed to to Social Security expansion, most Democratic lawmakers side with Bernie Sanders on this one-- as do nearly 80% of American voters, across the party spectrum.

Conservative Democratic Party leaders have overseen the loss of nearly 1,000 state legislative seats and 70 congressional seats because they implement insipid messaging as part of election strategies built around their fear of standing with the majorities who demand the rich pay their fair share of taxes and that Social Security expansion be a focus of Democratic electoral strategy. Instead you find mealy-mouthed New Dems sounding exactly like the Republicans who opposed FDR's original proposals. As Social Security Works reminded its supporters yesterday, "When Democrats run on milquetoast policies, such as opposing privatization instead of taking bold stances such as expanding Social Security, they fail to inspire voters and fail to truly address the major economic issues facing our country." Today's big NY Times story that everyone was talking about, For the Wealthiest, a Private Tax System That Saves Them Billions by Noam Scheiber and Patricia Cohen, lays out one of the ways how the super-rich, particularly billionaire hedge fund-operators, have systematized not paying their fair share of taxes. "The trick," they ask? "Route the money to Bermuda and back." And they finance the careers of shady politicians, crooks like Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan on one side of the aisle and Chuck Schumer and his Schumercrats on the other side, to make it all legal.
With inequality at its highest levels in nearly a century and public debate rising over whether the government should respond to it through higher taxes on the wealthy, the very richest Americans have financed a sophisticated and astonishingly effective apparatus for shielding their fortunes. Some call it the “income defense industry,” consisting of a high-priced phalanx of lawyers, estate planners, lobbyists and anti-tax activists who exploit and defend a dizzying array of tax maneuvers, virtually none of them available to taxpayers of more modest means.

In recent years, this apparatus has become one of the most powerful avenues of influence for wealthy Americans of all political stripes, including Mr. Loeb and Mr. Cohen, who give heavily to Republicans, and the liberal billionaire George Soros, who has called for higher levies on the rich while at the same time using tax loopholes to bolster his own fortune.

All are among a small group providing much of the early cash for the 2016 presidential campaign.

Operating largely out of public view-- in tax court, through arcane legislative provisions and in private negotiations with the Internal Revenue Service-- the wealthy have used their influence to steadily whittle away at the government’s ability to tax them. The effect has been to create a kind of private tax system, catering to only several thousand Americans.

The impact on their own fortunes has been stark. Two decades ago, when Bill Clinton was elected president, the 400 highest-earning taxpayers in America paid nearly 27 percent of their income in federal taxes, according to I.R.S. data. By 2012, when President Obama was re-elected, that figure had fallen to less than 17 percent, which is just slightly more than the typical family making $100,000 annually, when payroll taxes are included for both groups.

The ultra-wealthy “literally pay millions of dollars for these services,” said Jeffrey A. Winters, a political scientist at Northwestern University who studies economic elites, “and save in the tens or hundreds of millions in taxes.”

Some of the biggest current tax battles are being waged by some of the most generous supporters of 2016 candidates. They include the families of the hedge fund investors Robert Mercer, who gives to Republicans [and just dropped a tidy $30 million on Ted Cruz's SuperPAC], and James Simons, who gives to Democrats; as well as the options trader Jeffrey Yass, a libertarian-leaning donor to Republicans.

Mr. Yass’s firm is litigating what the agency deemed to be tens of millions of dollars in underpaid taxes. Renaissance Technologies, the hedge fund Mr. Simons founded and which Mr. Mercer helps run, is currently under review by the I.R.S. over a loophole that saved their fund an estimated $6.8 billion in taxes over roughly a decade, according to a Senate investigation. Some of these same families have also contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to conservative groups that have attacked virtually any effort to raises taxes on the wealthy.
You see former Treasury Secretary Larry Summer's opinion piece in today's Washington Post? He's not from the Bernie Sanders/Elizabeth Warren wing of the Democratic Party but his point was that "Sanders is right in his central point that financial policy is overly influenced by financial interests to its detriment and that it is essential that this be repaired... Sanders is right that Fed governance has been and is overly tied up with the financial sector. Each of the 12 regional Feds has a board of directors that is made up of nine people-- three banking representatives, three private-sector non-banking representatives and three public interest representatives. The fact that a member of Goldman Sachs’s board at the time of the 2008 crisis was the “public interest” chairman of the New York Fed board is, to put it mildly, indefensible." Don't get too excited though; he then takes a more conservative, establishment, Hillary-oriented "we better not do much of anything" approach, the approach that has made the Democratic Party so worthless to most Americans in recent decades.

Not all Democrats are the same-- nor have they ever been. There have been conservative Democrats working against American families with Republicans for generations. The Democratic Party may be going into a dark period, as Wall Street-owned New Dems take over more and more of the House leadership and the Senator from Wall Street, Chuck Schumer and his pack of vile Schumercrats prepares to take over leadership of the Senate Democrats. The only hope for Democrats in the short run is nominating Bernie Sanders and dedicated progressives who are running on his platform. You can find them here. But not on the 7 second video of the deceitful, wormy little Schumercrat below:

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