Tuesday, March 18, 2014

GOP Plutocrat Ken Langone And New Dem Wall Street Shill Jim Himes Are Waging Class War Against American Families


Although he occasionally writes a check to Democratic corporate whores who serve Wall Street and fight for the plutocracy-- like Chuck Schumer, Kirsten Gillibrand, Andrew Cuomo, Steve Israel and Cory Booker-- in the last few election cycles Ken Langone has contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars-- at least $800,000-- to the Republican Party, to right-wing Republican candidates and to GOP committees (like $25,000 to Rove's American Crossroads). Forbes estimates his net worth at around $2.1 billion, so his contributions of around $800,000, would be like a normal person giving something like $80. And for that investment he has had an inordinate say over the direction of the Republican Party. No one knows which billionaire told Politico's Ben White and Maggie Haberman that American oligarchs and Russian oligarchs are playing for the same team-- their own. Was it Langone? Could well have been. Here's what they wrote:
On the national level, the shift away from a focus on income inequality and reining in Wall Street stems both from the economy, which is slowly improving, and the dominant issue of the day, which is now the crisis in Ukraine. The aggressive actions of Russian President Vladimir Putin have eased the anxieties of Wall Streeters sick of being portrayed as the enemy. “We obviously see other things driving the news cycle,” a top industry executive said. “Ukraine keeps the focus off the evil 1 percent, so I guess we have Putin to thank for that. The improving economy helps as well.”
One thing for sure, the only way to resist the class war being waged against AmericAn families is to fight back-- and fight back hard. Billionaires should be taxed out of existence for the good of society. Their political puppets-- from whichever party-- need to be defeated at the polls. More from White and Haberman this morning:
In two-dozen interviews, the denizens of Wall Street and wealthy precincts around the nation said they are still plenty worried about the shift in tone toward top earners and the popularity of class-based appeals. On the right, the rise of populists including Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz still makes wealthy donors eyeing 2016 uncomfortable. But wealthy Republicans-- who were having a collective meltdown just two months ago-- also say they see signs that the political zeitgeist may be shifting back their way and hope the trend continues.

“I hope it’s not working,” Ken Langone, the billionaire co-founder of Home Depot and major GOP donor, said of populist political appeals. “Because if you go back to 1933, with different words, this is what Hitler was saying in Germany. You don’t survive as a society if you encourage and thrive on envy or jealousy.”

Langone’s comments-- sure to draw ire from those who find such comparisons to Nazi Germany insensitive-- echo previous remarks from venture capitalist Tom Perkins, who likened the actions of some in the Occupy Wall Street movement to the Kristallnacht attacks on Jews in 1938. Perkins gave several interviews after the ensuing uproar, but he never really backed away from the comparison. And Langone showed no hesitancy in invoking the Nazis when describing current populist rhetoric.

And Langone's siren song, while extreme and filled with the class warfare hatred the entitled rich feel towards working families, isn't just a Republican song. When it comes to serving the interests of great wealth, conservative Democrats-- particularly Blue Dogs and New Dems-- are no better than garden variety Republicans. The media may be incensed over Langone's Nazi comparison today but the real outrage is New Dem Vice Chair Jim Himes and his ilk beating, essentially, the same drum for plutocracy.
The Democratic power elite now believe that appeals to raise the minimum wage and extend unemployment insurance are not enough to overcome Obama’s deep unpopularity and frustration with the president’s signature health care law. They fear that unless Democrats shift footing to a more hopeful, growth-based message, the party could lose the Senate and drop double-digit seats in the House.

“Reducing inequality is good, but it’s 50 times better to do it by lifting those up who are low than by tearing those down who are high,” said Larry Summers, the former treasury secretary whose bid to become Fed chair got derailed by the more liberal wing of the Democratic Party. “The politics of envy are the wrong politics in America. The better politics are the politics of inclusion where everyone shares in economic growth.”

Democratic Rep. Jim Himes, whose Connecticut district includes many wealthy Wall Street executives, said the populism associated with de Blasio and Massachusetts Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren was never as dominant as the media suggested. “All too often people forget that this is just one politician from Massachusetts and one from New York City and what they say is not going to dominate politics in Arkansas, or Florida or Texas or anywhere else,” Himes said. “Income distribution may be far from ideal, but people don’t necessarily only want to hear about increased taxes on the wealthy.”

Wall Street Democrats believe Obama is fundamentally sympathetic to that argument. “The energy in the party may be with progressives, but Obama is still the same cool, pragmatic guy he’s always been,” said a Wall Streeter who attended the recent fundraiser with the president at Blackstone Group President Tony James’s Manhattan home. “He’s got liberal values, but he’d always like to cut a deal.”

Obama’s New York trip last week also included a Democratic National Committee fundraiser at the home of Alan and Susan Patricof, wealthy donors who strongly backed Hillary Clinton in 2008 and have mostly stayed away from events featuring the president. Some saw the DNC fundraiser as Obama acknowledging the need to embrace a broader swath of the business community after five years of strained relations.
Meanwhile, despite Langone's blood curdling class war cries, the rich basically continue to pay relatively minute taxes, far from their fair share.
Profitable corporations are supposed to pay a 35 percent federal income tax rate on their U.S. profits. But many corporations pay far less, or nothing at all, because of the many tax loopholes and special breaks they enjoy.
As a group, the 288 corporations examined paid an effective federal income tax rate of just 19.4 percent over the five-year period-- far less than the statutory 35 percent tax rate.

Twenty-six of the corporations, including Boeing, General Electric, Priceline.com and Verizon, paid no federal income tax at all over the five-year period. A third of the corporations (93) paid an effective tax rate of less than ten percent over that period.

Of those corporations in our sample with significant offshore profits, two-thirds paid higher corporate tax rates to foreign governments where they operate than they paid in the U.S. on their U.S. profits.

The sectors with the lowest effective corporate tax rates over the five-year period were utilities (2.9 percent), industrial machinery (4.3 percent), telecommunications (9.8 percent), oil, gas and pipelines (14.4 percent), transportation (16.4 percent), aerospace and defense (16.7 percent) and financial (18.8 percent).

The tax breaks claimed by these companies are highly concentrated in the hands of a few very large corporations. Just 25 companies claimed $174 billion in tax breaks over the five years between 2008 and 2012. That’s almost half the $364 billion in tax subsidies claimed by all of the 288 companies in our sample.

Five companies-- Wells Fargo, AT&T, IBM, General Electric, and Verizon-- enjoyed over $77 billion in tax breaks during this five-year period.
Among the recommendation from Citizens for Tax Justice and the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy are repealing the rule allowing American multinational corporations to indefinitely “defer” their U.S. taxes on their offshore profits. This reform would effectively remove the tax incentive to shift profits and jobs overseas; limit the ability of tech and other companies to use executive stock options to reduce their taxes by generating phantom “costs” these companies never actually incur; reinstate a strong corporate Alternative Minimum Tax that really does the job it was originally designed to do; and require more complete and transparent geography-specific public disclosure of corporate income and tax payments than the Securities and Exchange Commission’s regulations currently mandate.

If anti-democracy plutocrats like Ken Langone want something to whine about, we should at least give them something worth whining about. And maybe encourage them to move to Moscow.

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At 5:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have never been hired (or paid) by an unsuccessful, poor guy. Have you? Want more? Earn it and quit whining. Winners don't whine.


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