October 27, 2008

I’m Joe the plumber, and I’ve decided who I’ll vote for.

Posted in 2008 Elections, John McCain's campaign, Presidential campaign, Senator Barack H. Obama, taxes, U.S. Economy tagged , , , , , , , , , , at 2:51 pm by realitytax

I’m Joe the plumber, and I’ve done some research into who will raise my taxes more, and I’ve reached a conclusion. It’s not an easy choice. I wanted to consider capital gains tax, too, because I own a home.

OK, I should clarify a few things in the interest of full disclosure.  My first name isn’t really Joe, but you can call me Joe, OK?  And while I’m not a licensed plumber if you’ve ever tried to install a garbage disposal, or reseat a toilet on a new wax ring yourself, you know you want somebody else to do it for you. OK, technically my boss isn’t running a licensed plumbing company either, but all that regulation isn’t really necessary, is it?  I mean, sure, a bit of regulation might have helped prevent the need to bailout the rich guys running Wall Street Banks and big insurance companies like AIG, but come on – plumbers?  What could go wrong?

See, here’s the thing: I’ve got the entrepreneurial spirit.  I don’t mean like some guy who rides in to town selling snake oil in the old wild west, either. I want to own my own business, that’s my version of the American dream.  I’ll bet you’re a lot like me – unless you’ve always voted for the same party in every election, or you’re a licensed plumber, of course.  So I compared McCain and Obama on other stuff, too, like their plan for health care (’cause that cost matters to a guy like me – I don’t actually even have health care right now.)

My family thinks I’m making it.  They make light-hearted jokes, and call me “Lord of the Rings” when it’s time to fix a toilet.  They think it’s very cool that I work for a small business.  Honestly? I’d be happy to earn more at a big company right now, but when the boss doesn’t even take in $250,000 in gross receipts it’s not like I can expect to be making six figures myself, right?

McCain’s an honorable man, he’s personally avoided making outright attacks as reprehensible as, say, Congresswoman Michelle Bachman who can’t even figure why she should apologize for implying a Senator might be un-American! Furthermore, he’s actually running as much against his record of voting with Bush as Senator Norm Coleman up in Minnesota, so even if his plans aren’t as well-developed and spelled out as Obama’s we know McCain’s now against some of what Bush got wrong anyway.

And I know that politicians will often say anything to win, so I’m not surprised that not everything coming out of the McCain campaign is true or that his message changes. That’s just politics as usual. I sure don’t expect that the media is covering either candidate accurately – they’re in it to make money, after all, they want us to keep tuning in, and that’s just business

Based on research, endorsements by people who obviously know more than I do, and talking to friends I’ve decided to vote for Barack Obama on November 4th.  

It’s just a lot easier for me to trust that a guy who only owns one house might follow through on his promises to work for the good of everybody. I mean, come on: McCain’s wife spent more on one outfit than I’ve earned in the last 8 years, just how concerned would he be about my taxes, leaky toilet flappers, homes being foreclosed, and other issues that matter to me here in the midwest if he gets an 8th house by being elected to fix the mess George Bush made of the budget and the Middle East?

I’m Joe the Plumber,
sometimes known as “Lord of the Rings,”
and I approve this message.

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October 16, 2008

Can somebody explain McCain’s goals and priorities?

Posted in 2008 debate, 2008 Elections, foreclosure crisis, health care, John McCain's campaign, mortgage reform, Presidential campaign, Senator Barack H. Obama, senior citizens, taxes, U.S. Economy tagged , , , , , , , , , , , at 6:11 pm by realitytax

I don’t understand McCain’s priorities or his rationales. Maybe he’s never heard of insurance companies controlling medical procedures and limiting access to prescriptions – he’s got better coverage than I do, certainly. After watching the final Presidential debate of 2008 I can’t see how most senior citizens in the U.S.A. can afford McCain’s policies; he voted against much needed-increases in Medicare funding, taking away many seniors’ only access to health care.  He thinks the health care system is working just fine.

Senator McCain evidently has a different view of Social Security than I do. McCain wants to privatizes Social Security, as Bush had championed, so we’re all dependent on the vagaries of the stock market. We’ve seen the downside of that risky approach.  McCain, who championed deregulation in the stock markets, thinks the health care insurance industry should be similarly allowed to regulate itself. He asserts that will improve our health care without getting bureaucrats in the way, but he wants government bureaucrats to ride to the rescue of 11 million homes with bad mortgage deals, armed with $300 billion from the bailout plan. Am I the only one who sees a disconnect?

Turmoil in financial markets threatens – if not undermines – our retirement savings. Coupled to rising costs for everything from health care to energy, senior citizens and others on fixed incomes are looking for a leader who will use the office of the Presidency to improve our financial security via fiscally sound,  robust economic policies.  Yet McCain wants to deal with health care reform by granting insurance companies the latitude that banks used to crash the stock market?

Obama-Biden spokesman Bill Burton called on McCain to support Obama’s New Small Business Rescue Plan, saying:

Barack Obama supports allowing senior citizens to delay withdrawals from 401(k)s, and believes we don’t have to wait for Congress to act to provide seniors with these protections. He’s calling on the Treasury Secretary to temporarily suspend Treasury regulations and allow seniors to delay these withdrawals. He also hopes that Senator McCain will reconsider his ill-advised support for Social Security privatization, which suffers from the very same problem he is now trying to solve since it would potentially force seniors to retire when the market is down and their retirement accounts have disappeared. Senator Obama also calls on Senator McCain to support his new small business rescue plan that will extend badly-needed credit and tax relief to the men and women who are creating jobs in this troubled economy.

Senator Obama has a plan to help America’s senior citizens. Barack Obama and Senator Biden intend to protect Social Security and make sure Americans can afford to retire. The Obama-Biden proposals will expand retirement savings program and create new pension programs. Obama’s plan will eliminate income tax altogether for seniors who make less than $50,000 per year.

The Obama-Biden plan will protect and strengthen Medicare, and allow the federal government to negotiate for cheaper drugs for the Medicare program, so seniors can afford their pills. Obama will also increase funding for LIHEAP, to help seniors pay their winter heating bills.  I get that McCain wants to win, that he seeks the prestige of being President after years of service in the U.S. Congress, but I prefer the vision Obama and Biden have expressed – their ambition to use the influence of the White House to make changes that foster financial security and bolster national pride while positioning the U.S.A as a leader on issues ranging from energy and the environment to fundamental human rights.

McCain’s a fine man, and I’m sure he’d be an adequate President for those who are so wealthy that taxes are a theoretical number handled for them by an accountant that never impact their daily spending decisions.  The rest of us – the folks on Main Street who are still waiting for Bush’s economic policies to trickle down some personal economic prosperity or to create some jobs – will be better off under the inspired leadership of “that one.”

October 5, 2008

McCain campaign misleads public on Obama’s tax plan.

Posted in 2008 Elections, attack ads, John McCain's campaign, Presidential campaign, Rove and Rovian attack politics, Senator Barack H. Obama, taxes, U.S. Economy tagged , , , , , , , at 12:51 am by realitytax

Senator Barack Obama is proposing tax cuts that would help struggling, middle-class families get back on track and provide relief during these financially uncertain times.

No matter how many times John McCain claims otherwise, the overwhelming majority of Americans will never see a tax increase under Senator Obama’s plans. Obama’s proposals will lower tax rates for 95% of families, including the small business owners that are the core of our economic well-being. It’s time to help the folks that have been hurt the most by the Bush economic policies that McCain has backed for the past eight years.

John McCain pledged to run and honorable, honest campaign. Instead he’s been using his stump speeches and attack ads to purposefully mislead voters about Obama’s real tax plans. That old school style of politics may have seemed acceptable, just “business as usual,” in the past – but there’s no place for it in the United States in 2008.  This year we need real, thoughtful solutions, and honest answers from those who seek to lead us out of the economic mess we’re in.

The crisis that we’re facing calls for innovative changes. We can’t get out of this mess using the same thinking and tactics that got us into it. John McCain’s plan calls for renewing Bush’s tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans. That didn’t create jobs. That didn’t stimulate economic growth. In fact, that approach is fundamentally more of the same, and the United State of America just can’t afford it.

No more lies.

McCain lies about Obama's tax planBefore you vote, know who will raise your taxes more. According to independent, non-partisan comparisons, if you earn less than $250,000 per year? It’s McCain.

John McCain wants to preserve and protect the tax cuts for the wealthy at the expense of the middle class, what we used to call “trickle down economics.”  So far, all that’s trickled down is pain, high gas prices, unemployment,  and foreclosures.

Sound bites won’t fix our economy. It’s no wonder he and his running mate don’t want us looking back: if we learn from history they’re doomed.

 

October 2, 2008

Much ado about…Gwen Ifill? Soft bigotry of low expectations for Gov. Palin

Posted in 2008 debate, 2008 Elections, media coverage, PBS, Presidential campaign, Sarah Palin, Senator Barack H. Obama, soft bigotry, U.S. Economy, VP tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 3:12 am by realitytax

Seriously? The extremists with an audience are out in full force today ranting that Gwen Ifill, the moderator of the much-anticipated October 2 Vice Presidential Debate, isn’t without bias. Michelle Malkin, for example, is outraged that Ifill has a book in the works about Senator Barack Obama. Mind you, it hasn’t been released yet, so Malkin could be just a shill trying to help Ifill’s publicity in advance, but I think the motive is likely more insidious.

Gwen Ifill, of PBSMs. Malkin could be lowering expectations of Governor Palin’s performance – even setting up an excuse in advance. Something along the lines of: “Nobody could expect the Governor to do well with a liberal ostensibly moderating the debate…” I realize Malkin’s an avowed opponent of multiculturalism, but to set up the “soft bigotry of low expectation” on the eve of the debate seems more than a little disingenuous.

I admit that despite being a fiscal conservative I find the Governor’s reported biblical literalism out of step with my preferred post-Darwinian point of view. I realize, too, that any number of proud social conservatives have expressed reservations over Palin’s readiness and/or suitability for the position of Vice President. But it behooves us to grant Governor Palin her time in the limelight, to approach the evening with as open a mind as is possible as we focus on the issues important to the voters – the economic bailout being considered by congress, deregulation, Iraq, taxes, and health care to name a few obvious issues more important than the fact a professional journalist from a non-commercial network is also an author. It’s not time to distract us by creating false controversy about the moderator.

Yes, it’s false controversy, though the echo chamber that surrounds right-wing pundits was in full fettle today. Ultimately even the Fox network (surely at least as “in the tank” for the Republican ticket as Ms. Ifill is accused of being for the Democrats) had to concede that Senator McCain has the utmost respect for Gwen Ifill, and is more than satisfied that she’ll serve ably and professionally as a moderator.

In fact, we arguably learn more about a candidate from a slightly adversarial interviewer (or moderator) than we would from somebody lobbing easy questions.  Governor Palin is something of an unknown on the national political scene in the U.S., and the campaign has not to this point made her very available for interviews or press conferences.  This is her chance to shine – and I, for one, expect her to do a creditable job in the spotlight.  This is not her first debate, and anyone ready to be Vice President surely has to be ready, willing, and able to handle questions from a PBS moderator in a controlled situation.  

Much ado about nothing

Will Ms. Ifill present more rigor than Charlie Gibson or Katie Couric?  Probably so. The late Tim Russert might have been rugged in this sort of context, but Gwen Ifill? Why are the right-leaning pundits so concerned? Why are they making this about people, not issues? And even if she is up against a more experienced, worldly debater in Senator Joe Biden, she’s been prepping for weeks; it’s show time! 

She’s not being asked to talk to Jon Stewart, after all.

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