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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September 11, 2008

Obama on Capital Gains and Housing Foreclosures – in APRIL 2008

Posted in 2008 Elections, John McCain's campaign, Senator Barack H. Obama, taxes, U.S. Economy tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , at 1:24 am by realitytax

Well before we had to bail out mortgage lenders, Obama was trying to get people to pay attention to the foreclosure crisis… but the thrust of this segment is a clear answer to a toughly worded question about Capital Gains taxes.

 

Gibson tried to get him to back off his stance in the early spring, but here we are in autumn and he’s maintaining the exact same answers. Obama understood the pressure the housing market was under, he’d written to Bernanke and Paulson over a year earlier – in March of 2007. He gets how taxes and the credit crisis he saw coming relate to the larger structures of our economy overall.

Obama vs McCain on taxesSo, if you’re getting rumors in your email about Obama taxing water, or IRAs, or other accounts explicitly designed to be tax free, and wondering why the Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg prefer his policies?  Do your homework, because Obama has a clear understanding of our economy and the value of genuinely responsible “pay as you go” fiscal policies.

If you’ve heard Obama has a plan to double our taxes, or tax the profits from home sales or other capital gains at a higher rate than McCain? Find an objective, non-partisan source, and soak up the facts.

The media has no interest in informing you; they sell commercials to earn their living so they will entertain you and use the language of an announcer calling a horse race.  They are trivializing a critical national election, and hoping you won’t notice because you’ll be too awed by their fancy graphics and analysis – is this Monday Night Football, or an election for the U.S. President?

An informed electorate can pick the superior candidate.  You may or may not agree with my views, but you owe it to yourself, your family, and future generations to be well-informed before you vote.

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September 10, 2008

Will Obama really tax water? What about Capital Gains? Home sales?

Posted in McCain~Palin, Senator Barack H. Obama, taxes, U.S. Economy tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 2:38 am by realitytax

No, of course Senator Obama isn’t propsing a tax on water, but that’s among the fantastic smears being emailed around lately in what appears now to be a desperate attempt to mislead middle America.  Are we really that gullible? Do people sit around the cooler at work kicking this one around?

With “both John McCain and Barack Obama offering tax cuts,” according to the Christian Science Monitor, “the 2008 election promises a boost for the typical family budget” regardless of which one wins. But it could also strain the much larger budget of the US government, and there is abundant misinformation circulating about Obama’s plans (and a few outright lies.)

Meanwhile, the commercial media “news” sources (when they bother to report on the rumors) tend to focus on the rumor itself rather than either asking “who benefits” from the confusion, or trying to debunk the untruths. By serving to echo the lie(s) they instill doubts in the less savvy voters. Is that responsible journalism?

Tax The Tax Policy Center has put out an analysis of the Obama and McCain tax plans. Here’s their conclusion:

If enacted, the Obama and McCain tax plans would have radically different effects on the distribution of tax burdens in the United States. The Obama tax plan would make the tax system significantly more progressive by providing large tax breaks to those at the bottom of the income scale and raising taxes significantly on upper-income earners. The McCain tax plan would make the tax system more regressive, even compared with a system in which the 2001–06 tax cuts are made permanent. It would do so by providing relatively little tax relief to those at the bottom of the income scale while providing huge tax cuts to households at the very top of the income distribution.

What follows is a brief discussion of some of the particulars people seem to be asking about often – with interest that may well stem from the debunked but still-circulating emails.  In case you want it spelled out, Obama has never proposed or even hinted at a tax on water or any other natural resource.

Doubled Taxes?

The claim that “Under Obama your taxes will more than double!” circulating in some emails is simply false. The comparative rate tables that e-mail provides for McCain and Obama were fabricated for another false e-mail during the primaries and copied. It is supposedly a comparison of tax rates before and after the Bush tax cuts, but it grossly overstates the effect of the Bush cuts. Furthermore, Obama proposes to retain the Bush cuts for every single income level shown in this bogus table.

Taxing IRAs and 529s:

Contrary to the claim in this e-mail, raising tax rates on capital gains or dividends would not result in higher taxes on any investments held in Individual Retirement Accounts or in popular, tax-deferred “college funds” under section 529 of the Internal Revenue Code. The whole point of such tax-deferred plans is that dividends and capital gains are allowed to accumulate and compound tax-free, and neither Obama nor McCain proposes to change that. And as previously mentioned, any capital gains or dividend income from stocks, bonds or mutual funds owned outside of tax-deferred accounts would continue to be taxed at current rates except for couples making over $250,000, or singles making more than $200,000.

Home Sales:

The claim that Obama would impose a 28 percent tax on the profit from “all home sales” is false. Both Obama and McCain would continue to exempt the first $250,000 of gain from the sale of a primary residence ($500,000 for a married couple filing jointly) which results in zero tax on all but a very few home sales.

Capital Gains Rate:

It’s untrue that Obama is proposing a 28% capital gains tax rate. He said in an interview on CNBC that he favors raising the top rate on capital gains from its present 15% to 20% or more, but no higher than 28 percent. And as for a 28% rate, Obama added, “my guess would be it would be significantly lower than that.” Furthermore, he has said only couples making $250,000 or more (or singles making more than $200,000 according to his policy advisers) would pay the higher capital gains rate. That means the large majority of persons who pay capital gains taxes would see no increase at all.

Why all the misinformation?

Some of it’s based on simple confusion. After all, Obama’s not prone to cute sound-bites such as “Read my lips: No new taxes.”

Some of the emails circulating, however, are so consistently mis-representing the facts – easily verified – that one can only conclude a deliberately malicious intent to strike fear in the wallets of middle class voters is behind the lies.

In an ideal setting voters would all have access to reliable, current, accurate information sources. They’d also take the time to examine that information, no matter if it was Obama’s stand on taxes, McCain’s statements about taxes or his speeches on why health care doesn’t need the fixes Obama’s proposed, or rookie Governor Palin’s pork barrel “Bridge to Nowhere.” (Yes, I know she’s on record as being against it, but it turns out not only was she for it initially, she was also for a $24 million “access road” after the bridge was declared too ear-marky to survive public scrutiny, and she also KEPT the federal money after the project was cancelled.)

In practice, time is short, and rumors often get as much (if not more) coverage as facts on the evening TV news or in newspapers. It’s often hard to tell which part of a media report is the truth. The “news” producers have motives that must be examined: they profit from selling commercials, that’s their income. When in doubt, follow the money.

Questions:

Who profits from the election of McCain or Obama — or your mayor?

Who profits from voters feeling disenfranchised and tuning out?

Don’t ask what you can do – ACT!

The airwaves are as full of misinformation – willfully employed – as the email is. Are you ready to step up and be an Agent of Change, to contribute to help spread the truth?

Say it with me: No more lies ! “