My 18 year old daughter was posting on Facebook today. That in itself isn’t unusual- but what she was posting was- she was (and is) incensed about the way CNN has been handling the polling of the Democratic Debates, and the comments people have been leaving on CNN asking why the CNN polls didn’t match every other poll out there being quickly and summarily removed. When I picked her up for a visit later in the afternoon, she waxed prolific about the fact that all the focus groups and Facebook clearly had Bernie Sanders as the winner, by far, but CNN itself did not. She was also not at all happy that I attended a Bernie Sanders fundraiser without her (more on that later). This excites me to the point of near speechlessness (thankfully for this blog, not entirely so), because, well- she’s 18! To me, this is a dream come true- and not just that its my kid (although of course I am so proud of her I could smack myself), but also that young people are paying attention to what is going on in the world around them, and are eager to vote according to what is best for their futures. Its really happening! When she posts about Bernie Sanders on Facebook, her friends are responding, and there is a full on dialogue about the current political climate amongst her peers. (Another recent post- “If you are not going to vote for Bernie Sanders, go ahead and unfriend me now.” Classic!)
I went to do some research about the furor over the comments on CNN being deleted by CNN, repeatedly and by the hundreds. My daughter told me she had been researching it all morning and I wanted to see what she had seen. IN so doing, I came across this comment on Media Equalizer-
“I am a republican and I would vote for Bernie before Hillary any day. I don’t agree with Bernie on everything but I think he is way more honest than Hillary. In fact if if the general election was Jeb vs Bernie, I am voting for Bernie. This country does not need another Bush or another Clinton. Just for the record I voted for McCain in 2008 but voted for Obama in 2012. I don’t want any more establishment republicans. The middle class can’t any more of the establishment republicans or establishment democrats and their loyalty to lobbyists and special interests.” (sic) (See footnote 1)
I love this person! For the record, I do not understand how anyone would want to be a Republican- just like I can’t imagine how anyone would willingly eat celery. It’s just not something I will ever be able to wrap my head around. But for a person to be so thoughtful in their Republicanism is quite the oddity, albeit a refreshing one. It gives me hope that there are more like this out there.
Having said this, I was also privy to a conversation recently while waiting in line for coffee. Two older gentlemen were talking. I was zoning out until I heard- “You know, I was a big fan of Reagan. Back then- we all had money. Everyone had money under Reagan.” His friend made a sound of agreement. He then went on to say- “Do you know that over half the American people don’t pay any taxes? Half! I am telling you, people in this country do not know the truth of it. They only hear a little bit of the truth, if they really knew, they would truly be shocked.” To which his friend volleyed, “Jeb Bush would fix all of that in a heartbeat.”
It was an interesting thing for me to hear what these two dyed in the wool GOPs had to say. I don’t really know. I don’t seek it out, and maybe I should- know your enemy and all that. I am always afraid it will outrage me, or make me throw up my hands in despair and resignation. But it prompted me to do some research, and here is some of what I found- some of the “shocking truth” that those gentlemen seemed to have missed in their righteous indignation, to wit:
“…the national debt tripled under Reagan’s watch, reaching a staggering $2.7 trillion by the time he left office. Ironically, the government’s gargantuan deficit spending during the 1980s ended up providing exactly the same kind of Keynesian stimulus to the national economy that Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal had provided during the Great Depression.” (see footnote 2)
“For average working people, there is no such thing as a middle class in “normal” capitalism. Wealth accumulates at the very top among the elites, not among everyday working people. Inequality is the default option. You can see this trend today in America. When we had heavily regulated and taxed capitalism in the post-war era, the largest employer in America was General Motors, and they paid working people what would be, in today’s dollars, about $50 an hour with benefits. Reagan began deregulating and cutting taxes on capitalism in 1981, and today, with more classical “raw capitalism,” what we call “Reaganomics,” or “supply side economics,” our nation’s largest employer is WalMart and they pay around $10 an hour.
This is how quickly capitalism reorients itself when the brakes of regulation and taxes are removed – this huge change was done in less than 35 years.” See footnote 3
So basically, yes- there WAS a period of prosperity during the Reagan years that is, in the minds of many, not related to the economic disaster that came on the heels of his policies. The whole ‘trickle down’ theory didn’t work out for anyone in the long run- except for the 1%. It worked out stunningly well for them, and this is why they are so threatened by Bernie Sanders. The Reagan era reminds me of one of the tricks that happen in companies that go public- you fire half the staff and suddenly, on the books, it appears, to the shareholders, as if the company has had a surge in profits. That surge is none other than the savings caused by the jobs reductions. It’s a ruse, but it makes the right people happy enough for a short amount of time to move the ball forward.
Since we are on the topic of Reagan, lets not forget these highlights of his presidency (drum roll please….)
- 1 Iran-Contra Affair
- 2 Department of Housing and Urban Development grant rigging
- 3 Lobbying scandal
- 4 EPA scandals
- 5 Inslaw Affair
- 6 Savings & loan crisis
- 7 Debategate
(see footnote 4 for details on each of these Reagancentric scandals)
It seems my coffeeshop political commentator- (and Mitt Romney in 2012) wasn’t entirely incorrect about the amount of people who do not pay taxes…but again, not really correct either. Just enough truth to feel smug, and to twist into an assault on liberals- the kind of propaganda that someone on Fox News can spew and the Kool Aid drinkers who watch it can regurgitate later to whoever will listen.
“Why don’t 49 percent of Americans owe any federal income tax on April 15th? There are two main reasons: income level and tax benefits. The tax system in the United States is designed to be progressive, meaning that higher incomes are asked to pay a larger percentage in taxes. If your income level is relatively low, standard deductions and exemptions can quickly lower your tax burden to zero. According to the Tax Policy Center, a non-partisan research center, a family of four earning $26,400 a year will pay no taxes because the $11,600 standard deduction plus four exemptions of $3,700 each will lower their taxable income to zero [source: Williams].
Roughly half of Americans who pay no Federal income tax do so because they simply don’t earn enough money (to owe any money on taxes). The other half doesn’t pay taxes because of special provisions in the tax code that benefit certain taxpayers, notably the elderly and working families with children. For example, the tax code excludes a portion of Social Security income and gives larger standard deductions and tax credits to the elderly. And many working families with children qualify for both the child credit and the earned income tax credit. Together, the elderly and working families with children account for 74 percent of all nontaxable households that aren’t excluded by income level alone [source: Williams].
So who are the 49 percent of Americans who don’t pay income taxes? The vast majority are the lowest income households, the elderly and young working families with children.” (see footnote 5
And one more….
“Close to half of U.S. households currently do not owe federal income tax. The Urban Institute-Brookings Tax Policy Center estimates that 46 percent of households will owe no federal income tax for 2011.  A widely cited figure is a Joint Committee on Taxation estimate that 51 percent of households paid no federal income tax in 2009. (The TPC figure for 2009 also is 51 percent.) 
These figures are sometimes cited as evidence that low- and moderate-income families do not pay sufficient taxes. Yet these figures, their significance, and their policy implications are widely misunderstood.
- The 51 percent and 46 percent figures are anomalies that reflect the unique circumstances of the past few years, when the economic downturn greatly swelled the number of Americans with low incomes. The figures for 2009 are particularly anomalous; in that year, temporary tax cuts that the 2009 Recovery Act created — including the “Making Work Pay” tax credit and an exclusion from tax of the first $2,400 in unemployment benefits — were in effect and removed millions of Americans from the federal income tax rolls. Both of these temporary tax measures have since expired.
In 2007, before the economy turned down, 40 percent of households did not owe federal income tax. This figure more closely reflects the percentage that do not owe income tax in normal economic times. (see footnote 6)
So- its not like they are not paying taxes- they don’t owe taxes. Big difference. Huge.
Now- I don’t want to be overly disparaging of Republicans- I don’t. I know that on the whole they want what they think is best and most of them are probably really nice, good people. The problem is that most don’t question what they are told, most close their ears to anything liberals might say, and most hew fast to the party line. But the real travesty is that the man talking was in the sunset of his life- probably on Social Security and Medicaid, the things that his party would like to reduce or eliminate entirely. They seem to want the poor, the sick, the elderly to be Rugged Individualists, for crying out loud. Pull yourself up by your own bootstraps, grandpa!! And the very same people are applauding their efforts, and voting them into office. Its madness.
So along comes this rumpled old guy out of Vermont who looks down the line of recent American socio-economic history, then looks forward into the future and knows that this country can not bear for history to repeat itself, as it surely will, if corporate agendas and unmitigated greed are allowed to dictate who gets into the White House. Greed always has one agenda, always. Profit Uber Allies and let the chips fall where they may. But- the chips are people, and Bernie Sanders is determined to fight the good fight for those people who are left suffering in the wake- with honor and integrity, no less. He is really showing all of us how its done. All. Of. Us. He is true to his word, he is committed to this country and its people, he can not be bought. He is, in a word, unswerving.
I attended a fundraiser for Bernie Sanders the night after his Democratic Debate at a rather swanky home in Beverly Hills. The entrance was a rather staggering fee, but we were happy to pay it since its going to Bernie’s campaign. He came in and laid down the law, as he is wont to do and as we have all seen- no BS, full of conviction, serious and yet sardonic. he again urged us all to revolution- a revolution not of violence or anarchy, but one of a change of consciousness, of coming together, of all Americans acting in the very best interest of all other Americans- and most especially- of getting to the polls and voting in 2016- overthrowing the apathy that allows the Bush clan into office time and time again.
Afterward, he didn’t linger, didn’t shake hands or kiss babies or act like a politician normally would. He isn’t trying to be popular. He is trying to change the world. I dig that. I dig that my kid sees the importance of this, that her friends are also paying attention. I hope they are reading this now and that they all register to vote and get out there and take a stand for their future. And I also sincerely hope there are more Republicans out there like the guy I quoted earlier, who can see that the future of this country, its people, the state of the world, transcends party loyalty. Bernie Sanders is the only sane choice for 2016!