IRRECONCILABLE DIFFERENCES!

Last week, you will recall, I provided the following advice to our President: “In other words, Mr. President, divorce yourself from trying to gain the approval of the GOP because the reality is you will never obtain it.”  Today, I provide the President with the reason for his divorce: Irreconcilable differences!  Let me explain.

As preparations for today’s negotiations at the White House with both Republican and Democratic party leaders are underway, one thing is for certain: The “Party of No” refuses to compromise on the concept of shared sacrifice by the millionaires in our land.  Late Saturday afternoon, Speaker Boehener announced that “Despite good faith efforts to find common ground, the White House will not pursue a bigger debt reduction agreement without tax hikes.”  The Speaker’s statement is nothing short of “spin,” and I am certain he knows it.   Here is why.

Last week, the White House telegraphed that President Obama was willing to put Medicare, Social Security, and Medicaid cuts on the table in exchange for a tax hike of approximately $100 billion per year over 10 years.  This news sent both party caucuses into oblivion as the GOP began arguing that the President was out of line. 

Orrin Hatch (R-Ut) stated that he “was sick and tired of hearing about the President’s idea of making the wealthy pay their fair share and that it was time for the poor to contribute theirs.” (paraphrased). Preposterous! In other words, the poor should pay more! Moreover,  Senator John Cornyn (R-Tx) chastised the President for pushing Congress to resolve the debt-ceiling issue by indicating that despite his respect for the Office of the President, the President has derogated the office due to his supposed “fit,” as the President indicated his two children didn’t procrastinate over doing their homework; therefore, why should Congress?

But thankfully, the Democratic caucus along with outside advocates drew their line in the sand, and were not distracted,  by making clear their lack of support for any debt-ceiling legislation, should any cuts to these programs and their beneficiaries be included.  It very well may have been this rhetoric that closed off the deal for the White House and Speaker Boehner. 

Furthermore, a Republican familiar with the talks indicates the two parties cannot come to an agreement due to the President’s unwillingness to make cuts to these entitlement programs.  He states: “The White House would not agree with the core elements of tax reform proposed by the Speaker.” Thank goodness! Could it be that our President is finally learning that it is okay to take a stand, to not compromise?  White House communications Director Dan Pfeiffer issued this statement: “The President believes that solving our fiscal problems is an economic imperative.  But in order to do that, we cannot ask the middle-class and seniors to bear all the burden of higher costs and budget cuts.  We need a balanced approach that asks the very wealthiest and special interests to pay their fair share as well, and we believe the American people agree.” Guess what, Mr. President?  According to recent polling conducted by Pew Research, we do agree!

The poll comprised of 1500 randomly selected participants,  asked participants their level of approval to various ways of handing the deficit. The following results were obtained: 66% approved raising taxes on incomes over $250,000, 65% approve reducing overseas military commitments, 62% approve  limiting tax deductions for large corporations, while only 36% of Americans approve of cutting Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid benefits.  Furthermore, only 23% of those polled approve of cutting federal aid to states for programs such as education, improvement to infrastructure, Planned Parenthood, The Environmental Protection Agency, education, Pell Grants, and the very programs the GOP currently advocate cutting.

Yet, this is not the most damning evidence against the GOP strategy because Americans were asked by Pew research what their greatest concern currently was regarding the economy.  Currently 65% of Americans want Washington to create jobs while only 31% are concerned about the deficit.  This makes perfect sense since the jobless rate increased an additional tenth of a point this previous month with only 18,000 jobs being created.  And let’s not forget that the GOP was swept into power and elected to Congress due to their stated agenda of creating jobs, yet, not one single bill has been proposed by the current GOP.

So with all of the spin by the GOP regarding the debt-ceiling, here are a few facts for my readers to consider.  First, the manner in which the GOP has tied budget talks with honoring our debt has been unprecedented this previous week.  Never before has any party made such an issue about increasing the debt-ceiling.  Oh, there may have been the “normal” partisan moaning and groaning, yet, the GOP continues to hold hostage our debt obligations by trying to manipulate the President into more spending cuts on essential programs benefiting the middle-class. 

Second, many Americans, due to the “spin” by the GOP, are under the impression that raising the debt-ceiling means our Country is attempting to incur more debt.   Yet, nothing could be further from the truth!  What is taking place when talking about raising the debt-ceiling is ensuring  our Country honors the commitments it has already made.  What does the GOP propose we as a Country ought to do?  Walk away from our financial obligations sending our economy into a second recessionary dip? 

Third, when the Speaker indicates that the GOP has negotiated in good faith, he insults the intelligence of every American citizen.  We ALL know that the Speaker has himself in a bind due to nearly 80 Tea Party representatives’ obsession with defending tax breaks for millionaires and other special-interest tax loopholes. 

Senator Schumer (D-N.Y.) drives this point home when he states: “The President has called the Republicans’ bluff by offering them exactly the type of grand bargain they said they wanted, only to have it rejected.  Some on the Republican side would like to confuse the issue by pretending it was tax hikes on the middle-class that they were trying to prevent, but none were ever on the table.”

Yes, Mr. President, a divorce seems imminent.  My advice?  Get a good lawyer and look into the constitutionality of taking unilateral action in raising the debt ceiling premised on the 14’th amendment.  Let’s face it Mr. President, this Country needs and wants jobs! The Republicans’ strategy of blurring the two issues appears to be working for them.  Once again, they are not only creating, but controlling the narrative, when, in fact, Mr. President, YOU are the one that must do this.  You can accomplish this take in various ways, however, I cannot think of any better way than doing press conferences on a consistent basis while keeping the American public informed of the “real” narrative.  This is why I believe the former Speaker Nancy Pelosi is correct when she states: “We don’t need a grand bargain; we need a grand vision!” The Country is counting on you Mr. President.  I say again: Divorce yourself from trying to please the “Party of No!”

38 comments to IRRECONCILABLE DIFFERENCES!

  • Mark Bear

    Howdy Folks,

    I want to communicate something I think important lest you feel I am not aware of it. Despite not one person telling me that I need to consider posting shorter articles, I have been feeling a sense that I definitely need to be less verbose. Please know I am taking this matter seriously as I do not want you finding reading my articles to be laborious. Many thanks to each of you who do take the time. Finally, many thanks to Zach for allowing me to be a part of such a great community. I truly appreciate each of you!

       1 likes

    • Mark, I’m having no trouble reading and understanding your posts. Sometimes it takes a few words to make a solid rhetorical case. It’s an art that’s falling into disrepair in our society.

         0 likes

    • Mark, I think you’re doing a fine job, but I suppose I’m biased.

      While your entries are typically longer than mine or Jeff’s, that’s not necessarily a bad thing, especially if you’re fostering a lively discussion. You’ve got 27 comments (mine will be #28), so clearly folks were able to digest the material you posted.

      Keep up the good work!

         0 likes

  • Wingnut

    “66% approved raising taxes on incomes over $250,000″

    I have never understood if when the Democrats say to raise taxes on those earning income over $250,000, do they mean gross or net. If that amount of income is derived from primarily salary, it is very different from having that amount as a gross income from a small business. Has anyone heard of business expenses? Try to operate a business and you will quickly learn what expenses are.

    If it were not for those pesky business expenses, 50% of the new business ventures would not fail within five years. And 70% would not fail within 10 years. With those failures goes most or all of the operators life savings.

    Mark, you refer to taxing these millionaires. You must know that the ranks of millionaires has grown enormously over the years. Teachers are millionaires today and travel the world over easily living off their pensions and other income. But unlike those people who suffered business failures, the teachers never had to take a FINANCIAL RISK during their working years. So maybe you should say the government should tax the MULTI-MILLIONAIRES in future articles.

       0 likes

    • T.

      Teachers are millionaires today and travel the world over easily living off their pensions and other income.

      I was actually listening to you until I saw that line. I know that creating and maintaining a business is hard, that is why the tax code must be fixed.

      However to demonize teachers when they have an extremely stressful job and often have another job in order to maintain costs or even teach the students because people keep cutting from the school districts. So in order to keep up quality teaching, they pay it out of their own pockets.

      Many of my teachers had to retire and go part time because of this passing. These teachers, were one of the best ones you could ever offer to a school. They won awards.

      The issue about taxing the rich is we’re taxing the people who actually help the economy, not the true welfare kings and queens at the very top who don’t even have an income and taking majority of the government’s money. We are judging people by their income, and the problem is the obscenely wealthy don’t have an income – at least, not directly. They have an income of signing themselves to benefit from laws, certainly. And that’s the problem and why we should focus on fixing the tax system completely.

         0 likes

      • Wingnut

        T.,

        When I wrote that teachers are millionaires today, I should have indicated “some teachers.” I have friends who fit in that category. These are not young teachers. These are teachers who have retired after 30 years and who during their working years invested their savings in our economy. Of course, this is in Wisconsin. Teachers in Louisiana, where Mark Bear resides, may have a completely different outcome.

        The point I was attempting to make was that millionaire status is not as difficult to reach today as it was say 30 years ago. And that people in occupations such as teacher can become millionaires now. The teachers I know are couples who where both teachers.

           0 likes

        • Steven Reynolds

          Arguing from the anecdotal particluar, in such a situation where you can prove nothing, is a very poor rhetorical strategy, and certainly won’t win you any arguments unless you can cite even one eensie weensie source. Without a source, you’re pretty much talking out your arse.

             0 likes

    • JCG

      it is very different from having that amount as a gross income from a small business.

      Not re-litigating this again, are we? Really? This was well decided during campaign ’08, and ever since, that it would apply to less than 2% of small businesses. At least, if you’re inclined to go according to the clearly expressed facts.

      When will this Samuel “Joe” the fame-seeking “Plumber” zombie lie finally die?

         0 likes

    • JCG

      Teachers are millionaires today and travel the world over

      Aside from your lack of a grasp on basic facts, as stated above, this one here shows how extremely disconnected you are from any semblance of reality. I’m forwarding that quote to my teacher friends so they can have a good laugh to lighten their day.

         0 likes

  • Mark Bear

    Wingnut,

    Wow! Did you really read what I wrote? 66% of those polled were Americans, not Democrats nor Republicans! So, I imagine your beef is not with Democrats but with the American public.

    Second, you indicate teachers are millionaires? You have got to be kidding me! Are you referring to those working in the public sector in public education? Please cite statitistics showing me where public teachers earn this kind of dough!

    Third, you indicate teachers never have to take financial risks while working; unlike business owners. What do you call going to school, getting an education, engaging in continuing education, and increasing one’s student loans in order to procure that education, with the “risk” of working in a GOP controlled State who wants to “cut” education. In Louisiana, the State I live in, Governor Jindall, has trashed the education system; on ALL levels. But Jindall is not alone as most GOP Governors are engaged in the exact same strategy garnered and harvested from the Koch Brothers.

    Many thanks for your input!

       0 likes

    • JCG

      Third, you indicate teachers never have to take financial risks while working; unlike business owners. What do you call going to school, getting an education, engaging in continuing education, and increasing one’s student loans in order to procure that education, with the “risk” of working in a GOP controlled State who wants to “cut” education.

      Not to mention that most teachers end up paying significant amounts out of pocket to circumvent the system and get basics in their classrooms.

         0 likes

      • Mark Bear

        Hi JCG,

        Can you clarify your thought that “teachers circumvent the system and get basics in their classrooms.” Many thanks!

           0 likes

    • Wingnut

      I was not disputing the 66% at all. I am surprised it was not higher. I started with your quote but really wanted to know if it was ever answered as to whether they were talking about net or gross income. The claim now was that they meant net. OK.

      As to your second point about teachers being millionaires, I direct you to my reply to T. just above. There would be no statistics to prove my point that some teachers end up millionaires after 30 years of work in Wisconsin.

      Now, your third point. Lets suppose you have managed to keep your business profitable for 20 years and then along comes a recession such as now. You have saved money over the years that you did not have to put back into the business. You had in mind that this money would help you in your retirement. The recession comes along and you find that you are dipping over and over again into these savings to keep the lights on. You regrettably have to lay off half your employees to keep going with the others. You sweat it out wondering each night if you will have any savings left next month or will you have to close the doors and layoff the last employees.

      How can you compare that amount of financial risk, that amount of pressure, to Wisconsin teachers having to now pay a tiny portion their income toward funding their own lucrative pensions?

      As the fella once said, “It all depends on whose ox in being gored.”

      And, no, I am not the businessman described above. I have never had a failed business.

         0 likes

      • Mark Bear

        Wingnut,

        Define lucrative for me if you would. Are these teachers the individuals purchasing those corporate jets that the GOP wants to protect from further shared sacrifice?

           0 likes

        • Wingnut

          Mark,

          Two teachers have told me that they receive almost as much in retirement from their pensions as were earning when they retired after 30 years. I guess I would call that lucrative.

             0 likes

          • Mark Bear

            Wingnut,

            You state the following: “Two teachers have told me that they receive as much in retirement from their pensions as were earning when they retired after 30 years.” Wow! Two?

            Heck, if I ask enough people in the Country I can actually find one person who thinks Sarah Palin can get elected as President. That person’s name is Sarah Palin!

               0 likes

            • Mark Bear

              Wingnut,

              One other thing: I asked you to define lucrative. The reason I asked you to do this for me is because as an empiricist, I deal with operationally defined terms. You provided me with the above as your answer. In other words, according to your definition ANYONE earning the same amount in pension as they did when they retired after 30 years. Is this the way you choose to define lucrative?

              Thanks again for the input!

                 0 likes

              • Wingnut

                Among what you would define as working people, I can not think of another group that receives almost as much as a pension as they earned in their final work year. So, yes, I define that as lucrative in comparison.

                   0 likes

            • Wingnut

              It is not like I know a lot of teachers who would reveal that to me.

                 0 likes

              • Mark Bear

                Wingnut,

                This is the reason one should stick to the facts rather than simply repeat information others provide. There are several reasons for this which I provide for your consideration.

                First, when someone self-reports something such as this, one has to question how reliable the answer is, whether there are motivations behind the answer, and quite candidly, whether the individual is telling the truth. Even in the realm of research, as social psychologists and statisticians we do not put much stock in self-report measures for this very reason.

                Second, you indicate that you do not know a sufficient amount of teachers who would reveal this information to you. This admission by you, ought to send up a red flag. And the truth of the matter is “most” people do not willingly disclose information such as this. Ergo, please refer to my previous point.

                Third, garnering information from only two people is NOT a representative sample. If you really want to know what teachers make, you ought to go to the United States Census Bureau and you will find the median income to be around $50,000. Now, to be quite candid with you, I really do not know many people who can afford to pay their bills, supporting their respective families while engaged in an aggressive savings plan which yields them as much in retirement as when working.

                Finally, please know I say the following with as much respect as I can muster: I sincerely believe you are a victim of what we social psychologists refer to as belief perseverance and confirmation bias. The latter simply means that we as human beings believe what we do simply because we persevere in our beliefs due to our “perceiving” those beliefs to be accurate. The problem with this is many people do not question their own beliefs and take these beliefs as gospel, when in reality the reason the belief exists is due to their not paying attention to other relevant information which has the propensity to change their mind. To be fair: Everyone I know suffers from this problem; including myself. One strategy towards overcoming this phenomenon is to simply be a skeptic about everything one hears, reads, and sees. Being a skeptic does not imply a negativity as one might imagine, but a healthy questioning of everything one believes. Doing this allows the individual to be exposed to that “other” relevant information either assisting him or her towards changing his or her opinion of the matter, or reinforcing his or her belief. I recommend the following book by Michael Shermer, a fellow Social Psychologist: The Believing Brain. I think if you approach it with an open mind you will be amazed at how much crap we simply believe to be truth when, in fact, it in no way approximates the truth.

                Once again: Many thanks for your input!

                   0 likes

  • Mark Bear

    Hi T,

    You have a valid point regarding the tax code. In addition, while other people may have a problem with others earning a good amount of money; I am not one of those people. There is absolutely nothing wrong with capitalism and a free market as long as there are some sort of checks and balances to the entire enterprise. Let’s face it: Currently, the business community has experienced record breaking profits while sitting on these profits and not hiring those who need to work. This is a sad situation indeed.

    However, if one were to just listen to the GOP, one walks away with the feeling that business is hurting. But how can this be? The CEO’S have earned record breaking bonuses in the previous two years. The GOP wants the public to feel there is an “uncertainty” which explains this behavior. I disagree!

    The old GOP playbook, basically launched into the economic scene by the likes of Regan, has demonstrated that when push comes to shove, one cannot rely on these CEO’s to do the correct thing. Supposedly, those corporations are what drives new job growth, however, it has not worked previously, and I do not see it working in the future all due to one issue; greed! These businesses getting the tax break (I am speaking about major corporations) are “supposedly” the job creators in our Country has not and will never work that way. This is because the Corporations and CEO’s do what any other human being does when they earn more and more; they pocket the money and keep it for themselves.

    Finally, our President has been accused repeatedly of engaging in wealth distribution. Perhaps he is guilty of advocating such a position, and then again, perhaps he is not. What I do know is this: Every Country and government engages in wealth distribution. It is just a matter of which way the money flows. What has the ire of this electorate is the rich want our President to stay away from their money. But there really is a problem when people such as Warren Buffet actually have gone on record and indicated that he pays less taxes than his secretary.

    Once again, many thanks for the input and your sticking to the facts. Be well!

       0 likes

  • Mark Bear

    Hi Rich,

    Many thanks for your kind words of encouragement. I am glad you enjoy the pieces I write. Be well!

       0 likes

  • Mark Bear

    Folks,

    When going to my undergraduate program and taking my Senior Honor’s class, I was required to read Habits of the Heart written by Bellah et al. I think the book was quite ahead of its time because the authors argued that our Country was headed for trouble due to the predominant individualistic versus communitarian ethic that pervaded our culture during that time period. Needless to say, I believe the words written by Bellah, are as accurate now, as they were then.

    Another man, Alexis de Toqueville, when visiting our Country indicated his concerns with this same phenomenon, when he wrote Democracy in America. Bellah and company’s authors articulated the exact same concerns.

    I think it sad that those top earners really have a problem when they go on record indicating they do not feel they ought to pay additional tax for corporate jets, oil subsidies, and host of other loopholes, when these same corporations have raked in the record amounts of profit they have over the previous years.

    Why is it that they have no compassion on those who are less fortunate? When did we as a society begin to no longer care about those less fortunate. I am certain people will take issue with my position arguing that they donate their time, or give a bit here and there to charity, but that is not my point. My point is we seem to live in a Country where the citizenry no longer cares about those who cannot assist themselves. I think this is the worst part of the story we are watching unfold in Washington folks!

       0 likes

    • Wingnut

      “My point is we seem to live in a Country where the citizenry no longer cares about those who cannot assist themselves.”

      I don’t see it that way. I think that we as a nation have been compassionate and still are. So compassionate that the total cost of the entitlements today is what stands in the way of ever balancing the budget.

      The Left likes to claim the Right wants to balance the budget on the backs of the poor. I can tell you right now, it will never be balanced on the backs of the rich. (A disclaimer: I am not rich nor have I ever been.) They are always going to be a step ahead of the tax collector. Accept it.

      If you confiscated as much from the rich as you would like, you would crush the dreams and aspirations of our most capable young people who will create new jobs in the future. And we would possibly have our smartest young people, creators and innovators, going to work and live in the country that replaces us as the world leader.

         0 likes

  • Jan Tessier

    It never ceases to amaze me how people can defend the wealthiest people in this country paying less in taxes than the poor. It boggles the mind. I also boggles the mind how often they lie to support their belief system. “Millionaire teachers”? Really?
    I remember when some Rethug I know mentioned that the average line worker at an auto factory makes 75.00 per hour, including lucrative benefits. When I brought him printouts of information proving that his assertion wasn’t true, he pushed them away without looking at them and called me a “stupid, union-loving bitch”. The same with a family member who claimed that soldiers today make 35k a year, including complete benefits. I found out that the average soldier (not ranking officers) earn roughly 17k per year. Not until someone reaches E3 status does one begin to see anything close to 27k. When I confronted this family member with these facts, which I obtained from the Army’s own website, she said that it didn’t matter because soldiers get better health care than anyone else in the country and it was free.
    There is no convincing rethugs of their willful stupidity. They choose to believe rather than face facts and change their world view.

       0 likes

    • Wingnut

      Did I say all retired WI teachers are millionaires? No. I try to state things clearly, but there are always those who read what they want into anything that is written.

      “It never ceases to amaze me how people can defend the wealthiest people in this country paying less in taxes than the poor.”

      The last time I looked, the poor were not paying any income taxes. 47% of the workers pay no income taxes. I think the poor would be in that group somewhere.

         0 likes

      • Steven Reynolds

        It is true that the poor pay a much higher percentage of income in sales tax than the rich. . . a tax that is very regressive. Sure, you said income tax, but conveniently ignore the taxes the poor pay, taxes that sap their buying power as they earn less and less wages.

           0 likes

        • Mark Bear

          Hi Steven,

          Great point! Furthermore, what many people fail to understand is that with this debt-ceiling debate, the real issue is that the President is NOT attempting to raise taxes on the middle class or even on the richest. He is wanting to cease subsidizing the tax breaks these folks already get such as those in the oil industry, big banks (who, by the way, are sitting on boatloads of cash refusing to lend it to people in need, even despite many of these people being their very own customers), and other major corporations.

          I have great difficulty understanding, and perhaps Wingnut, can explain (I do not say this rudely) as to why people in the middle class ought to eat the bill on these subsidies when the corporations are already making record profits.

          This is why I do not believe that this nation is engaged in compassionate conservativism. The last President who believed in this mantra and actually carried it forward was Regan.

          Oddly now, however, Ronald Regan would be considered too liberal for the current GOP. Why? Because the daggum tea party is controlling the caucus.

          Thanks so much for the input!

          Doc

             0 likes

      • Mark Bear

        Wingnut,

        Your response implies that Jan is guilty of the above, when you in no way could “possibly” be guilty of doing the same. I think Jan brings several good points to the debate, and I think you owe her an apology for accusing her of reading her own interpretation into what you wrote. Please note: WE ALL DO THIS! You cannot go around accusing people of doing something such as this, when you, in fact, are guilty of the same behavior. It is just not fair to other people. This phenomenon is called the fundamental attribution error, whereby people attribute another’s behavior, belief, or interpret these two things in light of personal disposition rather than situational variants.

        Please do not get the feeling that I am out to pick on you, however, you bring several points up, which when looked out provide fodder for all to avoid making the same mistake. Once again: You are not alone in doing this as research indicates that as social beings we all engage in such behavior. Simply put, human beings are what we social psychologists call “cognitive misers.” In a similar vein, I am not providing this information with the intent of trying to make you feel inferior. You, just as every single other person responding to this post, has the RIGHT and RESPONSIBILITY to voice your opinion. However, would it not be great if we could all learn from one another in this Country instead of holding onto our preconceived ideas and notions, remaining entrenched on positions we hold near and dear to our hearts? I do think so!

        Be well!

        Doc

           0 likes

  • Jan Tessier

    It took me all of six seconds to find ten articles refuting the “47 percent of workers in America pay no taxes” argument. Fox likes that talking point a lot—especially because it isn’t true.
    Here’s just ONE link that proves the whole 47 Percent Theory is bullshit:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/14/business/economy/14leonhardt.html

    In Wingnut’s first posting on this thread he posts this: “Teachers are millionaires today and travel the world over easily living off their pensions and other income. ”
    Yep, Wingnut—you stated that very clearly. Like a true rethug, you say something and then six posts later deny you said exactly that.

       0 likes

  • Jan Tessier

    By the way, Wingnut—I make less than 15K a year, and I have paid more in income tax than General Electric. So, you can bite me.

       1 likes

  • Jan Tessier

    For a terrific article on the right-wing ideal of austerity for poor people but unlimited wealth for the uber-rich, read the following:

    http://www.truth-out.org/trickle-down-cruelty-and-politics-austerity/1310134880

       1 likes

  • Mark Bear

    Jan,

    A quick note of thanks for you taking time to contribute to my blog and for sticking to the facts. Be well!

       0 likes

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