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It's A Free Country All-Stars on the Coming Political Year

Tuesday, January 04, 2011 - 08:06 AM

IAFC bloggers Justin Krebs, Karol Markowicz, and Solomon Kleinsmith

Welcome to Politics Bites, where every afternoon at It's a Free Country we bring you the unmissable quotes from the morning's political conversations on WNYC.  Today on the Brian Lehrer ShowIt's a Free Country contributers Solomon Kleinsmith, founder of the political website Rise of Center; Karol Markowicz, public relations consultant and blogger at Alarming News; and Justin Krebs, founder of Living Liberally, discuss the new congress, the state of the GOP and Democrats, and the country's political future.

It's a new year and a new Congress with a Republican majority hours away from taking control of the House. A divided government may mean compromise, but some big battles are expected first, as the new Congress launches attempts at repealing the health care reform bill, opens investigations, and insists on reading the Constitution from the House floor.  

Justin Krebs, a proud liberal, thinks that progressives should be encouraged from the legislation passed in the recent lame duck session, which he saw as not just as a result of compromise, but of Democrats standing up for their progressive values.  

The Zadroga Bill, [the repeal of] Don't Ask, Don't Tell...[Democrats] said we are going to push this through, we’re going to make this happen. I think that as the Republicans showed over the last two years, even a minority, if they’re determined enough, can move their agenda forward. They just have to stick by their principles.

Conservative Karol Markowicz also sees some hope from the immediate political past.

Republicans haven’t had anything for the last two years and they still managed to stop a lot of the Obama agenda, so I’m pretty hopeful…There is something good about being in the minority and being able to stop the other side’s actions. Obama had a filibuster-proof majority for a while there and still wasn’t able to get very much done. If future compromising will mean that Obama basically keeps extending tax cuts and lives up to so many conservative principles, I’m all for compromise.

Solomon Kleinsmith, who identifies as a moderate, predicts that with the loss of so many seats previously held by members closer to the center politically, the new Congress will be even more polarized. For the centrists who remain, he said the major priorities have to be deficit reduction and job growth. Kleinsmith calls the different plans for saving on spending "magical thinking, on the left and the right."

A lot of people on the left…think that we can get all the deficit reduction that we need to be doing by cutting everything that they don’t like, and they think they can do it from deficit spending and other discretionary spending, and that’s not possible. There’s not enough out there to squeeze.

While the campaign talk of cuts to service spending will translate into results, Markowicz anticipated that the cuts will be smaller than the deep $100 billion reduction to education, police, scientific research and other services that Republicans have called for. Part of that talk was grandstanding, she said, as those elected officials will still face reelection in their districts. But she said that Congress will need to make some deep cuts.  

As for the new mandate that each new bill being introduced be preceded by an explanation of why the Constitution allows for it, Krebs welcomes it, saying "I wish that George Bush had been forced to read the Constitution more often." Markowicz is less enthusiastic.

Great, read the Constitution, that’s excellent. I love that our elected officials will be a little more familiar with it, but the truth is that if they use it to support their votes, they’ll be committing political suicide everywhere outside of Ron Paul’s district... They’ll find themselves voting against, say, aid to Hurricane Katrina victims, they’ll find themselves voting against usual Congressional performances like giving out medals of honor… the Constitution doesn’t allow for that.

All these theatrics aside, Kleinsmith said it's time for a more realistic debate about taxes, but he said that's unlikely to happen.

Both parties have been selling this idea that they can get everything they want by just going against what the other side wants, and it’s just not true. You can’t give as much social welfare type benefits out without raising taxes, and the Democrats are much more willing to spend money on social welfare programs than they are raising taxes, and the Republicans, they’re the same way. It’s just their priorities are a little bit different. They want to spend more on the military and things like that, and they want to cut taxes that they’re not willing to pay for. I don’t even think it should be called sacrifice, it should be called we need to start paying for what we’re doing… that’s just common sense.  

Markowicz, for one, said she gives enough to support the government already. To a caller who asked if taxes are not what people, especially the well-off, owe the government for the use of the infrastructure, education and labor that made their wealth possible, she replied that the caller was welcome to make that decision for himself.

Nobody’s stopping you from spending more money to the government, you can write as big a check as you’d like, if you feel that you owe more to the government which you feel spends your money the way you’d like it to be spent. Then please, by all means, give more of your salary to the government to do that... I’m not interested in spending more of my paycheck to the government to misspend and get us further into deficit.

All were cautious in their predictions for the coming year. Kleinsmith abstained from making a guess what legislation will live and die, but Krebs and Markowicz both felt confident that the South Korea trade deals would happen. In this divided government, it might be an uphill battle to get anything else passed. 

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Comments [66]

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Nov. 05 2012 12:20 AM
geTayor from Bklyn., NY

This may explain it all. :-)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vgTFiMUF4kY&feature=player_embedded

Jan. 07 2011 02:33 PM
geTaylor from Bklyn., NY

@Kleinsmith:

You argue like a cornered 3 card monte dealer.

For my money -
(if you can conceive of a person having a first right to the money they can earn or acquire by any legal means) -
"Cutting taxes we don't have" is the same kind of acquisitive patter characteristic of all grifters and statist parasites.

It is clear that you (and your ilk) have no idea as to the actual amount of money you require to meet your needs or how much money your spit-balled formulas will rake in to the bottomless maw of social needs you seek to serve (whether they are the needs of the "most vulnerable" or the needs of the "too big to fail").

Это - свободная страна!

Jan. 06 2011 10:54 PM
Solomon Kleinsmith from Omaha, NE

"You said my original stat was not a federal income tax but "tax" in general. Then I provide you with a stat specific to federal income tax. Still not enough for you. Were *you* trying to make a point beyond "take money away from the rich"? I come from a place where they tried that. The experiment failed. You may have heard of it, the Soviet Union?"

You apparently also come from a cartoonish land where comparing an income tax increase in a country with the lowest tax levels among Western Countries can be compared to communism. What, are you going to compare Obama to Hitler next? Makes about the same amount of sense.

What a joke.

===============

"It seems that Mr. Kleinsmith and you are asserting that taking more from the "wealthiest" would translate into providing more for the "people-who-are-not-the wealthiest" (sometimes referred to as "the-most-vulnerable-among-us" when looking to add a "conscience squeeze" to the usual patter accompanying a public service robbery)"

Your idiotic partisan blinders are making you the fool.

I never said, nor implied, any of this.

As far as I'm concerned, we need to stop any new spending what so ever until we get our deficit problems under control, and I think I've been pretty clear on that. Any money raised by any increases on taxes should be put ONLY towards deficit reduction.

I don't see the logic in taxing capital gains any differently than any other income, and raising taxes in general for me has not a damn bit to do with any kind of morality, it is a practical issue.

We've decided collectively, through our representatives, that we're going to spend what amounts to about 20% of our national income on government. Hence, we should tax an equivalent amount.

Cutting taxes we don't have the money to pay for is no damn different than spending money we don't have on programs that help (insernt segment of the population here). BOTH result in debt that gets put into a pile that is growing faster and faster and will bankrupt us if we don't stop being so damn selfish that we keep spending more than we have, and passing the buck onto our kids.

Have fun reading more of your BS between those lines.

Jan. 06 2011 12:11 AM
geTaylor from Bklyn., NY

@amalgam:

Not coming back for an answer would be impolite.

Unfortunately, I did not clearly state my question.

It seems that Mr. Kleinsmith and you are asserting that taking more from the "wealthiest" would translate into providing more for the "people-who-are-not-the wealthiest" (sometimes referred to as "the-most-vulnerable-among-us" when looking to add a "conscience squeeze" to the usual patter accompanying a public service robbery)

You, Mr. Kleinsmith, and someone named "smithian" also seem interested in tripping Ms. Markowicz over her use of the general term "taxes" when in your opinion she should have specified "Income Taxes". I can agree that would be better.

What I can't understand is how you can positively assert anything on this topic if you don't know " . . .what the overall revenue the Federal govt. would receive if the capital gains rate were set to the highest in come tax level of _35% . . . "

Likewise, why can't you admit that there is no limit to the amounts that you will demand for your efficient, effective programs for implementing your and your comrades' moral / religious values.

Это - свободная страна!

Jan. 05 2011 01:05 PM
amalgam from Manhattan by day, NJ by night

@ geTaylor from Bklyn. - Don't know if you will see this since I was a day late on your query.

Just like Kleinsmith, I'm not sure about what the overall revenue the Federal govt. would receive if the capital gains rate were set to the highest in come tax level of _35%_. (That's for married/single filers who make over $373,650/yr.)

Federal Income Tax Brackets For 2010 (table a few paragraphs down): http://www.moneybluebook.com/2010-federal-income-tax-brackets-irs-tax-rates/

What I do know is that it would be greatly expand a rather small revenue stream on the the people who are afforded most by society and also have the means to pay on investment. That sentiment is similar to your O.W. Holmes quote, although I think it can be taken farther to say that all of us owe society and the govt. for our security, ability to live and make money, infrastructure, etc., and the more one achieves the more one owes.

The same logic is extended for a higher inheritance tax rate on the super wealthy. The fact is that most wealthy people start to transfer their immense wealth to their heirs far in advance of death. This is the real "End-of-Life Planning" taking place as opposed to the disingenuous right-wing/Republicans blather on health care currently in vogue to inspire fear, the primary rallying point motivating American right-wingers for generation upon generation.

Finally, for good analysis on tax issues go to:

www.tax.com

I recommend Ms. Markowicz do the same.

Jan. 05 2011 10:21 AM
Karol from NYC

Ooooh good one. Reminds me of being called a Commie as a kid in Brooklyn. Insults do not substituted for argument, unfortunate for you.

Jan. 04 2011 10:16 PM

@Karol,

Go back and read it again, you got it backwards.

As for the rest of your argument, if you come from the Soviet Union, you should understand 'Pravda'. You seem to be good at delivering 'Pravda', but not truth.

Jan. 04 2011 07:01 PM
Karol from NYC

You said my original stat was not a federal income tax but "tax" in general. Then I provide you with a stat specific to federal income tax. Still not enough for you. Were *you* trying to make a point beyond "take money away from the rich"? I come from a place where they tried that. The experiment failed. You may have heard of it, the Soviet Union?

Jan. 04 2011 04:44 PM
geTaylor from Bklyn., NY

@smithian :

"Taxes are what we pay for civilized society"
(Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.)
[interestng factoid:
Holmes left his residuary estate to the United
States government]

Who said:
"From each according to his ability, to each
according to his need (or needs)"

{couldn't help myself ;-)

Jan. 04 2011 03:04 PM
geTaylor from Bklyn., NY

@amalgam:

Maybe you can answer the question I submitted to Mr. Kleinsmith:

. . . What did you say would be the yearly amount collected by taxing " . . . capital gains the same as regular income . . . "?
(And what would that "same" rate be?)

Jan. 04 2011 02:50 PM

@Karol,

I find it interesting that you are trotting out the same statistic and trying to pretend that it is a different one. Yes, the wealthiest top 10% pay 70% fo the Federal Personal Income Tax. They also have 83% of the financial wealth. Were you trying to make a point?

Jan. 04 2011 02:47 PM
geTaylor from Bklyn., NY

@smithian :

A bit of a "harsh toke" Dude.

But in general I like your attention to detail and specific (specified) amounts.

Making the intelligent corrections you suggest -
what do you estimate the true numbers to be -
i.e., what is the actual percentage of total Federal Taxes (Income, Payroll, Excise, . . etc.) paid by the top 1% of the wealthiest Americans*** pay?
As a potentially helpful comparison, should I be asking how that compares with the total Federal taxes paid by the lower 50% of the wealthiest Americans?
[somehow those categories seemed to be
unhelpfully "fuzzy"]
[*** "wealthiest" taxpayers may not be synonymous with "wealthiest" individuals]

Jan. 04 2011 02:33 PM
amalgam from Manhattan by day, NJ by night

@ Karol -

Oh yes. Blanket statement:

"Government misspends any money it receives..."

Is just false on the face of it, logically incoherent, and rhetorical spin. So you agree that EVERY dollar spent by the govt. is "misspent"? That means that all road paving and repaving is misspent. So too is all public funding of education and universities. Same goes for our defense systems, ad infinitum, ad nauseum...

Jan. 04 2011 02:28 PM
amalgam from Manhattan by day, NJ by night

@ Karol - As stated quite sharply and concisely by smithian, you are conflating payroll taxes with income tax.

That conflation doesn't wash in cold, hard reality, particularly when one considers that the top/wealthy 1% don't even receive most of their annual "income" on monies that can be taxed as income - it's from their accrued, consolidated capital and investments from which they derive their wealth.

Since it's capital gains that make the wealthy wealthy, and since capital gains tax is only at 15% percent, that means that they are paying less relative to their overall wealth than those in the middle classes and below.

--------------------------------------------------------------

Finally, when are people going to tackle the two big deficit/debt issues:

1) The Offense, er...the "Defense" budget and off-the-books outlays;

2) Medicare and the real underlying problem with that, the soaring costs of health care in our for-profit private insurance-based health care system.

Jan. 04 2011 02:18 PM
Solomon Kleinsmith from Omaha, NE

"What did you say would be the yearly amount collected by taxing " . . . capital gains the same as regular income . . . "?
(And what would that "same" rate be?)"

I don't know what that rate would be, although you can find some estimates by digging around at some think tanks I'm sure.

I'm saying the standard income tax rates should apply to capital gains, and then we should take a portion of the increase in income that would bring in, perhaps 2/3 of it, and lower the rates for all of the income brackets a bit. The remaining third should be applied to ONLY deficit reduction, no new spending what so ever.

Couple this with trimming of defense spending and entitlements... that would be serious and substantive movement towards putting us on a path that will keep our country fiscally solvent in the long run.

Jan. 04 2011 02:10 PM
Karol from NYC

Are you sure you want to focus on Federal Income tax? Wealthiest 5% pay over 60% of that, wealthiest 10% pay over 70%. What's dishonest here? How much more should the wealthy pay while the government misspends their money?

Jan. 04 2011 02:07 PM

@Karol,

When you say:

"The wealthiest 1% pay 40% of the taxes in this country. Around 45% of people in the US don't pay any taxes AT ALL"

You are conflating the terms 'Federal Personal Income Tax' and 'Tax'. This is at best ignorant and at worst deliberately intellectually dishonest.

Personal income taxes, which are the ones that your quoted statistics apply to, made up only 45% of federal tax revenue in 2008. The rest comes primarily from payroll taxes, which everyone with a job pays. In fact, most people pay more in payroll taxes than income taxes.

So please stop trying to pass off these tired conservative talking points that try to pretend that Personal income tax is the only tax. If you are going to make the argument that the rich are overburdened, at least do so with real numbers.

Jan. 04 2011 01:54 PM
geTaylor from Bklyn., NY

Mr. Kleinsmith:

My apologies for missing the substantive part of your presentation.
What did you say would be the yearly amount collected by taxing " . . . capital gains the same as regular income . . . "?
(And what would that "same" rate be?)

Jan. 04 2011 01:43 PM
Karol from NYC

Intellectually *bankrupt, that is

Jan. 04 2011 12:50 PM
Karol from NYC

While calling me a dingbat and intellectually is obviously fun, it really doesn't help the charge that what's missing is a serious discussion.

The wealthiest 1% pay 40% of the taxes in this country. Around 45% of people in the US don't pay any taxes AT ALL. What more should "the rich" do? If someone wealthy feels they don't pay enough in taxes, they should certainly feel free to pay more.

Overall, taxing "the rich" is still just a short term solution. Government misspends any money it receives so before long even a tax hike on the wealthy will leave the government with not enough money. Our entire philosophy on spending needs to change, it's not enough to tax the rich and come up with a band-aid solution.

Jan. 04 2011 12:38 PM

~

That woman, Karol, was so full of it that I had to turn the radio off.

If you want to get someone in to discuss the conservative point of view, how about getting someone who is educated and has facts, in the vein of George Will.

I can get false talking points from my relatives who listen to Faux News all day.

~

Jan. 04 2011 12:19 PM
Solomon Kleinsmith from Omaha, NE

Looks like our conversation kicked up a bit of a storm, haha

Some points made by commenters here were things I would have said if we had two hours to lounge around and chat... especially the comment about the effective tax rate. I'm all for treating all income the same, and getting rid of nearly all tax write offs but core things like primary residence, children, college, etc.

The wealthy actually pay less of a percentage of income generally, as more of their income comes from investments. If we taxed capital gains the same as regular income, we'd be able to lower rates a bit for everyone, simplefy the tax code AND raise more money. If you couple that with trimming of spending in some areas, like some of the proposals I mentioned in regards to social security (raising the age a couple years over several decades and not paying out benefits to millionaires who don't need them) maybe we could get enough cross over votes to pass something like that. Perhaps thats just wishful thinking.

Jan. 04 2011 12:12 PM
geTaylor from Bklyn., NY

On your mark . . . Get set . . . . GO!

to your respective ideological corners, and begin telling "scary movie" stories over the talking points of those you disagree with.

(I can hardly keep from doing that myself)

Ultimately, it is the "people" (each of us - and you too - an individual human conscience) who decide - based on persuasive reason and judgment, or coercive forces they fail to resist - what is or is not, or will be, constitutional.

It cannot be too destructive to have those swearing oaths to uphold, protect, and defend the Constitution to take the time to read the Constitutional text aloud as a way of centering our, and their, attention on how we allow ourselves to be governed.
(with apologies to Madonna)
Just Like A Prayer

Jan. 04 2011 11:41 AM
Roger from Brooklyn

Proposed legislation is debated before being voted on so its not necessary that all proposed laws cite the provisions of the Constitution. The republicans need to put forward substantial ideas of how to create jobs and reduce the deficit.

Jan. 04 2011 11:07 AM

"KM, Of course the wealthy pay more into the overall tax revenue. It's the effective tax rate they pay (16%) that is lower than the average tax payer (around 30%). More tedium."

Well put, Mozo. The rich paid a larger percentage of the effective tax rate through the 'golden years' of the 50's & 60's. But conservatives and their bullhorns like Carol M. don't recall that. Seriously Carol, are you really getting taxed too much? Is it really impacting your life so horribly? I'm certain you're not living in a cardboard box or an unheated apartment. What a selfish greedy dingbat.

Jan. 04 2011 11:07 AM
MsLadyLib

Where did you get that intellectually bankrupt Karol Markowicz from? Really? Bush told us to go shopping after 9/11 to help the economy? Somehow, I didn't get that impression.

Jan. 04 2011 11:04 AM

The issue always missing from these wealth inequality discussions is the fact that the rich just aren't hiring anyone anymore. The rich don't necessarily need to give more to the government - they need to give more to willing and able workers.

My mother works for a top-10 law firm in Manhattan and the non-legal staff haven't gotten raises in THREE YEARS!! The lawyers and partners didn't have that problem. The health insurance company I used to work for cut employee benefits and raised premiums upwards of 25% while the CEO got a 51% raise in compensation. Personally, I have never worked harder in my life the past 2 years, yet my pay in that time has only gone up 2.5% but the cost of living has gone up about 6%. THIS IS THE PROBLEM!!!!!!

Jan. 04 2011 10:59 AM
EVC from B'klyn

To followup on the % of taxes paid by wealthy [this does not validate the % cited by Karol. http://www.irs.gov/taxstats/indtaxstats/article/0,,id=129270,00.html

Jan. 04 2011 10:59 AM
John Brooklyn from Brooklyn

Where does Brian find these yahoos? I find them irritating and wonder if they are paid to distribute think tank talking points (especially Karol). One thing about entitlements like Social Security and unemployment insurance is that if you are middle class YOU HAVE PAID FOR THEM. Unfortunately the government has spent these funds on tax cuts for the wealthy and wars of choice.
Its pretty simple, those in power want to stiff us.

Jan. 04 2011 10:56 AM

While in principle I like the idea of reading the "Constitutional" citation for each bill, I think it will degrade quickly via Rush L., Beck & Ms. CM to battling Federal Court citations & their personal interpretations.

It might show the sponsor's constituents who they should trust instead of who they have trusted. It may also point out the logical disconnect of the "strict constructionist" mindset.

Then people might find out that they have to choose between living in the 1790s, 1830s or 1890s as opposed to the current 2010s.

Jan. 04 2011 10:55 AM
Justin Krebs from NYC

Thanks to Karol, Solomon and Brian for the conversation.

One more thought about Congress reading the Constitution. The idea is pure theater, but that doesn't make it bad.

We should all read the Constitution and discuss it. One contribution that the Tea Party made this past cycle was to encourage us to talk about the Constitution. They sparked the conversation is, at times, frightening ways: Christine O'Donnell challenged whether the 1st Amendment provided a separation of church and state, Sharron Angle wanted to repeal the 14th Amendment provisions around citizenship, Rand Paul challenged the constitutionality of Social Security, the minimum wage and the the Civil Rights Act, and the Idaho Republican Party (no kidding) called for a return away from direct elections of Senators.

These ideas may be crazy. They may strike many of us as the wrong direction for our country. But at least they are actively engaging the Constitution which is a living document.

I'd like to see more Constitutional discussions -- maybe with some better ideas -- so it doesn't hurt for us all to be reading the Constitution now and then.

Jan. 04 2011 10:53 AM
Nick from lost in NJ

The right has become the party of no, not the party of ideas. Well, they really only have one idea - starting with Ronnie RayGun, I have seen their laser-like focus on finding ways to starve the government - except, of course, defense. E.g., They want to kill social security and they are expert at using lies to do it by saying in one voice that it's "broke". They want to use that ploy to change the conversation from making the system better, "to we have to cut benefits to save it". The major fault of the left is that they don't speak as one voice - the right has that locked up. The fly in the ointment is the tea bag party. These folks, passionate for sure, are going to cause the right some sleepless nights and, I hope, will drive everyone to the middle where most of America is.

Jan. 04 2011 10:50 AM
Lorraine from Brooklyn

Carole is wrong, and uninformed.

The rich do not pay all the taxes, the middle class does because of mandatory withholding tax.

The rich hire Big CPA firms, and tax experts (that the middle class can not afford) to find them loopholes and to help get private letter rulings to save them or exempt them from paying Taxes.

Tell Carole to work in a big CPA in " tax season", like I have done, so she can get her facts straight.

Jan. 04 2011 10:49 AM
jon from NJ

Its offensive to hear the same drivel from the commentator on the right go unchallenged.

'The wealthy pay all the taxes' 'you can send more of your money to the federal government'

How about the reality that all that wealth has come directly out of the pockets of employees who create the wealth and value and who have received an ever reducing share of the benefit. How about all the sacrifice that people have already been making?

Pfff! Put a guest on with balls and some intellectual honesty if you are going to entertain and provide a platform for the same old, sorry, recycled Reaganite arguments, so that it can at least be challenged.

Jan. 04 2011 10:49 AM
Left of Dem from New york

Before they explain why each bill is constitutional, I want them to explain why they have not declared war since 1942. Do they believe we have not conducted wars since then? Or that we are not in a state of war now?
When Congress does the bare basics of its responsibilities, I will have more faith in the institution. Right now any blogger here has more justification to expound the Constitution than they do.

Jan. 04 2011 10:46 AM

Please note that the conservative blogger, Karol Markowicz, has named her blog, "Alarming News." Fear and less taxes for the rich and corperate America is all I get from her and her ilk.

Jan. 04 2011 10:46 AM
EVC from B'klyn

I'm very impressed by the tone of this debate... thank you. However, I would dispute the conservative proponent's assertion that the wealthy pay the bulk of the tax revenue collected. Can she cite a source for this?

Jan. 04 2011 10:45 AM
Muriel Grabe from New York

Carol does not know her US history. She says no elected leaders have asked US citizens to cut back on imported oil - I guess she's too young, or too opinionated to remember Carter's concerted effort to release us from the grip of foreign oil. Unfortunately Reagan squelched that idea.

Jan. 04 2011 10:45 AM
John from Inwood

I don't know who Karol Markowicz is, but she sounds like a petulant child.

Jan. 04 2011 10:45 AM
Rick from Manhattan

Karol is a "there is no such thing as society" Thatcherite! "Alarming" is her opinions.

Jan. 04 2011 10:44 AM
Jeff Pappas from Ct.

How about the credit cards people used to "just go Shopping "
Can we reform the Crazy rates and usery laws ?

Jan. 04 2011 10:43 AM
Jeff D from New York

Karol Marcowicz misses the point rather precisely on the question of "sacrifice." Of course the wealthy contribute a large portion (though not the majority) of tax revenues, simply because they control not only a large portion of the country's income, but the majority of its wealth. The vast inequality of income in this country is not a justification for lowering the tax obligation of the wealthy--quite the opposite.

Jan. 04 2011 10:42 AM
Jack Jackson from Central New Jersey

Karol, Karol, Karol -

The reason that the 'wealthy' ought to pay more for the government that serves us all is that they have the money.
10% more taxes on a million dollar income won't change their propensity to spend very much. The middle income levels have been robbed of their share of the growth in the economy for the last forty years.
Hourly wages have kept up with inflation (barely) yet the economy has grown $9T above that. The theft of the average worker's wages is constant and ongoing.
Fix that income distribution and we'd fix a lot of things.

Jan. 04 2011 10:40 AM

The wealthy and companies don't sacrifice because they can afford lobbyists and keep their money overseas. The poor and uneducated sacrifice by being cannon fodder or insatiable consumers (on credit, of course).

Jan. 04 2011 10:40 AM
Did Karol just give props to Bush?

I expect to see the four horseman of the Apocalypse gallop past my office window.

Jan. 04 2011 10:40 AM

KM, Of course the wealthy pay more into the overall tax revenue. It's the effective tax rate they pay (16%) that is lower than the average tax payer (around 30%). More tedium.

Oh, and a lot of us will be going outside soon. Ever heard the word "foreclosure"?

Jan. 04 2011 10:39 AM
Tom from Upper West Side

Do the Republicans support massive military spending for national defense or is it a huge jobs program for defense industries in virtually every congressional district?

Jan. 04 2011 10:39 AM

This conversation really should be about how our betters, who run our government, don't think they have any responsibility to pay for the services they use and benefit from, that make them so rich. It's all about everybody else paying more for less, straight greed. Not that hard.

Jan. 04 2011 10:38 AM
Jose Munoz from Queens

This conversation sounds so hopeless and sad as everyone knows that there is going to be a lot of frustration, broadstanding, political bs and nothing gets done . People will have to work as long as they can because they have no funds to retire on so that retirement on SS will be a last option or a supplement to low paying jobs if they can be found. The goverment will have less money to work with so that all services will be curtailed. It's unavoidable that there will be many more events that will require money that is just not there while society becomes more divided and angry.

Jan. 04 2011 10:38 AM
Judith from Brooklyn

Requiring all laws to cite the provision of the Constitution on all proposed legislation? Political Stunt (just like eliminating earmarks which do not save any money). When will Congress stop playing political games and get down to work?

Jan. 04 2011 10:35 AM
Don from Smithtown

Jeremy from Harlem, your point about swearing in on a constitution is excellent.

Jan. 04 2011 10:34 AM
Don from Smithtown

Honestly, I'm tired of the capital-R-Right hiding behind the constitution. If you believe in the literal interpretation, it says a heck of a lot of stuff in there that they wouldn't like, such as not establishing a religion, and doesn't say a heck of a lot of stuff that they say is there, like corporate rights.

And, if you don't take a literal interpretation, then you just end up with a preview of the case before the now-partisan Supreme Court, because there is room to disagree about the constitution, too. It'll just waste more time in congress and increase partisan strife to constitutionally justify each law.

Jan. 04 2011 10:33 AM
Jeremy from Harlem

Maybe in addition to reading the constitution, they can take a quiz!
And, maybe instead of swearing on a bible, they could swear on the constitution.

Jan. 04 2011 10:33 AM
Cooper from NY, NY

Increase corporate/wealthy taxes, cut our defense budget, invest in long-term green infrastructure in order to get the american people what they really need: jobs.
This short-term "bi-partisan" thinking is dangerous. If we keep catering to the ridiculous conservative dialogue there will be nothing here for our children.

Jan. 04 2011 10:32 AM
Ken from Little Neck

"Tell the truth. You want your way MORE than you want Americans to prosper."

That's only partially true. Conservatives want only their kind of Americans (i.e. white and rich) to prosper. Everyone else is on their own.

Jan. 04 2011 10:29 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

Our military is actually very antiquated and backwards. Just the other day, the Iranians shot down two of our drones. Our military costs a lot of money, but is mostly obsolescent. And Iranian chief of staff stated that "US nuclear aircraft carries are no longer a problem" meaning that IRan could deal with them. So while our military is the most costly, it is basically full of outdated stuff of little relevance in the smart missile age. And Iran has put a lot of its development in large quantities of increasingly accurate and powerful missiles.

Jan. 04 2011 10:28 AM
Jack Jackson from Central New Jersey

Paraphrase of CM "...for a little while there Obama had a filibuster proof majority..."

That would be for 45 days from the much delayed swearing in of Al Franken in July to Teddy Kennedy's death from brain cancer in August. The myth that Obama and the Democrats had a sweeping majority and got very little or (just bad things) done is just more lies.

Tell the truth. You want your way MORE than you want Americans to prosper.

Jan. 04 2011 10:24 AM
C.G. from Manhattan

Karol Markowicz is wrong when she says Obama had a filibuster proof majority in the Senate at some point. The Democrats started out with 58 seats. They needed 61 seats to break a filibuster. With Ted Kennedy's death and Scott Brown's election, it only got worse.

Jan. 04 2011 10:23 AM
Phoebe from NJ

How about cutting $100bn from the almost $900bn military budget? That is NEVER mentioned, by either party.

Jan. 04 2011 10:22 AM

Why is there an assumption that the voters wanted 'progress' and congress 'working together'? The 2010 vote was more like a 'stop work' order. Republicans were utterly bamboozled in the lame duck session by Reid's machinations.

Jan. 04 2011 10:20 AM
bernie from bklyn

what's up w/ these guests? if you have a website then you can be considered a pundit on the brian lehrer show? why not just go to the supermarket and ask people their opinions on politics while waiting for the cold cuts to be sliced?

Jan. 04 2011 10:19 AM
mozo from fl

The GOP are clownshoes. They intellectually cannot get beyond tax cuts which redistribute money from the middle class to the rich and will do absolutely nothing positive for the economy at large. Tedious.

Jan. 04 2011 10:18 AM
Eric K

I don't know which is worse: that Darrel Issa said what he said about the Obama Administration being corrupt because he truly believes it or because he is just pandering to those who truly believes it. This is the fundemental choice we have in American politics. The diehards who don't know any better and the crass opportunists who don't care what is truly best for the country, just as long as they win and other people lose.

Jan. 04 2011 10:14 AM
andy from manhattan

my big hope is that new filibuster rules make those who want to fillibuster return to actually having to maintain the floor.

nothing breeds public anger like seeing people waste time by reading phone books, etc. with the current rules not calling for actual filibustering, it costs the party of "no" nothing to "filibuster."

Jan. 04 2011 10:12 AM
Jeff Pappas from Ct.

The Republicans have such greater control over Corporations or visa versa that any progressive ideas or any science that does not fit Their world view will get squashed by a campaign of slander , brainwashing and out right lies.
It should not matter that they have the majority in the house of Reps, it didnt help the Dems, Ahh but their in lies the rubbing of salt deep into the wounds of lets just pick one item ; Health Care.

Jan. 04 2011 09:55 AM

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