Convention Night Call-In: RNC Tuesday

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Brian Lehrer (Marco Antonio/WNYC)

Each evening during the conventions, Brian Lehrer hosts a convention call-in from 7-8pm, from WNYC in New York and around the country on the "(Mostly) Swing-State Radio Network". Get analysis of the convention, previews of that evening's speeches, and a chance to talk with public radio listeners in swing states around the country.


  • Analysis from Jeff Greenfield, anchor of PBS's Need to Know and columnist for Yahoo! News
  • Former New Hampshire Governor John Sununu, who served as Chief of Staff under George H.W. Bush
  • A reporter's roundtable with: 
  • Bob Hennelly of WNYC and New Jersey Public Radio on what to expect from Chris Christie's keynote speech tonight
  • Michael Pope of WAMU on how Virginia voters are watching the convention and Governor McDonnell's speech
  • Jo Ingles, statehouse reporter for Ohio Public Radio, on Ohio's voters and what they are watching for
  • Plus your calls! Want to join the conversation? Call 1-800-543-2543 or comment below
  • Once the special is over, join a live-chat and watch the speeches at It's A Free Country

Tune in starting at 7pm EST Tuesday. Tonight we're on WNYC New York, New Jersey Public Radio, WAMU American University, WCPN-FM Cleveland,  WDET-FM Detroit, WHA-AM Wisconsin, WUNC Chapel Hill, and WUSF Tampa

(Election Special opening theme "My Robot" by Looper | Closing theme "Lighthouse" by Bryan Young)


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Comments [9]

Dennis McDermott from Mount Vernon, NY

NPR and WNYC provide an incredible service presenting a variety of positions and opinions on our economy, our country and a broad array of other subjects.

Tonight, I listened to an interview of former Gov. John H. Sununu by Brian Lehrer.

Gov. Sununu has some interesting perspectives and strong opinions based on years of academic and political leadership, as well as a sound educational foundation.

One opinion I heard in this interview revolved around federal income taxes on dividends and capital gains. As I understood Gov. Sununu, his posture is that we need to protect the favored tax status on dividends and capital gains because this rewards and encourages entrepreneurs to take risks, to create new enterprise, and to create and sustain new jobs.

I like this strategy for active equity investors who devote a substantial amount of their own personal time and energy, in addition to their capital investment, in the business.

Where I believe we ought to consider drawing the line is with passive equity investors.

Under the leadership of President Ronald Reagan, Congress enacted the Tax Reform Act of 1986, which essentially eliminated many of the tax preferences formerly available through real estate investment transactions. In the Revenue Reconciliation Act of 1993, Congress "relaxed" the rules somewhat for active real estate investors, allowing those who meet defined requirements necessary to be considered a real estate professional to bypass the passive activity rules for real estate investments in which they materially participated.

Today, we allow those who are essentially passive equity investors to treat significant amounts of passive income from equity investments in the form of dividends and capital gains as preference items for federal tax purposes. Meanwhile, hard working Americans – including most small business owners – are taxed at standard income tax rates, compounded by the mysterious “Alternative Minimum Tax”.

Our standard income tax system is indexed so that as taxable income increases, the effective tax rate increases.

As an example, an American family with 2 adults which had a taxable income of $100k from employment in 2011 were in the 25% tax bracket, but they didn’t have to pay 25% in federal income taxes on the full amount. Rather, they paid 10% on the first $16,050, 15% on the next $49,050, and 25% on the last $34,900. This works out to a federal income tax obligation of $17,687.50, or an effective rate of just under 18%.

Now, contrast this against a passive investor who receives most of his income from passive activities, and where there is no indexing in place. How is this rational, appropriate or equitable?

I would have hoped to hear a well-educated and knowledgeable individual like John H. Sununu give us a more informed and critical analysis of the overall situation here, versus trying to create what sounded on the radio to be a biased, inflammatory and very narrow interpretation of the facts.

Aug. 28 2012 09:24 PM

I almost drove my car off the road when former Governor Sununu of New Hampshire said that those who are receiving a salary, instead of going out and starting their own company, are taking the easy way out! Where does he suppose those of us who work hard and earn a salary are going to come up with the startup money to start our own companies, when we are not born into money like Romney?

Aug. 28 2012 09:18 PM
Janis from Brooklyn, NY

I am not undecided, like many Americans. I voted for Obama, but I was uneasy at the things he promised regarding the economy, particularly in light of the meltdown that had only just begun, and that we are still feeling in a big way. I dislike the health care bill and I don't believe it make things better, just different, it will be a nightmare for the average Joe like me, a member of the Middle Class and who picks up the slack for those who cannot afford decent health care. I understand that the President is now a lame duck in that Congress will not let him do much of what he would like, but for many months there was a majority in the House and the Senate, what happened to rolling back regulation? I wonder why they did not fix what contributed to, beyond our shores, a global economic crisis of epic proportions.

But Romney? He flips, he flops, he hides his tax returns and everybody knows why--he made a ton of money and hid it in off-shore accounts and he knows it. The fact that he refuses to disclose is more than obvious why. He has never wanted for a day in his life; he worked for a firm that was like a big fish swallowing small the cost of jobs for tens of thousands of employees. When I just now heard on your broadcast the former Governor of NH talking about the "snide remarks..." that Democrats make in reference to how the rich don't pay proportionately in taxes, and, given that fact, how did he think the economy would be effected if the average American who was NOT a wealthy investor were to pay their taxes in the same way, I could not help but notice how neatly he sidestepped Brian's question and never really answered it. People like him, as well as Mitt Romney, have not a clue on what it means to live hand to mouth, to not have affordable health care available to them, and decent public education available to them. They do not understand that the average American, like me, wants to know why is it that corporate executives at financial firms were allowed to rape the economy, blatantly committing fraud in lying to shareholders, and yet, they are still walking around after getting a finger-wagging from the Congressional committee before which they were being "held accountable." We are supposed to be citizens who abide by the law--how can we be held to that, when people sitting across the desks from minorities cajoling them to buy homes they clearly could not afford? And were encouraged to cater to minorities, making money by betting against inevitable foreclosures? If I steal a car, it's called Grand Theft Auto, and I will go to jail for this crime. Corporate executives steal BILLIONS of money that is not theirs, and they walk free. We are unhappy, and until this country gets an ethical and moral overhaul, the unhappiness will continue indefinitely, beyond the next four years.

Aug. 28 2012 08:36 PM
wkgreen from Brooklyn, NY

In response to Sununu’s diatribe that “big government” discourages entrepreneurs, does he ever consider that the possibility of having an adequate safety net might actually encourage people to take entrepreneurial risks? It seems to me that if someone knows that they have some sort of financial underpinning, like decent health care or social security, they are more likely to jump into the fray and expose themselves to the possibility of financial loss.

Aug. 28 2012 08:03 PM
victoria sant from Bloomfield, NJ

I have family members about whom it took me decades to understand their voting patterns, but I finally did. They want to vote for the winner. They aren't fans of underdogs, they value an alliance with power, and they regularly don't decide who they're voting for until they have a pretty good sense of who's likely to win. As this election is so uncertain, they are, as usual, undecided.

Aug. 28 2012 07:58 PM

Does John Sununu take a direct salary from big oil companies or the Koch brothers? Perhaps because of his more advanced age, he feels we should sacrifice our technological edge in the development of the "inevitable" alternative energy strategies in lieu of the short term profits he would derive from more drilling, and the continued environmental decline they will bring forth.

Aug. 28 2012 07:50 PM
Chad LeHompe from Arlington, Va.

Undecided here! I was an Obama voter in 2008, but I've been horrified over the last four years as a President who is supposedly liberal is virtually indistinguishable from President Bush.

Mitt Romney actually scares me more than Obama does, but I'm undecided whether I want to vote for Jill Stein, Gary Johnson or another third party candidate... or whether I'm willing to vote against Romney by voting for Obama.

Aug. 28 2012 07:24 PM
Ben from NYC

Although I usually vote republican, i was a bit unsure the past couple of months until this past week up to the RNC. Did obama need 4 more years to accomplish more? was it ok to vote for a socially conservative candidate.

As a gay man, it's tough to reconcile not voting for the socially progressive party. but i realized that the only reason i felt i had to reconcile anything was because i was constantly being reminded of it. social issues are all that Obama is running on. gay marriage, abortion, immigration.

It's that romney addresses the larger picture of what's wrong in this country that has swung my vote to him. Obama has all but ignored the larger issues and i can't help but think he's going to keep talking about doing one thing and then go do other less important stuff.

Aug. 28 2012 07:23 PM
Jose Ivey from Brooklyn, NY

I don't think there significant number of undecideds left - and I don't think the campaigns think so either. I think they are spending money now to make sure keep their bases fired up and ready to vote. That's why there is such an emphasis on "dog whistling" in the SuperPAC and core campaign ads. These trigger words will only work on the believers, and should have little or no effect on the people who can't make up their minds.

Look at this way: do you get a better return fishing for the 3-5% of the undecided, which at best you might get half of them OR spend your dollars making sure 5% more of your core actually shows up in the polls.

Aug. 28 2012 07:13 PM

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