Best Of: Politics

McCain’s Tax Lie

Forgive me for getting a little Rahm Emanuel here, but the lead story of The Huffington Post this afternoon is worthy of a middle finger and some righteous indignation.

McCain Slams Stimulus – Joins GOP Leaders to Attack Stimulus Package. Well, okay. I’m all for healthy debate, even if it is with a party that turned itself inside-out during the last decade to become the unaccountable, freedom-snatching, bloat-ridden, free-spending, debt-driven, war-mongering party it is now. It would be unfair to hold every Republican responsible for the failure of the Bush administration even if, like McCain, their Senate votes supported Bush 90% of the time.

Putting aside the fact that the majority of Americans voted against furthering the Republican agenda, elected representatives from the Republican party still represent millions of Americans. Their voices need to be heard, and their ideas deserve serious consideration.

However, when an idea is not just flawed, but based on a pervasive lie, it needs to be called out until facts overcome propaganda and truth rings from the rafters. In McCain’s case, the lie is that businesses are overwhelmed by taxes, and that a business tax cut is necessary to stimulate the economy.

“We need to make tax cuts permanent, and we need to make a commitment that there’ll be no new taxes,” Mr. McCain said. “We need to cut payroll taxes. We need to cut business taxes.”

While McCain was hawking lower business taxes during his run for President, many of us had already learned the ugly truth. I wrote an article about it in October 2008.

In a stunning report released by the United States Government Accountability Office in July 2008, Americans learned that many corporations, including those with assets over $250M, reported no tax liabilities. In fact, from 1998-2005, 72% of foreign-controlled domestic corporations (FCDC’s), and 55% of US-controlled corporations (USCC’s), reported zero tax liability for at least one of those years. In total, two-thirds of the corporations doing business in the U.S. paid no taxes from 1998-2005, while collectively reporting $2.5 trillion dollars in sales.

In that article, I pointed out that the cuts McCain wanted were something of a manufactured myth, not just because so many corporations paid no taxes at all, but because the majority of those who did pay, paid nowhere near the 35% McCain claimed.

McCain and other Republicans continue pushing the mirage of high corporate taxes despite the nuts and bolts of facts as presented by the government’s own accounting office. At a time when they should be demanding an end to the loopholes and special breaks that allowed so many corporations to exist tax-free, they are instead pushing for more corporate tax breaks.

One has to wonder what America’s bottom-line might look like if all the corporations in question paid taxes at even 10% during the last decade. My guess is that it might have been enough to fund the $700B+ business bailout that the Senate voted for, despite the the fact that the majority of Americans disapproved. We’re tired of paying the price for corporate negligence and greed, a point that is driven home every time we hear about multi-million dollar bonuses, million dollar office makeovers, or lavish parties.

There are small businesses — those without teams of attorneys and accountants at their disposal — who might benefit from tax breaks and other incentives. If the corporations that paid no taxes at all paid their share, we might be able to give relief to those small businesses that are struggling due to the economy, and not their own bad business practices.

With our country in crisis, this is not the time for smokescreens, mirages, and propaganda. It is time to face the truth, hold businesses and people accountable, and give relief where it is needed — and not just where it’s politically expedient or advantageous to do so.

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In Defense of the 2009 Dream

John Lennon struck a chord when he sang, “you may say I’m a dreamer, well, I’m not the only one”. And he was right. To be human is to dream — and to want to bring our dreams to life. Dreamers, though, have gotten a bad rap. Our antagonists would have the world believe that those who imagine a better, more inclusive and peaceful world are ethereal beings, idle wanderers, and lost souls.

It’s a myth that dreamers are incapable of rationality and lost in the elusive. Both rationality and imagination are behind every brush stroke of Mona Lisa’s smile, and Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel. They have connected – beautifully – in the pen strokes of Shakespeare, in the musical notes of Mozart, and in the inventive genius of men like Isaac Newton and Bill Gates. Every human being has the potential to share this duality. We are, as a species, gifted with complexity, and a desire to know the divine.

It’s a new election season in America, and on the heels of disaster, the possibility of change sparks both our imaginations and our desire for a more rational world. Is it possible, we ask, to heal the wounds of people and the rift between nations? Is it possible to overcome the well-oiled machine that has sanctioned the rule of morally bankrupt and intellectually empty leaders? Can the voices of reason and possibility rise above the rallying cries of war and more war?

Despite those who would suggest otherwise, it was dissent against rigid dogmas, and not religious fervor, that informed every word of our Declaration of Independence. And then, as now, the authors of a new age seek both a dream and an absolute. The dream is peaceful progress and the building of a nation where every human being has the opportunity to reach their highest potential. The absolute is never again. Never again can we allow the want of revenge to override reason. Never again can we stand idly while politicians and big corporations sink our country into the morass of corruption and the swamp of endless debt.

When our highest dreams and most rational actions are joined, we may overcome not just the stalemate of political divisions, but other social issues.

Presently, over 500,000 children live in the limbo of foster care. I can imagine a day when the most innocent and vulnerable among us are truly protected, not just in a time of crisis, but for the duration of their childhoods. When the “best interests of the child” is a promise fulfilled, and where a child’s right to live in safety, without fear, is considered paramount.

I imagine a world in which every child is given multiple and varied opportunities to find, nurture, and expand their potential, and where doing so is not a luxury, but a given. I believe that if we were truly motivated to nurture the best within our children, we would find many more Galileos in our midst. Einsteins and Kings, Van Goghs and O’Keefes, and yes, Barack Obamas.

In a country that sought to revitalize the rational-imaginative minds of its people, we might see a final end to discrimination. We might see a day when false limitations are universally known and believed to be false – and where character really is the ultimate determinant of one’s opportunities.

I can envision a time when rational tolerance is practiced. When the steady progression of humankind is the goal of all cultures, including the cultures of the traditionalists and the devoutly religious.

Religion and tradition should not be used as justification for stunting the evolution of humanity, or as an excuse for denying the inherent right of others to liberty and freedom. No God or other high-minded entity would have us mutilate the genitals of little girls, rape women, or slay, torture, or starve thousands of people in order to advance a political, religious, or cultural agenda. To live in a world where even one act of such violence is considered unavoidable, or par for the course, is to have twisted the noble concept of tolerance into soulless apathy.

Humanity is not soulless, but our challenges are many, our divisions are great, and recent years have discouraged our ideals. So many, reeling from tragedy, or facing a time of personal struggle, are feeling the weight of despair. They may even be afraid to hope for better days, particularly in a climate that has traded rational dreams for ever-deepening political divides – a climate in which war, torture, and death was marketed as a rational response, and those who sought answers and accountability were derided as “bleeding hearts”.

There’s a saying – “we all want to change the world.” Actually, we know that some, particularly those who profit in a time of war and destruction, would like to see it not change at all. Others find change threatening in some fashion.

The dreamers among us move forward, past our fears, because our minds recognize them as unnecessary limitations, and our imagination longs to see what is on the other side. We long to expand the boundaries and break the unnecessary barriers. We long to fill our individual selves with the light of possibility, and then carry that torch to the outside world. We long to create a legion of united individualists, who will stand together and usher in a new age of revitalization, and the reconciliation of our ideals with our everyday realities.

If we can dream it, it is possible. A battle to revitalize the human spirit requires no enemies, and a revolution of peace requires no violence.

If we were to each follow our highest ideals, we would likely find ourselves not divided, but united. Not alone in our idealism, but joined. Not lost in idle dreams, but wholly invested in making them come true. 2009 is only our beginning. Our end is nowhere yet in sight.

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