Senate Democrats Are Divided On President Obama’s Cliff Proposal, Vote Would Highlight Deep Fractures Within Their Party
Divisions On Tax Rates: Dem Says $250,000 Limit Is ‘Unacceptable’
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): “Sen. Schumer Expresses Reservations About President Obama’s Tax Plan … Schumer said the $250,000 limit is unacceptable since it will hit the metropolitan area disproportionately because of the high cost of living here. ‘$250,000 makes you really rich in Mississippi but it doesn’t make you rich at all in New York and there ought to be some kind of scale based on the cost of living on how much you pay,’ Schumer said.” (“Sen. Schumer Expresses Reservations About President Obama’s Tax Plan,” CBS New York, 9/19/11)
SEN. KAY HAGAN (D-NC) & SEN. MARY LANDRIEU (D-LA): “…North Carolina’s Kay Hagan and Louisiana’s Mary Landrieu, say they aren’t ready to commit to President Barack Obama’s proposals for boosting tax revenue. Instead, Hagan isn’t ruling out support for extending the George W. Bush-era tax cuts for top earners. Landrieu said she opposes eliminating tax breaks for oil companies.” (“Red-State Senate Democrats May Be Hard To Corral On Cliff,” Bloomberg, 11/19/12)
SEN. BILL NELSON (D-FL): “Sen. Bill Nelson’s (D-FL) ‘favored’ position ‘is to permanently extend the Bush-era tax cuts for those making less than’ $1M, ‘according to his office.’” (“Numbers Game: SEN Candidates Not In Agreement On Obama Tax Proposal,” National Journal, 7/10/12)
SEN. JIM WEBB (D-VA): “Retiring Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.) is holding fast to his position that tax rates should not be raised on any income brackets… ‘We shouldn’t raise [rates] on ordinary income.’” (“Senate Dems Balk At Ending Bush-Era Tax Rates On Wealthy Without A Deficit Deal,” The Hill, 6/19/12)
SEN. BEN NELSON (D-NE): “My druthers is to extend the tax cuts for everybody…” (“Senate Dems Balk At Ending Bush-Era Tax Rates On Wealthy Without A Deficit Deal,” The Hill, 6/19/12)
SEN. JOE LIEBERMAN (ID-CT): “Count Sen. Joe Lieberman as a ‘no’ on President Barack Obama’s tax plan.” (“Joe Lieberman To Oppose Obama Tax Plan,” Politico, 7/11/12)
SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D-WV): “‘I don’t begrudge anybody and I’m not going to raise taxes, I’m going to collect what taxes are owed to this country,’ he said.” (“Manchin Meets With Dem Leaders,” Parkersburg News And Sentinel [WV], 10/10/12)
Forty Current Senate Dems Voted To Extend All Tax Rates In 2010
40 Current Senate Democrats Voted To Extend Current Tax Rates In 2010: Akaka (D-HI), Baucus (D-MT), Begich (D-AK), Bennet (D-CO), Boxer (D-CA), Brown (D-OH), Cantwell (D-WA), Cardin (D-MD), Carper (D-DE), Casey (D-PA), Conrad (D-ND), Coons (D-DE), Durbin (D-IL), Feinstein (D-CA), Franken (D-MN), Inouye (D-HI), Johnson (D-SD), Kerry (D-MA), Klobuchar (D-MN), Kohl (D-WI), Landrieu (D-LA), Lieberman (ID-CT), Manchin (D-WV), McCaskill (D-MO), Menendez (D-NJ), Mikulski (D-MD), Murray (D-WA), Nelson (D-FL), Nelson (D-NE), Pryor (D-AR), Reed (D-RI), Reid (D-NV), Rockefeller (D-WV), Schumer (D-NY), Shaheen (D-NH), Stabenow (D-MI), Tester (D-MT), Warner (D-VA), Webb (D-VA), Whitehouse (D-RI). (H.R. 4853, Roll Call Vote #276, Motion Agreed To 81-19: R 36-5, D 44-13, I 1-1, 12/15/10)
Divisions On Death Tax: Dem Says ‘There Is No Way, No Way’
“…a notable handful of Democratic colleagues, parts ways with the White House on one increasingly thorny issue: the president’s call to raise the estate tax…” (“Plan To Raise Estate Tax Divides Democrats,” The Wall Street Journal, 12/1/12)
· “…Senate Democrats feel ‘very, very strongly’ that the rate should remain at 35%” (“Plan To Raise Estate Tax Divides Democrats,” The Wall Street Journal, 12/1/12)
SEN. MARY LANDRIEU (D-LA): “‘This particular tax is inherently unfair,’ Ms. Landrieu said, adding that she would oppose any year-end deficit-reduction package that raises the estate tax. ‘That’s a make-or-break for me.’” (“Plan To Raise Estate Tax Divides Democrats,” The Wall Street Journal, 12/1/12)
SEN. MARK PRYOR (D-AR): “I really don’t think we should change the estate tax.” (“Plan To Raise Estate Tax Divides Democrats,” The Wall Street Journal, 12/1/12)
SEN. KAY HAGAN (D-NC): “Sen. Kay Hagan spoke to the North Carolina Farm Bureau meeting in Greensboro. … ‘I understand the issue with the estate tax. I know that it affects you tremendously,’ Hagan told the crowd. ‘I am definitely concerned about this and there is no way, no way we can let that estate tax revert back to $1 million…’”
(“Hagan Gets Her Wish On The Estate Tax,” Greensboro News And Record [NC], 12/6/10)
SEN. MAX BAUCUS (D-MT): “…Baucus is working to preserve a reduction in estate taxes that exempts the first $5 million of an estate’s value for individuals and taxes the remainder at 35 percent…” (“Baucus Pushes For Rural Priorities In Face Of ‘Fiscal Cliff,’” Great Falls Tribune [MT], 11/25/11)
· “A spokesman for Baucus – the Senate’s top tax law writer – said he will seek as much estate tax ‘relief’ as he can get.” (“Obama Estate Tax Push Undercut By Discord Among Democrats,” Huffington Post, 11/30/12)
Divisions On Energy Tax: Dem Calls Them ‘A Non-Starter’
SEN. MARY LANDRIEU (D-LA): ‘not going to fly’ “‘That offset is not going to fly, and he should know that,’ said Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu from the energy-producing Louisiana, referring to Obama’s elimination of oil and gas subsidies.” (“Hill Dems Pick Apart Obama Jobs Plan,” Politico, 9/14/11)
SEN. MARK BEGICH (D-AK): ‘a non-starter’ “The president’s call for eliminating incentives for oil and gas production is a non-starter and could hurt Alaska’s energy industry.” (Sen. Begich, Newsletter, 2/10/11)
FEBRUARY: Sens. Begich, Bingaman, Conrad, Landrieu, Ben Nelson, Pryor, and Webb voted against the Levin amendment. (S.Amdt.28 To S.223, CQ Vote #7; Amendment Rejected 44-54: R 0-48; D 42-7; I 1-0, Begich, Bingaman, Conrad, Landrieu, Ben Nelson, Pryor, & Webb Voted Nay, 2/2/11)
· “Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) offered another amendment to repeal the  provision but paid for it by issuing new taxes on oil…” (“Senate Repeals Part Of Health Care Law,” Politico, 2/2/11)
MAY: Sens. Begich, Landrieu, and Ben Nelson voted against the S.940: “A bill to reduce the Federal budget deficit by closing big oil tax loopholes, and for other purposes.” (S.940, Motion To Proceed Rejected 52-48: R 2-45; D 48-3; I 2-0, 5/17/11)
Wealth is not Created at the Top: It is Only Devoured There
The UK has left the EU and we can argue about the minutiae of Wealth until we’re blue in the face. But the overriding factors are apparent and in one of the richest countries in the world it is shocking that so many people can’t even be sure if they are going to be able to eat enough today or provide for their loved ones.
These days, politicians from the left to the right assume that most wealth is created at the top. By the visionaries, by the job creators, and by the people who have “made it”. By the go-getters oozing talent and entrepreneurial-ism that are helping to advance the whole world – Opinion by Rutger Bregman
… across the spectrum virtually all agree that wealth is created primarily at the top and so entrenched is this assumption that it’s even embedded in our language. When economists talk about “productivity”, what they really mean is the size of your paycheck. And when we use terms like “welfare state”, “redistribution” and “solidarity”, we’re implicitly subscribing to the view that there are two strata: the makers and the takers, the producers and the couch potatoes, the hardworking citizens – and everybody else.
Bankers, pharmaceutical giants, Google, Facebook … a new breed of rentiers are at the very top of the pyramid and they’re sucking the rest of us dry
In reality, it is precisely the other way around. In reality, it is the waste collectors, the nurses, and the cleaners whose shoulders are supporting the apex of the pyramid. They are the true mechanism of social solidarity. Meanwhile, a growing share of those we hail as “successful” and “innovative” are earning their wealth at the expense of others. The people getting the biggest handouts are not down around the bottom, but at the very top. Yet their perilous dependence on others goes unseen. Almost no one talks about it. Even for politicians on the left, it’s a non-issue.
To understand why, we need to recognise that there are two ways of making money. The first is what most of us do: work. That means tapping into our knowledge and know-how (our “human capital” in economic terms) to create something new, whether that’s a takeout app, a wedding cake, a stylish updo, or a perfectly poured pint. To work is to create. Ergo, to work is to create new wealth.
But there is also a second way to make money. That’s the rentier way: by leveraging control over something that already exists, such as land, knowledge, or money, to increase your wealth. You produce nothing, yet profit nonetheless. By definition, the rentier makes his living at others’ expense, using his power to claim economic benefit.
But here comes the rub. Most rentiers are not as easily identified as the greedy banker or manager. Many are disguised. On the face of it, they look like industrious folks, because for part of the time they really are doing something worthwhile. Precisely that makes us overlook their massive rent-seeking…
The problems we face are that the politicians are firmly in the hands (pockets) of the uber wealthy. We live in a corporate plutocracy and those holding all the wealth and therefore power have no intention of changing the status quo, even if it isn’t sustainable. They remind me of bacteria (or cancer) devouring the host body more and more even though eventually it will kill them too.
Donald Trump Forgets Important Lesson From Grandad:
Harper’s Magazine reprints an interesting letter from US President Donald J. Trump’s own grandfather that may get you thinking. Here is it then:
The Emigrants – By Friedrich Trump – From a letter written in 1905 by Friedrich Trump, Donald Trump’s grandfather, to Luitpold, prince regent of Bavaria. Trump had been ordered to leave Bavaria for failing to complete mandatory military service and to register his initial emigration to the United States twenty years earlier.
Prince Luitpold rejected Trump’s request for repatriation; the family later settled in New York. Translated from the German by Austen Hinkley.
Most Serene, Most Powerful Prince Regent! Most Gracious Regent and Lord!
I was born in Kallstadt on March 14, 1869. My parents were honest, plain, pious vineyard workers. They strictly held me to everything good — to diligence and piety, to regular attendance in school and church, to absolute obedience toward the high authority.
After my confirmation, in 1882, I apprenticed to become a barber. I emigrated in 1885, in my sixteenth year. In America I carried on my business with diligence, discretion, and prudence. God’s blessing was with me, and I became rich. I obtained American citizenship in 1892. In 1902 I met my current wife. Sadly, she could not tolerate the climate in New York, and I went with my dear family back to Kallstadt.
The town was glad to have received a capable and productive citizen. My old mother was happy to see her son, her dear daughter-in-law, and her granddaughter around her; she knows now that I will take care of her in her old age.
But we were confronted all at once, as if by a lightning strike from fair skies, with the news that the High Royal State Ministry had decided that we must leave our residence in the Kingdom of Bavaria. We were paralyzed with fright; our happy family life was tarnished. My wife has been overcome by anxiety, and my lovely child has become sick.
Why should we be deported? This is very, very hard for a family. What will our fellow citizens think if honest subjects are faced with such a decree — not to mention the great material losses it would incur. I would like to become a Bavarian citizen again.
In this urgent situation I have no other recourse than to turn to our adored, noble, wise, and just sovereign lord, our exalted ruler His Royal Highness, highest of all, who has already dried so many tears, who has ruled so beneficially and justly and wisely and softly and is warmly and deeply loved, with the most humble request that the highest of all will himself in mercy deign to allow the applicant to stay in the most gracious Kingdom of Bavaria.
Your most humble and obedient,
… Well then. Long ago, yes.. Still applies? You tell me.
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