Archive for wealth gap

Soros is no Koch brother

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Soros is no Koch brother, close up

Those on the right love to compare the Kochtopus to George Soros. Yes, both the Koch brothers (scroll) and George Soros are wealthy individuals who donate to the party and candidates of their choice. They're allowed to by law, even more so under the most recent (and terrible) Supreme Court decision.  But that's where the comparison should end.

Which brings us to today's Los Angeles Times letter to the editor about the difference between these "big spenders":

Re "Big spenders," Letters, April 8

One letter writer asserts that exposing the Koch brothers' financial involvement in various conservative causes is mudslinging. He claims their political spending is no different than that of major Democratic donors such as George Soros and unions.

What the writer fails to acknowledge is that the Kochs fund a web of foundations and organizations created by and for themselves to promote their own views. Their political groups are given populist-sounding names — such as Americans for Prosperity — that distract from their real purpose, which is to protect the Kochs' extraordinary personal fortune.

And, but for their wealth, many of these organizations would either cease to exist or lack real political clout.

In comparison, when Soros and unions make political donations, they do not take extraordinary lengths to hide their involvement. We know to whom they gave and how much. The same cannot be said for the Kochs.

That is the difference.

Robert J. Switzer

West Hollywood

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Don't let Paul Ryan near your money

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Paul Ryan ugh this guy

He's ba-a-ack. Yes, Paul Ryan and his "budget" (quotes required, because it's not a budget, it's a redundantly cruel joke) have returned to make the 99% miserable as it caters to the top 1%.

In his Los Angeles Times column, the brilliant Michael Hiltzik takes Paul Ryan and his Very Serious Plan apart. He rips into Privatize Ryan's latest attempt to screw the middle class and the poor by cutting government programs, killing Medicare and Social Security, and thumbing his nose at everyone who knew better than to vote for him and his "severely conservative" running mate.

Read our lips, Paul: Austerity doesn't work.

Via AusterityNut.com

What's the definition of insanity again? Oh yeah:

insanity doing same thing over different results

Hiltzik also manages to get a word or two in about GW Bush's squandering of the Clinton surpluses on tax breaks for the wealthy and how he spent borrowed funds on wars without bothering to raise income taxes.

Take it away, Michael:

There should be a rule--or even a law--that politicians who propose "fixes" to Social Security should at least show they know something about the program. By that standard, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., would flunk. [...]

But the trust fund is still growing, because Social Security's income streams--the payroll tax, interest on its bonds, and revenues from income taxation of benefits--still are sufficient to cover current benefits, and then some. [...]

As I've written before, when you hear people like Paul Ryan talk as though the country can't afford to pay back the money by redeeming the bonds in the trust fund, what you're hearing is the sound of the wealthy preparing to stiff the working class. [...]

[I]f Ryan has his way, yes, the money will be stolen. It's up to you and me to make sure that doesn't happen. So, to put all these pieces together, there's no "dubious government accounting" involved here--the dubious accounting is all Ryan's. [...]

The most important factor is the one that people like Ryan want you to forget: The money in the Social Security trust fund came directly or indirectly from the payroll taxes paid by millions of American workers--100% of it. It was paid by workers in the trust that the government would pay it back. Paul Ryan is hinting, pretty strongly, that he doesn't want to pay it back. 

So why would you trust him? 

Exactly. Why would anyone trust this guy? Especially after the abysmal response to his previous Kill Medicare/Social Security proposals.

paul ryan really really bad screen grab

Please read Hiltzik's entire piece here.

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Oops! Constituent to Rep. Paul Ryan: #Obamacare helps. Ryan: "Repeal it" is "urban legend."

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medicare poster paul ryan, eric cantor, boehner

Remember this? Hey America, guess what! Paul Ryan still wants to kill Medicare! Which was a sequel to VIDEO: Paul Ryan defends GOP "Kill Medicare" plan in new ad. Which was a sequel to VIDEO: Paul Ryan heckled at Iowa State Fair about killing Medicare, war on middle class and Poll-itics: Older and attentive Americans do not approve of GOP Kill Medicare Plan and La Cucaracha: Ryan "Kill Medicare" coupon found in newpaper! ...among others.

And, as Think Progress notes, Ryan has also been "one of the primary architects of the GOP’s ongoing crusade to repeal and replace Obamacare. But even his own Republican constituents have a thing or two to say about that:

Transcript courtesy of Think Progress:

MICHAEL MARTINCIC, 64: What Obama did was get this law passed. Whether it’s good, bad, or not, it got passed. It’s actually helping some people grow, helped this other guy [with] medication. The Republicans….By myself…I could actually…get some kind of subsidy, which would help me…

RYAN: With the ACA, one thing I want to say is we didn’t have 51 votes to repeal it altogether 51 times. I think that’s sort of like this urban legend that we said, ‘let’s repeal it.’ It’s like we did a repeal vote on the whole law. There are many pieces of this law that we’ve gone after—several of them that were made into law, so please know—I think even Democrats would acknowledge that there are a lot of problems with this law. And so we passed a lot of things changing this law—several of which were made into law—but I really do believe there’s a better way to do it than with this health care law.

My argument is that I think there are better ways at dealing with these extremely important and legitimate problems, like people with preexisting conditions—this is why I’m a big fan of risk pools. We had the [??] system in Wisconsin—it worked well, and then it had the federal government attached to it, so it was even more affordable for people with preexisting conditions. That was one of our proposals. So I do think that there are better ways of fixing this problem—affordable coverage for everybody, including people with preexisting conditions that’s a lot better than [this law]. It’s going to hurt our hospitals, it’s going to hurt Medicare, it’s going to make people buy things they don’t want to buy.

Wait what? "It's going to hurt Medicare"? Seriously, Paul Ryan? That came out of your mouth? You, the king of the Kill Medicare bills?

When ThinkProgress asked him whether he thinks Ryan sees the people like himself, who could benefit from Obamacare, Martincic shook his head. “He misses it.

Ryan's not just missing "it," he's missing a few things, like a few cans from his revered six pack.

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WI GOP fast-tracks "dark money" bill in midst of "John Doe" campaign finance violations probe

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citizens united check republic Koch brothers dark money

By now you've probably heard of dark money. I've written about it often. It is when nonprofits spend money on elections by exploiting loopholes in campaign finance disclosure laws. In other words, they don't reveal who their donors are, but use their wealth to influence election outcomes by funding "issue ads." Thank you, Citizens United.

Here's how Rachel Maddow described the practice:

...Millions and millions of dollars, hundreds of millions of dollars, that are intentionally made difficult to trace, funneled to networks that build networks that you can disown when you want to, if you want to.

In that particular segment of her show, she was describing how the Koch brothers operate.

Now we get to see how Republican legislators in Wisconsin operate, or as I like to call it, Dark Money Central.

Via PRWatch.org:

A proposed bill that would keep the public in the dark about the sources of money in Wisconsin elections could also make it easier for dark money groups to coordinate with candidates, an issue of particular salience given the ongoing "John Doe" probe into alleged campaign finance violations in the state. [...]

And most importantly, it could open the door to direct candidate coordination with issue ad groups, potentially undermining what remains of Wisconsin campaign finance law. Prosecutors in the John Doe campaign finance probe are reportedly pursuing a theory of illegal coordination between independent "issue ad" groups and the Walker campaign during the 2011-2012 recalls. [...]

Wisconsin courts have held that if a group is coordinating on issue ads with a candidate, their spending -- regardless of whether it includes express advocacy -- can be considered a contribution, which under Wisconsin law encompasses both cash donations and the giving of anything of value.

If those "contributions" exceeded donation limits and were not reported to the state elections board, the group running coordinated issue ads would be violating election law.

And that is the whole reason for the bill. It would change the "political purpose" definition which would also end up changing the interpretation of "candidate contributions."

Nothing new here, just your typical GOP approach: If you can't get what you want honestly and openly, cheat, lie, defraud, slither, smear, steal, and/or hide.

what's the big secret

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Chris Christie compares the poor to petulant teens, but, see, he's the real victim here.

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Chris Christie red meat

Chris Hayes and David Cay Johnston should have added the now-famous quote from Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich to this discussion of Chris Christie: He "deserves an ass-kicking":

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Chris Christie speaking to the Economic Club of Chicago:

I think that the problem we have is an opportunity gap, not an income equality gap. And I think that one of the big discussions in conversations over the course of the next two years in national politics is going to be, do you want mediocrity or do you want greatness?  You want income equality? That's mediocrity. Everybody can have an equal mediocre salary. That's what we can afford. Or do you want the opportunity for greatness? ...

Greatness is going to be based on your intellect, your hard work, your creativity. And government can play a role in helping to create that opportunity. But not in being the perpetual referee of what sounds like a fight between my 13-year-old son and my 10-year-old daughter: "You did this for him, that's not fair. Well, that's not fair, I want this to be fair." I grew up in an America that said, "Life isn't fair."

Yes, you heard right: Chris Christie is confusing income equality with salary equality. He thinks Democrats want every employed person in the country to be paid exactly the same salary.

Then he had the unmitigated gall to compare struggling families, people who are hurting, with petulant children, in effect blaming them!

family values my ass

To paraphrase Keith Olbermann, "That man is an idiot."

Here's a bonus video from The Rachel Maddow Show, just in case you're not up on the latest in the Bridgegate scandal:

chris christie bridgegate fundraise msnbc

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Maddow, on how the GOP is throwing a pity party for their guy Chris:

The New Jersey State Republican Party is now trying to raise money on the Bridge scandals. Specifically, they are trying to raise money by saying that news organizations should not be covering the scandal, and that's the real problem here.

Seriously, I'm not kidding... This is from the Star Ledger... They're quoting a fundraising email that the New Jersey Republican Party has sent out asking people to pledge $25 a month to the New Jersey Republican Party because of the Bridge scandal....

"Send us money because MSNBC keeps reporting on this story"??

To the people of Fort Lee, to the people who missed the first day of school or the first day of work, to the people who were late to appointments or their jobs by hours, for not just one day but for four days, to the person having a heart attack and the four people who were injured and needed to be moved by ambulance after a car wreck, to the parents of a missing child, to all those people who found that police and first responders could not get to them those days, to the people of Fort Lee and the hundreds of thousands of other New Jersey residents and commuters who had four days of this gridlock inflicted on them-- on purpose-- thanks to still-unexplained orders that came out of Gov. Christie's office, to all of the hundreds of thousands of people who were hurt here-- on purpose-- the New Jersey Republican Party would like you to know that the real outrage here is that this TV network [MSNBC] is reporting on what happened and trying to figure out the answers, but the Christie administration still won't provide.

They want you to know that we're the real outrage, and that they're the real victim. Not you.

They want the people of New Jersey to stand up! Not against this kind of corrupt and abusive outrage by their government. They want the people of New Jersey to stand up against us covering the story.

It's amazing, but it's good to know.

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Gov Scott Walker tax plan gives an extra $50 million tax cut to... guess who? Right!

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gov. scott walker cronyopoly gameImage via.

What will Gov Scott Walker do to endear himself to voters next? So far a state appeals court rejected challenges to the WI John Doe probe targeting conservatives. Then Walker wouldn't reveal whether 86 grand that his campaign used to pay attorney fees was connected to said John Doe case. And to further convince us how disconnected to reality he is, Gov Scott Walker of Wisconsin said "he senses no gay marriage movement."

But now we see that he is actually endearing himself to some voters after all. The upper-incomiest of residents of Wisconsin owe Gov Scott Walker another big, sloppy, wet kiss.

But before we go there, as Julie Andrews sang in "The Sound of Music," let's start at the very beginning, a very good place to start. There's this law that Congress passed back in 1969 that called for a federal alternative minimum tax, because "155 affluent Americans had actually paid no federal income taxes." Wisconsin thought that was such a good idea that they passed their own version of the AMT back in the '80s.

Via The Cap Times:

The measure is designed to capture at least some revenue from individuals who have so many deductions or credits they otherwise would owe no income tax at all.

Why, what a splendid and fair way to level the playing field!

But Wisconsin Republicans had second thoughts. After all, they have a group crush on the wealthiest, filthy-richest residents (read: political donors) and wouldn't want to ruffle their currency-lined feathers.

And the man with the biggest heart-on of all decided to bring them flowers and bon-bons in the form of (say it with me now) tax cuts:

[T]tucked into Gov. Scott Walker’s $504 million basket of tax cuts are significant changes to the state’s alternative minimum tax that could deliver some $50 million in savings to roughly 30,000 filers by 2016 and beyond, according to a Legislative Fiscal Bureau memo. [...]

[T]he alternative minimum tax changes will mainly benefit the wealthiest in Wisconsin, including factory and farm owners already benefiting from another huge tax break passed specifically for them in 2011. [...]

If all three provisions are adopted, revenues would be reduced by an estimated $11.3 million in 2013-14, $25.5 million in 2014-15, $40.5 million in 2015-16 and $50.8 million in 2016-17 and thereafter, according to the LFB.

So to those who have their eye on Potential Presidential Candidate Walker, I ask that you please share this news with your fellow not-filthy-rich voters. They're sure to appreciate who he gives hand-outs to and who he doesn't. Indeed, it seems the "makers" are the real "takers," and everyone else can eat cake.

Tell a friend.tell a friend

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Wealth gap watch: "Marie Antoinette Bakery reopened, is proud to be serving day-old cake."

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taxes wealthy 99 percent

Another guest post by the one, the only Will Durst who's having a little fun with :

GUILLOTINE TIME

F. Scott Fitzgerald famously said the rich are different from us. To which Hemingway snorted, “yeah, they have more money.” And now seems like a good time to offer up a few words of sympathy for the rich. Because our wealthy brothers and sisters are going through some tough times. Not financially. No, no, no. They’re doing pretty good on that end. Last year the stock market shot higher than the 4:20 break at a Denver pot dispensary on Jerry Garcia’s birthday.

The fortunate among us are comfortable alright, but becoming increasingly uncomfortable, if you catch my drift. It’s us nasty poor people. Again. It appears that we’re picking on them. You know. Whining. Complaining. Jealous. Hungry. Rather than pulling ourselves up by the bootstraps like they did when their daddies left them all that money.

Cries of financial inequity have been so alarming lately that venture capitalist Thomas Perkins felt compelled to compare we poor to the Nazis. He wrote that while Germany’s 1% were the Jews, America’s 1% are the Well-Heeled. And did it in a letter to the Wall Street Journal. No surprise there. Where did you think he’d get it published? The San Francisco Chronicle? Progressive Magazine? Rachel Maddow’s blog?

Sporting a Richard Mille watch which lists for $330,000, Perkins later apologized for using the term “Nazi” but doubled down on his assertion that the rich are being demonized. The bellyaching billionaire: a uniquely American phenomena. Pretty sure the Romanovs expressed similar sentiments. The Marie Antoinette Bakery has reopened and is proud to be serving day-old cake.

Apparently, acute affluence causes the outer epidermis to shrink profoundly. Causing the prosperous to exhibit super-sensitivity to the slings and arrows tossed at their outrageous fortune. To say that reaction was loud and swift is akin to implying that Mr. Everest slopes. Many malcontents called for the Perkins to have his analogy completed by tattooing a serial number onto his arm.

But in America, that anti-rich stuff doesn’t fly because folks worry that any restrictions on the loaded and bloated will come back to haunt them when their ship comes in and they themselves start rolling in it. Wealth projection. Another American exclusive.

A recent study revealed that 85 people in the world now control the same amount of wealth as half the population of the planet. 85 people have as much money as 3.5 billion. Admittedly, some of those 3.5 billion people have taken a vow of poverty. But not all.

4 of America’s 9 richest are members of the family that owns Walmart. Really? Couldn’t they pay their workers a tad more and still be 4 of the top 30 richest Americans? Top 100? 2 million employees and the last year’s profit was 16 billion dollars. That’s 8K profit off every employee. Imagine how much more stuff Walmart could sell if each employee made $2,000 extra?

They call sharks-eating machines. And corporations are sharks that eat money. But even stockholders are starting to question the $100 million CEO salary. Although, its nice to know that when there’s a run on guillotines, Walmart will stock a nice selection of attractively priced models. But if you want something extra sharp with a built in timer, might want to check out Richard Mille.

Will Durst is an award- winning, nationally acclaimed political comic. Go to willdurst.com to find about more about his new CD, “Elect to Laugh” and calendar of personal appearances including "BoomeRaging: From LSD to OMG," Wednesday the 5th @ Angelica’s in Redwood City.

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