Saturday, October 25, 2008

Who's the Elitist and Who's the Socialist??

Just a quick post to discuss my thoughts about two of the most absurd claims made by McCain about Obama. First, Obama is an "elitist." Now, work with me here. Barack Obama came from a single parent home and was raised largely by his grandparents. He did not come from a wealthy background. He moved to Chicago and worked hard for very low pay as a community organizer, helping the unemployed to find work. Wanting to have power to do more for those people, he worked his way through Harvard, became the first black president of the Harvard Law Review, and obtained his law degree. Obama married, has two children, one home and one vehicle between him and his wife. He has only recently paid back his student loans. John McCain, on the other hand, was born into a life of privilege as the son and grandson of four-star navy admirals. That fact alone was the reason he got into the naval academy. He barely graduated (fifth from the bottom in his class), and until he was captured by the Vietnamese, enjoyed a pretty luxurious life in the navy. Anyone who wrecks one plane is stripped of his right to fly again in the navy, unless you're the son of a four-star general, then you can wreck five planes without punishment. Then all of a sudden he is a war hero, comes home and dumps his crippled wife for a much richer woman, and has more houses than he can count on one hand (seven to be precise). Between him and his wife, they have thirteen vehicles. Now you tell me who is the elitist. I haven't seen John's income tax filing, but Cindy's was recently released. In 2007, she cleared $4.2 million.

Which leads me to my next issue: Who's calling who a socialist? According to Cindy McCain's tax return, she paid $1.1 million in taxes in 2007. I think I've got this all figured out. If McCain becomes president, he is planning on giving his wife and himself an additional $300,000 in tax cuts. Before Reagan and the Bushes, those who made the amount of money the McCains make paid a much higher percentage in taxes than the middle class. But since, the Republicans have created more tax cuts and loopholes for the wealthy to jump through, while the middle class have found stagnant wages and higher taxes. Seems to me that since the 1980s we have had a wealth redistribution - from the poor and middle class to the ultra rich. The richer you are, the more of your money you get to keep. Oh, and according to his plan, I, as a nurse, would only get about a $300 tax cut. This is according to the Tax Policy Center's estimation based on the plans provided by the candidates. Perhaps I'm just naive, but it seems to me that there are only so many really wealthy people, but there are a whole lot more in the middle class. Wealthy people can buy whatever they want when they want, and once they've bought so much, they're not going to buy anymore. On the other hand, there are a lot of middle class who don't have things they might want to buy.

Let me explain it this way, a wealthy person walks into a Best Buy, picks out the largest, most expensive HD TV he can find and buys it. Chances are, he has what he needs and will buy no more. If his taxes go up, so what? He can still afford his TV, and he'll buy it anyway. On the other hand, twenty middle class people walk into Best Buy and want to buy an HD TV. A couple of them have saved for a while, and now have enough to buy a modest HD TV. A few more have room on their credit cards to splurge, and the rest are "just browsing" because there is absolutely no way they can afford that TV. Now the rich guy is going to buy his TV if he wants to regardless of his tax rate. He's ok. But wouldn't be better for our economy if all twenty of the middle class people had a tax cut and could have bought a TV as well? Best Buy gets more business and income, the TV manufacturers make more money from selling twenty one TVs rather than four or five, and can now afford to hire more employees or give higher wages or give better benefits.

I know I'm oversimplifying with this example, but the principle - I think - is accurate. The economy is stronger when the middle class has more money to spend. The Republican theory of giving more tax breaks to the top 5% and wealth trickling down to the rest of us has proven disastrous. It has only proven that those at the top are greedy and engage in practices that have caused our economy to spiral out of control downward. And now Johnny boy wants to give those wealthiest of Americans $86 billion in tax cuts while giving the middle class peanuts. Yeah, that sounds like a brilliant idea.

In summary, who's the elitist? I say it's the guy with so many houses he can't remember how many he has (seven) and thirteen cars and a beer heiress wife who makes $4.2 million a year in addition to his own income. I absolutely love what Chris Rock said to Larry King in the third minute of this interview regarding how many houses McCain has versus Obama:

Is this not true? Obama has one house to lose and then he's homeless, while McCain can lose several homes and still sleep well. Who really cares about the economy more? Barack Obama. Who's the elitist? By far, John McCain.

Who's the socialist? Republican policies have robbed from the poor and middle class and rained cash down on the wealthiest 5% of Americans. This is what I like to call reverse socialism. Obama's plan will require those in the top 5% to pay taxes at the rate they did under Clinton (and they remained quite wealthy during those years) and give relief to the middle class, who desperately needs it. Is this socialism? No more than it is to give the wealthiest Americans tax breaks while largely ignoring the middle class. So who's the socialist? In my book, it is John McCain and his Republican policies.

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