Tuesday, August 23, 2011

$750 Billion is a lot of money, except when it isn't...

Money means different things to different people.  For example, when you see something that you want to buy it's "only $50", but when it's something you don't want to buy it's "A waste of $50".  In fact, for most people, when you see something you want to buy, it's "Only $100" or "Only $250" and when it's something you could care less about it's a "Waste of $5".  That's just basic, selfish human nature.  Or, as George Carlin once eloquently put it:

"You ever notice how all your shit is stuff and everyone else's stuff is shit?"

With the Republicans, $750 billion isn't shit.  It's not even enough money to touch the tip of our deficit iceberg.  It's almost the change left in the couches of congress, it's so insignificant.  Except when it actually is a lot of money.

Back at the end of Bush's 2nd term, when the economy was collapsing, the housing bubble had exploded and banks were threatening global financial meltdown if they were allowed to fail, $750 billion wasn't a lot of money.  It was a necessary evil to bailout those banks and save the financial industry before it imploded and took the entire global economy with it.  2 years later, when Obama passed a $750 billion stimulus bill, then it was a lot of money.  Then it was "massive government spending" and "the beginning of Obama's socialist wealth-redistribution agenda" and every other hyperbolic analogy a Fox News analyst could come up with to send their flock charging angrily around the yard.  $750 billion handed over to the private financial industry to do whatever they wanted with, that was "no big deal".  $750 billion spent to save the middle-class homeowners who were the victims of those banks and their predatory lending practices, to help try to create infrastructure jobs to stop the hemorrhaging unemployment rates, to bail out states who's budgets were rocked with shortfalls due to the sudden and unprecedented dive in property tax revenues - that was "A waste of money".

You notice how Republicans love to talk about Obama's stimulus bill?  They love to talk about how it didn't lower unemployment, it didn't bail out the economy, it didn't really do anything?  Well, except help save millions of homeowners from foreclosure or from simply walking away from their massively underwater home loans, created tens of thousands of public works projects that are still being worked on now and employing thousands of Americans across the country and - according to most unbiased economists - prevented the unemployment rate from going significantly higher, the market from falling further and the country from being pushed into a full depression.  At any rate, Republicans love to criticize that Obama stimulus bill don't they?  You know what they never talk about?  Bush's bank bailout bill a year before Obama took office.  They don't ever talk about that bill at all, except when they take the average American for fools with no memories and try to tack it on to Obama's  tab as if he somehow passed legislation through the executive branch a year before he was sworn in.  Yep, $750 billion in a freebie give away with no strings attached to the very industry who created this recession - that's nothing.  It's barely a sliver of our massive national debt.  I mean, unless Obama asks for it, then it's "socialist wealth re-distribution" and "leaving a burden of debt for future generations to come".

Now the big thing is repealing the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest 2% of Americans.  Of course, the Republicans are against this because, even though we're still hovering around 9% national unemployment, somehow we're still supposed to believe that rich people are out there creating jobs and a 2-3% increase in their taxes will bring all that to a screeching halt.  "You see all those rich people out there, not hiring anyone?  Well... if you raise their taxes by 2-3%, they really aren't going to hire anyone!"

The estimated amount of revenue that repealing the Bush tax cuts would generate is $750 billion.  Hey, there's that number again!  When Republicans talk about this tax revenue, they say "$750 billion is a sliver of our national debt, it's not going to do anything to help get us out of this mess!  All it's going to do is punish the job-creators and make things worse!"

So, who do the Republicans and their Fox News-driven propaganda machine want us to go after for the extra tax revenue, instead?  Does this phrase sound familiar?

"50% of the country doesn't even pay federal income taxes, so why aren't we going after those people instead of sticking it to the job-creators?"

This is a mantra you hear daily on Fox News.  50% of the country doesn't even pay federal income taxes!  I mean, can you believe it??  Those lucky bastards, living just above, at or below the poverty level, they get all the breaks!  That damned earned income tax credit, all those "tax babies" they're having just so they can get money back... it's such a scam!  Why are we letting these fat cats skate by without paying their fair share?  Why is it only "shared sacrifice" when you're coming after the rich???

In a recent, largely unpublicized speech, Michael Moore stated that the richest 400 people in America have more wealth than the poorest 50% of the nation combined.  The 400 wealthiest Americans have a total net worth that exceeds the total net worth of the bottom-earning 155,000,000.  This statement, while it may seem outrageous and easily dismiss-able as typical Michael Moore left-wing spin, was vetted and proven to be true by an independent fact-checking agency

So, what does that mean?  Well, if the bottom 50% have as much total net worth as the richest 400 people in America, and the richest 400 people in America have an estimated net worth of around $1.5 trillion dollars, then the "50% of the country who don't pay any federal income taxes" have a combined net worth of right around $1.5 trillion as well.  SO, if you tax the bottom 50%... say... half of their net worth... you would generate... wait for it... waiiiit for iiitttt..... $750 billion!

Get that?  If you take away HALF of what the poorest 50% of the country have - that dastardly 50% that Fox News and their Republican sycophants demonize on a regular basis for shirking their tax obligations - you would generate exactly the same amount of tax revenue that you would get if you took 3% more from the paychecks of the richest 2% of the country...

That sounds fair, right?  Take away half of the total net worth of the poorest people in America so that the richest 2% can keep their nominal Bush tax cuts?  That sounds exactly like "shared sacrifice" doesn't it?

But wait, I thought $750 billion wasn't even worth mentioning in the minds of Republicans?  I thought $750 billion wouldn't even put a dent in our national debt?  So, why all the bitching and whining about the "50% who don't even pay income taxes?"  See, $750 billion is a lot of money, except when it isn't...

You know who thinks $750 billion is a lot of money?  The poorest 50% of the country, that's who.  The people who earn an average of about $22,000 a year on their own or $40,000 a year as a couple.  You want to knock them down to $11,000 a year single and $20,000 a year married so that a guy who's making $500,000 after taxes now doesn't have to see that income get rocked down to a paltry $485,000?

The best part about this entire, hypocritical debate is that Republicans are the first ones to pull out the "class warfare" card whenever anyone dares to point out this level of absurdity in the conservative coddling of the super-wealthy.  You better not criticize the absolute failure of the Bush tax cuts to stimulate job creation, you better not question why billionaires and the mega-rich who live on carried interest and capital gains income from investments pay a tax rate about 10% lower than the average middle-class family... in fact, you better just not ever question anything the rich do, no matter how badly it screws over the rest of the country, because then you're talking "class warfare" son, and we don't take kindly to class warriors around here!

Why is it only ever "class warfare" when it's the poorest Americans fighting back against the wealthiest?

When it was the financial industry using predatory lending practices to get people into homes that the banks knew they couldn't afford, just so they could bundle up those bad loans into "credit default swap derivative" investments and make billions, it was all good.

When that same financial industry finally got called out for having an emperor walking around with no clothes on and sent the market into free-fall, destroying the 401k's of middle-class Americans preparing to retire, setting back home prices over 10 years, plunging us into a recession that most of the working class in this country are still feeling and sending unemployment into the double-digits, it was all good.

When a slew of major corporations began laying off middle-class employees by the thousands and shipping those jobs overseas, where they could pay lower wages and reap bigger profits and getting tax breaks from the government to do it, it was all good.

When oil companies hiked up gas prices, for no other reason than to make profits, further hammering an already weary working class, it's all good.

When well-payed politicians send the poorest Americans who register for the military - because it's one of the best-paying legitimate jobs available to someone from a poor neighborhood, without a college degree or "connections" - off to fight and die in a war that's all about securing resources and economic opportunity for wealthy corporations and global financial interests, it's all good.

But... when those poor people look at the wealthiest 400 Americans - who have more wealth than 155,000,000 other Americans combined - and ask "Could you guys give up an extra 3% of your income to help get the rest of the country working again?"  Class warfare!!!

I GET IT NOW!  See, it's not "class warfare" when one side doesn't fight back!  As long as it's just the richest, greediest Americans beating up on the poorest and most disadvantaged, it's not class warfare!  It's only class terrorism!  I mean, what else would you call what the rich and their Republican cronies are doing?

"If you raise taxes on us... something bad is going to happen.  We can't say what... but it's going to be really bad and it's going to affect you and you're gonna be sorry you messed with us!"

Is that not a terrorist statement?

"If you raise taxes on us, we will begin executing 1 job every 5 minutes until our demands are met!"

Is that not a terrorist statement?

"We are in control here!  You will do as we say or else we will destroy this economy and everything in it!"

Is that not a terrorist statement?

When it's the Democrats who want $750 billion in the form of a 2-3% tax increase on the richest 2% of the country, it's a paltry sum of money, not even worth asking for and nothing more than a punitive, petty "class warfare" attack on the job-creators in this country.

When it's the Republicans who want $750 billion by taking half of everything the poorest 50% of the country own, then it's "sharing the sacrifice".

When it's $750 billion in "no strings attached" handouts to the richest financial institutions in the country that they can do whatever they want with, which apparently didn't include helping distressed homeowners, giving small business loans or any of the things Bush's crack team of financial advisors "hoped" they would do with all that free money, it's not a lot of money, a small price to pay to save our economy from collapse.

When it's $750 billion in stimulus for the country that provided relief for homeowners that the banks refused to give, that bailed out states on the brink of bankruptcy, that created public works jobs and kept us from spiraling into a depression and brought unemployment back into the single digits, saving our economy from collapse, it's "socialism" and "re-distribution of wealth" and "wasteful government spending" and an obscene amount of tax payer dollars being given away. 

The only difference between those two checks was the signature at the bottom

$750 billion is a lot of money, except when it isn't...


  1. So are you saying you are a Registered Republican?

  2. Is it that obvious? ;) Libertarian officially now, yay wasted 3rd party votes!