Saturday, October 27, 2007

Reich is right

By Libby

In full disclosure, I've been a big fan of Robert Reich since I worked on his gubernatorial bid in Mass and I still consider him to be the most honest and earthy politician I've ever met. But my bias aside, he really is a little guy with a great big brain. He just makes sense.

Considering the magnitude of challenges ahead for America, it seems only reasonable that taxes should rise on the wealthy. Taxing the super-rich is not about class envy, as conservatives charge. It's about the nation having enough money to pay for national defense and homeland security, good schools and a crumbling infrastructure, the upcoming costs of boomers' Social Security (the current surplus has masked the true extent of the current budget deficit, but it won't for much longer) and, hopefully, affordable national health insurance. Not to mention the trillion dollars or so it will take to fix the Alternative Minimum Tax, which is now starting to hit the middle class. [...]

At the very least, you might think that Democrats would do something about the anomaly in the tax code that treats the earnings of private-equity and hedge-fund managers as capital gains rather than ordinary income, and thereby taxes them at 15 percent -- lower than the tax rate faced by many middle-class Americans. But Senate Democrats recently backed off a proposal to do just that. Why? It turns out that Democrats are getting more campaign contributions these days from hedge-fund and private-equity partners than Republicans are getting. In the run-up to the 2006 election, donations from hedge-fund employees were running better than 2-to-1 Democratic. The party doesn't want to bite the hands that feed.

It's time to face the music on this. The Democrats are not going to save us as long as they remain firmly lodged in the corporate deep pockets. Although I have to admit, John Edwards has staked out some good ground against the corporatocracy. Shakes sums his remarks up well.

Retirement savings? Check. Workers' rights? Check. Shareholders' rights? Check. Better food and product safety? Check. Going after predatory lending practices? Check. Cracking down on corporate fatcatitude at the expense of workers? Check.

He's responding to, literally, just about every bit of bitching we've done about corporate malfeasance, irresponsibility, and greed here in the last three years. It's genuinely impressive.

And as Kevin Hayden points out, if you put the two together you have a silver bullet to take out the wolves who are sucking the blood out of our economy. Works for me.

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