Archive for the ‘politics’ Category

Hard Numbers: Taxes & the U.S. Economy

Over at Tax.com, economist David Cay Johnston lays out a detailed, by-the-numbers case for just what a disaster the Bush tax cuts have been for our country, and why they need to expire.

The bottom line? By even the most forgiving metrics, the Bush-era tax cuts cost the United States $1.8 trillion and completely failed to produce any of the benefits that the GOP promised they would yield. (A more thorough accounting suggests the true cost is closer to $2.7 trillion.)

I found myself nodding in agreement as I read Johnston’s post-evidentiary summary (emphasis mine):

The hard, empirical facts:

The tax cuts did not spur investment. Job growth in the George W. Bush years was one-seventh that of the Clinton years. Nixon and Ford did better than Bush on jobs. Wages fell during the last administration. Average incomes fell. The number of Americans in poverty, as officially measured, hit a 16-year high last year of 43.6 million, though a National Academy of Sciences study says that the real poverty figure is closer to 51 million. Food banks are swamped. Foreclosure signs are everywhere. Americans and their governments are drowning in debt. And at the nexus of tax and healthcare, Republican ideas perpetuate a cruel and immoral system that rations healthcare — while consuming every sixth dollar in the economy and making businesses, especially small businesses, less efficient and less profitable.

This is economic madness. It is policy divorced from empirical evidence. It is insanity because the policies are illusory and delusional. The evidence is in, and it shows beyond a shadow of a reasonable doubt that the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts failed to achieve the promised goals.

So why in the world is anyone giving any credence to the insistence by Republican leaders that tax cuts, more tax cuts, and deeper tax cuts are the remedy to our economic woes? Why are they not laughingstocks? It is one thing for Fox News to treat these policies as successful, but what of the rest of what Sarah Palin calls with some justification the “lamestream media,” who treat these policies as worthy ideas?

The Republican leadership is like the doctors who believed bleeding cured the sick. When physicians bled George Washington, he got worse, so they increased the treatment until they bled him to death. Our government, the basis of our freedoms, is spewing red ink, and the Republican solution is to spill ever more.

Those who ignore evidence and pledge blind faith in policy based on ideological fantasy are little different from the clerics who made Galileo Galilei confess that the sun revolves around the earth. The Capitol Hill and media Republicans differ only in not threatening death to those who deny their dogma.

How much more evidence do we need that we made terrible and costly mistakes in 2001 and 2003?

Go check it out.

An Open Letter to my State Senator

I sent the following letter today via e-mail to George Onorato, my representative in the New York State Senate.

TO: onorato@senate.state.ny.us

Dear Senator Onorato,

My name is David Mack. I am one of your constituents.

I received a call yesterday from the New York Civil Liberties Union, whose representative told me that you are “on the fence” regarding your vote on an upcoming measure to legalize same-sex marriage in New York State.  Your public comments on the issue would suggest you are, in fact, opposed to the measure.

I am writing to urge you in the strongest possible terms to vote in favor of that measure.

This is not about “gay” rights, or “special” rights; this is about civil rights and equal rights.  When we start deciding which of our fellow law-abiding citizens are not worthy of the same legal protections as the rest of us, that is the same as creating second-class citizens.

New York should stand for something better and more noble than that.

Religious qualms about the issue are not a valid reason to deny citizens’ civil rights.  I support an exception for churches and religious organizations; I don’t think any church or member of the clergy should be forced to host, officiate, bless, or sanction unions that it prohibits.

But the civil government belongs to ALL of us, even those of no religious conviction, and it must serve us all EQUALLY.

Don’t listen to those who would criticize you and other legislators for “changing the definition of marriage.”  Doing so is fully within the prerogative of government, and it has been done many times in the past.

Let’s not forget that until the 1960s, in many parts of the United States interracial marriage was illegal. Many of the arguments leveled then against “miscegenation” are the same narrow-minded rants now being used to rail against same-sex marriage. Don’t listen to them; listen to the better angels of your nature, sir.

As a married straight man, I might not seem to have anything at stake in this issue, but I believe that to tolerate an injustice against one person is to sanction an injustice against all.  I stand in solidarity with my fellow citizens who are waiting to be recognized as full, equal members of our society.  And I am imploring you to cast your vote to help make it happen.

Thank you for your consideration, Senator.  I will be paying attention to your vote, and I will keep it in mind if and when you stand for re-election.

Best regards,

David Mack

WTF, California?

I am gravely disappointed in the California State Supreme Court for upholding the Proposition 8 ban on same-sex marriage in that state.

When considered in tandem with last week’s special election results, in which Californians voted down measures that could have substantially eased the financial crisis in their state, it becomes clear that Bill Maher was absolutely right when he argued that the tendency of  California’s citizens to rule themselves by ballot initiative has made their state impossible to govern. Left to their own devices, Californians will probably try to outlaw earthquakes, eliminate all taxes while guaranteeing everyone free college educations paid for with farts, and declare the state flower is a “blowjob tree.”

It’s all just so nonsensical. Try to follow along:

  1. The California State Supreme Court decides that same-sex marriage is protected under its state constitution’s equal-protection clause. So far, so good.
  2. A bunch of religious nutjobs appeal to a bunch of secular bigots to pass Prop 8, a Mormon-backed citizens’ ballot initiative that bans same-sex marriage in California. By a small margin, the measure passes. Appalling.
  3. The California State Supreme Court is asked to overturn the new law on the grounds that the court’s previous ruling established as precedent a constitutional protection for same-sex marriage; ergo, a law against it violates that state’s constitution. Driven by fear of a voter backlash (or perhaps its own prejudice), the court declines to overturn Prop 8.

So much for “liberal” California, folks. All I have to say at this point is that I’m proud to be a native New Englander.

Spain wimps out — just like us

According to a story posted Thursday, April 16, on msnbc.msn.com, “Spanish prosecutors will recommend against opening an investigation into whether six Bush administration officials sanctioned torture against terror suspects at Gauntanamo Bay.”

And what brilliant rationale did Spain’s attorney general offer for begging off this war-crimes investigation?

The six named officials “were not present when the alleged torture took place.”

Give me a fucking break. They ordered it. Justified it. Provided preemptive legal cover for those who did it. Those are crimes of equal magnitude, no matter where the Bush Six were when they happened.

So … let’s check our scorecard, shall we?

Spain could have indicted the “Bush Six” for war crimes, but has chosen not to. Instead, they’re telling the human-rights lawyer who brought the case that he ought to go after the soldiers and intelligence officers who actually committed the acts, even though there is likely no way those individuals can ever be positively identified.

Meanwhile, President Obama has ruled out any prosecutions against those who actually committed the war crimes under legal cover from the White House because they were just following orders. (Gee, what a novel defense; I’ll bet that one has never failed before…) And his administration shows no sign of having the backbone to go after those who ordered the use of torture.

Chalk up another victory for Bush and his cabal of thugs, and another defeat for justice, truth, and human rights.

I’m going to bed now. Somebody wake me if Obama ever decides to man up and do the right thing. But don’t worry — I won’t be holding my breath.

On today’s anti-tax protests…

If the people who organized today’s faux-grassroots right-wing “teabag” events aren’t actually aware of the slang connotation of that term, one could almost forgive them for rallying behind former House Majority Leader Dick Armey.

And if they are, in fact, aware of the double-entendre in “teabagging,” then I give them props for having enough of a sense of humor to knowingly fall in line behind a Dick.

It’s just a shame that the teabagging movement holds so little appeal for the political Left. We could have thrown our own Dick at the issue: former New Hampshire congressman Dick Swett.

Because nothing becomes teabagging so much as the addition of liberal Dick Swett.

Okay, I’m done now.