Thursday, January 26, 2012

Pay No Attention To...

Just a couple of comments on the week's political flow:

1. According to a CBS Poll, 91% of Americans approved of Obama's speech Tuesday night, while 8% disapproved.

2. Last night the Rev. Al tried to discuss with some Republican Congressman from Kansas whether they could at least agree that the so-called "Buffett Rule" (asserting that millionaires should pay more taxes than their secretaries) addressed a question of "fairness." While Al wasn't entirely prepared for the Congressman's response: a retort that it's not fair that millions of Americans pay no taxes, it remained remarkable that the Congressman would never directly address a clear question, eventually looking like a 3-year-old just saying "no" over and over again. Surely any reasonable person can evaluate what amounts to a hypothetical and come up with a direct response. I wish Al had dealt with the canned response though. He might have pointed out that most of those millions of Americans don't pay taxes because they don't make enough money to qualify for taxes, since presumably the Congressman wasn't talking about millionaires who find enough loopholes not to pay anything, versus those who simply find enough loopholes to pay less than their secretaries. The whole conversation was instructive, nonetheless.

3. Mr. Daniels' response to the Obama speech featured an important if pernicious suggestion--that the government means-test social security. Should this idea gain legal status, it would be the book-end to Reagan's pernicious law capping social security taxes, which also serves to define social security as in some sense "welfare" for those who didn't manage to climb atop the bloody pile of scrabblers in life's game of business success and failure. Mr. Daniels proposition seems oh so reasonable--rich folk don't "need" social security. So let's let rich folk decide who does need social security. And while they're at it, let's let rich folk decide how much the check will be. Social security was designed to be a program which reflected the fact that we're all Americans. It bound us together. Everyone paid in, and everyone got a pay-out. This has galled the Right from the get-go, and they've worked a long term strategy to destroy the program, and they continue on this path.

4. Chris Matthews made one prescient remark, prior to the speech. The Republicans have not been the "loyal opposition" during Obama's term. It was clear that this remains true. Apparently a good majority of Americans at least for the moment realize this--judging by that CBS poll. It will be the Democratic Party's job to keep reminding Americans about this, which will mean keeping the racist dog whistles emitting from the Gingrich camp at bay, not to mention the endless other prevarications and dissemulates. This job, unfortunately, is akin to the little Dutch Boy's. See, e.g.:

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