Front and Center

Politics, society, and other random randomness

Monthly Archives: December 2011

Rachel Maddow Nails the President on Indefinite Detentions–Something Even Bush Didn’t Try

Recently the President signed into law new legislation that allows suspected terrorists or terrorist collaborators to be detained in the US.  MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow addressed the subject:

Methinks the President just lost the high moral road.

Jay Z Gets It Right on Tax Increases

Jay Z was asked about paying more taxes recently:

I’m willing to bet that he isn’t the only high income earner who feels that way. Its not that they aren’t willing to pay more. They simply want more accountability regarding how taxpayer money is spent.

I doubt we’ll see that from either party anytime soon.

We Need Some Sane Tax Policy in Washington

President Obama has launched his campaign for reelection by using “fairness” as a theme.  His main rallying cry is that the rich need to pay their fair share of taxes.  No one knows what this exact fair share is; all he and his supporters know is that it’s a number that is higher than what high income earners pay now.

I realize, however, that I can’t just be mad at the left and their blatant attempt to tax more in order to spend more.  Upon reflection, it’s obvious that there hasn’t been sane tax policy in years.  Good tax policy would involve taxes and spending in the same conversation.

Washington has a history of doing one without the other.  People are critical of Reagan and his marginal rates cut from the early 80s.  What was supposed to happen was that for every $1 in cuts, the Democrat-led Congress was supposed to impose $3 in spending cuts.  Instead, the cuts were never implemented.  Ironically, in what has become a prominent talking point, the left even now points to Reagan as a big spender.  The idea that there was a deal that was reneged on is never mentioned.

In the 90s, Clinton and a Dem-led Congress increased taxes in 1993.  The fact that the economy continued to grow on the strength of the tech bubble gives ammunition to those who say the increases helped fuel the economy.  In 1996, after the Republican takeover in congress, tax cuts were pushed through.  Clinton didn’t want them but signed them nonetheless.  The economy continued to grow and tax receipts to the government increased.  Yes, increased.

Then came the Bush cuts.  Sure, with two wars going on, there was lots of distraction.  But the administration and Congress missed the boat.  Based on tax receipts, the deficit got down to $400 billion before the economy collapsed in 2007.   That’s important to point out because without any real spending cuts, tax receipts were going up.  If there had been a real effort to cut spending, it’s possible there may have been a surplus in the future.  Instead, the Bush administration and the Republicans (then the Dems in 2007 and 2008) continued to spend.

Further, Republicans used the pending expiration of the Bush tax cuts to yell about how Obama would preside over the largest tax increase in history.  Not only is that assertion probably false, but it also ignores the fact that the cuts had to have a sunset provision of 10 years in order to be passed in the first place.  The fact is, they all should have been allowed to expire.  But how often does Congress do the right thing?  Republicans want all to be extended, while Democrats have made it a priority to raise taxes on the top 1%-2% of earners, saying they need to pay their “fair share.”  If there was going to be serious, SERIOUS discussion of tax policy, ALL the rates would be returned to pre-Bush levels.  It is funny, though, that critics say how the Bush cuts put the economy in a hole, yet only lobby for ending the cuts for the highest earners.  The estimated cost of the cuts for the middle class and below is three times that of the amount for high earners.  But to point that out would be political suicide.

Speaking of Democrats, Obama put a small tax cut into the stimulus, then extended the Bush cuts for two years as part of the debt ceiling deal.  But Democrats are pounding the war drums for higher taxes on higher earners, saying its about “fairness.”  They have yet to acknowledge that in terms of the amount of taxes paid, effective rate comparisons, or burden distribution, higher earners do more than their less well-to-do countrymen.  Plus, Democrats are lobbying to extend a payroll tax cut from 2011.  While Republicans went after the Democrats before about not raising taxes during a down economy-something Obama said he wouldn’t do), Democrats have taken that page from the playbook in order to get the payroll tax cut extended through 2012.

This is just more insanity.  In this case, we’re not just talking less in tax receipts.  We are now reducing the amount of money going to Social Security, which is already heading towards insolvency.  It’s as though they won’t realize that they are playing with fire until the house burns down.

We can’t forget to mention the failure of the debt commission to come up with a deficit reducing solution.  Republicans should at the very least agree to close loopholes.  Democrats should admit that, as has been proven successful in other countries, there should be a lot more spending cuts than tax increase.  There should be consideration of the suggestions made by the Simpson-Bowles committee to raise revenues, even if it means a lower tax rate for the rich–which, with fewer loopholes would lead to more tax receipts.

Let’s see who will be the first to step up and actually make some sense.


Can Blacks “claim” the Confederate Flag like we “claimed” the N-word?

A South Carolina college student has caused a stir by displaying the Confederate Flag in his dorm room.  The student, who is Black, acknowledged that its “kind of weird” because he is Black, but according to the article, he feels the meaning of the flag has been hijacked.

“I’ve been getting a lot of support from people,” Byron Thomas says.  “My generation is interested in freedom of speech.”

This isn’t the first time I’ve seen such.  Some years back, there was an attempt to use the flag on some hip hop inspired gear.  To my knowledge, the fad didn’t catch on.

But while many other people are freaking out about Thomas’ display of the flag, I had a different reaction.  I couldn’t help but wonder what the difference is between staking a claim on the confederate flag and doing the same to the N-word.

Now, for those of you who are not fans of the word “nigger” (or “nigga,” “nig,” “ninja,” or whatever variant you may have heard), this isn’t for you, as you will say both are hateful, devisive, and have no place in today’s society.  But then there are those of you who, like me, know the history of the word, yet admit to using it in jest among friends on occasion.  I’ve heard people say that we have taken the hateful word and claimed it to take away its negative power and energy.  Or maybe it’s that it’s fun to use and we just don’t care about its origin.  Regardless, it gets used.

But my point is this:  can those of us comfortable with the n-word be mad if today’s generation wants to do the same to the rebel flag?  My first inclination is to continue to treat them differently, but upon reflection, I realize it’s a hypocritical stance.  They both have similar histories.  It’s just that they hit in different ways–one hits the brain visually, the other audibly.  In the end, who am I to say that they are crazy for attempting to change the the status quo regarding one of the most divisive symbols in history.

Not everyone will agree.  But I guess all I can say is, more power to ya, Byron.