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Obama powers to re-election despite weak economy

Barack Obama

President Barack Obama XXX at his election night party Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012, in Chicago. President Obama defeated Republican challenger former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

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From page A1 | November 07, 2012 | 84 Comments

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama rolled to re-election Tuesday night, vanquishing former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney despite a weak economy that plagued his first term and put a crimp in the middle class dreams of millions. In victory, he confidently promised better days ahead.

Obama spoke to thousands of cheering supporters in his hometown of Chicago, praising Romney and declaring his optimism for the next four years.

“While our road has been hard, though our journey has been long, we have picked ourselves up, we have fought our way back and we know in our hearts that for the United States of America, the best is yet to come,” he said.

Romney made his own graceful concession speech before a disappointed crowd in Boston. He summoned all Americans to pray for Obama and urged the night’s political winners to put partisan bickering aside and “reach across the aisle” to tackle the nation’s problems.

Still, after the costliest – and one of the nastiest – campaigns in history, divided government was alive and well.

Democrats retained control of the Senate with surprising ease.

Republicans did the same in the House, ensuring that Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, Obama’s partner in unsuccessful deficit talks, would reclaim his seat at the bargaining table.

At Obama headquarters in Chicago, a huge crowd gathered waving small American flags and cheering. Supporters hugged each other, danced and pumped their fists in the air. Excited crowds also gathered in New York’s Times Square, at Faneuil Hall in Boston and near the White House in Washington, drivers joyfully honking as they passed by.

With returns from 84 percent of the nation’s precincts, Obama had 53.7 million, 49.6 percent of the popular vote. Romney had 53 million, or 48.9 percent.

The president’s laserlike focus on the battleground states allowed him to run up a 303-206 margin in the competition for the 270 electoral votes needed to win the White House, the count that mattered most. Remarkably, given the sour economy, he lost only two states that he captured in 2008, Indiana and North Carolina.

Florida, another Obama state four years ago, remained too close to call.

The election emerged as a choice between two very different visions of government – whether it occupies a major, front-row place in American lives or is in the background as a less-obtrusive facilitator for private enterprise and entrepreneurship.

The economy was rated the top issue by about 60 percent of voters surveyed as they left their polling places. But more said former President George W. Bush bore responsibility for current circumstances than Obama did after nearly four years in office.

That boded well for the president, who had worked to turn the election into a choice between his proposals and Romney’s, rather than a simple referendum on the economy during his time in the White House.

Unemployment stood at 7.9 percent on Election Day, higher than when he took office. And despite signs of progress, the economy is still struggling after the worst recession in history.

Obama captured Ohio, Wisconsin, Iowa, Virginia, New Hampshire, Colorado and Nevada, seven of the nine states where the rivals and their allies poured nearly $1 billion into dueling television commercials.

Romney won North Carolina among the battleground states.

Florida was too close to call, Obama leading narrowly in a state where there were still long lines of voters at some polling places long after the appointed closing time.

Romney, who grew wealthy in business and ran the 2002 Olympic Games in Salt Lake City before entering politics, spoke only briefly to supporters, some of whom wept.

“I so wish that I had been able to fulfill your hopes to lead the country in a different direction,” he said. “But the nation chose another leader and so Ann and I join with you to earnestly pray for him and for this great nation.”

Moments later, Obama stepped before a far different crowd hundreds of miles away.

“Tonight you voted for action, not politics as usual,” he said. He pledged to work with leaders of both parties to help the nation complete its recovery from the worst recession since the Great Depression.

By any description, the list of challenges is daunting – high unemployment, a slow-growth economy, soaring deficits, a national debt at unsustainable. To say nothing of the threat of a nuclear Iran and the menace of al-Qaida and other terrorist groups more than a decade after the attacks of Sept., 11, 2001.

There was no doubt about what drove voters to one candidate or the other.

About 4 in 10 said the economy is on the mend, but more than that said it was stagnant or getting worse more than four years after the near-collapse of 2008. The survey was conducted for The Associated Press and a group of television networks.

In the presidential race, Obama won in the reliably Democratic Northeast and West Coast. Pennsylvania was his, too, despite two late campaign stops by Romney.

Romney won most of the South as well as much of the Rocky Mountain West and Farm Belt.

The president was in Chicago as he awaited the voters’ verdict on his four years in office. He told reporters he had a concession speech as well as victory remarks prepared. He congratulated Romney on a spirited campaign. “I know his supporters are just as engaged, just as enthusiastic and working just as hard today” as Obama’s own, he added.

Romney reciprocated, congratulating the man who he had campaigned against for more than a year.

Earlier, he raced to Ohio and Pennsylvania for Election Day campaigning and projected confidence as he flew home to Massachusetts. “We fought to the very end, and I think that’s why we’ll be successful,” he said, adding that he had finished writing a speech anticipating victory but nothing if the election went to his rival.

But the mood soured among the Republican high command as the votes came in and Obama ground out a lead in critical states.

Like Obama, Vice President Joe Biden was in Chicago as he waited to find out if he was in line for a second term. Republican running mate Paul Ryan was with Romney in Boston, although he kept one eye on his re-election campaign for a House seat in Wisconsin, just in case. He won re-election to Congress.

The long campaign’s cost soared into the billions, much of it spent on negative ads, some harshly so.

In a months-long general election ad war that cost nearly $1 billion, Romney and Republican groups spent more than $550 million and Obama and his allies $381 million, according to organizations that track advertising.

According to the exit poll, 53 percent of voters said Obama was more in touch with people like them, compared to 43 percent for Romney.

About 60 percent said taxes should be increased, taking sides on an issue that divided the president and Romney. Obama wants to let taxes rise on upper incomes, while Romney does not.

Other than the battlegrounds, big states were virtually ignored in the final months of the campaign. Romney wrote off New York, Illinois and California, while Obama made no attempt to carry Texas, much of the South or the Rocky Mountain region other than Colorado.

In a campaign that traversed contested Republican primaries last winter and spring, a pair of political conventions this summer and three presidential debates, Obama, Romney, Biden and Ryan spoke at hundreds of rallies, were serenaded by Bruce Springsteen and Meat Loaf and washed down hamburgers, pizza, barbecue and burrito bowls.

Obama was elected the first black president in 2008, and four years later, Romney became the first Mormon to appear on a general election ballot. Yet one man’s race and the other’s religion were never major factors in this year’s campaign for the White House, a race dominated from the outset by the economy.

Over and over, Obama said that during his term the nation had begun to recover from the worst recession since the Great Depression. While he conceded progress had been slow, he accused Romney of offering recycled Republican policies that have helped the wealthy and harmed the middle class in the past and would do so again.

Romney countered that a second Obama term could mean a repeat recession in a country where economic growth has been weak and unemployment is worse now than when the president was inaugurated. A wealthy former businessman, he claimed the knowledge and the skills to put in place policies that would make the economy healthy again.

In a race where the two men disagreed often, one of the principal fault lines was over taxes. Obama campaigned for the renewal of income tax cuts set to expire on Dec. 31 at all income levels except above $200,000 for individuals and $250,000 for couples.

Romney said no one’s taxes should go up in uncertain economic times. In addition, he proposed a 20 percent cut across the board in income tax rates but said he would end or curtail a variety of tax breaks to make sure federal deficits didn’t rise.

The differences over taxes, the economy, Medicare, abortion and more were expressed in intensely negative advertising.

Obama launched first, shortly after Romney dispatched his Republican foes in his quest for the party nomination.

One memorable commercial showed Romney singing an off-key rendition of “America The Beautiful.” Pictures and signs scrolled by saying that his companies had shipped jobs to Mexico and China, that Massachusetts state jobs had gone to India while he was governor and that he has personal investments in Switzerland, Bermuda and the Cayman Islands.

Romney spent less on advertising than Obama. A collection of outside groups made up the difference, some of them operating under rules that allowed donors to remain anonymous. Most of the ads were of the attack variety. But the Republican National Committee relied on one that had a far softer touch, and seemed aimed at voters who had been drawn to the excitement caused by Obama’s first campaign. It referred to a growing national debt and unemployment, then said, “He tried. You tried. It’s OK to make a change.”

More than 30 million voters cast early ballots in nearly three dozen states, a reflection of the growing appeal of getting a jump on the traditional Election Day.

The Associated Press

The Associated Press

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | 84 comments

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  • Rich GiddensNovember 07, 2012 - 6:25 am

    This is my analysis of the election outcomes. Americans have just voted in fewer numbers (turnout is lower then '08) for the Status Quo. But what hurts Americans now economically isn't going away. Lets be honest. Government gridlock will continue. A federal budget won't be passed but the debt limit will soon be reached again. Sequestration looms before us and the President has no plan to deal with it after wasting trillions on a stimulis plan that gave us over 50 green energy compainies bankruptcy. Government is divided---the House remains Republican and all bills originate from there. The looming entitlement and debt crisis isn't going away and like a economic tidal wave, it will destroy all. Soon, Americans will hear from the media about stories that weren't covered--the insolvency of medicare and social security, the continuing destruction of the middle class and long term unemployment,the non-growing economy with no "green" benefits, the continuing rise in the cost of gas and groceries. Today I see a divided Balkanized nation where demographics have changed everything for the worse. Today I feel like Charlton Heston in that final scene in Hollywood's "Planet of the Apes" movie. And yes, I curse like he did at the end. God help my sons and posterity and may God help what used to be the United States of America.

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  • CD BrooksNovember 07, 2012 - 6:34 am

    Watching the returns last night was a blinding display of numbers and conjecture that were so over the top, it was almost unwatchable. Many have concerns about Obama for the economy and jobs issues but you saw what happened last night the majority spoke, they are ready to move forward. After seeing what the country expects in the future, the GOP will have to change their philosophy and begin helping to fix things. Business as usual will not serve them well in future elections. This should be a new awakening and a step forward for American politics. Sound over-enthusiastic? Maybe so, but I believe our government recognizes that it is time for bipartisanship and goodwill among all those in charge of keeping America the number one country in the world. I believe they will work together, I am anxious to see it begin. We will be better off for it.

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  • DJKNovember 07, 2012 - 7:22 am

    Agree...the people have spoken not only at the national level but state and local level as well. House members who were more concerned with their photo-op were taken to task. Michelle Bachmann (MN) won her seat again with barely a 1% margin. Allen West (FL)and Joe Walsh (IL) are out. The job of being in congress is representing your people not to spew partisan hackery on TV.

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  • Chico DadNovember 07, 2012 - 9:21 am

    The dye has been cast. R.I.P. America.

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  • Joe PikeyNovember 07, 2012 - 10:01 am

    Well it was long hard fought Presidential Race, but in the end everyone knows that when it comes to long races the Kenyans always comes in first…

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  • DemocratNovember 07, 2012 - 10:12 am

    It was an excellent day for the UNITED STATES of America. Republicans, here's a clue: retrograde politics are not getting you anywhere. Time to actually construct a big tent.

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  • RichNovember 07, 2012 - 1:09 pm

    Let me know when your mindless mob fixes the economy, creates jobs and lowers the high cost of gas and groceries. In the year 2525...if mankind is still alive.....

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  • DemocratNovember 07, 2012 - 4:43 pm

    Mindless mob? Republicans complain that because Democrats are educated, because they want everyone to have the chance to earn a college degree, they are elitist. What mindless mob? The Democrats outworked and outmanuevered the Republicans and thwarted their attempts at voter suppression/intimidation. You don't see a mob; this is the future.

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  • CD BrooksNovember 08, 2012 - 6:43 am

    Rich, mindless mob would not apply to the Democrats in this election. There are obvious glaring examples of poor decisions from your party. If the GOP doesn’t step up to the 21st Century, their seats will be at risk in 2014.

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  • CD BrooksNovember 07, 2012 - 3:27 pm

    For the record Marci, Mr. Chalk, G-Man, FDC, Gordon et al, I understand the anger and frustration you are going through. Trust me, I get it. I just wanted to say looking forward to future give and take, arguments and friendly banter upon your return.

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  • Tom ChalkNovember 07, 2012 - 3:59 pm

    CD: Not really angry. Disappointed. Once again, the GOP fell short in making its case before the American people in spite of conditions in the country that should have helped to pave the way to victory. Since there is no crying in baseball, and because RLW insists upon comparing Obama to Jackie Robinson, I won't go into the various reasons that could be presented for this failure. Instead, I will be in the stands awaiting the fruition of all those promises Obama has made to the American people. Heck, I might even sign up for some of the free stuff, or at least a hot dog. It can't be Bush's fault any longer, people. It is time for Obama to step up to the plate. NO EXCUSES. GOBAMA!!!

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  • rlw895November 07, 2012 - 4:35 pm

    Tom: No excuses as long as the Republicans in congress play ball.

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  • Tom ChalkNovember 07, 2012 - 7:58 pm

    Play ball? With Harry Reid? With a president who, in a meeting with Republican leaders early in his first term declares, "Elections have consequences. We won." And thereupon exits the room? You cannot place 100% of the responsibility for bipartisanship and compromise on the Republicans, as much as you would like to do so. Obama will need to develop a lot more patience in his dealings with the other side this time around. It is called leadership. His petulance precedes him in this regard, so stay tuned.

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  • Joe PikeyNovember 07, 2012 - 8:16 pm

    Play ball?! With Bohner?! With the GOP that has sold it's soul to the Devil, Grover Norquist, a lobbiest?!... Maybe the GOP need to remember who they serve. Now go talk to your chair...

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  • Tom ChalkNovember 07, 2012 - 8:46 pm

    It's "Boehner" Mr. Pikey. Now go stand in the corner until your mommy comes to pick you up.

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  • Joe PikeyNovember 07, 2012 - 8:49 pm

    Dang...I hate when that happens...

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  • rlw895November 12, 2012 - 11:11 am

    Tom: But you see the point Joe was making. Passions on both sides have to be overcome. Who are the adults in the room? I naturally think Obama is one, but hasn't been given a chance. I'm hopeful that now that the "one-term president" has his second term. Things will be different. CD's citing of Hannity's evolution is an example, but I say more on that below.

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  • RichNovember 07, 2012 - 9:20 pm

    LETS APOLOGIZE TO ENGLAND FOR THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION! Your Majesty, We, the people of the former American colonies, would like to offer our most sincere apology over that little misunderstanding we had 236 years ago. Had we known that we were going to be subjects anyway, we could have saved a lot of trouble and hard feelings. We were under the mistaken belief that we would be free, sovereign citizens; we believed that our hard work would yield its own rewards without someone coming along and taking what we built in the name of “Fairness”. We thought our laws and Constitution would protect us from a foreign born dictator, and our freedom to worship would prevent us from becoming a corrupt, morally bankrupt society (silly us). Little did we know that our own free press would intentionally sabotage, deceive and withhold the truth from us in order to reelect a Socialist that still holds distain for our nation and contempt for its founding principles. Nor did we believe that there would be so many citizens dependent on government handouts that they would blindly elect an unqualified charlatan, let alone reelect him. Anyway, Your Grace, we are truly sorry and humbly sincerely beg your forgiveness. If you can find it in your heart to forgive us and take us back, we promise never to trade British oppression for Socialist tyranny again. Your most humble servants, The American People

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  • rlw895November 08, 2012 - 10:14 pm

    RICH: Nice creative writing. It gave me a chuckle.

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  • rlw895November 07, 2012 - 9:26 pm

    Tom: So what you're saying is Obama will have excuses. The art of politics is the art of compromise, and that might involve putting the past in the rear view mirror. That's where the Republican top goal of making Obama a one-term president belongs. If he can do that, then the Republicans can stop abusing the cloture rule.

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  • Tom ChalkNovember 08, 2012 - 10:04 am

    I'm cautiously optimistic at this point. If the two sides can turn aside our rush to plunge over "the fiscal cliff," that will be a good start. The healthcare issue still has me more than a little worried, however. We do not need its crushing burden while trying to get our fiscal house in order.

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  • rlw895November 08, 2012 - 11:38 am

    Tom: I don’t think the fiscal cliff is as big a deal as it’s made out to be. For one thing, if tax rates go up, there’s nothing stopping congress and the president from reducing them again and make it retroactive to January 1. The question is will Obama blink this time if the Republicans decide to play chicken with our credit rating. A better start would be to get together and review the last election and the problem of voter suppression and intimidation, then start work on a new voting rights act. That should be bipartisan, therefore a good place to start mending fences. BTW, the best thing about winning this election is (almost) not having to hear our Greek chorus go on about it. You’re obviously different. Which brings me to that coffee bet. I think we should make further arrangements offline. Would you send me an email? I can't locate your email address. Thanks.

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  • rlw895November 08, 2012 - 2:17 pm

    Tom: Can you please explain your "crushing burden" healthcare comment?

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  • Tom ChalkNovember 08, 2012 - 3:27 pm

    RLW: You didn't say so, but I assume you don't agree with my use of the phrase "crushing burden." If so, can I ask if you disagree with the term "crushing" or do you reject the entire notion?

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  • rlw895November 08, 2012 - 3:44 pm

    No, I don't object to that. I really don't understand what you mean. Do you mean crushing burden on the nation or individuals? I have no doubt that ObamaCare will cost some people more than they are paying now, but "crushing," maybe not. Some people will be insured who weren't before and will gladly pay. Others not. The nation as a whole is supposed to save over time in reduced healthcare obligations on government.

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  • Tom ChalkNovember 08, 2012 - 5:20 pm

    RLW: So I guess we can quibble over the term, "crushing." Realists who exist outside of the CBO bubble know what Obamacare proponents refuse to recognize--Namely, that the ACA will impose billions of dollars in annual fees on manufacturers and importers of brand-name prescription drugs and on health insurance plans, and new taxes on medical device sales. These new fees and taxes will be passed on to us, in the form of higher prices and insurance premiums. The net result of this is health care costs rising from $2.1 billion in 2011, to $18.2 billion in 2018. (CMS--Centers for Medicare and Meicaid Services and Murkowski.senate.gov, May 18, 2010) Add to this the job-killing mandates that have been proferred in the media over the last 18 or so months, plus the AAMC-projected shortage of physicians numbering more than 100,000 due to the reductions in compensation, and etc., etc., and you can see where I am coming from. I could go on, but will stop here for brevity's sake. If you are interested, there is a good summary of the pros and cons of ACA on ProCon.org/HealthCareLaws.

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  • rlw895November 08, 2012 - 7:15 pm

    Tom: So is there evidence from Massachusettes that any of these things come to fruition?

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  • Tom ChalkNovember 08, 2012 - 7:54 pm

    RLW: I don't know, do you? Is the state of Massachusetts an exact microcosm of the other 56 states (Obama's count) in the U.S. ? Did the authors of the ACA copy in minute detail every nuance of Romney's plan and then multiply it by a factor of 56 to accomodate the rest of the US? Well at least that would explain the 2,000+ pages! You seem to be ok with the notion that the ACA will cause fiscal pain to the majority of individuals in the U.S. I'm not. But, hey, that's just me.

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  • rlw995November 08, 2012 - 8:26 pm

    Tom: That was almost a rhetorical question. I have not seen any such reports coming out of Massachusetts, and given the campaign we just went through, I assume any such flaws would have been magnified x1,000.

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  • Tom ChalkNovember 08, 2012 - 8:32 pm

    RLW: Sorry. Not completely out of pre-election commentary mode. Decompression underway. By the way check Facebook for email address info.

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  • rlw895November 08, 2012 - 10:11 pm

    Thanks Tom. I'm not exactly active on Facebook, but I'll try. ObamaCare was designed to reach for universal coverage more than reduce costs. Cost reduction will have to be Phase 2. I haven't read the 2,000 pages and don't profess to be an expert. But I've been impressed with Jon Gruber and his ability to explain it from a nonpartisan angle (Google him). He's the MIT economist who helped both Romney and Obama design their health care plans. The big difference is Massachusetts could mooch off of the federal government to subsidize its plan, while the feds naturally can't do the same. I am not able to tell how it will work, prospectively. This is one of those leaps of faith, though, I think we should take as a nation based on the good-faith of experts like Gruber. Then we need to be willing to make adjustments based on the empirical evidence of how it's working. Call it "adaptive management." So that's what I mean when I say the Republicans in congress need to "play ball." They spent much of FOUR YEARS being obstructionists and underminers for the sole purpose of making Obama a one-term president. That game is over now. Can they shift gears as quickly as you can? I think so. Will they? It depends on how much they want to have a hand in shaping a positive future vs. watching us slide into more trouble. That will mean they will have to break free of Grover Norquist, Karl Rove, and all those other unelected profiteers of conflict. I'm optimistic too. I think they will do it and remake the Republican Party. They have to. Maybe you're a bellweather.

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  • Tom ChalkNovember 09, 2012 - 5:22 am

    RLW: Right now I am sickened by the spectre of watching the last two Republican presidential "runs" go down the tubes in an environment that should have led to victory. I'm sure there are other conservatives who share that feeling. In due time we will have to decide whether or not we want the GOP to take a "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em approach" and become Demo Lite, or forge ahead with perhaps minor tweaks to the party while gearing up for 2016. We conservatives won't change our stripes, however. You can't change core principals that easily. Intra-party civil war? Hopefully not.

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  • rlw895November 09, 2012 - 7:00 am

    All I can say is the current Republican strategy for presidential politics is not a winning one, and it will be less so next time.

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  • rlw895November 09, 2012 - 7:19 am

    And a lot of liberals don't care for the Democrats, but moderate their demands, if not their views, out of the practical necessity of winning elections. The Republican Party has been captured by extremists, thanks to the leadership conceded to people like Norquist, Rove, and that fraction of the 1% that is willing to finance the operation as long as it does their bidding. I don't know the way out for the party, but the way out for me was to accept the Democrats, warts and all. And I feel welcome.

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  • CD BrooksNovember 09, 2012 - 7:38 am

    Mr. Chalk, as a life-long Dodger fan I know exactly how you feel after having had to watch those stinkin Giants win the WS! No chance I'll be changing my stripes here! But on a serious note...my moderated (don't know why or where it went?)comment should pop up soon.

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  • CD BrooksNovember 09, 2012 - 9:00 am

    Good morning Mr. Chalk. One of my findings and I said it often during this process, was that Americans do not want to go that far right. You may not want to “change your stripes,” but you must know by now that the True Conservative message is not going to be accepted by the majority in this country. There are any number of reasons for the end result but one of them is certainly the GOP forcing such an ideology and presenting inconspicuous issues. On their way back to the drawing board and in order to succeed, they must clearly define the popular thinking agree they have to make changes and be honest in implementing them. :)

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  • CD BrooksNovember 08, 2012 - 12:53 pm

    Rlw895, I agree. The fiscal cliff is a ridiculous attempt at threatening Americans. It is not and never was in danger of becoming reality, they will work it out. It annoys me no end the stock market and media continue using that as example to mislead us.

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  • CD BrooksNovember 09, 2012 - 7:56 am

    Shocking news. Hannity repents, Boehner wants to talk and settle…quickly. I don’t know if they should be embarrassed or commended? But hey, honesty would be the best place to begin anew.

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  • rlw895November 11, 2012 - 8:54 pm

    CD: Hannity repents? When? Where?

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  • CD BrooksNovember 12, 2012 - 6:11 am

    Good morning rlw895! Hannity has joined the ever-resistant GOP in deciding the road to citizenship is a good thing. GOOGLE Hannity evolves for the story on his reversal. I believe “flip-flopping” has been over used of late but I suppose it’s the best definition of what’s happening in politics.

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  • rlw895November 12, 2012 - 11:39 am

    CD: Ah, I see. On immigration reform. He's basically accepting Obama's position. But it's a bit cynical not to admit that. What Hannity recognizes is demographic reality. Some Republican pundits think the Republicans should grant amnesty, thinking that would guarantee them the Hispanic vote for 2016 and beyond. That's either sarcastic or cynical, and I'd have to be convinced Hannity's "evolution" does not have its basis in that "win at all costs, to heck with the national interest" crowd. It's similar to "our first priority is to make Obama a one-term president, no matter what it does to the country." Scorched earth. You can just see the wealthy financers of the Republican Party not caring, because they have so much money the will survive the scorching, or at least they think they will. You can see the same people now shifting gears to "win 2016 at all costs." Notice how Hannity does not suggest getting together with the Democrats on the issue, even now that he agrees in substance. He's simply trying to co-opt the issue—take it away from the Democrats. That kind of "race" for the Hispanic vote can't be good. Rather than such political gamesmanship, we need both parties to come together on this issue and close it out for a generation or more. Hannity seems to want the close-out, but can't quite come up with the word "bipartisan." And until he does, I will continue not to think very highly of him. ("Compromise" isn't even needed here because both sides agree in substance. So he doesn’t have to use that word.) What I want to become part of a bipartisan package is a constitutional amendment that takes birthright citizenship out of the Constitution. The right package would make that go down easy, but both sides would have to agree not to whip one or the other with it. It's the right thing to do, and highly popular among liberals and conservatives alike, but the politics is stopping it. This may be our last window of opportunity to do it. Birthright citizenship would still exist, but it would be defined by statute—and subject to revision over time as the national interest requires—and not constitutional law.

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  • CD BrooksNovember 12, 2012 - 1:18 pm

    Rlw895, you are far too refined to say it but I will. The man and his counterparts are hypocritical snakes that would throw you under the proverbial bus in a heartbeat. This latest move is an obvious yet pathetic attempt at some alleged redemption without one iota of integrity. No Sir, I would not trust these people as far as I could spit. I truly believe we are headed towards a better future the right wing media circus notwithstanding.

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  • rlw895November 12, 2012 - 12:44 pm

    CD: And a PS on "flip-flopping." The pejorative was invented to make George W. Bush's "resoluteness" look virtuous. Certainly there is a place for "flip-flopping" to be a criticism, such as when a person changes positions for no reason other than to appeal to a particular audience or to empathize with the last person who communicated with him. But changing positions based on "evolution," implying the absorption of new information and reflection is far more virtuous than stubbornly sticking to a position. GWB somewhere in his life learned the lesson that, for him, it was better to be stubborn and call it resoluteness (which sounds better) than it was to change positions and have to explain yourself. The substitution of the word "flip-flopping" when "wisdom" more aptly applies is one of the gifts of the Bush/Cheney years that just keeps on giving. We have to end it. So, no, I don't think "flip-flopping" applies to what Hannity is doing. It's better to analyze it with more intelligence and "nuance" (another word Bush/Cheney tried to steal from us) and banish “flip-flopping,” which as you point out, is overused.

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  • Joe PikeyNovember 09, 2012 - 9:14 am

    As Tom posts "the spectre of watching the last two Republican presidential "runs" go down the tubes" should be a clue. Maybe it's time for the GOP to change it's tone & work with the Democrats. A start would be bucking the "pledge". To come out of the gate with a stance that there is no compromise or concessions when it comes to tax is not helping achieve a bipartisan agreement on the budget. After all, when it comes to Government TAXES pay the bills...And I don't know how he can include the first "run" in his thinking.

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  • rlw895November 09, 2012 - 1:19 pm

    Growing the economy, the right way (i.e., not by starting wars), is more important than raising taxes. But if raising taxes is necessary, then the place to go is the rates on high income and the estate tax. The worst place to go is taxes on consumers, such as sales tax (or VAT) or payroll taxes. That's not class warfare, it's basic economics. We have a consumer-driven economy, and high income people consume just as much whether they are paying 35% on their last $million or 40%, or even more. And estates over a certain amount are simply a windfall of unearned income to successors. In addition, the idea of unearned dynastic wealth is something we should resist if we want to preserve this nation as a land of opportunity for everyone. And that's not class warfare either, it's basic political science. The reason we don't have insurrections like other countries is we have free elections for the transfer of power and an economic system that--used to anyway--have a good balance between a free market and social good, including tax policies that checked the concentration of wealth and income. We're a long way from where we should be. The debate over the "Bush tax cuts" is fiddling around the edges. Yet Obama is not proposing much more. The would-be plutocrats feign shock when they are probably overjoyed that it won't be what it should be.

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  • Tom ChalkNovember 09, 2012 - 2:00 pm

    RLW: The estate tax? Really? How many family dynasties are out there needing to be taxed out of their birthright in your estimation? We both know that if this gets put back into play, the dems will call any estate worth more than, say, $500,000 an estate that must pay through the nose because "they don't deserve it." Do you know how easy it is for an estate to be valued in that range? People who are far from rich but who have been prudent over their lifetimes will be worth even more at this point (maybe not so much as we move down the path to redistribution of wealth). Confiscatory taxes such as the "death tax" are unfair. Period. I'm sorry you are in favor. Taxing the rich ($250,000 + according to dems) is laughable in terms of effect on our nation's spending problem. GMAB.

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  • rlw895November 09, 2012 - 2:27 pm

    Tom: Nonetheless, it's a debate we should have, and we're not right now. I don't disagree with you on any of what you say, in principle, except calling the estate tax the "death tax." Pulease.

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  • CD BrooksNovember 09, 2012 - 2:40 pm

    Please Mr. Chalk you aren't going to continue down the old "redistribution" road again are you? That was from a 14 year old clip, it was edited to suit the GOP agenda and in the context they were trying to imply, completely false. I won't waste either of our time asking you to research. Here is the actual quote: “As we think about the policy research surrounding the issues that I just named — policy research for the working poor, broadly defined — I think that what we're gonna have to do is somehow resuscitate the notion that government action can be effective at all. There has been a systematic, I don't think it's too strong to call it a propaganda campaign, against the possibility of government action and its efficacy. And I think some of it has been deserved. Chicago Housing Authority has not been a model of good policy making. And neither necessarily have been the Chicago public schools. What that means then is that as we try to resuscitate this notion that we're all in this thing together, leave nobody behind, we do have to be innovative in thinking how, what are the delivery systems that are actually effective and meet people where they live, and my suggestion I guess would be that the trick, and this is one of the few areas where I think there have to be technical issues that have to be dealt with as opposed to just political issues, how do we structure government systems that pool resources and hence facilitate some redistribution, because I actually believe in redistribution, at least at a certain level to make sure that everybody's got a shot. How do we pool resources at the same time as we decentralize delivery systems in ways that both foster competition, can work in the marketplace, and can foster innovation at the local level and can be tailored to particular communities.” — State Sen. Barack Obama, at a conference at Loyola University, Oct. 1998

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  • Tom ChalkNovember 09, 2012 - 4:00 pm

    CD: Obama told Joe the Plumber (and an unaware US public) that he was in favor of spreading the wealth around because "things work a little better that way." This was just four years ago.

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  • CD BrooksNovember 09, 2012 - 4:29 pm

    Mr. Chalk, I am trying to turn over a new leaf and be kinder here. But your comment just answered the reason your party got hammered. There is way more fiction out in there in GOP land than fact and it will take you a very long time to sort through it if you choose to do so. IMO, any reference to “Joe the plumber” is a credibility killer. Things are going to get better your misunderstanding of the facts notwithstanding.

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  • Tom ChalkNovember 09, 2012 - 5:47 pm

    CD: Pardon me, but I saw and heard Obama make that comment to Joe the Plumber with my own eyes and ears, via TV news coverage. Why does that offend you? Did you not see and hear the same thing I did? BTW, don't bother telling me that Joe the Plumber is not really the citizen's name. I know that.

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  • CD BrooksNovember 09, 2012 - 6:04 pm

    TC not offended, just perplexed. Good evening.

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  • rlw895November 09, 2012 - 6:07 pm

    Tom: We all heard it. The difference is some of us didn't extrapolate from it that Obama was some sort of closet socialist, or worse. Obama was not saying anything earth-shattering; he was speaking in favor of a progressive tax system, which we have already and have had in much stronger form before, even under Republican congresses and administrations. What's unusual is the low ebb progressive taxation is at now. He wants to tweak it the other direction, closer to where it used to be, that's all. It's good policy. What was the sound bite the Obama opponents latched onto was his use of the word "redistribution." That conjures up images of taking from the (deserving) rich and giving to the (undeserving) poor. Setting aside who is deserving and whether that matters, it doesn't work that way. It's more likely to be taking from the rich and giving it to public schools or public infrastructure or some such. I think Obama has been pretty conservative, actually, when it comes to what he seems to be willing to settle for on taxes.

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  • Tom ChalkNovember 09, 2012 - 6:44 pm

    CD and RLW: I am a simple man, as you both are aware. So, if each of you will state on this board for all to see that you do not believe Obama is a proponent of redistribution of wealth in America today, I will publicly apologize to you and the president for misrepresenting his philosophical bent.

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  • rlw895November 09, 2012 - 11:25 pm

    Because people seem to define that term to suit their needs, I'll have to ask you to define "redistribution of wealth." But the way I define it (a progessive tax system), I say, yes, Obama favors that. But so did just about every president from the Progressive Era until Reagan. The concentration of wealth that threatens the sustainablity of our country took off under him, and we're still in the hole he put us in, mostly because Bush-Cheney doubled down.

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  • Tom ChalkNovember 10, 2012 - 4:16 am

    I was thinking of the ACA as an example of redistribution of wealth on a scale which makes it stand out from other, less intrusive measures. I suppose you would say that things like this are necessary in order to counteract a concentration of wealth by some of us. And so it goes.

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  • rlw895November 11, 2012 - 2:05 am

    Tom: I would say ACA is a pretty weak form of "redistribution of wealth," if at all. A single payer system would be more so. ACA is the form of universal health care that is the least redistributive. That's why, until Obama embraces it, it was the "Republican plan." Medicare is much more redistributive.

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  • Tom ChalkNovember 11, 2012 - 9:16 am

    RLW: Several sources including Gov. Romney himself, pointed out during the run-up to the election that the ACA would increase taxes by some $500 billion, and that these taxes will be paid largely by upper-income people.

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  • CD BrooksNovember 11, 2012 - 9:25 am

    Good morning Mr. Chalk! I went through and cleared out four years of research but if memory serves, the ACA is designed to reduce costs for a rather substantial savings over a ten year priod?

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  • Tom ChalkNovember 11, 2012 - 9:44 am

    CD: It is hard to get a handle on this, because it is hard to take projections by the CBO seriously since they have to use the assumptions given to them by the politicians. Also, because various provisions of the ACA kick in at different intervals. So, I guess I will take a wait and see approach.

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  • rlw895November 11, 2012 - 10:08 am

    Tom: I was wondering about your "CBO bubble" remark. Seems like to have a discussion, we first have to agree on what sources of information are valid. So you think the CBO is not credible. Are there Republicans in congress complaining about that? I should think they would be raising the roof. If not, who is saying the CBO is not credible? The problem we're having is some sources of information try to make you believe that every other source except them is biased and/or unreliable. It's kind of like a conspiracy, so I suppose conspiracy theorists are particularly willing to believe. So who is credible for figuring out what programs cost if not the supposedly nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office? I know Gingrich wanted to eliminated the CBO, but I think it's pretty widely accepted that was because he didn't want to have a nonpartisan budget analysis of what he was proposing to do. Were any of the other candidates proposing to eliminate the CBO? I don't think the Romney camp ever suggested that, and if it is as biased as you say, wouldn't that have been a campaign issue, even a little one?

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  • Tom ChalkNovember 11, 2012 - 10:56 am

    CD and RLW: All I am saying is that the CBO, under their rules, must evaluate congressional programs using the often "tortured" fiscal assumptions presented to them by congress. We all know how that game is played, and it is played at every level of government. Nothing against the CBO. Sometimes even they will admit to arriving at conclusions subject to change if the underlying budget assumptions don't materialize.

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  • rlw895November 11, 2012 - 4:07 pm

    Tom: OK, I can buy that. But with the houses of congress spit, it would seem to me that the data CBO is directed to analyze would be either as close to true as congress can make it, or representing two more extreme positions.

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  • Tom ChalkNovember 11, 2012 - 5:16 pm

    This is my layperson's understanding of how the CBO works. Take the issue of the ACA. This legislation was drafted by the dems, almost totally without repub input. The projected fiscal impact as scored by the CBO was directly related to those fiscal assumptions built into the proposed legislation by the dems. The CBO has no choice in the matter, that is the rule they must play by. It is no stretch to assume that whoever drafts a piece of legislation, they will build in the best possible scenario in support of it. We already know that the first "cut" at projecting the ACA's fiscal impact has been revised significantly in the past year. However, most of us will remember only those projections that accompanied the original release and those "rosy" claims (in this case) by the dems. This is further clouded by the bill's proponents continuing to tout those erroneous numbers in public, even after deeper analysis and the passage of time would show otherwise.

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  • rlw895November 11, 2012 - 9:00 pm

    Tom: Now we're at a point where some fact-checking is in order. How does the CBO work? Neither of us knows for sure. I'm firing up Google.

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  • rlw895November 12, 2012 - 12:05 am

    Tom: Here's a link-- http://www.cbo.gov/about/our-processes. At least the CBO says its processes are impartial and transparent, as required by law. Where are you getting your information?

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  • rlw895November 12, 2012 - 12:22 am

    Tom: It's hard to post links here for some reason, but I quickly found a CBO site that explains it's history, authorities, and processes. Maybe that post will pop up later. The CBO site shows an emphasis on impartiality and transparency. I don't see any indication of what you say, and if it were true, I think it would be more widely known. What's the use of the CBO if it is simply to put a thin veil of legitimacy on bills that don't have a leg to stand on? Its only value is its credibility. What is your source of information?

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  • Tom ChalkNovember 12, 2012 - 5:47 am

    RLW: I read the CBO info on their website, plus some other interesting and informative documents and will email you a couple of those other links. Now. After reading CBO's website explanation of how it does its work, I see a general corroboration of what I have been saying here. Remember, I have not accused CBO of doing anything wrong or underhanded. They are, in fact, providing a "best guess" scenario based on the legislation's author's assumptions, and they don't attempt to forecast the future, should (for example) the legislation be tweaked or changed during the legislative process. I still say--pass the salt shaker.

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  • rlw895November 12, 2012 - 12:29 pm

    Tom: I don’t see where they are limited to the “legislation’s author’s assumptions.” Certainly they take the legislation as written, but it just as clearly appears they can and do consult independent sources of information and expertise to do their work. I agree they don’t speculate on future congressional action, but they do provide a range of outcomes depending on such future action, I believe. It’s like, what do we expect? It seems to me they do exactly what we would do to get the best nonpartisan answers they can, which is why legislative authors work really hard to craft their bills to get a favorable CBO analysis. As Ezra Klein said, that’s not gaming the system, that’s good governance. And if the CBO is forcing that kind of reflection before bills are passed, it seems to me it is doing exactly what it was supposed to do when, in 1974, congress passed the legislation creating it. It was part of the flurry of post-Watergate reforms trying to give the legislative branch more influence relative to the executive branch. Which might explain why a stong-executive egoist like Gingrich (and Cheney), wouldn’t care much for the CBO.

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  • rlw895November 11, 2012 - 10:42 am

    Tom: Good conversation. Again, I'm no expert, and I haven't gotten around to fact-checking (yet), but we might be playing the same semantics game (although legally significant) that the Supreme Court was "playing" (but of course, they don't "play") in the ACA case. What congress didn't want to call a tax is, in fact a tax. The "penalty" for not complying with the "individual mandate" was interpreted by the Court as a "tax penalty." That was significant because if only a penalty (Commerce power) and not a tax (Taxing power), the individual mandate was unconstitutional, according to the 5-4 majority opinion Chief Justice Roberts is widely credited with crafting. So it could be that over 10 years (why do they always use 10 years?), all the money the CBO figured would be collected in penalty payments suddenly became a tax increase without changing a dime of the amount. But that tax increase, applied to only those who refuse the individual mandate (not guys like you or me), needs to be offset by what the mandate required, buying health insurance so no one (or at least a lot fewer) people would be using emergency rooms as their insurer of last resort. That was killing us, because emergency rooms can't turn anyone away and therefore have to take care of people for free if they can't pay, and at the highest-expense site for health care we have. And naturally it's NOT free, because all of us who do pay have to provide that uncollectable overhead in our health care system. So call it $500 billion in taxes, the point is, it presumably generates a lot more in savings. Now, it very well may be that the wealthy, who can afford to self-insure, will prefer to pay the penalty because it would cost them less that buying insurance. I think that’s true. People who aren’t rich enough to self-insure but can afford insurance will opt to buy insurance because even if the tax penalty is less, they would prefer to get something (insurance) if they have to pay anyway. People who aren’t rich enough to buy insurance, even from one of the competitive government-run exchanges, are presumably so poor they will qualify for government assistance. So it very well may be that a large part of the “new taxes” is paid by the wealthy—people who can self-insure. But they don’t have to pay more than anybody else, so it’s NOT redistributive. It’s m more like sales tax, which is generally considered one of the most regressive (non-redistributive) taxes we have. Long answer, but sometimes it takes one to unwind a sound bite. The sound-bite coiners depend on that.

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  • Joe PikeyNovember 10, 2012 - 7:53 am

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BRPbCSSXyp0

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  • StRNovember 09, 2012 - 3:29 pm

    In the midwest many family farms went under due to estate taxes. It is a death tax and is NOT a fair tax - to take away someone's life's work or a business that has been in the family for generations. These estates should be passed unemcumbered on to family members. It is a particularly grim and ghoulish tax.

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  • rlw895November 09, 2012 - 3:56 pm

    Calling the estate tax the "death tax" serves only to communicate you oppose "it," without thinking really about what "it" is. If you will read my original post, I provided no specifics about how the estate tax should be restructured, only that there is a lot of room there to restructure for revenue and social purposes. It is very easy to provide exceptions, deductions, and exemptions for other social purposes, such as preserving family agriculture or family-owned small businesses. All I am saying is there should be a serious debate about making changes, at which time all such issues should be on the table and appropriate provisions made. Instead, we get "no on death taxes" chants. Chanting is not the same as thinking, or governing.

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  • rlw895November 09, 2012 - 4:01 pm

    And if it wasn't clear enough, StR, I agree with you in substance if not how you said it.

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  • StRNovember 09, 2012 - 4:12 pm

    "to restructure for revenue and social purposes" scary, very scary. Do we not have the right to keep our own "stuff" = property without having to worry about the government coming to take it away, away? I think you are a liberal, progressive, socialist, commie, pinko, so there take that! ( Just kidding? )

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  • rlw895November 09, 2012 - 10:50 pm

    StR: Don’t be scared. People stop reasoning when they are scared. Operatives like Karl Rove count on that. Taxes are almost always structured not only to raise revenue, but to advance a social policy. Not “socialist,” “social.” We get less of what is taxed and more of what is not taxed, so it does matter HOW we raise tax revenue as well as the amount. When I wrote about “social purposes” above, I was talking about stemming the concentration of wealth by having a progressive tax system. Then I added “other” social purposes such as encouraging family-owned small businesses and farms. There is no problem structuring taxes for those social purposes we can agree upon. Government is not new. Taxes to fund government are not new. And neither is inherently bad. What matters is who government serves and, again, how we raise tax revenue. Yes, we have a high respect for private property rights in this country, but that does not equate to no taxes. It can’t. And that’s not new either.

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  • The SugarJarNovember 09, 2012 - 7:09 pm

    Redistribution of wealth. could mean murdering the wealthy in their homes and taking over their sugar plantations. Or it could mean the ultra-wealthy paying fair wages, benefits, etc., to their workers and still keeping a healthy profit for themselves--rather than keeping an obscene profit and cutting wages, benefits etc. People are ENTITLED to be paid fairly for their work.

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  • Tom ChalkNovember 09, 2012 - 7:51 pm

    TSJ: Redistribution of wealth also occurs when the school-yard bully grabs you by the shirt and demands your lunch money under the threat of a punch in the belly or worse. As a second-grader in San Antonio, Texas, I observed this fiscal policy first hand, and can emphatically confirm that it works.

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  • The SugarJarNovember 09, 2012 - 8:07 pm

    Yes, and that is what has happened to the middle class, Mr. Chalk. And the working poor. One segment of our population has gotten much much richer--off the labor (and cuts in what that labor earns) of the middle class and working poor. On the issue of redistribution, we differ, at minimum, on where we see bullying and greed, and what we believe "redistribution" means.

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  • CD BrooksNovember 10, 2012 - 7:35 am

    TC, So this is a bully issue now? I think even you would have to agree the best political analogy for that is McConnell and Boehner from their lofty perches. They sit up there, threatening the president and the world for that matter, with their arrogant and shifty misrepresentation of our country's matters. I have dealt with bully's TC, taught my son how to do so as well. Too bad those two scum bags haven't been exposed to that justice yet.

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  • rlw895November 09, 2012 - 11:49 pm

    Good points SJ. In the black-and-white world of the plutocrat's political message, there is no distinguishing degrees of "redistribution of wealth," and people are encouraged to think the worst of it, even when something very mild is proposed, such as letting the "Bush tax cuts" expire for income over $250,000 per year. I try to stay away from using the word "fair," because that's too subjective to be a standard. I'd rather talk about what is specifically proposed, whether it is doable, and what the consequences might be.

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