« Previous Story | Front Page | Next Story »

A Preview of the Dirtiest Election Ever?

By Bob Hooper
Opinion | January 27, 2012

BOGUE, Kan. - A Jan.11 writer to Reader Forum [Hays Daily News] blustered about "non-factual distortion" by the Obama administration and supporters, then made his own claims.

[CLAIM: "All the money from the richest 400 Americans wouldn't pay our bills for a week."] In 2011 the richest 400 were together worth $1.5 trillion. (Forbes Magazine) Current annual federal spending is estimated at $3.6 trillion; state at $1.43; local, $1.63 trillion. So, the 400's wealth would fund all federal spending for 5 months, state for one year, local for 11 months. All federal, state, and local spending for about 3 months.

Incidentally, the richest 400 gained 12 percent. from 2010 to 2011. Since 2006, their net worth increased by $250 billion, about 17 percent. On the other hand, "Over the past five years Americans, on average, have seen no disposable income growth if you adjust for population and inflation. This also explains why they're spending like it's 2006 -- because they don't have more money to spend. No wonder the recovery continues to feel like a recession: that's an awfully long time to go without a raise."

[CLAIM: "The rich pay most of our taxes."] The rich do pay more in total taxes. However -- as a percentage of total income -- middle class and poorer people may pay more if we include property tax, sales tax, vehicle taxes, gasoline taxes, etc. Taxfoundation.org says the average Kansan must work 100 days to be "tax free" this tax year. Roughly, 27 percent.

[CLAIM: Obama promotes "class warfare."] Class warfare is a Republican campaign sound bite. Ironically, it was the billionaire Warren Buffet who used the term most recently. He said, "There's class warfare, all right, but it's my class, the rich class, that's making war, and we're winning."

Buffet's estimated wealth is $39 billion; his salary as manager of Berkshire Hathaway for 2011, $524,946. His total reported taxable income for 2010 was $39,814,784. However, he paid a lower percent of income in taxes than his secretary. Congressman Tim Huelskamp (R-KS) asked Buffet to disclose more, and Buffet responded that he would be willing if others in his income bracket did the same. In 2010, Buffet paid an effective 17.4%of his taxable income.

Last week, presidential hopeful Mitt Romney estimated his own effective tax rate: "It's probably closer to the 15 percent rate than anything." (Actually, 13.9 percent on his taxable income for 2010 of $17.1 million.) The official top tax rate is 35 percent.

ABC News: "What Romney admitted is exactly what billionaire Warren Buffet has railed against--the fact that many multi-millionaires actually pay far less in taxes than the people who work for them."

In any case, since 1970 the gap between the wealthy and the rest of us has grown steadily, keeps growing, and is wider now than at any time since the Great Depression. The key question is, "Does the rich getting still richer make life better for the rest of us?" Doesn't look that way.

Tellingly, a recent poll found over two-thirds of those making over $1 million annually thought they should pay more taxes.

[CLAIM: Obama's responsible for our economic problems] In the view of most economists, the Great Recession of 2008 -- a train wreck from which we're still trying to heal -- was largely the result of shredding the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933. It had been put in place precisely to restrain financial speculation. Without it came bundled derivatives and credit default swaps enticingly rated AAA. In 2008, the house of cards collapsed.

Spending? According to Congressional Budget Office figures, today's budget deficit comes mostly from continuing Bush/Republican policies -- like two unfunded wars and tax cuts for the wealthiest. Bush administration deficit impact: $5.07 trillion. Obama: $1.44 trillion.

[CLAIM: Democrats have controlled Congress "going back nearly five years when Bush was still president."] Since 1995, Democrats have had a majority only in the 110th and 111th Congresses, a span of 2007 to 2011. In the 110th, Democrats had a 35 vote House majority, a two seat majority in the Senate (51 seats). However, a majority does not automatically mean control.

In the Senate, ending filibusters requires 60 votes. Thus, Democrats had control only in the 111th Congress, but barely. In the 112th today, the 51 Senate Democrats are not enough to assure cloture. Meanwhile, Republicans are setting historic filibuster records. (To learn more visit www.addictinginfo.org)

[CLAIM: the Affordable Care Act is "unscrupulous and corrupt."] Few average Americans really know much about the new law--most of which won't be implemented until 2014. Seniors may know even less. A National Council on Aging survey found fewer than 3 of 10 older Americans knew Medicare payments to doctors won't be cut. Three of 4 didn't know it extends the life of the Medicare Trust Fund. Barely 28 percent knew people with disabilities now have better odds of getting long-term care at home. Only one in 3 knew that Medicare will provide one free annual medical check-up. Finally, the overwhelming majority were unaware that the new law is projected to reduce the deficit by $124 billion over 10 years. In fact, half incorrectly believed "Obamacare" would increase the deficit.

[CLAIM: "According to Obama, we are a racist nation."] President Obama has made no such comment. There are plenty of racists around, however. You probably know some.


What I find interesting is that these arguments have been fairly common currency among fringe groups and a few more radical think tanks for quite a while, but they are starting to be voiced publicly by state and local politicians, and hinted at by national figures.

Yes, this could be very ugly.

"This could be very ugly" ?? Ugly how?

Ugly for those in the drivers seat that have brought about the inequities that Hoop has pointed out? Ugly if seniors are finally made aware of the misinformation that the right wing talk show pundits have been prattling on about?

It will really get ugly if the public, in general, finally wake up to what the Health Care bill actually has in it. Ugly for the opposition side, that is!

There are some things in the bill that need amended. But, the biggest problem with the bill is the amendments that were forced into the original bill, in order to overcome the fillibusters. We had a few Dems and Independents that played that tune, but the Repubs tuned the fiddle.

Post your own comment here

Do you want to read more? You've only just scratched the surface at the Kansas Free Press. We have so much more to read! Nearly all of the pieces published here are timeless and relevant, regardless of when the articles were first published. To discover more, please take a look at our Table of Contents or go back to our Front Page.

Our sponsors help us stay online to serve you. Thank you for doing your part! By using the specific links below (clicking through from our site) to start any of your online shopping, you are making a tremendous difference. By using the shopping links provided on a Kansas Free Press page, you are directly helping to support the Kansas Free Press:

About This Page

This page contains just one story published on January 27, 2012. The one written previous to this is titled "State of the Union" and the story published right after this one is "Nation Building or Imperialism"

Our most current stories are always updated on our Front Page.

Other Archives

Interested in other topics? You may wish to poke around in our Table of Contents to find other sections and archives.

Do you want to explore pieces written by specific authors? You can find archives for KFP writers by reviewing our complete Directory of Authors and Writers here.

Recently Featured Stories

My Response As a Kansan to Jessica Valenti

Jessica Valenti has come on board The Nation magazine to fill in for Katha Pollitt as the feminist columnist while Pollitt is on leave to write a book. I've found reading Valenti's columns thought-provoking and insightful. She often takes …
Of Angels and God's Dogs

There might be a whole group of us out there--people who value our relationships with animals on a par with our ties to people. "Get over it--it was just a dog" does not resonate with us. Our society places …
Of Angels and God's Dogs

There might be a whole group of us out there--people who value our relationships with animals on a par with our ties to people. "Get over it--it was just a dog" does not resonate with us. Our society places …
Roots of the n-word

While N-word dialogue has slackened following Saline County Commissioner Gile's use of it recently, the word still has great power. So, let's look inward at the N-word. To reach a much deeper path to understanding, simply go to Ad …
Corporate Tax Reform

Basehor, Kans.--For an interesting twist on the corporate tax debate, look at Alan Sloan's opinion in the April 29 issue of Fortune Magazine. In all of the froth about corporate taxation, neither proponents of tax reduction, nor corporate critics, …

News and Opinion

Get Connected

See our FB page!
Subscribe for free!
[Feeds & Readers...]
Follow Kansas Free Press on Twitter, too!
Make Kansas Free Press your home page!

Journalists, sign in.

We're reader supported!

Whenever you use the specific links below to begin any of your online shopping, a portion of your sale goes directly towards the support of this site.

Tech Depot - An Office Depot Co.

Our sponsors help us stay online to serve you. Thank you for doing your part! By using the specific links above (clicking through from our site) to start any of your online shopping, you are making a tremendous difference. By using the shopping links provided on a Kansas Free Press page, you are directly helping to support the Kansas Free Press.

Thank you for your help!

Notices & Policies

All of our Kansas Free Press journalists are delighted that you are here. We all hope that you come here often, sign in and leave us comments, and become an active part of our community. Welcome!

Our writers are credentialed after referral to, and approval by, the editor/publisher of KansasFreePress.com. If you are interested in writing with us, please feel free to let us know here. We are always looking for Kansans who want to write about Kansas!

All authors here retain their own copyrights for their original written works, original photographs and art works. They welcome others to copy, reference or quote from the content of their stories, provided that the reprints include obvious author and website attribution and links to the original page, in accordance with this publication's Creative Commons License.

Our editor primarily reviews stories for spelling, grammar, punctuation and formatting and is not liable or responsible for the opinions expressed by individual authors. The opinions and accuracy of information in the individual stories on this site are the sole responsibility of each of the individual authors. For complete site policies, including privacy, see our Frequently Asked Questions. This site is designed, maintained, and owned by its publisher, Everyday Citizen Media. The Kansas Free Press, KansasFreePress.com, and Kansas Free Press are trademarked names.

© Copyright, 2008-2012, all rights reserved, unless otherwise specified, first by the respective author, and then by KFP's publisher and owner for any otherwise unreserved and all other content.