Thursday, March 3, 2011

Robert Reich Is Not a Potted Plant

Where is it? I can't find my Progressive, Republican-hating, red meat blogging voice.

I even started watching teevee. Well MSNBC, anyway. Very all very unsatisfying. For one thing, I am not a planted plant. I'm an interactive dude, especially when I'm sitting in my living room watching or listening to some useless idiot reiterating drivel. I'm even frustrated by the MSNBC pundits Big Ed, Chris Mathews, Larry O'Donnell. I'm glad they're there, of course. But only Sister Rachel cleans off the fat off the bones. There's just so much trivia and distracts even the best-motivated programmers and consumers of the main street media. That's new and old media.

In terms of the newer media, there's a lot more 'Rachels' out there. I'm a big fan of one of them: Robert Reich, Clinton's Secretary of Labor. This guy is right - er, make that 'correct' - on everything. Where has he been wrong?

His voice seems a lonely one and I feel like taking every opportunity to amplify it. Reich is especially impatient with today's Democrats:

Where are the Democrats? Shuffling their feet, looking at the floor.

“Please oh please give us four weeks before you shut us down,” they ask.

“No,” say the Republicans, “you’ll get only two.”

“Well, alright then,” say the Democrats.
Reich says Democrats should be saying:
Hike taxes on the super-rich. Reform the tax code to create more brackets at the top with higher rates for millionaires and billionaires. Absurdly, the top bracket is now set at $375,000 with a tax rate of 35 percent; the second-highest bracket, at 33 percent, starts at $172,000 for individuals. But the big money is way higher.

The source of income shouldn’t matter – salary, wages, capital gains, other unearned income – all should be treated the same. There’s no reason to reward speculators. (Don’t penalize true entrepreneurs, though. If they’re owners who have held their assets for at least twenty years, keep their capital gains low.)

And while you’re at it, raise the ceiling on income subject to Social Security taxes. And bring back the estate tax.

Do this and we can afford to do what we need to do as a nation. Do this and you prevent Republicans from setting the working middle class against itself. Do this and you restore some balance to a distribution of income and wealth that’s now dangerously out of whack.

Do this, Democrats, and you have a chance of being relevant again.
Is anyone listening? Not in the frickin' White House!


  1. Vigil come on my friend, you know very well that most of the dems in Congress are just as gelded as the republicans. Those democratic eunuchs squeak all the right answers but will always be without both their balls and spines.

    Hey, I'm all for compromise because that's how democracy works but as you very well know the democrats are only bending over and hoping they get a kiss after the repubs have their fun with them.

  2. As I pointed out in my blog over a year ago, nearly all members of Congress come from high income or privileged backgrounds. That's why they are clueless as to the needs of ordinary workers and why our tax system is skewed for the benefit of the rich.

  3. That's right, Jack!

    White House and Congressional leaders both basically want to reduce the deficit by cutting social programs, preserving defense spending and raising taxes relatively little or not at all.

    But according to a study by the Program for Public Consultation, the public would do it primarily by cutting defense spending and imposing significantly higher and more progressive taxes on the rich -- while at the same time dramatically increasing spending in such areas as job training, higher education and humanitarian aid.

    In other words, the public takes a considerably more humane view of spending than either party, is considerably less beholden to the military-industrial complex, and doesn't seem to care if the super-rich get a bit offended.

  4. @Jack: I agree with you. I'd just add one point.

    Not only do most members of Congress come from upper-class backgrounds, but the way the system works they have to spend an average of six hours a day year in, year out raising money for reelection. The most successful members are the ones who spend the biggest percentage of those hours talking to people for whom writing a $2000 check is an easy way to get somebody off the phone. So even the people who once were working-class are cut off from the majority of their constituents, and come to see the concerns of wage-earners as abstractions, while the concerns of owners of capital seem vital and urgent.

  5. Right on. Reich was always intellectually superior to those around him.

  6. I believe that Mr. Reich is also in favor of eliminating the corporate income tax. He, unlike a lot of other people on the left, recognizes that tax just ends up hurting stockholders, employees, consumers, etc..

  7. Vigil - very nice, and I am also a big fan of Robert Reich. He's solid. And couldn't agree with you more on Sister Rachel, she's the best out there.

  8. I have nothing to add really. Good piece and I agree with ya. Too bad the powers that be don't listen.

  9. BTW, that is a fabulous photo at the top.