Don’t want your taxes to increase on Jan. 1st? Call your Representative!


Obama reminds us that middle-class tax cuts are set to expire if Congress does nothing and, if that happens, every person’s taxes will go up on January 1st. We all know that Doing Nothing is an art form with this particular Congress — so what can we do?

Tim F at Balloon Juice says “Now would be a good time to pick up the phone and add some pressure for your GOP Representative to stop acting like such an ass about the tax and spending negotiations. If his party wants to cut social welfare programs, then man up and propose something. Otherwise just pass the Senate bill that protects everyone’s first $250k in income and let the economy get on recovering. This works best as a full court press so yes, whatever Cockhead McDoodlebrains your district is stuck with, phone them…

Find your Congress person here: http://house.gov/representatives/

Toll-free switchboard numbers: (888) 355-3588 and (888) 818-6641

Guide for first-time callers:

(1) Use a phone. Email has nigh on zero impact. Trust me on this. Letter mail gets read and in fact has the most impact of all, but you don’t have time. Reach the House switchboard at (202) 224-3121 [or toll-free numbers above]

(2) Remember, this person works for you. You pay his or her salary and you voted for them. You’re the boss here, or at least one of them, and it’s they who should worry about what you think of them.

(3) Identify your name and the town or neighborhood where you live zip code. If you are not a constituent don’t bother. Since you guys never listen to me, at least google a zip code in the appropriate district before you call.

(4) State the issue. This is easy: pass the Senate bill or the party gets it. We can (and certainly will) fix the shortcomings later. Talking points above.

(5) How strongly do you feel? Don’t apologize about feeling passionate or pissed off. The squeaky wheel gets the grease. However, keep in mind that teabaggers threaten the apocalypse over everything. Interns get jaded pretty fast when call volume is high. Polite but firm is the best way to go.”

Meanwhile, Nancy Pelosi has had enoughShe’s threatening to force a vote on extending the Bush tax cuts for the middle class, since House GOP leaders seem to only look out for the top 2%.

Fix the Debt: plutocrats are turning up the volume on the class war

“Listening to these people talk about the national economy is like listening to a burglar tell you that you should really polish the silver more often.” Charles P. Pierce

The important thing to understand now is that while the election is over, the class war isn’t.

The same people who bet big on Mr. Romney, and lost, are now trying to win by stealth — in the name of fiscal responsibility — the ground they failed to gain in an open election. […]

Consider, as a prime example, the push to raise the retirement age, the age of eligibility for Medicare, or both. This is only reasonable, we’re told — after all, life expectancy has risen, so shouldn’t we all retire later? In reality, however, it would be a hugely regressive policy change, imposing severe burdens on lower- and middle-income Americans while barely affecting the wealthy. Why? First of all, the increase in life expectancy is concentrated among the affluent; why should janitors have to retire later because lawyers are living longer? Second, both Social Security and Medicare are much more important, relative to income, to less-affluent Americans, so delaying their availability would be a far more severe hit to ordinary families than to the top 1 percent.

Or take a subtler example, the insistence that any revenue increases should come from limiting deductions rather than from higher tax rates. The key thing to realize here is that the math just doesn’t work; there is, in fact, no way limits on deductions can raise as much revenue from the wealthy as you can get simply by letting the relevant parts of the Bush-era tax cuts expire. So any proposal to avoid a rate increase is, whatever its proponents may say, a proposal that we let the 1 percent off the hook and shift the burden, one way or another, to the middle class or the poor. […]

So keep your eyes open as the fiscal game of chicken continues. It’s an uncomfortable but real truth that we are not all in this together; America’s top-down class warriors lost big in the election, but now they’re trying to use the pretense of concern about the deficit to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. Let’s not let them pull it off.”

— Paul Krugman: Class Wars of 2012

While finance executives urge Congress and the President to rein in spending, finance companies are raking in profits. [...] Meanwhile, workers are struggling. Average hourly pay, when adjusted for inflation, has fallen 0.7 percent over the past year, according to the Labor Department. And the unemployment rate in October was 7.9 percent — it was at a low of 4.4 percent in May 2007 before the recession. It’s a “zero-sum game,” Moody’s Analytics economist Aaron Smith told The Huffington Post in February. Companies are earning record profits largely because they are squeezing more productivity out of their workers without paying them more. — Corporate Profits Reach Record High, While Workers Struggle

Several CEOs — under the guise of a campaign known as “Fix the Debt” — have recently called for cuts to Social Security and other entitlements. Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein, for instance, said that “there will be things that, you know, the retirement age has to be changed, maybe some of the benefits have to be affected, maybe some of the inflation adjustments have to be revised.” “The solutions [to the fiscal cliff] are – it’s the retirement age; means testing Social Security and Medicare,” said Aetna CEO Mark Berolino. [...] Blankfein has nearly $12 million in retirement assets, while Bertolini has $1.5 million. Adding insult to injury, many of the CEOs calling for cuts to the social safety net are underfunding their workers’ retirement accounts — CEOs Looking To ‘Fix The Debt’ By Cutting Social Security Sit On Huge Retirement Accounts

The CEO Campaign to ‘Fix’ the Debt: A Trojan Horse for Massive Corporate Tax Breaks – IPS: The Fix the Debt campaign has raised $60 million and recruited more than 80 CEOs of America’s most powerful corporations to lobby for a debt deal that would reduce corporate taxes and shift costs onto the poor and elderly.

Key findings:

  • The 63 Fix the Debt companies that are publicly held stand to gain as much as $134 billion in windfalls if Congress approves one of their main proposals — a “territorial tax system.” Under this system, companies would not have to pay U.S. federal income taxes on foreign earnings when they bring the profits back to the United States.
  • The CEOs backing Fix the Debt personally received a combined total of $41 million in savings last year thanks to the Bush-era tax cuts. The top CEO beneficiary of the Bush tax cuts in 2011, Leon Black of Apollo Global Management, saved $9.9 million on the Bush tax cuts. The private equity fund leader reaped $215 million in taxable income last year just from vested stock.
  • Of the 63 Fix the Debt CEOs at publicly held firms, 24 received more in compensation last year than their corporations paid in federal corporate income taxes. All but six of these firms reported U.S. profits last year.

Sign this petition to tell Congress that it’s time to let the Bush tax cuts for the richest 2% expire and that they must reject any Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid benefit cuts.

The 112th Teapublican-heavy Congress: the least productive Congress in 64 years

NBC News reports on the aftermath of the Republican Party’s losing strategy to put party before country, in a very unpatriotic attempt to make Obama a one-term President by bringing government to a halt, resulting in two years of Doing Nothing and Getting Paid For It:

By passing just 196 bills into law so far, it is in the running to become the least productive Congress since the 1940s. In fact, that amount is 710 fewer public laws than was produced by the 80th Congress (from 1947-48), which first earned the moniker “Do-Nothing” Congress.

[...] The U.S. House Clerk’s office keeps official records of all congressional activity dating as far back as 1947. During those 65 years and 33 different Congresses, more than 20,000 public laws have been passed. The 104th Congress (1995-1996) currently holds the record low for passing the fewest pieces of legislation since 1947 — just 333 bills were passed into law during that two-year span.

[...] The 107th Congress (2001-2002) is next, passing only 377 new laws during its time in Washington. To avoid earning the distinction as the least productive Congress since 1947, 138 bills must move through the House and Senate before the end of this Congress next month.”

— WORST CONGRESS SINCE THE 1940S

The 113th Congress may not be much better. The Washington Post reports that Eric Cantor released the 2013 schedule for the House, and they’re scheduled to meet ONLY 126 DAYS IN 2013!

House lawmakers are scheduled to meet for 126 days in 2013, a slight increase from this year, but in line with the Republican strategy of giving lawmakers extended periods to spend back home. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) released the schedule for the first session of the 113th Congress on Friday. The Senate has not yet announced its 2013 schedule, but if history is any guide, senators will generally be in session for four-week stretches between recesses. As with both sessions of the 112th Congress, the House will keep with a two-weeks-on, one-week-off plan that was a boon for the 89 GOP freshmen lawmakers who sought reelection this year. Democrats regularly bemoaned the schedule, arguing that lawmakers should have been spending more time in Washington working to address the nation’s struggling economy and that the time spent away from the Capitol contributed to the rancorous, partisan nature of most debates. But Cantor said Friday that lawmakers need the time back home for what his office has dubbed “district work periods.”