Average income increase for 90% of us over the past 40 years: a whopping $59.00

Average income rose just $59 from 1966 to 2011 for the bottom 90 percent once those incomes were adjusted for inflation… the top 10 percent fared much better, according to a new study of tax data from David Cay Johnston, Pulitzer Prize winner: In 2011 the average AGI of the vast majority fell to $30,437 per taxpayer, its lowest level since 1966 when measured in 2011 dollars. The vast majority averaged a mere $59 more in 2011 than in 1966. For the top 10 percent, by the same measures, average income rose by $116,071 to $254,864, an increase of 84 percent over 1966.

[...] The biggest driver in that disparity, Cay Johnston wrote, was not that the rich were working harder, “but the shift of income from labor to capital and changes in federal income, gift, and estate tax rules.” Indeed, the estate tax has been eased over recent decades and federal income taxes have become more favorable to the wealthy thanks to breaks for investment income. A recent study, in fact, found that the capital gains tax cut, which benefits the wealthy but does virtually nothing for everyone else, was “by far” the biggest driver in the growth of American income inequality.

Other important facts: 

(via ThinkProgress)

The rise in wealth inequality? It’s permanent: “the advantaged [are] becoming permanently better-off, while the disadvantaged becoming permanently worse-off.” [...] If we were seeing a lot of transient inequality, that would mean the households at the bottom in any given year still have a good shot at improving their lifetime earnings. The fact that the inequality is of the permanent sort shuts the window on that optimistic interpretation: The earners at the bottom are stuck at the bottom, and their lifetime earnings are about as low as one would think. (via Ezra Klein)

With this ever-increasing, permanent inequality, now decades in the making, what’s most important to Republicans? 95% of the GOP-led House voting in favor of Paul Ryan’s Class Warfare Budget:

  • Recent analyses have shown that [Ryan's] budget plan’s tax reforms, which lower top tax rates to 25 percent, would give millionaires at least $200,000 in tax cuts. At the same time, it would slash the social safety net, targeting poverty programs for two-thirds of its cuts. (via Travis Waldron)
  • Ryan’s budget would end Medicare, cut taxes by over $5 trillion, take health care benefits away from millions of Americans, make “massive” cuts to in programs for low-income and vulnerable Americans, and relies on smoke and mirrors to balance the budget within a decade… It’s designed to satisfy folks who believe the wealthy are over-burdened by taxes and struggling families have too much access to affordable health care. (via Steve Benen)

Unfortunately the non-wealthy, low-info Republican base voters — who have been personally harmed by income inequality just like everyone else — have been successfully programmed to chase the regularly-scheduled and completely manufactured social outrages dangled before them (usually involving guns, God, and gays), instead of paying attention to what their party is actually doing with tax laws and budgets.

The RNC dilemma: how to transform service to a wealthy minority into populism and votes

Jonathan Chait discusses the RNC Growth & Opportunity Project:

The Republican National Committee released a major report today that amounts to the party’s formal response to its 2012 election defeat. The report determinedly avoids confronting the party’s most fundamental problem: Its attachment to an economic agenda that most voters correctly identify as serving the needs of a wealthy minority. Rather than confront the problem, the report is a detailed and generally shrewd plan for working around it.

[...] The closest the report comes to advocating a policy response for non-rich voters is its call for “making sure the government’s safety net is a trampoline, not a trap.” Everybody obviously wants programs for the poor to help the poor advance. But what does this mean? Paul Ryan always talks about the safety net as a trap that lulls the poor into laziness, and his budget likewise devotes enormous space to “repairing” the safety net, which he defines as slashing subsidies for health care, food, college, and other fripperies so poor people get off their lazy butts and make something of themselves. Is that how the RNC wants to stop the safety net from being a trap? Or does it propose the opposite? The report does not even hint.

[...] The vast majority of the report devotes itself to advocating a lengthy series of mechanical campaign fixes. The most interesting of them are a call to cut the number of presidential primary debates in half and to undertake a vast effort to eliminate restrictions on political donations. The aggregate effect of these changes would be to have Republicans spend less time communicating their ideas via moderated public debate, and more time communicating them via crafted propaganda. Whatever the civic merits of the idea, it appears to be a shrewd gambit to present a more appealing face to the public.

Or as Charles Johnson says,

“Bottom line: the RNC report is a set of recommendations on how to better trick voters into supporting the GOP, even as the GOP continues to work against their interests.”

Political Wire: “Tucked in near the end of the 97-page autopsy “are less than four pages that amount to a political bombshell: the five-member panel urges halving the number of presidential primary debates in 2016 from 2012, creating a regional primary cluster after the traditional early states and holding primaries rather than caucuses or conventions,” Politico reports. Each of those steps would benefit a deep-pocketed candidate in the mold of Mitt Romney. That is, someone who doesn’t need the benefit of televised debates to get attention because he or she can afford TV ads; has the cash to air commercials and do other forms of voter contact in multiple big states at one time; and has more appeal with a broader swath of voters than the sort of ideologically-driven activists who typically attend caucuses and conventions.

Benjy Sarlin highlights the RNC’s commitment to skillful rhetoric: 

Less than year after nominating a millionaire investor who proclaimed that “corporations are people,” the RNC is concerned that the party has become too closely tied with wealthy interests. “We have to blow the whistle at corporate malfeasance and attack corporate welfare,” the report says. “We should speak out when CEOs receive tens of millions of dollars in retirement packages but middle-class workers have not had a meaningful raise in years.”

The report doesn’t offer much beyond rhetorical suggestions here — it actually recommends loosening campaign finance laws to allow corporate money to influence politics even more — but it does acknowledge the issue is a legitimate threat. “The perception, revealed in polling, that the GOP does not care about people is doing great harm to the Party and its candidates on the federal level, especially in presidential years. It is a major deficiency that must be addressed,” the report reads.

You see, it’s “perception” that must be addressed — not beliefs, deeds, or actions. The takeaway for conservative voters: the beatings will continue until moral improves.

Igor Volsky laughs at the “disconnect between the principles and rhetoric the RNC espouses and the policies the party continues to advance:”

We have to blow the whistle at corporate malfeasance and attack corporate welfare. We should speak out when a company liquidates itself and its executives receive bonuses but rank-and-file workers are left unemployed. We should speak out when CEOs receive tens of millions of dollars in retirement packages but middle-class workers have not had a meaningful raise in years.” Republicans have proposed slashing the corporate tax rate just as corporate profits are skyrocketing and wages for middle and lower income Americans remain stagnant. The GOP seeks to repeal Wall Street reform and resists any efforts to tax capital gains at a higher rate, close the carried interest loophole, or raise any taxes on higher-income earners. Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) budget, for instance, “would result in tax cuts worth an average of about $330,000 a year to households with incomes of more than $1 million a year.”

The Democratic (obvious?) response to the RNC’s Lipstick on a Pig Plan:

“I think it’s important to note that the best way to increase support with the public for your party is to embrace policies the public supports. And embracing policies the public does not support or aggressively rejects makes it more difficult to earn the public’s support.” — White House Press Secretary Jay Carney on Monday.

What else can be said?

John Boehner is deeply confused about the basics of the fiscal debate

Steve Benen was alarmed by John Boehner’s press conference yesterday — especially because he read from prepared remarks. He says, “it occurred to me that I not only disagree with Boehner, I’m convinced the Speaker — or whomever is writing his speeches — is deeply confused about the basics of the fiscal debate.”

Benen responds to some of Boehner’s off-the-wall statements:

“The number one priority for the American people is creating jobs and getting our spending under control.”
Boehner doesn’t seem to understand that (a) spending cuts have already kept unemployment high; (b) more spending cuts will clearly undermine the strength of the fragile recovery; and (c) our spending is already under control.
“[T]he president and Senate Democrats have done almost nothing to address our long-term debt problems.”
Again, it seems as if Boehner has no idea that the president and Senate Democrats have already approved nearly $2.5 trillion in long-term debt reduction. How could he not know that?
“Republicans have twice voted to replace the president’s ‘sequester’ with common-sense cuts and reforms that protect our national defense.”
Perhaps Boehner missed this in Civics 101, but those votes were in the last Congress, and no longer apply. If the House intends to replace the sequester with an alternative package, that’s fine, but the Speaker will have to bring it to the floor and have the chamber vote on it — because as of now, this House hasn’t done literally anything on the issue at all.
“Americans do not support sacrificing real spending cuts for more tax hikes.”
First, he shouldn’t speak for the American public, since the American mainstream disagrees with him on nearly everything. Second, Democrats aren’t proposing tax hikes; they’re proposing closing tax loopholes — a position Boehner himself agreed with as recently as last month. Has Boehner forgotten his own positions from a month ago?
“Listen, the president doesn’t believe we have a spending problem. He genuinely believes that government spending causes economic growth.”
Obama believes this because (a) we don’t have a spending problem; and (b) government spending causes economic growth. That’s not even in the realm of opinion, and if Boehner can explain in complete sentences why he disagrees, he’s welcome to explain himself (John, really, call me anytime day or night.)Boehner added that he knows government spending doesn’t promote growth because “the unemployment rate is still nearly eight percent.” It’s as if the Speaker of the House is a child who finds current events confusing, so he doesn’t bother to keep up with the details. In his mind, spending has soared, and unemployment is high, ergo, spending caused higher unemployment. He doesn’t have the foggiest idea that spending isn’t up and that’s contributed to higher unemployment.
“Americans know that another tax hike isn’t going to help them,”
Who’s proposing another tax hike? I don’t know. Neither does the Speaker.


Is Boehner truly confused? Is he still trying to win Ohio for Romney? Or is he counting on the perpetual confusion of the hardcore voting base — the extremists who applaud political games above everything else? To those people, it doesn’t matter that we face the sequester hitting full force in 3 weeks and that such cuts will undermine any gains made to our economy; or that Republicans could be offering alternatives like Democrats have been doing — but they aren’t.

There are only three things that are important to those few people whom Boehner appears to be addressing: 1) it’s all Obama’s fault, 2) Republicans are the victims, and 3) being reassured that what they, the fringe, believe is what mainstream America also believes. This may be the Fox formula for its loyal viewers as well.

Bill Maher explains why Sarah Palin is about to make a lot of money

“Survival seeds. Also known as… seeds.”

Bill Maher explains why Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh do so well financially – and why it’s that conservative business model which Palin will undoubtedly cash in on as well:

“They don’t care about winning elections; they care about separating rubes from their money. They discovered that there’s a fortune to be made by keeping a small portion of America under the illusion that they are always under attack, from Mexicans or ACORN or Planned Parenthood or gays or takers, global warming hoaxers — it doesn’t matter. They don’t want a majority; they want a mailing list, a list of the kind of gullible ‘Honey Boo Boos’ out there who think that there’s a ‘War on Christmas’ and the Socialist policies of our Kenyan President have been so disastrous that the end of the world is coming.

[...] Glenn Beck has only 300,000 subscribers, so they’ll never be a majority. But it doesn’t matter. Maybe they can only vote once every two years, but they can buy the same book every three weeks… the exact same book, over and over and over again.

I don’t know why being a Republican means needing to have your faith recharged five times a day like Dick Cheney’s heart. Because there’s no comparable industry on the left devoted to separating liberals from their cash. I mean, unless you count Whole Foods.”

The GOP’s debt ceiling retreat probably means there will be a government shutdown

Jonathan Chait says the jig is up, the debt ceiling hostage crisis is over:

It’s over. House Republicans, following a literal and metaphorical retreat, have announced they plan to lift the debt ceiling without extracting policy concessions. Whatever mini-dramas may follow, the GOP leadership has both recognized the need to abandon their strategy of using the debt ceiling as a hostage and also to recognize this publicly. The GOP announcement came wrapped in a face-saving demand …to let right-wingers believe, or at least claim, that they succeeded in extracting some concession in return for not playing Russian roulette with the world economy. But it’s a superficial gesture. The Senate’s failure to pass a budget resolution has become a ubiquitous Republican talking point, but it’s essentially a meaningless technicality. [...]

The main credit here goes to the Obama administration for recognizing that enmeshing the debt ceiling with policy negotiations was a horrible idea that it had to stop dead in its tracks… The whole key to making Obama’s extortion-squelching plan, and saving American government from endless cycles of hostage drama that would eventually end in a default, was to credibly insist that he would not trade anything for a debt ceiling hike… Now, Republicans are only voting on a three-month extension. But this is a face-saving gesture, too. Once they’ve recognized that the debt ceiling isn’t leverage, they have no reason to keep taking painful votes that expose their members to attack ads.

Steve Benen thinks there’s still too many potential Teapublican “glitches” that could occur to consider this a victory just yet:

Even if we assume Democrats accept the GOP’s retreat, which isn’t a sure thing just yet, GOP leaders may once again run into trouble with their own caucus, leaving John Boehner and Eric Cantor dependent on Democratic votes for the third time in four weeks. In an odd twist, it’s not necessarily the case that those intransigent House Republicans want to default and trash the full faith and credit of the United States — on the contrary, many want the debt ceiling to go up. The problem is they don’t want to vote for it. The New York Times calls this “unofficial group” the “Vote No/Hope Yes Caucus.”

Greg Sargent predicts that caving on the debt ceiling means there will be a government shutdown over sequestration cuts — if for nothing else than for the “Vote No/Hope Yes Caucus” to be able to impress its voter base:

On the debt ceiling, at least, this is a complete cave. As noted below, the mere willingness to raise the debt ceiling temporarily was itself an acknowledgment by Republicans that the threat of default gave them no leverage and that they had essentially lost this fight. Now the three month extension means that in practical terms, it’s essentially been removed from the talks entirely.

The GOP will now stage the battle to get the spending cuts it wants around the threat of a government shutdown. Remember, GOP aides have explicitly conceded that instigating a confrontation will be necessary in order to placate House conservatives and Tea Partyers who wanted to flirt with default in order to get their way, but will ultimately be forced to accept the fact that this just ain’t gonna happen. Remember that quote to Politico? House Speaker John Boehner “may need a shutdown just to get it out of their system,” said a top GOP leadership adviser. “We might need to do that for member-management purposes — so they have an endgame and can show their constituents they’re fighting.”

And so it looks as if we’ll now have to deal with the threat of a government shutdown, rather than default, so House conservatives can “get this out of their system.”

These conservatives aren’t in the House or the Senate for the public “service.” They don’t care how well or badly the government runs for the majority of Americans. They’re in Congress for personal fame and job security. They have one bottom line, and that’s to impress their hometown, extremist, tea-smelling voter base — and they’ll happily sacrifice the rest of us to prove themselves.

Alex Jones: the face of modern conservatism

Maybe The Drudge Report will carry a headline about the threat to our precious bodily fluids?

Huffington Post: “Alex Jones, the radio host whose tussle with Piers Morgan was felt ’round the world, appeared on HuffPost Live on Friday to talk about the fallout from his interview. [...] After quoting liberally (and loudly) from the famed “mad as hell” speech from “Network,” Jones began going on a wide-ranging monologue that encompassed everything from drone wars and curtailments on privacy to more boutique topics.

“Learn about the New World Order!” he said at one point. “Learn about eugenics and the cancer viruses and the vaccines! Learn about the GMO’s designed to sterilize you!”

He then held up a book called “Ecoscience,” and took his shouting to a new level. A rough transcript follows:


The interview ended there.”

Similar critical thinking skills are employed by those people who believe that common sense gun control measures — like limiting the purchase of high capacity magazines and computerizing background checks — means that OMFG! OBAMA IS GOING TO CONFISCATE YOUR GUNS!!!

Related: NRA: Let’s pretend that safeguards on gun ownership is an attack on the 2nd Amendment

John Boehner’s fan club is getting smaller

A new Washington Post/ABC News poll finds 52% of Republican voters disapprove of the way House Speaker John Boehner handled the fiscal cliff negotiations, a 15-percentage point jump from December when the talks were ongoing. Among the most conservative Republican and independent voters, disapproval of Boehner spiked from 36% to 61%. — Political Wire

Sadly for our country, the conservative disapproval is probably because a deal was actually reached with Democratic support. Doesn’t matter if 99% of those disapproving won’t see their income tax increase… a deal happened before everything could be set on fire. They were promised chaos and destruction and all they got was a stupid tax cut.

The Republican Party: scamming for profit

…There are a lot of people whose livelihoods depend on keeping lots of conservatives terrified and ill-informed. The groups that exist to raise funds raise more funds when they endorse the crazier candidate. So even if you don’t particularly care that regular conservative Americans are constantly being scammed by their media apparatus, you should still worry about the influence of the scammers. The fact that there is a lot of money to be made in acting like Michele Bachmann is part of why the House seems poised to blow up the U.S. economy. The fact that conservatives have that much contempt for their own true believers neatly explains how they govern when they actually have power.”

— The conservative movement is still an elaborate moneymaking venture – Alex Pareene – Salon (via)

Further proof that Republican-voting seniors (and near-seniors) were duped

Raw Story: “Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) is encouraging Democrats to cut Social Security and Medicare benefits because the programs are “things we don’t absolutely need.”

“Speaking to ABC’s George Stephanopolous on Sunday about the so-called fiscal cliff, Coburn said that he would be willing to accept tax hikes for the top 2 percent of earners if Democrats and President Barack Obama agreed to reform Social Security and Medicare.

“The ABC host pointed out that Obama’s health care reform law had already achieved about $716 billion in Medicare savings and many Republicans — including former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney — ran against those cuts.

“The $700 billion in savings doesn’t save the government a penny because what it does is takes that $700 billion and spends it on other people,” Coburn insisted. “We’ve seen the president demand that we’re going to solve 7 percent of this problem [with tax hikes on the rich] but he’s totally inflexible on the other 93 percent.””

Think Progress: “On Sunday, Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) conceded that Democrats have won the debate on raising taxes on the richest Americans and said that he would likely vote to increase rates on the top 2 percent of Americans in order to shift the debate to cutting entitlement programs and improve the GOP’s leverage in the debate over how to avert the so-called fiscal cliff…

“CORKER: The Republicans know they have the debt ceiling, that is coming up around the corner, and, the leverage is going to shift, as soon as we get beyond this issue. The leverage is going to shift, to our side where hopefully we’ll do the same thing we did last time and that is if the president wants to raise the debt limit by $2 trillion we get $2 trillion in spending reduction and, hopefully, this time, it is mostly oriented towards entitlement and with no process. [...]“

If you voted Republican to ‘save’ Social Security and Medicare from big, bad Barack Obama, consider yourself had. Consider yourself a base rube.

How conservatives think

Source: end-the-republican-mafia

“The economy continues to conform to textbook Keynesianism. We still need more aggregate demand, and the Republican idea that tax cuts for the rich will save us becomes more ridiculous by the day. People will long remember Mitt Romney’s politically tone-deaf attack on half the nation’s population for being losers, leeches, and moochers because he accurately articulated the right-wing worldview. At least a few conservatives now recognize that Republicans suffer for epistemic closure. They were genuinely shocked at Romney’s loss because they ignored every poll not produced by a right-wing pollster such as Rasmussen or approved by right-wing pundits such as the perpetually wrong Dick Morris. Living in the Fox News cocoon, most Republicans had no clue that they were losing or that their ideas were both stupid and politically unpopular.” — Revenge of the Reality-Based Community

Truth through sarcasm…

“…I’m the primary reason the Republican Party lost. And I am, by the way, the primary reason the Republican Party will keep losing, until I am denounced by the Republican Party.” Rush Limbaugh, 11/13/12

It’s not just you, Rush. It’s Fox too.

A challenge for any Romney supporter

Explain why Mitt Romney should be president — without mentioning Obama.

h/t: words-you-never-heard

The people who cast the votes decide nothing. The people who count the votes decide everything.

via: silas216


Petition for AG Eric Holder: investigate Tagg Romney’s ownership of voting machines

Sign the petition

Related: Mitt Romney’s family bought themselves some voting machines for the election!

Mitt Romney’s family bought themselves some voting machines for the election!

Privatizing our nation’s voting systems could ONLY turn out with this kind of a result — and naturally the wealthiest candidate to ever seek the presidency, the King of Bain, is the first Republican candidate involved.

Romney family buys voting machines through Bain Capital investment:Tagg Romney, the son of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, has purchased electronic voting machines that will be used in the 2012 elections in Ohio, Texas, Oklahoma, Washington and Colorado. “Late last month, Gerry Bello and Bob Fitrakis at FreePress.org broke the story of the Mitt Romney / Bain Capital investment team involved in H.I.G. Capital which, in July of 2011, completed a “strategic investment” to take over a fair share of the Austin-based e-voting machine company Hart Intercivic,” according to independent journalist Brad Friedman.”

Truthout: “Through a closely held equity fund called Solamere, Mitt Romney and his wife, son and brother are major investors in an investment firm called H.I.G. Capital. H.I.G. in turn holds a majority share and three out of five board members in Hart Intercivic, a company that owns the notoriously faulty electronic voting machines that will count the ballots in swing state Ohio November 7. Hart machines will also be used elsewhere in the United States. In other words, a candidate for the presidency of the United States, and his brother, wife and son, have a straight-line financial interest in the voting machines that could decide this fall’s election. These machines cannot be monitored by the public. But they will help decide who “owns” the White House.”

The Nation: “The Medicaid reimbursements for the dental management companies offer a revealing look at the underlying business model being pursued by the Romney-supporting private equity firms: big government, when harnessed to industry-friendly regulators, can mean big profits. Many of these private equity–owned companies rely on federal and state contracts, from HIG Capital’s Hart Intercivic, a voting machine company, to EnviroFoam Technologies, a biological and chemical decontamination firm that does business with the US military and is owned by Peterson Partners, a private equity firm listed in the Solamere prospectus. It’s already clear how the Solamere nexus of influence would work to advance such companies under a Romney administration.”

Brad Friedman: “Late last month, Gerry Bello and Bob Fitrakis at FreePress.org broke the story of the Mitt Romney/Bain Capital investment team involved in H.I.G. Capital which, in July of 2011, completed a “strategic investment” to take over a fair share of the Austin-based e-voting machine company Hart Intercivic. [...] Hart’s announcement of the deal describes H.I.G.’s role as as “co-investors”, though the financial services firm which brokered the deal described it in their own announcement as a full-fledged acquisition: “Hart Intercivic was acquired by HIG Capital late last week. The deal caps off a 2+ year relationship with Hart! Congrats to both Hart and the HIG team…its going to be a great partnership!” [...] Despite the Rightwing reports, [George] Soros has no apparent control of the Scytl outfit, but it doesn’t matter. Other private corporate entities — unaccountable to the public — do. Either way, whether it’s Soros or entities tied to Mitt Romney, George W. Bush, Hugo Chavez or anybody else, the fact that we have allowed this complete corporatization of the machinery of our public elections, the very lifeblood of our democracy — the first and most important element of true self-governance — is, in and of itself, a continuing shame for what was once regarded as “the world’s greatest democracy.””

NY Times: “Two years later, despite a challenging fund-raising climate for private equity, Solamere, named after a wealthy enclave in Utah’s Deer Valley where the Romneys have a winter home, finished raising its first fund. The firm blew past its $200 million goal, securing $244 million from 64 investors, including a critical, early $10 million from Mitt Romney and his wife, Ann, and hefty commitments from wealthy supporters of the campaign.

Crooks and Liars: “According to this form and this form filed with the SEC, Solamere Group owns a large stake in Solamere Advisors (referred to in the documents as “CAMG Solamere.”) So it is impossible to argue that Solamere Capital—the Romney family’s investment company—does not have direct financial ties with Solamere Advisors, the firm filled with executives who sold CDs as part of the Stanford fraud. The Stanford scandal is second only to the case of Bernie Madoff. The disclosures are made on part of the SEC website enhanced by the new Dodd-Frank law, the Wall Street reform Romney says he wants to repeal.”

Vote counting company Hart Intercivic, whose machines have famously failed in the past, is tied to Mitt Romney and Bain Capital — from The David Parkman Show:

[According] to VerifiedVoting.org’s database, in all or parts of California, Colorado, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia and Washington, Hart InterCivic voting and tabulation systems are now used.

You’d think the mainstream media would be making more of this alarming news — this potential scandal, wouldn’t you? Acorn, please!

Related: Petition for AG Eric Holder: investigate Tagg Romney’s ownership of voting machines