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It’s Not About Job Creation Stupid!: I Am A Job Creator Who Creates No Jobs

I am a job creator.

I am not a job creator in the sense that I actually create jobs. I have never knowingly created a job, and my long-term business plan, approved unanimously by my board of directors, does not call for the creation of a single one.

But I am a job creator in the sense Republicans mean when they say “don’t tax our job creators more” (House budget committee Chairman Paul Ryan) or “we cannot increase taxes on the job creators” (House Speaker John A. Boehner). This is because, in the eyes of the government, I am a small business — and, as the House Republicans liketosay, “small businesses are the job creators.”

Like the overwhelming majority of small businesses, I am a one-man operation. And, like most small businesses, I would not hire anybody even if the government dropped my tax rate to zero.

According to Small Business Administration statistics, based on 2009 Census data, 21.1 million of the 27 million small businesses in the United States are “non-employer firms,” which have no workers other than the owner. Of those, 18.7 million are “sole proprietors,” 950,000 are partnerships and 1.4 million are corporations, like me.

When lawmakers talk about small businesses as the engine of growth, they bring to mind entrepreneurs building start-ups from their garages. But when officials talk about protecting the “job creators” from tax hikes, they are mostly protecting a bunch of doctors, lawyers, freelancers, contractors and the like.

On the advice of my accountants, I formed a “C corporation,” which means that, as a legal entity, I am pretty much the same as General Motors and Google. But I run a lean operation. While my business, Ink-Stained Inc., produces the occasional book, TV appearance and speech, it is probably not going to win any best-prac­tices awards.

Disagreement is rare during board meetings at Ink-Stained Inc. world headquarters (my house), because I am the chairman, chief executive, president, treasurer, secretary, chief technology officer and mail-room clerk. Occasionally board members complain about environmental regulations, not because these regulations affect us but because that is what we have heard corporations are supposed to do.

We administer a modest pension plan for our sole employee, and we reimburse a few health-care expenses. We have big, professional-looking checks, and we attempt to keep our accounts balanced, although our chief financial officer (also me) is a lagging performer. We once considered hiring our wife as a consultant to help us organize our finances, but the HR department was unable to come to terms with her. We have so far repelled all attempts at unionization.

I should add that I am in no danger of being caught in the net of President Obama’s proposed millionaires’ tax. I pay the accountants a few thousand dollars, and they make sure I am not paying more in taxes than I should be. (Note to the IRS: They do this in ways that are conservative, entirely above-board and so innocuous that they should not attract your interest in the slightest.)

While there is something absurd about being a one-man corporation, it’s a rational response to an irrational tax code. If lawmakers got serious about tax reform that removed loopholes, the money spent on accountants and actuaries (valuable though they are) could instead be used to grow the economy or to pay the federal debt. But that’s a matter for another day.

At the moment, the Ink-Stained Inc. case study, should the Harvard Business School wish to study it, is a reminder to be skeptical of the “job creator” argument in the tax debate. “It’s a good example of the murkiness of what we mean by small business and the connection to jobs,” William Gale, co-director of the Urban Institute and Brookings Institution’s Tax Policy Center, told me. “There’s sort of this notion of small-business innovation and job creation that just doesn’t necessarily hold.”

That’s even more so with Obama’s “Buffett Rule,” under which millionaires would have to pay a higher tax rate than a typical middle-class worker. As a practical matter, most already do. Gale said the rule would raise the taxes on only a few thousand people, perhaps as few as 1,000.

In a nation of more than 300 million, that’s not going to make a dent in job creation. Even the data analysts at Ink-Stained Inc. could figure out that one — that is, if we had any data analysts.

By: Dana Milbank, Opinion Writer, The Washington Post, September 21, 2011

September 21, 2011 Posted by | Class Warfare, Conservatives, Corporations, Economy, Ideologues, Ideology, IRS, Middle Class, Politics, Republicans, Right Wing, Teaparty, Wealthy | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Pat Robertson’s Alzheimer’s Divorce Comments Demean Marriage

Pat Robertson has made some pretty crazy remarks. Remember  the “hit” he wanted us to take out on Hugo Chavez?!  Yes, the self-proclaimed leader of the moral  majority, former presidential candidate, and television talk host on the 700 Club. But Robertson is also a  pastor, a man who claims to believe that the Bible is the word of God. So imagine my and so many others’ surprise  when he spoke of divorcing a spouse with Alzheimer’s because they’re pretty much  dead anyway?! (Remember “’til death do us  part?” It certainly gives a new slant to that notion.)

Now of course I’m paraphrasing. And you might find this odd coming  from me, a  liberal, progressive, Democrat; but I’m as angry at the  message as I am the  messenger.

Robertson is a leader in the conservative Christian circles.  These  are the same people that fight for the definition of marriage to only be   between a man and a woman; certainly not a man and a man or a woman  and a  woman. Why? Because marriage is holy, ordained by God. It’s one of  the first things God does in book of Genesis.

I am angry at this remark Mr. Robertson made, although not  surprised,  because it shows the true hypocrisy of not only these leaders, but  of  so many Christians who use the Bible only when it suits them. Remember  what Gandhi  said about not being able to find Christ among them?

I have been married for 15 years. Happily? Yes, for the most part. I did take  the vows when I married to love  and honor in sickness and in health,  for better or worse, ’til death do us  part. And I meant it when I took  those  vows.

If we simply divorce, or do away with a “problem,” as a  person with  Alzheimer’s may often be perceived, then what’s next? Divorce when  someone is burned in a fire?  Partially dismembered in an auto  accident?  Loses a breast (or two) to breast cancer? When a man can no  longer maintain an  erection? How about when one’s beauty  fades? Oh  right, they already do that. (At least in Los Angeles where I live.)

The point is, Alzheimer’s is an illness; it’s one of those   “sicknesses” the Bible and those vows refer to.  And, it is certainly  one of the worst times for a spouse, for a family.

Marriage is not a walk in the park. But if you’re going to  fight to  defend it, define it, and protect it based on the Bible, at least read the Bible Mr. Robertson and see what God says about the very institution He  designed.

Maybe if more of us took those vows more seriously, we  wouldn’t have a  divorce rate that hovers above 50 percent in America today.

Shame on Mr. Robertson for twisting the “word of God” as he  calls the  Bible, when he chooses. I  believe it’s men like Robertson who keep  many of us more than an arm’s length  from our creator.

 

By: Leslie Marshall, U. S. News and World Report, September 21, 2011

September 21, 2011 Posted by | Conservatives, GOP, Politics, Republicans, Right Wing | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

If Republicans Love States’ Rights So Much, Why Do They Want to Be President?

Whatever their differences, the leading Republican candidates all swear that they love states’ rights. If elected president, Rick Perry vows to “try to make Washington as inconsequential as I can.” Mitt Romney declares his faith in the Constitution, which, he says, declares that the government “that would deal primarily with citizens at the local level would be local and state government, not the federal government.” Michele Bachmann “respect[s] the rights of states to come up with their own answers and their own solutions to compete with one another.” With lots of help from the Tea Party, the Tenth Amendment which, not so long ago was familiar mainly to constitutional lawyers and scholars, may now be as popular as the First or the Second. But, what this resurgence of federalism overlooks is not just the historical consolidation of federal power but also the inanity of attempts to reverse it.

For most of U.S. history, the primacy of federalism was taken for granted. Except during major wars, states exerted far more power over the daily lives of their residents than did any of the three branches of a national government located in a swampy river city on the Mid-Atlantic seaboard that most Americans had never visited. In the nineteenth century, as the historian Gary Gerstle explains, states funded canals, highways, and railroads. They decided which groups could vote and which could not. Some tried to regulate working hours. Others outlawed a variety of private acts—interracial marriage, drinking, and theater-going. In 1837, Illinois even forbade “playing at ball or flying of kites” as public nuisances.

All these policies fell under the legal sanction of “the police power,” which one influential Massachusetts judge in 1851 defined broadly as insuring the “good and welfare of the Commonwealth.” For its part, the Supreme Court, until after World War I, rather consistently ruled that the celebrated protections of the Bill of Rights—from the freedom of speech and the press to the right to a speedy trial—applied only to acts by the federal government and not to those of the states.

But, by the middle of the twentieth century, this arrangement no longer served the needs or desires of most Americans. During the Great Depression, state revenues, based mainly on property taxes, plummeted. The federal government stepped in to provide relief, and citizens everywhere began to count on Washington to keep the economy afloat and their Social Security checks arriving promptly. Then World War II and the cold war bound Americans to a national-security state that financed education for veterans and interstate highways as well as aircraft carriers and nuclear weapons. In the 1960s and ’70s, Congress passed laws to safeguard the civil and voting rights of every citizen, regardless of where he or she might live. Policies to protect the environment and regulate hazards at the workplace further diminished the sway of state governments. The Supreme Court, even with a conservative majority, has done little to reverse these changes.

Yet, states’ rights never lost its appeal to that minority of Americans who are ideologically committed to lambasting the federal state as both overweening and ineffective. (It should come as no surprise that these conservatives were so alarmed at the emergency measures taken by the Bush and Obama administrations to address the financial meltdown of 2008: the formation and rapid growth of the Tea Party was the predictable result.) However, any Republican elected to the White House in 2012 will find it impossible to lead a headlong charge back to the past, and not just because of the difficulty of undoing a half-century of tradition and Supreme Court precedent.

Voters unhappy with the inability of the federal government to restore prosperity may like the sound of “states’ rights.” But how many would trust their governors and state legislators to pay their Medicare and Social Security checks on time and at current or higher levels? How many really want 50 separate immigration policies or 50 different standards for what constitutes clean air and clean water? Or the possibility that state, seeking to lure business away from its neighbors, could cut the minimum wage in half and not requiring employers to pay for overtime?

When you look more broadly at their promises, the GOP hopefuls reveal the emptiness of their own rhetoric. Bachmann, never a paragon of consistency, supports a federal constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, as well as the right of individual states to legalize it. In 2007, before Romney got in trouble for his Massachusetts health care law, he predicted, “that all these states … who follow the path that we pursued will find it’s the best path, and we’ll end up with a nation that’s taken a mandate approach.” Rick Perry favors federal action to stop gay marriage and restrict abortion—and, last month, asked President Obama to speed up aid to stop wildfires from burning up whole sections of his vast state. Like a lot of other Americans, these ambitious conservatives like to rail against Washington in the abstract but cannot imagine how the nation would operate without a strong central government. And the specifics of their smaller hypocrisies are underscored by one giant irony: They’re all running for president.

The U.S. has long ceased to be a country in which most people look to their state instead of to the national government to address and solve their most vital problems. State pride is pretty rare these days, except for residents and alumni who dress in the old-school colors and root hard for a college football or basketball team from a major public university.

Of course, state governments still perform a vital role in education and economic development and can still be “laboratories of democracy,” sites for testing out new policies that aren’t yet ready for national consumption. Progressives who cheered when New York legalized gay marriage and look forward to the day when Vermont begins operating the single-payer health care system it passed this spring can hardly object, at least in principle, when red states pass laws they abhor. But, as an alternative philosophy of governance in a modern nation, states’ rights is very wrong. In fact, it’s ridiculous.

By: Michael Kazin, The New Republic, September 20, 2011

September 21, 2011 Posted by | Class Warfare, Congress, Conservatives, Constitution, Democracy, Economy, Education, Elections, GOP, Government, Ideology, Politics, Republicans, Right Wing, Voters | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Obama And The Art Of Rational Choices

If you keep trying something and it doesn’t work and you are a rational person, you change course. President Obama is a rational person. His rip-roaring budget speechwas a rational response to the failures of the past eight months. Republicans accused him of “class warfare” because he said the rich should pay more in taxes. When Republicans start saying “class warfare,” it almost always means that a Democrat is doing something right.

Obama’s aides insist that the president had little choice until now but to try to conciliate with the Republicans because they held in their hands the power to cause enormous damage. Obama made the budget deal early this year, they say, because he thought it would be bad for the economy to start off the new Congress with a government shutdown. And he had to make a debt-ceiling deal because the country couldn’t afford default. Now, they say, he has the freedom to bargain hard, and that’s what he doing.

There is something to this, although it doesn’t take into account other moments when the president engaged in a strategy of making preemptive concessions, giving away stuff before he even negotiated. (I’d argue that this tendency goes all the way back to the stimulus package.) But for now, it’s simply a relief for many — especially for the people who support the president — to see him coming out tough and casting himself as someone with a set of principles. And it was a political imperative, too. His image as a strong leader was faltering, and he was starting to lose support within his own party. He can’t win in 2012 (or govern very effectively before the election) if he looks weak and if his own party is tepid about him. On Monday, he began to solve both problems.

And as Ezra Klein and Greg Sargent point out, Obama may get more done by starting from a position of strength — by stating flatly and clearly what he’s seeking — instead of beginning with concessions and then having to concede even more. In the recent past, he allowed Republicans to control the terms of the debate. This time, he’s trying to set them. That’s usually a better way to get something closer to what you actually want. The Republican cries about “class warfare” reflect their awareness that if Obama can get them into an argument over why they don’t want to raise taxes on the wealthy, the GOP starts out behind.

Obama will get grief in some quarters over two decisions for which I think he deserves credit. The first was his giving up, for now at least, on the idea of raising the age at which Americans are eligible for Medicare to 67 from 65. The original rationale was that Americans in the age category who could not get private coverage would pick it up through the Affordable Care Act and its subsidies.

Put aside that (1.) it’s very hard for anyone to get affordable health insurance coverage once they pass 55 or 60, and (2.) we shouldn’t be doing anything that risks increasing the number of uninsured. The fact is, we don’t even know yet if the Affordable Care Act will survive long enough to take effect in 2014. We don’t know what the courts will do. And we don’t know if the president will be reelected. A Republican president with a Republican Congress will certainly try to repeal the law.

If the new health system takes effect, and if it can be strengthened with time, it may well make sense to move the younger and more affluent among the elderly to the new plan. (And who knows? Someday we may have a comprehensive national insurance plan.) In the meantime, let’s keep people in that category covered by keeping them in Medicare. There will be plenty of time to revisit the issue of health-care costs. It’s an issue we’ll be revisiting for years, maybe decades, anyway.

Obama is also getting hit for using the end of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq to count up $1.1 trillion in savings. You can argue about how the math works, but I like the fact that this makes clear that there are big costs to continuing our interventions. It challenges those who say we should draw down our troops more slowly to come up with ways of paying for the wars. We should have passed a temporary war tax long ago. Obama is once again making clear that the days of putting wars on a credit card are over.

By: E. J. Dionne, Opinion Writer, The Washington Post, September 20, 2011

September 21, 2011 Posted by | Affordable Care Act, Congress, Conservatives, Deficits, Democrats, Economy, Elections, GOP, Government, Government Shut Down, Ideologues, Ideology, Income Gap, Medicare, Middle Class, Politics, President Obama, Republicans, Right Wing, Taxes, Teaparty, Voters, War, Wealthy | , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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