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David Sirota

David Sirota

Posted: July 28, 2009 11:06 AM

Mitch Albom, "Compassionate" Chronicler of Sickness, Bashes Health Care Reform and Defends Richest 1%

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Mitch "Tuesdays with Morrie" Albom has made millions of dollars writing books about sick people and death. His writing tends to be a bit sappy and cliche for my taste, but I've always assumed that because his writing comes into contact with the most gut-wrenching parts of health care system, and because he portrays himself as a shining beacon of compassion and selflessness, that he is, in fact, a somewhat compassionate human being. Unfortunately, his new column in the Detroit Free Press (yes, in the newspaper of quite literally the most economically devastated city in the United States) proves me wrong -- and proves that Albom is a run-of-the-mill royalist and right-wing psychopath.

In this, arguably the most important week for health care reform in decades, Albom could have written about the need to expand health care coverage to as many people in his economically destroyed city as possible. He could have written about the human tragedy of a health care system that currently allows 22,000 of his fellow countrymen to die every year for lack of coverage. Instead, he opts to devote his entire column to bewailing the plight of the top 1 percent and attacking the tax proposal that would finance universal health care with a tiny levy on millionaires. I shit you not:

Those high income earners currently shell out around 35% in income taxes, the highest rate, plus state income taxes, local income taxes, property and other taxes that likely chew up between 45% and 50% of their money. If Obama's tax-related plans all go through, it could, for some, approach 60%...


Look. It would be one thing if we had a flat tax in the United States or if you could shelter your income or hide it offshore. But most wealth experts will tell you tax shelters for individuals are long gone, and offshore is a rapidly disappearing corporate trick.

For the most part, if you earn a lot of money in America today, you have to pay your taxes on it. Capital gains are taxed at a lower rate, but in most cases, before you have money to buy and sit on stocks, you have to earn it and therefore pay taxes on it.

So let's see -- The richest one percent earn the largest share of America's income since 1929 and pay the lowest taxes they've paid in 20 years. Meanwhile, two-thirds of corporations pay no taxes at all; the IRS says most of the more than $300 billion in unpaid taxes (ie. the "tax gap") is from individual tax evaders; there's a huge and well-known problem with offshore tax havens; and IRS audits of millionaires have plummeted so precipitously that President Bush repeatedly admitted in public that it's almost impossible to collect taxes from the super-wealthy because they can evade taxes. On top of this, tax, regulatory and corporate welfare policies are literally handing away trillions of taxpayer dollars to the richest 1 percent at a time that 22,000 Americans are dying every year because of a lack of health care.

And yet, Albom -- the guy who has made his pile by trumpeting his alleged compassion for the plight of the sick and dying -- is spending the most crucial week in the health care debate insisting that the superwealthy pay too much in taxes and never avoid paying what they owe. And more importantly, Albom spends this week insisting the major problem facing America is a "class warfare" that would ask a Goldman Sachs executive making $1 million a year to devote just 9-tenths of one percent more of his taxpayer-subsidized income to a universal health care program. And he's doing all this in the flagship paper of the city that has been most devastated by the economy.

Promoting oneself as a compassionate chronicler of end-of-life issues, and then penning right-wing diatribes defending the richest 1 one percent...these are the tell-tale signs of a truly disgusting human being.

UPDATE: Albom is not just a disgusting human, he's also a fool. You'll note he asserts that under the surtax proposal, "a family earning a million dollars a year" would" now have to "cough up $54,000 of that -- in addition to all the other taxes it pays -- to cover health care for people who may not pay a penny of new tax themselves." That's factually inaccurate as a two-second Google search shows. Because the 5.4% surtax applies only to income above $1 million (and not on the $1 million in total), someone making $1 million a year would pay just $9,000 a year more in taxes, not $54,000. Here's FAIR's dispatch nailing Albom for his idiocy.