Every year at about this time, I break out my DVD of the 1936 anti-drug propaganda flick Reefer Madness. No it's not exactly the scariest movie one might choose when getting into the Halloween spirit, but few things are funnier than watching a film made more than 70 years ago as it attempts to frighten the bejesus out of anyone who might be tempted to try marijuana.
I bet you didn't know, for example, that manslaughter, attempted rape, and suicide are among the likely outcomes should you break down and smoke a joint -- at least that's what happens in this picture.
The knee jerk fear of pot the film attempts to plant with its audience isn't that much different than the fear and trepidation Republicans attempt to sew among the American people when it comes to taxes.
Both rely heavily on gimmicks, propaganda, and misinformation to brainwash their intended targets -- you.
Much has been said of flavor-of-the-month Republican presidential front-runner Herman Cain's "999 plan" which would create a 9 percent federal sales tax (that's in addition to your local and state sales tax) and raise federal income taxes on the poor to 9 percent while lowering the same taxes on millionaires and billionaires to the same percentage.
Questioned about the impact his new federal sales tax would have on such basic needs as food and clothing, Cain said the poor and working families could eat "used" food to save dough -- basically telling the 99 percent, "Let them eat poop!" Talk about all "trick" and no "treat."
Perhaps sensing that his presidential aspirations were slipping through his fingers because of Cain's tax-plan-inspired rise in Republican polls, Governor Rick Perry announced his own gimmicky, unworkable "flat tax" proposal this week.
If the Perry plan looks familiar to those who follow such things, it is with good reason. It was drafted with the help of Steve Forbes who recently endorsed the Texas Governor and previously spent nearly $70 million -- money left to him by his deceased and closeted gay father -- pushing an anti-gay, anti-choice platform for president in 2000, which was capped off with a proposed flat tax.
If Forbes went trick-or-treating at the infamous Perry hunting lodge, he could by $1.9 billion of his favorite candy with the money he'd save under the very same plan he helped the Texas Governor write.
The Republican anti-tax fervor is stoked by a ginger-haired, taxphobic demon by the name of Grover Norquist. His Americans for Tax Reform pledge -- a promise to never raise taxes under any circumstances, ever (even during times of war) -- has been signed by nearly every GOP presidential candidate, scores of Republican local elected officials, and more than 300 members of the House and Senate.
The Norquist pledge has crippled the ability of Congressional Republicans to honestly come to the negotiating table and work with Democrats to create jobs and solve our national debt time bomb. They respect their pledge to Norquist's special interest group more than their oath to our Constitution, which is precisely the reason he's been nicknamed "Gridlock Grover" by the Constitutional Accountability Center.
When Republicans do come to the negotiating table, their proposals are equally maddening.
This week, in an act of faux-compromise, Speaker John Boehner decided to press a vote on President Obama's jobs legislation. Not the entire bill mind you, just one piece that was included to engender support from Republicans. In other words, the Speaker offered to compromise with House Democrats by allowing a vote only on a provision Republicans already support.
What measure did they want to push through in an effort to solve our jobs problem? I'm glad you asked because the answer is as disturbing as it is mind boggling, especially when it comes to job creation.
To make sure government contractors pay all of their taxes, we currently withhold three percent of the money paid on contractor projects. It is a practice started during the Bush Administration that was designed to deter tax cheats and it has saved us billions of dollars.
That is what Republicans want to end. I'm not exactly sure what jobs would be created by making life easier on tax cheats. It's hardly likely that the GOP was looking to bolster the hiring of tax attorneys at the IRS.
What could make Republicans -- from local elected officials to candidates for Presidents and every level of government in between -- propose such tax madness?
I'm guessing it's something they're smoking.
Karl Frisch is a syndicated columnist and Democratic strategist at Bullfight Strategies in Washington, D.C. He can be reached at KarlFrisch.com. You can also follow him on Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus and YouTube, or sign up to receive his columns and updates by email.
Distributed by the Cagle Cartoons Inc. syndicate. For information on carrying Karl's columns, click here.
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