I am not one who likes to protect those who want a handout. I don't think that a single dime of taxpayer dollars should be given to anyone without the proper measures put in place to ensure the accountability of how those dollars will be used by the recipient in a responsible manner. I believe this standard should be applied to everyone who receives government support in this country -- no matter their level of income or class level. If you want Government help, you must also deal with the stringent terms and conditions that come along with it.
This is why it has been such a disappointment to see those who call themselves fiscal conservatives fight so hard to strip away financial support for those who need it most only to put the entire economy in jeopardy to protect the corporate welfare (handouts) for the rich. They choose to go to battle on behalf of the oil companies, hedge fund managers, millionaires, and corporate jet owners while they tell the least of those in this country to "pull yourself up from your own boot straps" while many of them can't even afford boots.
Let's look at the oil companies who the GOP believes can't afford to live without the billions of dollars of tax credits and loopholes they receive every year. In 2010 ExxonMobil earned $30.5 billion (an increase of $11 billion from 2009), Chevron earned $19 billion (up $8.5 billion from 2009), and ConocoPhillips earned $8.8 billion (up almost $4 billion from 2009). These numbers are billion with a "B"! While the rest of the country were not even traveling for vacation, arranging car pools just to get to work, and many men who I personally know in Detroit weren't even asking women on dates because they couldn't afford the price of the gas needed to put in the car ... these companies were enjoying record profits! These are the entities that need their welfare protected? These are the people who the GOP believes represent the fabric of America and to reverse the loopholes that save billions will hurt the economy because it eats into their record profits?! (Closing these loopholes could generate $40-$50 billion in revenue for the country.)
Let's look at the hedge fund managers. John Paulson, hedge fund giant, earned $158 per second in 2010 to a personal profit of $5 billion which beat out the $4 billion that he earned by betting against the subprime market. Yes that is correct -- while the rest of America was suffering from the collapse of the entire economy caused largely because of the subprime mortgage industry, John Paulson earned $4 billion from it. All in all the top 25 hedge fund managers earned a collective $25.3 billion in 2009! Now I don't begrudge them from making money. I would have loved to be on the receiving end of a $4 or $5 billion trade! Give me the opportunity and I would never turn down that chance. However, the GOP is fighting for these guys to keep their tax loophole of only being taxed at 15% as opposed to paying ordinary income taxes just like every other person in this country. Why should they get the opportunity to pay less taxes on their income than you and I have to pay? (Closing this loophole could generate $4 billion in revenue for the country.)
Let's look at the tax cuts for millionaires. First of all ... there has never been a president in history of this country that has ever given a tax cut during a time of war. George Bush broke this record when he gave the rich people tax cuts that were not asked for by the rich, were not paid for by this country, and are bankrupting this country. Citizens for Tax Justice estimates the total cost of these bankrupting tax cuts that transpired under George Bush from 2001 through 2003 to be $2.5 trillion through 2010 and rising! Over half of all of these benefits went to the RICHEST 5% of taxpayers for a total cost that was more than twice the amount of the health care legislation passed by President Obama to help keep people alive! If you ever had to put price tag on a life it is obviously much less than $2.5 trillion in the eyes of the GOP because they obviously value those tax cuts much more than your life and mine.
Now finally ... a loophole that won't make much money but does point out to the absurdity of the debate. As a part of legislation signed in 2010 called the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization and Job Creation Act of 2010 ... the right fought hard for a loophole to be inserted in the legislation that allowed the cost of corporate jets to be depreciated 100% during the year that it is purchased as opposed over 5 years. The net result for corporations is a 40% reduction in cost of corporate jets. I do many workshops in public housing and I have never, nor will I ever, meet someone that lives in public housing that will benefit from this loophole. Please notice the name of the legislation! In order for the president to sign into law tax relief for the middle class, give those who are unemployed additional support, and to help fund programs to create JOBS for Americans, those on the right made the point to fight for those who were purchasing corporate jets! The president was fighting for the middle class, the unemployed, and for jobs -- the right was fighting for the right for the rich to get a discount on their purchase of a corporate jet!
Currently we are in a national debate that involves everyone. This is a debate to ensure the US can continue to have a perfect record or never defaulting on our debt, which could result in our debt rating to be slashed, which would throw the stock/bond market into a downward spiral, and would kill this economy. There was a clear line in the sand that once again showed who was actually on the side of the American people and who was on the side of only the rich. The President offered the largest deficit reducing agreement in the history of this country that would cut $4 trillion from the national debt. $3 trillion of that $4 trillion was for spending cuts which most in his own party felt should never have been on the table. The other $1 trillion were for tax reform which didn't raise taxes, but effectively eliminated loopholes like the ones discussed above. No taxes would be raised in 2010, 2011, or 2012 as a part of this monster deal. Did the GOP agree to these terms ... what do you think?
The GOP has consistently talked about their love for America ... but their actions have shown they have no love for Americans! As Paul Ryan sits down for lunch drinking $350 bottles of wine with some of the most prominent hedge fund managers making billions of dollars per year, I wonder what they talk about. Do they talk about that teacher who is living check to check, driving a Ford Focus that she must share with her husband, as they try to raise a family of four in a small one bedroom apartment? Do they talk about the fireman who has to take another job on his days off or struggle hard to start his own business because he fears after 20 years of laying his life on the line the pension cuts will leave him with a retirement that won't cover his already meager living expenses? Do they talk about the 52 year old working class woman who is suffering from breast cancer and lives her life in fear of the Paul Ryan version of Medicare passing because she knows she will never be able to afford her treatments? Do they talk about the young man who has to go to school in classroom sizes of 50 students because the budget cuts in his city caused his school across town, near his home to be closed? I don't think so. I would wager they talk about that d@mn loophole that will allow the hedge fund manager to continue to be taxed at 15% and that means his continued support of his friends to Paul Ryan's campaign.
America, it is time to wake up and understand which side you are voting for. I know the president might not go as far as many would like him to go in defense of the working class and the impoverished ... but he is light years away from what you have read above. Shame on you GOP, shame on you!