As pundits argue over President Obama's first two years in office (compromise or capitulation?) and House and Senate members prepare for a new distribution of political power, one issue more than any other offered a window into the American political landscape - the extension of the Bush era tax cut. Though the President eventually capitulated to Republican demands for a full extension, the debate surrounding the issue was lively - bringing out the good, the bad, and of course, the ugly.
Here at the Agenda Project we had a front row seat. We worked with more than 100 Patriotic Millionaires Against Tax Cuts for Millionaires to urge the President to stand firm against political forces and allow the expiration of the Bush tax cuts for the 375,000 (out of 308,745,538) Americans who make a million dollars a year or more. That's right - some of the most fortunate people in the country joined together to implore the President to raise their taxes for the good of the country. If successful, their effort would have cost them thousands if not hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.
Unfortunately, there are also a few Grinches. And they really like to email the Agenda Project.
One of the first letters we received offered this appraisal of the campaign:
To all you dumb millionaires,
I don't know how you dumb asses became millionaires but it certainly wasn't from your understanding of economics. You are not patriotic or for fiscal strength. You are ignorant. Until you understand economics you owe it to the rest of us to keep your yappers shut!
He signed it 'thanks' Paul Soyk Detroit, Michigan. A scant 5 minutes later, he sent another email, this one with some advice- 'if you feel guilty about your wealth see a psychiatrist.'
None of the Patriotic Millionaires struck us as particularly guilt ridden - more as realistic about the financial situation our country faces and entirely cognizant of the fact that our country has one of the largest wealth inequalities of all the developed countries in the world, that in the last 30 years, the top 1% of Americans have seen their wealth increase by 281% while almost everyone else's has stayed flat or gone down.
One would think Paul S might have used some of his free time to brush up on economics - perhaps while he was serving 5 months in prison for income tax evasion.
Other people didn't think the millionaires were dumbasses. One memorable email said this: You people are actually greedy, selfish bastards... We at the Agenda Project found that sentiment a little confusing. So asking the government to raise your taxes 4% in order to help your country is "selfish" - huh? We just don't see it. But hey, what do we know.
Not much according to Steve C:
I attribute this all to ignorance. If these people understood that the people who did this kind of crap during the Bolshevik revolution were not treated special, most of them were stripped of their possessions and either jailed or murdered.
Well Steve, we never claimed to be Russian history experts, but we were paying attention in 10th grade social studies. You on the other hand need to check your facts.
A few of the emails were just downright confusing. Mr. SparkleDog73 said, You who openly worship death can also have hope if you choose it.
Wall Streeters who were once boy-crush mooney about candidate Obama seemed particularly aggrieved. First they had to deal with the (very minor and likely ineffective) Wall Street reform bill and now this?!
I'm not happy with all the entitlement programs out there and not happy that anyone who has money is made to feel that they're bad.
One described running like a scorned teenage girl into the arms of smooth talking Republicans.
My journey to conservatism started with my being a Clintonian Democrat and a big supporter of not just my classmate Barack Hussein Obama but many for many years........ perhaps I am thin skinned but I got sick and tired of my life's work being simplified and criticized. Among my new Republican friends I am treated much better as you can imagine.
The writer above sent along a copy of the $25,000 check he sent to the Republican Senate Campaign Committee and the thank you note he received for aforementioned contribution from Mitch McConnell (who voted against Wall Street reform).
But the Baby Bundler Boy Crushers from Wall Street are the least of the President's problems. He may want to pay special attention to that group of major funders who have stood with Democrats through thick and thin (rather than just as long as their boy crushes last). Here's what some of them had to say:
I am distressed that this President is badly advised and does not lead. He should change his whole approach to reflect a realization of the fact that if he doesn't he will lose the Office and we all will lose even more than Obama. . . . It's not likely that we ever believe anything Barack Obama says again . . . President Obama, for whom I campaigned ardently, sadly is a big disappointment.
A few were more direct:
You may use my new slogan: "Anybody but Obama in 2012"
How about a letter, announcement of "Millionaires planning to spend their Obama tax savings on funding a primary challenger to Obama for the 2012 Pres election"
Some of these emails were troubling and a few bordered on stalker-creepy, but the ones we liked the best were downright moving.
Some wrote in about wanting to do their part -
I have never even made close to a mil bucks but I work hard and I am willing to pay more taxes to get our country in the right direction.
Others shared personal stories of facing hard times and finding inspiration in the petition.
Maybe now, I can open my eyes each morning with the hope and strength you have given me and the country......It is also wonderful... there are people who can be generous and courageous.
Most wrote in with a simple "Thank you"
Your website and its purpose gives us some hope.... that people across all economic layers can work together for some common good.
God Bless you richly!
What a joy it is to see wealthy people who care.
We agree! It was a real joy to see wealthy people who care.
No Santa Claus! Thank God, he lives, and he lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.
And we would add that whether it's Santa or Patriotic Millionaires or just plain regular people, with a little more of the wonderful part of what we saw during this campaign, we will turn our country around.
Thanks to everyone who helped along the way. And Merry Christmas to you and yours!