The Only Pledge That Matters

The president kicked some serious ass today during the debut of his “Buffet Tax” which implements an alternative minimum tax to ensure that millionaires and billionaires pay as of high a percentage in taxes as do their secretaries and janitors.

Middle-class families shouldn’t pay higher taxes than millionaires and billionaires. That’s pretty straightforward. It’s hard to argue against that. Warren Buffett’s secretary shouldn’t pay a higher tax rate than Warren Buffett. There is no justification for it.

It is wrong that in the United States of America, a teacher or a nurse or a construction worker who earns $50,000 should pay higher tax rates than somebody pulling in $50 million. Anybody who says we can’t change the tax code to correct that, anyone who has signed some pledge to protect every single tax loophole so long as they live, they should be called out. They should have to defend that unfairness — explain why somebody who’s making $50 million a year in the financial markets should be paying 15 percent on their taxes, when a teacher making $50,000 a year is paying more than that — paying a higher rate. They ought to have to answer for it. And if they’re pledged to keep that kind of unfairness in place, they should remember, the last time I checked the only pledge that really matters is the pledge we take to uphold the Constitution.

Now, we’re already hearing the usual defenders of these kinds of loopholes saying this is just “class warfare.” I reject the idea that asking a hedge fund manager to pay the same tax rate as a plumber or a teacher is class warfare. I think it’s just the right the thing to do. I believe the American middle class, who’ve been pressured relentlessly for decades, believe it’s time that they were fought for as hard as the lobbyists and some lawmakers have fought to protect special treatment for billionaires and big corporations. [...]

It comes down to this: We have to prioritize. Both parties agree that we need to reduce the deficit by the same amount — by $4 trillion. So what choices are we going to make to reach that goal? Either we ask the wealthiest Americans to pay their fair share in taxes, or we’re going to have to ask seniors to pay more for Medicare. We can’t afford to do both.

Either we gut education and medical research, or we’ve got to reform the tax code so that the most profitable corporations have to give up tax loopholes that other companies don’t get. We can’t afford to do both.

The entire speech is easily quotable, but I quoted this portion because it directly calls out the Republicans and their sacred pledge, written in the blood of Medicare recipients and the sweat of the poor, to Grover Norquist.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Rick-Janes/607039439 Rick Janes

    I know it won’t happen, but I wish he’d call out every one of those GOP Congresscreatures that signed Norquist’s pledge — if they follow any pledge that contradicts the best interests of the nation, they are violating their oath of office and are fundamentally guilty of treason.

    • D_C_Wilson

      He’d have to list nearly every republican member of Congress by name.

  • TimEldred

    I would have loved to hear this speech the day after his inauguration, but I’ll take it today, gladly. And isn’t there a clause in the congressional oath that declares all other pledges null and void in favor of the Constitution? As in, “no other pledge or oath shall take precedent”? That would be fun to know.

  • http://twitter.com/SugaRazor Razor

    The Dems need to turn this “class warfare” nonsense around and say it is the GOP that has declared class warfare on the middle class. Of course, it’s a bit like saying “I know you are, but what am I?” but at least in this case, it would be true.

    • D_C_Wilson

      The GOP is fighting against raising taxes on the wealthy while talking about raising taxes on the middle class. Anyone who can’t see that the GOP is waging war on the middle class needs to get their eyes checked.

  • POLITICALPARTYPOOPER

    JM,

    I agree wholeheartedly with the President’s speech. I believe in everything he said.

    Unfortunately, I don’t think he does.

    He and his team have to know that the Republicans will never compromise on their “pledge”, which, yes, is treasonous from a certain perspective. Which begs the question, “why bother walking to the edge with this at all?” He knows he won’t get this tax increase passed. He knows he won’t even get the many loopholes that those of us in the financial sector enjoy closed. Congress is run by Republicans.

    So, what’s the point?

    Maybe it’s time you see this President as I have finally seen him; as nothing more than a political hack looking to score political points off of the misery of America.

    Yes, that’s a strong accusation, and while it’s pretty common from me against Republicans and Democrats alike, I’ve never said it of President Obama.

    The time to put his foot down was when Republicans had the Super-Minority in both houses. The time to raise taxes and close loopholes was two years ago, when it was the RIGHT thing to do, not just the politically expedient thing to do.

    There was always an excuse. The filibuster. The depression. Wall Street and the DJIA. Banks too big to fail. “You can’t raise taxes during a recession”.

    President Obama’s own words.

    So now, we’re supposed to take him seriously when the entire planet earth, you included, knows he doesn’t have a snowball’s chance in a Mississippi summer of passing it.

    Tell me; when does America get a group of leaders? When do the people who pay the taxes and work their asses off just looking for a job, any job, get more than “this is the best we can get”? When do we get more policy and less politics? Hell; when we do get ANY policy?

    This speech was just another windup to his campaign. He’s rope-a-doping Republicans into a corner he hopes they can’t get out of politically. But he doesn’t have any illusions about his, or anyone else’s, ability to get this thing passed.

    So what does that make this speech?

    Just another in a long line of bullshit political games our leaders are playing with our future. The prize isn’t a healthy economy, or job growth, or even deficit reduction. All that crap is just fodder for the media.

    The real prize is power. If policy were the goal, having a super majority in both houses would have seen this particular bit of “policy” passed a long time ago.

    JM, you’re a fervent patriot. I enjoy our banter. But this isn’t a game. At least, not to me, it isn’t. I have no team to root for except America.

    I wish our leaders in Washington rooted for that same team.

    Tell me, why should any American pay attention to anything any “leader” has to say? What have our leaders wrought? Why should any American obey any law passed by any Republican or Democrat? Why should any American any more give any authority to Washington when Washington is OWNED wholly by Special Interests?

    You see where I am going with this, JM. It’s down the only path we can go from here, if things don’t change in a hurry. Americans across the nation are losing, or have lost respect altogether for the so-called leaders in Washington.

    And, the saddest thing is, both Republicans and Democrats think we’re still listening to them.

    Check the poles, morons (Repubs and Dems…in case anyone here might take that personally). America left the Two parties a long time ago. It’s only a matter of time until the obvious in spirit becomes a physical reality.

    • JMAshby

      The Pelosi House passed all of that and more. It all died in the senate under Republican filibuster and Bluedog obstruction. The only real super majority Democrats enjoyed was in the House, which as I pointed out, got a lot of shit done. They did NOT have a super majority in the Senate. Pretending they did bankrupts your entire argument.

      I’m never going to agree with your “both sides” nonsense because the simple fact is both sides are not the same. Declaring both sides to be the same just seems to me like an easy way out of having to stand for something.

      There certainly was campaigning going on in this speech, and thats fine. We need him in the whitehouse. Not Tea Party Candidate X or Y, which is exactly what we would get if everyone listened to you.

      If you honestly believe a Tea Party presidency would be the same as what we have now, you’re delusional.

      • MrDHalen

        Thank you!

      • mrbrink

        Bravo, Ashby.

      • KanaW

        Mahalo, Ashby!

        I’m so tired of the ‘both sides’ canard, but even sending those who espouse that philosophy to the sites listing the successes of this administration seems to be useless.

        Yes, I’d like more to have been done, and to be done in the future, but until we as voters get off our duffs and put enough progressives into Congress to back up the President (and I’m talking super-majorities, since that is what seems to be required nowadays), then there will be no way enough can ever be done to satisfy all.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Brett-Freeman/1373491576 Brett Freeman

        Why do nihilists take hundreds of words to say, “We’re all fucked?” And why do they bother?

      • POLITICALPARTYPOOPER

        “If you honestly believe a Tea Party presidency would be the same as what we have now, you’re delusional. ”

        Who said anything about voting for a Tea Party Candidate? If delusional is your theme, show me where I said a Tea party candidate is better, and maybe you’ll prove you’re not seeing things or making things up.

        “I’m never going to agree with your “both sides” nonsense because the simple fact is both sides are not the same. Declaring both sides to be the same just seems to me like an easy way out of having to stand for something.”

        Never said both sides were the same. Have repeatedly said the RESULTS are, and that’s the only thing that matters, JM.

        One example: For all of your Party’s rhetoric on combating poverty…especially for minorities, what have your results been? Minorities are in far worse shape today economically than they were in 1980. Talking about how things ought to be isn’t the same as actually accomplishing them. Kudos to Democrats for wishing, but wishes aren’t accomplishments.

        “They did NOT have a super majority in the Senate. Pretending they did bankrupts your entire argument.”

        Or your argument is bankrupted because the above is just another excuse for failure. Goodness, JM, do Democrats ever do anything wrong in your universe?

        As far as filibusters go, you can’t really call them filibusters, because Democrats never attempted to make opposition actually , you know…filibuster.

        As for what I stand for, I’ve listed it here too many times to count. There is definitely one way in which you and Repubs are EXACTLY alike: it is in the fact that you both believe anyone who is an Independent stands for nothing. Tell me, JM, how shallow can you get?

        POLICY, JM. That’s what America wants. What we get is politics. That’s what Dems and Repubs are good at. You stir the pot, you say a whole lot of “we ought to”, and then you accomplish nothing of substance without making sure your donors (special interests) are catered to (read health care reform bill…Wall Street Reform bill, etc, etc, etc).

        President Obama’s first words of his acceptance speech. “Change has come to America”. Before he was even inaugurated, he was claiming accomplishment.

        His first actual order? He closed Gitmo Detention Center.

        It’s September 20, 2011. Gitmo DC is still open.

        JM, you’re a smart guy. Tell me you SEE the pattern.

        Dems got voted out in the House not because of the economy, but because, once again, they were way wrong on what America really wanted and needed, and because they GUESSED wrong, failed to accomplish any of it. When are you going to stop believing we’ll like what you’re force feeding us if only we’ll give it a taste

  • Zen Diesel

    I wanted to stand up and give him a standing ovation, he hit back hard on the Republican talking points, and I hope that the sheep who are still blinded by wing nut propaganda wake up and realize that they need to support this president.

  • Camel54

    I’m thrilled he mentioned their ridiculous pledge. I agree they should be lambasted constantly for having signed it. Why does no one in the press ask them if it’s fair to sign a pledge from an unelected partisan that can’t possibly represent everyone in their individual districts? Why does no one in the press ask them why they are okay with raising taxes on the middle class but not the wealthy when their pledge says no new taxes at all?

    I wish the President had taken this stance long ago because I believe he can make a difference by being the face of policies he’s pushing. Either way, I’m glad he’s doing it now, and I’m glad he’s going bold so when compromises are made to get something passed, we’ll still end up with useful legislation. I don’t mind the campaigning on the backs of policy speeches. It fires people up and we need to be fired up.