2010-12-31 / Columnists

Commentary On Things Present

Weiner Traded To Upper West Side For Pol To Be Named Later
By Peter Stubben

Even the great Derek Jeter – Mr. Yankee Baseball – sits after he swings and misses thrice. Rockaway’s US Congressman though, The Honorable Anthony Weiner, has taken three mighty swings, missed all, and refuses to sit. In fact, like the petulant kid in Waldbaum’s, the more he’s denied, the louder he gets.

On electronic intel against overseas terrorists, he voted no and the bill passed. On Health Care legislation, he pushed his own President and fellow Democratic caucus to the extreme limit with his ‘Government Option’ by orchestrating a huge national media campaign against the President with MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, and he missed disastrously ... much to the benefit of the nation. The bill that did pass – unconstitutional, though it was – would have been far, far worse had the Weiner-left succeeded.

Rockaway’s Rep now loudly and wildly chastises his President, this time on the Great Tax Compromise of 2010. Despite the national mid-term elections that showed great discontent across the nation, Weiner resists compromising with Republicans – ever!!! – irrespective of benefits to the nation. I’m surprised the good Congressman didn’t attach an LGBT rider to the recent Military Bill to include trans-genders ... hey, he might postulate, we have men and women in the military, why not BOTH! Whoever diminishes the importance and consequence of tax policy completely misunderstands American history. In 1765, Sam and John Adams’ friend James Otis said, ‘Taxation Without Representation is Tyranny,’ and it has stuck with us ever since.

Today, though, we have progressed to the upended position of ‘Representation Without Taxation’ ... and that, too, is tyranny! Only 50 percent of Americans, in round numbers, now pay federal income tax. In other words, half the nation is pullin’ the cart, and the other half is sittin’ in the cart. Two reasons this condition is so dangerous are, in my view anyway, corruption and extraordinary federal beneficence. When something is free, people have a natural tendency to say ‘yeah sure, why not?’ and ‘who cares?’ Non-taxpayers will naturally say we need more free money, more free benefits, more entitlements ... who’s gonna say no to FREE. Likewise, their legislative and congressional reps will do likewise.

Unfortunately, the more balanced view of ‘what’s needed? ... how much will it cost? ... can we afford it?’ is heard less and less often as fewer and fewer pay tax. Likewise, someone may say, ‘hey, look at all the corruption and waste and thievery in the building of our schools, or in the improving of our roadways, or in the governance by our legislators’ but the community might just respond, ‘hey, who cares, we’re not paying!’

The danger lies not when 10 percent of the population and the consequent 10 percent of US legislators say ‘who cares’ and ‘so what’; but when 50 percent of the population and 50 percent of our legislators say ‘who cares’ and ‘so what.’ Forgive my simplified examples, and forgive my simplified solution ... The Flat Tax.

All income, including and especially corporate income, should be taxed at say 20 percent. Eliminate, I say, those too-bright corporate tax attorneys who brilliantly circumnavigate the tax code. Google, for instance, a spectacular US corporation, paid 2.8 percent of their ‘09 income in US tax - no, not 28 percent, but 2.8 percent. They utilized two IRS vehicles affectionately termed the ‘double Irish’ and the ‘Dutch sandwich.’ On Wall Street, too, IRS can be very generous. Hedge Fund managers pay a 15 percent tax on their income under the ‘capital gains’ provision. Average Joes with comparable incomes pay 32 percent-35 percent-37 percent, but the whales pay 15 percent ... can you beat that?

The Flat Tax – and I know how much the progressives hate this – flattens the burden upon all income-earning Americans.

Everybody would then ask, ‘hey, how much is this gonna cost me?’

The tax issue will be hotly discussed and debated next year, as it has been this year. Unfortunately, Congressman Weiner will continue to swing and miss wildly because he can’t see the ball ... as he either misunderstands or misinterprets American history and misplaces his faith. He does not recognize what built America, and he places his faith in Government, not The People. Had shortstop Anthony Weiner swung so wildly and missed so much under George Steinbrenner, he’d be long gone and forgotten.

My two great 2011 wishes – the 235th Year of A Free America – are that our nation’s tax base be broadened and lowered, and that Congressman Anthony Weiner be traded, tempered, sequestered or recalled.

Happy New Year and May Two Of Your Great Wishes Come True, Too!

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As usual, Peter Stubben’s

As usual, Peter Stubben’s “Commentary on Things Present” shows as much contempt for basic economic theory as it does for the rules of standard written English. The flat tax is just another Republican scheme designed to redistribute wealth to the wealthy, bilk the poor out of their meager earnings, and destroy the system of progressive taxation begun under Theodore Roosevelt. Mr. Stubben trumpets the fact that half this nation’s citizens don’t pay for government services. However, he neglects to mention that fifty-percent of American families make less than $60,000 a year, that the gap between the rich and the poor is the widest it has been since the Gilded Age, and that our entitlements cost far less than what the privileged princes of the economic order extracted from the latest tax deal and what we have wasted on the elective war in Iraq. The answer to our revenue woes lies not in the flat tax, but in a crackdown that compels corporations to pay the piper and simplifies IRS rules so that everyone can understand them. That being said, Anthony Weiner and other brave liberals fought the good fight against President Obama’s cave-in to the conservatives on taxes and recognized it for what it is: a national disgrace and a total, unmitigated disaster. They are the conscience of the Congress and over the past two years they have struggled for and won near-universal health care (which is constitutional under the Commerce Clause and should have included a public option), a comprehensive overhaul of the financial system, a repeal of the horribly bigoted “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, and aid for 9/11 first-responders. This was all accomplished with minimal help from Republicans, who have filibustered every piece of major legislation and put the politics of party line before the needs of the nation. I know what Mr. Stubben wants in 2011: for the resurgent conservatives to bully progressives like Weiner into submission. What I hope is that leaders like our Representative hold fast to their principled stands on the issues in the face of a newly empowered right. I hope that our President screws his courage to the sticking place and learns how to punch.

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