Fat Cat Manifesto

Dorian Dale examines the success of Grover Norquist’s No Tax Pledge and argues that the benefits should extend to everyone. Why waste perfectly good tax cuts and loopholes just on the rich?

In the wake of the Big, Bad Debt Deal, Grover “No Tax” Norquist declared victory.  We should all concede.  If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.  Every Man & Woman a Fat Cat!  Warren Buffet keeps griping that his secretary shouldn’t be paying taxes at a rate 67% higher than he and his fellow billionaires. So level the playing field.  The Fat Cat Manifesto proposes to extend billionaire/ corporate breaks, subsidies, loopholes and deductions to everyone:

ESSENTIAL POINTS OF THE FAT CAT MANIFESTO:

  1. Any wage earner will avail themselves of the same 15% capital gains rate heretofore available only to hedge fund managers the likes of Bain Capital’s Mitt Romney.
  2. Cars, ATVs, jet skis, bicycles etc. will be depreciated at the same rate as corporate jets.
  3. Backyard gardens will be subsidized at levels comparable to “genteel farmers” like Dave Letterman and the Waltons of Wal-Mart.  The cost of looking for vehicular and housing fuel will also be subsidized.
  4. Joe & Jo Q Citizen will get to incorporate and catch all the breaks of corporations. This follows the logic of the Citizens United v FCC ruling delivered by the activist majority on the Supreme Court in 2010 declaring that corporations are just like citizens and will have unrestricted First Amendment rights to lavish unlimited amounts of money electing their quislings.

Who is this Grover Norquist, Patron Ain’t of taxation misrepresentation?  First, know that he is a Harvard grad, not the effete, elitist type of Harvard grad like Obama and the Winklevoss twins, but the regular-guy type like George Bush and Bill O’Reilly. After his Americans for Tax Reform pitched in to help Reagan chop the top tax rate from 50% to 28% in 1986, Grover declared he was out to “reduce government down to the size where it’s small enough to drown in a bathtub.”  Drowning the Federal government in the tsunami of debt that swept over America in the first decade of the new millennium is not exactly the same principle, but the result is the same. 

To date, Grover has gotten 336 congressmen, 41 senators, 13 governors and 1,247 state legislatures to sign his Taxpayer Protection Pledge otherwise known as the “No Tax” pledge.  Stephen Colbert pressed Grover on whether there were any circumstances under which he would accept a tax increase:

“Terrorists have kidnapped all of our grandmothers and they’ve got them in a subterranean burrow and all of them have been slathered with honey and they’re going to release fire ants into this burrow that will bite them to death.  Their only demand is that we increase the marginal tax rate for the top 2% and they will release them.  Do we increase the tax rate or do we let our grandmothers die from ant bites?”

“I think we console our self with the fact that we have pictures,” quipped Grover

Momentarily jaw-drop speechless, Colbert blurts “That’s the right answer!”

A few years back, Grover served up a bigger whopper of a jaw-dropper to NPR’s Terry Gross.  At the time, Grover was representing for another one of his noble causes – elimination of the estate tax which he had renamed the Death Tax while successfully convincing many average folks that it applied to far more than the top 1%.  Never one to shy away from over-the-top metaphors, Grover was claiming that arguments for higher taxes on rich people echo the ones Nazis used to single out Jews for gas chambers.

“I mean, that’s the morality of the Holocaust,” said Grover.  “‘Well, it’s only a small percentage,’ you know. ‘I mean, it’s not you, it’s somebody else.’” 

It took Terry Gross twenty-six seconds to lift her jaw off her microphone and say, “Excuse me. Excuse me one second. Did you just …”

Norquist: “Yeah?”

Gross: “…compare the estate tax with the Holocaust?”

I ran into Grover’s dad at a fraternal gathering in Langley soon after Gross’ interview and suggested his son might want to reign in the Holocaust Tax metaphor, particularly when he is talking to a Jewish host.  Unbeknownst to me, at that point, was that papa Norquist was the one who had given little Grover his first taste of anti-tax fervor.  Copping bites from his son’s ice cream cone, he labeled each bite “sales tax” or “income tax.”  But was the ice cream loaded with loopholes and subsidies trickled on top?

America has come full spiral since Louisiana’s Huey ‘Kingfish’ Long delivered his ‘Every Man a King’ speech during the Great Depression proposing to ‘Share Our Wealth’ (SOW): “It is not the difficulty of the problem we have; it is the fact the rich people of this country – and by rich people I mean the super-rich – will not allow us to solve the problems.”  Within a year, 7.5 million Americans had joined ‘Share Our Wealth’ clubs. A year later the Kingfish was assassinated.

Today Grover Norquist & Co has convinced the descendants of SOWers that the acronym stands for Spare Our Wealthy.  Super-rich job-creators are the solution, not the problem.  Their cause is everyone’s because we all aspire to be wealthy.  Who Wants to Be a Millionaire then Pay Taxes?  Soon the average Jersey Shore Fat Cat wannabes who get hit with 50% higher tolls to drive over the bridges into Manhattan to maybe glimpse Donald Trump gnawing his way through  rib eye at the ‘21’ Club will be able to deduct those tolls from their taxes.  Got that Grover?

Osama Been Long-Forgotten

Novelist Brad Meltzer’s latest thriller, Inner Circle, casts a light upon a tradition that has been somewhat of a mystery until now. The ceremonial passing of the torch from the outgoing president of the United States to the newly elected president has in recent years included a private letter left on the desk in the Oval Office, beginning with Ronald Reagan to George H.W. Bush; it is presumably the first thing the new president sees when taking office. The note to President Obama from President George W. Bush was concealed in a plain envelope with a Post-It note that simply read “44.” Pretty cool.

The premise behind Inner Circle is pretty cool as well. Meltzer became fascinated by a secret spy ring established by George Washington that served the president directly and apparently endured for several administrations. He imagined the continuance of this clandestine group and how knowledge of it would pass from POTUS to POTUS in the secret letter, hidden in plain sight.

The actual content of these letters remained private until President George H.W. Bush revealed to Meltzer what he had written to his successor, President Bill Clinton. The letter is cordial and benign, and ends with “I’m rooting for you,” which is more formal than one of the sentences in Reagan’s letter that reportedly read, “Don’t let the turkeys get you down.” In an interview with NPR’s Steve Inskeep, Meltzer said it was a reminder that, while the position itself is powerful and extraordinary, “they are still human people doing very human things.”

Like I said, the whole thing is pretty cool. But I have a different theory about what’s in the letter to Obama. My guess is it reads something like this:

Barack,

No time for pleasantries so I’ll get to it. Bin Laden’s in the basement. When the shit hits the fan, take him to the desert in Nevada, make a grainy tape of him calling us infidels— make sure he mentions something topical—then give him a shave and let him hit the tables in Vegas for a couple of days. Let him win big and take 72 “virgins” (i.e. hookers) to a suite at the Bellagio. Give tax breaks to the wealthy, subsidize oil companies, and keep the Central Bank (Goldman Sachs) on your side.

Sincerely,

Dick Cheney. 43rd President of these United States.

P.S. – Hang on. George wants to write something.

Oh-BAMAlamadingdong! President! Not bad for a black fella from Kenya! My advice? Give everyone a funny nickname. Oh, and Area 51’s got neat shit there. Have Biden give you a tour! Make war not love! (Got that on a bumper sticker on my new truck!)

Dubya  (That’s “W” phonetically. Or FUNetically as I like to say because the English language is fun!) Fox News rocks!

The point I’m making here is that I no longer believe in hobgoblins and bogeymen. Let me be clear. I do not think 9/11 was an “inside job” as many conspiracy theorists love to claim. The very real and tragic destruction on that fateful day was at the hands of well-financed and highly organized terrorists claiming allegiance to Osama Bin Laden. They were not, however, aided in any way by Saddam Hussein’s oil-rich administration in Iraq. Nor was there any credible threat of WMDs. And yet we waged an eight-year battle in Iraq to wrest control of their oil fields and infrastructure only to hand the Iraqis back a political and economic system in disrepair. All the while hanging fear in the human form of Bin Laden around our necks.

The real story is we had this guy beat on 9/12, and I’m betting we had his head on a platter on 9/13 because this is America and we rock. Our initial strategy in Afghanistan was enough to disrupt their terrorist network and drive the bastards to the hills. Our subsequent actions in Iraq and mishandling of the prolonged war in Afghanistan created a credibility gap in our foreign policy that made us look like imperialists instead of liberators.

This gap haunts us today as the protests in the Middle East and Northern Africa stun the world. The moment Libyan dictator Colonel Moammar Gadhafi ordered air strikes on protestors in Tripoli the United States could have, should have, convened the U.N. Security Council (impotent without our involvement) and led the charge to take over Libya and imprison Gadhafi. This is genocide and we have the power to stop it.

But our trillion-dollar blood-for-oil campaign over the past decade has made America war-weary, debt-ridden and lacking international credibility. And if tomorrow POTUS 44 decides that defending innocent Libyans is the right and righteous thing to do, the world will point to rising oil prices as the reason we went in, not humanitarianism. They will also be able to point to our silence with respect to genocide, most recently in Sudan and several other countries in past decades.

Oil has damned us if we do and damned us if we don’t. The Iraq War will forever expose the Bush administration as a fraud even if Osama Bin Laden magically appears on CNN hogtied to a bayonet and carried through the streets of lower Manhattan. Of course, no one is holding their breath for this to happen any time soon. Meltzer’s novel is fanciful and fun to contemplate but the real-life secrets locked in the White House are neither of those things. The 9/11 victims deserve better. As do the Sudanese, Afghanis, American soldiers, Libyans, Iraqis… Tragically, the list goes on.