What He Said

Robert ReichRobert Reich:
America’s long-term unemployed — an estimated 4 million or more — constitute the single newest and biggest social problem facing America.

Now their unemployment benefits are about to run out, and the lame-duck Congress may not have the votes to extend them. (You can forget about the next Congress.)

The long-term unemployed can’t get work because there are still five people needing work for every job opening. And the long-term jobless are often at the end of the job line: Either they don’t have the right skills or enough eduction, or have been out of work so long prospective employers are nervous about hiring them.

They’re also a big problem for the economy. Without enough money in their pockets, they and their families can’t pay their mortgages, which keeps fueling the mortgage crisis. Nor can they replace worn-out cars and clothing, or buy muchof anything else, which is a drag on the economy.

Republicans and many blue-dog Dems say we can’t afford another extension.

But these are many of the same people who say we should extend the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy for at least another two years.

Extending the Bush tax cuts for the top 1 percent would cost an estimated $120 billion over the next two years. That’s more than another unemployment benefit extension would cost.

The unemployed need the money. The rich don’t.
That's about half, and the most I would quote. Read the rest. The top 1 percent is a compromise with Democrats' original position to not cut taxes for the top 2 percent, about $250,000 of household income and up. The top 1 percent means about $400,000 of household income and up. I heard Chuck Schumer say no tax cut for one million dollars and up. Whatever compromise Democrats can make with themselves, it is imperative that they stick to their guns (they have some, right?) with the GOP and not cut taxes for the super elite. (Hey, that might be a messaging winner. Conservatives hate elites, right?) And to link the issue to the extension of unemployment benefits. (How about the "Roof Over Head and Food on the Table Act"? Pretty good, right?) This is such a political winner that only the Democratic Party could screw it up. I pray that they don't.

Nicholas Kristof hits the same notes: A Hedge Fund Republic?. But he actually doesn't address hedge fund managers. Their income is classified as capital gains and since Bush43's budget-busting tax cuts took effect, is taxed at 15% from first to last dollar. That means that these super super elite financial geniuses have an effective tax rate lower than their secretaries. I don't think that there is any chance of this massive tax cut being extended - I haven't heard anything about it - so the rate will go up to 20% next year. So hedge fund income will still be taxed at a lower marginal rate than wage slaves, although their effective rate might be higher.

Is it really too much to ask that the overall tax burden on Americans is progressive all the way to the top 1% of earners? At least in Minnesota?

UPDATE: At least 40 limousine liberal millionaires (income, not net worth) have put their money where their mouth is. Well, at least enough money to build a website and a publicist: Patriotic Millionaires for Fiscal Strength. Good messaging.

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