President Obama's team did a splendid job this past election cycle defining Mitt Romney as an uncaring vulture capitalist and uber rich tax dodger. All true. They took a page out of Karl Rove's book in this regard and were so successful that Karl Rove had a meltdown on election night and has since whined about how unfair it is that Obama defined Romney.
One thing we know is the GOP and their endless secret money will continue to define everything that happens during Obama's second term, just like they did in his first term...unless we vigilantly disallow that by constantly defining the narrative ourselves.
The GOP defined the narrative during the entire drawn out ObamaCare negotiations. They bused in loads of predominately angry white older folks to town hall meetings and gatherings orchestrated by FOX NEWS and Americans for Prosperity. Not only did they confuse the country, they came up with the meme of Obama being a Kenyan without a real birth certificate during this time. We've seen what happens when the GOP does this without immediate redefining the narrative by us. It gets really ugly as lies are piled upon more lies and spoon fed in endless loops by the GOP and right wing media.
This is our time to define what is happening in politics from now on. President Obama ran on the same things he did in 2008...esp. increasing taxes on those making over $250,000 per year in income.
There will be many things President Obama wishes to do in his second term including Immigration Reform and making sensible choices in expenditures for the Federal government which will necessitate a combination of spending less and increasing revenue. This time it's all of our jobs to remain vigilant as well.
The initial most pressing thing now at hand is the so called "Fiscal Cliff" which will occur on January 1, 2013 if a compromise and solution doesn't happen before that. The GOP is already spelling out all the implications, in the scariest terms, if Congress doesn't make a deal then send a bill to be signed by President Obama.
Even my local newspaper, which only comes out twice per week, has started "defining the narrative" in this regard. It is only 12 pages in size, including the classified ads, but it is a conservative newspaper that voices the GOP's and FOX NEW's talking points. They even have a weekly rant by Michael Reagan, born by Jane Wyman, Ronald Reagan's first wife. Where I live is really a laboratory for Tea Party memes to be tested. Even though my little local newspaper is tiny, it mostly has Tea Party articles from the most conservative pundits from across the nation. What constitutes local input is really just a handful of people writing opinion articles...and what the high school sports scene is doing.
Last year at about this same time, our local newspaper wrote of the "$3 trillion" of new regulations foisted upon American businesses during the first three years of Obama's first term that had destroyed productivity and job creation. It was a bald-face lie. Even the man whom is in charge of my retirement account sent us a letter stating the same lie. This imaginary $3 trillion in new regulations had destroyed American enterprise they said. It was socialism and government takeover of our country.
Now my local newspaper is at it again. On Saturday, November 10th, it stated that on December 31, 2012 a confluence of events will negatively impact the economy to a tune of $607,000,000 that will drag us back into recession.
There is no mention of how the $607,000,000 worth of negative impacts will be realized. Nope! That whopping number is just thrown out there to scare the base of the GOP. Now they will try to make this made up number real. Just throw a big, scary number out there and "sell it." It will naturally be what Rush Limbaugh and right-wing radio flog from now until the end of the year. It is what FOX NEWS will flog as well, once they get over their hangover of Obama's resounding win for a second term.
There are individual things mentioned in my local newspaper having nothing truly to do with President Obama, since he can really only sign bills that pass the House and Senate. But our local newspaper blames Obama for the "Fiscal Cliff" situation ahead without saying a thing about the truth...which is Congress must act to keep us from going off the "Fiscal Cliff," which is really a "Fiscal Curb" as Lawrence O'Donnell accurately defines it.
It was Congress that passed all the provisions that cause this situation to be here now in the first place. Here's a run down of ways the GOP is defining the narrative:
Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) First passed by Congress in 1982 and signed into law by Ronald Reagan. They call it a wealth tax, which indeed it was to tax corporations, estates, trusts and wealthy individuals who made money above a threshold. It limits tax benefits from a variety of deductions.
The reason was simple. Middle class and working folks were paying a higher percentage of their income in taxes than rich folks who could take advantage of loopholes and accounting tricks. Several rich individuals made big incomes without paying any tax at all.
Here are the latest threshold exemption rates for 2011 (Congress chose to do nothing to address this for the tax year 2012):
Single: $48,450 Married: $74,450 Corporations with average annual gross receipts of $7,500,000 or less for the prior three years are exempt from AMT
But the problem that has developed is the AMT was never clocked to inflation, so the threshold income doesn't change unless Congress acts. Look at what inflation has done since 1982:
$48,450 of 1982 dollars would be worth: $115,083.14 in 2012 (looking at it another way: $48,450 of 2012 dollars would be worth $20,397.45 in 1982)
$74,450 of 1982 dollars would be worth: $176,840.86 in 2012 (looking at it another way: $74,450 of 2012 dollars would be worth $31,343.45 in 1982)
Over the years, people who were exempt from the AMT became snared by it because, though their income really didn't grow all that much when inflation was factored in...the AMT numbers didn't change very much. In other words, middle incomes weren't increasing intrinsically but the total amount of dollars being made went up in quantity...not worth...since the dollar keeps dropping in value.
WHY is the GOP blaming Obama for this when it is and always has been Congress' job to adjust the AMT? Because of this one very interesting loophole contained within the AMT...one that favors the rich who can make money the way Mitt Romney does.
This one loophole is the real reason the GOP are making a big stink about the ATM and trying to get people to believe it's all Obama's fault.
A lower rate applies to capital gains and qualifying dividends. This is the real reason the GOP wants to keep the Bush Tax cuts in effect because capital gains is the #1 way the rich get richer while avoiding paying taxes until they realize any income gains.
Expiration of the Bush Tax Cuts We all know about this. The GOP still yammers away about this. And we all know the real reason why. They want to keep the tax rates for the wealthy just where they are at currently. Obama, of course, wants to keep the tax rates the way they are for 98% of us while going back to the Clinton tax rates on those making over $250,000
The Payroll Tax Cut This will expire too. The funny thing is most people don't even realize it occurred in the first place. A person making $50,000 per year will pay an additional $83 per month. Now the GOP is yammering about this to scare middle class people into believing how bad Obama is for their bottom line. The truth is, had Romney become president, a person making $50,000 per year would have to pay $2000 more in income tax each year which is over $166 per month. Also, the Payroll Tax Cut was Obama's and the Democrats idea.
Unemployment benefits The GOP is yammering about how the extended number of weeks of long-term unemployment benefits will expire at the end of 2012. Funny...the GOP fought tooth and nail not to extend these benefits. Again, it was Obama and the Democrats who got the unemployment benefits extended.
Sequestration This is the deal the GOP cut with the Democrats last year. The GOP now yammers away at how the Simpson-Bowles commission and then the Congressional Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction failed. They blame Obama. The TRUTH is the GOP screwed the pooch on this. And a man named Paul Ryan personally scuttled any deal thereby causing the agreed upon sequestration to kick in. This requires $100,000,000 to be cut from government spending including a 10% cut in defense spending. This is the very deal the GOP made!
Heck, getting out of Afghanistan alone will save way more than 10% of military spending. How much are we saving by having gotten out of Iraq?
Health Care Surcharge This will charge a new 3.8% tax on investment income such as dividends, annuities, and capital gains for high-income folk. The GOP is, of course, quite upset about this, since they wanted to completely do away with ObamaCare on day one, had they won the presidential election. The GOP is now defining the narrative about the Health Care Surcharge by saying the markets do not like uncertainty.
SO, I bring all these things up because we must not allow the GOP and FOX NEWS to define the narrative of any of this or any of the other things Obama wants to do in his next term. The GOP is lumping together all these specific items of the "Fiscal Cliff" as though they are all Obama's doing and his fault, even though the GOP was instrumental in all of it. They are attempting to take things Democrats fight for...unemployment benefits and payroll tax cuts...and define the narrative as though the Democrats are actually wanting to end them. They are expiring due to compromising and bending to the wishes of the GOP...and now they are complaining about it.
The Bush tax cuts and Sequestration were also compromises made by Obama and the Democrats after the GOP blocked implementation of the "super committee's" and Simpson-Bowles' recommendations. The GOP voted against these, when the time came to vote, because they both included increasing revenues along with spending reductions to get our deficit down. And the resulting compromises, as we all know, we're primarily what the GOP wanted at the time. Of course, they had no intention to actually abide by the very deal they created with the Democrats. It was just another way the GOP simply kicked the can down the road because they expected the Democrats to cave in again now at this time.
We cannot allow any repeat of what occurred during the first two years of Obama's first term which was allowing the GOP and surrogates to define ObamaCare while the truth about it was drowned out.
All the GOP whining and attempts to scare people about the Fiscal Cliff is for the same old reason as always...they truly want to keep an unfair advantage for rich people by way of keeping all their loopholes and record low tax rates. The are the same old GOP...favoring the rich while harming the middle class.