Op Ed

What’s Really on the Line This Time

I do understand how someone could not want to vote for President Obama, but I truly cannot understand why anyone would help the chances of Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan getting in. No matter what President Obama may or may not do, it’s nothing on the scale of what these men the Koch Brothers will do. Let’s face it, at best Tweedledum and Tweedledee will be sock monkeys – Grover Norquist called it.

“All we have to do is replace Obama. …  We are not auditioning for fearless leader. We don’t need a president to tell us in what direction to go. We know what direction to go. We want the Ryan budget. … We just need a president to sign this stuff. We don’t need someone to think it up or design it. The leadership now for the modern conservative movement for the next 20 years will be coming out of the House and the Senate. […]

Pick a Republican with enough working digits to handle a pen to become president of the United States. This is a change for Republicans: the House and Senate doing the work with the president signing bills. His job is to be captain of the team, to sign the legislation that has already been prepared.”

“We want the Ryan budget” – that would be the one that allows Mitt Romney to pay an effective tax rate of .82%. The man who received a $77,000 tax break for his wife’s hobby would pay less than one percent on his estimated $200,000,000 fortune.

Yes, I get it. As long as we participate in the two-ring circus, no matter how unwillingly, we are allowing it to flourish. We need more options and better options every time. But this time these are the only two we have. As a poor woman with a disabled child, the idea of how much these men could ruin our lives is enough to make me vomit in fear.

I live in Florida, where Rick Scott is currently on a massive Koch-fueled binge (and taking notes from Wisconsin’s equally Koch-addled Scott Walker). I’ve already gotten a taste of rule by the ultra-rich right. It’s not pretty. Not if you care about anything other than the feelings and fortunes of the country’s richest conservatives.

But there’s even more at stake, another angle that’s just as important as the economy and social funding and everything else the Mr. Burns of the world want to destroy to fatten their own wallets.

The Supreme Court.

Right now SCOTUS is split 5-4, conservatives over liberals. At least two of the five are funded by the Koch Brothers; Justices Scalia and Thomas have both been involved in Koch corporate fundraisers. It is these five men who gave us Citizen’s United, the machine being used to try to buy a presidency.

Given that four of the nine Justices are over 70 years old, the chances of a new appointment in the next four years is fairly good. Can you imagine the kind of Supreme Court Justice Mitt Romney might pick? Can you imagine how much money the Koch Brothers and their pals will spend to buy just the right candidate?

We have to get rid of the money in politics before we can ever successfully break the two-party system. The only way to have viable third-party candidates, or even fourth or fifth party, is to make sure that the playing field is level.

The first step to doing so is making sure the men who want to buy their own government fail. We have to stand up and call them out, name them and shame them as the true parasites ruining our country. We have to reject their store-bought mannequins by voting against them.

“If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.” ~ Bishop Desmond Tutu

By not voting for Obama, you are effectively voting for Romney and you are reinforcing the message that money can, and will, buy governments. If they get away with this, can you imagine what will come next?

I can. And if you’ll excuse me, I think I need to go throw up.

By Brenda

40-something-something stay home mom, floating somewhere between traditional and strange. I’m addicted to music, making things and my computer.

27 replies on “What’s Really on the Line This Time”

I’m currently under Corbett, and we are in a similar boat here as far as the horrifying things our state government gets up to. I rather expect that the things that allow me to live independently in the community will almost all be defunded, and I know for a fact that I utterly shut down in institutional placements. I’m Terrified, as an adult with disabilities, that Romney/Ryan would mean I’ll be put in a situation where I will experience bot regression and relapse, in addition to being denied my rights on the basis of disability.

Corbett is definitely on the list of assholes who need to choke on their own spit. (I know I should take the high road about these people, but they are actively trying to wreck lives, I refuse to be nice about them.)

I can imagine how scary things must look from your seat. And  the cherry on the cake of that fear, the people who want to make sure you lose any and all resources are the ones who have so much money they’ll never be able to even spend half of it.

I get so mad when people blow off the outcome of this election as no big deal, life goes on, whatever. Yeah it might go on for some, but those people aren’t the ones with their lives/rights/health on the line.

I really don’t want to be Chicken Little, but whatever is falling on me damn sure looks like chunks of sky. And the pieces are big enough to knock our damn heads off.



Yes. And they are making sure the rest have so little that we can’t even begin to fight on their level.

I really don’t get how anyone can bitch about President Obama getting campaign funds from certain people or groups – how the hell is he supposed to keep up if he doesn’t?

Oh wait, that right, he isn’t.

I like the idea of making them wear suits like race car drivers do.

I’m truly hoping that the obscene amounts of money being spent this time (by only a small handful of people, like this guy) will wake everyone up. There’s simply no way a healthy democracy can flourish when a dozen people can buy an election.

The only thing that keeps me from just giving up is the idea that as a governing country we’re barely teenagers, hopefully this is just some obnoxious adolescent stage we have to get through for a healthy adulthood.

There’s certainly more transparency about funding here, and I think it’s so, so important. Money is a large part of it, but the way the US behaves during elections seems strange, too. Maybe it’s that I’m not being objective about our own politics, but here it seems to be less … glossy. Less about shiny adverts – which are very much regulated – than manifestos. Advertising here, during elections, tends to be about voting awareness and information on how to vote. This is a interesting bit of info on campaigning: Party campaign expenditure.

I love the links, thanks for sharing the info.

I agree about the shiny aspect – the whole cycle has become horribly shallow. We’re reducing the most important things down to who looks good, who fits a mold, who has the best sound bite. Then again, doesn’t that sum up pretty much all of American culture?

Y’all also don’t have to deal with the horror that is  ‘fair and balanced news’ being a (poorly fitting and shoddily made) mask for the richest conservatives.

More reasons the UK is tops on my list of places I’d much rather live.

Yes, here the neutral nature of the BBC has been questioned at times, but it is as a whole, pretty neutral, especially in comparison to what is regarded as “fair and balanced” elsewhere. The UK has it’s issues, there’s no doubt about it, but it is a pretty good place to live. Also, another opportunity to share this.

Brenda, I’m from Florida too (though I live in South Korea atm) and I have very, very negative feelings towards Scott (i.e. I hate him). I don’t plan on living in Florida long term for the foreseeable future because of the policies he’s implemented. Unfortunately, my parents are stuck there.

My mother is one of those people who is not completely happy with Obama, but she knows the alternative would be far, far worse. My friends who won’t vote in this election because they’re not happy with Obama drive me crazy. I want to yell, “So you want the worst possible alternative?”

Very well written piece. Thank you.

Yes yes yes. Rick Scott is just awful for everyone who isn’t a rich (white) Christian dood. It slays me that there is no recall provision in the state. He only got 48% of the vote, I’m guessing a lot of people would take that vote back if they could.

I honestly do understand why some people might not want to vote for him (*cough*foreign policy) but like you I can’t wrap my head around how they think the alternative is at all better.

Frankly, as hard as the republicans are trying to block the vote we can’t afford to sit this one out . Every vote counts when the other side is desperately cheating.

Thank you.

I used to be socially progressive and fiscally conservative. Until I realized that they are literally in odds with each other. You can’t be socially progressive without being willing to pay for it. In the end I chose to dump the fiscal conservativeness because I care about people. Millions of people are hurt (truly, measurably hurt) by the government system which supports the rich and fucks the poor.

In a sense I could be considered a fiscal conservative. I am all for spending as little of our money as possible. Only thing is I want to stop spening our money on is tax-handouts for companies that make billions in profit each year. I want to stop funding a truly obscene industrial-military-prison complex .That’s a kind of fiscal conservatism I could get behind.

And it’s not that I resent rich people, or people who have different ideas of what’s a good way to spend the collective piggy bank, it’s that the Scrooge McDucks have taken over fical conservatism and want to slap a granny down and steal the pennies from her arthritic hands.

These fuckers make me wish for Richard Nixon, how fucked up is that??

Yeah – they want to steal granny’s pennies and give them to the corporations. I am all about spending wisely, cutting out bloat and inefficiencies in the government, of which there is a great deal, and especially dealing with corruption in government granting and subsidies; but fiscal conservatism has come to mean ‘no spending on social programs of any kind’ and ‘poor people just aren’t working hard enough, I shouldn’t have to support their life of luxury.’ And only those two points. I find that view abhorrent and completely lacking in empathy or compassion.

Auntie, this is amazing. Truly. I love the way you write, and this is just another example. I may know (somewhat) what you’re going through because we’re related, but this is a powerful wake up for those who don’t. I plan on doing a political piece myself this week – stay tuned – and I can say that you’ve hit on a lot of my points.

Thank you. I have to admit there was a lot of backspacing involved getting to eloquent :-D

And it is very distressing. It’s hard not to take it personally – the entire republican platform is one big ‘fuck you’ to my family.

Brenda,   I hope that reasonable and intelligent people can disagree.  As a woman who spent her entire career as a finance person, my nature tends to be fiscally conservative.  Living in California, I tend to be socially more progressive as long as I am not on the hook to pay for other peoples personal choices(right back to fiscal conservative).  Right now the country’s most pressing need is the economy and Pres Obama by my view, has done little to improve our economic situation.   I was hoping he would be a great economic president like Clinton but he just isn’t and has not articulated what he would do to change it or why he hasn’t already done it.

All the histrionics about making Romney/Ryan  Koch being “the Bogey Men” aren’t resonating with me.  If you really believe that Romney/Ryan are puppets of Koch brothers then you should be equally concerned about Pres Obama being the puppet of Soros who is a far more dangerous person in my mind.  Even Paul Krugman has a negative viewpoint on people earning money by manipulating currency.  I would chose the Koch Bros over Soros every day of the week.  As far as Nordquist goes . . . who the hell cares what he thinks.

With regards to Romney and taxes . . . it makes total sense to me that he pays an effective rate a little below 15%.    His income is no longer derived from salary but from long term investment income.   He, like everyone else who has long term investment income enjoys a 15% capital gain rate.  You won’t find anyone that wants to raise that tax rate as it would effect everyone with investments or pension or Ira that is invested in the market.  You mistakenly mention a tax rate in relationship to his accumulated wealth of $200M.  No one pays taxes on accumulated wealth (unless you die then your estate gets taxed) everyone only pays taxes on the current years income.  The fact that Romney understands business enough to have been this successful, tells me he understand the economy and is a good candidate to help resolve our country’s economic issues.  Pointing out one fact out of his very complicated 900 page tax return about a tax credit for the race horse, tells me that he is doing what every other American is doing with regards to their taxes.  Most  people try to make sure that they pay NO MORE and NO LESS than they are legally obligated to. That isn’t just something that Republicans do, Democrats do it too.    Just ask Jon Bon Jovi who gets tax breaks for  “farming” because he hired a bee keeper to  virtually do away with paying property taxes (only pays $100 when his neighbors pays thousands . . . hurts local schools)  and takes advantage of other farm subsidies.  Or you can ask Ted Turner, who is much more in the Romney wealth camp, who receives $200,000 in farm subsidies (way more than the $75,000 that Romney took).  Just who are they kidding . . . these men aren’t FARMERS!  We can play this tax game all day.  Maybe we can both agree that the tax laws are crazy broken and need to be simplified to create a more fair tax environment.   I don’t see how the Ryan plan significantly changes Romney’s tax situation because most of his income would still be taxed at the 15% rate.

You mentioned that you are a single mom with a child with a disability and I have respect and sympathy and empathy for you.  One of my kids was born with her leg bent backwards at the knee and it has been a 20+ year saga to help her.  Though it is just a physical limitation I am sure you know that it also has emotional ramifications too.  I share your concern for our country for both our kids sake.

I am happy that you live in Florida because you don’t have to pay any state income tax and your state sales tax is relatively low.  This is in no small thanks to the Republican leadership you have in your state,  Living in CA, I pay an additional 9.4% income tax  and a much higher state sales tax as well.   CA Democrats have had a lock on the state legislature for decades and CA already has had 3 cities declare bankruptcy and the state is not far behind.  Be careful what you wish for . . . you just might get it.

I don’t think the SCOTUS are bought and paid for but they do seem to have their particular judicial point of view.  But just when you think that they all fit in a neat little box . .. Justice Roberts sided with the majority in UPHOLDING the AffordCareAct.

I would love to agree with you on getting rid of all the money in politics.  I was so disappointed that Candidate Obama didn’t take  Candidate McCain up on his offer to publicly fund that election.    That could have been a major turning point in American politics.  That could have literally set the new standard for presidential politics.  Candidate Obama declined and then out raised and outspent McCain 3 to 1.  Do you object to the fact that Obama “bought” an election?    I would love to see ALL the big money out and that means the PACS, the CORPS and the UNIONS too!

The only way for our country to find an economic equilibrium is for there to be a change in Washington.  For me it is time for the pendulum to swing the other way.   No matter who wins the  election, life will go on.



Actually I didn’t mention being a single mother. I’m not sure why you assumed that, but nope.

For the record, Florida’s tax rates don’t even come close to making up for the fact that I am also disabled and unable to get affordable health insurance because the Governor of this state is a raging asshole and won’t implement the ACA because his owner’s don’t like it.

I’m afraid I can’t share your happiness.

Honestly, I don’t find your post persuasive at all. Here’s why:

1) Your discussion of “boogey men.” Your argument is just a classic red herring. You don’t say why we should not be concerned with the agenda of the Koch brothers, or even with that of Romney/Ryan, just that we should be more worried about Soros (why?). Further, the insinuation that Obama is Soros’ puppet has absolutely no support in reality. I guess Obama is going to help Soros manipulate our currency since he donated big bucks to his campaign? You seem to think that we should be more worried about potential currency manipulation than the issues of bodily autonomy, equal rights (for women, LGBT, & minorities), the deterioration of safety nets for the purpose of funding further tax cats for the wealthy, unemployment, and so on. Finally, even if I do believe Soros is someone I should immediately be concerned with over Romney/Ryan, it would only support Brenda’s argument about money buying governments. And that’s obviously not an issue that Republicans are concerned about.

2) No good explanation why it makes sense that earnings from investment income should be taxed at lower rates than non-investment income. Because some of it is used to fund IRAs and pensions? If “you won’t find anyone that wants to raise that tax rate,” it’s because you’re probably not looking/reading enough. Please explain to us all why it makes sense that Romney gets to pay lower taxes than those of us that cannot afford to invest, so we have to make money they old-fashioned way: by working? Moreover, you completely ignore that fact that these men want to push their effective tax rate to much lower than 15%, but to less than 1%.

You again follow this up with more red herrings about Bon Jovi, etc. So what if Bon Jovi hired a bee keeper to somehow pay less taxes? How does that make it okay for Romney to pay X percentage tax? How does that make it okay for Romney/Ryan to push for tax reform that would allow them to pay even less than the measly X percent that he is currently paying?

3) Sorry, but your happiness about her living in FL comes of as very misguided. Even if you don’t pay a state income tax, they make you pay other ways. And usually those ways disproportionately affect the lower classes. FL has one of the most regressive tax systems in the country:
And contrary to the talking points the Republicans spew, this more regressive system has not resulted in economic prosperity. (Romney/Ryan & other Rs would love to see the federal tax system approach that of FL.) FL’s economy went into the sh*tter, the gov’t does not have funds to deal with the massive unemployment/ real estate crash/poverty, and economic inequality has grown larger and larger. So please think about that before you tell someone you’re happy they get to live in FL.

4) Obama refusing to use public funding: Wonder whether Republicans would make the same offer if they were winning the fund raising war? Oh wait. We already know the answer to that. They never have, never will. Furthermore, when McCain thought his fundraising was going to go well, he was not interested in public financing. But when those efforts collapsed, he started loudly talking about pub fin. Why would Obama enter into an agreement that McCain was obviously not serious about? The public financing system in the U.S. is a joke anyway (w/ the thriving super PACs all over). McCain’s fundraising was way behind Obama’s, but Republican PACs had a lot more than Democrat PACs—something quite obvious to anyone paying attention. We’re going to need a lot more than that to change the politics-money relationship than some empty, disingenuous gesture.

I went to ITEPs website and found this on FLORIDA

The following facts about Florida state taxes should be understood during the debate about business tax cuts:

1. Florida is a low-tax state. Florida’s state taxes are already among the lowest in the nation. This fact is widely acknowledged, including by professional staff of the legislature. “Florida is not a high-tax state,” the staff of the House Finance and Tax Committee told committee members January 13.4 They cited rankings (shown in the chart below) from the nonpartisan Federation of Tax Administrators showing Florida’s state tax revenue 43rd among the states per capita and 46th as a percentage of personal income.5,6 State plus local tax revenue in Florida ranked 27th per capita and 37th as a percentage of personal income.

2. Furthermore, the state tax load has declined in recent years. State taxes constitute a lower share of Floridians’ personal income than at any time in the last 40 years. The already-low state tax load, remarkably steady for four decades, dropped in the last dozen years as measured against the earnings of Floridians. The chart below shows that general revenue collections as a percentage of Florida income dropped in 2008-09 to the lowest level since 1970-71, when the state began recording the data.8

The “regression” you speak of is because apparently FL eliminated the estate tax.   Which most obviously would generate more income from large estates as people die.  That is a different discussion then whether the average Floridian pays more taxes.  It is simply impossible mathematically for  Brenda to be worse of from a purely TAX point of view.  She may very well disagree with estate taxes for others as that is lost revenue could be used for more social services.



I normally don’t put the effort into disagreeing with you, but this isn’t a matter of your political views, you are just flat out wrong. The issue here is not estate tax, but rather excise or sales tax….while the state retail sales tax is 6%, counties can tack on more to generate extra revenue. For instance, in Leon County, for instance where I completed my masters degree, the sales tax was 6% . Here  is a link with a list of the retail tax rate by county. Likewise, communications services, and utilities (which are administered by 1-2 private corporations per county) are also taxed at varying rates. Excise taxes are by there very nature, regressive. If everyone pays 6% tax on a $100 item, then someone with a gross income of $20,000 is paying a high percentage of their income to taxes than a person making $200,000.  Also, in Florida, excise taxes are never refunded, (as they are in other states, and, in Canada) even if your gross household places you well below the poverty line. A state which depends on excise taxes will always have a regressive taxation structure, end of story.

You make some very good points.  I don’t disagree with you on the regressiveness of excise taxes on utilities and other such items.

There is  a regressiveness to sales tax. I t is going to almost always be less as a percentage of whatever a millionaire spends vs an average income or low income  person because (and I am just assuming) the millionaire is “spending” a much smaller percentage of their income on consumables.  But excise taxes exist in most every place in the US  . . . since it would be nonsensical to try to compare any one particular county to every other county in the country (also too big of a task for the folks at Rose’s cited think tank) common sense says that “all other things being equal” the average person in FL pays alot less than the average person in MOST other states in the US especially my own, CA.  We have excise, city  and county taxes too.  FL  still may be regressive but mathematically so is everywhere else but in actually dollars paid, it  is still less than most other places.

Utilities, food, rent, medicine and the bare necessities themselves are “regressive” by nature because they are probably less as a percentage of wealthy person than of an average or low income person.  McDonalds charges the same $$ for a Big Mac and a soda  no matter who walks in the door so one could argue that McDonalds pricing is regressive.  The standard in our society is that the same product is sold for the same price no matter who is purchasing said item not on a sliding scale based on ability to pay.  Then the same sales, use, or excise tax is applied.   If a low income person is receiving any assistance from federal or state govt for food then the govt is simultaneously helping them pay those sales taxes.   So you would have to remove those taxes from any regressive calculation.   At the end of the year, no one ( no one I know anyway) adds up all the sales tax, and excise taxes and utilitie taxes, gas taxes  and every other add-on tax to calculate how much additional tax they spend in addition to Fed, state and Property taxes.  That is why they are so insidious and hidden.

I hated my semester taking tax accounting and tax law in college and despised every second I had to deal with IRS auditors  at work and every nano second while I helped my friend  save her home from them after her husband passed away.  Have you ever sat down with an IRS agent. . . .it goes something like “so  . . .  when did you first start cheating on your taxes?”   I will be first to stand with you  in agreement that our tax laws are TOO COMPLEX, TOO UNFAIR, TOO MANY LOOPHOLES.  Simplifying the tax code would be a huge generator of income and a huge driver of cost savings for the country and for that I would be willing to give up every and I mean every deduction.

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