Monthly Archives: October 2016
The ONLY way that a flat income tax system could possibly be fair is if it taxed all gross income and eliminated all credits, tax write-offs, exemptions, basically anything that currently allows someone to reduce their taxable income. For example, we would need to:
ELIMINATE LOSS CARRYOVER. Currently, those who have a business-related loss can carry that loss forward and use it as an offset against future taxes owed. Yes, this is what Trump did with his nearly $1 Billion of losses. To be fair, that type of carryover would have to be eliminated. You can claim it in the year it was incurred and that’s it. In my opinion, this should be done under the current tax system. At the very least, there should be a short time limit with respect to how many years a loss can be carried over.
ELIMINATE THE FOREIGN TAX CREDIT. Currently, multi-national companies get to reduce the amount of federal taxes owed to the United States by the amount of taxes they paid to the foreign country where they operate. To be fair, that credit needs to be eliminated so that the corporation pays its full share of taxes to the United States. In my opinion, this should be done now under our current tax system. How is it fair for a foreign country to receive full payment of its taxes while the United States does not? But under a flat tax system, it would be imperative. Otherwise, those multi-national corporations will most likely pay no tax at all to the U.S. Multi-national companies can also currently avoid paying taxes until they actually bring the income back to the United States (repatriation). This, too, must be eliminated.
ELIMINATE TAX EXEMPT STATUS. Currently, non-profits such as religious organizations are exempt from federal income tax (and State taxes and property taxes). Churches and very large non-profits take in massive amounts of money through donations. They don’t pay income taxes on that money and the donors get to use their donations as tax deductions. To be fair, under a flat tax system, these organizations should not be exempt from paying taxes on donated funds and donations to these organizations should not be a tax deduction. Understand, of course, that this would affect small non-profits as well.
ELIMINATE ALL TAX EXEMPTIONS. Currently, a taxpayer can reduce the amount of his/her taxable income through exemptions and credits. A married couple with 2 children can reduce their taxable income by 4 exemptions with each exemption worth $4,000 ($4,000 x 4). To be fair, these exemptions will also need to be eliminated. A person who earns, for example, $40,000 should pay the flat tax on $40,000 whether that person is single, married, or has children. Otherwise, the married couple will be paying far less taxes then a single person ($3,600 vs. $6,000 in taxes using a 15% tax rate just on gross income alone).
ELIMINATE ALL DEDUCTIONS. Deductions allow people to reduce their taxable income. To be fair, a flat tax system must eliminate these deductions. Otherwise, only those who have deductions such as mortgage interest or very large medical expenses or large donations will receive a benefit. There can be no deductions that will reduce the amount of taxable income, including the Standard Deduction which is currently used by those who do not have enough deductions to itemize on a Schedule A form and which is different for married people, head of household, single taxpayers, and those who are over 65 and/or blind.
ELIMINATE ALL TAX CREDITS. Tax credits reduce the amount of a person’s tax liability (as opposed to the amount of their taxable income). To be fair, all of these credits need to be eliminated as well – the education credit, the earned income tax credit, the additional child tax credit, fuel tax credits, energy credits, and so forth.
ELIMINATE ALL BUSINESS EXPENSES. Currently, businesses pay taxes on their net income (gross income less expenses). To be fair, these expenses need to be eliminated since expenses can always be manipulated in order to lower taxable income. The only deduction businesses should be able to claim would be the amount paid out as salaries or wages since their employees will be paying the taxes on that.
TAX ALL INCOME FROM ALL SOURCES. This means that money received from a life insurance policy, currently not taxable, would be taxed. Other inheritance, child support, damages for personal injury, payments in lieu of worker’s compensation, veteran’s benefits – basically all sources of income now considered non-taxable – must be taxed.
In short, for a flat tax system to be really fair, everyone including corporations, must pay the flat tax rate on ALL income with NO deductions or credits or exceptions. People need to understand this because when politicians talk about a flat tax system, they usually are not talking about a completely flat or fair system. Their flat tax system will inevitably have exceptions. But if we start making exceptions because one group thinks that they should be allowed a certain deduction to reduce their taxable income because they have children or a business insists that it needs to write off expenses to remain profitable, etc., then the system is no longer flat or fair.
The rate of the flat tax is also important because the amount of tax revenue collected must be sufficient for government to operate. There must be enough funds for the military, for emergency relief, for infrastructure, education, and social programs because no matter what, there will be people in need such as abused and abandoned children or those who have physical or mental challenges and we, because we are Americans and not citizens of some third world country, are morally obligated to care for these people.
What would be a fair tax rate that would still generate sufficient tax revenue? I’m not sure, but I do know that there are currently 7 tax brackets. Those with the lowest income pay taxes of 10% for income up to $9,275 (single) or $18,550 (for married couples filing jointly). Income above those amounts are then taxed at 15% and then after a certain amount at 25% and so forth. That means that a flat tax rate of say, 20%, would increase the amount of income taxes paid by the lowest income groups. Those who would benefit tremendously would be those who currently fall within the 25%, 28%, 33%, 35%, and 39.6% income tax brackets.
Finally, a flat federal income tax rate doesn’t help you on the State level. Seven U.S. states currently have no income tax: Alaska, Florida, Nevada, South Dakota, Texas, Washington and Wyoming. That sounds attractive, but most of these States have high sales taxes, gasoline taxes, or property taxes. It might be better to lower those taxes which are paid by ordinary people and impose an income tax which would apply to corporate income as well. Wyoming and Alaska get revenue from oil and coal. When that runs out, so will a huge chunk of their revenue.
The point is, striking a balance between what is really fair and what is needed to run this country is not as simple as some people make it sound, especially those politicians who like to blame the IRS for the tax laws when those laws were actually passed by Congress. To determine what is fair, you need to understand how taxes work and not just be in favor of something that sounds great but could, in reality, hurt you.
Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) recently stated that if Hillary Clinton is elected and if the Republicans held on to the majority in the Senate, the GOP “will be united against any Supreme Court nominee that Hillary Clinton, if she were president, would put up.” He later tried to back track and clarify that statement but, judging by the obstructionism of Congress over the last eight years, one can only conclude that his initial statement is the reflection of the truth and of the GOP’s plan.
Some people may not understand the importance of this issue. One way of explaining why the appointment of the next justice to SCOTUS is so important is to look at the case of Citizens United. The Citizens United decision, in a nutshell, removed any restrictions on corporate political spending in relation to elections.
A ruling in favor of Citizens United was handed down by the court with 5 justices in favor of no limitations on corporations and four against. The justices who voted in favor were Chief Justice John G. Roberts and associate justices Samuel Alito, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas. Dissenting were Justices John P. Stevens, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor.
The four dissenting justices stated that the majority opinion was a “rejection of the common sense of the American people, who have recognized a need to prevent corporations from undermining self government since the founding, and who have fought against the distinctive corrupting potential of corporate electioneering since the days of Theodore Roosevelt.”
In my opinion, and in the opinion of many Americans, the dissenting justices were absolutely correct. Corporations and the mega-wealthy should never be allowed to use their monetary power to sway the vote of the American people in order to advance their own agenda which is often not beneficial to the average American.
Justice Stevens retired in 2010 and was replaced by Justice Elena Kagan. That appointment didn’t matter to the Republicans very much because it still left them with “their” five justices. However, in February of 2016, Justice Antonin Scalia died and the Republicans have since refused to approve President Obama’s choice of Judge Merrick Garland as Justice Scalia’s replacement because they fear that if a justice is appointed whose beliefs are aligned with the four dissenting justices in Citizens United, there is a strong possibility that Citizens United could be overturned. That would put a stop to large corporations being able to pump enormous funds into influencing elections.
I repeat, the Republicans who have repeatedly accused Hillary Clinton of having close ties to Wall Street are the ones who want to keep the ruling in Citizens United intact. Clinton has already stated that she wants to have Citizens United overturned.
This is not an isolated incident and if you consider yourself to be a true Republican, you should pay attention. The stated goals and beliefs of conservative Republicans have not been represented by the Republicans in Congress. The following is a very short list of what Republicans say they believe in and what has been happening in Congress. For me to go into detail would require a book.
Republicans say they believe that federal and state taxes should be as low as possible because money in the hands of people creates more jobs and prosperity. The Republicans in Congress, however, have been able to convince their supporters that “trickle-down economics” which puts more money in the hands of corporations and the wealthy is a good thing and have advocated tax cuts for the rich. The Republicans say that by giving more money to the rich, the rich will be able to generate jobs. In other words, make the rich wealthier and benefits will trickle down to the people. Reputable economists have found this to be completely untrue and we saw this approach fail disastrously under George W. Bush.
Under the Bush tax cuts, corporations and the rich received huge tax breaks and regulations on banks and hedge funds were relaxed in the name of free enterprise, another Republican buzz word. These actions, along with the $3 trillion war in Iraq, the subprime mortgage fiasco which was a result of poor regulation, and the bailout of large corporations to the tune of $700 Million (or $12.8 Trillion according to Bloomberg researchers if you take into account all funds spent), played a big part in nearly destroying the American economy and threw the nation into the Great Recession.
When President Obama took office, he adopted the reverse view of economics to rescue the economy. His stimulus plan put money directly into the pockets of citizens. Individuals may not have thought that the amount of money they received was significant but, collectively, Americans took that money, spent it on goods and services, and began rescuing the economy. The GOP in Congress objected to that plan, calling it reckless spending because obviously the President had to obtain the stimulus money from somewhere. But the last eight years have shown that President Obama’s economic approach was correct. The nation was slowly taken out of the Great Recession and, despite the misinformation spread by the GOP and especially, most recently, Donald Trump, statistics show that unemployment is down, crime is down nationally (despite upticks in violence in certain cities), the average American worker has experienced a rise in income, and more Americans have health insurance, including those who could never get coverage previously because of pre-existing health conditions. President Obama wanted to spend more money towards stimulus and many economists stated that he should have done so but, once again, the GOP prevented it.
Republicans also rail against “big government” and have called for, among other things, abolishing the IRS. However, the IRS is not responsible for the ridiculously complicated tax code. Those are laws that were passed by Congress. The IRS is an enforcement agency, responsible for making sure that people are paying their fair share of taxes according to current tax laws. If there was no enforcement agency, how would anyone be assured that taxes are being collected, that large corporations and the rich aren’t wrongfully hiding their money in offshore accounts or “cooking” their books and records so that they can avoid declaring income and avoid paying taxes?
Less taxation is such an appealing idea. However, giving the largest tax breaks to corporations and the mega-rich (once again being proposed by Donald Trump under a Republican platform) will seriously decrease the amount of tax collected. And without taxes, where would the money needed for federal emergency aid, infrastructure, education, social programs, and the military come from?
Ironically, or hypocritically, the same Republicans who claim that the federal government should stay out of their states’ business and spends too much money have had no qualms about asking the federal government for money when a disaster hits their State. For example, between January of 2009 and September of 2011, the state that received the most FEMA funds was Kentucky ($293 million) due to the severe ice storm in February 2009. Yet, Kentucky’s Republican senators, Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul, voted against increasing FEMA’s funding. Republicans said they opposed legislation to increase FEMA’s funding without spending cuts, including cuts to clean energy programs for the automobile industry. This argument might sound reasonable to those who aren’t paying attention, but McConnell and Paul were among the Republicans who, during 2010, threatened to block all of President Obama’s stimulus proposals if he didn’t agree to extend those Bush tax cuts. They, along with Paul Ryan, are also in favor of repealing the Dodd-Frank Act which placed regulations on the financial industry – banks, hedge funds, etc. – in an effort to prevent the kind of financial crisis that occurred under former President Bush.
In short, while the Republicans make their supporters believe that federal oversight is a bad thing, it was lack of oversight that caused the financial crisis that put the nation into the Great Depression. While they say they are in favor of cutting taxes, most of the taxes that they have sought to cut benefit the wealthy and corporations. While they say they want to protect your farms and your small businesses, they are working to benefit Wall Street and the financial industry. While they say they are against government spending, they have asked for federal funds for their own states. In fact, according to a March 2016 study done by WalletHub, Blue States are less dependent on the federal government than Red States. https://wallethub.com/edu/states-most-least-dependent-on-the-federal-government/2700/
If you are a one-issue voter – i.e., you only care about where your representatives stand on an issue such as abortion – you probably won’t care about anything that I’ve written. However, you should also not complain about the economy or your Social Security or not being able to get governmental assistance when you need it since those things were not part of your consideration in voting for a candidate.
If, however, you do care about your economic well being, your future and the future of your children, then you should pledge to stop voting only on the basis of what you’re being told and start understanding what is really going on in Congress and in your local government where many of the laws that directly affect your everyday lives are passed. I propose this not only to Republicans but to supporters of all political parties.
“Ignorance is a lot like alcohol: the more you have of it,
the less you are able to see its effect on you.”
– Jay M. Bylsma
Over the last several days, Julian Assange and Wikileaks have been releasing thousands of emails, mostly relating to John Podesta, the Chairman of Hillary Clinton’s campaign. Nothing earth-shaking has been revealed by those leaks. For the most part, they have shown how political campaigns – all political campaigns – are run. What is disturbing, however, is the following:
First, all of the leaks have been about Hillary’s campaign. Wikileaks has not released anything relating to Donald Trump. Some claim that Trump doesn’t use email but what about every other person who is or was involved in his campaign. What about Corey Lewandowski or Paul Manafort or Roger Ailes or Steve Bannon or Roger Stone? Wouldn’t it be interesting to see their communications?
Second, it has become very clear that Wikileaks and Julian Assange is no longer about anti-secrecy. In fact, a strong case can be made that Assange, Trump’s campaign, and Russia are closely tied together and have been trying to influence the outcome of the Presidential election. For instance,
(a) How did Sputnik, a Russian propaganda site, get a hold of an email from Sidney Blumenthal to John Podesta leaked by Wikileaks before anyone else did?
(b) Why did Sputnik deliberately misrepresent the facts in that email by saying that Blumenthal had made a statement about Benghazi when in fact the statement was made in a story that Blumental was simply forwarding to Podesta?
(c) Why did Trump, only hours later, read from that erroneous story from Sputnik at a rally in Pennsylvania and how and from whom did he get that piece of propaganda?
(d) How is it that Roger Stone, Trump’s ally, knew that a story was coming out from Wikileaks about Podesta even before the email was leaked (he tweeted about it)?
Why would Assange want to help Trump? Assange has been in hiding trying to avoid a rape charge in Sweden. Perhaps the Trump camp promised him a pardon if Trump got elected. This is not that far fetched since the Sven Court just upheld the warrant for Assange’s arrest. Why would Putin want Trump elected? Because he knows that he would be able to manipulate Trump who has already expressed his admiration for Putin on more than one occasion.
Ecuador’s government recently shut down Assange’s internet access. Wikileaks has stated that it is trying to find a way around that. Even if they do, in light of the apparent ties between Assange, Trump’s camp, and the Russian propaganda site Sputnik, and since it’s clear that Roger Stone and Assange were communicating prior to the leaks, I feel that the media should refuse to publish any further leaks if and when they become available since those leaks and Assange’s credibility are questionable. Instead, the media should do some serious investigative work for a change and try to find out how Roger Stone knew about the leaks before they happened, why no leaks about anyone in Trump’s camp is being released, and how Trump got a hold of the erroneous report from Sputnik which he quoted from at his Pennsylvania rally.
Perhaps no one cares anymore since a Trump victory at this point is unlikely. However, we should care. For months, Trump has subjected the entire nation to a barrage of lies, including a claim that Hillary has Russian ties. Yet, he has never released his tax returns so there is no way of knowing whether he has any financial interests tied to Russia and Paul Manafort, who was in charge of Trump’s campaign, clearly did have pro-Putin ties. Now this incident has occurred. Even if Trump loses the election, there has been talk that he won’t be going away; that he’ll continue to push his anti-everything agenda. I, for one, would like to know whether Russia and Julian Assange have anything to do with that agenda.
Whenever Hillary Clinton’s unpopularity is discussed, there are three issues that come up repeatedly. First, the Benghazi incident. Second, her emails. Third, the Clinton Foundation.
However, none of those issues is the real basis for her unpopularity.
BENGHAZI: There were eight hearings held on Benghazi spearheaded by the Republicans which cost the taxpayers millions of dollars. They were unable to find anything to hold her directly responsible for – and everyone knows how hard the GOP must have tried.
EMAILS: Tens of thousands reviewed by the FBI and other than the fact that a woman in her 60’s should probably not have assumed that a private server was actually private, should have carried two phones, and should have been more careful, the FBI found no criminal wrongdoing. As for the emails now being released by Wikileaks, they are mostly John Podesta’s emails and only show that the Clinton camp was planning political strategy like every other political camp does. Besides, there are good reasons why those Wikileaks emails are not credible. (See my other post about Julian Assange).
CLINTON FOUNDATION: Let’s not forget that this Foundation has received 4 stars from both Charity Watch and Charity Navigator, files tax returns as a non-profit, and can and has established that the majority of its funds goes towards solving global problems such as hunger, education, and HIV. In any case, Hillary Clinton was not part of the Foundation while she served as Secretary of State, was not involved in the sale of the uranium mine to Russia which the media and Trump tried to make a big deal about, and that sale required and received the approval of 8 other government agencies over which she had no control.
Compare all of those things to what Trump has done (the continual lying, the insults hurled against people of color, POWs, a gold star family who lost their son in battle, a federal judge because of his Mexican heritage, the media, other Republicans, and, of course, women, his refusal to release his tax returns, the numerous shady deals made through his Trump Foundation, his tax plan which he says will help the American people but is designed to benefit the rich, his failure as a businessman, his past of discriminating against blacks when renting apartments in his buildings, his disparaging remarks about an Indian tribe when he was trying to prevent them from getting a gaming license, his admission that he has committed sexual assault against women, his most recent claims that everything relating to this election is rigged against him, etc.) and it’s absolutely no contest. It’s absolutely clear who the liar and crook really is.
So, why is Hillary still so unpopular in so many States? One article I read suggests that it’s because she doesn’t come across as warm or approachable; no one knows what she does “for fun”. Another mentioned that she should smile more. Comments have been made about the pants suits that she wears. Those comments, whether or not the people who made them realize it, illustrates a major problem that Hillary Clinton faces – gender bias.
As a professional woman who has worked in a field dominated by men, I fully understand the narrow line that Hillary Clinton has to walk. For example, when a man walks into a meeting to negotiate a deal, he can be brash and aggressive, even condescending, and although many may consider him a jerk, he’s still thought of as strong and a formidable opponent. If a woman behaves the same way, people will call her a “bitch”, say that she’s being overly emotional, and make remarks about PMS. And yet, if a woman comes across as caring or too friendly in a male-dominated environment, she’s thought of as “weak”. I’ve seen it happen time and time again. Disturbingly, it isn’t only men who feel this way. A white female supporter of Trump who was interviewed on television said that when she thinks of a President, she thinks of a man because women have “hormones”.
So many women who are serious about their careers develop a professional persona. They try to come to meetings more prepared than their male counterparts. They try to dress appropriately – not too sexy, not too “mannish”. ( I, too, began wearing pants suits when I heard a man murmur “Hmmm…sexy.” one day as I was passing by his office. I wasn’t wearing anything revealing but I was wearing a dress that revealed my legs so I began covering them up.) They try to ignore stupid comments and even brush off compliments about their appearance. They are wary about sharing personal information or gushing about a brand new baby or a pet. At the same time, they need to be concerned about appearing too cold – an “ice queen” is what some men have labeled their female counterparts if they perceive her as not friendly enough. Their guard is always up. This may not be who they are in their personal lives, but it’s who they feel they have to be in their professional lives.
So what about Michelle Obama you may ask? She’s an intelligent and attractive woman, an attorney, who is a dynamic speaker and yet appears approachable. She dances with Ellen DeGeneres on stage. She sings karaoke in a car with James Cordon. People love her as do I. But it’s unfair to compare these two women. Michelle Obama has done great work in her private career and has been an exceptional First Lady, but she has never been and does not care to be involved in politics and was even reluctant about her husband’s involvement even though she committed to supporting him. She seems almost relieved to be leaving the White House.
Hillary Clinton, however, has always been ambitious and politically inclined. She even kept her own name for a while because she wanted to be a separate person from her husband and was involved in the political arena long before Bill Clinton became President. Bill Clinton even said that if he was elected, the people would get “two for the price of one”. And although there are women in high political offices, politics is still very much a male-dominated field where women hold slightly less than 20% of the seats in Congress.
So Hillary Clinton may not be likeable in the warm and cuddly sense – in the ways that you would like to envision a woman of her age to be. What she is, however, is intelligent, a hard worker, and experienced in navigating the “good old boy” mentality that still pervades politics. Whether she will be a great President, who knows? I think that she would try her hardest to be since she has something to prove and she cares about the kind of legacy that she would leave. In any case, the worst that she would be is a so-so President. We’ve had those before. In fact, we’ve had really bad Presidents before. Our nation has always managed to survive. Our nation, however, may not survive if Donald Trump becomes President.
I would like Trump supporters, and those who are still undecided, to try, just for a minute, to put aside their hate and fear and blind faith and disappointment and ask themselves two simple questions: What would I do if it was a Democratic candidate who had been on that Access Hollywood tape, whose lies were constantly being exposed, who made claims that he/she knew more about ISIS than the generals do, who refused to produce tax returns, who quoted an erroneous Russian propaganda statement as fact, who praised Putin, and who is now claiming that the entire voting system, run independently in 50 States, are all rigged? Would I still ignore all of that or would I be calling that Democratic candidate unhinged and out of control?
Horrible and unreasonable behavior doesn’t suddenly become justifiable and reasonable because a person and you happen to belong to the same political party. At football games (and all athletic games), we root for our team no matter what. It doesn’t matter if we don’t like the coach or a particular player or their performance during the season. The Presidential election, especially this election, is not a football game. This is no longer about Republicans vs. Democrats. I cannot forget the woman in Columbus, Ohio who was interviewed by MSNBC and who said:
“I am voting for the Conservative Party. And if this jackass just happens to be leading this mule train, so be it.” (MSNBC – Sept. 26)
The problem with that is Donald Trump is neither a conservative nor a true Republican. He has simply slapped a Republican label on his forehead, thereby ensuring himself the vote of people like that woman in Ohio. But nothing justifies unleashing THIS particular “jackass” on the entire nation in the name of party politics. I can say one thing without any hesitation: If Trump was running as a Democrat, I’d be voting Republican.
Donald Trump has been repeatedly called a narcissist. Is he? You decide.
A previous director of the Harvard Psychological Clinic found that this personality type is stimulated by real or imagined insult or injury and is characterized by holding grudges, low tolerance for criticism, excessive demands for attention, inability to express gratitude, a tendency to belittle, bully, and blame others, desire for revenge, persistence in the face of defeat, extreme self-will, self-trust, inability to take a joke, and compulsive criminality. More specifically, this personality type:
– has never shown any capacity to perceive or admit his errors and defects; has a policy of denying them, this being considered by him to be politically expedient.
– has very little respect for the female sex; believes every woman could be had.
– has an inability to resolve conflicts and to control emotion.
– has a tendency to admire and then to acquire the technique of a powerful opponent.
– has an inability to keep his word and fulfill obligations.
– has a love of power-sees himself as the country’s greatest strategist, war lord, savior of the people and as the mouthpiece of the whole people.
– has a low tolerance of belittlement, criticism, contradiction, mockery, failure; inability to take a joke; tendency to harbor grudges, not forgetting and forgiving.
– is prone to self-display and extravagant demands for attention and applause.
– plans and make decisions without consulting others; resents disagreements and interference; is annoyed by opposition.
– insists on being sole ruler of one’s home, business, political party, nation.
– is disinclined to express gratitude or acknowledge help received.
– denies or minimizes the contribution of others, belittles the worth of others especially if they are superiors, rivals, and potential critics.
– repays an insult in double measure.
– accuses, condemns, curses, or mocks an enemy to his face, or behind his back by criticism, slander, subtle undermining of prestige, smear campaigns, etc.
(Summary of a report by Dr. Henry A. Murray, pre-war Director of the Harvard Psychological Clinic, who was asked to prepare a psychological report of Adolf Hitler. Personality type – counteractive narcissist)
“But even if we could not conquer them, we should drag half the world into
destruction with us, and leave no one to triumph ….We shall not surrender.”
– Adolf Hitler
When he threatened to put her in jail if elected: “You know, Donald, you sound like a dictator now and not like someone who should be the leader of the greatest nation in the free world.”
When he went off on his tangents and failed to answer questions posed to him: “I’m sorry (to the moderator or the audience member) but did he answer your question?” or “It doesn’t appear that Donald answered the question. I’d like to if you don’t mind.”
When he went so low as to bring those women to the debate and made accusations against Bill Clinton: “This election is between you and me, Donald, not you and my husband. So I’m going to take Michelle Obama’s advice (which she did bring up) and get back to answering questions that are actually important to this audience and to those who are watching at home. ”
When asked about being a president for all the people: “I believe that here is where Donald and I differ the most. Donald has been constantly telling his supporters that the nation’s economy is in a bad place, that unemployment is high, that crime is rampant. The truth is, based on verifiable facts, that over the last 8 years, unemployment has gone steadily down, violent crime – nationally – is down although I know it may not seem that way because of the recent uptick in gun incidents that have been in the news. Inflation is stabilized. More people than ever have health insurance. But there is still room for improvement. We need to move forward, not stand around blaming everyone and everything.
Taxes – my tax plan is designed to give the most benefit to those who are considered middle and low income who comprise most of the people in this nation, while making the very wealthy pay their fair share. With sufficient tax revenue, we can assure that money will be available for social programs, for emergency aid, for education, for infrastructure needs, and so forth. But just changing aspects of the tax code is only part of what’s required to maintain a healthy economy. There needs to be available jobs so that people can work.
Contrary to what Donald says, not all loss of jobs is due to outsourcing, which he does himself, or illegal immigrants. Many jobs are disappearing because the economy is ever-changing. For example, by committing to move towards a more green economy, jobs in coal mining will be affected. This is not something new. We used to have milkmen deliver milk to our doors – that disappeared when it became more economically feasible for companies to market their product at supermarkets. The book publishing industry is moving away from print to digital. Many jobs have been lost to automation. It is inevitable that as technology advances, certain jobs will be affected. We should not waste precious time trying to go backwards or complaining about who or what is to blame. We need to focus on moving forward.
For those who are in fields where jobs are being phased out because of automation or climate change or outsourcing, we need to help them with the transition – provide education that will allow them to compete in the new industries that are emerging or to move to another career or, if they are near retirement age, to retire a few years early without penalty. Businesses can be incentivized to assist with this education and transition since the fate of their workers should be their concern. The main thing is that we don’t leave these workers behind.
We also need to work on creating harmony in our cities. Violence impacts individuals and families directly but it also has an effect on the economy. You cannot make your communities economically prosperous if people in your communities don’t feel or aren’t safe. And companies will avoid investing in communities that are considered “unsafe” or won’t allow them to prosper.
We need to assure, also, that those who have spent their lives working will be able to count on receiving their Social Security. Increasing jobs increases what’s paid in to Social Security. Adjusting the Social Security cap upwards will also increase the amount of the Social Security benefits available. Right now, no one pays Social Security on income over $118,500. That has to change.
A President’s job is to try to pass policies that will be beneficial for everyone – not just for the people who supported the candidate when the candidate was running for office. It must be that way because the health of the entire nation depends on the collective health of the individual states. However, that means that people must also care about the policies of those who run their local government and those who they elect to office in Congress. Whether that is a Republican or a Democrat, it must be someone who is willing to work for the benefit of the nation as a whole and not only for special interest groups. That will sometimes require compromise but that is required when you have a two-party or three-party system. Otherwise, you’re operating in a dictatorship.
Now that most people get their news online, it has become imperative that writers get readers to click on their stories. So all we see on the homepage of our search engines are sensationalized headlines designed to entice people to click on stories. Yet, many of those stories are misleading and not newsworthy. .
Take a recent story that appeared in The Hill. The headline read: “Leaked memo shows Clinton was provided questions ahead of interview.” There was absolutely nothing relevant about this story which concerned a television interview of Hillary Clinton by Steve Harvey, a comedian who hosts a variety talk show. The story claimed that Hillary Clinton was given the questions ahead of the interview. However, many talk shows (which are NOT news shows) conduct pre-interviews with their guests and provide them with information as to what topics will be covered. So this particular story had no news value. The ONLY reason that it was written was to imply another scandal so that people would click on the story. It’s as though the reporter of this story wanted to imply that Clinton was favored by the media or perhaps that she received the Presidential debate questions ahead of time or that there was something shady about this practice or all of the foregoing. And the fact that this very unimportant story was picked up and published by several online sites only demonstrates the pathetic willingness of the media to chase innuendos instead of actually reporting news.
Journalism is supposed to be the objective reporting of newsworthy events. There shouldn’t exist “right leaning” or “left leaning” online news sites or publications. If reporting is leaning either way, it’s not news, it’s an opinion. But this is what happens when people like Rupert Murdoch and his News Corp. are allowed to control over 100 media sites and publications (including Fox News, which really should be renamed Fox Entertainment, and the Wall Street Journal, which used to be a respectable publication).
To be fair, not all journalists are guilty of sensationalism or biased reporting. But those who have tried to report facts seem to be completely disconnected from their target audience. They don’t write to the reader; many write as though they are trying to impress someone with their writing skills and vocabulary. They use words like misogynist and flummoxing. Do they really think that the ordinary reader understands such words? People won’t bother reading a story that’s too difficult to read and therefore will never get the message of that story. Perhaps that’s why so many people are tuning in to watch political satirists and comedians like John Oliver and Trevor Noah. These people, in between their jokes and idiotic gifs, actually do convey facts obtained from extensive research and they are able to do it in ways that the ordinary person can understand. The best example of this, so far, is John Oliver’s broadcast on September 25, 2016 which examined the negative claims against both Clinton and Trump and reached a conclusion in a way that viewers could understand. And yes, it was hilarious.
Perhaps we would all be better off if for every piece of bad news that the media reported, they would also publish a story about some of the good people in our country who are doing good things. Perhaps then we who read the “news” wouldn’t feel so hopeless and as though the entire world has gone crazy.