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Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell called them, “Our most effective and productive small businesses.” Congressman Mike Pense (R-IL) decried, “Raising taxes on ‘job creators’.” The Republican Party is adamant about extending the Bush Tax Cuts to “everyone”, including those making over $250,000 a year (the “Top 2%”) because… they claim… “they are the job creators. The small business owners.” Oh really? As I pointed out two weeks ago, the “Obama Tax Cut Extension for those making less than $250,000 a year” not only covers 98% of all working Americans, but over 91.1% of all small business owners as well. (In fact, it bears mentioning that EVERYONE GETS A TAX CUT UNDER THE OBAMA PLAN, because EVEN IF you make more than $250K, YOU STILL GET A TAX CUT ON THE FIRST $250k OF YOUR INCOME!) So this week, with news that a “compromise” may be imminent, I’ve decided to take a look at some of those “job creators” in that “8.9%” making over $250,000 a year that can’t afford to have their taxes go up 2.5%.

(Note, I say “compromise” because, as any child can tell you, “if you want a puppy, start out by asking for a pony.” NOT getting a “permanent” extension of the tax cuts and “settling” for a 1-2 year extension is no “compromise”. It’s a GOP victory.)

Of course, Conservative readers will attack my list by pointing out that “these people keep a lot of other people working.” Yes and No. The number of workers these people employ, directly or indirectly, isn’t likely to change just because their bosses taxes went up. Would we lose $700 BILLION in economic activity if these people’s taxes were to go up 2.5%? Because that is what extending the tax cut to include the mega-rich will cost us over the next decade:

Celebrities:
The cast of “Jersey Shore”:

  • Nicole “Snookie” Polizzi – Estimated net worth in 2009 after just one season: $300,000 (Season Two salary more than tripled to $30K per episode.) Cast members made only $10K per episode plus $10K signing bonus their first season, plus $10K for personal appearances. Both numbers are certain to be higher for 2010.
  • Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino only made $200,000 his first year, but if “Snookie’s” salary increase is any indication, Mike is likely to have become one of those “most productive members of society” too when he files his taxes next year.
  • Ditto for Paul “DJ Pauly D” DelVecchio. $200K + personal appearances in 2009, likely higher for 2010.

Paris Hilton’s annual income was just under $12 million in 2009 off “promotional income”. And you just KNOW if we raise her taxes 2.5%, she’ll cut back her work schedule and deprive the world of “The Hottie & The Nottie – Part II”.

Ryan Seacrest, the “Ken-doll” host of American Idol, GoTo MC for just about every celebrity event there is, and likely heir to Dick Clark’s New Years Rockin’ Eve, ranked #76 on Forbes’ celeb list making $14 million last year.

Never mind her lucrative singing career, Miley Cyrus made $25 million dollars last year just playing Disney’s Hannah Montana.

And, of course, every Rap Star that’s ever lived.

Sports stars:

In 2008, imprisoned and facing a mountain of legal fees, NFL quarterback Michael Vick had to file for bankruptcy. But you’ll be happy to know that this PoS dog-fighting sleezeball, upon getting out of prison, signed a two year contract with the Philadelphia Eagles worth $1.6 million his first year with a $5.6 million option for the 2010-2011 season. Fortunately for us, most sponsors have had the good sense to steer clear of blessing Vick with any endorsement income in 2010.

In 2008, Tiger Woods topped the “Golf Digest: Top 50 earners” list, raking in a cool $122 Million (most of it in endorsements.) But his career has hit a slump following news of his marital infidelity in 2009, earning only a paltry $90.5 Million in 2009.

Super Star NFL quarterback turned amateur genital photographer Brett Favre makes a cool $15.2 million dollars a year. Let’s all pray his taxes don’t go up while he’s facing those “sexual harassment” charges.

Despite past legal troubles and an undisclosed cash settlement, LA Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant plucks down a cool $32 Million a year. Think of all the diamond rings he won’t be able to buy his wife if we don’t cut his taxes the next time he’s caught hitting on some 18 year old waitress from Reno.

Politicians/Pundits:

Great minds think alike, and while I started writing my list a week ago, outgoing Congressman Alan Greyson (D-FL) somewhat beat me to the punch with this great overview of key Right-wingers who are pushing for extending the Bush Tax Cuts for the rich, and just how much each stands to benefit:
 

Feux “small businesses”:

Fox “News” did a story on “small business” owner Simon Jacobs, the CEO of Hale and Hearty Soups, who warned that his “small business” would be hurt if the Bush Tax Cuts were not extended to cover “everyone”. Somehow, Fox forgot to mention that “Hale and Hearty Soups” sees annual sales of up to $40 million at its 23 stores. They just left that little detail out.

Bechtel, the global engineering and construction company, the US’s fifth-largest business with 44,000 employees and annual earning of $31 Billion dollars last year, is registered as a “S-Corp” and therefore technically a “small business”. This is one of “the little guys” the GOP claims to be “looking out for”, and how Mitch McConnell can say small businesses represent 50% of all business income in the U.S. with a straight face.

Pricewaterhouse-Coopers, the international accounting firm and household name on Oscar Night, squeeked by on just $28.2 Billion in global revenues in 2008, up 14% over 2007. Another one of those homey Mom & Pop “small businesses” the fatherly Republican Party is looking out for. In 2009, PwC was one of four major accounting firms hired by the U.S. government to administer the bailout of Wall Street.

You can’t get much smaller than working for yourself or with a small staff of no more than five people. In 2007, the nations’ top 20 Hedge-fund managers earned an average of $657.5 Million dollars EACH… or 22,255 times the average American worker that same year. They are another group of “job creators” that the GOP says can’t afford to have their taxes go up 2.5%.

“The Tribune Corp.”, which owns the Chicago Tribune, the Los Angeles Times and the Baltimore Sun, is another “small business” the GOP believes needs a tax cut ON TOP OF the tax cut President Obama is proposing for new hires.

MSNBC has their own list of “billion dollar small businesses”, here.

“Fat Cats” & People we already bailed out:

The Koch Brothers, Billionaire backers of the astroturf “Tea Party Express”, vicious Global Warming deniers who finance the Republican noise machine to a level that makes Conservative machinations over “George Soros” seem quaint by comparison, are also included in the GOP’s list of “small business owners” that need their 2.5% tax bailout.

And it’s not just feux-“small businesses” that will get a tax cut under the Republican plan. The GOP thinks all those Investment firm CEO’s and Health Insurance CEO’s like “Dollar Bill” McGuire, the CEO of UnitedHealth Group that was paid $1.7 Billion in Stock Options last year, and has enjoyed single “paydays” of over $100 Million dollars as far back as 2005-2006… every dime of which came from denying someone health care… also stands to make out like a bandit from the GOP’s extension of the Bush Tax Cuts.

Tax cuts don’t create jobs any more than giving a schoolgirl a bail of hay will bring her a pony. Republicans like to say, “the poor don’t create jobs”, to which I’ve always said, “Oh yeah? Ask Wal*Mart if the ‘poor’ create jobs.” And the CBO has already done the math, noting that: “unemployment benefits” are among the most “cost-effective [method of] spurring economic activity and employment.” The MOST effective? Direct spending by the government on things like infrastructure has a minimum 1:1 (100%) return on investment, possibly as high as a 250% return on every tax dollar spent. The LEAST effective economic stimulus? Tax cuts (producing between 20-80 cents worth of economic activity for every dollar spent.) So naturally, that’s the one Republicans are demanding we go with… because clearly, it has worked fabulously so far (note: on yesterdays “Meet the Press”, when host David Gregory pointed out to Mitch McConnell that the economy is in the toilet “despite the fact the Bush Tax Cuts that have been in effect since 2001 [sic]”, McConnell’s response was “just imagine how bad things would be if we HADN’T of had those tax cuts in place?” So in those first six years, when the GOP-controlled Congress passed those tax cuts and we saw the most anemic job creation since the Great Depression, “just think how bad things would of been” while Republicans controlled everything if we hadn’t of passed those tax cuts?

On several occasions, I’ve heard Conservatives argue “there are jobs”, but people are either “too lazy” or “too spoiled” to do them. Sharron Angle famously said, “We’ve put in so much entitlement into our government that we really have spoiled our citizenry.” Orrin Hatch (R-UT) said of the unemployed, “we should not be giving cash to people who basically will just go blow it on drugs”. Andre’ Bauer, the Republican lieutenant governor of South Carolina compared the unemployed to “stray animals” (ie: “cockroaches”) that will continue to “breed” unless you “stop feeding them”. Their argument being that people will “get off the public dole” and take those menial minimum wage jobs if they had no choice. Of course, if you’ve got car and house payments to make, a job flipping burgers at McDonald’s probably isn’t going to cover your expenses. And good luck making that interview for a job that pays better if you can’t get off work to pursue it. That’s the beginning of an endless cycle of poverty. Next step: privatize the school system so only “rich people” can afford to send their kids to school.

This Conservative theme of “government dependency” goes back decades, at least as far back as FDR and The Great Depression. A caller into the Randi Rhodes radio show last Wednesday argued that “there are jobs” if you’re just willing to “lower your standards”. Which got me to thinking: What would be the repercussions if everyone on unemployment were suddenly forced to get a minimum wage job (We’ll save the argument for how Republicans would like to do away with the “minimum wage” as well, for another day.)

Well, first off, if you can’t cover your house and car payments with a minimum wage job, you’re going to have to sell them. In this market? Forgedaboudit. You probably owe more on your house than you can sell it for. So you let the bank foreclose and get an apartment (Carl Paladino, the Wingnut who lost the NY Senatorial bid, was ready to open up the prisons for you, accompanied by “classes on personal hygiene”). As for your car, if you’re like far too many people (IMHO) today who “lease” your car instead of own it outright (a trend I hope goes the way of the Dodo real soon), good luck finding a reliable replacement for what you make on your minimum wage job (after food and rent). No? Well, I guess you’ll have to take the bus (before Republicans defund public transportation as well).

Okay, you’re no longer a property owner, and you don’t have car, so you couldn’t make it to a job interview now even if you got one. And just who’s going to hire you as an office manager for $50K a year when your last job was Fry Cook at Wendy’s?

But remember: “IT’S NOT JUST YOU”. By some estimates, as much as 18%-22% of the country is in the same boat. So not only are you all competing for that office manger job, you’re all competing for those miserable “minimum wage” jobs that people like Angle and Bauer think are so plentiful. Trust me, with so many people out of work, the market for fast-food customers isn’t growing, certainly not as fast as the rate at which people are applying for those minimum wage jobs. Ever consider “migrant farming”? Picking lettuce for 5cents a head?

One of the reasons the movie “Slumdog Millionaire” (watch the full movie online for free) made such an impression on people was the depiction of life in the slums of India, and the crushing poverty that had children begging on the streets for spare change rather than attending school to get an education so that they too can one day get a good paying job and improve their life. THERE IS NO “MIDDLE CLASS” IN INDIA. You are either born into wealth or poverty. There’s no movement between them. And if Republicans get their way, that’s the road they’d happily send America down.

Postscript: In 2009, I noted how President Bush repeatedly told voters on the 2004 campaign trail all the ways the rich already avoid paying taxes, and how, when they do, the middle-class ends up paying the taxes of the rich for them. (To which they cheered. “You’re paying the rich’s taxes for them!” “Yea!”) Believe it or not, this was Bush’s argument against raising taxes on the rich… and the brain-dead Republican crowds cheered the news at every stop. Also in 2009, CBS News reported that 2/3rds of all corporations had paid NOTHING in taxes at least once between 1998 and 2005. So why exactly are the Republicans so worried about raising taxes on the rich? As Dubya repeatedly pointed out, “that’s why the rich have got accountants. To figure out how you can’t tax ’em.”

 


 
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