Sunday, August 17, 2008

The Problem Wasn't The Joke....

It was the serious stuff. I read that McCain defined "rich" as having an income of $5 million or more per year, and decided to check it out. That number was tossed out both as a joke and as a means of evading the question. McCain took great pains not to attach a dollar figure to the concept of "rich". But in evading a very simple question about the amount of wealth somebody should have before being deemed "rich", starting with his platitudinous opening, he did manage to say quite a lot:
Some of the richest people I've ever known in my life are the most unhappy.
A suggestion McCain can pass along to his "poor little rich boy" friends: they can send me their money and see which of us ends up happier.
I think rich is, should be defined by a home, a good job, an education, and the ability to hand to our children a more prosperous and safer world than the one that we inherited.
See? "Rich" has nothing to do with money.
I don't want to take any money from the rich. I want everybody to get rich.
Particularly given that we're applying a definition of "rich" that doesn't necessarily involve having any money.
I don't believe in class warfare or redistribution of the wealth. But I can tell you, for example, there are small businessmen and women who are working 20, uh, 16 hours a day, 7 days a week, that some people would classify as, quote, rich.
For example, if in addition to their business they have "a home, an education, and the ability to hand to our children a more prosperous and safer world than the one that we inherited", John McCain would define them as "rich".

McCain, of course, is deliberately conflating two separate issues - hours worked and income. My guess is that some of the people to whom McCain alludes are rich by any reasonable definition, while some are trying to keep struggling businesses afloat. But I'm guessing that there aren't many of them. We can also consider that there are rich people don't work at all, work minimal hours, or host an occasional $1,000/plate fund-raiser and spend the rest of the time bragging of their devotion to "charitable work". Would McCain have them pay more taxes than the guy who works 112 hours each week? Oh, let's not discuss that... to do so is "class warfare".
My friends who want to raise their taxes, who want to raise their payroll taxes. Let's have, keep taxes low, let's give every family in America a $7,000 tax credit for every child they have.
How would that tax credit improve on our current system of deductions? How would we pay for it? What benefits would it return to the economy? Why would we give such a tax credit to people who don't need it? Oh, you only said it because you think it sounds good? Well then, on to the next point:
Let's give them a $5,000 refundable tax credit to go out and get the health insurance of their choice.
Let's do a direct comparison - how much would it cost McCain to drop his insurance coverage from his Senate gig, and pick up a comparable private policy? Assuming he could even get insurance with his health history. Would that $5,000 cover the first month?
Let's not have the government take over the healthcare system in America.
An idea endorsed by exactly... none of the candidates. A comment inserted to mislead voters.

And then the joke:
So, so, so, I think if you're just talking about income, how about, $5 million.

So, no, but seriously, I don't think you can, I don't think seriously, that, the point is that I'm trying to make here, seriously, and I'm sure that that comment will be distorted, but the point is, the point is, the point is that we want to keep people's taxes low and increase revenues.
Well, then, how do you "increase revenues" without taxation?
And my friend, it was not taxes that mattered to America in the last several years. It was spending, spending got completely out of control. We spent money in the ways that mortgaged our kids' future.
Wait - you just said that the problem was that we need to increase revenues. Now you're saying that the problem is out-of-control spending? Which is it?
My friends, we spent $3 million of your money to study the DNA of bears in Montana. Now, I don't know if that was a paternity issue or a criminal issue, but the point is, but the point is, it was $3 million of your money.
A joke well-delivered. It got a laugh. It deserved a laugh, or at least a good natured groan. But McCain is aware that, even if we assume that his caricature is accurate and it's something we shouldn't be funding, we're not going to balance the budget by cutting this type of scientific research funding out of the budget.
It was your money. And you know we laugh about it but we cry. And we should cry, because the Congress is supposed to be careful stewards of your tax dollars.
So what are McCain's actual ideas, whether for balancing the budget or making Congress budget more responsibly?
So what did they just do in the middle of an energy crisis, when in California we are paying $4 a gallon for gas? Went on vacation for five weeks. I guarantee you, two things they never miss: A pay raise and a vacation.
Okay... and McCain's been around Washington for a long time, voting himself pay raises and taking long vacations. But what does that have to do with either balancing the budget or making Congress more responsible? What does McCain imagine that Congress will do during the next five weeks, assuming everybody comes back from their vacation and campaign activities?
And we should stop that and call them back, and not raise your taxes.
So they should come back, vote not to raise taxes, and then go back on vacation? Seriously - what does McCain hope to accomplish, particularly given his own attendance record?
We should not and cannot raise taxes in tough economic times.
Back to platitudes. When can we raise taxes? If the answer is "never", don't layer on the B.S. - just say that "We can never raise taxes, even when we're rolling in dough."
So it doesn't matter really what my definition of "rich" is because I don't want to raise anybody's taxes. I really don't.
He's happy to increase the financial burden on working families by taking away employer-sponsored health care in favor of inadequate "tax credits", but that's different from raising taxes, so let's not get into what it would mean to "raise taxes on the rich."
In fact I want to give working Americans a better shot at having a better life.
Which again has nothing to do with "the rich". But let's hear him out:
And we all know the challenges, my friends, if I could be serious. Americans tonight in California and all over America are sitting at the kitchen table, recently and suddenly lost a job, can't afford to stay in their home, education for their kids, affordable health care.
Yes, I can almost picture John and Cindy having such a discussion. First they would have to pick a home in which to have the discussion. But not one of the homes on the beach that John doesn't like. And then hop on Cindy's private jet to go to that home. And then the could sit down at their kitchen table and talk about the plight, oh, let's say some of the workers at Cindy's family beer distributorship. But make no mistake: John knows exactly what you're going through. Which is why they come up with such good ideas:
These are tough problems. These are tough problems. You talk to them every day, every day.
Right. You come up with those great ideas by talking about these issues every day. And those ideas are?
My friends, we've got to give them hope and confidence in the future. That's what we need to give them.
Well, as Edison said, "Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration." And McCain's been working hard on this, so let's see what he has to offer:
And I can inspire them.
Ah - he's got the first 1% of the job covered for you!
I can lead, and I know that our best days are ahead of us.
Who could argue with that....


  1. Have you ever really looked at Cindy McCain? She scares the shit out of me. She makes the Stepford Wives look like Gloria Steinem.

    Also, Aaron, I finally figured out how to link blogs onto my Live Journal, and I added yours. Hopefully some of my girls will wander over here :)

  2. On McCain's point, while they like to ballyhoo Cindy as a businessperson, what are the odds she does any real amount of work for her inherited business? As chair, does she do more than review occasional financial statements and preside over occasional board meetings (probably during all-expenses paid, luxury trips to wherever the board is meeting)?

    The plastic look? To me, that looks like a brow lift and Botox. I know that vanity hasn't been an issue since, well, the Democratic primaries ended, such that McCain's $500+ shoes and apparent own use of Botox is no longer relevant to the campaign, but... there seems to be a lot of vanity in that family.

  3. So McCain is proposing to pay me over $20K for having had children? Not that I couldn't use the money, but come ON. If we can afford to hand out $20K to help families, how about handing it out to families who are lucky to see that much income in a year?

  4. McCain says he doesn't understand economics, and if his statement is accurate he appears to have little sense of what a "tax credit" is or the economic distortions they can create.

    teacherpatti, I would look forward to any visitors from Live Journal. Thanks.

  5. Hermes...I didn't know that McCain may have used Botox. Interesting!

    As a childless by choice person, I'm always leery of tax credits for having kids. Sorry--don't mean to start any parent vs. nonparent wars. Although my childed friends tell me that the current tax credits in no way make up financially for what it costs to actually raise a kid....

  6. Take a look at the video above. There's rarely and barely any sign of life above his eye sockets. Here's a "before and after" (scroll down).

  7. Ew. Now I'm just going to stare at his dead, cold eyes.

    I wonder if he will get hair plugs or just let nature take its course. If he opts for the latter, then at least he'll have two bald heads.



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