Michele Bachmann, Yes There Is A Choice
By MICHAEL SCHENKLER
Y’know, I am a lifelong Democrat.
Dad, a politically active, left-leaning student of history, taught me that the Dems were for the small people – the middle class — like us, and the Republicans looked out for big business and the rich guys. Dad would also remind me regularly that we – the middle class had the responsibility of providing the opportunity that the lower (economic) class could, through hard work and ingenuity, rise up and become part of the middle class. It was this middle class – most of us – who would make sure this was always the land of opportunity. And we would have the opportunity to better ourselves through hard work and ingenuity (and sometimes a little bit of luck). That was what our country is all about.
I learned my lessons well from dad. And in modern terms, believes his teachings are still pretty accurate. You just have to throw in the tech boom, terrorism and a stock and housing market fluctuation that dad could never envision.
But this student of a real bright political teacher became a cynic, and started to believe that the two parties were beginning to seem very much alike. Perhaps they seemed alike in their do-nothing or self-serving approach to governing. They certainly seemed alike when partisanship appeared to dwarf good government. But the difference between the positions of the Democratic and Republican parties during the debt ceiling debacle, was as clear as the day had to be for Sarah Palin to see Russia from her Alaskan house.
And dad was right.
The Dems wanted to cut spending and raise revenue (yes, taxes) of the wealthiest Americans and the richest corporations. And the Republicans wanted to just cut spending and give the richest in this nation a free ride. When you cut spending, you impact the little guy. If you don’t tax the rich, the burden isn’t shared. And the Republicans wanted the rich to keep their wealth – you know, it’ll “trickle down.”
Perhaps Warren Buffett, the Oracle of Omaha, the nation’s second wealthiest person (behind Bill Gates) and the force behind investment super company Berkshire Hathaway said it best in a New York Times op-ed earlier this week, when he called on Congress to commit to “shared sacrifice” and raise taxes on people earning more than $1 million.
Buffett, who is estimated to be worth more than $45 billion, suggested that the U.S. government raise taxes on the super-rich investor class: “While the poor and middle class fight for us in Afghanistan, and while most Americans struggle to make ends meet, we mega-rich continue to get our extraordinary tax breaks.”
As for the argument that taxing the wealthy stifles the economy, Buffett said, “I have worked with investors for 60 years and I have yet to see anyone - not even when capital gains rates were 39.9 percent in 1976-77 - shy away from a sensible investment because of the tax rate on the potential gain.”
Yup. Us Dems got a couple of rich guys too.
Now I’m not looking for an economic argument here, I’m just trying to illustrate that dad’s assertion of 50-plus years ago that the Dems are for us little guys and the Republicans are for the rich and big business still holds true today.
And clearly, I’m happy being a lifelong Dem.
And clearly I’m for the “little guy” as dad called the middle class.
Why Switch Parties?
Well, it’s taken a terrible debacle – the debt ceiling crises — to make this Dem think of changing parties. After watching the G.O.P. at work, after listening to the rhetoric of the Republican candidates, I find the prospect of voting in a Republican Presidential Primary so ever attractive.
Yes, I am disappointed with my progressive Democratic President. He lacked leadership and backbone in the frightful fight. Yes I am disappointed with my member of Congress who with his party didn’t get the job done and didn’t get anything done right. The Dems never put forth a program that would enable the people to see and understand that there was a clear choice between the parties.
My party has failed to define the difference that dad explained to this young son some half a century ago. And so, perhaps I must turn to the Republican Party to detail and amplify that difference.
And there is none better equipped to do the task than Michele Bachmann – though Rick Perry is beginning to make a case for himself. There is no one that could speak for the Republican right as well as the lovely Congresswoman from Minnesota, Michele Bachmann.
And nothing would please me more than to see my President and the Democrats in Congress having to differentiate their position by having to respond to the right wing rhetoric of Ms. Bachmann.
You see, dad made it easy for his son. You could vote for someone who represented us little guys or someone who represented those rich guys. I got the message and have been a lifelong Dem.
So now I have an opportunity to switch parties and vote for Michelle Bachmann in the New York State Presidential Primary and by doing so, I could help her become the Republican candidate for President and help everyone understand what dad taught me back in the day.
Yeah, it may be worthwhile to become a Republican and vote for Michele Bachmann to bring about the 2012 Presidential election of Obama vs. Bachmann.
And everyone would understand the difference.
Anyone else thinking of switching parties?
Y’know, father knows best.
Follow me on Twitter @MSchenkler
Carey Was Indispensable In City’s ’70s Fiscal Crisis
By HENRY STERN
The obituaries for Gov. Hugh L. Carey stress a major achievement, bringing fiscal responsibility to New York City government after the financial crisis of 1974 and 1975. Here are some facts about the situation at that time and Governor Carey’s critical role.
In Gov. Carey’s inaugural on January 1, 1975, he said that “the days of wine and roses were over.” This was a sage prediction of the fiscal storms ahead. In response to the city’s inability to borrow money to meet its obligations, Carey secured state legislation creating the Municipal Assistance Corporation (also known as Big Mac) and the Financial Control Board for New York City. MAC had the authority to borrow money on behalf of the city, and city tax revenue streams were required to give priority to MAC bonds over any other municipal obligations. The interest rate on some MAC bonds was set as high as 11 per cent, and that income was tax-free. The FCB had authority over the city budget, its approval was required before a budget could be adopted.
The city’s fiscal crisis was different and more immediate than the one the Federal government is now enduring. For years, starting at the end of the mayoral term of Robert F. Wagner in 1965, and increasingly during the eight years of the Lindsay administration and the first year under Mayor Abe Beame, the city had consistently spent more than it received in revenues. The gap was filled by borrowing, and city officials devised a number of instrumentalities for short-term borrowing, which was in addition to regular long-term borrowing through the issuance of bonds. In addition, current expenses, which should have been paid for by current revenues, were allocated to the capital budget, which made them eligible for bonding.
To meet its cash needs, the city began to issue new instruments, called RANs, TANs and BANs. These were respectively Revenue Anticipation Notes, Tax Anticipation Notes, and Bond Anticipation Notes. When they came due, the city rolled them over, renewing them for a short period of time. The sum of money borrowed in this way steadily rose, and there came a time in 1975 when the banks, fearful of default as the city’s debt increased, stopped buying the freshly issued notes. This caused an immediate cash crisis, as the city did not have the money to pay its employees, having become dependent on the proceeds of the short-term notes which had been rolled over.
The Emergency Financial Control Board (as it was called at the time) had effective control of the city government, since it controlled the cash flow. Its seven-man board consisted of the governor, the mayor, the state and city comptrollers, and three private citizens chosen by the governor and confirmed by the state senate.
Gov. Carey, who had become proconsul for the city, first secured the retirement of Deputy Mayor James Cavanagh, a longtime civil servant and the appointee of Mayor Beame. Cavanagh, an honorable man who came to symbolize the old way, was replaced by John E. Zuccotti, a 38-year-old who had been chairman of the City Planning Commission. The city reduced its expenditures sharply, mainly by laying off 50,000 employees on June 30, 1975, the end of the fiscal year.
Politically, Carey concluded that Beame was indecisive and not competent to manage the city. He and former Mayor Wagner set about finding a challenger for the 1977 Democratic primary. They settled on Mario Cuomo, at the time New York’s secretary of state under Gov. Carey. Cuomo came in second in the seven-person primary race. The top two, Congressman Ed Koch and Cuomo, made the runoff. Beame had been eliminated because he came in third.
Koch defeated Cuomo. On winning, Koch declared peace with Carey, and the two men became political allies and friends.
By the way, many years ago, Gov. Carey received the park name “Leonine”. It was a reference to his middle name, Leo, and his stately appearance. In New York State, he was, at an important time in history, the king of beasts.