You know the brain teasers. I know you do. The ones where the reader is asked to look at two very similar things and then point out how, in fact, the two are actually dissimilar.
That's kind of like what the U.S. Senate is in the middle of right now.
After their stellar work on Saturday, the Senate will be back at it this week working as hard as they can, apparently, to please the top 2% of Americans.
As expected, all Senate Republicans, joined by 5 Democratic Senators, voted to block cloture on making Bush-era tax rates permanent on the first $250,000 of yearly income. Subsequently, the same cast of characters blocked a similar measure on the first $1,000,000 of yearly income. It's now in the official record. Republicans voted against continuing tax cuts for over 98% of American income earners.....twice in one day.
It's crystal clear that Republicans will not settle for anything less than continuing Bush-era tax rates on millionaires and billionaires.
And it's also crystal clear that Democrats will cave to what the GOP wants.
The rumors have been that Democrats will bargain with Republicans, agreeing to extend tax cuts for billionaires for a period of 2 or 3 years, but only if unemployment compensation is extended for a couple million unemployed Americans whose benefits have expired.
But these things are not the same. Millionaires and billionaires do not need their lower tax rates extended. They simply do not. America's richest have accumulated more of the nation's overall wealth in 2010 than at any other time in recorded history. Arguments suggesting that the tax cut extensions for the wealthiest must happen in order to improve the jobs situation are belied by the fact that the lower tax rates have not improved the employment numbers for the last NINE years.
G.W. Bush's administration lowered tax rates dramatically....part of his legacy. Also part of his legacy is the lowest creation of jobs number over an 8 year presidential term in recorded history.
Recognizing the truth in those last two sentences led Droopy Dawg McConnell to comment oh-so-cynically....."just think how bad the economy would have been if we had not cut taxes"....or something similar.
So, the lower-tax-rates-for-billionaires-will-create-jobs slogan marches on despite, just like "death panels", not one shred of evidence to support it.
On the other hand, up to 20-something million Americans are actually unemployed. No slogan....reality. These Americans, unlike billionaires, need the small amount provided by unemployment insurance. They need it. For every single job available today, 5 unemployed Americans are trying to get it. Unlike millionaires and billionaires who have seen their share of wealth, their profits, go up even DURING an historic downturn.....the unemployed have not seen their prospects improve at all.
No matter.....that's the hostage handover arrangement being forced in the Senate by Republicans...perhaps even happening this week. Hope not, because the only intelligent and responsible thing to do is to allow all the tax cuts to expire.....unfortunately, intelligence and the Senate are like opposite magnetic poles.
Tax cuts for the filthy rich being extended, which Republicans insist do not have to be paid for.....in exchange for minimal aid to the desperately unemployed, which Republicans insist must be paid for.
Those two things are not the same. The justification of the one thing is reprehensible, disgusting, shameful, and based on falsehood. The justification of the other is found in simple human compassion, fairness and an acknowledgement of reality.
Can you tell which is which?
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