Suddenly, It's No Fun to be Rich
After much haranguing over the size and scope of the stimulus, Mr. Obama has released his second sweeping proposal to adjust Americans' balance sheets.
This time, it comes through a leveling of the tax structure that has bedeviled low and middle income workers since the Reagan administration. The proposal indicates a historic effort to address income inequaltiy, but with Republicans already miffed over the gargantuan stimulus bill, Congress will likely be poised for a fight.
The details sound anathema to the largesse some high earners have been accustomed to for thirty years. The highest one percent of the tax bracket--the very group that ushered Mr. Obama into office--could pay up to $100,000 of their annual income in taxes. Their contributions would funnel into federal education and health care programs which would further reduce the burden on the lower tax brackets that currently face rocketing medical costs.
The Wall Street Journal details, "After 2010, American households making over $250,000 would see the rate at which they can deduct mortgage-interest payments and other items from their taxes reduced to 28% from the current 35%, costing them $318 billion over 10 years."
The wealthy did certainly benefit under the Bush tax codes at the same time median income for the middle class fell by nearly $2000 annually. In a polemic against Republican favortism for the wealthy, Obama introduced his tax proposal yesterday at the White House. "With loosened oversight and weak enforcement from Washington, too many cut corners as they racked up record profits and paid themselves millions of dollars in compensation and bonuses. There's nothing wrong with making money, but there is something wrong when we allow the playing field to be tilted so far in the favor of so few."
In Congress--where 2009 salaries avergage $174,000--the debate will likely depart from the massive drain on federal coffers the stimulus foretells. Add to this the as yet unknown depths of the economic recession and fierce debate over tax reform looks assured.
Matt Miller, Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress and author The Tyranny of Dead Ideas, continues the discussion of taxes and tax reform.
Pfizer's partnerships strengthen their ability to deliver vaccines in developing countries.
- Pfizer is helping to drive the UN's sustainable development goals through partnerships.
Swiss researchers identify new dangers of modern cocaine.
- Cocaine cut with anti-worming adulterant levamisole may cause brain damage.
- Levamisole can thin out the prefrontal cortex and affect cognitive skills.
- Government health programs should encourage testing of cocaine for purity.
A little goes a long way.
- A recent study from the Department of Health and Human Services found that 80 percent of Americans don't exercise enough.
- Small breaks from work add up, causing experts to recommend short doses of movement rather than waiting to do longer workouts.
- Rethinking what exercise is can help you frame how you move throughout your day.
Civil discourse has fallen to an all time low.
The question that the American populace needs to ask itself now is: how do we fix it?
Discursive fundamentals need to be taught to preserve free expression
In their findings the authors state:
upholding First Amendment ideals.
Talking politics at Thanksgiving dinner
- Progressive Activists: younger, highly engaged, secular, cosmopolitan, angry.
- Traditional Liberals: older, retired, open to compromise, rational, cautious.
- Passive Liberals: unhappy, insecure, distrustful, disillusioned.
- Politically Disengaged: young, low income, distrustful, detached, patriotic, conspiratorial
- Moderates: engaged, civic-minded, middle-of-the-road, pessimistic, Protestant.
- Traditional Conservatives: religious, middle class, patriotic, moralistic.
- Devoted Conservatives: white, retired, highly engaged, uncompromising,
It's interesting to note the authors found that:
"Tribe membership shows strong reliability in predicting views across different political topics."
Here are some statistics on differing viewpoints according to political party:
- 51% of staunch liberals say it's "morally acceptable" to punch Nazis.
- 53% of Republicans favor stripping U.S. citizenship from people who burn the American flag.
- 65% of Republicans say NFL players should be fired if they refuse to stand for the anthem.
- 58% of Democrats say employers should punish employees for offensive Facebook posts.
- 47% of Republicans favor bans on building new mosques.
Here are some guidelines for civic discourse that might come in handy:
- Practice inclusion and listen to who you're speaking to.
Civic discourse in the divisive age
dangerously tribal, fueled by a culture of outrage and taking offense. For the combatants,
the other side can no longer be tolerated, and no price is too high to defeat them.
These tensions are poisoning personal relationships, consuming our politics and
putting our democracy in peril.
Once a country has become tribalized, debates about contested issues from
immigration and trade to economic management, climate change and national security,
become shaped by larger tribal identities. Policy debate gives way to tribal conflicts.
Polarization and tribalism are self-reinforcing and will likely continue to accelerate.
The work of rebuilding our fragmented society needs to start now. It extends from
re-connecting people across the lines of division in local communities all the way to
building a renewed sense of national identity: a bigger story of us."
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