copyright © 2009 Betsy L. Angert. BeThink.org
The mail arrived. It was from MoveOn.org. Overwhelmed with work, I thought to delete it. I noticed the surname of the sender was the same as a friend of mine. Only that [cosmic] coincidence led me to open the message and peruse. I read Daniel Mintz’s words with interest, for he spoke of what I miss in the news. Mister Mintz did not focus on the folly of a few executives at American International Group, Incorporated (AIG). The representative from MoveOn offered what is more real to me, an average American.
As we’ve seen with AIG this week, the powerful don’t give up their special treatment without a fight. They’re spending millions on lobbyists to quietly kill the provisions that would make them help pay for America’s priorities. 1 And despite all the posturing in Congress over AIG’s bonuses, too many senators are still listening to the banking and insurance lobbyists on the issues that aren’t in the headlines.
So we need to speak louder than the lobbyists . . .
Today’s Washington Post calls it “a populist budget” 2 because it cuts taxes for most Americans while ending unfair tax advantages for the richest among us. The best part is that it takes all the money we’ll save and invests it in critical national priorities that will help build and strengthen the middle class.
Obama’s budget gives tax breaks to working families instead of CEOs. And it closes the tax loopholes for special interests that cost us billions, like:
- The loophole that lets companies take tax breaks for sending jobs overseas. This will save us more than $200 billion over the next decade. 3
- The loophole that lets hedge fund managers pay a 15% tax rate on their income, instead of regular income tax like the rest of us. That will save us more than $20 billion. 4
- The loophole for big oil companies that gives them huge tax breaks even when they’re posting record profits, saving us more than $30 billion over the next decade. 5
- The loophole that gives the richest Americans bigger tax breaks for their deductions. Right now, a teacher who contributes $1,000 to the Red Cross gets a $150 tax break. A Wall Street executive making the same contribution gets a $350 tax break. 6
Quality references were offered for each claim. Research for me is more real than rhetoric. Almost as an automaton might, as I read, I reached for the telephone. I smiled at the thought that I might respond as directed. I called my Senator in Washington, District of Columbia.
I was surprised when I heard a ring. Too often, when I have attempted to connect with this individual Senator I receive a busy signal. Bill Nelson is frequently busy, but it seems he does not always speak on my behalf. His record on the issues that are most meaningful to me is as inconsistent as is my ability to speak with someone in his office. I am; however, thankful that Senator Nelson, is at least closer to my truth than Senator Mel Martinez, of Florida is.
As the phone rang and rang, I wondered, would I only have an opportunity to leave voice mail. No; a man answered. He said, “Senator Nelson’s office.” I shared with the gent as I later did with MoveOn.org. Now, I offer what was said with any reader who might wish to consider.
In my conversation with Senator Bill Nelson’s office, I shared my name, address, and my serious concern for the constant distractions. Rather than attend to substance, the need for green jobs, health care for all, quality education provided equally for our children, America cries of a discontent for bonuses. While the ten percent of the AIG bailout bestowed upon the privileged in additional benefits may be important, for me, it is not the cause for my greater apprehension.
Tax loopholes, the levees unpaid by the wealthy, the money held back without an approval of the Obama budget, I believe these are far more significant, if we are to create other than the economic crisis we now have. I reminded the office worker, the last Bush budget proposed was for $3.1 trillion. That submission did not include the supplemental costs of war we all knew were coming! In truth, I am fascinated by a fixation that promotes falsehoods. I think the Obama financial plan is far more restrained than George W. Bush’s expenditure ever were.
The Senate associate listened, or so I hope. He was extremely quiet. He closed the conversation by saying he would pass my message on. A perceived lack of enthusiasm on the part of the gentleman I spoke with leads me to wonder; can I or we believe much will change.
Please, if you have not already dear reader, as a concerned citizen, would you too call your Senators, Congresspersons, anyone and everyone who might have the power to help pass the Obama budget. I offer a few ways to locate your Representatives.
References . . .
- “Populism’s Virtues,” By E.J. Dionne Jr.. The Washington Post. March 19, 2009
- “Lobbyists Line Up to Torpedo Speech Proposals,” By Brody Mullins and Scott Kilman. The Wall Street Journal. February 26, 2009
- “Obama Budget Pushes Sweeping Change,” By Jonathan Weisman. The Wall Street Journal. February 27, 2009
- “Buyout, Hedge-Fund Managers Could Pay $24 Billion More in Taxes,” By Jason Kelly and Katherine Burton. Bloomberg News. February 26, 2009
- “Obama Budget Hits Oil, Gas Companies With New Fees, Taxes,” By Sibhan Hughes and Ian Talley. The Wall Street Journal. February 26, 2009
- “The Budget and Charitable Donations,” By Peter Orszag, Director. Office of Management and Budget Blog. February 27, 2009
- Senator Bill Nelson. On the Issues.
- Bush proposes $3.1-trillion budget, Military spending would grow and retiree health benefits would shrink under the plan. Democrats in Congress assail it. By Maura Reynolds and Ricardo Alonso-zaldivar. The Los Angeles Times. ?February 05, 2008
- Bush, Congress Hide True Costs of Permanent Tax Cuts. OMB Watch. March 19, 2005
- On war costs, Bush is master of disguise, By Neil Abercrombie. Boston Globe. March 5, 2007
- Contacting the Congress.
- Congressional Directory. Congress.org