Bread or Circus?

I’ve been monitoring the CNBC runup to the Presidential town hall meeting they’re sponsoring.  As I’ve listened, I’ve heard them do something they failed to do for the past year and a half.

They’ve been fact-correcting (some of them).

That’s distinctly different from the theme they’ve had for some time, where they seemed willing to repeat any “pro business” line they had heard, irregardless of reality or truth.  I guess they were trying to get ratings the Fox way, and decided it wasn’t working.

Call that the “circus”…. so where’s the bread?

For some reason, the Bush low tax and lax regulatory regime shouldn’t be touched according to a stream of self-serving guests, even though it was demonstrably the worst combination of policies in our modern history.  At least Coolidge and Hoover didn’t double the national debt while they gave business the keys to the kingdom.

Unlike the past year and a half, the employees of CNBC seem willing to contradict the dishonest assertions of their guests, which is a big change.

The other big difference is the tone.  Last week, I heard one of CNBC’s afternoon jerks get away with call our President “Bam Bam,” as if that kind of puerile behavior is acceptable for opinion-makers on the national stage.  Today they seem willing to show a little respect.  I wonder why?

The Uncertainty Mantra

So many business people and quasi-politicians say they don’t have enough “certainty” about future tax policy and use that as their excuse for sitting on their corporate wallets and not hiring.  Why can’t they tell the truth?

The truth is that they don’t have enough sales growth to expand.  Many of them have taken advantage of the deflationary pressures on wages to “increase productivity” and increase profits.  They’ve also pocketed the tax cuts they were given as stimulus, but neither of those creates consumer demand.  Maybe they don’t want the top tax rate to rise to 39.6% from 36% because they intend to pay themselves a lot more based on paying their employees less?

If I owned a small business and could pay myself a half million after deducting the cost of any business “toys” I wanted, like a company car and maybe all new computers, I’d be thankful for a tax cut on my first $250K in pay, and stop moaning about the extra 3.6% I’d be paying on Dollar 250,001 through Dollar 500,000.  For those who care about the numbers rather than the politics, that’s a whopping $9,000.  Peanuts compared to the $50,000 or $100,000 I can easily imagine spending on additional business tools, and the tax savings I’d get on that piece of the latest round of small business tax cuts.

Of course the biggest gift of all is in the Obama proposal for yet more small business tax relief that would allow owners to keep their profits in their company and pay ZERO TAX when they sell their company some day.

So here’s the cynic’s small business plan:

1) Pay myself $250K so I live comfortably while paying historically low income tax.

2) Buy as many things as I would like to help the company and deduct their cost dollar-for-dollar, lowering my taxable income while increasing my quality of life.

3) Take the new 35% deduction for the health care premiums I pay, .

4) Plan on selling my business for as much as I can get when I retire.

5) Right now, make my employees take lower pay and higher medical co-pays because I can.

6) Complain that the real problem is the President I don’t like and never did, and how he doesn’t “compromise” by giving my team every dollar they want to borrow and give to me.

Note: Following the show, the good behavior stopped.

Santelli is just as dishonest as before, and CNBC has quit respecting the office of President of the United States, as before.

By the way, just in case you were taken in by Santelli’s “spontaneous” outburst a couple of years, ago, you might want to know what I found that very afternoon.  I checked, and found out a number of “[xxx]” web sites already existed, including the “” web site suggested by his rant.

The websites had been in existence for almost a year (well before the 2008 election), and were owned by a corporate lobbying firm that was paying its CEO millions per year.  That lobbyist is Dick Armey, who’ll be the first to tell you he founded the Tea Party.  After being paid plenty to do so by big corporations who also pay for the national parties, he sure did.

Welcome to the world of corporate sponsored populist “grassroots.”

Think about that the next time you hear that an organization with the Tea Party moniker is throwing a quarter or a half million dollars into advertising in a small state.  Ask yourself whether your honorable intention to participate in our democracy is being manipulated by the same people who brought you the Republican National Committee and the Democratic National Committee.  Be just as skeptical as you would for any “establishment” candidate, because the decision to spend the money and choose the winners is being made by exactly the same people who gave you the government you’re protesting against.



2 Responses to Bread or Circus?

  1. William Kinsolving says:

    Bravo, Howard. You might want to read Jane Mayer’s piece in The NewYorker, about the Koch brothers and their funding of every right wing extreme they can find.


    • hhill51 says:

      Saw that Mayer piece. Check out this article about “grassroots” Miller in Alaska, who had $600K spent by corporate sponsored Tea Party Express, including on-the-ground paid operatives sent to Alaska. Not many people are aware that there is actually a stronger correlation between money spent and subsequent election than there is correlation to incumbency. Many Tea Partiers are being taken for fools, IMO, trading one mostly-owned corrupt Congressman for a more corrupt, completely-owned replacement.
      Though there are a number of candidates for both houses that will owe their seats to the Koch brothers if they win (Toomey, Wilson, O’Donell, among others), Mike Pompeo owes his entire life and fortune to the offspring of John Birch funder Koch the elder….
      I sort of wonder how much of Mrs. Clarence Thomas’ “expenses” are being picked up by the K-boys, and what back-room deals several other SCOTUS members made that they paid off with the constitutional re-write they forced in the Citizen’s United case… still strange that they even re-wrote the complaint so they could rule how they wanted — even in a municipal court you don’t see judges telling plaintiff’s counsel how to re-file their cases.

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