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Platform is rather nebulous in its language and ignores glaring gaps between actions and rhetoric

Much like their Republican colleagues, the Democratic National Party put out a policy called "Moving America Forward", on the eve of their convention in Charlotte, North Carolina. North Carolina is a hotly contested battleground state where Republican challenger Mitt Romney enjoys a slim 4-point lead over the President in current pulls.  Unlike the Republicans' platform, the DNP's platform does not list any specific authors -- but one can assume the President's staff and top members of Congress all had some input into the document.

I. What's This Platform Noise?

The Republican platform was quite interesting in the sense that it ping-ponged between calling for essential a moralistic federalist police state on issues such as internet pornography, and on the opposite extreme called for reducing the size of the federal government and promoting liberty on the net.

By contrast the DNP's platform, as I see it, is a bit different in a sense that much of its problematic material lies less in cognitively dissonant language, but rather in the inconsistencies that go unsaid.

But before we dig in, let us recap what a party platform is.

It is somewhat of a myth to say that America does not have or has never had viable third parties -- President Andrew Johnson, the man who succeeded President Abraham Lincoln -- was effectively a third-party president after publicly renouncing the Democratic Party while in office, while also refusing to join the Republican ranks.

But in all practicality, the nucleus of political power in America today is largely binary.  And today it takes millions of dollars to get elected to office.  2008 marked the first race in which the average "price" of a seat in the House of Representatives passed the $1M USD mark.  The candidate with more money won 9 out of 10 federal races.  Much of that funding comes from the national party, which in turn receives a mixture of money from small donors and hefty special interests.
 
Moving America Forward

Against that backdrop, consider that the RNP's and DNP's platforms are non-binding, yet they do carry substantial weight and pressure.  Candidates who buck the carefully laid out talking points in the platform risk losing funding, and by proxy losing a job opportunity.  Of course there may be some element of pandering to the platform -- so it's not impossible to fathom that either party might adopt a plank (passage) that they have no real intention of enforcing.

II. Preaching v. Practice

President Barack Obama is no stranger to public relations.  Elected on a whirlwind of promises of "reforming" the government, the President disappointed some believers in his message of "hope" when he (or his staff -- in this day and age, it's hard to say which) fell back on the same old pandering to special interests.

But the tech savvy POTUS has been doing his best to put on a glowing spin on his pro-freedom message, taking to Reddit and other outlets to connect with potential voters.

The platform is equal parts boasting about his accomplishments, albeit in vague terms, and making equally vague big-sounding promises.

For example on internet freedom it writes:

The Obama administration has led the world to recognize and defend Internet freedom—the freedom of expression, assembly, and association online for people everywhere—through coalitions of countries and by empowering individuals with innovative technologies. The administration has built partnerships to support an Internet that is secure and reliable and that is respectful of U.S. intellectual property, free flow of information, and privacy. To preserve the Internet as a platform for commerce, debate, learning, and innovation in the 21st century, we successfully negotiated international Internet policymaking principles, support the current multi-stakeholder approach to Internet governance, and oppose the extension of intergovernmental controls over the Internet.

But the Obama administration's track record on internet freedoms has been mixed.  

The President did help block the Orwellian "Stop Online Piracy Act" (SOPA) (H.R. 3261) in the House and "PROTECT IP Act" (PIPA) (S.968) in the Senate after being "reminded" of his "duties" by lobbyist friends. However, he turned around and squeaked through the international Anti Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) [leaked 2010 draft; PDF] -- a treaty, in essence, with similar provisions that was notably not authorized by Congress.

The executive order to obey SOPA was passed last January.   SOPA's opponents have noticed that the President's Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has been stepping up domain seizures in months since, in many cases abusing the rights of law-abiding citizens at the behest of big media.

In other words, "successfully negotiated international Internet policymaking principles" in reality means something like "brokered back-door treaties behind the back of Congress and the public, to stroke big media".

The truly problematic thing about ACTA is that it is unconstitutional -- Europe is treating it as a binding treaty.  And the U.S. Senate must approve all binding treaties according to the Constitution:  

He shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur...

But Obama is calling it an "agreement" to escape having to obtain Senate approval -- a move that would risk highlighting the issue before a relatively ignorant public who believes (by and large) that the President is opposed to such Orwellian measures.

In short, the administration's true definition of freedom isn't so free.  Essentially it involves promoting freedom when it's convenient, but throwing it under the bus when well-heeled lobbyists wish otherwise.

Unlike the Republicans, the DNP does not appear intent on enforcing federal obscenity laws, which according to the most recent Supreme Court rulings on the topic should ban most forms of pornography.  Of course, the DNP also is making no effort to repeal these questionable laws, so it's not wholly part of the solution, either, when it comes to freeing Americans from the kind of moralistic censorship that federal law calls for (albeit, which is also currently goes unenforced.

In fact Democrats have been a key proponent in past moralistic "anti-obscenity" pushes such as Tipper Gore's famous effort to block Dead Kennedys musician Jello Biafra's Constitution right to free speech:


For that reason it's hard to take all of the Obama camp's proclamations of internet "freedom" and anti-censorship at face value considering the past actions of the administration and past actions of the party.

III. Taxation: DNP is Full of Nebulous Promises

Another section where nebulous language abounds is in the portion discussing taxation -- something that intimately affects the tech industry (see the $3B USD taxpayer-funded payout to General Electric Comp. (GE) on a year when the company turned a $14B USD profit) and exacerbates the problem of lobbyist special interests.  A recent University of Kansas School of Business study [PDF] found that $1 given to a federal politician was worth $243 USD of tax breaks, if you contributed over $1M USD.

The DNP states:

We see an America with greater economic security and opportunity, driven by education, energy, innovation and infrastructure, and a tax code that helps to create American jobs and bring down the debt in a balanced way. We believe in deficit reduction not by placing the burden on the middle class and the poor, but by cutting out programs we can't afford and asking the wealthiest to again contribute their fair share.

...we helped American families who are working multiple jobs and struggling to pay the bills save a little extra money through tax cuts, lower health care costs, and affordable student loans.

His Recovery Act represented the largest education investment since President Johnson, the largest infrastructure investment since President Eisenhower, the single largest clean energy investment ever, and the broadest tax cut in American history.

That's why President Obama and the Democratic Party have cut taxes on American workers and businesses and made sweeping reforms to the unemployment system to help get people back to work.

In other words, like the RNP, the DNP claims it's all about cutting taxes.  But the problem lies in the ambiguity (similar to that of the RNP platform).  The reality of the situation is that neither party supports a zero-exceptions flat tax.

Until that kind of policy takes hold, the race for the presidency will essentially be a spending game for corporate lobbyists to try to fund the winner, and in exchange receive favors in the tax code.

Was the Recovery Act the "single largest clean energy investment" (by the government) "ever"?  Absolutely.  But the question is whether the government should be funneling grant money to people who paid for their candidate to get elected.

As mentioned above, 9 out of 10 times in Congressional elections the candidate with more money wins.  And as long as tax exemptions, credits, grants, or any other form of tax breaks can be inserted into legislation -- as long as taxation is treated as an arbitrary nebulous sliding scale controlled by Congress and the White House -- invariably taxation will favor those with lobbying influence, when all is said and done.


The DNP adds in the twist of attacking the "wealthy", but to be real most of these people will simply do what Mitt Romney does if taxes are raised -- shelter their income off shores.  Meanwhile the DNP is perfectly happy to hand out grants and tax holidays to big wealth investors who they pretend to admonish (see Solyndra, EnerDel, General Electric, et al.) via inconsistent and arbitrary corporate taxation.

Obama bribery wide
President Obama is beating Romney in the special interest cash race.
[Image Source: Politically Incorrect]

In many ways the two parties' platforms, while differing on key moralistic issues, offer remarkable similarities when it comes to the economy.  Both parties support nebulous modifications to an already nebulous tax code that can and is actively exploited by special interests.

At the same time both parties promise (to quote the DNP) "tough spending cuts", but both sides are a bit vague as to exactly what is getting cut.  And both sides have essentially have non-verbally acknowledged that they will deficit spend if elected (though you won't find this in either platform).  Thus looking at the hard numbers both candidates share a similar hope for balancing the budget -- that wild GDP growth will raise tax revenue at current collection rates and allow the spend-thrift federal body to break-even.

The DNP platform arguably has more in common with the RNP platform than either side would be comfortable to admit.  Substitute a select few nebulous talking points and flip on a few moral issues and one side is essentially looking at the other's reflection in their mirror.

Ron Paul
Ron Paul argued last night that both parties are essentially full of the same hollow promises.
[Image Source: NBC]

Thus perhaps it's best to close with the words of Ron Paul on the Jay Leno Show last night, "Democracy isn't all that healthy in this country because if you're in a third party... you don't get in the debates... And if you ever come to the conclusion -- heaven forbid -- that the two parties aren't all that different, then what is left really?"

Source: Democratic National Party



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By Quadrillity on 9/5/2012 5:29:56 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah, I keep hearing this "fair share" rhetoric thrown around... but for the life of my I can't figure out what they mean. Around 50% of this nation already pay either zero or negative net taxes (gets more back than they put in).

Can't remember the exact figure, but doesn't the top 10% pay ~70% of all net taxes? And the top 40 pay more than 90%.

What the hell is the definition of fair?! lol. This is insanity. I'd say "fair" share in taxes is X percentage of your income. No deductions, no loopholes.


By Reclaimer77 on 9/5/2012 5:35:39 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Yeah, I keep hearing this "fair share" rhetoric thrown around... but for the life of my I can't figure out what they mean.


It's not hard to figure out really. They're Marxists.

If you think about it the only "fair" tax rate is 0%. Everything after that is only degrees of theft.

Remember the first Federal Income tax law was swatted down by the Supreme Court, because it's an obviously Unconstitutional concept. The Government has no legal authority to your wages.

So they amended the Constitution to make it legal. Legal, yes. Morally right, fair, and ethical? Certainly not.


By superflex on 9/7/2012 1:36:30 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
Says the troll typing on his computer on the federal government funded internet.


Spoken like a true progressive. Is that you, Lizze 1/32 Warren?


By SoCalBoomer on 9/10/2012 5:56:20 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
Says the troll typing on his computer on the federal government funded internet.


Ummmm, DARPA funded research and the initial framework - which was utterly unused except for pron on UBB etc. It wasn't until it was commercialized by Compuserve and AOH-ell and others that it exploded and became viable on its own.

The thing about just about everything is that even WITHOUT government intervention, it would still be there:

Roads? Yep, they existed before Gov't came in and formalized the system and created the Interstate system. Were they good? They were about as good as they were paid to be good. They were often toll roads (go to NJ, not much has changed) and those were the good ones.

Electricity? Yep - that was a private venture until it was regulated as a utility. Same with water, natural gas, etc.

Amendments don't bother "my kind" - they're allowed for in the "godlike" "perfect" document that we use as our model. If you want to change it, go for it - that's what the amendment process is for. The fact that there was a TON of political maneuvering to get the 14th passed notwithstanding, it's well worth it.

If you don't like it as the document that tells us how things are to be governed around here, be welcome to find some place else that does things the way you want them. Remember, you're free to leave if you want to.

The previous post was making a point. There is no real definition of "Fair" - to me, it would be "fair" to reduce the Federal Govt and make it pay its own way and not tax any of us. Feasible? No. . . :D

Is it fair to tax the arbitrarily defined "rich" a massively larger amount than the arbitrarily defined "poor"? Depends on your viewpoint but I'd argue no - and I'm in that arbitrarily defined "poor" group.

Is it fair that the arbitrarily defined "rich" have a huge amount of loopholes to get around paying that massively larger amount of taxes? Again, no - I don't have that many and it's prohibitively difficult and expensive for me to even try for them (and I don't qualify for them anyway - those I know of) so why should they get it when I don't? But from their perspective, it probably is "fair" since it evens things out so they aren't so prohibitively taxed.

Remember, the CBO stated that the top 20% pay 67.9% of our Federal taxes (http://www.cbo.gov/publication/43373 and supplementary tables) - note I said CBO, not Bloomberg, not some partisan left or right group. . . the Congressional Budget Office. Is that "fair"? Again - depends. If you're on the left, probably yes or not quite; if you're on the right then the answer is no.

BTW - their RATE (top 1%) is anywhere between 28-35% (through 2009) while the lowest 20% is under 9% and in 2009 was 1%. Is that fair? I would be in the second 20% and that would be between 6-14% (depending on the year) with 6.8% being in 2009. Is that fair? I was only paying 9.8% of the tax burden. . . is that "fair"?

His point was valid. Your knee-jerk response wasn't so much. :D


By tayb on 9/5/2012 5:56:26 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Can't remember the exact figure, but doesn't the top 10% pay ~70% of all net taxes? And the top 40 pay more than 90%.


The top 20% owns owns about 85% of the total wealth in the country so I see no problem with them paying 85% of all net taxes. I believe that is how taxes should work anyway. Set a spending budget, collect that much in taxes, or the other way around if you want to limit government. You're taxed based on the % of total income your bracket generated (as a decimal), multiplied by the spending bill (or whatever the goal is), and divvied up evenly among everyone in your bracket. Voila. The numbers right now are arbitrary.


By lightfoot on 9/5/2012 6:16:25 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
The top 20% owns owns about 85% of the total wealth in the country so I see no problem with them paying 85% of all net taxes.

So basically, you are saying that the only "fair" way to tax people is based on net worth, and not income. Thus people who save should be penalized while those who spend are not.


By tayb on 9/5/2012 6:24:18 PM , Rating: 2
Did you read that and just decide to stop reading right there and immediately make a comment?


By Reclaimer77 on 9/5/2012 6:32:27 PM , Rating: 2
Well I certainly did because it's an outright lie that the rich control the majority of wealth in this country. Enjoy your class warfare.

In fact the case could be made that the Government is by far the single largest ownership of American "wealth".


By Solandri on 9/5/2012 6:42:49 PM , Rating: 2
No, he's absolutely right. Wealth-based taxation doesn't work because you're mixing up an amount (wealth) with a rate (annual tax). That causes all sorts of unintended inequalities, like people who save being taxed more than people who blow all their money on parties.

An annual tax has to be based on annual income to be fair. You can tweak the tax rates to be progressive if you wish. If you want to get really creative, you can adjust the slope of the progressive taxation scale based on wealth inequality. That way the more unequal wealth distribution is, the more the tax burden shifts towards high-income people. This is the sort of stuff systems engineers do all the time to make sure your car suspension returns to its steady state quickly after hitting a bump.


By Quadrillity on 9/5/2012 6:17:25 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
The top 20% owns owns about 85% of the total wealth in the country so I see no problem with them paying 85% of all net taxes.


So we should punish success? Got it. That will attract a lot of the world best and brightest lol.

quote:
Set a spending budget, collect that much in taxes, or the other way around if you want to limit government.


Yeah, that first one would never work. How about we just collect 10% flat tax from every single citizen and call it a day? Then you can work out your federal/state budget. You don't make a budget before you know how much money you have, that is the recipe for financial disaster.

I want to know, just what in the hell is wrong with a universal flat tax? We could end all confusion once and for all. How much did you make this year? Oh, ok. Multiply that by .10 and that's how much you owe the government. The rest is for you to spend or save wherever you would like.

That way people who only made $1,000 that year pay $100, and the people who made $1,000,000 pay 100,000. That would make the millionaire pay one thousand times the amount of the person making only 1,000 that year.

does paying 1,000 times more than someone who made less than you sound fair enough? If not, we are in BIG trouble.


By retrospooty on 9/5/2012 6:25:23 PM , Rating: 2
I dunno. It's not about punishing the rich, but they should pay more than the poor. The problem I have is the poor who do nothing. Too many people are allowed to just do jack squat all day everyday and live off the system. On top of that anything and everything the govt. does is a grossly inefficient waste of money. That punishes the rich and the middle and only benefits the lazy and stupid.


By SoCalBoomer on 9/10/2012 6:02:08 PM , Rating: 2
They do pay more - and under any tax system, they should pay more.

In fact according to the CBO (non partisan) they pay 67% of the tax burden (the top 20%).

But you're confusing RATE with AMOUNT.

Penalizing the rich (whatever your arbitrary definition) by making them pay up to half their income (which is where we get so many loopholes - start penalizing people like that and they're GOING to look for ways to get out of the penalty - got kids? :D ) means high RATE.

As the above poster said, even at 10% flat, the poor who makes $10K/year would pay $1K, less than $100/month while the millionaire would pay $100,000 - 100 times the AMOUNT but the same RATE.

I'm in agreement with you on just about everything you posted, though. I have a sister who's pretty much a welfare queen - irritates the crap outta me.


By Solandri on 9/5/2012 7:06:33 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
That way people who only made $1,000 that year pay $100, and the people who made $1,000,000 pay 100,000. That would make the millionaire pay one thousand times the amount of the person making only 1,000 that year.

My opinion is that you need to make an allowance for basic cost of living. Break up how people spend their incomes into needs and wants. Needs shouldn't be taxed, wants should be.

So if the average cost to live (food, clothing, shelter, transportation, utilities) is $25k a year, then the first $25k of income should be exempt from taxes. After that, you can have a flat tax or progressive tax, I don't really care.

We sort of have this with the standard deduction, but it gets all confused with all sorts of other deductions and credits which can be itemized and added up. Then you have sales taxes and excise taxes, and on and on which needlessly complicate the whole thing because some politician was too chicken to straight out say "I want to raise your taxes." I agree with you, you shouldn't need to be a CPA to file your taxes. Just extract all the taxes from the system at one point (income being the easiest) and be done with it.


By Quadrillity on 9/5/2012 7:19:52 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
My opinion is that you need to make an allowance for basic cost of living. Break up how people spend their incomes into needs and wants. Needs shouldn't be taxed, wants should be.


You just threw an incredibly large monkey wrench into a perfectly simple system of flat tax. Who constitutes what a need and a want is? Apparently my taxes now go to handing out free cellphones (with monthly minutes, txt, AND DATA) because that is now a "need". So that is not going to work.

The only fair taxation is a flat tax percentage of income. In this nation, you are as successful as you want to be; it's not a matter of being unfortunate. The lazy will always be "unfortunate".

If we had a flat tax scheme, it would force the government to stick to a realistic budget, and it would eliminate any need to dodge the "raising taxes" questions during election years. It would solve so many problems virtually over night. No tax credits, no loopholes. Just a flat tax.

Other than greed any hiding lies/transgressions with tax schemes, there is absolutely no reason we shouldn't be doing it right now.


By hubb1e on 9/5/2012 11:46:14 PM , Rating: 2
The flat tax is the only "fair" way of doing it. The only reason progressives can justify their arguement is because they believe that wealth is a pie that everyone takes from. The rich take more pie, so they should pay more. Realistically wealth is not a pie because you can always bake more pies with more effort. Wealth is a function of work. Do more work by working harder or more efficiently and you create more pies. The 1% make 20% of the wealth in this country but pay something like 35% of the taxes. That is not a fair system because they pay more than their share of the wealth. The flat tax solves this problem. The rich will pay more than the poor, but the rate each pays is fixed. However, if we did this then we'd had to eliminate all other taxes because some taxes like gasoline taxes are severly regressive and hit the poor much harder than the rich. It would be a fundamental change in the way we tax. And the real rate would need to be around 18-22% because that is the ratio of gross domestic product to government spending.


By superflex on 9/7/2012 1:42:58 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
My opinion is that you need to make an allowance for basic cost of living. Break up how people spend their incomes into needs and wants. Needs shouldn't be taxed, wants should be.


Why do you think the current tax code is so big? Losers like yourself picking and chosing who get a better deal.
It cant be a flat tax if you're making exepmtions for the dregs of society, based on their inability to get off their ass and the govt teat.


By nick2000 on 9/7/2012 3:32:43 PM , Rating: 2
The "dregs of society" as you call them could simply be down on hard times. Mitt Romney's grandfather fled Mexico and ended up on welfare in the US. His own son, George Romney (Mitt's dad), was thankful for the stepping stone that welfare and student loans provided and went on to become a successful businessman. (Obviously Mitt did not learn from his dad)...

Your spite for the "non-worthy" is clouding your judgment I think. What's next? Kill the sick because they are slowing us down?


By Rukkian on 9/6/2012 2:46:38 PM , Rating: 2
I think that anytime you base it off income, there are too many ways to hide said income.

I personally think a flat rate usage tax would be a good solution. If you want to make millions and millions of dollars and not spend it, good for you. If you want to go out and buy 3 $100m mansions and 50 high end cars, you will have to pay taxes on that.

You could even make things like unprocessed foods (raw vegetables, meats, etc) be tax free so you can get what you actually need to live on.


By Mint on 9/6/2012 10:37:18 AM , Rating: 2
Stop parroting the RNP talking points and making convenient omissions of facts.

You are talking about federal income taxes only. You're ignoring federal payroll taxes, and you're ignoring state/local taxes.

Do you have any idea how regressive state taxes are? Florida, for example, takes 2.6% from the top 1%, but 13% from the bottom quintile. States compete with each each other for the rich, because they want them to move in and the poor to move out.

Overall, when you consider ALL taxes, the current system is ALREADY slightly regressive when comparing the top to the middle. If, instead, you looked at total taxes as a percent of disposable income (i.e. income minus the most basic expenses), they are very regressive. They cannot earn any of their income without those expenses.

If you made federal income taxes flat, overall taxes would be catastrophically regressive.


By Quadrillity on 9/6/2012 12:19:19 PM , Rating: 1
How the hell is that parroting? Yes, I'm talking about federal income taxes at the moment. How is that "ignoring" or "omitting facts"? If you wanted to discuss something else, why not ask instead of accuse me of those things?

Anyway, past your douchebag attitude, If you want to argue state taxes then lets do that. I think "IF" we are going to have federal income tax (which was originally meant to be a temporary war tax), it should be fixed for a set number of years, and should take a vote to change it.

States can tax how they see fit, because they aren't supposed to be that heavily regulated by the fed. If we are to have income tax, we should fix it at ~20 + or - percent and forego any other taxes (sales tax, estate tax, etc). That way the American people are given an upfront and tangible number to deal with. No tax loopholes, no adjusters, no bullcrap. Just a flat, across the board tax.

It's simplicity would allow it to work just fine.

quote:
If you made federal income taxes flat, overall taxes would be catastrophically regressive.


No it wouldn't, because states would be also be on competing tax schemes. They too would see the benefit of flax, simple taxes. If you don't like how your state taxes, then change it or move. simple as that. We have to start somewhere.

No system is perfect, but what we have now is grossly unfair and unsustainable. That is not arguable.


By lightfoot on 9/6/2012 12:41:40 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
You are talking about federal income taxes only. You're ignoring federal payroll taxes, and you're ignoring state/local taxes.

The correct way to fix a regressive tax system is to eliminate the regressive tax system.

Making the income tax (already the most progressive tax in the world) more progressive does not solve the problem.

If you have an issue with payroll, state sales and property taxes then you should fix those taxes.

Don't muck around with Federal Income Tax or Corporate Taxes because you want to compensate for a tax at the State level.


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