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Warren Buffett's silly economics

Warren Buffett is upset because he paid 17.7% in taxes last year, while his secretary who earns $60,000 paid 30%. He thinks that's terribly unfair.

I agree with him. If that's true, his secretary clearly needs a tax cut. I know that's not the conclusion I'm supposed to draw. I know that if I were really enlightened and compassionate I would understand that the obvious way to help the hapless secretary is not to reduce her tax burden, but to double or triple Buffett's. I don't really get it, but I'm sure it all made sense to his audience. Iit was a Hillary Clinton fundraiser after all.

But I'm officially calling B.S. on Buffett's numbers. If he says he paid 17% in taxes, I'll take him at his word. If most of his income came from long term capital gains, that sounds about right. But how does his poor secretary end up in a 30% bracket?

Assuming the worst case scenario for the secretary (no itemized deductions and filing single) I used the rates table to determine she would have had a total tax burden of around $10,300. That represents an effective tax rate of (are you ready?) 17%. And again, that's the worst case scenario. Chances are it was significantly lower.

It would be easy to dismiss this as yet more nonsense from a guilty rich liberal, but I think it's a bit more pernicious than that. This kind of misleading silliness fuels a common misperception that the existing tax code is somehow woefully regressive. The facts are that the top 1% of income earners shoulder more than a third of the entire tax burden, while the top 10% shoulder nearly two thirds. There's enough misinformation and class warfare out there already without people like Warren Buffett contributing to it.


The richest man in the world pays his secretary only $60k a year? He's a cheap bastard. I wouldn't make that public if I were him. Then again, if I had his money it wouldn't matter what I said.

Second, yes, she pays too much and I don't see how she could be paying that much unless Buffet left out her or his spouse's income in the equation. And I would only agree that Buffet should pay more if I had any sense at all that those shits in Washington, with their $600+ billion defense budget weren't wasting all of our money and actually needed as much as they get from us and borrow from the Chinese. The biggest problem is that those mofos are pissing our money away on payoffs and somply waste it.

Buffet's argument is one in favor of the Fair Tax http://www.fairtax.org/site/PageServer
which would tax individuals based on CONSUMPTION rather than income/productivity.

It would kick in after the first $30,000 spent each year and it's the ONLY tax system under which the wealthiest Americans (who spend the MOST by far) would also pay the most.

Income inequality is GREAT for the economy.

Income leveling, or a "flatter distribution of incomes" is incredibly BAD for the economy. Such levelings are almost always precursors to Depressions and other cataclysmic economic dislocations.

Moreover INCOME is NOT wealth.

In fact, there is almost no/zero overlap between the wealthiest 1% and the top 1% of all income earners.

CEO stock options, for instance are no more "income" (they're INVESTMENTS) than are employee pension, health plans or 401-Ks that the employee puts their own monies into, counted as "income." In fact, those INVESTMENTS being NOT income at all, are even less a source of income than employee health coverage and pension plans.

In fact, those stock options are closest to those 401-Ks, than they are to pension plans and healthcare coverage, as the employee and CEO must buy into those things with their own monies.

The ONLY way to get the Teresa Heinz-Kerry's, the Tom Keane Jr's, the Kennedy's etc., to pay anything close to "their fair share" is via the Fair Tax.

I read the article and I believe he talks about a more equitable tax system that would mean that the richest 1% would pay a percentage closer to what his secretary pays. Now this could be a revenue neutral proposal, the result of which is that the secretary does get a tax break.

How is this "class warfare"? Coming up with a system where the tax burden is distributed fairly is not warfare at all. We can debate the size of government, but the rich benefit greatly by the existance of government as government helps keep the kind of stability that has allowed people like Mr. Buffet to prosper.

Also, the fact that "the top 1% of income earners shoulder more than a third of the entire tax burden" does not mean necessarily that they are paying the same percentage of their income as the middle class wage earners do. If it was true, for example, that the rich were getting richer while middle class wages were stagnating, then the total money the aggregate rich were contributing could be still be increasing even if the percentage of their "income" they were contributing was decreasing.

I am not for income equality. I am, however, for the rich paying their share. I am also against the notion that is "class warfare" to even question whether they are paying their share.

Now if it turns out that his numbers were misleading.. that is one thing. However, you seem to object to him even raising what I feel are valid questions.

>Now if it turns out that his numbers were misleading.. that is one thing.

Well, that does seem to be the case.

"I am not for income equality. I am, however, for the rich paying their share." (PE)

Me too! On BOTH counts.

That's why I think the Fair Tax http://www.fairtax.org/site/PageServer
would seem to be the BEST answer.

INCOME is NOT the problem, so neither is "income disparities." You might well say that "wealth disparity" IS the problem, but since income does not equal wealth, those are two different and distinct issues.

The problems with the income tax are many.

(1) It excludes the truly wealthy (those who DON'T rely on income as the primary source of their wealth).

(2) It excludes a huge and growing underground/black-market/off-the-books economy.

And (3) It places the tax burden entirely on PRODUCTIVITY/income and not consumption, which is a far more reliable indicator of real wealth and disposable income.

The Fair Tax (a consumption based tax) would tax both the truly rich (those who don't rely upon income as their primary source of wealth, and THOSE are the RICHEST Americans) and those engaged in the underground/black-market economy as well.

It is one system under which the truly rich pay "their fair share."

My guess is that Buffett was including FICA taxes in his number. He may also have included a state income tax in his calculations. I couldn't tell based on that article you linked to. Fed income taxes + FICA would yield close to 24% effective rate (assuming single w/ standard deduction, no dependents).

I have long thought that it is unfair to tax passive income at a lower rate than wages. I would boost that CG rate back up to around 35% and give those secretaries a lower rate.

Does that "passive income" include investment income, Tracy?

Capital gains and dividends are taxed at lower rates (in many nations Cap Gains aren't taxed at all) to spur investment.

Ironically enough "passive income" much better defines mere compensation - money paid for a given amount of labor, etc. That money doesn't "work," or produce anything, as those who tend to rely enitrely upon income also tend to "live up to their incomes" and spend most of that money "just living."

Investment income is money that "works," or produces results - profits or dividends as the enterprises invested in expand and earn more profits.

The fundamental flaw in Marx's inane theories (he wasn't an economist, so what can you expect) was that in Marx's economic model, he valued production/labor more highly than he valued Capital/investment.

That was apparently a bit of wishful thinking on his part. Labor is merely a service or ware, marketed by the individual laborer, so the work or labor itself is a commodity.

Capital coupled with vision are the key ingredients to a successful enterprise - the basic labor, factory work, etc. can be had, as they say, for "a dime a dozen."

ANYONE can do menial work, fewer have the vision and the cash on hand to invest and create new ventures that move everything else forward.

That's why those who rely entirely on W-2/income tend to get killed on taxes.

It's the nature of the beast. In New York's Fire Department (almost certainly like most paid Departments), most of the guys have side businesses, whether its general trades, like plumbing, electrical, or other small businesses.

A Deputy Chief in the FDNY makes almost double what a firefighter makes, for passing four promotion exams that generally require at least 1,000 hours of study each.

For some members, studying is their "second job."

But I've seen time after time where the plumber and the electrician can, not only make nearly as much as the Deputy Chief, with their side work, BUT, the numerous tax deductions that a small business provides, greatly lowers the small business owner's overall taxes.

That's also why you can often have two people earning the same amount of money, with one of them enjoying a much better lifestyle. Almost always, it's the guy who doesn't rely entirely on W-2 income who has the better lifestyle.

And actually none of that's a bad thing! Actually, one of the few positive things about the current tax system is that it encourages business start-ups and favors investment.

Among the very bad things are that it doesn't tax the huge and growing underground ("off-the-books") economy and it doesn't really touch the "truly rich," those fine people who don't rely on income as a primary source of their wealth, which is why the likes of Teresa Heinz-Kerry and Tom Keane Jr., can pay 5% of their total income in taxes, while a person earning $80,000/year (Chuck Schumer calls that "Middle Class," but in NYC that's "lower working class") can actually pay 50% or more in taxes, depending on whether they own (deduction) or rent, and how many dependants they have....those folks earning as little as $80K/year can even get hit with the AMT if their deductions are high enough!

For a guy who's basically a genius in the world of investing, it's kind of astounding that Warren Buffet's just sort of stubbed his toe on this rather obvious facet of America's graduated income tax system.

So, fiscally conservative Warren Buffet contributes to Hillary, while common criminal and thief Kennyboy Lay and his "free market" deregulation gangsters contribute to Bush.

I never understood this great passion for "deregulation" and "free markets" that Fascists like JMK all seem to hold so dear. With only a fingerhold in California, Enron managed to fuck Californians out of about $30 billion.

Look at the great deal we are getting from the Oil Cartel, thanks to the "free market".

The "free" is freedom to manipulate and steal.

Please Barely....don't pontificate about things you apparently don't understand (the free market, etc).

BTW I SUPPORT the current Corporatist economy that America, Japan and the rest of Western Europe have and hold dear.

I think it's slightly over-regulated here in the U.S., while France's and Germany's seem very much over-regulated, which is probably why Right of center governments (Sarkozy and Merckel) were recently elected in BOTH those countries.

Next you'll be talking about how we should all have a guaranteed income, how food and shelter should be provided by the government - based on "need," etc.

You do that and you're in that batshit crazy netherland that only "9-11 Truthers" have recently dared to dread.

Please.....DON'T go there, Barely.

Read Human Action and The Road to Serfdom instead!

"So, fiscally conservative Warren Buffet contributes to Hillary, while common criminal and thief Kennyboy Lay and his "free market" deregulation gangsters contribute to Bush." (BH)

You're probably unaware that Ken Lay was Bill Clinton's premier golfing buddy!

Enron's littany of crimes took place right under the Clinton administration's noes and where "smoked out and brought to justice" by the current administration.

Moreover, the current administration signed Sarb-Ox (passed by a Republican Congress) into law, making the kinds of accounting gimmicks behind the likes of the Enron, Tyco, Adelphia and Worldcom scandals, impossible to perpetrate.

I think Sarb-Ox has gone too far in some areas, I LIKE a more free-wheeling business climate, BUT there has only been ONE guy who took on corrupt business-people in America and that was the current occupant of the WH.

Sadly a major criminal (Gary Winnick of Global-Crossings, a big Dem contributor) was allowed to get off the hook by this administration.

While nobody's perfect, it's hard to believe that one of the biggest corporate thugs of that era, has gotten off pretty much scot-free.

LOL! "Smoked out" ... by Bush? Enron BANKROLLED Bush into office in Texas. Enron contributed MORE TO BUSH than any other contributor. Enron had EVEN CLOSER RELATIONS with Bush Sr. Chimp won't even allow a traitor like Scooter to serve a short sentence after being duly convicted by a conservative republican prosecutor.

You know, let me make a statement as stupid as yours: Bush allowed the terrosists to bomb America! That's right, they did it right under his nose. Bush let it happen. Bush is 100% responsible. That is how stupid it is to say that a bunch of REPUBLICAN CRIMINALS were "allowed" to COMMIT COUNTLESS FELONIES by Clinton.

"Smoked out" ... ROFL! Bush did everything he could to PROTECT Enron. Enron was his cash cow. Bush became governor and president using the money that Enron made fucking stockholders and consumers. Bush HELPED ENRON commit their crimes.

Yeah, you would like Enron, a free-wheeling business climate, because you are a Corporatist, not a Conservative.

The Enron scandal, as well as the Adelphia, Worldcom, Tyco, Arthur-Anderson, etc SCANDALS were all brought to justice under the auspices of the current administration.

A Republican Congress had to pass Sarb-Ox over considerable Democratic opposition.

The wrongdoing carried on by all those companies began in the late 1990s (court records show that), and they were "brought to justice" in the summer of 2001.

So then, it is your assertion that if Gore had won (as he did) and actually been president when Enron (largest campaign contributor to George W. Bush) collapsed, Gore would not have prosecuted them, and that Gore would have vetoed Sarb-Ox, a BIPARTISAN bill???

That's why I call you dumbass!

I can't speculate on what Gore would or would not have done...and neither can you.

Gore was/IS an idiot....I mean a real, certifiable idiot....a guy who saw the UN Report on Global Climate Change trumpeting sea levels rising 12" to 20" over the course of this century and making that "TWENTY FEET" in his ridiculous flick.

Would he have "done something?"

I can only hope so!

Would he have done any of the right things?

THAT I seriously doubt.

And would he have signed Sarb-Ox which was opposed by many Democrats and much of the Democratic Congressional leadership?

I don't know (neither do you). All I can say is that as poor as Bush Jr's been on spending and the borders, and no matter how badly this crowd has handled post-Saddam Iraq, I still believe he was the "lesser of the two bad choices" back in 2000. In fact, he was that in 2004, as well.

Again, you clearly implied that these stock scandals occurred under the current administration, when the bulk of their abuses occurred in the late 1990s...the scandals broke in the summer of 2001, mere months after Bush Jr took office, and the Bush Justice Dept brought these guys to justice....bankrupting Arthur-Anderson (one of the "Big Five" Accounting frims, at that time) in the process.

ALL the credit for dealing effectively with those scandals has to be given to the current administration.

They also did a great job on the economy and on both the domestic and global WoT, despite not being able to get the Iraqis on board to forge a better, and more democratic post-Saddam Iraq.

They have two major failures - the borders and checking excessive spending....and on both those issues, the Dems would, if anything, be WORSE, and it should be IMPOSSIBLE to be any worse on those two issues!

Hyuk, I must have brain damage, read this:

"Named after sponsors Senator Paul Sarbanes (D-Md.) and Representative Michael G. Oxley (R-Oh.), the Act was approved by the House by a vote of 423-3 and by the Senate 99-0."


Duh hur, I said that the Democraps were against the bill! Why would I lie?

I DID deliberately mislead you....and why not?

I'm the organ grinder...and you're my favorite monkey.

Duh hur, I just admitted that I lie about everything, hyuk!

No, I misled you (slightly) on the opposition to Sarb-OX.

I was right to do that, given you presented your speculation as to what a Gore Presidency would've done as fact.

I was having "a little sport with you," as they say.

No, not really, I just got caught in a lie, hyuk!

I'm being honest....I was pulling your leg, Barely.

Look, the ONLY facts that matter are (1) the scandalous activities that broke in the summer of 2001 began and flourished in the late 1990s, (2) they were "smoked out and brought to justice" by the current administration, and (3) a bi-partisan reform Bill Sarb-Ox was signed into law by the current occupant of the WH.

There's no way to refute ANY of those facts. PLEASE don't waste your time and mine taking issue with any of those.

Would a Gore have done the same?

It's idiotic to speculate that he would have, given that he can't even seem to grasp the basic science around gloabl warming, or any other issue he's looked at.

So, would Gore have done the right things?

The only possible answer anyone could give is "I don't know."

Hyuk, I guess I'm too dumb to realize that the criminal house of cards built by the REPULICAN executives of Enron who BANKROLLED Bush campaigns, as the #1 donor, in both Texas and his presidential run, would have been prosecuted by anyone in office, as public outrage demanded.

I really don't know why I keep saying that Bush "smoked out" his friend, Kennyboy, who gave him so much money, more than anybody else, over and over. I guess I'm just, hyuk, naive enough to think that Bush knew NOTHING of Enron's shady practices!

Duh hur ... my way of characterizing just this single even proves that I am clinically insane!

The "smoked out and brought to justice" is a joking reference to a now famous "Bushism," which I found aptly amusing.
And ONCE AGAIN, those scandals began and flourished in the lax climate set up by the previous occupant of the WH (who will remain nameless for now)...AND those scandals broke, were prosecuted and the business atmosphere that enabled and encouraged them tightened by an overwhelmingly GOP Congress and signed into law by the current occupant of the WH.

Those may seem inconvenient facts to you, BUT they're facts none-the-less.

We CAN'T really speculate as to what AlGore would've done.

All we do know is that Gore doesn't seem to understand global warming too well, at least not according the "the father of Climatology," http://workingclassconservative.blogspot.com/2007/06/father-of-climatology-calls-global.html
nor does he seem to understand the global jihadist threat any better.

Would he have done the right thing vis-a-vis the business scandals of summer 2001?

All one can say for sure, is that "his track record, to date, doesn't inspire much confidence."

Hyuk, but NOOT GENGRICH was running things in Warshingdon when Kennyboy was raping all the poor and middle class peeple, I SAID SO to explain the great economy under Clintoon!

So, dat means dat NOOT (and his boy DeLay) LET ENRON rob everboddy and didn't do nuttin bout it. You know, NOOT/DeLay got money from Enron ... hmmmmmmmmm. Clinton didn't ... hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.


U no summit, wat I cand figger out is how cum if da Democraps wuz suppordin all dat corrup bidnesz, why dey give all dey monies to da Republicans? Dat doyn make no seense ... no sirree.

Like RICO, H-1B Visas, Privacy rights, etc. you also seem to misunderstand the Enron scandal, Barely.

It had NOTHING to do with its sale of electricity to California. That was perfectly legal.

In FACT then Cali Governor Gray Dufus actually fought to use Enron contracts to deal with Cali’s notorious energy shortages.

It also had NOTHING to do with how it treated its employees (who lost millions, on paper, in their stock options), as setting up time periods over which employees must keep the stock of that company are also perfectly legal.

What Enron did that was wrong, was “inflating revenues” and “minimizing debt” through the use “scores of off-the-book, outside partnerships to mask their financial woes and continue receiving cash and credit.” In short, it fleeced its investors and THAT is rightfully the cardinal sin in business.

In 2001 Enron acknowledged massively overstating its profits, and Dynegy, the company's main rival, backed out of an $8.4 billion merger deal. Enron filed for bankruptcy protection on Dec. 2, the largest corporate bankruptcy in U.S. history.

In short, Enron’s executives misled investors by inflating revenue and minimizing debts through all those scores of off-the-book, outside partnerships. Investigators also looked into how much Enron's accounting firm, Arthur Andersen, knew about and approved of the partnerships.

Arthur Andersen was subsequently brought down in the ensuing Enron, Worldcom, Adelphia, etc scandals storm that involved their accounting practices.

Since the BULK of the illicit dealings took place well before 2001, ALL these scandal-scarred companies had to have the support of the Democratic administration in Office and other national Democrats...and they DID.

According to investigative reporter Charles R. Smith, “In 1999 Gov. Gray Davis of California led a $200,000 trade trip to Europe that was very high on the Enron list. Davis tripped on California taxpayer expense with his wife in ancient Greece, lobbying on behalf of Enron Wind for the "Greek Wind Project."

“The project in Greece was so important that Davis also took his good friend, major DNC donor and Sacramento developer Angelo K. Tsakopoulos. Tsakopoulos and his family are million-dollar contributors to the Democratic National Committee or Democrat candidates including Davis, Bill Clinton, Al Gore and Hillary Clinton. Tsakopoulos also spent time as a guest in the White House Lincoln bedroom.

“According to documents forced from the U.S. Commerce Department, Enron Wind noted that Davis and Tsakopoulos were tripping to Greece with some very unusual comments:

"Best man at my Greek wedding," noted one handwritten comment next to a Los Angeles Times article on Tsakopoulos attached to documents from the U.S. Embassy in Athens.

“Enron also pushed the limits inside the former Yugoslavia. Commerce Secretary Ron Brown worked on an Enron contract in Croatia just prior to his death in 1996. Brown's death did place the project on hold but only for a short period of time.

“In 1997, Enron executives flew to Croatia with Clinton Commerce Secretary Mickey Kantor. The trade trip took place just after Enron executives made a $100,000 donation to the DNC. As a result, Enron struck a deal with the Croatian government to build a power station and run it for 20 years at a highly inflated price of nearly $200 million above market prices.

“However, tapes of the Enron negotiations with Croatian officials show the U.S. energy company had promised more than electricity at higher than normal cost. According to the Financial Times, Croatia hoped the Enron deal would secure political favors inside the Clinton administration, including a state visit to Washington and membership in the World Trade Organization (WTO).

“In one reported meeting, Enron's head of international operations, Joseph Sutton, guaranteed that Enron would lobby for the Croatian president to meet Clinton and to seek Clinton's support for Croatia's entry into the WTO, the NATO partnership for peace program and eventually into NATO.

“In 1999, Enron Executive Vice President Terence Thorn wrote a personal letter of thanks to President Clinton, carrying out the promised support for Croatia.

"I have good news about an opportunity in a strategically important nation, Croatia. Enron International through the direct involvement of President Franjo Tudjman has successfully concluded negotiations to build a 240 MW natural gas powered plant at Jertovec, Croatia," wrote Thorn to Clinton.

"Our people have come to know Croatia, its people and its President. Through our power project Croatia solidified those ties and welcomed the United States as its largest foreign investor. Croatia is also cooperating with NATO to bring peace to the Balkan region," wrote Thorn.

"President Tudjman's support and perseverance in having a United States company participate in Croatia's economy deserves to be recognized. He would welcome an invitation from you to come to the White House. I respectfully request President Tudjman be invited to visit you in the White House at the earliest possible time," concluded Thorn.

The ties between Enron and the Clinton administration are legion, as many former Clinton administration officials eventually went to work for Enron, including former White House counsel Jack Quinn, former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin, former Assistant Treasury Secretary Linda Robertson, former Chair of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Elizabeth Moler, and the former media adviser to Vice President Al Gore, Greg Simon.

The newly released documents show that the Clinton administration worked for Enron in China, Vietnam, South Africa, India, Brazil, Argentina, Mozambique, South Korea, Japan, Belgium, France, Russia, the Philippines, the West Bank and Uzbekistan.

Every accounting that I can recall is that Democrats have garnered more Corporate contributions than their Republican rivals. That was certainly true back in 2000 when Gore received at least as much corporate cash as G W Bush did.

"As a result, the money has become increasingly useful to the parties, and their receipts have surged. In 1980, when soft money was born, Republicans and Democrats combined raised an estimated $19 million, with the GOP collecting the largest share, $15 million, according to Colby College political scientist Anthony Corrado. Two decades later (200), that total had ballooned to $487 million, split nearly evenly between the two sides. Once a sideline, soft money had become a major part of party financing, accounting for nearly half of the Democratic Party's receipts and more than a third of the GOP's."


There you go, Dems rely on corporate cash for HALF their Party's receipts, while Republicans rely on corporate cash for merely a third of theirs.

Go to hell JMK!

This is the kind of shit you do all the time, relying on "facts" to make a case for your views.

How about feelings dumbass, don't they count for anything?

I feel that Enron was criminal in its sale of electricity to California and I feel that the Repugnicans are the Party of Big Business...and so do millions of others, so don't be such a dumbass.

It's not that I can't refute your "facts," I don't believe your "facts," so they don't warrant refuting.

How's that stupid?

"How's that stupid?" (BH)

Uhhh, oh yeah, that's pretty stupid alright.

Still, it does give an insight into where our lack of communication is coming from.

I'm just offering things to make you think. and you seem to care less about thinking and more about feelings....and you're right, you're not alone (far from it), but that shouldn't be much of a comfort to you.

Enron's crime was fraud.

FRAUD perpetrated against its investors.


It's bundling commodities like energy (it began with newsprint) and selling it for a larger profit was NOT against the law.

Jeff Skillings and Andy Fastow may well have been arrogant and merciless, but they were "rip your face off" business people. They were competitors.

They made great villains, but the sad fact is that few, very few Americans understand what Enron did that was criminal.

It was Fraud Barely, defrauding their investors by hiding their deficits and overstating their profits, making that company look like a much better investment than it really was.

Hell, they almost defrauded Dynergy who was set to make a takeover bid for Enron, mere months before the scandals broke.

Wow, dumbass, another Straw Man argument.

Enron gave to BUSH, bigtime. Enron supported Republicans overwhelmingly, especially BUSH. Enron was deeply involved with Bush's criminal and disasterous "Energy Policy" that doubled the price of gasoline.

Let's stay focused on the criminals: Bush, Lay, Duke Cunningham, Abramoff, Scooter, Cheny, Gonzales ... stay focused, son.

Weapons of Mass Destruction

Announcing the invasion of Iraq on March 19, 2003, Mr. Bush said, “Intelligence gathered by this and other governments leaves no doubt that the Iraq regime continues to possess and conceal some of the most lethal weapons ever devised.”

Two months into the war, on May 29, 2003, Mr. Bush said weapons of mass destruction had been found.

“We found the weapons of mass destruction. We found biological laboratories,” Mr. Bush told Polish television. “For those who say we haven't found the banned manufacturing devices or banned weapons, they're wrong, we found them."

On Sept. 9, 2004, in Pennsylvania, Mr. Bush said: “I recognize we didn't find the stockpiles [of weapons] we all thought were there.”


Read Part Two of our series:
John Kerry's Top Ten Flip-Flops


Nation Building and the War in Iraq

During the 2000 campaign, George W. Bush argued against nation building and foreign military entanglements. In the second presidential debate, he said: "I'm not so sure the role of the United States is to go around the world and say, 'This is the way it's got to be.'"

The United States is currently involved in nation building in Iraq on a scale unseen since the years immediately following World War II.

During the 2000 election, Mr. Bush called for U.S. troops to be withdrawn from the NATO peacekeeping mission in the Balkans. His administration now cites such missions as an example of how America must "stay the course."

Iraq and the Sept. 11 Attacks

In a press conference in September 2002, six months before the invasion of Iraq, President Bush said, “you can't distinguish between al Qaeda and Saddam when you talk about the war on terror... they're both equally as bad, and equally as evil, and equally as destructive.”

In September of 2004, Mr. Bush said: “We've had no evidence that Saddam Hussein was involved with September 11th." Though he added that “there's no question that Saddam Hussein had al Qaeda ties,” the statement seemingly belied earlier assertions that Saddam and al Qaeda were “equally bad.”

The Sept. 11 commission found there was no evidence Saddam was linked to the 9/11 attacks, which killed nearly 3,000 people.

The Sept. 11 Commission

President Bush initially opposed the creation of an independent commission to investigate the Sept. 11 attacks. In May 2002, he said, “Since it deals with such sensitive information, in my judgment, it's best for the ongoing war against terror that the investigation be done in the intelligence committee.”

Bowing to pressure from victims' families, Mr. Bush reversed his position. The following September, he backed an independent investigation.

Free Trade

During the 2000 presidential election, Mr. Bush championed free trade. Then, eyeing campaign concerns that allowed him to win West Virginia, he imposed 30 percent tariffs on foreign steel products from Europe and other nations in March 2002.

Twenty-one months later, Mr. Bush changed his mind and rescinded the steel tariffs. Choosing to stand on social issues instead of tariffs in steel country – Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia – the Bush campaign decided it could afford to upset the steel industry rather than further estrange old alliances.

Homeland Security Department

President Bush initially opposed creating a new Department of Homeland Security. He wanted Tom Ridge, now the secretary of Homeland Security, to remain an adviser.

Mr. Bush reversed himself and backed the largest expansion of the federal government since the creation of the Defense Department in 1949.

Same-Sex Marriage

During the 2000 campaign, Mr. Bush said he was against federal intervention regarding the issue of same-sex marriage. In an interview with CNN's Larry King, he said, states "can do what they want to do" on the issue. Vice President Cheney took the same stance.

Four year later, this past February, Mr. Bush announced his support for an amendment to the Constitution that defines marriage as being exclusively between men and women. The amendment would forbid states from doing "what they want to do" on same-sex marriage.

Citing recent decisions by “activist judges” in states like Massachusetts, Mr. Bush defended his reversal. Critics point out that well before the 2000 presidential race, a judge in Hawaii ruled in December 1996 that there was no compelling reason for withholding marriage from same-sex couples.

Winning the War on Terror

"I don't think you can win it," Mr. Bush said of the war on terror in August. In an interview on NBC's "Today" show, he said, “I think you can create conditions so that . . . those who use terror as a tool are less acceptable in parts of the world."

Before the month closed, Mr. Bush reversed himself at the American Legion national convention in Nashville. He said: "We meet today in a time of war for our country, a war we did not start yet one that we will win." He later added, “we are winning, and we will win."

Campaign Finance Reform

President Bush was initially against the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform bill. He opposed any soft-money limits on individuals to national parties.

But Mr. Bush later signed McCain-Feingold into law. The law, named for Senate sponsors John McCain, R-Ariz., and Russell Feingold, D-Wis., barred both national parties from collecting soft money from individuals.

During the 2000 race, Mr. Bush showed support for the so-called 527 groups’ right to air advertising.

In March 2000, he told CBS News' "Face the Nation," "There have been ads, independent expenditures, that are saying bad things about me. I don't particularly care when they do, but that's what freedom of speech is all about.”

In late August of this year, in an effort to distance himself from controversial anti-Kerry ads by the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, Mr. Bush reversed his position, announcing he would join McCain in legal action to stop these "shadowy" organizations.

Though it would close the Swift Boat group's funding, court action would also silence well-funded liberal 527 organizations like MoveOn.org and America Coming Together.

Gas Prices

Mr. Bush was critical of Al Gore in the 2000 campaign for being part of “the administration that's been in charge” while the “price of gasoline has gone steadily upward.” In December 1999, in the first Republican primary debate, Mr. Bush said President Clinton “must jawbone OPEC members to lower prices.”

As gas topped a record level of $50 a barrel this week, Mr. Bush has shown no propensity to personally pressure, or “jawbone,” Mideast oil producers to increase output.

A spokesman for the president reportedly said in March that Mr. Bush will not personally lobby oil cartel leaders to change their minds.

"Enron gave to BUSH, bigtime. Enron supported Republicans overwhelmingly, especially BUSH. Enron was deeply involved with Bush's criminal and disasterous "Energy Policy" that doubled the price of gasoline." (BH)

Well, you're wrong on almost EVERY point there BH.

Enron, like Global Crossings (GX) and many of the other scandal-scarred companies had given to both major Parties, but were heavy Democratic contributors - Cali Gov, Gray Davis (D-CA), the DLC and the Clinton administration used "pay-to-play in dealing with Enron - "“Enron also pushed the limits inside the former Yugoslavia. Commerce Secretary Ron Brown worked on an Enron contract in Croatia just prior to his death in 1996. Brown's death did place the project on hold but only for a short period of time.

“In 1997, Enron executives flew to Croatia with Clinton Commerce Secretary Mickey Kantor. The trade trip took place just after Enron executives made a $100,000 donation to the DNC. As a result, Enron struck a deal with the Croatian government to build a power station and run it for 20 years at a highly inflated price of nearly $200 million above market prices."

GX's Gary Winnick was also a HEAVY Democratic contributor and a man who fleeced investors out of Billions of dollars! DLC Chair Terry McAuliffe turned his initial $100,000 investment in GX into $16 Million, getting out just weeks before the stock tanked.

Look, since I refuse to lambaste Democrats for putting business interests over that of the general populace, if you insist on lambasting Republicans for doing that, well, you can see where that would be, not only unfair, but factually wrong, as well.

BOTH major Parties are beholden to Corporate interests, as well they should be. You've yet come up with a reason why they shouldn't be!

How beholden are the Democrats?

Well, the staid WaPO noted that, "(Soft) money has become increasingly useful to the parties, and their receipts have surged. In 1980, when soft money was born, Republicans and Democrats combined raised an estimated $19 million, with the GOP collecting the largest share, $15 million, according to Colby College political scientist Anthony Corrado. Two decades later (200), that total had ballooned to $487 million, split nearly evenly between the two sides. Once a sideline, soft money had become a major part of party financing, accounting for nearly half of the Democratic Party's receipts and more than a third of the GOP's."


There it is, the Dems, as recently as 2000, relied on Corporate cash for HALF their receipts, while the GOP relied on Corporate cash for a THIRD of theirs!

God damn, boy, were you dropped on your head out of a fucking airplane when you were young???

You are saying that our politicians SHOULD be beholden (bribed) by Corporate interests???

Is that really your position?

You see, I always thought that our representatives were there represent, well, us, the people, their constituents, not Enron because they received big fat bribes.

LOL! You clown. You are as transparent as Rush Limbaughs felony drug crimes defense.

This country was founded on a system that allows private citizens and their companies...and by extension publically held companies to lobby politicians with cash and to pay for political campaigns!

THAT is a GREAT system!

It's responsible for all the prosperity so many of us take for granted.

The Democrats RIGHTLY rely on Corporate cash for HALF their receipts, while the GOP relies on the same for a THIRD of its receipts.

I suppose that's why Enron was convicted by the Bush Justice Dept., while it thrived under the previous occupant.

Ron Brown died over the Balkans lobbying on Enron's behalf...the Clinton Commerce Dept continued lobbying on Enron's behalf AFTER Brown's death.

There was NOTHING WRONG with that!

The ONLY thing Enron did wrong was to DEFRAUD its investors.

Campaign cash IS a form of free speech. I DON'T like McCain-Feingold. I liked our system before that abomination.

You know what would be interesting?

You attempting to make a credible argument in favor of whatever position you hold.

JMK, even you, surely, can't be so retarded as to think that the Founding Fathers blessed the unimaginable outright BRIBERY, the outright BUYING OF VOTES, the revolving door from political office to million dollar "lobbyist" position with the very same corporation that bought said politician's votes???

"For the first 50 years or so after independence, campaign costs were relatively low. In part, this was because the population was small and only white males who owned property (and, in some states, who belonged to the proper religious denomination) were allowed to vote. Of the four million people considered U.S. citizens just after independence, only 800,000 -- or one out of every five adults -- could cast a ballot.[3] In addition, candidates didn't have much to spend money on. If they campaigned at all, they did so via public meetings and rallies, the distribution of handbills (usually copies of their own speeches), and, to a limited extent, newspaper advertisements. Thus, the costs of campaigning could be covered by the candidates themselves or by their friends. Fundraising was unnecessary."

Yeah, I think they WOULD have found something wrong with today's systematic bribery passed off as "campaign contributions". In fact, I think they would have hanged most of our government until dead.

The fact that both sides are bribed and influenced only makes it worse. Corporations, like HMOs, get laws passed that are AGAINST THE PUBLIC INTEREST, over and over, thanks to their endless bribes.

Hillary Clinton took almost a million dollars in health care industry bribes, according to none other than Michael Moore. Yep, he put it right up there on the big screen in his "Sicko" movie.

Can't you at least be as patriotic as Michael Moore?

Ms. Clinton DID NOT "take a bribe," she merely took campaign donations from an industry that needed access and input on America's healthcare.

THEY have every right to lobby on their own behalf, just as all Americans have that right and we use it by donating to lobbying groups like the NRA, NARAL, the Heritage Foundation, the ACLU, etc.

There is, at this point, NO WAY, to take money out of the political process.

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