Thursday, September 18, 2008

Taxes and patriotism

By Michael J.W. Stickings

On ABC's Good Morning America today, Joe Biden said this: "It's time to be patriotic... time to jump in, time to be part of the deal, time to help get America out of the rut." What he was referring to was taxes. "We want to take money and put it back in the pocket of middle-class people." In other words, wealthier people should pay more than they do now, particularly after Bush's plutocratic tax cuts.

In response to the Obama-Biden proposal to lower taxes on the middle class, and to restore fiscal sanity post-Bush, McCain and others on the right are once more trotting out the old "Democrats want to tax you to death" smear. "McCain released a television ad [today] charging that Obama would increase the size of the federal government amid an economic crisis. Contending that 'a big government casts a big shadow on us all,' the ad features the image of a shadow slowly covering a sleeping baby as a narrator misstates the reach of the Obama tax proposal." [emphasis added -- full credit to the AP for getting it right and reporting the truth]

Ah, fearmongering -- trying to scare the shit out of low-information voters. The Republicans do it so well, don't they? And, in this case, it's all just a blatant lie.

And it's even coming from my friend Ed Morrissey, one of the right's brighter lights, who titles his post, "Biden: Low taxes are unpatriotic."

Really? But that's not what Biden said -- and Ed knows that (he quotes him). What Biden said was that paying less than your fair share is unpatriotic, and that the wealthy are currently doing just that. It's called a progressive tax code: the wealthy pay a little more so that those below them, particularly in the ever-more-squeezed middle, can have their tax burden lessened -- and so that there can be fiscal sanity again.

What the right doesn't understand, although I'm sure Ed does, is that there's more to patriotism than wearing a flag lapel pin and chanting "USA! USA!" at every opportunity. The Republicans this year are all about "Country First," but of course that's all a facade, a riff off the myth of McCain. What they're really all about is flag-waving to score political points and to distract voters' attention away from the issues, on which they lag well behind the Democrats.

Actually, though, as the McCain-Palin campaign is proving, what they're really all about is lying to the American people.

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