Now that the election dust has settled as has President Obama's approval rating, why don't we test some of the wild exaggerations passed off as truths for the last several months?
The first exaggeration is "the rich will create jobs if they keep more of their money." The truth is that only 3.6 percent of these folks are entrepreneurs -- people who are likely to create jobs. The others hold their wealth in investments that bring them nice returns but don't necessarily create new jobs.
Please don't jump to the conclusion that I'm urging higher taxes on the wealthy. I'm just challenging the mythology of trickle-down economics. I think it would be a dandy idea for both parties to look into fraud, waste and inefficiencies, instead of raising taxes on anyone or cutting benefits for the legitimate needy.
The next exaggeration is, "America is the home of equal opportunity." Well if we measure this by wealth equality in 150 other countries, we're not doing so well. Only four countries have more wealth inequality than us: Namibia, Zimbabwe, Denmark, and Switzerland. That makes us 146th on the list.
The next whopper is, "the super-rich pay their fair share of taxes. Simply not true. From Paul Bucheit on alternet.org, "An amount equal to ONE-HALF the GDP is held untaxed overseas by rich Americans. The Tax Justice Network estimated that between $21 and $32 trillion is hidden offshore, untaxed. ["] that's $8 to $12 trillion in U.S. money stashed in far-off hiding places. ["] that's up to $750 billion of income is lost to the U.S. every year, resulting in a tax loss of about $260 billion.
Well, certainly corporations pay their fair share of tax, right? It depends on how you want to measure "fair share." Since 2008 their average tax rate paid has been about 10 percent. Going back to 1987 it was an average 22 percent.
Not too fast here. What about those 47 percent who pay no income tax? Yes but they did pay taxes. For every dollar paid in payroll taxes by employees, corporations have only paid 22 cents.
That may be true but someone has to pay for the welfare-cheats who live "like royalty" on the government dole, right? And we all know who they are. Well let's take closer look: The average single black or Hispanic woman has about $100 in net worth.
But what about those people abusing the use of food stamps? Oh, you mean the elderly, veterans, military, disabled, and working poor who get ninety percent of this outlay? Yes of course, they are the people abusing this glorious benefit of $4.30 a day for food.
Maybe so but this president is "the food stamp" president, right? Not really. From Paul Bucheit on alternet.org again, "Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) has dropped significantly over the past 15 years, serving only about a quarter of the families in poverty, and paying less than $400 per month for a family of three for housing and other necessities."
All that said, I think the people who spread this disinformation are about to get smarter. In a recent interview, Louisiana Republican Governor Bobby Jindal said the GOP needs to "stop being the stupid party" and truly expand its tent. He went on: "It is no secret we had a number of Republicans damage our brand this year with offensive, bizarre comments - enough of that," he said, according to Politico.
"It's not going to be the last time anyone says something stupid within our party, but it can't be tolerated. We've also had enough of this dumbed-down conservatism. We need to stop being simplistic, we need to trust the intelligence of the American people and we need to stop insulting the intelligence of the voters."
Bravo, Mr. Jindal! Somehow, the anti-intellectual, superstitious, hate-mongering extremes of the Republican party took over and in doing so has diminished the power of the message of fiscal conservatism.
Unfortunately, at least one Republican didn't get the memo. Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) introduced an amendment to a continuing resolution on the federal budget that seeks to block President Obama from using federal funds for any future golf outings until the White House tours are reinstated.