"Job Creator" Speaks Out

Nick Hanauer, venture capitalist, 1%-er: I'm not a job creator, raise my taxes!

Since 1980, the share of the nation’s income for fat cats like me in the top 0.1 percent has increased a shocking 400 percent, while the share for the bottom 50 percent of Americans has declined 33 percent. At the same time, effective tax rates on the superwealthy fell to 16.6 percent in 2007, from 42 percent at the peak of U.S. productivity in the early 1960s, and about 30 percent during the expansion of the 1990s. In my case, that means that this year, I paid an 11 percent rate on an eight-figure income.

One reason this policy is so wrong-headed is that there can never be enough superrich Americans to power a great economy. The annual earnings of people like me are hundreds, if not thousands, of times greater than those of the average American, but we don’t buy hundreds or thousands of times more stuff. My family owns three cars, not 3,000. I buy a few pairs of pants and a few shirts a year, just like most American men. Like everyone else, I go out to eat with friends and family only occasionally.

It’s true that we do spend a lot more than the average family. Yet the one truly expensive line item in our budget is our airplane (which, by the way, was manufactured in France by Dassault Aviation SA (AM)), and those annual costs are mostly for fuel (from the Middle East). It’s just crazy to believe that any of this is more beneficial to our economy than hiring more teachers or police officers or investing in our infrastructure.

Crazy enough that Frank Luntz has hit the panic button.

 

Talkin' National Security, Talkin' Climate Change

(For those too busy to read to the end of this post, the news take-away is this: the Pentagon’s Quadrennial Defense Review, to be presented to Congress today, declares global warming a “destabilizing force,” one that will place “a burden on civilian institutions and militaries around the world.” The need for a clean energy bill is about health, jobs, agriculture, poverty, and the environment, but there are many unique reasons why, perhaps above all, it is about national security. But don't take my word for it - the Pentagon says so.)

According to Mother Jones, conservative word-meister Frank Luntz’s latest project is to help pass a national clean energy bill. His message to environmentalists is that the best way to help fight climate change is to stop talking about climate change and instead frame the solution in non-environmental terms – not “green jobs,” but “American jobs.”

Luntz's report, "The Language of a Clean Energy Economy," finds that the majority of the public across the political spectrum is convinced that global warming is happening and caused at least in part by humans. But, Luntz says, talking about the problem won't win support for the legislation that would solve it. Among both Democrats and Republicans polled by his firm, addressing climate change was the least important reason to support a cap-and-trade policy.

So what should environmentalists say instead? Luntz suggests less talk of dying polar bears and more emphasis on how legislation will create jobs, make the planet healthier and decrease US dependence on foreign oil. Advocates should emphasize words like "cleaner," "healthier," and "safer";  scrap "green jobs" in favor of "American jobs," and ditch terms like "sustainability" and "carbon neutral" altogether. "It doesn't matter if there is or isn't climate change," he said. "It's still in America's best interest to develop new sources of energy that are clean, reliable, efficient and safe."

The Big Picture

Luntz’s advice is not just stylistic; it is also substantive. I love this earth as it existed before and will exist after us, but there’s far more at stake here than the environmental nature of creation. The drive for clean energy legislation is about health: coal-fired power plants kill 24,000 Americans and cause 550,000 asthma attacks each year. It is about the economy: Renewable energy legislation could create at least 1.7 million jobs. It is about agriculture: If climate change continues unabated, the Midwest will warm more than any other part of the country, bringing deep drought and harmful insects to America’s breadbasket. It is about poverty: Third world nations are unequipped to handle the looming refugee crises and water shortages that will inevitably come with climate change.

National Security

Perhaps most important to the American mindset is that clean energy legislation is about national security. The threat posed by our addiction to foreign oil is well known. Water, however, could soon replace oil as the scarcest commodity in the Middle East and Africa, sparking brutal water wars – and where there are wars, there are often U.S. peacekeepers. The CIA began collecting intelligence on climate change last year, and the Navy is concerned both with the current effects of warmer waters on submarine sonar and the future prospect of more waters to guard thanks to melting Arctic sea ice. Our greatest competitor on the international stage, China, is well ahead of us in the development of its clean energy industry, and Chevy Volt batteries are made in Korea.

And yet for all that, the biggest national security-climate change news came out only yesterday. In its Quadrennial Defense Review, the Pentagon has declared global warming to be a “destabilizing force,” warning that at least 30 U.S. military installations are threatened by rising sea levels, an increased number of disasters will stretch our humanitarian missions thin, and more. The Guardian reports:

The quadrennial defense review, prepared by the Pentagon to update Congress on its security vision, will direct military planners to keep track of the latest climate science, and to factor global warming into their long term strategic planning. "While climate change alone does not cause conflict, it may act as an accelerant of instability or conflict, placing a burden on civilian institutions and militaries around the world," said a draft of the review seen by the Guardian.

Heat waves and freak storms could put increasing demand on the US military to respond to humanitarian crises or natural disaster. But troops could feel the effects of climate change even more directly, the draft says. More than 30 US bases are threatened by rising sea levels. It ordered the Pentagon to review the risks posed to installations, and to combat troops by a potential increase in severe heat waves and fires…

"Our dependence on fuel adds significant cost and puts US soldiers and contractors at risk," said Dorothy Robyn, deputy undersecretary of defense for the environment. "Energy can be a matter of life and death and we have seen dramatically in Iraq and Afghanistan the cost of heavy reliance on fossil fuels." She told a conference call on Friday the Pentagon would seek to cut greenhouse gas emissions from non-combat operations by 34% from 2008 levels by 2020.

There is a reason the Truman National Security Project, VoteVets.org, and other military-focused institutions have teamed together to sponsor Operation FREE, a coalition of veterans who travel the country explaining the security-based need for clean energy legislation. There is a reason that Generals Brent Scowcroft and Wes Clark have endorsed Al Gore’s Repower America project. And there is a reason that the Department of Defense has an entire webpage devoted to effort to go green.

The next time your conservative friends claim they’re strong on defense and national security, just ask them where they stand on the American Clean Energy and Security Act.

There's more...

Weekly Pulse: Healthcare industry already wavering on savings

By Lindsay Beyerstein, TMC MediaWire Blogger

That was quick: It took just three days for the titans of the healthcare industry to reveal the emptiness of their pledge to the Obama administration to save $2 trillion in healthcare costs over the next 10 years. 

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Memo to Chuck Grassley: It's not 1993 anymore

Senator Chuck Grassley laid out his case against a "government-run" health care plan on the Senate floor yesterday. He used some of the same arguments he's been making in conference calls with reporters and in his guest editorial at Politico.

I don't know whether Grassley and the insurance lobby will be able to scare Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus away from supporting a public health insurance option.

However, after reading the highlights from recent opinion research that Richard Kirsch summarized at the Health Care for America Now blog, I am confident that the American public will not buy rehashed Republican talking points from 1993. For more on that, follow me after the jump.

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Obama endorsements: Frank Luntz and a subtle one by Arianna Huffington

Barack Obama has really been racking up the endorsements since February 15th.  What is particularly impressive is the fact that he is racking up a great deal of endorsements from people with conservative opinions and leanings.  Most of these conservative leaning folks acknowledge that Obama's appeal with them is not necessarily his policies, which gives no hint of conservatism in it, but more with his ability to unify and provide a sense of optimism that the country has been sorely lacking for a long time.

Frank Luntz is a conservative leaning wordsmith.  He has done some convincing, if not damaging overall, work for the republicans in the way of the words they use to describe policies whose ultimate aim is to further a conservative agenda.  He is most known for redescribing global warming as climate change and arctic drilling as responsible energy extraction.  However, he recently went on Bill Maher and made a great case why the country and the world would greatly benefit from an Obama presidency.

Arianna Huffington also went on Bill Maher and confirmed a suspicion that most of us in the netroots already knew, she is for Obama.  She did, however, state that she does not endorse any candidate because her website discusses and promotes all of the candidates in the race.  With that said, no one can deny that there was still a subtle tinge to her comments that implied that she strongly supports an Obama presidency.

This is great news for supporters of Obama because it clearly shows that quite a few prominent folks can look past the MSM bullshit and the racial reservations that some voters have that bigots will all but destroy Obama's chances in the general election. They have shown publically the capacity, as I suspect most Americans can, to evaluate Obama inside their own box. As a result, they seem to have come to the same conclusions that I have drawn about him:  This guy is absolutely the most impressive presidential candidate to come along since RFK.

This is also on top of George Will, a very conservative leaning columnist who one of my fellow mydd peers recently diaried about, showered glowing praise of Obama's candidacy as well as his performance during his recent interview with George Stephanopolous.  The following videos illustrate the huge support Obama is building among the movers and shakers in politics.

Frank Luntz and Arianna Huffington speaks about Obama on Bill Maher

George Stephanopolous' This Week panel discusses Obama's candidacy

Celebrities who are strongly for an Obama presidency

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