If you make more than $250,000 a year, the Obama administration wants you to pay taxes at the rate you were paying in the 1990s. Is that really so terrible?
"That's not asking much in the way of sacrifice," acting U.S Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank said this morning when addressing the Missouri delegation gathered at the Hilton for breakfast. Blank, who was born in Boone County and has family all over Missouri, laid out clearly both President Obama's economic blupeprint and his administration's accomplishments over the last nearly four years. "Smart and targeted" tax policy is where she began.
In the short term, Blank said, Obama intends to: Keep middle class tax rates where they are; Increase federal funding to state and local government in order to support the jobs of teachers, firefighters, and policy and improve the communities they serve; Invest in infrastructue, which will assist construction workers (who have the highest rate of unemployment in the economy) and improve our roads, bridges, and high tech systems like GPS and broadband.
In the longterm, a second-term Obama presidency will invest in infrastructure (see above), innovation (public/private partnerships), and education (including community college, higher education, and elementary and secondary level. Blank also reminded the Missourians here that President Obama's economic DONE list (accomplished in the face of GOP rancor and obstruction) include:
1. Passing the stimulus package, of which 1/3 went to tax cuts, 1/3 went to state and local governments, and 1/3 went to repairing and upgrading infrastructure.
2. Easing access to loans for owners of small businesses.
3. Bailing out the auto industry, including the ramifications of that crisis on the network of smaller, auto-industry-dependent businesses and communities.
Now I am fully aware of the gaps and seeming missteps of the last three-plus years. Talking about the tangled and ominous intersections of climate change, environmental practices, and energy policy sobers any reasonable person. Not to mention what we are doing in oppressive, test-obsessed elementary classrooms. But having meaningful conversations in the first place requires reasonable people. Listening to a person like Rebecca Blank, you know you are dealing with a reasonable person, and that a reasonable person like her would not throw in her lot with anyone or any group of people driven by cynicism and selfishness.
I keep thinking of my (late, beloved) grandfather, a lifelong Republican, a hat man. My grandfather changed parties late in the last century when he realized that too many strands of the GOP had gone astray from the economic and social principles he continued to honor.
This week in Charlotte is about hitching ourselves to this or that wagon. A network of allegiences is made visible. Rebecca Blank knows money and numbers. (In the first five months of 2012 our exports were up 5.7 percent compared to this same period a year ago, to $486 billion.) She cares about our state and she works for Barack Obama. It seems to me that this election will hinge on the following question: will reasonable people vote reasonably?