Tuesday, November 21, 2006

A Tag Team

The 2008 presidential season is apparently upon us, aspirations will be run up the flagpole, paperwork for exploratory committee's will be formed, and without an incumbant in either major party, we could very well be looking at a free for all.

Will the democratic primary run be so bloody as to render the eventual democratic nominee impotent? Or will the republicans beat each other so bad, that no one really survives? And will the press even care, because a blonde college student has gone missing in eastern Kazahka? Well, I have no clue about any of this. The one thing I am planning on is to be in the thick of it in '07 working to elect a democratic candidate for State Assembly or State Senate, here in New Jersey (hopefully defeating an incumbant republican). All the while keeping in mind that my good friend TomWyka will be having a second go at challenging republican incumbant Rodney Frelinghuysen in New Jerseys 11th CD.

There is one other thing that I do know. That we, as human beings, as democrats, are capable of far better things than we have shown recently. I hold dear to me the idea, that as brothers and sisters, we will walk forward, holding the light of Social and economic justice, the light of civil rights, high for all to see. As Franklin D. Roosevelt said in the darkest days of the Great Republican Depression, “If we cannot do this one way, we will do it, another way. But do it, we will.

This very day there are 2 men, 2 names that bear national stature, who have stood for what is right, for what is better not worse, who export hope and not fear. I give you Al Gore, Wes Clark, and the germ of an idea.

There you are, having thanksgiving dinner with your family, when this racous noise interupts. Like Ghostbusters crashing your thanksgiving dinner..

CRASH . . Booom ... bang... the door bursts open... 2 men step thru..

Hi, I'm AL.......... & I'm Wes..

Al: "We're here today because we've been flipping out, over all the incompetent & evil things the Bush Crime Family has been doing."

Wes: "Thats right Al, you see folks , ever since I got out of the military I've been looking for something new to do."

Wes ducks into a broom closet... sticks his head out, & says to Al, " I found one", holding out a broom.

Al holds his hand out graciously and tells Wes: "Go ahead Wes, don't let me stop you....."

Wes starts sweeping the floor around the family dinning room table...
"Due to the evil & imcompetent plan for war in Iraq, we've ended up with such a horrible mess..".

Wes crouches down to look at the husband and addresses the husband eye to eye.

"Its not like we can just clean things up", Wes Stands erect, yanks off his tear away janitors overalls to reveal a military uniform. Martial music swells from the background, while a breeze gently tussles Wes's hair, Wes states to no one in particular, but to everyone...

"Its time to bring our kids back... from Iraq"...

An ackward silence ensues....

Al: "Ahh Wes..." Wes: "yes Al."

Al puts his hands on his hips, "Wes, how come you get a theme song & I don't ?"

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Tax Rates & the Middle Class

At a recent meeting of progressives in NJ, a fellow progressive professed astonishment when I told him the top tax rate used to be 92%, in fact he did not believe me. This incident motivated me to get my ducks in a row and the result is what you see below.

A Middle class is a rare thing, occurring only 3 times thru-out history. The first rising of a middle class occurred as a result of the Black Plague. The Black Plague killed about 30% of the worlds population, creating a labor shortage. This allowed that Trades & Craftsman to command a higher wage, which trickled down to the common yeoman, much as the unionization of US labor in the middle 1900's allowed non union labor to command wages akin to union labor. Some have written that the renaissance, without a middle class that had the leisure time to even consider art & music, let alone the time to paint, sculpt, write & perform music, would have never occurred.

The second rising of a middle class occurred in the US colonies in the middle 1700's. Once a few Indians were driven away from an area, there was free land available for farming. In an agrarian society this was a big deal in that you could own your own land, grow & sell your own crops & keep the profits, much as a family owned business does today.

The third rising of a middle class occurred during the Great Republican Depression of the early 1930's. FDR's New Deal brought forward tax progressivity, as well as labor rights earned thru the union movement, such as the Child Labor laws passed in 1937 & 1938, (Kids do belong in school after all). But I've gotten ahead of myself, let me backtrack a bit.

According to the US Treasury, "the entry of the United States into World War I greatly increased the need for revenue and Congress responded by passing the 1916 Revenue Act. The 1916 Act raised the lowest tax rate from 1 percent to 2 percent and raised the top rate to 15 percent. Another revenue act was passed in 1918, which hiked tax rates once again, this time raising the bottom rate to 6 percent and the top rate to 77 percent."

Graphic from msn.com

After WW1 tax rates dropped during the "Roaring Twenties" as income disparity increased until the Stock Market crash of 1929, the start of the Depression. Under the guidance of Franklin D. Roosevelt, tax progressivity returned, and the top tax rates went up, programs like Social Security and Unemployment relief got started, the CCC & the WPA put people back to work creating infrastructure thats still in use to this day.
My Parents got thru the Depression with a progressive income tax, we won WW2 with a progressive income tax. The 12 million men & woman that served in the military in WW2 came home, the GI Bill sent vets to college, and they started families. This created the largest, most vigorous and the best educated middle class, in the history of the planet. Labor unions were at the zenith of their power, our educational institutions were the envy of the world, corporations made money, the wealthiest made money. The American Dream was born.

Thom Hartman wrote , " but the real events of the 1930s and 1940s that set the stage for a second American Middle Class were primarily the Wagner Act, the G.I. Bill, and tax changes ranging from raising the top rate on the most rich to 90 percent to offering an emerging middle class home interest tax deductions."

Hartman known for, among other things, quoting Jefferson, continues, "Progressive taxation has a long history: As Jefferson said in a 1785 letter to James Madison, "Another means of silently lessening the inequality of property is to exempt all from taxation below a certain point, and to tax the higher portions of property in geometrical progression as they rise." Hartman concludes, "Progressive taxation has helped create every middle class in the First World, and without it the middle class will vanish."

Enter Ronald Reagan and the start of full spectrum warfare on the middle class. The opening salvo, the PATCO strike. Busting the Air Traffic Controllers union was the start of a multi front military style operation to drive wages down for all Americans. Then we were told that Social Security was going broke, this represents the opening of a second front of the War on the Middle Class that resulted in the doubling of payroll taxes.

The blue line on the bottom shows payroll taxes increasing two fold, while taxes for corporations have been cut by a third (green) and taxes for the wealthiest Americans have been cut by two thirds (purple).

Thom Hartman on Ronald Regan, "But as president, Reagan cut the top tax rate for billionaires from 70 percent to 28 percent, while effectively raising taxes on working people via the payroll tax and using inflation against a non-indexed tax system. It was another hit to the already-beginning-to-shrink middle class, to be followed by more "tax cut" bludgeons during the first three years of the W. Bush administration."

Acting as the propaganda mill of the Aristocracy, groups like the Heritage Foundation have been telling us there is nothing to see, move along. In this example, the chart tells us that high tax rates don't raise more revenue. If this was true why would the Government raise taxes in wartime? In fact the US Treasury states that the result of these taxe rate increases, in both World Wars, did result in increased revenue. Whats more telling is the fine print on this chart, the 2 bottom lines are labeled "federal taxes as a % of GDP" & "Income taxes as a % of GDP."
Well I would offer to the Heritage Foundation that since 1940 GDP per capita has increased 80 fold, it might be fair to assume that as a % of GDP, so have tax revenues. The real point is not producing more tax revenues, the point is having a large and vigorous middle class that can participate as a citizen legislators, send its kids to college, so those kids can invent lots of cool stuff for the corporations to make money off of. Consider kids as assets. How do you make best use of those assets? Educate those assets of course.

I thought it mildly interesting that the Great Republican Depression starting with the Crash of '29, and the 2 year recession in '89 to '90, were periods of low tax rates on the wealthy, and occurred durig Republican Administrations.

A War on the Middle Class generally attacks the 3 pillars holding up the middle class. Progressive taxes, labor & education. Again I look to Thom Hartman: Jefferson said, in an 1824 letter: "This degree of [free] education would ... give us a body of yeomanry, too, of substantial information, well prepared to become a firm and steady support to the government." Jefferson started the University of Virginia with the intent to provide the yeomanry with a free education so as to be prepared to take part in the Government, the citizen legislators if you will.
The current war on the middle class started with less progressivity in tax rates, then union busting. More recently, tax breaks for corporations to move our jobs overseas, increasing illegal immigration to enlarge the labor pool, which drives wages down. The Bush Jr. tax policy is regressive while Bill Clinton's tax policy was much less regressive and was moving to true progressivity. Additionally we've seen 20 billion in cuts from student aid during the last 2 years. This is warfare my friends, the Aristocracy has attacked us, and we must defend ourselves.

Friday, November 10, 2006

An essay, with pictures, from the NJ 2006 campaign trail

This story really starts on election night 2005, here's Senator Lautenberg speaking about Governor elect Corzine.

NJ DFA meeting in March, the star, Anne Wolfe and myself.

Tom Wyka at the NJ Democratic Progressive Caucus meeting in the spring.
Tom had just announced he was running for Congress.

Jeff Gardner speaking at the NJ Democratic Progressive Caucus meeting in the spring.

Video, August Honk & Wave Rally for Tom Wyka and Len Luciano.

I organized a fundraiser for Tom Wyka @ Cryans pub in South Orange. Here is Tom with West Caldwell council candidate Len Luciano, and Democratic Chairman Joe Cryan.


DFA'er Ellen, Tom Wyka, Freeholder Carol Clarke & the former mayor of Monclair at the Oct. 12th Wyka dinner.

Carol Gay challenged incumbant Chris Smith in NJ4.
Carol in Monclair for a house party.

Congressional candidate Tom Wyka posts my video
"The Raid on Student Aid" on his website. A 1st for me.

The "Had enough" video is posted on Tom's website.

October, Rep. John Murtha stops for a photo op
with some Montclair State sutdents.


Most of the debate between Tom Wyka and Congressman Frelinghuysen,
was videotaped, click on the picture to watch the video.

Tom Wyka and friends celebrating after Tom delivered a drubbing to Congressman Frelinghuysen during the debate, Oct. 27th.

In October, John Kerry stumped with
Bob Menendez in West Orange.

Tom Wyka on election night declaring "2008 starts now". Tom Wyka set a record, no DEM has ever gotten 37% in NJ11. NJ11 has the largest population of Republicans in New Jersey.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Will Wyka win?

Back posted from bluejersey.net, Sat. Nov. 4th, 2006.

This is about the little campaign that could. A few months ago if you dropped into the Morristown HQ you might see 3 voluteers and Tom Wyka's wife Betty and their 2 kids stuffing envelopes. The Volunteer Canvass on the weekends looked like 30 people. There was a box of lawn signs up front, and a few stray pieces of lit in boxes.

And the Republican HQ down the block was empty.

Well Chip Robinsons canvass efforts have flowered, some days he sends out 60 people. All of the targeted districts are done and they are being canvassed a second time. The phone bank is overflowing every night. Senator Menendez has made multiple campaign appearances with Tom Wyka.

Chip hard at work.

Did Congressman Frelinghuysen get scared? Some have privately told me they think the Congressman commisioned a poll, and it showed a tight race. Well something happened because the Congressman has opened up a new office on RT 10. A much larger office, the size office you need if you are to actually make a serious defense of your incumbancy. What changed?

On Oct. 27th Tom Wyka debated Rodney Frelinghuysen. And Tom wiped the floor with Rodney, Tom belonged on the stage with the Congressman. Tom Owned Rodney. Tom got the standing ovation, Rodney didn't, even with his own people their to cheer him on. Tom Wyka gave the people of New Jerseys 11th district something to vote for. Hope, their future, our country's future.

I spent friday afternoon @ the Morris HQ, the office was packed with about 50 people, including a friend of mine I worked with in the Kerry Florida campaign, an LA from DC. It was a pleasant surprise to see so many folks from DC. At 4:50 I got a call from a Menendez staffer, Randy Grey, he was at the Summit train station and had no lit, Linda Stender was due as well Governor Corzine & Senator Menendez. I left immediately and pulled in front of the train station at 5:06. I got out, told the cops what I was doing, waded thru the Ferguson supporters ...asking them if they saw the Senator yet..... LOL. Found Randy, gave him the lit. Mission accomplished. On the way out I saw Linda StenderTime to get back to the Morris HQ.

About 9pm myself and another Volunteer from DC left the HQ with lawn signs, we drove by the Frelinghuysen HQ on Friday night at about 10pm, it was closed. When I finished the Lawn Sign Brigade, I returned to Morris HQ and assembled Canvass packs for Saturday. There were still 2 dozen people working, many from DC, many from the 11th CD. Stickers for the Local candidates were stuck on 25 thousand door knockers. ANd canvass packs for 75 people were assembled.

Congressman Frelinghuysen has never really had to defend his seat. SOooo how does one do that? Well it requires a corp group of people with local knowledge. It requires hundreds of people canvassing the hell out of your targeted districts, Phone calls. Direct mail, all that stuff. But what do you do when you have never done these things? You have to pay out thru the nose for staffers, experts etc, because Rodneys operation has never been really challenged, its been withering on the vine since he inherited his Congressional seat, just like his trust fund.

Can Rodneys GOTV effort gear up and perform as well as Chip Robinsons monster canvass machine that has been in operation for years, in Morris county? I think the Wyka GOTV effort wil flat out kick Rodneys ass. You can't wave a magic wand and have GOTV, it takes experience, local knowledge, and time to get everyone on board and to tune the machine. Wykas people have been hitting the streets since April.

Chip & Cliff

And then the Menendez campaign decides its going to send out what may be the largest wave of election day canvassers ever seen in NJ: 17,000 paid canvassers in one day. Election Day. And the Wyka campaign is getting hundreds. Thank you Senator Menendez.

SO if you live in NJ11, expect to get a knock on the door, if you have not voted yet, you will be told to get your rear out and vote. This is how you win elections. I love it when a plan comes together.

If you haven't already, please consider putting 10 bucks on your credit card at my ACT BLUE site for Tom Wyka. Or come down to Washington St in Morristown, next to the green and Act Blue in Person.