Two of Mitt's 59
Fully 57 of Mitt Romney’s 59 policy proposals to fix the American economy are as indistinguishable as Heinz’s 57 varieties of ketchup (and a lot less fun than Hitchcock’s 39 Steps). They are absolute standard-issue Republican dogma—reduce corporate taxes, pass the free-trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama (have you ever seen a prediction of how many jobs our free-trade agreement with Panama would create, even excluding the number of jobs it would destroy? Does it ascend beyond single digits?), repeal Obamacare, kneecap unions—utterly usual, utterly unsurprising.
But two are interesting.
The fallacy of post-industrial prosperity
Of all the lies that the American people have been told the past four decades, the biggest one may be this: We’ll all come out ahead in the shift from an industrial to a post-industrial society. Yes, we were counseled, there will be major dislocations, as there were during the transition from an agrarian to an industrial economy, but the America that will emerge from this transformation, like the America that emerged 100 years ago, will be one whose citizens are ultimately more prosperous and secure than their industrial-era forebears.
What a crock.
Just when you thought the soap opera that is the Los Angeles Dodgers couldn't get more ridiculous, reports came Thursday that embattled owner Frank McCourt had received a $1.2-billion offer for the club from L.A. businessman Bill Burke, with some unspecified share of that $1.2 billion to come from "certain state-owned investment institutions of the People's Republic of China," according to the letter from Burke's group to McCourt.
What Steve Jobs could do for the U.S. working class
In the week since he announced he was stepping down as Apple’s CEO, Steve Jobs has been accorded the kind of demigod status that Americans bestow on the handful of their countrymen who invent, manufacture and market the goods that change their lives for the better. Jobs has been compared to any number of iconic American innovators, but most tellingly to Thomas Edison and Henry Ford.
“Like Edison,” wrote the New Yorker’s Ken Auletta , Jobs “accomplished his imaginative feats without the crutch of survey results,” because, like Edison, he was imagining products unlike any that had previously existed. “Like Ford,” wrote the New York Times’s Joe Nocera , who “built the first automobile the middle class could afford,” Jobs brought out a line of inventions that Americans could buy even as their incomes flat-lined.
California's Economic Stimulus
In an economic downturn—in fact, at anytime—no one disputes that an individual state lacks the capacity of the federal government to stimulate the economy. Not even Jerry Brown, the governor of America’s mega-state, whose economy is larger than all but seven nations, disputes that.
“We’ve got the plan Obama has been looking for—and if you believe that, I’ve got a bridge to sell you, too,” Brown said recently. Even in a state as large as California, he continued, “we don’t have the instruments of massive fiscal capacity that the United States government has.”
The GOP will raise taxes — on the middle class and working poor
America’s presumably anti-tax party wants to raise your taxes. Come January, the Republicans plan to raise the taxes of anyone who earns $50,000 a year by $1,000, and anyone who makes $100,000 by $2,000.
Their tax hike doesn’t apply to income from investments. It doesn’t apply to any wage income in excess of $106,800 a year. It’s the payroll tax that they want to raise — to 6.2 percent from 4.2 percent of your paycheck, a level established for one year in December’s budget deal at Democrats’ insistence. Unlike the capital gains tax, or the low tax rates for the rich included in the Bush tax cuts, or the carried interest tax for hedge fund operators (which is just 15 percent), the payroll tax chiefly hits the middle class and the working poor.