I somehow am on a number of right-wing mailing and calling lists. Don't ask me how that happened. I do not hide the fact that my views about sustainable democracy and the harms of plutocracy/oligarchy put me to the left of the political spectrum. I do not buy into Chicago School "efficiency" theory, which acts as though you can ignore the facts about what has happened in our economy so long as you can write a mathematical equation that looks pretty and comes out the other way. I do not buy into tax policy discussions of how "uncompetitive" we are because multinationals are oh so heavily taxed (ha). I do not buy into the elite's view of itself as a meritocracy that has "earned" the millions and billions that top CEOs are paid while siphoning off tax money from infrastructure projects or firing workers or decimating pensions or destroying unions and continuing to pay their workers too little while paying themselves too much.
ASIDE: did you watch the News Hour program about the way people who get more think of themselves, automatically, as "worth" more and therefore meriting what they got. Researchers have run experiment after experiment in which the game is rigged--openly--in favor of one participant. Nonetheless, that participant becomes convinced that he is "entitled" to the rewards he is winning compared to the "loser" on the other side. That's a perfect illustration of what happens in the minds of the Romneys and Cheneys and others who amass great fortunes due to a combination of inheritance, fickle finger of fate, and tax subsidies that ensure that those that have get more (like the capital gains preference). That group that gets more thinks of itself as entitled to more, as therefore better than others. It is rather a small step to greed taking over and lack of compassion becoming the norm.
So I got a call Friday afternoon from the "American Legacy PAC." The call turned to a recording by Newt Gingrich. Here's a paraphrase of what it/he said:
I am outraged about the IRS's targeting of conservative and Tea Party groups. The government lies about what it does, lies to cover up the lies, and then hides everything from the public. This is endangering the country. We have to act. That's why I'm supporting the "Audit the IRS" campaign from American Legacy PAC.
Now, you can bet that nobody at American Legacy is going to shed any light on the matter, such as revealing that the BOLO list that included "Tea Party" and "patriot" also included "progressive" and "Occupy". That left-wing groups got probing letters with questions to answer, too. That in fact most Tea Party groups ARE political action groups and probably many of them do not deserve 501(c)(4) status.
And who is supporting the American Legacy PAC? No mention of that on the phone call. But if you look at the website, you see the kind of doublespeak that Gingrich has always used--talk about "American exceptionalism" and the "legacy" from our grandparents that is being lost due to action of the "elite." Of course, here, legacy means "the way we've always done it--meaning the people with money control things". And "elite" doesn't refer to what I mean by elite--which is those who hold the economic resources and financial assets that permit them to maintain dominance over political and judicial decisionmaking, but rather American Legacy uses the term to refer to the intellectuals that it doesn't like, who make up the left-wing of this country who are interested in a country that evolves and progresses, offering opportunity for all.
And the agenda is revealed in the page on the "Chamber of economic advisers", where Gingrich talks about needing to run government like a business and says:
Together we can get the American economy back on track. Unfortunately the answers coming out of Washington are more of the same….more borrowing from China….higher taxes on producers like you and a more intrusive federal and state government to hinder you from building your business. Together we can change that.
Surprise! Gingrich thinks government should be run like a business. Baloney--there's nothing in common between government and businesses. Government's print money, businesses can't. Governments set borrowing rates, businesses can't. Government's serve the least among them, businesses don't bother. Government's are interested in the public good; businesses are interested in private wealth accumulation. The problem with the US today is that we have had almost four decades of thinking that we need to think like that to run a government. We've let infrastructure go to pot, let our support for basic scientific research almost grind to a halt, stifling the real entrepreneurial innovation.
And surprise. Gingrich wants low taxes and deregualtion. That's not anything new. It's Reagan's deregulation, militarization, privatization and tax cut mantra all over again. It didn't work and the Great Recession of Bush's presidency--including the trillions of dollars of debt to bail out the financial system that Gingrich keeps trying to blame on Obama--is a big piece of the proof that it didn't work.
American Legacy is just an effort to get knee-jerk conservatives to plunk up more money to support more of the right-wing effort to continue to keep their "scandal" in the news media. The news media loves it--nothing like a "scandal" (even if not real) to sell ads.
Remember, folks. There are thousands of good public servants working at the IRS who are overworked, understaffed and underresourced. They face highly sophisticated taxpayers and lawyers, supported by much more resources, on a daily basis. They are lobbied by former IRS employees who move to lucrative jobs and use their contacts to talk the continuing employees into seeing their (clients') perspective about tax issues. Theirs is a constant struggle to do the right thing with too little time, too little respect, and too much of this kind of made-up scandalmongering that benefits most of all Big Business and its owners who want to "starve the beast", cut taxes, and cut safety nets.
I am disgusted with Gingrich's "outrage". And I don't think we need to audit the IRS. I'd like to see an audit of the TIGTA--Russell George who didn't even mention in his report that the IRS had used liberal terms as screening devices as well as conservative terms. Guess what, that matters!