Transcript: Thom Hartmann: The Big Picture: Do French billionaires love their country more than US Billionaires? 25 August '11
France didn’t drink pollster Frank Luntz’s “job creators” kool-aid.
Faced with a deficit problem - the French government just introduced a new debt reduction package that includes a 3% income tax INCREASE on people making more than $721,000 a year - 500,000 euro - or the people referred to in America - thanks to Frank Luntz - as so-called “job creators.”
But no one in France is screaming about class warfare today - no one is screaming that the so-called “job creators” are going to roll into a little ball and stop hiring people - no one is screaming that without their tax breaks - millionaires and billionaires will destroy the French economy.
In fact - it was the millionaires and billionaires THEMSELVES who asked for the tax increase.
In an open letter - some of the wealthiest people in France wrote:
"We, the presidents and leaders of industry, businessmen and women, bankers and wealthy citizens" (notice by the way they don’t call themselves “job creators”) "would like the richest people to have to pay a 'special contribution'.”
This letter sounds awfully similar to a letter written back in November of last year by some of the richest people in America - people calling themselves “Patriotic Millionaires”. That letter read:
For the fiscal health of our nation and the well-being of our fellow citizens, we ask that you allow tax cuts on incomes over $1,000,000 to expire at the end of this year as scheduled. We make this request as loyal citizens who now or in the past earned an income of $1,000,000 per year or more.
Or what Warren Buffett said last week in the New York Times when he wrote:.
While the poor and middle class fight for us in Afghanistan, and while most Americans struggle to make ends meet, we mega-rich continue to get our extraordinary tax breaks… My friends and I have been coddled long enough by a billionaire-friendly Congress. It’s time for our government to get serious about shared sacrifice.
Yet - these words from American billionaires and multimillionaires didn’t resonate here like they did in France - and the prospect of any tax increases on millionaires and billionaires HERE tragically is slim to none.
That’s because - unlike France - America bought into the idea of trickle-down economics - that if we give rich people - the so-called “job creators” - a bunch of money - then they’ll run right out and hire a bunch of unemployed people.
But 30 years after Reagan preached this policy here in America - and almost 40 years after Maggie Thatcher preached the same story in the U.K. - it’s pretty clear - the only thing trickle-down economics does is create a nation of peons.
Luckily for France - they didn’t have a Ronald Reagan - or a Maggie Thatcher - or a political strategist named Jude Wanniski who created the political tool known as “supply-side economics” - to pollute their economics - and so they stuck with common sense.
Common sense that says that economies run on people having money in their pockets to spend - NOT on billionaires being able to add to their Swiss bank accounts is actually a good thing, that it's common sense.
So when it comes time to cut their deficit - the French went after the excess - the fat cats who were living large while the rest of the country was struggling.
And the rich in France were willing - as their letter noted:.
When the public finance deficit and the prospects of a worsening state debt threaten the future of France and Europe and when the government is asking everybody for solidarity, it seems necessary for us to contribute.
As in - they realize there’s not much quality of life in being RICH while living in a POOR country - a sentiment that most billionaires here in America - like the Koch brother oligarchs - don’t appear to understand.
And America is quickly devolving into a poor country with more than 40 million people in poverty and depending on food stamps - and 53 million people unable to get basic healthcare because they don't have insurance.
Thirty years of Reaganomics is turning us into the world's largest third world nation.
And there’s one obvious way to turn things around - a way to reduce our deficit - and not injure those who are already most injured by this second Republican Great Depression - and that’s by doing what France did and raising taxes on millionaires and billionaires.
Over the last ten years - the Bush tax cuts are one of the largest contributors to the debt. In fact, let me just lay this out. This is our total debt going out to 2019, projecting out. What you see here is that the Bush tax cuts account for the largest piece of it.
The second largest piece of it is the Bush depression, right, the economic downturn. This is a no-brainer.
The third biggest piece of it is our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan which were not paid for. I mean, Bush said, oh let's have a war. Pay for it? No, we're not going to pay for it. Go shopping.
There's the other debt here. This is always been with it. We've had an underlying debt basically since George Washington borrowed money from France to fight the revolutionary war. That's nothing new and that wouldn't have changed if it wasn't for all these things.
And then you've got the two things that Republicans are absolutely hysterical about, right?
TARP, which was George Bush's contribution, and actually turned out to be rather small. Here's TARP right here, this little blue line.
And the Stimulus Act. The Stimulus Act is virtually nothing too, that white [pale blue]piece right there.
SO here we are, most of all of this came from the Bush era tax cuts and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the Bush recession.
Over the last ten years - the Bush tax cuts are one of the largest contributors to our structural deficit - and over the next ten years they will likely add another $4 trillion to our deficit.
That's $4 trillion borrowed from the Chinese and handed in our names to the so-called "job creators," all courtesy of the Bush tax cuts.
And we can add another $2 trillion that we borrowed and gave to the Rich with the Bush tax cuts over the last 10 years.
And with all this money we borrowed and gave to the American rich - what have these so-called "job creators" done?
They've laid off workers - like Bank of America is about to do with plans to pink slip 3,500 employees.
Or they ship jobs overseas like Jeffrey Immelt of GE does - with over half of their workforce now made up of foreign workers.
Pollster Frank Luntz calls them "job creators" - a term that likely originated from a focus group or the bowels of Fox so-called News - the mouthpiece of oligarch Rupert Murdoch and de facto house organ for the Republican Party.
But in reality - these corporations and rich people are "job killers", at least here in the United States.
But Frank Luntz would be the first to tell you that "more tax cuts for job killers" doesn't play as well in the polls.
And, economically, it's stupid, and we have the evidence of thirty years to prove it.
In the last few years - this nation has been whacked in the head over and over and over again with economic bad news.
Let's hope one of those whacks wakes us up to common sense.
Tax the oligarchs!
That's The Big Picture.