Published: Thursday 17 January 2013
In short order Eisenhower challenges the stupendous qualitative and quantitative growth of the military, the integration of war contractors and the Pentagon, the impact this is having on policymakers, and even the threat it poses to civil liberties and to democracy itself.

On January 17, 1960 Dwight Eisenhower famously called out the “military-industrial complex” in his last presidential speech to the nation. Though it apparently provoked little serious comment at the time, this 15-minute broadcast has steadily grown in stature over the past half-century, with its clear warning that “the potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist” with the emergence of a permanent war economy.

Some commentators, like latter-day spin doctors, downplay this aspect of the speech, viewing it simply as a restatement of typical Cold War fare. While Eisenhower did invoke the struggle with the Soviet Union (“the conflict engulfing the world” that “unhappily promises to be of indefinite duration”), this was not the point of his address. We now know that he thought about this speech for two years and worked on several drafts, concentrating on the danger of the “conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry” whose “influence — economic, political, even spiritual — is felt in every city, every statehouse, every office of the federal government.”

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Published: Tuesday 30 October 2012
It would be insane to compound the damage by raising taxes on the middle class and not on the rich.

 

As we go into the final days of a dismal presidential campaign where too many issues have been fudged or eluded — and the media only want to talk about is who’s up and who’s down — the biggest issue on which the candidates have given us the clearest choice is whether the rich should pay more in taxes. 

President Obama says emphatically yes. He proposes ending the Bush tax cut for people earning more than $250,000 a year, and requiring those with high incomes to pay in taxes at least 30 percent of any income over $1 million (the so-called “Buffett Rule”).

Mitt Romney says emphatically no. He proposes cutting tax rates by 20 percent, which would reduce taxes on the rich far more than anyone else. He also wants to extend the Bush tax cut for the wealthy, and reduce or eliminate taxes on dividends and capital gains. 

Romney says he’ll close loopholes and eliminate deductions used by the rich so that their ...

Published: Friday 21 September 2012
“Can Democrats recapture the blue-collar hearts they began losing 60 years ago? Perhaps.”

Liberals strain to understand why so many blue-collar whites have made their home in the Republican Party. Yes, the GOP better connects with this group on social and lifestyle levels. Still, with working people under so much economic strain these days, it seems odd that they'd let a culture war centered on emotion trump their bread-and-butter concerns.

When did this all begin? A good answer is 60 years ago, when a Republican congressman named Richard Nixon gave the "Checkers speech."

The address "foreshadowed the emergence of a new conservative populism in America, emphasizing appeals to social and cultural 'identity' rather than economic interest," Lee Huebner, a speechwriter in the Nixon White House, writes. Later publisher of The International Herald Tribune, Huebner explains the power and historic significance of the Checkers speech in an article scheduled to appear on theAtlantic.com this weekend.

Published: Wednesday 18 April 2012
“The subject of taxes intimidates a lot of people, and it can be an understandably touchy subject.”

Let's face it. The subject of taxes intimidates a lot of people, and it can be an understandably touchy subject. So we won't inundate you with charts, graphs, and tables to tell you why the rich are getting away with murder on tax day. We've got something better for you on this Tax Day, just 24 hours after Republicans rejected the Buffett rule (a proposal which was sensible, if far too easy on the rich).

Instead of bogging you down with data, we offer you: The Elvis Index.

As we've noted before, Elvis had a manager named Col. Tom Parker - who, in the true huckster/promoter spirit, was neither a "Colonel" nor "Tom Parker." (He was a Dutch immigrant.) Col. Parker famously said back in the 1950s that ""I consider it my patriotic duty to keep Elvis up in the 90 percent tax bracket."

That's right. Back in the 1950s - when we were that country that Rick Perry and other conservatives wax nostalgic about - Dwight Eisenhower was President, the nation was enjoying its postwar economic boom, and the top tax rate for ultra-high-earners was 90 percent. (It was either 91 percent or 92 percent throughout the Eisenhower Presidency.)

Today the official top tax rate for ultra-high earners is 35 percent - and between capital gains tax cuts and other accounting tricks, very few of them pay even that much. Here's a snapshot (shrunk to fit the blog format; click to enlarge:rule (a proposal which was sensible, if far too easy on the rich).

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