Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Longest Blog Post Ever: Lies, Damn Lies and Statistics.

My mother is inundated by email forwards about Barack Obama and occasionally she asks me to respond to them. Sometimes, I simply respond "that is BS" and supply a link, but last week I decided to attack an email piece by piece. The result is a long and sprawling rebuttal. I could have done better addressing some points, but am I really going to have any success about arguing gun control, abortion or gay marriage with this audience. I did decide to focus more on healthcare and economics because these are real issues.

Republicans have used social wedge issues in order to have Americans vote against their own economic interests for almost forty years. Since 1980, Republicans have either held Congress or the Presidency or both and what have they done to stop abortion? There have been approximately 9 million abortions in the United States since George W. Bush became President. What about gay marriage? Gay marriage is more legal now than it was in 2001, but still the Republicans rally the base with these issues.

On the other hand, Republicans have been extremely successful with reducing income taxes for the wealthy, the estate tax for the wealthy, privatizing government in order to provide a windfall for corporations, and deregulatation to provide benefits for the corporate elite. So really, who do the Republicans benefit?

In spite of facts, the misinformation campaign is effective. God, guns, and the fear of gays, terrorists and creeping socialism have served the Republicans while they've allowed corporations to rob us blind. Lies, distortions and smears like the following are extremely successful. My mom told me today that her friend doesn't want to vote for Obama because she has heard he is the anti-christ.

Seriously.

So, here is my response to the email. The original text is in italics and my response follows. Before I sent it out last week, I did decide to remove my original line where I said "Republicans exist for those who make more than 250,000 dollars a year or have an IQ below 80":

Please read the following positions of our two presidential
candidates. Why are you voting for "your guy"? Maybe these little facts will cause you to actually think before you vote. These are important issues that you need
to know about and really think about how they will affect
you, your family, your parents, your grandparents and the
rest of our nation.
Make an educated decision, ignorance is no excuse!


I say absolutely make an educated decision. In other words please verify these forwarded emails before you spread them around, The economic information in this email has been spread around for some time, is inaccurate and has been debunked by several critics. See http://www.snopes.com and you’ll find the economic portion of this email repeated verbatim and thoroughly discredited.


2008 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE COMPARISON TALKING POINTS

ISSUE JOHN McCAIN
BARACK OBAMA

Favors new drilling offshore US
Yes
No


It’s funny, McCain was against offshore drilling until June 2008 when he spoke in front of a group of Texas oil executives. As the summer came and gas prices skyrocketed, it became politically advantageous to change this position. Though, I have to admit that Obama has demonstrated a similar openness to offshore drilling as well in recent comments.


This is a very cheap election year tactic—even Bush’s Department of Energy has admitted that oil from new offshore drilling would not reach the market for at least 10-years. We are currently researching and developing alternative energy solutions to reduce our dependence on oil. I think focusing our efforts on drilling today is a similar mindset to trying to develop a better VCR in this day of DVD or even Blue-ray technology.

Will appoint judges who interpret the law not make it
Yes
No


Judges interpret law—they don’t make it. If this is true, then McCain’s judges will never overturn Roe v. Wade because they only interpret laws and Roe v. Wade is an existing law. The entire activist judges meme is a sham invented by the right wing.

Served in the US Armed Forces
Yes
No


Yes, John McCain was the son and grandson of Admirals, which helped him get into the Naval Academy where he finished 894th out of 899 in his class. He served courageously in war and was a POW. There is a lot to admire him for his service and all Americans owe him gratitude for what he endured. On the other hand, this alone does not qualify someone to be President.

Amount of time served in the US Senate
22 YEARS
173 DAYS


He has been a member of the Senate for 1 year and 8 months. Meanwhile, McCain is a longtime Washington insider and one of the infamous “Keating Five” scandal.

Will institute a socialized national health care plan
No
Yes


The “socialist” scare word. It is like “liberal” but even stronger. We live in the so-called “wealthiest” nation in the world, yet 50 million Americans do not have health care insurance. That is 1 out of every 6 Americans. And what is health insurance? We are the ONLY nation in the industrialized world to have a for profit health care system. That means you are merely a number to Doctors, Nurses, insurance companies, hospitals, and HMOs. You are part of a profit margin and they make decisions about your health based upon economics. For years, the insurance company lobbyists have used the argument of waiting lists (only for non-emergency surgeries) in countries with nationalized healthcare, but how many people do you know that have been denied coverage by an HMO for necessary procedure by a for profit healthcare agency? It happens every day.

Republicans use terms like “socialism” to scare non-critical thinkers. Even though most Americans have no clue what socialism is, it scares people into believing that we will pay higher taxes. Well, America’s dirty secret is that we already pay more per capita than any Industrialized nation for our healthcare. As Americans we pay 16.2 percent of our gross domestic product (national income) for healthcare (source World Health Organization). The next highest is Germany at 13 percent. France, Austria and Switzerland pay from 10-12. The UK, Canada and Norway from 8-10 percent and Japan and Finland from 5-8. One difference of their system and ours is that every single person is covered under a healthcare plan

Think about it-Americans pay more than any other nation for healthcare and we pay a higher portion of our income for this system. This includes the taxes that citizens pay in European countries. So what? We Americans enjoy the best healthcare system in the world, right? Well, the numbers do not support that. American babies are three times more likely to die in their first month as children born in Japan, and newborn mortality is 2.5 times higher in the United States than in Finland, Iceland or Norway. We rank 37th in the world in infant mortality. We trail countries like Cuba, Taiwan, South Korea and our counterparts are countries like Latvia, Poland and Hungary.

Our life expectancy is 46th in the world. We trail countries like Jordan and live as long as people in countries like Kuwait and Albania

The World Health Organization ranked the American healthcare system 37th in the world and the overall health of Americans at 72nd. We pay more than anyone yet we rank so low in almost every major health index.

Additionally, unlike other countries, we are forced into bankruptcy because of medical debt or we lose our homes and life savings to support this for-profit healthcare system that has failed us.


http://www.bcbs.com/blueresources/mcrg/chapter1/ch1_slide_1.html

http://www.who.int/whr/2000/en/annex01_en.pdf

http://www.cnn.com/2006/HEALTH/parenting/05/08/mothers.index/

http://www.geographyiq.com/ranking/ranking_Infant_Mortality_Rate_aall.htm

https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/rankorder/2102rank.html



Supports abortion throughout the pregnancy
No
Yes


John McCain on abortion - “I’d love to see a point where Roe vs. Wade is irrelevant, and could be repealed because abortion is no longer necessary. But certainly in the short term, or even the long term, I would not support repeal of Roe vs. Wade, which would then force women in America to [undergo] illegal and dangerous operations.”

Source: Ron Fournier, Associated Press Aug 24, 1999

Obama supports the right for states to restrict late term abortions.

Here is a comprehensive and nuanced detail of Obama’s position on abortion.

http://www.ontheissues.org/Social/Barack_Obama_Abortion.htm



Would pull troops out of Iraq immediately
No
Yes


Obama believes in a phased withdrawal.

http://www.barackobama.com/issues/iraq/


Supports gun ownership rights
Yes
No


This is a vague statement. Does he support the second amendment? Yes. Has he sought to limit the sale of semi-automatic weapons? Has he supported the rights of local governments to restrict handguns? Yes. Here are his positions.

http://www.ontheissues.org/2008/Barack_Obama_Gun_Control.htm


Supports homosexual marriage
No
Yes


This is incorrect. Barack Obama does not support homosexual marriages. He supports the right of same sex couples to enter into civil unions. He also supports the rights of states to determine whether or not they want to allow gay marriages. Family law has always been left to states to regulate. Republicans or Conservatives have traditionally supported states’ rights without federal intervention. Now, all of the sudden, the Republicans want the federal government to intervene on matters that have traditionaly been left to the states.*

Oh, wait, wait—John McCain agrees with me on this or at least he did before he ran for President:

“Same-sex marriage ban is un-Republican” John McCain

“The constitutional amendment we're debating today strikes me as antithetical in every way to the core philosophy of Republicans," McCain said. "It usurps from the states a fundamental authority they have always possessed and imposes a federal remedy for a problem that most states do not believe confronts them."

http://www.cnn.com/2004/ALLPOLITICS/07/14/mccain.marriage/


Proposed programs will mean a huge tax increase
No
Yes


Incorrect.

The Tax Policy Institute has determined that both Presidential candidates will increase the national debt by 2018 with their proposed programs. Obama will increase it by 3.4 trillion—that’s with a T. But hold on, McCain will increase the national debt by 5 trillion dollars.

This is refuted in detail below.

Voted against making English the official language
No
Yes


For Obama-True. The United States has survived for over 230 years without an official language. States are free to adopt English as an official language as many have.

McCain has voted against making English the official language before and has received awards from the Hispanic organization La Raza for having done so.

"Our nation and the English language have done quite well with Chinese spoken in California, German in Pennsylvania, Italian in New York, Swedish in Minnesota, and Spanish throughout the Southwest. I fail to see the cause for alarm now." --John McCain

He has more recently changed his position. Now, he is running for President, you know?

http://www.ontheissues.org/celeb/John_McCain_Immigration.htm


Voted to give Social Security benefits to illegals
No
Yes


The answer should be “yes” for both McCain and Obama.

http://www.ontheissues.org/celeb/John_McCain_Immigration.htm

Here is part of an exchange from the Senate floor when Senator McCain spoke in favor of a bill to give amnesty to illegal immigrants who had committed document fraud.

"When (Senator)Ensign's amendment came up, McCain tried to seize the moral high ground by suggesting supporters of Ensign's amendment were trying to confiscate someone's "nest egg." "If this amendment is enacted," he said in a floor speech, "the nest egg that these immigrants have worked hard for would be taken from them and their families."

"I believe the amendment is wrong," McCain said.

Ensign did not "calm down" and go away.

"Is he aware that it is a felony to use someone else's Social Security number?" Ensign asked of McCain.

"I am aware of that," McCain said.

"Under this legislation, we forgive that felony," said Ensign. "We grant amnesty for that felony."

Now, the Straight Talker double-talked. "Under this legislation," McCain responded, "we allow the illegal immigrants a path to citizenship which, if they are convicted of felonies or misdemeanors, according to an amendment, then they would be ineligible to embark on that path to earn citizenship."

http://www.humanevents.com/article.php?id=24987

But later, when he was in a town hall meeting he said “"I do not support nor would I ever support any services provided to someone who came to this country illegally, nor would I ever and have never supported Social Security benefits for people who are in this country illegally, that is absolutely false."

Oops!


CAPITAL GAINS TAX

MCCAIN
0% on home sales up to $500,000 per home (couples).
McCain does not propose any change in existing home sales
income tax.

OBAMA
28% on profit from ALL home sales. (How does this
affect you? If you sell your home and make a profit, you
will pay 28% of your gain on taxes. If you are heading
toward retirement and would like to down-size your home or
move into a retirement community, 28% of the money you make
from your home will go to taxes. This proposal will
adversely affect the elderly who are counting on the income
from their homes as part of their retirement income.)



This is a lie. The claim that Obama would impose a 28 percent tax on the profit from "all home sales" is false. Both Obama and McCain would continue to exempt the first $250,000 of gain from the sale of a primary residence ($500,000 for a married couple filing jointly) which results in zero tax on all but a very few home sales.

Sources: http://www.factcheck.org/askfactcheck/would_obama_tax_my_profits_if_i.html

http://www.snopes.com/politics/obama/taxes.asp

Also, please go to the Brookings Institute Tax Policy Center link here:

http://www.taxpolicycenter.org/publications/url.cfm?ID=411742

The Institute has determined that both Presidential candidates will increase the national debt by 2018 with their proposed programs. Obama will increase it by 3.4 trillion—that’s with a T. But hold on, McCain will increase the national debt by 5 trillion dollars. The whole notion of the Democrats as being the tax and spend party is over. The Republicans are no longer fiscally conservative. The neo conservatives who seek endless war are now in control.

DIVIDEND TAX

MCCAIN
15% (no change)

OBAMA
39.6% - (How will this affect you? If you have any money
invested in stock market, IRA, mutual funds, college funds,
life insurance, retirement accounts, or anything that pays
or reinvests dividends, you will now be paying nearly 40% of
the money earned on taxes if Obama becomes president. The
experts predict that 'Higher tax rates on dividends and
capital gains would crash the stock market, yet do
absolutely nothing to cut the deficit.')


Obama has proposed to restore the dividend tax to somewhere around 20 percent or whatever the capital gains tax was before Bush cut it. Obama only proposed raising it for households that make 250k plus a year or singles making more than 200k, In 2005, only 1.67 percent of American households earned more than this. The Capital gains tax was 28 percent for a very long time,. The Capital Gains Tax was at 28 percent during the Clinton administration, which was the biggest economic boom period in American history. Bush cut it in order to benefit the very wealthy. After this was done, the income gap grew (and the middle class disappeared) in greater numbers than anytime in our history.

By the way, who are the “experts” cited to but never revealed in the above paragraph?

Speaking of experts and sources, I actually read the links buried at the bottom of that email to verify. Nobody checks footnotes and sources, right? Wrong. The income information on the CNN link supports none of the claims of this email. It is merely listed to give the article some appearance of authority. Take a look at one of the articles that was linked from the CNN page It directly refutes the following income tax lie. Basically, Obama’s plan will only begin to affect your taxes negatively if you make more than 227, 000 dollars a year.

Compare what’s found in the link provided as the “source” to what the original email said.

BREAKING DOWN THE NUMBERS
Here's how the average tax bill could change in 2009 if either John McCain's or Barack Obama's tax proposals were fully in place.
MCCAIN OBAMA
Income Avg. tax bill Avg. tax bill
Over $2.9M -$269,364 +$701,885
$603K and up -$45,361 +$115,974
$227K-$603K -$7,871 +$12
$161K-$227K -$4,380 -$2,789
$112K-$161K -$2,614 -$2,204
$66K-$112K -$1,009 -$1,290
$38K-$66K -$319 -$1,042
$19K-$38K -$113 -$892
Under $19K -$19 -$567


INCOME TAX

MCCAIN (no changes)
Single making 30K - tax $4,500
Single making 50K - tax $12,500
Single making 75K - tax $18,750
Married making 60K- tax $9,000
Married making 75K - tax $18,750
Married making 125K - tax $31,250

OBAMA (reversion to pre-Bush tax cuts)
Single making 30K - tax $8,400
Single making 50K - tax $14,000
Single making 75K - tax $23,250
Married making 60K - tax $16,800
Married making 75K - tax $21,000
Married making 125K - tax $38,750
Under Obama, your taxes could almost double!


I’ve said all I can say about the income tax above, but let me quote a passage from the CNN link that is listed as a source for these facts:

On Obama’s plan

“High-income taxpayers would pay more in taxes, while everyone else's tax bill would be reduced. Those who benefit the most - in terms of reducing their taxes as a percentage of after-tax income - are in the lowest income groups.”

As for the FOX source- it’s a dead link that lists a bunch of campaign news. There is nothing specifically about the issues.

The AARP source cites what I’ve already stated—Obama wants to raise taxes on those who make 250k a year and McCain wants to keep the Bush tax cuts.

The Washington Post pieces do not support this email either.

(Sources in the original email forward):

You can verify the above at the following web sites:

http://money.cnn.com/news/specials/election/2008/index.html

http://www.cnn.com/ELECTION/2008/issues/issues.taxes.html

http://elections.foxnews.com/?s=proposed+taxes

http://bulletin.aarp.org/yourworld/politics/articles/mccain_obama_offer_different_visions_on_taxes.html

http://blog.washingtonpost.com/fact-checker/candidates/barack_obama/

http://blog.washingtonpost.com/fact-checker/candidates/john_


INHERITANCE TAX

MCCAIN
- 0% (No change, Bush repealed this tax)

OBAMA
Restore the inheritance tax

Many families have lost businesses, farms, ranches, and
homes that have been in their families for generations
because they could not afford the inheritance tax. Those
willing their assets to loved ones will only lose them to
these taxes.


I will cut and paste this directly from the non-partisan factcheck site:

The claim that Obama proposes to "restore the inheritance tax" is also false, as are the claims that McCain would impose zero tax and that Bush "repealed" it. McCain and Obama both would retain a reduced version of the estate tax, as it is correctly called, though McCain would reduce it by more.

The tax now falls only on estates valued at more than $2 million (effectively $4 million for couples able to set up the required legal and financial arrangements). It reaches a maximum rate of 45 percent on amounts more than that. It was not repealed, but it is set to expire temporarily in 2010, then return in 2011, when it would apply to estates valued at more than $1 million ($2 million for couples), with the maximum rate rising to 55 percent.

Obama has proposed to apply the tax only to estates valued at more than $3.5 million ($7 million for couples), holding the maximum rate at 45 percent. McCain would apply it to estates worth more than $5 million ($10 million for couples), with a maximum rate of 15 percent.

NEW TAXES PROPOSED BY OBAMA

New government taxes proposed on homes that are more than
2400 square feet. New gasoline taxes (as if gas
weren't high enough already) New taxes on natural
resources consumption (heating gas, water, electricity)
New taxes on retirement accounts, and last but not
least....New taxes to pay for socialized medicine so we can
receive the same level of medical care as other third-world
countries!!!


All of these claims are false. Some of them are even hilarious. Obama will tax water? Are you kidding me?

In conclusion, if you are going to vote for McCain, then do so. That is your right. If abortion or gay marriage is the most important issue to you, then you know where your candidate stands. If you make less than 250, 000 dollars a year, desire a fair and progressive tax system, a worry about quality and affordable healthcare, dependence on fossil fuels, and are tired of war and want someone different than a candidate who has supported the failed policies of President Bush over 90 percent of the time, then maybe you can pull the donkey lever this November.

All I can hope is that you at least investigate the facts before spreading this misinformation. The great prevaricator, Ronald Reagan once said, “Facts are stupid things” Well, yes, you can pretend that if the facts do not fit your argument. The GOP campaign seems to want to talk about everything but the issues. They want to play up patriotism, make you scared, spread misinformation like what is contained in this email. We are smarter than this. We have to be -- because like the opening of the original emails says: we owe it to ourselves, our family, our parents, our grandparents and the rest of our nation.

Respectfully,

Torporindy

Labels:

2 Comments:

Blogger lemming said...

Great rebuttal and, yes, I did read all of it. :-) I plan to share it around.

September 20, 2008  
Anonymous raul said...

The final sufferers are the retired people.

Thank u so much for this informative article. There are many definitions of retirements. However, the best that I have came across till date is — “Retirement is a time when you don’t work for money. It’s the time when money should start working for you.”

Retiredebtfreeandhappy - retirement plans, retirement planning calculator, retirement planning, early retirement planning, retirement savings, retirement investments

September 27, 2008  

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