Newt Gingrich's pitch to small donors

Last week Jane Hamsher wrote a good piece at FireDogLake about Newt Gingrich’s big spending on private planes. She noted that Gingrich’s organization American Solutions paid $3,360,346 to Moby Dick Airways, which charters private planes, during 2008 alone. American Solutions raised a total of $25,489,668 last year, and donations below $200 made up $7,343,986 of that amount.

Hamsher asked a good question:

On their contributions page, it says “American Solutions is here to serve as your voice in the political process.” Did the people who gave this money think they were donating so Newt and Company could jet around on private planes?

I’m pretty sure they didn’t, because last night I received a fundraising call from American Solutions. As I always do when I am a respondent for any political survey, I grabbed a pen and took notes, which you’ll find after the jump.

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Some tax day links and open thread

Today is the last day to file your federal income taxes, or file for an extension. Iowa state tax returns need to be postmarked by April 30.

Iowa PIRG has a petition you can sign on closing corporate tax loopholes, and a trivia question. Of the following 10 companies, which is the only one that has not set up an offshore subsidiary to avoid paying taxes?

* AIG

* American Express

* Bank of America

* Comcast

* Coca-Cola

* Dell

* Exxon-Mobil

* Home Depot

* Pepsi

* Pfizer

Click here for the answer. At that page I also learned that “In all, 83 of the 100 biggest corporations in America have set up off-shore tax shelters, costing the rest of us as much as $100 billion a year!”

The blogosphere is full of funny commentaries on the Republican astroturf campaign to hold “tea parties.” By “astroturf” I mean fake grassroots, organized by conservative interest groups and egged on by their allies at Fox News.

At Daily Kos, KingOneEye has the White House response to the “teabagging” efforts (excerpt):

I think the President will use tomorrow as a day to have an event here at the White House to signal the important steps in the economic recovery and reinvestment plan that cut taxes for 95 percent of working families in America, just as the President proposed doing; cuts in taxes and tax credits for the creation of clean energy jobs.

We’ll use tomorrow to highlight individual and instances in families that have seen their taxes cut and I think America can be — Americans will see more money in their pockets as a direct result of the Making Work Pay tax cut that the President both campaigned on and passed through Congress.

I’m with clammyc: The teabaggers should give up the services their taxes pay for if they believe we get nothing of value in return for our taxes.

Bonddad wants to know, Where were the teabag protests 8 years ago? Good question.

At Open Left, Chris Bowers cites recent Gallup polling, which shows that a solid majority of Americans think upper-income people pay less than their fair share in taxes.

It’s hard to know what’s going on with the Democratic proposal to overhaul Iowa’s tax system. Yesterday key lawmakers predicted it will pass this week, but the Des Moines Register quotes some Democratic back-benchers in the Iowa House today as saying the plan may be dead for this year. I hope we don’t need to add this to the list of good bills we can’t find 51 votes for out of our 56-member Iowa House Democratic caucus.

I haven’t been posting enough open threads lately, so say whatever’s on your mind in this thread–it doesn’t have to be related to tax policy.

UPDATE: I enjoyed Todd Beeton’s Tea Party Palooza linkfest.

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How to turn a severe recession into a depression

Freeze federal spending in response to a huge spike in unemployment.

No, seriously, House Republican leader John Boehner is now proposing a federal spending freeze. Like Josh Marshall says,

I’m not even sure it’s fair to say that this is a replay of the disastrous decisions the magnified the Great Depression between 1929 and 1933. It’s more a parody of it. When the crisis is a rapid and catastrophic drop off in demand, you handcuff the one force that can create demand (i.e., the federal government) in the throes of the contraction. That’s insane. Levels of stimulus are a decent question. Intensifying the contraction is just insane and frankly a joke.

Paul Rosenberg has some good comments and a Rachel Maddow clip on this topic.

Republicans have long advocated dumb ideas on economic policy, like Congressman Steve King’s proposal to boost investment by eliminating capital gains taxes. To state the obvious, investors are not staying away from stocks because they’re worried about paying taxes on huge capital gains. On the contrary, investors fear that they will lose money because the market has not hit bottom yet and the recession will bring down more companies.

Similarly, fear of taxes on corporate profits has little to do with why businesses are not investing in production now. Business owners are not worried about finding money to pay taxes on profits. They are worried about losing money because skyrocketing unemployment reduces consumer demand for the goods or services that businesses sell.

In fairness, if we followed bad Republican advice on cutting corporate and capital gains taxes, we’d only be giving wealthy Americans tax breaks with a very small economic stimulus “bang for the buck” (see this data compiled by the chief economist for Moody’s). If we followed Boehner’s “new and improved” Republican advice to freeze federal spending, we would send the economy into a meltdown.

I have to wonder whether Republicans even believe in their own talking points. A spending freeze, really? That’s not what George W. Bush and the Republican majority in Congress did during the previous recession.

I think they may be beating the drum on spending to scare some Democrats out of supporting Obama’s budget proposal. What worries me is the scenario outlined by Open Left user Master Jack:

1. Obama submits a budget with the spending necessary to avoid a depression.

  2. Blue Dogs bitch and bleat and whine.

  3. Obama caves to the blue dogs and waters down his budget.

  4. Depression ensues.

  5. Democrats get clobbered in 2010.

  6. Liberals get blamed.

  This is what the Republicans are trying to make happen. And it wouldn’t stand a prayer of working of not for their blue dog enablers.

Democrats from President Obama on down need to push back hard against the Republicans’ idiotic new line.  

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