Monthly Archives: December 2015

The Super Rich Should Pay Their Damn Taxes

DEC 29  |  Reprinted from

In a properly functioning democracy, politicians would work extra hard to make certain that the very, very wealthy would pay an appropriate amount of taxes.

In a dysfunctional political system, where the exceedingly wealthy (and by exceedingly wealthy, I mean billionaires and multi-millionaires), have an outsized access to the political class, closing down the tax loopholes seems to be damn near impossible.

The New York Times just published an expose about how the super-wealthy avoid paying taxes. “With inequality at its highest levels in nearly a century and public debate rising over whether the government should respond to it through higher taxes on the wealthy, the very richest Americans have financed a sophisticated and astonishingly effective apparatus for shielding Continue reading

The Otto Caucus

DEC 21  |  Reprinted from

Wanda: Was it shrewd? Was it good tactics or was it stupid?
Otto: Don’t call me stupid.
Wanda: Of course not! To call you stupid would be an insult to stupid people! I’ve known sheep that could out-wit you! I’ve worn dresses with higher IQ’s, but you think you’re an intellectual, don’t you ape?…. Let me correct you on a few things. Aristotle was not Belgian. The central message of Buddhism is not “Every Man for Himself.” And the London Underground is not a political movement. Those are all mistakes, Otto. I looked ’em up.”

I have been thinking about this great classic movie, “A Fish Called Wanda”, and Otto, played by Kevin Kline. Continue reading

America First, Charles Lindbergh and Ted Cruz

DEC 17  |  Reprinted from

As Europe was engulfed in its second violent, all-encompassing war of the 20th Century, America split into two camps.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt became increasingly concerned about the brutality of the Nazi regime, and he engaged in a campaign to guide the United States into an alliance with Great Britain.

Others were not interested in getting America involved in another European War.

Industrialists including Robert McCormick, the publisher of the Chicago Tribune, William Regnery, who will later become famous for becoming the publisher of conservative writers, Sterling Morton of the Morton Salt Company, and many others came together in opposition to Roosevelt’s efforts. Continue reading

Last Debate of the Year

DEC 16 | Reprinted from

I have found some of the previous debates cringe-worthy, but as the candidates have been through this five times, been on the stump for months, have had to answer questions from both print and TV reporters almost daily, and have had time to cull their advisors to get to the ones who know what they’re talking about; last night’s was pretty good.

I agreed with whomever pointed out that listening to the three Senators debate the finer points of second degree amendments in years-ago immigration legislation that never became law is tedious for most of us. Continue reading

The Lessons of Roth-Kemp

DEC 16  |  Reprinted from

When Bruce Thompson and Jim Brady started selling a tax reform plan in the late 1970’s, they didn’t get into specifics or try to educate people on the intricacies of tax policy.

They stuck to big themes and creatively captured the attention of the media and the American people.

Thompson was the tax counsel for Delaware Senator Bill Roth and Brady was Roth’s mouthpiece and they were selling the legendary Roth-Kemp tax reform plan that would later become the central component of the Reagan economic agenda. Continue reading

Debating Debates

DEC 14 | Reprinted from The Screaming Moderate (

The cable news networks are cleaning up financially through the Republican presidential debates. The ratings are through the roof, which means the networks can charge more for the ads during those debates.

What useful information has come out of those debates to help a voter make a choice on a candidate is another question.

These “debates” usually involve a panel of questioners with the rules typically being something like: Candidates get one minute to answer the question and 30 seconds to rebut an attack on themselves. After that, it’s a free for all with candidates interrupting each other trying to get their share of air time – between the ads that interrupt the program. Continue reading

Tactics, Not Vision

DEC 7 | Reprinted from

Put aside, for the moment, today’s date.

Last night, President Barack Obama delivered a speech that was as defensive in nature as President Jimmy Carter’s “national malaise” speech on July 15, 1979.

Carter never actually used that phrase, but it stuck nonetheless because of the tone he took:

“It is a crisis of confidence. It is a crisis that strikes at the very heart and soul and spirit of our national will. We can see this crisis in the growing doubt about the meaning of our own lives and in the loss of a unity of purpose for our nation.” Continue reading

US Can’t Wait for Change

NOV 30  |  Reprinted from

Originally published in The Hill

My dad died from Parkinson’s disease the day after Thanksgiving at a veterans home in Manteno, Ill., which is about 45 minutes to the southwest of Chicago.

That brought me home to Illinois to visit with my family and help with the arrangements. If you are looking for a poster child of all that is wrong with America, Illinois would be a good place to start.

Illinois is bankrupt. It doesn’t make payments to its local schools because it doesn’t have any money. Illinois has the lowest bond rating of any state in the union (Puerto Rico is not a state). The political class has betrayed my home state, mortgaging the future by postponing hard decisions for generations.  Continue reading