President Obama To Meet Georgia’s One Percent

Today’s Courier Herald Column:

President Obama will spend his Friday afternoon in Atlanta.  Upon arrival, his itinerary suggests that his motorcade will proceed through some of the poorest neighborhoods in Atlanta.  His destinations, however, will be anything but poverty stricken.  The President is here to pick up his pre-St. Patrick’s Day pot of gold from two fundraisers hosted by entertainment entrepreneur Tyler Perry.

Perry is a homegrown actor/writer/producer and inspirational success story.  Forbes Magazine claims he was 2011’s highest paid entertainer with income estimated at $130 Million for the year.  That’s safely within the 1% territory.

Common people with a minimum $500 contribution will get to attend the first fundraiser at Tyler Perry’s studios in Southwest Atlanta.  Those with a spare $35,000 or so will be allowed in to a later event to be held at Perry’s personal Buckhead home. It’s a cozy 30,000 square foot cottage nestled on 17 acres along the Chattahoochee river.

Perry’s success did not come easy, nor overnight.  The 42 year old mogul spent most of his twenties broke and struggling to launch a play which he had written and continued to perfect over several years.  His persistence is evidenced in his success. 

And it’s fairly safe to say that Perry’s success was self-made.  Perry recounts being abused as a child, and completed a GED program instead of high school.  He changed his name from Emmitt to Tyler at age 16 so as to not have the same name as his father.

Everything about Perry’s accomplishments is a pure American success story.  Hard work, determination, overcoming early adversity, risk taking, and then, financial success. 

Tyler’s films include strong family and Christian themes, with plot lines that often depict internal family struggles but also paths to redemption.  These themes and religious tones are suggested by some as a reason Perry’s films tend to have limited box office reach. 

Perry as a backdrop to frame Obama’s campaign seems much more appropriate to the President’s original campaign.  That was the one where a young inspiring Senator pledged to bring a new tone to Washington.  He was going to reinvent political discourse and bring parties and the people together.  There was hope.  There was going to be change.

Then, “I won”. 

That same candidate, now a President, will be escorted through some of Atlanta’s most impoverished inner city neighborhoods to raise money from those sympathetic to him.  His motorcade is likely to drive down I-75 and skirt the Pittsburgh Community.  Just south of downtown, the neighborhood saw its brief hope to climb out of poverty through gentrification and crash with the housing bust.  Now, the community sees more than 50% of its homes vacant, with property values roughly ten cents on the dollar from where they traded just a few years ago.

It’s unlikely that the President will see any of Pittsburgh.  For security reasons, he’ll likely move down the freeway at speeds that would generate a super-speeder ticket were he not escorted by the Georgia State Patrol and the Secret Service.  Instead, he will see the well heeled.  The 1%. 

And they will donate money knowing that it will likely be used to attack other one-percenters.  The money will not be used to unite, but to further divide.  It will be used not to promote success stories like Perry’s, but to paint those who have been successful as those who aren’t doing enough.  As those who don’t deserve the rewards of their efforts.  As those who already pay 38% of all taxes collected who need to pay more because that is the “fair” solution to giving those who pay nothing even more from a bloated and growing government. 

President Obama is not here to campaign.  He is here to pick up checks.  Despite some polls indicating a close race in Georgia for the November election, the election will not be won or lost in Georgia.  As is now custom, battleground states such as Ohio, Florida, and Virginia will be the recipients of the donations made by Tyler Perry’s guests.  Georgia’s strategic value is merely that of conduit for the wealthy who are sympathetic to the President to transfer their funds to a machine that will attack the wealthy who are not.


    • That goes for government income tax fleecing of the middle class as well… it answers the question why, but doesn’t make it right.

      Whether it’s Obama or Mitt… these guys only really care about their power and the coddling of the 1% that keep them in it… all else is just rhetoric… if only people paid more attention to what they do/did and not so much to what they say.

  1. zedsmith says:

    Either meet with rich people and get called a sellout, or meet with poor people and get called a socialist class warrior.

  2. Hardly says:

    Charlie — In the future, when you’re writing posts about President Obama, regardless what the specific topic is, you might save time by just copy and pasting the following:

    “President Obama bad bad bad wrong wrong wrong bad bad bad wrong wrong wrong bad bad bad wrong wrong wrong bad bad bad wrong wrong wrong bad bad bad wrong wrong wrong bad bad bad wrong wrong wrong bad bad bad wrong wrong wrong bad bad bad wrong wrong wrong bad bad bad wrong wrong wrong bad bad bad wrong wrong wrong bad bad bad wrong wrong wrong…”

    Just an idea.

  3. Rick Day says:

    Smart, wealthy and successful people come to Tyler’s crib to meet a candidate.

    The rest of GA goes to a rural church.

    You get what you pay for.

    Also Free Speech™, etc, yadda…

  4. SallyForth says:

    Let’s dig a little deeper on this. Per the IRS, Americans’ income finally rose in 2010. Their stats show that adjusted gross income totaled $8 trillion, up 5.2% from 2009. But a closer look at the data reveals that only the wealthiest Americans had reason to celebrate.
    Taxpayers earning more than $250,000 saw their AGI rise by 13.8%, while those bringing home between $200K and $250K enjoyed a 6.7% increase. Middle-class Americans? Not so good. Those making between $50K and $100K saw their incomes creep up only 1.5%.

    Wages are the largest component of AGI. Overall, salaries and wages grew 2.1%. But not across the board. The super-rich saw an 11.2% hike, and those just below them enjoyed a 4.6% increase. The shrinking middle class saw a DROP of 0.7% in wages.

    Capital gains (taxed at only 15% now) rose for most brackets, the wealthiest taxpayers benefited from a 37.6% hike, and those in the bracket below pocketed 32% more. Middle-income folks saw only a 19.8% increase. And of course everyone else below that said “What are capital gains?”

    The numbers show and the Top 1% of taxpayers got 93% of the income gains in the first year of the economy recovery. The Top 1% had incomes above $352,000 in 2010. This is expected to continue since corporate profits and dividends — sources of income for the rich — grew strongly last year, while wages increased only modestly or stagnated.

    Our old American opportunity for upward class mobility has collapsed on itself, fueled by all the tax loopholes and reductions the 1% paid lobbyists to garner for them the last decade or so. The richest 1% now own 40% of the nation’s wealth. (25 years ago the top 1% owned just 33%) How much does the bottom 80% own? Only 7%.
    The Top 1% own half of the country’s stocks, bonds and mutual funds: The Institute for Policy Studies shows this massive disparity in financial investment ownership, noting that the bottom 50% of Americans own only 0.5% of these investments – yep, 1/2 of 1% won’t get you far.

    The Top 1% of Americans have only 5% of the nation’s personal debt – but the bottom 90% have 73% of total debt. Finally! Something that we have more of!
    But not so fast, sparky – the 99% still come up short. According to the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities in DC, the Top 1% are now taking more of the nation’s income than at any other time since the 1920’s (you can look at their chart at their website if you want to see the exact numbers).

    Like Warren Buffet and some other Top 1%’ers, looks like Tyler Perry and these folks remember something about “To whom much is given, much is expected.” Talking about income disparities is not “attacking the wealthy” – it’s just pointing out who the job creators are in our nation….. When Bush and the Republican Congress were passing all those tax cuts for Norquist and the wealthy, and telling everybody else to suck air, they said they were making “job creators” – now where in the heck are all those jobs?

    I say we should just roll back taxes to the same rates that President Regan put into place. Remember that great conservative icon? Put everybody back at the same tax rates he put into place, and you’ll see our nation’s economy turn around pronto.

    • peachstealth says:

      It’s not just the rich who get income from LTCG and dividends. I’m retired and while I’d rather have my savings in bank CD’s I’ve had to turn to the stock market to get any return at all.
      Just remember capital gains taxes are voluntary. You have to sell a capital asset to owe them. If you raise the tax too much, people quit selling. That’s why every time they’ve been lowered; revenue from them to the government has gone up.
      Dividends come from the after tax profits of corporations. Any tax on them is a double tax.
      The money corporations pay their employees is a deductable expense. If you’ll likewise make what they pay stockholders a deductable expense, I have no objection to taxing it as ordinary income.

      • SallyForth says:

        I’ll go out on a limb here and guess that you, like me, only get a drop in the bucket from capital gains by comparison to the Top 1%. In order to help our country get out from under, I’d gladly pony up for my modest amount if the mega-millionaires will come up with the same percentage of their unearned income.

        Re dividends paid out being tax deductible for corporations, I have no problem with that. But I am wondering why you are concerned with this. Since corporations have no problem with doing such things as false advertising, bait and switch, etc., to get more money out of the general citizenry, I don’t feel it necessary for we rank and file folks to look out for their interest instead of our own. Corporations spend many millions every year for squads of lobbyists to make sure their best interest is served on every type of law or regulation. Individuals like you and I do not have anyone lobbying for our best interest, so we should at least speak up for ourselves. I’m just sayin’…….

        • peachstealth says:

          Re dividends paid out being tax deductible for corporations, I have no problem with that. But I am wondering why you are concerned with this.

          I’m just against double taxation. If dividends are tax deductible, the corp can afford to pay a bigger dividend.
          Prior to President Bush lowering the tax on dividends to the LTCG rate, many companies the were using retained earnings to buy back stock in an effort to maximize capital gains for their stock holders. Since then many have used that money to increase their dividends instead.
          If I were writing the law I’d tax cap gains at 20% on assets held for 1 to 5 years then beginning in he 6th year I’d reduce the tax by 1% for each year held. Someone who had spent 25 years building a small business could sell out and retire tax free.
          Only the portion of dividends and interest on savings that is above the rate of inflation would be taxable.
          If the inflation rate is 3% and you have a bank CD paying 5% you only pay tax on 2%. e.g. you have a $50,000 CD paying 5% or maybe you invested that in shares of Southern Company that pays a 5% dividend which is $2500 a year. Inflation ate up 3% or $1500 of it so you pay tax on $1, 000.

            • SallyForth says:

              I agree, Calypso – can we get peachstealth to run for the legislature this year, get that man elected to office so he can write this into law?

              • Calypso says:

                Providing peachstealth votes for him/herself, there’s at least three votes! Where do I mail my campaign contribution?

                • peachstealth says:

                  Herself and thanks but I ain’t running! Any congress critters out there who might read my tax plan is welcome to it.
                  I think it was Howard Baker who said you could get a lot done in Washington if you didn’t care who got the credit and I don’t.


                  • SallyForth says:

                    Peachie, girl, that’s the problem – none of the present critters will do something that level headed.

  5. elfiii says:

    @SallyForth “I say we should just roll back taxes to the same rates that President Regan put into place. Remember that great conservative icon?”

    Are you also going to restore all the deductions allowed back then or just the tax rates? Also, are we talking about DRA ’84, Tax Reform Act of ’86, or TEFRA? It matters.

  6. wicker says:

    Some rejoinders.

    0. Make a deal: the left should stop attacking the wealthy when the right stops attacking the poor. (There are always going to be poor people, and denying this fact is as simple as denying reality; denying human nature.)

    1. The “1%” thing ignores the fact that Obama has nothing to do with the Occupy movement, and most occupiers regard Obama as not liberal enough, “establishment”, representing and enacting the agenda of the corporations, and hence part of the problem. While Obama is certainly liberal, he is still well within the mainstream of the Democratic Party. There are several U.S. senators and governors to the left of Obama, and dozens of members of the U.S. House are also. The Occupy movement is more representative of the Green Party – with some socialists and anarchists thrown in – than Democratic Party, and the Democrats (including Obama, though not nearly to the extent that Sean Hannity and company would have you believe) merely attempted to co-opt it as “their Tea Party.” Except that where the Tea Party actually did represent what the GOP has claimed to be its agenda since Reagan and Goldwater (lower taxes, less spending, limited government, deregulation) the Occupy movement represents nothing that any Democrat beyond marginal types like Bernie Sanders (who technically is not even a Democrat, but an independent and self-described socialist who merely caucuses with the Democrats), Barbara Lee and Pete Stark would actually propose as policy.

    2. “The money will not be used to unite, but to further divide.” I despise it when the left claims that conservatives are divisive and their own movement is unifying (their “the GOP only benefits a few but the Democrats benefit everybody” claim) and such nonsense is no better coming from the right. As this country is 40% GOP leaning, 38% Democrat leaning, and the rest independent (or at least it was the last time I looked at the polls) money contributed to either party will be divisive.

    3. “And they will donate money knowing that it will likely be used to attack other one-percenters. It will be used not to promote success stories like Perry’s, but to paint those who have been successful as those who aren’t doing enough. As those who don’t deserve the rewards of their efforts. As those who already pay 38% of all taxes collected who need to pay more because that is the “fair” solution to giving those who pay nothing even more from a bloated and growing government.”

    First off, they pay 38% of all taxes collected because they control 42% of the wealth. It is funny how that is left out. So, a true flat tax system would – in theory – increase the percentage of all taxes collected by the top 1% to 42% while similarly reflecting that the bottom 90% control 20% of the wealth. Now I am not opposed to a tax code that would reflect this reality. However, many conservatives are, and instead favor the idea that people shouldn’t be forced to pay taxes to support services and programs that they don’t benefit from. For conservatives, the battle is increasingly shifting from the distribution of the tax burden and the level of taxation to “I should only have to pay for what I use” mentality that treats government as a business providing products for consumers as opposed to something that exists to serve the common interest, with examples being areas like transportation (“I don’t ride buses/trains so don’t tax me for them!”) and education (vouchers). The “this program/project doesn’t benefit the tax-paying, productive REAL AMERICANS!” claim is becoming more common, with the goal apparently being that the top 1% paying virtually nothing – as they can provide pretty much everything they desire without the government – while the bottom 90% either pays for the government services that they need, or (more likely!) see those services not offered at all because of the desire of the top 1%/10% to not pay for them.

    Second: we should be intellectually honest enough to acknowledge that tax rates are lower now than they were for a substantial portion of the last century. Reagan cut the top income tax rate from 70% to 28%, and it has only gotten back up to 35%. Reagan also cut the top corporate tax rate from 46% to 34%; it is now 35%. What conservatives have been seeking is either other taxes to cut (i.e. capital gains and inheritance taxes) or further cuts in income taxes. But claims that the Democrats wish to raise taxes to unprecedented levels is merely GOP spin.

    Third: the “bloating and growing government” issue is an excellent one, but don’t pretend that it has anything to do with taxation. Reagan claimed that his tax cuts would “starve the beast” and force spending cuts: it never happened. Instead, the GOP has learned to love living with deficit spending – “tax-cut-and-spend economics” – and also with growing government. They grow government and spending at a slower rate than the Democrats, granted, but they still grow it. The GOP has yet to show the desire to invest the political capital in real spending cuts and reductions in the size of government, and this includes even the Tea Party rank and file, most of whom believe that we spend much more money on things like TANF and Section 8 than we actually do. (The “eliminate government services and programs that I don’t personally use” mentality again.)

    Add it all up and neither the Democrats or the Republicans are dealing with fiscal reality. The Democrats want to raise taxes not for the purposes of eliminating the deficit and retiring the national debt, but to add new programs, which are either increasingly becoming the ends themselves rather than the means, or are intended to effectively eliminate class distinctions. Meanwhile the GOP both opposes funding government at its current levels AND makes no real effort to reduce the level of government. The difference: at least the Democrats are honest about their intentions. They want to increase taxation, increase spending, increase government. The GOP claims to want to cut spending and reduce government but never actually does it.

    It is difficult to say which is preferable: the side that is honest about its horribly destructive ambitions, or the side that claims to have honorable and productive ambitions but – at least as far as their actions are concerned – is lying. It is like trying to decide between the carjacker who commits his brazen crimes in broad daylight in front of lots of witnesses and the embezzler who takes care to conceal his pilfering and identity. You can pretend that one is better than the other all you want, but the truth is that either way all you’re stuck with is a thief, a common criminal, for whom you would have no justification for liking or trusting.

    • SallyForth says:

      Maybe it had something to do with St. Paddy’s Day (and night), but reading this just snarled my brain, wicker. I should’ve gone to bed without stopping by the computer…..

    • peachstealth says:

      >>First off, they pay 38% of all taxes collected because they control 42% of the wealth. It is funny how that is left out. <<
      It's left out because you are mixing apples with oranges. Income tax is a tax on income, not wealth The top 1% earn 18% of all income, that's what you should compare their 38% of income tax to.
      If you wan to discuss tax on wealth, talk about the portion of property tax they pay

    • seekingtounderstand says:

      BS…….its organized theft on an unimaginable scale. Both sides are guilty and complicit.

  7. peachstealth says:

    Gosh I hate waking up in the middle of the night…
    Now that I’ve thought about it for a while, I realized that there is a federal tax on wealth. I’s called the estate tax and since it’s only collected on estates in excess of $5 million I would guess that the 1 percenters, who you say own 42% of the wealth, pay just about 100 % of it.

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