The Large Number of Hedge Fund Managers Near Fort Rucker, Ala. (A Suggested Response to the Republicans’ Simple Response(s).)

It’s unconscionable to use our military men and women in uniform as a bargaining chip to raise our taxes.

— Rep. Martha Roby, (R. Ala.)

Our taxes, huh?  Ours!  This actually is unexpectedly good financial news for most of, um, us. Not to mention very surprising news.

According to The New York Times today, Roby made the comment in an interview yesterday after a visit to the town just outside the Army’s Fort Rucker.  And presumably, she, and her family (thus, the “our” rather than a “my”), have substantial income from capital gains and dividends. Or maybe she or her husband is a hedge fund manager and would lose the “carried-interest” tax deduction, because the tax loopholes that Obama and the congressional Dems are proposing to close are those and similar ones. And she did say “raise our taxes.”  

Maybe both are hedge fund managers. She part-time, of course.  

Maybe not, though, since, by using that phrase, she intended to convey, falsely, that Obama was using our military men and women in uniform as a bargaining chip to raise the taxes of the our military men and women in uniform, most of whom have spouses who are hedge fund managers, and of the residents of the town just outside of Fort Rucker, most of whom live off of their capital gains and dividends, and none of whom, whether working or unemployed, receive assistance from the the federal food-assistance program.  

I know that latter fact to be true because the New York Times article says that House Republicans say they believe that the have “politically inoculated themselves against claims they are responsible for the cuts by approving measures last year that would have substituted reductions in government programs like food stamps for the lower Pentagon spending.”

Which itself undoubtedly is true.  Especially since Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan ran on just such a proposal last fall, and won.  I mean, lost.  By about 5 million votes.  

The Republicans must have received their inoculation serum through the Web. From a company in Afghanistan, maybe. 

Roby also said in that interview referenced in the Times article:

The president says he has to have tax increases to head off the sequester. Well, he already got his tax increase.

Indeed, he did.  He got a tax increase on individuals with non-investment income of at least $400,000, and on couples with non-investment income of at least $450,000, to Clinton-era rates, and slight raises on some investment income, to less than Clinton-era rates.  Clinton-era rates being rates at which we were able to have a budget surplus, without using our military men and women in uniform as a bargaining chip  for anything, and without cutting food assistance programs, including the assistance that goes to Alabamans, a few of whom may live in that town near Fort Rucker.  

So, I have two suggestions for Obama. Serious ones.  


One is that he travel to that town near Fort Rucker and explain, among other things, that salaries for our men and women in uniform are exempt from the sequester, and that, while we’re on the subject, of unconscionable political conduct, it’s probably a good idea to include the dispensing of false information to the contrary as fitting comfortably within that category.  He also should explain to the group assembled in the audience at the high school gym, or wherever, who it is exactly that will have their taxes raised by the tax raises included in the “fiscal cliff” agreement, and, especially, who it is exactly–exactly–that would have their taxes raised under Obama’s proposal to replace the sequester.  

Then he should ask for a show of hands, first, by those in the audience who will have their taxes raised under the “fiscal cliff” deal, and then by those who would have their taxes raised under a current proposal to replace the sequester.  His own proposal or the Senate Democrats’ or the House Democrats’.  In other words, a show of hands by “us”–as in “raise our taxes.”  

He also could, and should, explain how, and why, the sequester law came about–and what would have happened to this country’s credit rating and the financial system and the economy beginning in August 2011 without it.  I.e., explain again, as he did at his successful press conference in mid-January, what the debt ceiling, and raising it, are.

Obama of course instead could make these points in a short primetime TV address, one advantage of which would be a national audience.  That’s my other suggestion. He could do this in an address of under 10 minutes.  

If he took that avenue, he could even take advantage of the national audience to point out, within that under-10-minute address, that John Boehner wasn’t quite accurate when he said in a Wall Street Journal op-ed yesterday that:

[A]s the president’s outrage about the sequester grows in coming days, Republicans have a simple response: Mr. President, we agree that your sequester is bad policy. What spending are you willing to cut to replace it?

Yes, some–but not all–Republicans’ simple response is to fail to acknowledge that Obama is proposing replacing some of the sequester’s cuts with increased tax revenues achieved by closing tax loopholes on wealthy individuals and corporations.  Martha Roby is a Republican who does acknowledge this.  Her simple response is, rather than pretending that this is not so–that Obama has not proposed an offset by raising more revenue in the manner that he and the congressional Dems in fact have proposed–to instead misrepresent to all or most of her constituents that their (“our”) taxes would go up. It’s a statement either unconscionably deliberately deceptive or instead reflecting dismaying ignorance of the sources and amounts of income of at least some, probably most, of her constituents, unless her district is among the wealthier ones in this country.* 

Which, for all I know, it may be.  But if so, most of the residents of the town close to the Army base probably are not among the hedge fund managers in her district.  Nor even among the Apple shareholders.

Obama could of course both travel to the town near Fort Rucker and address the nation on primetime TV.  But only if the matter is really important.  Really important.  Which Obama may or may not think it is.  I mean … to each his own.

What I don’t understand about this White House is its failure to grasp that what matters is actual explanations and refutations of the Republicans’ incessant misrepresentations of fact–killing the Repubs’ constant representation of cliché  and generic slogans as facts–rather than silly Twitter tweets, attractive photos of Obama at work or play, or appearances on The View or interviews on 60 Minutes that do not explain substance and do not refute the opposition on issues of substance.

Actually, this one’s pretty easy to explain:  Raise our taxes?  Then the tax raise must also be on our income.  I guess we’re all hedge fund managers now.  (Seeee? I told you this was good financial news for us. Not to mention surprising financial news for us. And surprising employment news for, well, at least those of us whose tax raise will come from the elimination of the “carried-interest” deduction.)

Of course, now that I think about it, that little explanation in that last paragraph would fit in a Twitter post.  So maybe Twitter’s the way to explain and refute, after all.  At least when you’re camera shy.  Or just shy.

*This paragraph was edited slightly for clarity, as were two or three sentences elsewhere.