I should have written this letter while the last issue was still on the newsstands, but I had to summon the courage. As a frequent reader and left-of-left liberal, I was appalled to read in your Dec. 29 Publisher's Note "Common Sense in 2011" (Volume 9, Issue 16) the line in which you say President Obama's tax compromise is "probably good economic policy in the short term." I think my jaw actually dropped.
I've always pictured you being the kind of guy capable of understanding what a terrible, terrible travesty this tax compromise actually is. It rewards the ultra-wealthy and punishes the poor. You mention the payroll tax holiday, but nowhere in this piece do you mention that 45 million American households who earn less than $20,000 a year will see a tax increase.
In other words, according to economist David Cay Johnston, who was interviewed recently by Amy Goodman, the worse off you are, the more taxes you pay, and the better off you are, the less you pay. Moreover, the passage of this tax compromise is accompanied by some incredibly insulting remarks from incoming House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp, who believes that allowing people who live in poverty to not pay income taxes creates "moral hazard" and "incentives for perverse behavior."
Camp said: "I believe you've got to have some responsibility for the government you have." Of course, he means the poorest of us have to sacrifice more so that the wealthiest can sacrifice nothing.
The hypocrisy is almost blinding. How can you defend this policy?
Maybe I'm one of those liberals just "complain[ing]" that my party didn't get what it wanted out of this tax compromise.
If that's what you think, that would be fine. I will continue to complain and shout and fight for what I believe is right.
Apathetic pseudo-liberals like you are the problem: You advocate common sense and accountability, but actually, you're just willing to let the Republicans (and the conservative Democrats) have whatever they want. Furthermore, you are entirely unwilling to hold President Obama accountable for his cowardly betrayal of his left-wing supporters. If you continue to defend him no matter what he does, and it seems that you are, you are only helping drive the country farther to the right. This is tragic, because your publication provides the only significant liberal voice in this state (where many, many people will be affected by a tax increase on the poor).
You are letting down your readers. When I believed that you and the JFP truly had social justice and human rights at heart, I wanted to intern for you and maybe even work for you, but now I see that you are just another mouthpiece for Obama and his corrupt corporate lackeys.
You should be ashamed.
—Emma Spies, Jackson
[Todd responds: True, the compromise did not extend the Make Work Pay tax credit—part of 2009 Stimulus—that was set to expire in 2010 and which no party put on the table. Instead, the compromise cut payroll taxes and increased the Earned Income Tax credit to nearly offset this change. The result is, indeed, a 0.5% decrease in take-home pay compared to 2010, which, nevertheless, remains an increase compared to Bush-era 2008 take-home pay. And you seem to be forgetting the rather significant extension of unemployment benefits to people who are unemployed and, therefore, very much in need.]