It's almost August. Too soon for anyone to care much about local elections, but not too soon for candidates to start making ridiculous statements about one another.
Enter Chris Collins and a letter he wrote to Kathy Hochul dated today, July 31st, 2012. In it, he calls on Democratic incumbent Kathy Hochul to support an extension to the 2001 and 2003 middle class and small business tax cuts and to break with the President 'just once' in order to do so.
Apparently, Mr. Collins, despite all of his self-proclaimed business acumen, has failed to learn how to count. Representative Hochul was one of only 18 house Democrats to vote with House Republicans in favor of a $46 Billion small-business tax cut last April.
In fact, Representative Hochul, according to her congressional voting record is actually one of the most conservative members of the Democratic Caucus, voting with her party only 82% of the time. By the numbers she is the 24th most conservative Democrat out of the 192 currently serving in Congress.
As for the middle class tax cut extension, it was Representative Hochul who issued her own press release four days ago calling on Mr. Collins to support tax cut extensions for American workers.
Now, here's the important part: Middle class tax cuts don't mean the same thing to both candidates. The 2001 'middle class tax cuts' that Mr. Collins is referring to are commonly known as the Bush tax cuts that reduced tax rates on income over $500,000 roughly 3%.. When you watch MSNBC or listen to liberal talk radio, you will hear this rate commonly paired with the phrase, 'The wealthiest one percent of Americans.' These tax cuts were originally scheduled to expire at the end of 2010, but were extended after President Obama made a deal with Congress that included an extension to his own payroll tax cut as well as guaranteeing long-term unemployment benefits.
When Representative Hochul, who supports a marginal tax increase on top earning Americans, calls for extended tax relief for the middle class, she means the payroll tax cut, in place since 2010, that reduces the amount you pay the Social Securtiy Administration by about 2% and puts roughly $20-40 per week back into the pockets of work-a-day Americans. Extended out over a year that's up to $2000 dollars extra for the average wage earner, or, in layman's terms, about 100 big boxes of diapers. This cut can accurately be described as 'middle-class' because no one in America pays a dime in social security taxes on income earned over $110,100. I doubt the Collins family ever worried much about the cost of diapers.
This game of dueling press releases cuts directly to the core of modern American politics. Our politicians do their best to run out a string of banalities designed (by professionals) to appeal to the lowest common denominator. In short, this stuff isn't complicated, but you have to want to understand it. Politicians and their handlers assume, correctly, that you don't want to understand it. You're getting what you paid for with regard to our level of debate.
Candidates like Collins and Hochul are becoming the norm.
Collins is a wealthy, empty suit who came to the fight armed with talking points about an economic policy that only works in a vacuum or an Ayn Rand novel. He's not John Galt, and neither, by the way, are you. You're not even Hank Reardon.
Hochul, like many Democrats, is bad in a different way. She makes the same assumptions about voters that Collins does, but instead of challenging them to raise their level of understanding she relies heavily on cliche. The tragedy here is that Hochul is actually very good at her job as a Congresswoman. She genuinely cares about constituents and she never misses an opportunity to communicate with people directly. Sadly, the Hochul campaign differs dramatically from the Hochul reality because she has chosen to fight on Collins' home court. No one ever told her that you can win an argument against a person who stubbornly refuses to have any clue what he's talking about.
What's the result? Two separate communications from candidates coming four days apart that look nearly identical but are addressing completely separate points.
We're not having a debate about the benefits/drawbacks of certain economic policies. We're not talking about the wars we fight. We're not talking about the weakening American middle-class. We pretend to talk about those things, they are listed as issues, but honest discussion isn't happening and it's your fault.
Don't let Chris Collins pretend to be the savior of the middle class when his entire platform is essentially a plan to protect some bourgeois notion that a wealth class hoarding money is also creating jobs for the poor. Don't let any candidate for office get away with answering your questions with a talking point from their own website. Life in America is bad and getting worse for almost all of us and our political class is being intentionally useless while we drown.