“We have now got both parties essentially telling a big lie. With a capital ‘B’ and a capital ‘L’ to the public: and that is that we can have all this government, 24 percent of GDP, this huge entitlement program, all of the bailouts. And yet, we don’t have to tax ourselves and pay our bills. That’s delusional.”So said President Ronald Reagan’s Former Budget Director David Stockman in a shockingly candid interview with CBS’ 60 Minutes correspondent Lesley Stahl.
When asked why he was calling for the elimination of the Bush-era tax cuts, Stockman said, “Well, we just can’t afford them. We couldn’t afford them when they were adopted in 2001 and 2003. Since then, we’ve had two giant unfinanced wars, a huge bailout of Wall Street. This trillion-dollar stimulus program, and we have now created so much national debt, and such large permanent deficits that we’re going to have to do some very difficult and painful things to close the gap…”
Stockman, who masterminded one of the nation’s biggest tax cuts under President Ronald Reagan made a startling point, “In 1985, the top five percent of the households, wealthiest five percent, had net worth of $8 trillion, which is a lot. Today, after serial bubble after serial bubble, the top five percent have net worth of $40 trillion,” he explained. “The top five percent have gained more wealth than the whole human race had created prior to 1980.”
The notion that somehow the American economy will dig itself out of the enormous economic hole dug by Republicans and Democrats alike without a significant tax increase for rich and poor seems increasingly unlikely. In fact, Stockman pointed that a one-time 15% surtax on American’s richest citizens could cut the deficit in half in a single year. Where there is political will there is a way.
On a recent swing through Richmond, Virginia the hunt for fresh coffee and fossil fuel landed me at the 7-Eleven in Glen Allen (somehow I missed the nearby Starbuck’s). It also gave me the first opportunity to vote in the 2008 Presidential Election courtesy of highly unscientific 7-Election Presidential Coffee Cup Poll. The coffee cup poll now in its third year invites you to pour your favorite hot beverage into either a red cup for Republican nominee, Sen. John McCain, or a blue cup for Democratic candidate, Sen. Barack Obama. According to 7-Eleven the poll has proven remarkably accurate in elections past, with results closely mirroring the official surveys by the country’s top political pollsters. In the first 7-Election in 2000, only 1 percentage point separated the cup-counts of now-President George Bush and Democratic nominee, Senator Al Gore. Likewise in 2004, President Bush out-cupped Senator John Kerry, 51 percent to 49 percent.
So what goes best with 7 Election coffee? Well, that brings me to the Cookie Poll sponsored by the Retail Bakers of America. That’s right, since 2004 when the cookie poll accurately predicted the next president of the United States – President George W. Bush – bakeries have baked and decorated cookies to represent both the Democrat and Republican candidates. Using political party mascots, colors, and the nominee names, each cookie sold represented one vote for the candidates. The Retail Bakers of America tabulate cookie sales of the presidential candidates weekly, and results are posted on the association’s website. So how’s this unscientific insight into America’s political psyche turning out?
So far, the 7 Election Poll results show John McCain with 40.68% of the vote winning in New Hampshire and West Virginia. Barack Obama leads with 59.2% of the votes with a sizeable headstart in the big states including California, Texas, New York, Ohio, Nevada, Arizona, and Florida. The Cookie Poll has Obama in the lead 57% to McCain’s 43% with 21,099 cookie votes cast so far. And that as they say is how the cookie (and perhaps the campaign) crumbles.