Friday, September 23, 2005

September 22, 2005

The 1% Solution

Call me crazy, but don't you think now would be like the perfect moment in time for House and Senate Democrats to demand repeal of those Bush tax cuts that benefit only America's top 1% of earners? That act alone would bring in around $450 billion, and just when we need it the most.

Forget about it, you say. The Dems are the minority in both houses, and a fractured and weak minority at that. How could they force anything? Hell, they can't even force us to pay attention to them anymore, much less pull off a major political coup like that.

Well, call me crazy again, but I think they could -- if only they would.

If they only would:

* Challenge the GOP's "Operation Offset" with their own, "Operation 1% Solution." (The very name shows how little really needs to done to solve a big problem.)

* Use the facts they already have that show clearly how the top 1% benefit by grossly disproportionate margins from those tax cuts.(See those facts here)

* Put some of those bright interns to work compiling lists of One-Percenters that show how much extra dough they will get this year if those cuts are not repealed. Then show what the kind of things they are buying with that money, – homes, yachts, planes, -- all of which is available from public records. (Name names, baby. This is no time to be queasy or polite. They sure as hell aren't.)

* Confront the president's false claims that repealing that portion of his tax cuts would hurt the economy. Do so by showing how One-Percenters have actually used their extra tax cuts so far. Publicly challenge the administration and One-Percenters to show precisely how a dime of the tax rebates they received last year created jobs. (Not jobs building their new yacht in a French shipyard either, but jobs here in the US.)

* Make Operation 1% Solution THE centerpiece of all things Democrat. Let no conversation with any form of media happen in which it is not the main topic. Don't let a bill progress in either house without linking it's cost to passage and implementation of The 1% Solution.

* Contact prominent One-Percenters and ask them to endorse The %1 Solution. Then put up a web site showing has and who hasn't.

* Circulate The 1% Solution Pledge among the House and Senate. Put up a web page that shows who has signed it and who has not. Make it the centerpiece of upcoming midterm races in 2006. (So, which side you on? TheOne Percenter's side -- or the side of other 99% ?)

* Finally, stop pussyfooting around the class warfare issue. Here's a news flash for you Dems: Class warfare has been raging for over a decade. But only the other side has fielded fighters. Get out of your bunkers and go on the attack. And when Republicans accuse you of waging class warfare, tell them, "Damn right. Sorry we're late. But we had to get our heads out of our... "

They could, if only they would.

Grassroots Democrats (and former Democrats) need to get with Operation 1% Solution too. Guerilla marketing and guerilla theater are powerful tools. We learned to use both effectively during the Vietnam War. Executed smartly , with both humor and edge, such actions can embarrass and devastate an opponent like nothing short of catching them naked in bed with an assortment of farm animals.

Be creative. Here, this is just off the top of my aging former-hippie head....

* Go out and buy a fleet of wheelbarrows. Paint them money-green. When One-Percenters who refuse to support The 1% Solution show up in public, have someone there to present them with a "complimentary wheel barrow with which to take their Bush tax cuts to the bank." Make sure there are plenty of TV and still images available. (Silly? Yep. And when they accuse you of that, ask them how "silly" it is to give such people tax cuts at a time like this, when the nation and its people are in such need. That's the un-silly part of the action.)

* Have a few dozen families left homeless by the hurricanes set up shantytowns named "Camp 1%" in front of the White House and/or in front of the Capitol. Make sure each camper has a portfolio of color photos of homes owned by various unrepentant One Percenters. This will make it easy for them to explain to reporters why they are there and why they think The 1% Solution may be the solution to their little problem. .

* Round up support among state and local first responders, police, fire and medical personnel. Bush has lionized them for his own purposes. Now turn that powerful image against him with "First Responders for The 1% Solution." They can explain with authority on how federal budget cuts proposed in the GOP's "Operation Offset" would only further cripple their ability to respond to future emergencies, natural or otherwise. (And for the guerilla part -- find a fire department that has an old fire truck to donate to the cause. Get it to Washington and park it in front of the Capitol. Jack the old girl up, remove her wheels, and leave her up on blocks draped with a banner that reads, "Operation Offset." Sure it will get towed. But not before the evening news gets some nice footage. Then, once that parking place is clear, fill it with a police cruiser on blocks, then an ambulence, etc.)

* Round up local and state wounded Veterans and create Veterans For the 1% Solution to dog administration officials in public, blocking their way with their wheel chairs, waving artificial limbs at them, and armed with facts and figures on federal cuts to veteran's health benefits. (They might also bring society page photos of unrepentant One Percenters skiing the Swiss Alps. That would be a nice touch, don't you think?)

Anyway, you get the picture. Talk is cheap. And talk is about all those of us who oppose Bush & Co. have been good at over the past five painful years. Blah, blah, bladdy blah blah. You, me and Democrats in Congress. Big talk, little action.

Democrats on The Hill need to start raising real hell. Not just news conference hell,, but screaming bloody murder hell. Gumming-up-the-works hell. Refusing-to-shut-up-when-told-to hell. Messing-with-Robert's-Rules-of-Order hell. They need to get big 1% Solution buttons and wear them to 24-hours a day. I don't want to see any Democrat on the news not sporting at least one of those buttons. And, every time they rise and stand before the House or Senate to speak, no matter the subject, the first words out of their mouths has to be about the need to pass The 1% Solution, and why.

The same goes for the rest of us. We need to get off our pompous progressive, granola-crunching, tree-hugging, Prius-buying, self-satisfied, we're-too-good-for-this-world spoiled asses and get our hands dirty.

Does anyone doubt for moment that things would change if the streets in DC were filled, day in and and out, with protesters? And not just a the too-much-time-on-their-hands, usual suspect protesters. I'm talking regular folk -- the kind who think tofu is an island in the pacific and movie Fargo, was a documentary.

The 1% Solution -- a simple, honest, straightforward, fair, easily-explained and justified cause to fight for. But in order to have a snowball's chance in hell, it must be embraced from top to bottom, by public office holders as well as by those of us who put them there.

The 1% Solution would not solve all America's problems. It would solve some problems immediately and force solutions be found for others. The $450 billion it would raise would pay for much of the mess caused by Katrina and Rita in the Gulf, and without the added costs involved with borrowing all that money – or the massive cuts in domestic programs suggested by the GOP.

No, it won't end the Iraq. What it would do though is reopen the debate on how, if we insist on staying there, we pay for it. And, faced with giving back even more of their tax cuts, I suspect Bush's upper income contributors might lose their appetite for more of the same in Iraq.

The 1% Solution. I like the sound of that.

So, where can we can we get bulk pricing on wheel barrows and green paint?

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