In the last few weeks there have been many obituaries praising the revolutionary poet and feminist theorist Adrienne Rich. While these homages are well deserved, what has been largely ignored in considering the legacy of Rich is her history of transphobia. With the exception of a small group of critics, Rich?s ideas about trans identity?and trans women in particular?has gone unscrutinized. It?s indicative of the larger inability within the feminist movement to recognize trans voices.
Rich was a tremendous supporter of Janice G. Raymond, author of The Transsexual Empire: The Making of the She-Male. Raymond even cites Rich in a viciously transphobic chapter, ?Sappho by Surgery,? in which Raymond argues that biological sex is the same as gender (i.e., if someone is born with female body parts, they are always a woman). Raymond also suggests that men who go through sex-reassignment surgery are not real women, but deviant men who use female bodies to enter female spaces. As a result, they are committing a type of identity rape.
It is understandable that so soon after her death, many were hesitant to criticize Rich?when famous people pass, we want to focus on their positive attributes out of respect. But it is imperative that we understand her full history?the good as well as the bad?to assess what her legacy means. Many people don?t know about Rich?s connection to transphobia, or the transphobia of many feminists in her era. But the specific brand of woman-centric feminism of the ?70s and early ?80s, championed by people like Rich and Raymond, set the schematic for how gender-based organizing would play out for generations to come.
Calling Raymond?s text transphobic is generous?it is essentially anti-trans propaganda. Raymond argues that not only are trans women not ?real? women but that, ?The transsexually constructed lesbian-feminist feeds off woman?s true energy source, i.e., her woman-identified self. It is he who recognizes that if female spirit, mind, creativity and sexuality exist anywhere in a powerful way it is here, among lesbian-feminists.? She doesn?t stop at denying the existence of trans women but goes further: ?I contend that the problem with transsexualism would best be served by morally mandating it out of existence.? Essentially, Raymond is promoting the outdated but firmly held belief that biological sex and gender are one in the same.
I feel as though I am giving Raymond?s views too much credibility by citing them. But her deplorable attitude was not uncommon for the radical, lesbian, separatist feminists of her time. Feminists such as Mary Daly argued that trans women were akin to Frankenstein and Sheila Jeffreys believed that gender-reassignment surgery was a form of mutilation. And while Raymond, Daly, and Jeffreys were among the more vocally anti-trans, there was an assumed position in feminist politics that ?woman? meant ?person born with a vagina.? The movement, intentionally and unintentionally, excluded those women that weren?t born with the body parts they felt constituted ?womanhood.?
Discrediting Rich?s entire work because of a few acknowledgements would obviously be unfair. No one?s politics are perfect, and if we refused to read all the poets and thinkers whose views we opposed, we would have no one left to read. But there is a lesson to be learned from the transphobia of the era. Feminist organizing around a singular and exclusionary idea of what being a ?woman? meant?and who got to have a voice in the movement?may have been needed at the time to fight issues around contraception, abortion, workplace equality and other issues. But this unity had a price and did not come without criticism; activists like Angela Davis, Barbara Smith, and theorists like bell hooks critiqued the definition we had accepted as ?woman? was incredibly narrow and didn?t include the voices and experiences of women and color and working-class women.
While you may not hear the exact same rhetoric these days, the idea that trans women aren?t ?real women? is an attitude that is still reflected among everyday people and in medicine, psychology, activism, and feminism. Today?s mainstream feminism has failed to recognize trans voices and include them in the movement?s game plan. Miriam Perez, founder of Radical Doula, says a resistance to broaden the movement?s focus stems from fear around of losing ground. She says that ?gender was such a fundamental part of feminist organizing. Women are tied to these gender notions, their organizing identity was based on it, and so if you try and poke holes in their idea of women?you are poking holes in their movement. We [have] fought so hard to get this ground how can we give it up, women will end up marginalized?? She cautions that this fear or discomfort of changing what it means to be a woman shouldn?t push us to deny those who bring our beliefs about gender into question: Instead, we should learn to include their voices.
The resistance to accepting a new definition of woman and man impacts the rhetoric of contemporary feminism. As feminists, our rightful response to the aggressive GOP war on women?s access to reproductive health technologies has been to articulate why this stance is anti-woman. While this is true, Jos Truitt?trans activist, artist, and editor at Feministing.com?points out that heeding to the language of ?women? reduces them to their uteruses. She writes, ?There are plenty of women who don?t have what you call a uterus or vagina (though they might use those terms). There are plenty of women who can?t get pregnant or deliver a baby, for tons of reasons, including cisgender women, intersex women, and transgender women. Being able to make a baby and being a woman are not the same thing.?
On the phone, Truitt clarified that the push is not just about using politically correct language, but changing the way we think about gender. Yes, inclusion and inclusive language is a piece of it, but this is about opening up the limited ways we think about gender. ?[It] strengthens our gender analysis?the anti-choice movement is redefining woman as a person who is a baby-making factory?there is a definition of woman being set up and that definition is what is being used to push oppression.?
There is often a fear that if you use more inclusive language you will not be taken as seriously in the mainstream?but this fear is limiting. Perez says, ?Feminism needs to embrace a more nuanced understanding of gender to combat sexism?[for example] the average man is limited by masculinity.? Sexism has changed so our approaches to combating it must change as well.
Unfortunately, there is no indication that Rich truly disavowed her initial endorsement of a text that was used to deny trans women?s inclusion, identity, community and in some cases needed medical treatments (with the exception of a nod in Feinberg?s Transgender Warrior), but it is difficult to truly figure out exactly how she felt. But maybe that is not really the point. Ultimately, Rich taught us how to look beyond what we are taught as normal, but didn?t fully do it herself.
In Feminist Theory: From Margin to Center, bell hooks argued that the only way we can truly eradicate the oppression of women is to centralize the most diverse of women?s experiences because by doing so you shed light on how power functions. In concrete terms?if we don?t see you as a priority, we are not talking about you, we are not including you in our theories of change, in our grassroots efforts and within our fights for justice.
I?ve been noticing that, since January, the Obama administration has kicked up its attentions to the LGBT communities, announcing one small regulatory change or conference after another. But they?re not delivering the bigger changes that LGBT groups have been agitating for. I?ve been assuming that the goal is to boost turnout in November. Will it work?
What kind of small change am I talking about? Well, there?s the White House LGBT conference series. HHS, DOJ, HUD, even the CIA?they?re all putting on some show or other. March saw a Detroit conference on LGBT housing and homelessness, where HUD Secretary Donovan announced new nondiscrimination rules for public housing and mortgage financing, on both sexual orientation or gender identity. No kicking you out of the projects or your Section 8 apartment because you turn out to be queer; no refusing to give you a mortgage because your birth sex is still visible while you?re transitioning. All good news. And soon, the White House will hold an LGBT Conference on Families in Minneapolis. (Detroit? Minneapolis? Could these be in purple states, perchance?) And don?t forget the White House Conference on Safe Schools and Bullying in Texas?okay, not a purple state; maybe that was just giving the finger to the Republicans. HHS has been holding town hall discussions on LGBT healthcare issues.
But wait, there?s more! There?s a White House contest for LGBT ?Champions of Change? stories to be featured during Pride month. (If the prize will include a coloring book or a secret decoder ring, I am so in.) There was the big March State Dinner that included high-powered lesbian and gay married couples?okay, so it was mostly men, but at least one female couple. The CIA?the CIA!?sponsored an ?intelligence community LGBT summit.? (Remember when being gay was considered a national security risk? Somewhere Frank Kameny is very happy.) This week, the Justice Department brought its first hate crimes case based on sexual orientation, charging two Harlan County, Kentucky men with kidnapping and assaulting a man for being gay. Lesbian- and gay-headed families had children at the Easter Egg Roll. Valerie Jarrett made an appearance at Equality Illinois?s fundraising gala. And I am not done combing through my press releases just for 2012 yet.
Of course, what administration doesn?t play to its base when an election?s coming up? And this one has a lot to boast about. And Obama has a lot to be proud of, beyond the long-awaited repeal of Don?t Ask Don?t Tell. We?ve seen a series of important regulatory changes that, God knows, wouldn?t have happened under Republicans. The one that moved me most was the release of the new hospital visitation regulations, requiring any hospital that accepts Medicaid and Medicare?um, that would be all hospitals?to allow patients to be visited by whomever they designate as family. Those new regs, a longtime desire of the LGBT communities, were prompted when a Florida hospital refused to allow vacationing Janice Langbehn to be with her wife Lisa Pond, the other mother of their children, in the hospital. Pond died alone.
Let me take a little detour and stress how ordinary and horrifying this one was. Lesbians and gay men have long worried about being allowed to visit, or be visited by, our beloveds when hospitalized or dying. Two decades ago, a friend of mine was hospitalized in Houston while on a business trip. Back here in Boston, his partner then spent six hours on the telephone, desperately trying to find our whether his beloved was dead or alive. I think that scarred me forever. I?ve read more such horror stories than I can recount, but I think it?s that one that makes fear run through my veins, that pushed me into marrying my prosecutor the day before she had to have surgery, desperately afraid that somehow I wouldn?t be able to take care of her. I never travel, now, without the papers that prove that my wife and child are mine. I?m grateful to know that, under this administration at least, federal regulations are behind me.
But there are two big things that the LGBT advocacy groups have really wanted and haven?t yet gotten. Yesterday the White House announced?to great anger?that, despite heavy interest for months, it would not issue an executive order banning federal contractors from discriminating based on sexual orientation and gender identity. LGBT groups wanted the executive order because they know they?re not getting ENDA passed through Boehner?s House, despite the fact that 73 percent of Americans agree that you shouldn?t be fired for being gay or transgender (at least, from a Center for American Progress poll; transgender discrimination alone probably wouldn?t poll quite as well, which is why it?s especially urgent that transfolks be covered by the bill). What, did homos dream that Obama would go up against the corporations in an election year? Too bad!
But the other thing that the LGBT advocates have wanted costs nothing?and I?m gonna hope for it: Outright support for marriage equality. Obama keeps teetering closer: he has announced that he?s in favor of repealing DOMA; his Justice Department won?t defend DOMA; his immigration lawyers keep refraining from deporting lesbian or gay Americans? foreign-born same-sex spouses, as one would think was required by DOMA. And Obama has come out against the state DOMAs that are on the ballot in Minnesota and North Carolina.
But despite all the calls for it (including Nancy Pelosi and 20 Democratic senators), the Obama camp hasn?t yet agreed to put marriage equality in the Democratic platform?and Obama hasn?t outright said that he supports marriage equality as moral and just.
I don?t care so much about the sexual orientation part of ENDA; gender identity is really where we get hurt in employment. Transgender folks run very real risks of losing their livelihood when they transition, and feminine men can most certainly be discriminated against on the job. (Butch ladies often do well, but they can get the brunt of nasty treatment too.) But being able to marry who we love is central to lesbian and gay equality. It acknowledges that lesbians and gay men are no different from our siblings in the way that we love. Having our bond recognized by our governments, just as our siblings? bonds are recognized, makes us full citizens, bringing us fully into society. As for the polling, well, Republicans are against it (except the young ones), but Democrats?and independents?are overwhelmingly in favor. Coming out in favor of marriage equality wouldn?t add ?burdensome regulations? to business; its only economic effect would be, potentially, to give more business to wedding planners, florists, and divorce lawyers. (Sorry, but we?re just as bad as the rest of you. Someday I?ll tell you stories.) And prospective Obama voters? enthusiasm for being able to see their lesbian and gay friends marry?supporting pure justice and personal joy, a social advance that has no economic downside or cost?would be extremely high.
Will all the conferences and incremental changes regulations be enough to get LGBT wallets open and get out the vote operations moving? Well, it won?t hurt. After all, Obama is better than Romney, who fought our marriages ferociously here in Massachusetts when the Goodridge decision came out?breaking his promises to gay Republicans that he?d be on our side. Obama will get our votes. But if he wants our enthusiasm?and the enthusiasm of our families, friends, colleagues, neighbors, and independents who aren?t sure, after three-plus years, of exactly what he stands for?he oughta come out strongly in favor of equal marriage.
June?s the month for brides and for Pride. Wouldn?t that be a perfect time for the marriage announcement?
Is the controversial new cybersecurity bill -- CISPA -- really as big a potential threat to the internet as SOPA was?[...]
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The euro crisis has returned to Spain and Italy, an inevitable circumstance of a euro straight jacket exacerbated by austerity, and everyone except Europe's policy makers realize nothing fundamental has been fixed in Europe since the last flaring of the[...]
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That Mitt Romney will say anything to become President of the United States ? no matter how blatantly false or comically contradictory ? is sadly taken as a given in Election 2012. But while his pathetic pandering and transparent dissembling are not new, novel theories to explain his pathology are rapidly proliferating. Rick Perlstein sees Romney as an undoubting Hamlet determined to avenge his father's defeat most foul in 1968. As Jonathan Chait explained, there's even a clinical term for Mitt's compulsive aversion to the truth, known as "fundamental attribution error." And just two weeks ago, David Javerbaum offered his ground-breaking (and side-splitting) "Quantum Theory of Mitt Romney."
But whatever hypothesis you may subscribe to, an incontrovertible truth is that on almost any issue, Mitt Romney's position changes when observed. Call it the Romney Uncertainty Principle. And as his advisers once again confirmed this week, Mitt Romney's defining trait is a feature, not a bug.
That admission comes via Fred Barnes, the conservative water carrier for Republicans past and present. Just three weeks after campaign strategist Eric Fehrnstrom boasted that his RomneyBot can easily be reprogrammed for a post-primary run back to the center ("You hit a reset button for the fall campaign ... It's almost like an Etch A Sketch. You can kind of shake it up and restart all of over again.), Team Romney promised voters that the unseen Mitt is softer and gentler than the one observed during the Republican primaries:
On one issue--immigration--Mr. Romney would be wise to move away from his harsh position in the primaries. He can't afford to lose the Hispanic vote as decisively as John McCain--who won just 31% of it--did in 2008. According to a Romney adviser, his private view of immigration isn't as anti-immigrant as he often sounded.
As it turns out, Romney himself has been surprisingly candid about his strategy. Given his battered approval ratings and well-earned reputation for flip-flopping (even to the point of bragging that "I think you'll find that I've been as consistent as human beings can be" after having declared "if you're looking for someone who's never changed any positions on any policies, then I'm not your guy"), Mitt has announced that only he knows the details of any position he advocates.
For months, the Romney campaign auto-response of "no comment" has been on display across a gamut of issues ranging from the mass deportation of illegal aliens and Ohio's anti-labor laws to extension of the payroll tax cut and even GOP debate attendees booing a gay active duty U.S. soldier. But in a December interview with the Wall Street Journal, the RomneyBot admitted his cowardice was simply his app working as designed:
Amid such generalities, it's hard not to conclude that the candidate is trying to avoid offering any details that might become a political target. And he all but admits as much. "I happen to also recognize," he says, "that if you go out with a tax proposal which conforms to your philosophy but it hasn't been thoroughly analyzed, vetted, put through models and calculated in detail, that you're gonna get hit by the demagogues in the general election."
Unfortunately, what Mitt Romney branded "demagogues" most Americans call "voters."
Even when he rolled out his new 20 percent across-the-board tax cut as a bribe for those supposed demagogue-voters, Governor Romney refused to say how he would keep his pledge to "Cut, Cap and Balance" the budget. Even by taking an axe to domestic spending, his proposal to both massively cut taxes for the wealthiest Americans while increasing the defense budget would produce a much larger 10-year debt than President Obama's FY 2013 plan. Unless, that is, Romney is willing to eliminate deductions for workers, families and businesses that cost Uncle Sam over $1 trillion a year. But in typical Romney fashion, his campaign is refusing to say which loopholes it would close while promising to maintain the ones voters care about most. His economic adviser Glenn Hubbard admitted Romney's cowardice, explaining "it is not his intention to take on any specific deduction or exclusion and eliminate it." For his part, Romney promised only "I want to make sure that you understand, for middle-income families, the deductibility of home mortgage interest and charitable contributions, those things will continue."
But asked to get specific about his self-proclaimed "bold" tax plan, Mitt Romney decided discretion is the better part of valor. As he explained earlier this month, Romney in essence responded, "I'm not going to tell you":
"So I haven't laid out all of the details about how we're going to deal with each deduction, so I think it's kind of interesting for the groups to try and score it, because frankly it can't be scored, because those kinds of details will have to be worked out with Congress, and we have a wide array of options."
As Ezra Klein's Wonkblog rightly concluded:
"Let's be clear on this: A tax plan that can't be scored because it doesn't include sufficient details is not a plan. It's a gesture towards a plan, or a statement of intended direction, or perhaps an unusually wonky daydream. But it's not a plan."
Romney's penchant for withholding vital information from voters is no accident. As the former Massachusetts Governor inadvertently revealed in an interview with the Weekly Standard, his opacity is by design, a lesson learned from losing the 1994 Senate race:
"One of the things I found in a short campaign against Ted Kennedy was that when I said, for instance, that I wanted to eliminate the Department of Education, that was used to suggest I don't care about education," Romney recalled. "So I think it's important for me to point out that I anticipate that there will be departments and agencies that will either be eliminated or combined with other agencies. So for instance, I anticipate that housing vouchers will be turned over to the states rather than be administered at the federal level, and so at this point I think of the programs to be eliminated or to be returned to the states, and we'll see what consolidation opportunities exist as a result of those program eliminations. So will there be some that get eliminated or combined? The answer is yes, but I'm not going to give you a list right now."
But as Rick Perlstein suggested in Rolling Stone, the roots of Romney's horror at telling voters anything they may not want to hear dates back further. Apparently, Mitt concluded that his father George Romney lost his bid for the White House in 1968 by leveling with the American people. George's "shocking authenticity," Perlstein argued, cost him the GOP nomination. And that's a mistake his son Willard has no intention of making:
The truth was a dull weapon to take into a knife fight with Richard Nixon - who kicked Romney's ass with 79 percent of the vote. When people call his son the "Rombot," think about that: Mitt learned at an impressionable age that in politics, authenticity kills. Heeding the lesson of his father's fall, he became a virtual parody of an inauthentic politician. In 1994 he ran for senate to Ted Kennedy's left on gay rights; as governor, of course, he installed the dreaded individual mandate into Massachusetts' healthcare system. Then he raced to the right to run for president.
The result, conservative columnist Ross Douthat fretted in December 2010, is that Romney is "serially insincere." Nevertheless, Douthat warned his readers that that trait was a plus for Mitt's supporters:
Nearly every position he stakes out comes across as a blatant (and often inconsistent-looking) pander to a conservative electorate that regards him with suspicion. But there are good ideas concealed within the pandering -- you just have to know where to look! And in your heart, you know he's a smart guy who'd make a solid center-right president -- wonkish, detail-oriented, sensible on policy, all the rest of it. He's just a prisoner of the process!...Even when he's mid-pander, you always know that he knows that it's all just a freak show, and you can always sense that he'd rather be at a policy seminar somewhere, instead of just forking red meat. There's a highly competent chief executive trapped inside his campaign persona, in other words, and the only way to liberate him is to put him in the White House!
While Romney's backers may view his duplicity as a virtue, even Douthat is unconvinced. "Because everything he does feels like a pander," he worried, "I don't know where he really stands on any of them."
Which is probably just how Mitt Romney wants it. (While his closest adviser Eric Fehrnstrom compared Mitt to an "Etch-a-Sketch," in 2005 his strategist Michael Murphy admitted his man was "a pro-life Mormon faking it as a pro-choice friendly." ) After all, when he's not pandering to voters, he's keeping silent altogether on what he would actually do in the Oval Office. As he put it in response to the growing outcry for the release of his tax returns:
"I don't put out which tooth paste I use either. It's not that I have something to hide."
If so, Mitt shouldn't need a six month extension to complete his 2011 return. After all, he doubtless already knows how much money he won't be paying Uncle Sam.
But that's just par for the course for Mitt and the Romney Uncertainty Principle. Mitt Romney simply has to be seen to not be believed.
(This piece also appears at Perrspectives.)
Two consecutive polls seem to be proving what many political observers surmised-- corrupt, anti-Choice Blue Dog Tim Holden can't win in a Democratic district. And the newly redrawn 17th CD in northwest Pennsylvania is a Democratic district. The only Republican county, Schuylkill, his home base, is the only part that was in his old red-leaning district. His whole miserable political career has been predicated on winning over Republicans. His voting record is a complete mess. On crucial roll calls he's been with the GOP far more than with the Democrats. In fact, according to an exhaustive study by ProgressivePunch, since 2011 he's voted against progressives on 63.75% of the most important roll calls facing Congress. Cantor and Boehner have grown to count on him when they needed a handful of Democratic votes so they could called their radical right agenda "bipartisan."
And as far as the Republican War Against Women-- the one Debbie Wasserman Schultz can never stop talking about-- Holden is always there fighting in the trenches along side the Republicans-- against women. On the crucial votes that impacted women's health, Holden, in his entire career, has only voted with the Democrats 7.69% of the time. Two dozen Republicans have been more pro-women than Holden. And Cartwright's stand on Choice is exactly what all politicians should be saying: "I believe that any decision a woman makes about her body is her decision and her decision only." What makes this particularly ironic is that some of the Democrats who have screamed the loudest about the Republican War On Women, like Wasserman Schultz, have rushed to Holden's aid as pro-Choice progressive Matt Cartwright has overtaken him in the polls. She wrote Holden a $2,000 check. Wasserman Schultz's Mini-Me, Allyson Schwartz (PA), who also claims to be very upset about the Republican War Against Women, kicked in another $1,000. The very right-wing New Dem Coalition PAC transferred $5,000 to Holden and their chairman, who is under investigation on multiple corruption charges, Joe Crowley, gave Holden another $3,000 from his own PAC. Crowley is the most anti-Choice Democrat in the New York delegation.
Holden crony Steny Hoyer campaigned in the district with him, asked lobbyists to give him cash and gave him $2,000 on two separate occasions before transferring $10,000 from his political action committee for the entire cycle. Philadelphia Democratic Party boss, Robert Brady also chipped in $2,000 for Holden, as did anti-Choice zealots Jerry Costello (IL), Heath Shuler (NC), John Tanner (TN) and Colin Peterson (MN).
Shira Toeplitz at Roll Call seems to have stumbled onto the reason why Holden "has no time" to debate Cartwright-- aside from being afraid to face the music. She mentioned that although Holden claims that "dozens of Democratic House Members anted up more than $70,000" for him, he's still burning up the phone lines to his Congressional colleagues. Holden has also gotten big name anti-Choice Democrats, père et fils Casey, to make a big push for him. That must be very depressing for Cartwright who has worked hard for Bob Casey and has personally contributed almost $15,000 to his campaigns. [UPDATE on that: Anyone who worries that Cartwright doesn't have the requisite skills and connections to make it in the Beltway shark-tank could keep in mind that Holden's much-ballyhooed appearance yesterday with Senator Bob Casey went off fine... except for the Senator Bob Casey part. He pulled out, leaving Holden looking like a doofus. I'm sure he could have called Heath Shuler instead.]
Blue America is trying to help Cartwright defeat Holden. It's the only race in the country where a sitting Blue Dog steeped in corruption looks like he could be displaced by a progressive. It's worth the investment, if you have anything to spare. You can contribute by clocking on the thermometer or by going to this page.
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NBC’s Saturday Night Live poked fun at the GOP presidential candidates this weekend and made light of the candidate’s focus on social issues. The skit, set in a bar, featured all of the Republican hopefuls gabbing about the drawn out primary contest, with presumptive nominee Mitt Romney telling Rick Santorum, “[Y]ou’re the only candidate who could make me look gay friendly.” Once Michele Bachmann arrived, Romney joked that she was crashing their boy’s night. The Minnesota Congresswoman responded, “Oh, I’ve crashed a lot of boys nights. Usually, when I come home early and unannounced.” Watch it:
Three years after it began on Tax Day, 2009, the Tea Party movement is losing interest, with 45 percent of Americans opposing the movement, according to a recent poll. More people, especially women, say that the more they hear about the Tea Party, the less they like it.
Draft tax returns reveal that one mystery donor gave $10 million to the Karl Rove-linked Crossroads GPS group to fund an anti-Obama ad campaign, but weak disclosure laws mean his or her identity may never be revealed to the public.
Several countries are facing off over access to thawing territory in the Arctic. As a result of global climate change, new oil reserves and sea lanes are opening up in the north as ice caps recede, and countries are vying for this politically useful territory. “The military chiefs of the eight main Arctic powers…gathered at a Canadian military base last week to specifically discuss regional security issues.”
With two months until the Wisconsin recall election for Gov. Scott Walker (R), there’s a rift between labor groups and Democratic Party officials. The struggle shows in the Democratic primary between Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, who ran for governor in 2010, and Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk, the preferred candidate of labor groups.
Counting his chickens before they hatch, Mitt Romney is already selling inauguration tickets, promising “preferred status” at his swearing in to anyone who gives more than $50,000 to his Romney Victory joint fundraising committee.
With the nomination all but secured, Mitt Romney?s campaign is significantly increasing the size of its full-time staff from about 80 people to nearly 400 in an attempt to make up ground against President Obama?s well-organized and well-funded reelection campaign.
President Obama and his Democratic allies raised over $53 million in the month of March. That’s more than an $8 million jump from what they raised the previous month. In a sign of grassroots support, 97 percent of the donations were from small-dollar donors, who gave under $250.
Afghan National Security Forces put an end to a violent and sustained attack from the Taliban over the weekend, killing most of the 40 or so armed assailants in Kabul and other territories around Afghanistan.
And finally: Mitt Romney is “considering” making a guest appearance on Saturday Night Live after executive producer Lorne Michaels offered it to him. Romney has a public image of being stiff, so the SNL gig would offer a chance to disprove that — or confirm it.
Our guest blogger is Seth Hanlon, Director of Fiscal Reform at the Center for American Progress Action Fund.
With Tax Day approaching, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and the House GOP are pushing a $46 billion boondoggle they call the ?Small Business Tax Cut Act of 2012.? As ThinkProgress has previously reported, the bill is really just a windfall for rich people, many of whom, like hedge fund managers, owners of sports teams, celebrities, lawyers, and lobbyists are not most people?s idea of ?small businesses.? Cantor?s tax giveaway, half of which goes to millionaires, is also among the least effective ways to create jobs. (Our full analysis is here.)
So what do actual small businesses get? A big headache, according to a new ?tax complexity analysis? of Cantor?s bill from the Joint Committee on Taxation (Congress?s nonpartisan tax experts) and the IRS. By adding a complicated new provision to the tax code, Cantor?s bill would mean small businesses would have more paperwork, more time wasted on tax filing, and more disputes with the IRS:
It is anticipated that small businesses that elect to apply the provision will need to keep additional records due to this provision, and that additional regulatory guidance will be needed…It is anticipated that the provision will result in an increase in disputes between small businesses and the IRS. [...]
The provision likely will increase the tax preparation costs for most affected small businesses. Small businesses will have to perform additional analysis concerning whether the small business has 500 or fewer employees and which income qualifies for the deduction allowed under the provision. For income that is determined to be eligible for the deduction under the provision, small businesses will be required to perform additional calculations to determine the amount of the deduction…[S]mall businesses will be required to undertake calculations to determine the amounts of costs that are allocable to domestic business gross receipts. In some cases, small businesses would not have been required otherwise to perform these calculations but for the provision.
Due to the detailed calculations required by the provision, it is anticipated that the Secretary of the Treasury will have to create a new form for qualified small businesses to compute the deduction and will have to make appropriate revisions to several types of income tax forms and instructions. In addition, the Secretary of the Treasury will have to issue guidance to carry out the purposes of the provision.
The IRS adds that the new tax form required by Cantor?s bill, Form 8903-A, ?would be complicated.?
By creating a complicated new loophole, available to some business but not to others according to arbitrary rules, and favoring the very rich, the Cantor bill epitomizes everything that is wrong about the tax code.
Ironically, the House GOP just passed a budget bemoaning the tax code?s ?labyrinth of deductions? and promising tax reform to close special loopholes and carveouts (though it did not identify a single loophole that it would close). In less than three weeks, House Republicans have done a complete 180, abandoning their showy commitment to tax reform and carving out a new $46 billion loophole. The Cantor bill is the ?antithesis of tax reform? according to Rep. Sandy Levin (D-MI), the top Democrat on the House Ways and Means Committee.
But at least the GOP budget and the Cantor bill are consistent about one thing ? more windfall tax cuts for the rich.