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Angry White House And G.o.p. Senators Clash Over Letter To Iran


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Their constituency will always be replaced as many of these younger know it all "progressives" grow up and realize how full of **** and unsustainable the liberal ideology really is without a middle class to support their pipedream of eliminating poverty. The ranks will always replenish themselves. Keep wishing though.

You realize that the "tax cuts for the rich and spending cuts for the poor" policy does more to destroy the middle class. In fact, the middle class was created in part because of the New Deal policies you decry as "full of **** and unsustainable".

We had laissez faire capitalism in the 20s and 30s. Didn't work out so well, did it?

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Marco Rubio is still looking for his pride after Kerry took it from him.

http://www.c-span.org/video/?c4530873/sen-marco-rubio-sec-john-kerry-exchange

That was painful to watch. That dude is a decade or more away from being ready for prime time in political terms. I almost hope they nominate him as veep. Would be fun to watch him get torn apart in the debate.

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You realize that the "tax cuts for the rich and spending cuts for the poor" policy does more to destroy the middle class. In fact, the middle class was created in part because of the New Deal policies you decry as "full of **** and unsustainable".

We had laissez faire capitalism in the 20s and 30s. Didn't work out so well, did it?

Do you have recent data to suggest that spending cuts have added to destruction of the middle class?

I've seen nothing but speculation on both sides as to why the middle class is getting hammered. My personal speculation, and this is purely anecdotal, is that we have an unskilled, immobile workforce that has been coddled into thinking they deserve a job just based on the fact that they have a pulse. My parents own a staffing company and have jobs they can't fill, most of which are solidly middle class. Companies are lowering expectations and increasing pay just to find employable people. And when the economy tanks again, and it will tank, those marginal people will be the first to go. And we'll hear their sob stories all over CNN...again.

It isn't our government. It isn't our tax code. It isn't our social programs. It's our attitude.

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Do you have recent data to suggest that spending cuts have added to destruction of the middle class?

I've seen nothing but speculation on both sides as to why the middle class is getting hammered. My personal speculation, and this is purely anecdotal, is that we have an unskilled, immobile workforce that has been coddled into thinking they deserve a job just based on the fact that they have a pulse. My parents own a staffing company and have jobs they can't fill, most of which are solidly middle class. Companies are lowering expectations and increasing pay just to find employable people. And when the economy tanks again, and it will tank, those marginal people will be the first to go. And we'll hear their sob stories all over CNN...again.

It isn't our government. It isn't our tax code. It isn't our social programs. It's our attitude.

I'm no expert in this, but I think it's twofold:

1. Poor priorities from the moneyed interests. A lot of what helped grow the middle class in previous decades was paying employees better so they could better afford your own products (eg. Ford). The side effect of this was that the middle class had greater purchasing power overall which helped the flow of goods and capital since the wealthy typically hold onto their money. Now? Most employers are doing all they can to pay as little as possible while giving themselves higher and higher wages. Smaller purchasing power among the many leads to a weakened middle class which leads to a weaker economy. That mindset absolutely needs to change.

2. The education system is completely out of whack. The only goal of our entire education system is to get the students into college. That is a nice thing to strive for but it has led to high schools geared completely towards getting students into college, not actually educating them. The amount of standardized tests these days are completely ridiculous and that is what they're teaching the students to do. Not to think. Not to do. But to pass standardized tests, tests that are needed to get into college. The other side effect of this is that the educated work force is overinflated, there is a log jam in many industries, and very worrying shortages in other areas that are just as vital... I am not completely sure this is accurate but I was told that nearly half of the entire country's electricians, a field we're already short of, are set to retire in the next decade or so. There is also the problem of crippling student loans since they are given out to anyone going to college instead of treating them like any other loan process.

So we have, from what I can tell, a perfect storm of a culture of bad, greedy employers trying to choke off their employees for their own gains with an overeducated workforce that expects too much and/or need good paying jobs right off the bat to start paying off their debts.

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Ouch.

Michael Gerson.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/a-half-baked-missive-from-the-gop/2015/03/12/ccf10b8e-c835-11e4-b2a1-bed1aaea2816_story.html

The true scandal of the Tom Cotton letter to Iranian leaders is the manner in which the Republican Senate apparently conducts its affairs.
The document was crafted by a senator with two months of experience under his belt. It was signed by some members rushing off the Senate floor to catch airplanes, often with little close analysis. Many of the 47 signatories reasoned that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s endorsement was vetting enough. There was no caucus-wide debate about strategy; no consultation with Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), who has studiously followed the nuclear talks (and who refused to sign).
This was a foreign policy maneuver, in the middle of a high-stakes negotiation, with all the gravity and deliberation of a blog posting. In timing, tone and substance, it raises questions about the Republican majority’s capacity to govern.
It is true that President Obama set this little drama in motion. Major arms-control treaties have traditionally involved advice and consent by the Senate. Obama is proposing to expand the practice of executive agreements to cover his prospective Iranian deal — effectively cutting senators out of the process. By renewing a long-standing balance-of-powers debate — in a way that highlights his propensity for power-grabbiness — Obama invited resistance. And there is a practical argument for Senate approval of arms-control agreements: It strengthens and empowers the president in punishing violations. The whole U.S. government is placed on record promising consequences for infractions (if, of course, the Senate concurs).
The exact shape of a possible Iran deal remains unknown. I’m on record predicting that it may be a bad one — a very unlikely throw of the dice that a terror-sponsoring, clerical regime will become a minimally responsible regional power.
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said that the letter signed by 47 Republican senators to Iran was spurred by the Obama administration's actions. (AP)
But the half-baked Cotton letter was a poor instrument to express concern. First, the bleedingly obvious: If Republican senators want to make the point that an Iran deal requires a treaty, they should make that case to the American people, not to the Iranians. Congress simply has no business conducting foreign policy with a foreign government, especially an adversarial one. Every Republican who pictures his or her feet up on the Resolute Desk should fear this precedent.
In this particular situation, paradoxically, the main result is not a weakened presidency but a weakened legislature. Corker has been toiling with the ranking Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee, Sen. Robert Menendez (N.J.), to craft legislation that would require Senate approval of an Iran deal. Before the Cotton letter, Corker was two votes away from a veto-proof, bipartisan majority. Now Obama and Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) are using the letter to argue that Republicans are engaged only in partisan games. Peeling even a few Democrats off the Corker/Menendez approach could prove decisive. If the Corker bill fails narrowly, Obama might have Cotton’s missive to thank.
A final objection to the Cotton letter concerns not institutional positioning but grand strategy. The alternative to a bad nuclear deal is not war; it is strong sanctions and covert actions to limit Iranian capacities until the regime falls (as it came close to doing in 2009) or demonstrates behavior change in a variety of areas. But this approach depends on the tightening of sanctions in cooperation with Europe, as well as Russia and China. And this effort can be held together only by the impression that the United States has negotiated with Iran in good faith. So negotiations are actually an important part of any attempt to isolate Iran. The key is where we draw our “red lines.”
The Cotton letter creates the impression that Senate Republicans are rooting for negotiations to fail — which would complicate our attempt to maintain strong sanctions if negotiations end up failing.
In the aftermath of the letter, we are seeing the logic of partisan escalation. Didn’t Democrats open their own rogue negotiations with Nicaraguan dictator Daniel Ortega in the 1980s? Or sip tea with Syria’s Bashar al-Assad against the wishes of the George W. Bush administration? Of course they did. But justifying a bad idea by recounting a history of bad ideas is a particularly bad way to conduct foreign policy. It is the crutch of a partisan, not the argument of a statesman.
This is presumably the reason we have a Senate, not only a House. A six-year term should ensure an extra 30 minutes to read a document and think through its implications.
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Do you have recent data to suggest that spending cuts have added to destruction of the middle class?

I've seen nothing but speculation on both sides as to why the middle class is getting hammered. My personal speculation, and this is purely anecdotal, is that we have an unskilled, immobile workforce that has been coddled into thinking they deserve a job just based on the fact that they have a pulse. My parents own a staffing company and have jobs they can't fill, most of which are solidly middle class. Companies are lowering expectations and increasing pay just to find employable people. And when the economy tanks again, and it will tank, those marginal people will be the first to go. And we'll hear their sob stories all over CNN...again.

It isn't our government. It isn't our tax code. It isn't our social programs. It's our attitude.

The American public is better educated than it was during the 1940-1970s. The problem is that middle class jobs that only require a high school education have disappeared. Some of that is manufacturing jobs sent overseas, but even jobs that cannot be shipped overseas (like truck driving) have seen an erosion of their salaries by corporatist practices.

The reason that the upper tax bracket used to be so high (90% at one point) was to incentivize companies to pay higher wages to employees. Without that incentive - and I do not support rates that high, btw - companies are paying less and pocketing more in profits. They can do that because of the decline of unions as protectors of good wages for working class people.

The CEO of Caterpillar said it best when he demanded huge salary and benefit cuts by workers even though the company was making a nice profit. "We can never make enough profit," he said.

For years, the minimum wage bolstered the middle class by providing a decent enough lower income floor. That boosted salaries up the scale. As the minimum wage has stagnated/declined in value, we've seen the slipping of middle class wages as well.

It's simple history - we have seen over the past 30 years the lowest levels of taxation in recent history. We have seen the erosion of basic protections for workers, especially regarding salary. We have seen corporate profits reach the highest rates as percent of GDP in recent history. And the people who run these large companies are not even shy about their intentions - "we can never make enough profit". So squeeze the workers and pocket the savings. The results of that policy are pretty obvious.

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So now experience in the Senate is a big deal...

I'm sorry, but I don't see this letter as anything more than political partisanship. Calling it treason or sedition is ******* ridiculous. My personal opinion, is that the democrats are trying really hard to deflect Hillary tripping over her ****.

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I'm no expert in this, but I think it's twofold:

1. Poor priorities from the moneyed interests. A lot of what helped grow the middle class in previous decades was paying employees better so they could better afford your own products (eg. Ford). The side effect of this was that the middle class had greater purchasing power overall which helped the flow of goods and capital since the wealthy typically hold onto their money. Now? Most employers are doing all they can to pay as little as possible while giving themselves higher and higher wages. Smaller purchasing power among the many leads to a weakened middle class which leads to a weaker economy. That mindset absolutely needs to change.

2. The education system is completely out of whack. The only goal of our entire education system is to get the students into college. That is a nice thing to strive for but it has led to high schools geared completely towards getting students into college, not actually educating them. The amount of standardized tests these days are completely ridiculous and that is what they're teaching the students to do. Not to think. Not to do. But to pass standardized tests, tests that are needed to get into college. The other side effect of this is that the educated work force is overinflated, there is a log jam in many industries, and very worrying shortages in other areas that are just as vital... I am not completely sure this is accurate but I was told that nearly half of the entire country's electricians, a field we're already short of, are set to retire in the next decade or so. There is also the problem of crippling student loans since they are given out to anyone going to college instead of treating them like any other loan process.

So we have, from what I can tell, a perfect storm of a culture of bad, greedy employers trying to choke off their employees for their own gains with an overeducated workforce that expects too much and/or need good paying jobs right off the bat to start paying off their debts.

Great points. Regarding education, state governments have slashed spending to universities/colleges which have (along with other things) pushed tuition higher. It's ungodly how little people in the 50s and 60s paid in tuition compared to today. So you're right that they graduate with high debt, and part of the reason is the lack of funding by state governments.

I would just point out that there are a lack of jobs available for graduates that have good pay. I'm talking about a lack of $40-50k a year jobs.

Another aspect of this is the health care industry. There has been almost no government regulation addressing costs in the system. So the greed you're talking about is also seen in that sector, and rising health care costs are one of the biggest factors eating into the purchasing power of the middle class.

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So now experience in the Senate is a big deal...

I'm sorry, but I don't see this letter as anything more than political partisanship. Calling it treason or sedition is ******* ridiculous. My personal opinion, is that the democrats are trying really hard to deflect Hillary tripping over her ****.

I agree that calling it treason or sedition is ridiculous.

However, the article makes a great point that you should not make such a potentially important diplomatic maneuver like this without putting some thought into it. One of the problems that the GOP has right now are knuckleheads like Cotton who don't have the foresight or experience to realize when they are making a huge mistake.

Reminds me of how the GOP let Ted Cruz and his ilk lead them into the government shutdown without having any kind of strategy.

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The American public is better educated than it was during the 1940-1970s. The problem is that middle class jobs that only require a high school education have disappeared. Some of that is manufacturing jobs sent overseas, but even jobs that cannot be shipped overseas (like truck driving) have seen an erosion of their salaries by corporatist practices.

The reason that the upper tax bracket used to be so high (90% at one point) was to incentivize companies to pay higher wages to employees. Without that incentive - and I do not support rates that high, btw - companies are paying less and pocketing more in profits. They can do that because of the decline of unions as protectors of good wages for working class people.

The CEO of Caterpillar said it best when he demanded huge salary and benefit cuts by workers even though the company was making a nice profit. "We can never make enough profit," he said.

For years, the minimum wage bolstered the middle class by providing a decent enough lower income floor. That boosted salaries up the scale. As the minimum wage has stagnated/declined in value, we've seen the slipping of middle class wages as well.

It's simple history - we have seen over the past 30 years the lowest levels of taxation in recent history. We have seen the erosion of basic protections for workers, especially regarding salary. We have seen corporate profits reach the highest rates as percent of GDP in recent history. And the people who run these large companies are not even shy about their intentions - "we can never make enough profit". So squeeze the workers and pocket the savings. The results of that policy are pretty obvious.

You throw out a lot of broad statements like "lowest tax rates in history" without qualifications. There have been few studies that actually incorporate the imbedded tax escalation we have experienced, along with state and local taxes that have encroached on virtually everyone. I'd love to know how the tax rate in 1955 compared with all the FU taxes we pay nowadays. For ****s sake, I rented a car in Phoenix on Wedneaday and paid $173 in taxes, almost half the cost of the rental.

The government had a captive workforce in 1955 when tax rates were up to 90%. That isn't the case anymore. The smartest and brightest can and will move.

We have corporations that are slaves to the stockholders. I don't know how we change the culture and I haven't seen any credible suggestions...

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Since 1980 the distribution of wealth in the United Sates has changed dramatically. The rich have gotten richer, and the poor have gotten poorer. A recent study from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities indicates what is widely acknowledged to be true: that we are more unequal as a nation today than at any time since before the Great Depression. The data of The Economic Policy Institute (EPI) in its “The State of Working America”analysis shows that between 1983 and 2010 the top 5 percent of income earners increased their share of the pie by 74.2 percent, while the bottom 60 percent of us had our share of national income decrease.

In other words, the redistribution of national income went from the bottom to the top and not, as the right fears, from the top to the bottom.

Share of total wealth growth accruing to various wealth groups, 1983–2010

Screen%20Shot%202012-09-25%20at%203.57.4
Source: EPI

In contrast to the last 32 years of increasing inequality, between 1935 and 1975 the United States became a more equal nation. This did not mean that the rich suffered; it just meant that they increased their riches in roughly equal proportion to the rest of us. A raft of government policies helped create this more level playing field.

During those years we had a sharply progressive income tax, and we spent that money in ways that sustained a strong middle class. We built and maintained the world’s best infrastructure, and paid the workers who did it union wages. We built and staffed the world’s greatest and most extensive public higher-education system — and then dramatically subsidized the education of millions of people with low or free tuition and a generous GI Bill. Business and corporate leaders felt some sort of compulsion to invest in America instead of where they could find the highest profits and pay the lowest wages. Indeed, in 1965, CEOs were paid only 20.1 times more than the average worker instead of today’s 231 times.

CEO-to-worker compensation ratio (options granted and options realized) 1965–2011

Screen%20Shot%202012-09-25%20at%203.58.2
Source: EPI

We also protected the right of workers to organize and bargain collectively. This last point is highly significant because collective bargaining allowed workers to reap the gains won by their increased productivity on the job. Since the full-scale assault on unions began when President Ronald Reagan fired the air traffic controllers in 1981, the share of wealth captured by workers from increased productivity halted, and that wealth has migrated to those at the very top.

Cumulative change in total economy productivity and real hourly compensation of production/nonsupervisory workers, 1948–2011
Screen%20Shot%202012-09-25%20at%203.58.4
Source: EPI

If we as a nation want to discuss income redistribution, let’s look at the facts. Since 1981 we have embarked on a national project of transferring wealth from the bottom and the middle to the very top. To accomplish this we have slashed taxes, ballooned the national debt, demonized unions and working people as greedy takers and romanticized the rich as job creators.

This project has worked well for people like Mitt Romney. It has not worked for the rest of us.

Between 1935 and 1975, we grew more equal as a nation and everyone prospered. We know how and why this happened. The only question is: Do we want to face the facts?

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You throw out a lot of broad statements like "lowest tax rates in history" without qualifications. There have been few studies that actually incorporate the imbedded tax escalation we have experienced, along with state and local taxes that have encroached on virtually everyone. I'd love to know how the tax rate in 1955 compared with all the FU taxes we pay nowadays. For ****s sake, I rented a car in Phoenix on Wedneaday and paid $173 in taxes, almost half the cost of the rental.

The government had a captive workforce in 1955 when tax rates were up to 90%. That isn't the case anymore. The smartest and brightest can and will move.

We have corporations that are slaves to the stockholders. I don't know how we change the culture and I haven't seen any credible suggestions...

The BEA estimates total tax burden (state, federal, and local) and found that it had dropped dramatically since the 1950s. This is the most recent data that I could find. Maybe you have some evidence that total tax burden has gone up or not dropped considerably?

http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/money/perfi/taxes/2011-05-05-tax-cut-record-low_n.htm

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http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/low_concept/2015/03/an_open_letter_to_47_republican_senators_from_iran_s_hard_liners_we_have.html?wpsrc=sh_all_dt_fb_bot

March 11, 2015

Dear senators:

Thank you for your letter of March 9 explaining your system of government. We were unfamiliar with the complexity of your laws. For three years we have been negotiating a nuclear energy agreement with your president. We now realize our mistake. As your letter makes clear, the authority to establish such agreements on behalf of your country rests with your Congress.

We are in your debt for this clarification. Moreover, your letter has prompted us to undertake a broader study of the American political system. What we have learned has opened our eyes. For 35 years, we have treated you as an adversary. Our intelligence agencies told us that your culture and your political system were radically different from ours. We now understand that we were misled. Your country is much like ours. Indeed, your Republican Congress is much like our revolutionary Islamic councils. We are brothers.

Your letter explains that our discussions with your president have been in vain because “anything not approved by Congress is a mere executive agreement,” which can easily be cast aside by a future president or Congress. Under your Constitution, as you point out, “the president may serve only two 4-year terms, whereas senators may serve an unlimited number of 6-year terms.” Therefore, the ultimate authority to make and interpret your country’s policies resides with you, not with your president. As you note, “President Obama will leave office in January 2017, while most of us will remain in office well beyond then—perhaps decades.”

Your Republican Congress is much like our revolutionary Islamic councils.

We were delighted to read this sentence. What you have described—a circle of overseers who work in perpetuity to restrain the president—is very familiar to us. Our president, like yours, is limited to two consecutive four-year terms. His powers are also severely circumscribed. He has a national security council, but he and his council do not establish our nation’s policies.

In our system, true power lies with the chamber that oversees the president. For you, this chamber is the Senate, controlled by your Republican caucus. For us, it is the Council of Guardians. Members of our council, like members of your Senate, serve six-year terms. The council may veto any legislation, which, in its judgment, violates our republic’s guiding body of law. For us, that body of law is Sharia.

Our intelligence agencies told us that in your country, the guiding document is your Constitution. Recently, however, we watched videos from your “Conservative Political Action Conference.” Several of your senators spoke there about the abomination of homosexual marriage and the importance of protecting religion. Our assessment is that your senators interpret your Constitution in accordance with the Christian Bible, just as our council applies our Constitution in the light of the Holy Quran. We particularly enjoyed the speech of your senator from Texas, Ted Cruz, who called on your government to fight for Christians abroad. This is in agreement with our own policy of coming to the aid of faithful Muslims everywhere.

We are in great admiration of Sen. Cruz. In our republic, he would be an Ayatollah Uzma. We appreciate his signature on your letter and his steadfastness in correcting your president. Many of us were dismayed to learn that Sen. Cruz was criticized in your country for withholding the government’s operating funds in order to block the implementation of a health care law. Some Americans even called the senator a hostage taker.

We also very much admire the principal author of your letter, Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas. Sen. Cotton, like many of our young militiamen, served in combat in Iraq and believes that he is an instrument of God. Some may consider him too young to assert dominion over your country’s foreign policy, at 37 years of age and with only two years of political experience. But we in Iran appreciate his vigor. He reminds us of the young men who seized your embassy here in 1979, two years after he was born. Those brave young revolutionaries did not wait for guidance from their elders.

In Iran, all educational institutions are governed by our Cultural Revolution Council, which safeguards the faith of the people. We have been unable to locate such a council in your federal government. However, we recently learned that the state board of education in Sen. Cruz’s state, Texas, controls through its purchasing power the content of textbooks throughout your country. The board has used this power to limit the teaching of evolution and promote the celebration of your country as a Christian nation. Our cultural council protects Islam in the same way.

Our system, like yours, has its critics. Some portray our Council of Guardians as unelected ideologues who override the will of the people. The charge is absurd, as your own experience demonstrates. In your country’s three most recent elections, which together produced your Senate’s entire current membership, the other party’s nominees won 5 million more votes than yours did. Nevertheless, you control the chamber. The true will of the people, as you know, is to follow those of us who understand what is best.

Thank you once again for this enlightening exchange. Prompted by your letter, our council has decided to end the talks with your secretary of state and dismiss nuclear inspectors from our country. We look forward to working with you in the future on other matters of common interest, such as prayer, capital punishment, and troops in Iraq.

Sincerely,

Council of Guardians
The Islamic Republic of Iran

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The BEA estimates total tax burden (state, federal, and local) and found that it had dropped dramatically since the 1950s. This is the most recent data that I could find. Maybe you have some evidence that total tax burden has gone up or not dropped considerably?

http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/money/perfi/taxes/2011-05-05-tax-cut-record-low_n.htm

everything I've seen shows where it was in 1970. I'm curious about 1955 when those 90% tax rates existed.
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http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/low_concept/2015/03/an_open_letter_to_47_republican_senators_from_iran_s_hard_liners_we_have.html?wpsrc=sh_all_dt_fb_bot

March 11, 2015

Dear senators:

Thank you for your letter of March 9 explaining your system of government. We were unfamiliar with the complexity of your laws. For three years we have been negotiating a nuclear energy agreement with your president. We now realize our mistake. As your letter makes clear, the authority to establish such agreements on behalf of your country rests with your Congress.

We are in your debt for this clarification. Moreover, your letter has prompted us to undertake a broader study of the American political system. What we have learned has opened our eyes. For 35 years, we have treated you as an adversary. Our intelligence agencies told us that your culture and your political system were radically different from ours. We now understand that we were misled. Your country is much like ours. Indeed, your Republican Congress is much like our revolutionary Islamic councils. We are brothers.

Your letter explains that our discussions with your president have been in vain because “anything not approved by Congress is a mere executive agreement,” which can easily be cast aside by a future president or Congress. Under your Constitution, as you point out, “the president may serve only two 4-year terms, whereas senators may serve an unlimited number of 6-year terms.” Therefore, the ultimate authority to make and interpret your country’s policies resides with you, not with your president. As you note, “President Obama will leave office in January 2017, while most of us will remain in office well beyond then—perhaps decades.”

Your Republican Congress is much like our revolutionary Islamic councils.

We were delighted to read this sentence. What you have described—a circle of overseers who work in perpetuity to restrain the president—is very familiar to us. Our president, like yours, is limited to two consecutive four-year terms. His powers are also severely circumscribed. He has a national security council, but he and his council do not establish our nation’s policies.

In our system, true power lies with the chamber that oversees the president. For you, this chamber is the Senate, controlled by your Republican caucus. For us, it is the Council of Guardians. Members of our council, like members of your Senate, serve six-year terms. The council may veto any legislation, which, in its judgment, violates our republic’s guiding body of law. For us, that body of law is Sharia.

Our intelligence agencies told us that in your country, the guiding document is your Constitution. Recently, however, we watched videos from your “Conservative Political Action Conference.” Several of your senators spoke there about the abomination of homosexual marriage and the importance of protecting religion. Our assessment is that your senators interpret your Constitution in accordance with the Christian Bible, just as our council applies our Constitution in the light of the Holy Quran. We particularly enjoyed the speech of your senator from Texas, Ted Cruz, who called on your government to fight for Christians abroad. This is in agreement with our own policy of coming to the aid of faithful Muslims everywhere.

We are in great admiration of Sen. Cruz. In our republic, he would be an Ayatollah Uzma. We appreciate his signature on your letter and his steadfastness in correcting your president. Many of us were dismayed to learn that Sen. Cruz was criticized in your country for withholding the government’s operating funds in order to block the implementation of a health care law. Some Americans even called the senator a hostage taker.

We also very much admire the principal author of your letter, Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas. Sen. Cotton, like many of our young militiamen, served in combat in Iraq and believes that he is an instrument of God. Some may consider him too young to assert dominion over your country’s foreign policy, at 37 years of age and with only two years of political experience. But we in Iran appreciate his vigor. He reminds us of the young men who seized your embassy here in 1979, two years after he was born. Those brave young revolutionaries did not wait for guidance from their elders.

In Iran, all educational institutions are governed by our Cultural Revolution Council, which safeguards the faith of the people. We have been unable to locate such a council in your federal government. However, we recently learned that the state board of education in Sen. Cruz’s state, Texas, controls through its purchasing power the content of textbooks throughout your country. The board has used this power to limit the teaching of evolution and promote the celebration of your country as a Christian nation. Our cultural council protects Islam in the same way.

Our system, like yours, has its critics. Some portray our Council of Guardians as unelected ideologues who override the will of the people. The charge is absurd, as your own experience demonstrates. In your country’s three most recent elections, which together produced your Senate’s entire current membership, the other party’s nominees won 5 million more votes than yours did. Nevertheless, you control the chamber. The true will of the people, as you know, is to follow those of us who understand what is best.

Thank you once again for this enlightening exchange. Prompted by your letter, our council has decided to end the talks with your secretary of state and dismiss nuclear inspectors from our country. We look forward to working with you in the future on other matters of common interest, such as prayer, capital punishment, and troops in Iraq.

Sincerely,

Council of Guardians

The Islamic Republic of Iran

Ouch.

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everything I've seen shows where it was in 1970. I'm curious about 1955 when those 90% tax rates existed.

It was still 70% in the 1970s. Not sure how a larger tax rate would nullify the point that total tax burdens have dropped over the past several decades, especially among the wealthiest Americans.

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people who think that one political party cares more/is better than the other are just hilarious

As far as I know, the Democratic Party has never done something like this. There are some isolated incidents of a**-hattery on foreign policy by Democrats, but what the Republicans did en masse was on a different level.

False equivalency.

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And since Pelosi's trip to Syria is bound to come up:

Pelosi personally informed President Bush on Thursday of her travel plans, and he did not raise any objections, a person with knowledge of that conversation said.

State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said the department briefed the group and will provide routine support on the ground.

"In our view, it's not the right time to have those sort of high-profile visitors to Syria," McCormack told reporters yesterday.

http://www.cnn.com/2007/POLITICS/03/30/pelosi.trip/index.html?eref=sitesearch

That group also included a Republican House member, who has said that Pelosi never criticized Bush's foreign policy in her meetings with Syrian officials. Moreover the article shows that a Republican visit to Syria also occurred at about the same time, so Pelosi was doing exactly what Republican congress people were doing regarding those visits.

And there is this:

What’s more, the Democratic leader met with Assad in the hopes that engagement would be more productive than isolation, but Pelosi did not encourage the Syrian leader – or any other foreign officials – to ignore the Republican White House or distrust American foreign policy.

http://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show/was-cottons-stunt-unprecedented

And also from that article: I spoke to Pelosi’s office, and a top aide reminded me that officials from the Bush State Department literally sat in on the meeting between the then-Speaker and Assad.

So Pelosi visited with Assad not to torpedo Bush's policy, but as part of regular visits that Republicans were making to Syria during that same time as well. Pelosi let Bush know personally that she was doing this, received no discouragement, was briefed by the State Department (which also raised no objections), and had Bush officials sit in on the meetings.

Let's stop the false equivalencies, for once.

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The only thing either party cares about is staying in power

That is true. But the methods the Republicans are using lately are destructive. Everything from shutting down the government, threatening to default on the debt, the ridiculous lawsuit trying to take health care subsidies from about 10 million Americans, inviting Netanyahu without consulting the president, and now this letter.

False equivalencies are intellectually lazy.

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It was still 70% in the 1970s. Not sure how a larger tax rate would nullify the point that total tax burdens have dropped over the past several decades, especially among the wealthiest Americans.

oh I dont dispute that overall tax burdens have dropped. I'm more interested in what has happened to the middle class. People keep talking about how the middle class is getting screwed. I just don't believe that to be the case.
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oh I dont dispute that overall tax burdens have dropped. I'm more interested in what has happened to the middle class. People keep talking about how the middle class is getting screwed. I just don't believe that to be the case.

Ah, got it. From the links that I provided, it looks like the middle class saw a drop in total tax burden, although a small one. In terms of taxes, it's not so much that the middle class is getting screwed, it's that the upper income earners have it much better than they have in the past 40 years or so.

Where I think people argue that the middle class are getting screwed is in terms of health care costs and other benefits that used to be more affordable. The increase in wages for the upper income earners has kept up (possibly surpassed) those rising costs. But middle class wages have stagnated during this period, so those costs are eating into their disposable income.

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