Ehrlich's column doesn't add up

August 08, 2012

In his recent column ("The left and right view the world in predictable ways," Aug. 5), former Gov.Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.outrageously distorts the views of liberals on all the issues he addresses and repeats the rhetoric rather than the reality of the right wing's positions.

With respect to the latest massacre in Colorado, he asks the "inconvenient" question: "How many lives would have been saved if someone in that theater had access to firearms of their own?" I can answer than easily: none. Mr. Ehrlich imagines a lone vigilante taking careful aim and taking down the assailant. He completely ignores the reality that the assailant was heavily armored and was essentially invulnerable to anything but the heaviest weapons. Conservatives say that they want everyone armed all the time. Imagine the carnage if 300 movie-goers starting shooting wildly at gun flashes in the confusion. How would they know who was a an assailant and who was a vigilante? We would end up with uncontrolled gunfire until everyone had exhausted their ammunition and hundreds of dead and wounded instead of 70. Moreover, who wants a gunfight to erupt every time someone spills popcorn on the person in front of them or whose cell phone rings during the movie? Because that's exactly what would happen.

With regard to the reaction to Sept. 11, the government created the Transportation Security Administration. He calls this a liberal creation, but he needs to be reminded thatGeorge W. Bush and the Republican Congress created that agency. Moreover, the fact that we haven't had a repetition of Sept. 11 shows that TSA has been a success.

Mr. Ehrlich blames liberals for the mortgage meltdown. Again, that happened on the George W. Bush administration's watch, and it was their failure to regulate the banks that resulted in an excess of bad loans, not the proven value of encouraging home ownership.

Most outrageously, Mr. Ehrlich claims that liberals fear wealth and want to tax it to assuage their consciences. That's total nonsense. Progressives only want the wealthy to pay their fair share of taxes because they benefit most from the services that government and society provide (an educated work force, low crime, military security worldwide, road and transportation networks, secure financial institutions and most importantly, a safety net for the poorest people to prevent them from becoming an armed insurgency). This includes all taxes, not just the nominal income tax rate. Payroll taxes account for 33 percent of the total revenue collected by the government, but the top 1 percent pay almost none of this. Bill Gates and I pay exactly the same amount in Social Security tax, and Mitt Romney paid nothing last year. Governor Ehrlich's famous "flush tax" makes the poorest homeowner pay the same as the richest mansion-dweller. His claim that taxing the top 2 percent at a 100 percent rate for income over $250,000 wouldn't make a dent in the $16 trillion debt is another outright falsehood. No one is proposing that, of course, but let's just do the math (something Republicans are apparently incapable of doing).

The per capita income in the U.S. is about $20,000 per year. There are 313 million Americans, so that is a total of $6.26 trillion dollars in total income. The top 2 percent of taxpayers (those making more than $250,000) make more than 25 percent of that income or about $1.57 trillion. If we consider only the amount over $250,000 we would subtract $750 billion still leaves $820 billion in income over $250,000. If we taxed that at 100 percent, it would pay off the entire $16 trillion debt in 20 years without any further cuts or taxes! That is hardly an insignificant dent. This analysis proves that Mr. Ehrlich's statements are grounded in rhetoric and not in fact.

Finally, Mr. Ehrlich complains about an accumulation of an additional $5 trillion dollars in debt during Barack Obama's presidency. OK, so where did the other $11 trillion in debt come from? It was accumulated during the Bush administration which abandoned spending controls in place in the George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton eras and fought two wars without raising taxes to pay for them. So, the younger President Bush gets the blame for two-thirds of the problem.

It's amazing to me that The Sun continues to publish the kind of nonsense that the former governor spews out in his column each week without some fact-checking. I guess it just shows the Sun's continuing conservative bias.

Stan Sunderwirth, Oella

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