3. Communists in Congress tried to amend the Constitution to "redistribute wealth."
The lie: "They wanted a constitutional amendment to redistribute wealth. That was H.J. Resolution 34. But most of them voted against the balanced budget amendment," West said.
Well, let's take a look at H.J. Resolution 34
. It was most recently proposed in May 2009 -- West wasn't even in Congress yet, because he'd lost the 2008 election
by almost 10 percentage points.
Now, who is this "they" that he's talking about? It can't be the Progressive Caucus. West said "they wanted" an amendment, but the last time it was proposed, it had no cosponsors. It was proposed, and there it stopped. It was never voted on -- not even in committee. In a House that was controlled by Democrats, working next door to a Senate that was controlled by Democrats, sending legislation to a White House controlled by a Democrat. No one -- communist or not -- cast a single vote in favor of it.
How about the actual resolution? What dastardly provisions does it contain? Ah, well, not many. It's four paragraphs long
, and the actual amendment reads:
The Congress of the United States shall tax all persons progressively in proportion to the income which they respectively enjoy under the protection of the United States.
That's the whole thing. It was a broad, nonspecific constitutional endorsement of a generically progressive tax system -- essentially the only federal income tax system this country has ever had. If that's redistributing wealth, then it wouldn't have taken a constitutional amendment to do it: We've had a progressive tax system in place every year for 100 years running.
The bill was proposed by Democratic Illinois Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr., who has been proposing constitutional amendments (including this one) all over the place
for quite a while now. He hasn't gotten one passed, presumably because they are silly.
As for the balanced budget amendment, West is taking disconnected facts and calling them socialism. Yes, 67 of the "no" votes on the balanced budget amendment came from members of the Progressive Caucus. But there were 98 other "no" votes
, including Republican budget king Paul Ryan -- are all those people communists too?
West also didn't mention H.J. Resolution 87
, which was another of the many
proposals for a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution. That one was cosponsored by Reps. Jared Polis and David Cicilline, members -- you guessed it -- of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.
4. West doesn't "hold anything against" the rotten, horrible communists in Congress.
The lie: "These are individuals who really do have principles that are really counter to the fundamental principles of this constitutional republic. Now, I don't hold anything against them if that's what they believe in, but don't get mad at me because I brought it up to the American people, 'cause I thought we were supposed to be transparent."
The truth: West asserting that he doesn't "hold anything against" progressives is the most laughable fabrication of the entire interview -- he's made a political career out of holding things against them and of making money off people who feel the same way.
Here are a few quotes from West about the progressive movement, and you can decide for yourself whether the guy holds anything against them:
-- West said last year that Obama was a "low-level socialist agitator
" whose "Marxist demagogic rhetoric" revealed a "Third World dictator-like arrogance."
-- He told fellow Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, chair of the Democratic National Committee, to "shut the heck up
" and wrote in an email that she was "the most vile, unprofessional, and despicable member of the US House of Representatives... You have proven repeatedly that you are not a Lady, therefore, shall not be afforded due respect from me!"
-- At a Lincoln Day dinner earlier this year (in which he misquoted Abraham Lincoln
), he said "the history of the Democrat Party is all about slavery, succession, segregation, and today it's about socialism." He then told Democratic leadership, including "my dear friend the chairman of the Democrat National Committee," to "get the hell out of the United States of America
. Yeah, I said hell."
-- When his chief of staff, Joyce Kaufman, stepped down a week after she was hired because people pointed out she's a hateful, violence-peddling wack job
, West responded by saying
he was "even more focused that this liberal, progressive, socialist agenda, this left-wing, vile, vicious, despicable machine that's out there is soundly brought to its knees."
A summary: For years, West swung his big wooden adjective-hammer at anybody who has a little D next to his (or, more frequently, her) name. But on Friday, suddenly, he doesn't "hold anything against them"; he's just trying to be transparent. Maybe he's had a change of heart?
5. A progressive tax plan is socialist.
The lie: "They wanted to have higher taxes on those deemed by themselves, as the government, as earning too much, and that was H.R. 1124. These are individuals who really do have principles that are really counter to the fundamental principles of this constitutional republic."
The truth: H.R. 1124
is another bill that's a total nonissue. It was referred to committee in March 2011; then nothing happened with it. West knows it was a nonissue because he knows how hard it is to get a bill signed: He's currently batting 0-for-9, according to GovTrack, with only one bill
that even got voted on in committee.
And supporting higher taxes for people who are "earning too much"? West is describing the U.S. tax code. Support of higher tax rates for those making more money is not unique to the Progressive Caucus, because that's how American income taxes have worked for 150 years.
Exactly 150 years, as it were -- the first federal income taxes were collected by the Revenue Act of 1861, which was a flat tax. But it was repealed within a year, when the progressive system of the Revenue Act of 1862 was signed into law by -- oh lord -- Abraham Lincoln, as a temporary measure to help pay for the Civil War. People who made more money paid a higher rate, and there was no special rate for capital gains
(Though if we're going on a commie hunt, Lincoln's up for some suspicion -- his assistant secretary of war was previously one of Karl Marx's editors
when Marx wrote for the New York Daily Tribune
. To think, we put that asshole on the penny.)
Legal wrangling after that made subsequent income taxes tricky until 1913, when the 16th Amendment was ratified. After that, the federal income tax came back to stay -- at the time, with seven tax brackets
, each one prescribing a higher rate for higher income. Again, there was no exception for capital gains.
Fast-forward to today, when tax rates on income earned from investments are arranged in a way that the wealthy people making significant money from them are paying lower tax rates than the regular Joes who make their money from paychecks.
The suggestion from the left (and, uh, middle) is that if you make more money, you should pay a higher tax rate, regardless of what fancy ways you used to make the money. It's not socialist; it's the principle behind the only system we've ever used.
Obama's branded this modification the "Buffett
Rule," and it would adjust the minimum effective tax rate on people making more than a million dollars a year. The Republican line is that it's a hit to "job creators," because that's their newest euphemism for "rich folk." But this isn't a rule for average rich folk -- it wouldn't affect some guy whose air-conditioner business took off and now he's got a nice car. West loyally defends small-business owners whenever he's got the chance, but this isn't a modification for the top 5 percent of earners or the top 1 percent of earners -- this rule would affect fewer than 0.3 percent of Americans.
RNC Chair Reince Priebus said Sunday that the Buffett Rule was a "tiny alteration
" and said it wouldn't put a substantial dent in federal deficits. But it's still good enough for West to use it as evidence of creeping socialism?
West said on Friday that it's just "just smoke and mirrors for [Obama] to be the arbiter of fairness," but, as it's been pointed out ad nauseum, only 37 percent of Americans
are against the rule, possibly due to the fact that it doesn't change anything for the poorest 99.7 percent of Americans.
In addition, what's so wrong with the president wanting to be an arbiter of fairness? Ronald "Republican Jesus" Reagan didn't have a problem with making people "pay their fair share
" when he raised the capital gains tax in 1986. We don't remember him as a Marxist commie progressive dunderhead, because progressive taxation doesn't make you a Marxist commie progressive dunderhead.
And then, at the end of this ridiculous diatribe, this comical, embarrassing failure to back up hyperbolic and irresponsible statements, how did Levin respond?
"Isn't it amazing when you speak the truth, how much hell you take for it?" he said. "I wanna come down there and help you raise some bucks one night."
Levin then wrapped up the show by extolling the virtues of Gold Line, that charming little company under investigation on charges that it rips off ignorant people
who think novelty coins are a solid investment.
In any case, Congressman West, I'm sorry you don't think I do my research. I hope this helps.