His name is Ted Leonsis. He owns a sports-entertainment conglomerate that includes three major-league sports teams, a major venue in Washington DC, as well as a number of Internet ventures. He’s vice-chairman emeritus of AOL’s board, which last year purchased Huffington Post. He’s also a big, big donor to the Democratic Party and its candidates, including Barack Obama, for whom Leonsis has already maxed out his contribution for this presidential election.He did the same during the 2008 election.
While commendable that Mr. Leonsis would show such generous support for President Obama, why bother if he believes the GOP criticism of the president that he’s engaged in “class warfare” ? Here’s what Leonsis said:
My dad was a waiter. My mom was a secretary. Neither attended college. I grew up in Brooklyn, NY and Lowell, Massachusetts. I attended public schools. My parents – in their best year – earned $31,000 combined. My dad worked for tips – often received in change – as he worked a counter for breakfast and lunch at a diner. My dad, too, once lost his job. I remember the angst in our household. I attended Georgetown University which at the time wasn’t a need blind school via college loans. I paid them all back five years after I graduated.
I have great empathy for middle class or lower middle class America. My horizons as a young adult were not expansive. I was programmed to be a produce department manager at a grocery store in my neighborhood. That was my dad’s aspiration for me. I would have been proud to work hard to become a leader in a grocery store and I bet I would have been good at it, too. By luck and hard work, my career took a different path
I say this as I read all of the rhetoric about Class Warfare, the rift that is being created between economic middle and lower class and as the President said “those millionaires and billionaires.” The real rift in philosophy though is do you want the Government to create jobs and stimulate the economy or do you want America’s small business to be the engine of growth?
Economic Success has somehow become the new boogie man; some in the Democratic party are now casting about for enemies and business leaders and anyone who has achieved success in terms of rank or fiscal success is being cast as a bad guy in a black hat. This is counter to the American Dream and is really turning off so many people that love American and basically carry our country on their back by paying taxes and by employing people and creating GDP.
This is a bad move all designed by some pollster who said this is the way to get votes during the re-election. It should be stopped. We should be healing and creating teams NOT dividing and pitting people against one another.
Ted, for the record it was the Republicans that started the class warfare mantra. In any event, your whole premise is wrong. Is advocating for tax rates that resemble the 1990’s automatically a case of resentment and class warfare? The president is not begrudging financial success. He is simply noting that explosive growth in the wealth of the top 1% (guys like you) while the middle class has fallen behind and the poor remain stuck in poverty. What he is begrudging are the tax loopholes for the big corporations and tax subsidies for the most the big oil companies and private jets while the middle class pays income tax and payroll taxes at a higher rate than guys like you.
Ideally, we want an economy where everyone or most people do well when the rich are doing well. What has happened over the past few decades is that most of the wealth that has been transferred to the top earners and hasn’t “trickled down”. Why is it suddenly class warfare that the President only wants to return some tax rates to the rates under President Clinton – a 4 point increase – to generate some much needed revenue? The poor and the middle-class are suffering. Vital education and assistance programs are being cut. Tax receipts from corporate taxes, are at a 60 year low while at the same time middle-class incomes have (like those of your parents) have stagnated while salaries and bonuses of corporate CEOs are at record levels.
Republicans complain about the corporate tax rate, but they never cite the figures for the percent of tax actually paid. President Obama has it exactly right. At least close the loop holes. Corporations have devoted an enormous time and effort to finding tax loopholes in recent decades and so the government raises less money in corporate taxes than it once did. It’s disgusting when you consider that over the last five years, Boeing paid a total tax rate of just 4.5%, Southwest Airlines paid 6.3%. And the list goes on: Yahoo paid 7%; Prudential Financial, 7.6%; and General Electric, 14.3% (re: Capital IQ). It’s interesting to note that after WWII, the corporate tax rate was raised to over 40%, hit a high of over 52%, and stayed as high as 46% until 1986.Those were the years of greatest real growth in American history.
Ted, the country is wallowing in debt. We can’t fix our roads. Our schools stink. Our infrastructure needs massive repair. Lets put Americans back to work on the infrastructure and start there. If millionaire and billionaire businessmen want to cry and complain about closing loopholes or a small increase in their federal tax rate, they are free to go live somewhere else. We need patriots in this country like Warren Buffet and Mark Cuban, who are willing to step up and pay their fair share of the burden. You spoke of maintaining the American Dream- so stop complaining and start caring about the welfare of your country and of all Americans. Yasou.