DEFEND, NOT DEFUND: The conservative war on NPR has always had an air of unreality. For all the talk of liberal bias, NPR provides a platform for thoughtful conservatives, who regularly appear on its programs. It also serves rural and often conservative communities where NPR news programs are frequently the steadiest sources of international, national and regional news.
But NPR is an independent source of information, not spin. And that’s got the Republican House majority trying to zero out its funding. To help make “the case,” James O’Keefe (the conservative henchman who went after ACORN and Planned Parenthood) surfaced a video that featured NPR’s chief fundraiser Ron Schiller making negative comments about conservatives while seemingly hustling for money from Muslim donors who were supposed advocates of Sharia law.
Schiller’s words caused an immediate outcry, leading NPR president and CEO Vivian Schiller (no relation) to step down. But here’s where the unreal part comes in: O’Keefe’s short video was edited to create a false impression of much of what NPR’s fundraisers said. Even Scott Baker, a conservative analyst and editor in chief of Glenn Beck’s website The Blaze, said after viewing O’Keefe’s entire two-hour tape that it had been inappropriately edited. Indeed, explained Baker, the complete tape of the NPR executives actually made them “seem to be fairly balanced people.”
Let’s hope members of Congress will take note of this fact, and of the petitions delivered to Capitol Hill by Free Press, MoveOn and Credo Action, signed by more than 1 million Americans, that urge Congress to “defend, not defund” NPR. As Free Press’s Josh Stearns argues, “Federal funding for public broadcasting is a down payment on democracy and a vital investment in jobs and economic prosperity.” JOHN NICHOLS
TAXING THE WEALTHIEST: On March 16, Democratic Representative Jan Schakowsky introduced the Fairness in Taxation Act, which seeks to establish new tax brackets for Americans whose are millionaires and billionaires.
Under the current tax schema, people who make $379,150 or more a year are taxed at 35 percent, a rate that doesn’t budge for those who make millions—or billions—more. The Fairness in Taxation Act would tax those whose income is $1–10 million at 45 percent, $10–20 million at 46 percent, $20–100 mil- lion at 47 percent, $100 million–$1 billion at 48 percent, and $1 billion and up at 49 percent. To put that in perspective, for the majority of Reagan’s time in office, top earners were taxed at a rate of 50 percent.
If enacted, this bill would raise more than $78 billion. Schakowsky, a member of President Obama’s fiscal commission, says, “This isn’t about punishment or revenge. It’s about fairness. We can choose to cut education, job creation and healthcare, or we can choose to ask those who can contribute more to do so.” KATE MURPHY