Growing up

September 19, 2011 12:03:57 PM PDT
My 16-year-old son, as is his wont, continued growing like a weed this summer. And somewhere between when school let out in June and re-opened in September, he inched past me. It was inevitable of course, he growing taller than me. Because while he's growing higher, nature and gravity are making me a tad shorter.

It's inevitable.

As he's been making this journey upward, and becoming more physically fit, we've had this monthly game we play. We get down on the ground and arm wrestle. I do it to show him how much stronger he's getting, because he can tell I have to work harder to beat him.

Someday of course, he will beat me.

It's inevitable.

I will be proud of him when that happens, although I suspect I'll also feel a twinge of something else. Not sure what it will be, but I'm guessing it will be some wistful - maybe even a little bitter? - reaction to the ravages of yielding to the next generation.

This is top of mind today because last night, when we arm wrestled, I had to really work to beat my son. I even grunted. Or that's what he tells me.

As I say, he is going to beat me someday.

It's inevitable.

And that got me thinking about the inevitability of what President Obama is doing today. He's exploiting part of what the guru-like investor Warren Buffett said earlier this month - that it's time billionaires like him and his friends are taxed at a greater, and more fair, rate. Buffett, who has mostly unearned income - meaning through investments, not wages and salaries - claimed that his secretary pays a higher tax rate than he does. And it's the same with his wealthy pals.

The argument from Buffett brought into focus the debate that is raging in the country about how to deal with the deficit, and scoffed at the Republican leadership who claim taxing the wealthy will hurt the economy. There may be some truth to that, but when lined up with the alternatives to fixing the deficit - chiefly cutting spending for those who need it the most and can ill-afford the cuts - it seems unfair.

Most Americans believe that, according to the polls.

Pres. Obama's failure to tax the wealthy - and allow the Bush-era tax cuts to expire back to the levels of Pres. Clinton - was in no small part because of how he defined "wealthy." He defined it as any family earning more than $250,000. Now keep in mind that in a city like New York, a family can qualify for rent stabilized apartments if they earn $175,000 a year. So earning a quarter million dollars a year, while substantial, in New York City doesn't mean you're rich - not with a 4% or so City income tax.

So Buffett's argument hit a chord. And Mr. Obama is trying to hit that chord again - although he's taking it a step farther, calling on higher taxes on anyone reporting more than $1 million in income - whether it be earned or unearned. Sen. Jim Webb had suggested - and it got some support - that only unearned income above $1 million get the rich-tax treatment. He split the baby, so to speak, by offering that taxing wages and salaries is unfair and discourages people who work; but that raising taxes on unearned income - especially upping the capital gains tax rate - is fair.

The President apparently isn't buying that, and wants all "millionaires" taxed. Either way, it was inevitable that Mr. Obama raise the "wealthy" moniker to above his prior definition of $250,000. As inevitable as my son's growing taller than me.

I'm just sayin'.

Now Republicans find themselves defending not a loosely defined "wealthy" class - which in New York wasn't really wealthy - but millionaires. They are calling the President's proposal as "class warfare" - but most Americans, and most New Yorkers, will find this raised definition of "the wealthy" much easier to appreciate and accept.

We'll have the latest on the economy, and the President's economic plan, tonight at 11.

Also at 11, it's a quiet exit tonight for "Don't Ask, Don't Tell (DADT)," the head-in-the-sand policy that prevented gays and lesbians from serving openly in the military. Maybe you'll feel it expire at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday. Maybe not.

It came into being during Bill Clinton's first few months in office, right before he set off on his ill-fated health care reform. Now that it's taps for DADT, the Pentagon says it has several applications to enlist from openly gay and lesbian would-be recruits. More than 3 out of 4 Americans say they favor gays and lesbians being allowed to serve.

And our investigative reporter Jim Hoffer tonight with a disturbing follow up to his story about a cemetery in disrepair. Turns out - the synagogue that runs the cemetery used money earmarked for upkeep of its graveyard for something else.

We'll also have any breaking news of the night, plus Meteorologist Lee Goldberg's AccuWeather forecast, and Rob Powers with the night's sports. I hope you can join Sade Baderinwa and me, tonight at 11.


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