From POLITICAL HOTSHEET at CBS NEWS:
Over the past several weeks, hundreds of Americans have submitted personal tales of economic hardship on the “Occupy Wall Street”-affiliated Tumblr “We are the 99 percent.” Now, conservatives who oppose the Wall Street protests have an answer to it in the form of their own Tumblr, entitled “We are the 53%.”
According to the Washington Post, the blog was conceptualized by Redstate.org founder Erick Erickson, who collaborated on it with the Texas Public Policy Foundation’s Josh Trevino and conservative filmmaker Mike Wilson.
The Tumblr claims to represent the 53 percent of Americans who pay federal income taxes – the implication being that those associated with “Occupy Wall Street” are not also part of that 53 percent and do not pay federal income taxes.
According to the Urban Institute and Brookings Institution’s Tax Policy Center, 46 percent of Americans will not pay federal income taxes for 2011. About half of those people, their report says, are exempt because their incomes are too low. The other half tend to be exempt due to provisions benefiting senior citizens and low-income working families with children.
The group points out, however, that “many of those who don’t pay income tax do pay other taxes–federal payroll and excise taxes as well as state and local income, sales, and property taxes.”
Unlike “We are the 99 percent,” which has 76 pages worth of posts and counting, the conservative iteration of the blog only has 5 pages worth of posts logged so far.
In the first post, which mimics the style of the “99 percent” blog, Erickson holds up a sign with a hand-written message, telling the “whiners” protesting Wall Street to “suck it up.”
“I work 3 jobs. I have a house I can’t sell. My family insurance costs are outrageous. But I don’t blame Wall Street. Suck it up you whiners. I am the 53% subsidizing you so you can hang out on Wall Street and complain,” the sign says. Below the image, a caption confirms that “@ewerickson Declares he’s one of the 53.”
Washington Post blogger Suzy Khimm, who first reported on the background of “We are the 53 percent” on Ezra Klein’s left-leaning blog on the site, points out an irony in conservatives espousing such strong support for federal taxes.
She writes: “The ’53 percent’ Tumblr also implies that there’s a certain mantle of responsibility that paying taxes confers upon people — i.e. grown-up, self-directed Americans like us can earn enough money to pay taxes, so you should, too. That’s an unusual message coming from conservatives who’ve pushed so mightily for an anti-tax agenda.”
And about those 3 grueling jobs that Erick Erickson has…From THINK PROGRESS:
The three jobs Erickson wants you to believe he scrapes by on include occasional paid opinion blogging at RedState.com, a lucrative television contract with CNN, and a radio gig that paid the previous host $165,183 a year (Herman Cain’s financial disclosures show he was paid this amount before Erickson took over his spot). The house Erickson can’t sell? Bibb County, Georgia records reveal that Erickson just bought a new $374,900 house in February of this year, and owns another that, according to an estimate by the website Zillow, might be worth slightly less than the amount he paid for it in 2001. And its likely that Erickson’s CNN job alone provides him with a personal driver and covered travel expenses when he needs to appear on the show.
Moreover, when Erickson says he doesn’t blame Wall Street, who could be surprised? Erickson should be grateful to big corporations since they sponsor his blog and provide him with content:
– Shilling For Banks: During the congressional battle over the Durbin Amendment, a rule that limits the amount banks can charge businesses to process debit-card fees, Erickson came out fiercely on the side of big banks. According to Bloomberg, Erickson had spoken with public relation firms employed by bank lobbyists while writing his posts.
– Shilling For Walmart: The first major evidence of RedState’s corporate sock-puppetry came in 2006 when the New York Times broke the story that Mike Krempasky, a RedState founder and blogger, was being paid by Walmart to orchestrate online attacks on the company’s critics.
– Selling Erick Erickson ‘Video Endorsements’: An email uncovered earlier this year from Eagle Publishing, the owner of RedState, sold not only traditional advertisements and sponsorship opportunities, but also a “video endorsement” from Erick Erickson. “Organizations with issues, candidates and viewpoints that are in line with Erick’s positions can truly benefit from his endorsement,” read the sales pitch. Erickson has rented his list to MyWireless.org, a telecom front group funded by industry, as well as the American Petroleum Institute, an oil lobbying association.
– Representatives For Corporate Lobbyists Guest Blog For Erickson’s Website: The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, a lobbying association for top firms like Goldman Sachs, Chevron, AIG and Dow Chemical, has partnered with RedState for blogger briefings and guest posts.
–Erickson’s Blog Caught In Pay-For-Blogging Scheme Orchestrated By Malaysian Lobbyists: The most unusual example of RedState’s fraudulent blogging may be the case of Josh Trevino, RedState’s co-founder. The government of Malaysia paid a consulting firm owned by Trevino and other regular RedState contributors to promote the ruling party using various conservative websites. Trevino, who recently collaborated with Erickson to created “We Are The 53%” site, even sponsored blogger meet and greets and fake media town halls with the current Malaysian prime minister.
Unfortunately, Erickson’s phony economic victim act is slowly catching on. In what has become a strange display of American feudalism, people are now contributing messages to Erickson’s 53 Percent site and boasting about being screwed by the economy.
Erickson has responded on his blog with name calling but no new facts. He says he isn’t paid well at CNN or through his radio show host job, but won’t even give a ball park figure of his income. He also ignores his extra salary from Eagle Publishing, the sponsor of his blog. Erickson began his “We Are The 53%” blog with a victimhood rant about his “3 jobs” and a house he “can’t sell.” But in his response to ThinkProgress, Erickson now says he is a winner of the failing economy. The second house ThinkProgress revealed, which Erickson bought for nearly $400,000 this year, was “originally for sale for over $600,000.00″ and Erickson says he “benefited from the misery of others in the market downturn.” Erickson adds, “it was tasty misery at that.”