28 Questions for Kerry

The irrepressible George Will has 28 Questions For Kerry and notes, ominiously, “There are 28 more questions where these 28 came from.”

Among the original set:

All the Americans affected by laws you pass — that is, all Americans — refuse to pipe down and mind their own business so that you can mind their business for them. Often they hire lobbyists to exercise their First Amendment right to “petition the government for a redress of grievances.” Can you despise lobbyists without disparaging that right?

You say the rich do not pay enough taxes. In 1979 the top 1 percent of earners paid 19.75 percent of income taxes. Today they pay 36.3 percent. How much is enough?

You say the federal government is not spending enough on education. President Bush has increased education spending 48 percent. How much is enough?

In January 1991, after Iraq extinguished Kuwait’s sovereignty, you opposed responding with force rather than economic sanctions. Have such sanctions ever undone such aggression?

On Jan. 11, 1991, you said that going to war was abandoning “the theory of deterrence.” Was it not a tad late to deter Iraqi aggression?

The next day you said, “I do not believe our nation is prepared for war.” How did unpreparedness subsequently manifest itself?

You oppose immediate termination of U.S. involvement in Iraq, and you opposed the $87 billion to pay for involvement. Come again?

In 1994, the year after the first attack on the World Trade Center, you voted to cut $1 billion from counterterrorism activities. In 1995 you proposed a $1.5 billion cut in intelligence funding. Are you now glad that both proposals were defeated?


FILED UNDER: Campaign 2004
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. mrkmyr says:

    Can you despise lobbyists without disparaging that right? -We should be working towards a system in which everyone can petition the government for a redress of grievences, not just the wealthy or corporations. One person one vote, not one dollar one vote.

    In 1979 the top 1 percent of earners paid 19.75 percent of income taxes. Today they pay 36.3 percent. How much is enough?
    -First, income taxes are only a portion of the taxes US federal and state governments take in. Regressive Social Security and Medicare taxes as well as state sales and property taxes are not included. Secondly, the greater portion the top 1 percent pay reflects the top 1% receiving more income compared to other Americans, not higher tax rates. Top 1% income has grown dramatically over the past 20 years while the lowest quintile of income has stagnated. Today the top 1% pay about 25% of their income to taxes, middle income Americans pay around 20%. Those who have gained the most from our society, its civil and educated workforce, its men and women in uniform, should shoulder more of the burden in these difficult times of jobless recovery and war on terror.


    Ill stop now. Ya’ll probably hate me by now.

  2. melvin toast says:

    So how much is enough mrkmyr?

  3. James G says:

    Ok, I think the questions on war and intelligence are legitimate, but the one on taxes is not. George Will makes it sound like the top earners pay more taxes today than in 1979. But in ’79, the top marginal tax rate was 70%. Today, it’s 33%. To the extent that the top 1% pays a higher percentage of the income taxes today, it’s because the top 1% pulls in that much more of the total income toay.

  4. I’m sorry, but 33% is plenty.

    Everyone always forgets that there are people in creative fields whose incomes wax and wane. The goal is to live on roughly half the income when times are good, and be able to live off savings when times are bad.

    My husband and I have been living primarily off our savings since 2000. And we’re tapped out.

    The tax system absolutely screws creative people–and the more “progressive” it gets, the worse it is.

  5. McGehee says:

    I’ve never gotten a job from some homeless guy on the street. Always it’s been from somebody in the top tax bracket.

    Dangedest thing.

  6. James G says:

    33% may be plenty, but the way George Will spins the fact, he acts like taxes on the upper income bracket have risen since 1979. They have not. They have gone down.

  7. James Joyner says:


    The tax RATES have gone down, but the taxes paid have gone way up. Partly this is become the overall economy has ballooned and partly because taxes on the bottom quartile have also been dramatically lowered.

  8. mrkmyr says:

    The top 1% could pay 30% of total income. Their is no cap the the amount they actually pay- that is determined by how much of society’s wealth they take in each year.

    It is also important how tax policy is arranged. Taxes on earned vs. unearned income. Many programs like the Earned Income Tax Credit are in many ways a subsidy for employers of low-income workers (if you believe in efficient markets and the worker is not effected by the minimum wage)

    For the “creative” Im curious what you are doing. Or, these days, not doing. And I would suggest their may be some options to maximize your after-tax take by using a corporate form. This way your coporation can hire you at a yearly salaray that is lower, and pull forward “losses” in times that are tough.

    JJ, taxes are now at the lowest percentage of GDP than they have been on over 50 years. As the economy grows the amount taken in taxes should increase- as society’s wealth increases, society should purchase more public goods, and labor costs will be higher as wages go up.

  9. Dustin says:

    I’ve read through Kerry’s web site & saw mention of him increasing the tax break for the LOWEST tax bracket, & the lowest tax bracket is only money earned up to $7,000/yr for single filers, and $14,000/yr for married filing jointly. Typically most Democrat politicians call anyone above the poverty level a rich person, because it gets their goat that someone can live without their wonderful welfare programs, and therefore are not coerced into voting for them. Unfortunately, when Kerry says he plans to make the “rich” pay their share, the fact that it is undefined allows many people to believe he doesn’t plan to raise their taxes.

    Even if Kerry were to limit the tax increase to those earning over $200,000 per year, why is everyone so excited about that? Seems to me like he is attacking a small group of successful people in order to gain the popular vote. He keeps saying “they need to pay their fair share” – what a load of bull. Simple math shows that they already pay MORE than their fair share. They pay based on a percentage of their income the same as everyone else. In fact, for money they earn over 174K they pay taxes at a rate of 33%. So if they earn 201K/yr, they pay $1400 for the first bracket, 8K for the next bracket, 14K for the next, 17K for the next, & 9K for the last (numbers rounded up or down to nearest K for simplicity). Total taxes paid ends up being around 49K in taxes. Why isn’t $49K in taxes a fair share? Do the evil rich people Kerry wants to “go after” damage the roads more than any of the rest of us? Do they utilize more social welfare programs than anyone else? Do they use more education funds? Require more defense from enemies of our nation? No, of course not. They already pay MORE than their fair share as the top 1% already carries a disproportionate portion of the tax burden – which is about 36% – obviously MUCH larger than 1% of it which would be a minimum “fair share” of 1% of the population. Anyone who thinks the rich 1% of the people who are carrying 33% of the tax burden is not paying their fair share is either not very good at math, or a person jealous of another person’s success who finds themselves wishing to punish the evil rich person. It’s all just typical class warfare tactics that the majority of the Democratic leaders like to play with those foolish enough to fall for them.

  10. mrkmyr says:

    Dustin both misunderstands the tax code and confuses neo-classical economic theory with social justice.

    When you cut the lowest tax bracket from 10% to 7%, that cuts the taxes for every single American taxpayer. Even the ones over $200k.

    Income tax is not the only tax out there. And a lot of income is not taxed as ordinary income at all.

    Economists can make an argument that higher wages for scare skill sets will encourage more people to go into lines of work that create more value, burt economics does not make a judgement as to how resources should be allocated, but suggests a way in which the greatest number of dollars can be produced.

    The rich may not “damage the roads” more than the rest of us, but they certainly do gain a lot more for having the roads exist, having everyone else follow the rules, police are more valuable to them for they have more to protect, the legal system is of greater use, as they have the ability to use it, they have greater political influence through the use of money and ownership of companies with money.

    We are all part of one interdependant economy. The rich could not have wealth without the work of everyone else. So, what is “fair” is not as easy as “simple math.” If a wealthy persons income is dependant on everyone else, can they really say they alone earned the wealth and have full rights to it? Can any person own great peices of land no human created? Only through law and society’s acceptance.

    Try to open you mind a bit Dustin. Its not all good and evil. Many people who support higher taxation on the wealthy are rich themselves. San Francisco is a very high income town, but they don’t seem to mind supporting higher taxes.