Thursday, May 1, 2008

Myers’ Condo & Other Silliness

I normally don’t flip a comment into a post, but I have to on this one.

When I suggested it was no big deal that Myers had lived in California, an anon post came back saying Myers was trying to buy a congressional seat and that he lived in a $2.1 million condo for which he pays no property taxes because the Conrad received tax abatements.

The comment did not address my question: Do you believe Hillary Clinton should step down as a New York Senator? She tried to buy a senate seat, she succeeded, and her constituents are better for it. If someone can't explain to me a REAL difference between these two situations, other than you favor Carson, Orentlicher, or Mays, or don't like Myers, then let's move on to something essential to the well-being of the 7th District. Like Dr. Myers' condo.

There are a LOT of policies with which I disagree. But it’s hard for me to criticize someone who does what the law allows them to do. Indianapolis has multi-million dollar mega-churches, and they pay no property taxes on their buildings. Am I going to criticize the leaders of those churches for doing what our government let them do? Or, am I going to criticize the policy of letting them do it?

How many property owners reading this blog deduct your mortgage interest on your federal taxes? If you do this, you’re taking advantage of one of the greatest acts of congressional pandering to property owners in American history, and you should be ashamed of yourself! See how stupid that sounds? Our government made an arguably idiotic policy choice to subsidize your American dream whether your mortgage is $500 per month of $100,000 per month. Should I criticize the wealthy people who deduct in this way or to the full extent they can? OR should I ask Congress, my state legislature, or my Mayor, to rescind decisions with which I disagree?

My point is that your gripe shouldn't be with Woody Myers, should it? Shouldn't it instead be with the governmental official who secured the abatement in the first place? Send me a link to your blog criticism of THAT decision, then I will see your earnestness on this abatement abuse issue.

Basically, what Myers’ critics are upset about is that Myers has a LOT of money, and he is using it to “buy a congressional seat.” But every candidate in this race is doing that. The difference is in whose money they’re using.

I’ve said before that it's a 50/50 proposition whether we'll be better served by someone who doesn't owe anybody anything because (s)he self-finances or by someone who got $700,000 from special interest groups.

I may be in the minority, but “special interest” money doesn’t inherently bother me. I don’t mind when Andre Carson gets a fat check from the AFL-CIO, the IBEW, or the SEIU. Each of these groups has members in Indianapolis, and they represent the average working folk. What might rightfully concern some of us is when a guy who is supposed to be for “the common man,” gets a boatload of contributions from bankers, credit unions, and mortgage companies the same week he goes onto the House floor and tells us he has a foreclosure relief plan.

Now, I'm for giving people the benefit of the doubt, so I'm going to assume the Congressman pulled the old rope-a-dope on all the financiers, and that his plan all along was to take the money and run and give them NOTHING. But when they realize they’ve been had, those checks will dry up next time.

And human nature being what it is, we’ll ALL need to watch closely to ensure that the Congressman’s better nature prevails. Otherwise, some small amendment that nobody notices will end up helping out these donors to our detriment. And it won’t be the big sell out. That’s not how PACs succeed. What they do is, for example, give members of Congress $5,000 checks and ask them to vote for a 1 center per pound increase in sugar subsidies, which will cost each Hoosier consumer a dollar per year. We won’t even notice this, and in exchange, the PAC members will earn $100 million annually. The danger lies in the incremental sell-out because we get hosed in the aggregate.

As for Dr. Myers’ money, some people are claiming he got rich working for a company that charged outrageous premiums and denied claims without cause. I recently checked the insurance market as someone who is self-employed, and Wellpoint (Anthem) is the best deal out there. As for the denials, Dr. Myers never worked in claims, nor did he have the ability to set policy regarding claims processing.

The most infuriating thing in politics right now is how partisans hammer "guilt by association." People who are against Carson make ludicrous claims that he's a closet jihadist because he's Muslim, and he got a contribution from some guy he'd never even heard of who worked for some organization that had another guy who was investigated BUT NOT CHARGED with allegedly helping finance terrorism.

Obama critics point out that the Senator was "close friends" with a guy, Tony Rezko, who helped another guy get a political job in exchange for bags of cash. With kudos to Doug Masson, it's "Six Degree of Obama."

And now Myers’ critics are saying he worked for a “shady” insurance company. There’s no doubt the company has bad faith lawsuits against it for denying claims based on policyholders' failure to disclose irrelevant medical history. Wellpoint is in serious trouble. But wouldn't it be worthwhile to ascertain the THE REAL level of involvement Dr. Myers had with Wellpoint before we assume that everybody in the company is guilty of malfeasance. It’s a small thing to ask, I know, but can we get evidence first?

If you think that everybody who is in management knows all the misconduct going on in their companies, that's an awful lot of executives who don't mind the staggering number of employees who are stealing post-it notes out of the supply closet (or the equally staggering number of employees engaging in lunch-time trysts in that same closet).



Anonymous said...

I don't think Wellpoint/Anthem is shady nor do I fault Woody for having cash. But to say he doesn't owe anyone anything is wrong. Do you not think the same executives with whom he has worked for so long would not have a direct line of comunication with Woody when it comes to voting on matters which affect them? He has a financial interest in several companies including Haliburton which would sway the way he votes. As for the condo, I'm not making a judgement call on whether or not the Conrad should be abated. In fact, I like it a whole lot more than the useless "park" that it replaced. But Woody should not run on the issue of fully funding education, when he does not fully pay into the property tax system that funds these schools.

FiniFinito said...

So ensuring a future for our kids should not be an issue because he lives in a condo whose property taxes were abated by a popular (until last year) mayor and a majority Democratic city county council? Seriously? Because he once owned Halliburton stock in a mutual fund (which he instructed his fund managers to sell when he found out) he can't talk about reducing our ecological footprint either? Maybe because he has a weight problem (I do too) we should stop talking about health care too? Your logic is fatally flawed

Chris Worden said...

I wanted to comment on myself first, then to anon. I forgot to add to my post:

"Is it better to not pay property taxes you never owed or to not pay property taxes you do owe?"

Also, Woody has financial interests in a lot of companies, and he will have to either sell the shares or report them, just as every other member of Congress does. Have you seen the stocks Nancy Pelosi owns?!?

If anybody could take a financial hit to do what he believes in, I'm sure its Myers. If he were interested in benefitting himself, do you really think he'd be campaigning first and foremost on ending the War in Iraq? That's been a boon to Halliburton.

Also, people who rent don't pay property taxes, and people with lower-value homes have homestead exemptions that exceed what they owe, meaning they don't pay any property taxes. I guess that would mean none of us could be for fully funding education?

I guess we need to go back to the old days when you had to be a property owner to vote because you've just marginalized a huge segment of the Hoosier population.

Chris Worden said...

...I keep forgetting things...

...also, if you (or any investigation into Wellpoint) can unearth the minutes of the meeting where the chairman says:

"Everybody in favor of retroactively cancelling coverage of people with high dollar claims based on failing to disclose unrelated medical information in their applications, say aye?" I'd love to see it.

Usually, when a company does something unethical or illegal, the people doing it DON'T want to share it because the more people who know, the easier it is to get caught. Look at Enron, Imclone, and the guy (whose name I can't remember offhand) who single-handedly embezzled $800 million without anybody knowing. It can be done, and it happens more than anybody knows.

Anonymous said...

Renters do pay property taxes through their rent. If taxes go up and a landlord starts losing money, the rent goes up.

And comparing poor people with lower value homes that struggle to pay property taxes to the super-rich like Woody is a bit of a stretch.

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure what Woody has to do with Halliburton but Senator Evan Bayh's largest contributor for years has been the Carlyle Group.
You don't suppose that they take advantage of Bayh's position on the Senate Intelligence Committee do you?
Woody's not cut from that same piece of cloth. He pulled himself up from his boostraps and that's more than can be said about any of his opponents.

Anonymous said...

What have you heard about Woody looking at the mayor's office

artfuggins said...

I suppose you think it is alright for Woody Myers to testify in Congress AGAINST the patients bill of rights. That was a republican position but then he did work for a medical insurance company and was just making sure he earned his millions.