Dr. John Fleming has found himself at the center of a firestorm over comments he made Monday deemed insensitive and out of touch by liberal bloggers across the World Wide Web.
Fleming, a Republican Congressman who calls Minden home, appeared on MSNBC's Jansing and Company to talk about President Obama's deficit reduction plan.
From Politico: "When host Chris Jansing asked Fleming, who owns Subway sandwich shops and UPS stores, about his businesses' $6.3 million in gross earnings, Fleming said that that his actual income was a 'mere fraction of that,' and that the figure did not include the cost of employees, rent, equipment and reinvestment in his business. His income was closer to $600,000, he said, and 'by the time I feed my family, I have maybe $400,000 left over.'"
Holding steadfast to the ultra left leaning MSNBC mantra, Jansing pounced.
"You do understand, Congressman, that the average person out there - who is making $40,000, $50,000, $60,000 - when they hear that you only have $400,000 left over, it's not exactly a sympathetic position," she replied.
Fleming's comments ignited a wave of outrage in the liberal blogosphere.
"Excuse me if I don't weep for him paying a bit more in taxes," said Crooks and Liars' blogger Karoli.
"How dare this guy complain about 'only' making 400K per year when families of 4 are living on $12,000 a year?" exclaimed blogger ABL at the liberal blog Balloon Juice.
Another liberal blogger said that the Fleming's comments were insensitive to those who made significantly less than him. "You're complaining that you have only eight times the median salary for American households? Boo. Frakking. Hoo," said AddictingInfo blogger Justin Rosario.
Comments on Facebook and other social media sites have been equally as biting.
While the outrage is widespread and seemingly total, I can find no fault in what the Congressman said. All I can find are "media" members twisting a man's words to fit an agenda and a misinformed public readily believing any story about a "mean, old rich man."
I doubt the ardent critics have any idea what it takes to run a business. It's humorous when people who have no point of reference attempt to tell successful entrepreneurs how it all should work.
The congressman reported $6 million in revenue. Revenue and profit are not the same.
So after paying all of his expenses, i.e. salaries, taxes, insurance, vendors, liabilities, etc, he has around $400,000 left to reinvest in his businesses. Reinvestment here would mean property acquisition, expansion, renovation and the like.
Fleming, like any sensible business owner, is wary of President Obama's initiatives and the possibility of additional tax burden.
It's quite simple – when taxes increase (especially in today's economy) you can't make reinvestments. You can't expand. You can't add jobs. You can't give raises. Luck is on your side if layoffs aren't made.
Congressman Fleming wasn't portraying himself as a pauper. Nor was he seeking sentiment. "Oh, look at poor me. I only have 600K to live on."
His sentiment was only that the more taxes he pays the fewer people he can employ. High taxes on business owners thwart economic activity.
Comments of Fleming being out of touch are unfair. It's a matter of perspective. I dare say that John Fleming is more in touch with reality than any of the critics railing against him from behind their Macbook. His reality is just of a different nature than the family living paycheck to paycheck.
He's in touch with a reality where if a business fails, employees and their families go without those paychecks, go without meals. He's in touch with a reality where he is responsible for not just a single family but rather for the well being of hundreds of families.
It's very easy to hate "the boss," to see the world through such a narrow scope.
I understand. I have family members who I help support financially because of stagnant wages. I know it's rough. But life has always been rough. This notion of robbing the rich to give to the poor is all well and good, and the tax system should be fair. However, this nation moves further and further away from "fair" with each new idea that comes from the left.
And the move isn't a trend toward fairness for those who meet the payrolls, pay the taxes, absorb the health insurance premiums and generally keep this country from completely devolving into a nation of denizens standing in food lines with their hands out asking for more.
Congressman Fleming gave an honest answer that made a great deal of sense. The problem is that honesty and common sense aren't welcome in today's societal and political environments. It's much more beneficial to paint a successful businessman, physician and jobs provider as a greedy Ebenezer Scrooge who preys on the weakness of the common man. All that's welcome in the America of today is a sentiment of every man and woman for his or her self.
The problem is one political party would rather have someone else pay for the rat race in toto.
From my inbox: "The folks who are getting the free stuff, don't like the folks who are paying for the free stuff, because the folks who are paying for the free stuff can no longer afford to pay for both the free stuff and their own stuff."
Confusing isn't it?
It's sad as well.
Josh Beavers is the publisher of the Minden Press-Herald.