It’s always an interesting day when life imitates art. The television show The West Wing inspired a whole generation of Washington, D.C. idealists, including myself, who watched the show and wanted to translate the social good they saw on Aaron Sorkin’s pages come to fruition. While The West Wing was just a television show, political gurus like Dee Dee Meyers and Lawrence O’Donnell were well-known consultants to Sorkin. On many occasions art imitated life as the show took issues that occurred in the news and spun them in the fictional political reality. The brutal murder of Lowell Lydell is a good example. The young man was tied to a fence post and beaten to death for being gay. It was an issue the Clinton Administration had to deal with in the 1990’s when Matthew Shepard was the real life boy in that field in Laramie, Wyoming.
During Monday’s CNN Democratic Town Hall, it was art’s turn to imitate life. Actor Rob Lowe, who played White House Communications Deputy turn Congressional Candidate Sam Seaborn on the show, tweeted a few of his scenes talking about taxes and the one percent. Lowe is a longtime Hollywood actor who is a multi-millionaire.
It’s unclear if Lowe doesn’t want to pay his fair share but in the past, he’s said he “wants the government out of almost everything.” It’s a lot easier to not need the government when you’re a multi-millionaire actor in Hollywood and you can fork over cash for services like food and shelter. Here’s what Lowe tweeted:
Watching Bernie Sanders. He's hectoring and yelling at me WHILE he's saying he's going to raise our taxes. Interesting way to communicate.
— Rob Lowe (@RobLowe) January 26, 2016
To be fair to Senator Sanders, his speaking style is one that is a little loud. I’m sure the yelling about raising Lowe’s taxes would probably be the same tone as if Sanders was reading a bedtime story to some children. We’ve all seen Larry David. That’s just how he rolls.
Also, the last person I want to hear complain about how high his taxes are, is Rob Lowe who has never had to work a minimum wage job in his life. Have some perspective, empathy, and understanding about what it is like for the rest of the country that is struggling to get by.
Lowe then tweeted out a video of his performance in The West Wing episode Two-Cathedrals in which he says
I am in favor of tax cuts for those for whom it will do the most good – and that’s a tough enough battle – and it looks like, all of a sudden, we’ve got a fair fight. But I’m not talking about policy. I’m talking about rhetoric, and the men you work for need to dial it down to five.
Henry, last fall, every time your boss got on the stump and said, “It’s time for the rich to pay their fair share,” I hid under a couch and changed my name. I left Gage Whitney making $400,000 a year, which means I paid twenty-seven times the national average in income tax. I paid my fair share, and the fair share of twenty-six other people. And I’m happy to ’cause that’s the only way it’s gonna work, and it’s in my best interest that everybody be able to go to schools and drive on roads, but I don’t get twenty-seven votes on Election Day. The fire department doesn’t come to my house twenty-seven times faster and the water doesn’t come out of my faucet twenty-seven times hotter. The top one percent of wage earners in this country pay for twenty-two percent of this country. Let’s not call them names while they’re doing it, is all I’m saying.
First, there is zero way that those numbers are still accurate because this was from back in the 1990s when we had an excellent era of prosperity. Today the top one percent make more than the bottom 99 percent combined. Combined! That’s not fictional, those are terrifying numbers that show income equality is the worst it has ever been since the 1920s during the robber barons age.
Here’s what Lowe doesn’t understand and what this video doesn’t exactly outline: Sam was in the minority. The rich don’t want to pay their fair share, that’s why they hide their money in offshore accounts and use tax loopholes to avoid paying as much in taxes as the other 99 percent of the country. Mitt Romney’s tax rate, it was revealed, in the 2012 campaign was lower than a nurse or a teacher. Second, Sam is working on a speech for the President of the United States. In this fictional world where prosperity exists and President Bartlet is bestowing fairness across the board, it doesn’t make sense for Bartlet to include the language in the State of the Union.
When you’re campaigning for President, however, it does. As Hillary Clinton quoted from Gov. Cuomo in that same town hall last night, you campaign in poetry and you govern in prose. Is the language they wanted in the speech ineloquent, absolutely, but the sentiment is not and the only way we will ever change anything is by having a national discussion about it.
If the wealthy did actually pay their fair share, Sanders wouldn’t have to be shouting to the heavens that the sky is falling. If people paid their fair share, we wouldn’t be struggling to dig ourselves out of the economic hole we’ve been in since George W. Bush left office.
Finally, there was a president who did use language similar to Sanders. Back in 2013 Barack Obama’s weekly address talked about how the wealthy need to pay their fair share.
Attention Sen. Sanders. Sam Seaborn on Taxes – YouTube https://t.co/311bWHHTOV
— Rob Lowe (@RobLowe) January 26, 2016
Watch President Obama’s Weekly Address:
[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JMSkXM9PIHc?rel=0&w=640&h=360] Feature image via video capture.