8 a.m. ET: It's Tax Day, and aside from the traditional "wait in line at the post office" ritual, everyone is celebrating a bit differently. Conservatives across the land are organizing "tea parties," which, depending on whom you ask, are either inspirational displays of grassroots activism, or AstroTurf. President Obama will give a speech later this morning on "restoring fairness to the tax code," while other folks will take the opportunity to get free or discounted ice cream, cinnamon rolls and Chinese food.
Ari Fleischer is marking the day by writing that the current tax code is an "inverted pyramid scheme" and comparing it unfavorably to Bernard Madoff's scams. His complaint -- that millions of Americans at the low end of the pay scale pay little to no income tax. But a new survey out from Gallup shows that 41 percent of respondents believe lower-income people are paying their "fair share" of taxes, while 39 percent say they're paying "too much." That leaves only 16 percent in the Fleischer camp, though it turns out that the numbers are less sympathetic to lower-income people this year than they were in 2008. Overall, 48 percent say the amount of income tax they pay is "about right." Presumably, those people won't be attending any tea parties.
For about a half-dozen of Obama's Cabinet picks whose tax problems surfaced during their vetting, today provides an unwelcome opportunity to remind the public of those mistakes. They can at least take heart that there is a long tradition of rich and/or famous Americans skipping out on their taxes, though being lumped in with Al Capone probably wasn't high on Tim Geithner's wish list.
Here's a proposal for Geithner: As has been exhaustively chronicled, the newspaper industry could certainly use some help right now. The puppy story alone can't save us. So how about a tax holiday for hard-working reporters? Don't make up your mind about the idea right away, just let it percolate for a bit.
In non-Tax Day news, the Obama administration is once again paying homage to 19th-century Russia by naming yet another czar -- this one to keep an eye on the U.S.-Mexico border. The announcement comes as Janet Napolitano is scheduled to visit the border today, before she meets up with Obama in Mexico City later this week. That presidential trip is viewed as a sign that Mexico is gaining importance on the list of Obama's foreign policy problems.
Today isn't just Tax Day, it's also FEC Day, as congressional candidates are set to file their first-quarter fundraising reports. Here are some real or potential races to watch. Kentucky and New York should be particularly interesting, as both Jim Bunning and Kirsten Gillibrand need to raise enough money to fend off potential primary challenges. Up in New York's 20th district, Jim Tedisco stirred up some controversy by challenging Gillibrand's absentee ballot in the race to replace herself, even though she obviously has some roots in the district. The numbers in this contest continue to be confusing, though Nate Silver argues that Tedisco is "bound for defeat."
April 15, 2009; 8:00 AM ET
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