Obama’s Deficit Reduction Speech

Since I know some of you will want to discuss it (politely), here’s the place to do it. For those who haven’t seen it yet, here’s the text. I normally point to the New York Times for stuff like that, but in deference to those of you with paywall issues, I’m pointing to Talking Points Memo instead.

I’ve only skimmed the details, so my thoughts on it are preliminary. But preliminarily speaking, it generally seems to be up my alley, which considering my general consanguinity with Obama’s thinking on these matters, is not surprising. It’s also not surprising to me that the GOP plans to throw a fit about it, as they do with everything regarding Obama and/or the idea that the wealthiest among us might be able to survive a tax increase. Speaker Boehner mouthed the following platitude yesterday: “We don’t have deficits because Americans are taxed too little, we have deficits because Washington spends too much.” Well, no. We have deficits because of both, actually. It’s not an either/or situation, and the GOP’s inability to recognize that fact is the most obvious reason it is not to be trusted with the economy.

There’s lot for Democrats to be unhappy about too, but, eh. Look. We’re not in a place where people are going to be happy. We’re in a place where everyone has to take some hits. In a general sense, I’m for even distribution of those hits.

I’ll probably have more to say later, but in the meantime, feel free to discuss amongst yourselves. Remember that the Mallet of Loving Correction is warmed up and ready to go, so please keep spittle-flinging to a minimum and to respect your fellow commenters. I thank you in advance.

Update, 3:39pm: Here for me is the heart of Obama’s speech, talking about those on either side of the political spectrum who will disagree with his budget approach, and a crystallization of the general pragmatic nature of the man of which I approve:

Of course, there will be those who disagree with my approach. Some will argue we shouldn’t even consider raising taxes, even if only on the wealthiest Americans. It’s just an article of faith for them. I say that at a time when the tax burden on the wealthy is at its lowest level in half a century, the most fortunate among us can afford to pay a little more. I don’t need another tax cut. Warren Buffett doesn’t need another tax cut. Not if we have to pay for it by making seniors pay more for Medicare. Or by cutting kids from Head Start. Or by taking away college scholarships that I wouldn’t be here without. That some of you wouldn’t be here without. And I believe that most wealthy Americans would agree with me. They want to give back to the country that’s done so much for them. Washington just hasn’t asked them to.

Others will say that we shouldn’t even talk about cutting spending until the economy is fully recovered. I’m sympathetic to this view, which is one of the reasons I supported the payroll tax cuts we passed in December. It’s also why we have to use a scalpel and not a machete to reduce the deficit – so that we can keep making the investments that create jobs. But doing nothing on the deficit is just not an option. Our debt has grown so large that we could do real damage to the economy if we don’t begin a process now to get our fiscal house in order.

Finally, there are those who believe we shouldn’t make any reforms to Medicare, Medicaid, or Social Security out of a fear that any talk of change to these programs will usher in the sort of radical steps that House Republicans have proposed. I understand these fears. But I guarantee that if we don’t make any changes at all, we won’t be able to keep our commitments to a retiring generation that will live longer and face higher health care costs than those who came before.

Indeed, to those in my own party, I say that if we truly believe in a progressive vision of our society, we have the obligation to prove that we can afford our commitments. If we believe that government can make a difference in people’s lives, we have the obligation to prove that it works – by making government smarter, leaner and more effective.

As they say: yes, this. I’m well-off enough that I benefit from the GOP’s oh-so-tender care of the rich, and while I think it’s interesting that so many of you are of the opinion that the top tranche of my earnings must be defended at all costs from an extra three percent of taxation, I’m here to tell you that I will be fine. All of us up here will be fine. No, when I get my tax bill each April I’m not thrilled at the lump sum going out of my accounts. But what I will be less thrilled about  in the long run is an insolvent country driving our economy into the crapper and possibly taking the rest of the planet with it. An extra 3% from the top chunk of my earnings is a small price to pay. And before some smartass says in it the comments, it’s not enough for me to pay that extra amount; all the other well-off bastards like me should do it too. We can take it, honestly, we can.

Likewise: Christ on a pony, anyone who can’t see that screws need to be put on spending is nuts, but not every spending cut is equal, and some are better than others for the overall well-being of the US. I’m okay with some pain when it comes to government spending, but I’d prefer it to be healthy pain that promises a more healthy body when its done. And even then, not everything I personally want the government to do is going to be spared. Not everything you want it to do is going to be spared either. That’s where we are at the moment.

Obama’s smart enough to know that what he’s going to get out of Congress with this will look nothing like what he proposes, but I wouldn’t mind too terribly if it was close to it eventually. We’ll see where everything goes from here.

262 thoughts on “Obama’s Deficit Reduction Speech

  1. I haven’t had a chance to read or hear the speech, but I’m not surprised at the GOP reaction either. The Ryan budget proposal makes permanent the big tax giveaways to the rich while demanding the poor shoulder more of the burden – meet the new GOP, same as the old GOP…

  2. “consanguinity” I love that word! I’ll stick to reciting that in my head over and over. I can’t talk politics without liquor in me. I get too angry if I don’t have a whiskey-calmer.

  3. Summary stolen from Brad Delong (h/t Matthew Yglesias)

    — Restore high-bracket tax rates to Clinton-era levels: $1T
    — Cut tax-expenditure spending through the tax code: $1T
    — Cut health care spending: $0.5T
    — Cut other mandatory spending by: $0.4T
    — Cut security spending: $0.4T
    — Cut non-security discretionary spending: $0.8T
    — Those reductions will carry with them a reduction in net interest of: $1.2T

  4. “I can’t talk politics without liquor in me. I get too angry if I don’t have a whiskey-calmer.”

    I have the opposite problem. :)

  5. This whole business has just made me want to scream, “When people can’t make ends meet, they don’t stop eating, they GO GET A SECOND JOB!!” Which is shorthand for “If you can’t live on what you earn, you can try to earn more.”

    The GOP seems determined to ignore that “earning more money” is a very good way of meeting one’s expenses.

  6. Well, before we raise taxes on anyone I would like to see the tax code completely revamped and most if not all subsidies (i.e. tax breaks) eliminated.

    Lower the tax rate but eliminate tax breaks. At this point you snap a line and say: This is what we have to spend and no more. Live within your means.

    When regular people resolve “live within your means” it is not often that they get to increase their income. They cut their spending.

    The Government’s income should be capped to some fraction of the GDP and then it should be restricted to spending no more than what is received in income.

  7. Calls for revamping the tax code are just a delaying tactic. The GOP’s marching orders since the early ’80s has been “tax cuts for the wealthy, entitlement cuts for everyone else”. The problem I have with even distribution of hits is that the wealthy are starting about 3 laps ahead thanks to 30 years of tax cuts. They (and corporations) should be returned to the 1950s in terms of marginal tax rates; that to me would be fair and equitable.

  8. Well, before we raise taxes on anyone I would like to see the tax code completely revamped and most if not all subsidies (i.e. tax breaks) eliminated.

    Lower the tax rate but eliminate tax breaks. At this point you snap a line and say: This is what we have to spend and no more. Live within your means.

    And thereby destroy the ability of any but the largest companies to provide health insurance for their workers? What a…modest proposal.

  9. #10 – I hardly think the simplified tax plan from #8 qualifies for comparison to cooking and eating the poor children in Ireland…

  10. Frank @8: what do you think, realistically, are the chances that wealthy corporations like GE will permit the tax code to be revamped to eliminate dodges?

  11. I’ve updated the post with additional thoughts.

    Frank:

    “Well, before we raise taxes on anyone I would like to see the tax code completely revamped and most if not all subsidies (i.e. tax breaks) eliminated.”

    Nah. We need the revenue now, not at some indeterminate (and likely never-approachable) time in the future when the tax code has been sufficiently “reformed” to make those allergic to any sort of taxation whatsoever happy.

  12. Mythago

    GE will permit the tax code to be revamped to eliminate dodges?

    GE has aligned itself to be on the safe-side of subsidies. They have invested in “green” initiatives because that’s where the tax breaks are.

    And the fact is who but the rich and wealthy, individuals and corporations, can really take advantage of such subsidies?

    Get rid of ‘em.

    Get rid of ‘em all.

  13. Frank @14: I was not referring simply to subsidies – which also fall into the snowball/he’ll category re elimination – but to corporations having no income tax liability due to clever accounting. And somehow I doubt your exhortations to reform that speak louder than a GE libbyis

  14. frank – So do nothing unless we reform the tax code? yeah, doing nothing sounds good. Oh wait… no it doesn’t.

    I’m not actually against simplifying and reforming the tax code, but when I hear it now, I hear “let’s stall this.” I’m tired of crap like that. I just am. People need to quit playing ideological games and start addressing the problems.

    Got valid disagreement on details? Great. Want to just stop everything unless you get your way on every single point? No. Not signing up for that. My basic reply to people like that (regardless of their ideology) is that they need to start helping or get the frack out of the way. We can’t have anymore no-birds who vote NO on anything that they don’t agree with and who won’t compromise. Sure, try to get what you believe in, but realize that you won’t get 100% of it and keep the big picture in mind. Is that REALLY so hard?

  15. @Frank: One of the big lies with the “government must learn to live within it’s means” is that it’s, well, just plain wrong. It’s not even all that good advice for a household or an individual, unless you REALLY have no ambition with your life. I know very few people who saved the money to buy their home, or saved enough for a pension “within” their means, or were able to pay for their college education. We, as individuals, borrow money all the time for things we think will make us better off in the long run.

    Likewise, almost every company on earth does the same. Whether it’s through a business loan or by giving away equity, companies rarely can grow based purely on cashflow (not least of which because large companies are bad payers).

    So, finally, it makes no sense for a country to do that either, especially for things which are multi-generational or have limited conventional return for the country but make huge nett economic sense (trains, single payer healthcare, roads, bridges, water and power distribution, defense, education).

    And then, at the very very very end of that, there’s what to do with people who have run out of all the other options, usually, although not always, through no fault of their own. You can’t just ignore them. We’re not that kind of animal.

  16. On a side note. I am going to shove the Phillips Curve(*) all the way down the throat of the next person to mention the Laffer Curve in relation to US taxation levels and ask them to explain why the US is on the wrong side at sub 30% and Germany isn’t at 50%.

    (*) – just as another former darling of the right which doesn’t get mentioned too often these days…

  17. Why is the tax increase on income over $250,000 even a hard sell? The rapid increase of unequal wealth distribution is hardly disputed. The percentage of our country’s wealth that is held by the top percentile has been steadily increasing for some time. I can clearly understand and respect the very American urge to not over-tax the wealthy; but if they are constantly getting wealthier while the rest of us are getting poorer, then wouldn’t that indicate to everyone that they are currently undertaxed?

  18. #10 – I hardly think the simplified tax plan from #8 qualifies for comparison to cooking and eating the poor children in Ireland…

    And why not? Most people who have health insurance get it through their employers. The only reason most businesses provide that is through tax breaks. Remove that incentive for businesses–large and small alike–and you force almost every employed American to provide their own insurance. I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t trust the insurance companies to suddenly offer a cornucopia of affordable plans with decent coverage. Hell, they don’t even do that with the current employer-provided health care!

    The only way I’d support even some of Frank’s blanket tax-breaks solution would be a massive health-care reform effort. The Affordable Care Act was the first step in the right direction, including the individual mandate as long as the regulators back it up. Of course, Frank and all the “free market” types out there seem to vehemently oppose any further regulation, and indeed want less regulation, not just of the insurance industry, but everything else.

    It’s a perfect example of the Republicans (and a large chunk of right-wing Libertarians) wanting two opposite things, along with the fantasy world of less taxes=smaller deficits. You can’t have a free market with less regulation and not expect the biggest players in that free market to screw over everyone else. It’s as if they look at the banks and insurance companies and say “Those guys? Yeah, they’re totally trustworthy and haven’t screwed us over before.”

  19. “With great power comes great responsibility.”
    Yep, I’m quoting Spider-Man, but is that really a bad motto? Yep, the government needs to throttle back spending in a reasonable fashion, but that doesn’t release people from paying an appropriate part of its upkeep. The problem is that in recent decades groups with money and power have done everything they can to grab and keep as much as they can. I pay personal taxes. Our small family business pays more taxes, which is as it should be; we like clean water, roads, and other perks of living in a developed nation. Why do large corporations who can afford to hire herds of lawyers and lobbyists get to decide they shouldn’t have to pay for their proportion of the govenrment’s common welfare?

  20. Christ on a pony, anyone who can’t see that screws need to be put on spending is nuts, but not every spending cut is equal, and some are better than others for the overall well-being of the US.

    See, that’s just the thing. The screws have already been put on spending. The screws have been put on spending for years (at least, all of the spending that isn’t just giving money to rich people in the hopes that they’ll do something good with it). Meanwhile we have a major energy challenge in global warming; we have regulatory agencies that desperately need to hire more workers to do their jobs; we have bridges that collapse, New Orleans levies that were never strengthened after Katrina, potholes going unfilled on roads throughout the country. We have opportunities for major new investments in productive infrastructure (high-speed passenger rail, shipping rail improvements), and a dwindling budget for scientific research, for college educations, and a thousand more desperately worthy spending opportunities.

    And we have 10% reported unemployment (which means the real figure is probably more like 15%).

    And that’s the crux of it. There is absolutely zero reason the government should not spend on these great investment opportunities. Why? Because it is literally by definition impossible for the government to run out of money. Debt ceiling? NO PROBLEM! We literally have a magical infinite pool of dollars. We don’t need to tax anyone for them (not right now; although we should, as a matter of distributional equity). We don’t need to scrimp and save to get them. We have them. By definition.

    Now some people will complain that spending that money would result in inflation. If you think that’s the case, let me ask you this: where does inflation come from? It comes from supply and demand!, you say. It comes from too many dollars chasing too few goods! Okay. But suppose you’re Scalzi’s publisher, and you discover that suddenly there’s a ton of dollars wanting to buy copies of Zoe’s Tale. Meanwhile your printing press is at 85% capacity. Are you going to start selling those books for $400 a pop? No, you’ll print more! That’s what happens when the government spends money in a climate where there’s tons of investment opportunities and 15% real unemployment — we produce more, thus no inflation results.

    Or suppose the Baby Boomers retire all at once, and the government prints money to fund their Social Security. Does this cause inflation? It could, if seniors were then competing for goods such that they’d drive the prices up. But that’s not because the government is printing money — the exact same thing would happen if the government had carefully scrimped and saved, and then spent previously-taxed dollars on those payments. Inflation, when it happens, is due to *flows* of money, not due to the total quantity of money in the system. It matters nothing whether the money was saved up for years or newly created; what matters is whether the spending is asking for more goods than the real economy can produce.

    In the present situation, there is zero risk from printing and spending money. This whole debate, all this talk of belt-tightening and other nonsense, is just political claptrap. Until unemployment is at least half what it is now, until a boom like the Clinton years is back, all we are doing is throwing away the potential productive resources of the American people. All this belt-tightening is just a cover for governmental anorexia.

    I could go on, but instead I’d suggest anyone interested read up on MMT – Modern Monetary Theory. You can find lots of information on Bill Mitchell‘s blog, or Warren Mosler, or from James Galbraith. There are other issues as well that need to be fixed — like the broken distribution of wealth in our society — but it would be a start to recognize that we don’t need to bind the government’s hands when there’s so much work for Leviathan to do.

  21. I honestly believe that if Obama could do what he wants to do, he would be practically my ideal President. I think that he is too often steamrolled by the real world political situation, and I’m not convinced that he is nearly good enough at fighting for the ideals that he so eloquently and rightly asserts. That’s a problem, a real one. But on days like this one, it’s still wonderful to have someone who holds those ideals, and can express them – even if he too often can’t achieve them, and too often doesn’t seem willing to fight for them.

  22. My dad worked for the IRS for over 30 years and sired two children who worked in some sort of public service field (journalism and education), so politics in our house is a pretty interesting conversation. The three of us are pretty like-minded on the broad issues, for the most part. And yet we argue the finer points of the role of government versus free markets and personal responsibility. If three people related to one another and of a similar political bent can still pick nits over policy, it is fairly easy to imagine nuances of the colossal circle jerk that is American politics.

    But shouldn’t it be easy to agree that trimming governmental and military waste, reforming and streamlining redundant social programs and letting all of the Bush tax cuts expire would be a drastically better course of action than anything Paul Ryan has put forth? Of course we can’t. As John’s coming presentation about the Creationist Museum shows, Americans don’t always respond rationally in the face of overwhelming evidence and plain common sense.

    Whatever: where religious metaphor and voodoo economics meet.

  23. First, as a general matter, John, I agree that this is a problem that will require shared sacrifice. I am glad that Obama is finally acknowledging the seriousness of the problem.

    But sorry, John, that “pragmatism” is really a typical Obama straw man beat down. Who are these “some” who argue we “shouldn’t even consider” raising taxes? The “other” who say we “shouldn’t even think about cutting spending”? The only difference in this from a typical Obama speech is the addition of a third straw man, the “others” who say we “shouldn’t make any reforms”. Why not throw in the “still others” who think we should shoot grandma and the “even more others” who say we “must rob Warren Buffet”? Beat a straw man basketball team in honor of the recent NCAA tournament.

    In truth, Obama was dragged to this speech by the Paul Ryan plan. He ignored his own Debt Commission’s recommendation in the SOTU speech, but he couldn’t abide the traction Ryan was getting with his “Roadmap to Prosperity”. Is Ryan’s plan perfect? Hardly. (I thought the Debt Commission recommendation was closer to a politically achievable plan). Is Ryan’s plan at least serious, as opposed to Obama’s most recent SOTU speech? Absolutely.

    So, welcome to the game, President Obama. Better late than never. At least now we have some points from which to negotiate.

  24. #24: To add to that, why is everyone so averse to the government spending money on stuff we actually need that ALSO creates jobs? We could be fixing the crappy roads and building more public transit, long-range and local. We could be be working on improving our nigh-on antique communications structures and technology. There’s literally millions of people who’d be able, willing, or even eager to do that work. But no, it’s government spending, which is BAAAAAAD, so why not cut taxes instead? These people are amazing in their cluelessness.

  25. Tiercelet, the corolary is what type of assets does the US have to put against its debts? What is something like Yosemite worth? How about millions of acres of government land, even if it’s not used for anything right now? Our road system, as beat-up as it presently is? Our waterways, and all the improvements we’ve done to make them navigable and useful? We’re not broke, we have a cash-flow problem.

  26. ZBBM:

    “Who are these ‘some’ who argue we ‘shouldn’t even consider’ raising taxes?”

    You’re kidding, right?

    Sorry, man. It’s not a strawman when Boehner is out there saying no to idea of raising taxes, and the national GOP as a rule has been adamantly against raising taxes for years. That’s pretty much the opposite of a strawman. You’re confusing an Obama rhetorical flourish for an actual lack of an argument. But as a challenge to you, point me to where Boehner or any other GOPer in the leadership is on board raising taxes, and in particular on the top earners, which is where Obama is proposing to raise taxes. Have fun; I won’t be waiting up for you.

  27. Who are these “some” who argue we “shouldn’t even consider” raising taxes?

    “(I)f the President begins the discussion by saying we must increase taxes on the American people – as his budget does – my response will be clear: tax increases are unacceptable and are a nonstarter,”
    –John Boehner, Republican Speaker of the House

    “He believes we ought to raise taxes to get this economy going and I don’t.”
    –Eric Cantor, Republican House Majority Leader

    That’s not a strawman, that’s the leadership of 40% of the country.

    The “other” who say we “shouldn’t even think about cutting spending”?

    I don’t think I’ve seen anyone say that. References, please.

    The only difference in this from a typical Obama speech is the addition of a third straw man, the “others” who say we “shouldn’t make any reforms”.

    In truth, Obama was dragged to this speech by the Paul Ryan plan. He ignored his own Debt Commission’s recommendation in the SOTU speech, but he couldn’t abide the traction Ryan was getting with his “Roadmap to Prosperity”. Is Ryan’s plan perfect? Hardly. (I thought the Debt Commission recommendation was closer to a politically achievable plan). Is Ryan’s plan at least serious, as opposed to Obama’s most recent SOTU speech? Absolutely.

    That must be some mighty fine Kool-Aid, where basically forcing seniors to fend for themselves in a predatory insurance industry, removing most medical care for lower-income people, and screwing over anyone without access to a retirement fund is “serious.”

  28. I think it’s more like refusal to admit, than inability to recognize. Much as I hate them, they aren’t completely stupid, or they couldn’t game the system like they do. But that stubborn insistence makes them much more dangerous than sheer ignorance would.

  29. Well, that didn’t post like I thought it would, I was responding to “and the GOP’s inability to recognize that fact is the most obvious reason it is not to be trusted with the economy.” Sorry about that.

  30. So, when are the Republicans (and the Dems, for that matter) going to admit that we need to cut military spending in a big way? Blah blah we’re in a war[1] (or 2 1/2), I know, but do we truly need to spend more than the rest of the world on being able to kill people? The few million that NPR gets would pay for blowing up brown people for not even an hour.

    Apres moi les deluge, indeed.

    [1] A war which has been paid for from the start by debt, I might add, and tax cuts on top.

  31. “Shouldn’t even consider” seems like an Obama attempt to make himself seem like the only reasonable man in Washington. It glosses over the fact that seroius people have been talking about rates and expenditures for a while without Obama at the table. As a starting point to negotiations, Boehner not agreeing to tax increases that his counterpart clearly wants is just savvy. Of course tax rates are on the table as part of a fix for this mess. The bipartisan Debt Commission plan included increased tax revenues (although with flatter, lower rates and redueced exemptions as the path).

  32. @27 part of Boehner’s response just now read “And any plan that starts with job-destroying tax hikes is a non-starter.”

    Definitely not a straw man.

  33. @35, I’ll believe Republicans will allow tax increases without a major tantrum when I see it.

    No, sorry, those people are too far up their behinds with ideology.

  34. RE @7
    That’s a great idea, when there are jobs around to be had. I have done it myself. And our gracious host here has often argued in favor of multiple “revenue streams,” which is just author talk for multiple jobs.

    But when there aren’t enough jobs for one each, then telling people to go get another one borders on cruel.

  35. You folks don’t really believe the quotes you’re using prove that Boehner and Cantor believe we “shouldn’t even consider” tax increases, do you?

    They know Obama wants to increase top marginal taxes, and they are not giving away that negotiating point as the very first step. I know we on the right call the GOP the Stupid Party, but give us a little credit on negotiating.

  36. ZBBM:

    “As a starting point to negotiations, Boehner not agreeing to tax increases that his counterpart clearly wants is just savvy.”

    Recent history shows strongly that “not agreeing to tax increases” is not a starting point to negotiations with the modern GOP; it is, rather, non-negotiable.

    And of course Obama wishes to position himself as a reasonable man among the unreasonable. Politician man is political; this is not surprising. However, it doesn’t help the GOP in this instance that Obama paints himself as a reasonable man by correctly noting that they won’t entertain the idea of tax increases at all.

    Your argument, ZBBM, really is undercut by those you wish to defend.

  37. I’d still like to find a Republican who can explain why they had no problem when Cheney told Treasury “Reagan proved that deficits don’t matter”, back in the early 2000s, but now that there’s a Democratic administration, it’s suddenly OMFG DEFICITPOCALYPSE OH NOES!!!

    Curious, that.

  38. John, normally I’d agree with you that everyone needs to make sacrifices but its kind of frustrating being a part of the class that actually makes those sacrifices and then watches the elite bitch and whine about an increase to the tax rate at the most prosperous time in recent history.

    @35: Republicans are allergic to tax hikes and are instead cutting everything that benefits poor people or the democratic base.

  39. Not necessarily, but they certainly prove that Boehner and Cantor are arguing that we shouldn’t consider raising taxes. Which is what you called a straw man in the first place.

  40. To better conceptualize what’s being talked about divide all the numbers by 100,000,000.

    http://blogs.law.harvard.edu/philg/2011/04/10/understanding-congresss-solution-to-the-federal-deficit-problem/

    Now, of the $38,200 per year we’re spending in this thought experiment, remember that we’re paying $7,000 a year for our own personal armed guards and nobody is willing to talk about spending less on them. Also realize that the $21,700 a year we’re making is what we’re taking from our business that’s making a profit of $147,000 a year. There’s plenty of room to pull down a bit more in pay to cover some of the $16,500 we’re putting on the credit card.

  41. John,

    If we are holding the definition of reasonable as equal to the first offer in a negotiation, then most negotiators (and any good ones) will be unreasonable. Obama’s first offer, recall, was not this speech, but his SOTU speech. If you’re judging Beohner by the above quote, then it’s fair to judge Obama by that Alfred E. Neumann offer to maintain status quo.

  42. Ugh. I meant “Back to a tax rate that occurred during the most prosperous time in recent history”

  43. Both sides of the debate are killing me. My spinal surgery in 2001 went south over 2 years ago and the paranoia of the government has reflexively denied me for over 2+ years of jumping thgrough hurdles in my attempt to get handicapped status. (when you have only 1 fully functional limb, it’s hard to understand their month in and month out problem)
    The near- religious mania of the Republican fundamentalist types where tax breaks for the obscenely wealthy (people and corporations) are concerned (greedy Wall Street twits in particular) not only destroyed my access to health care options but made the chance of income of any sort problematical at best. 40+ years of prudent savings washed away trying to stay afloat for long enough to get help. The way the Republican mantra of “I’ve got mine, screw you.” destroys options, I’m lacking in hope as well.

  44. ZBBM:

    Yeah, no. You’re doing a lot of goal-post moving here. Your primary contention was that Obama was using strawmen; direct quotes were provided to you to make the point that the GOP, in fact is opposed to raising taxes. Your next tactic was to suggest this was an opening gambit; it’s been pointed out to you that the GOP has been very firm about its positions at all points in negotiations. Now, you’re trying to abandon the speech under discussion because it no longer fits your argument.

    Sorry. Fact is, your initial contention of a “strawman” argument was simply a poor one. Accept it and let’s move on.

  45. John,

    This is the crux of our disagreement, I think.

    I belive that there is a distinction that matters between:

    “some will argue we shouldn’t even consider raising taxes” – Obama

    and

    “any plan that starts with job-destroying tax hikes is a non-starter” – Boehner

    I believe Obama’s statement to be a mischaracterization-for-effect of Boehner’s position. If you disagree, and find those statements are equivalent, then I can see how you consider my arguement poor. I’ll move on.

    Ooooh, look, bees!!!

  46. “I’d still like to find a Republican who can explain why they had no problem when Cheney told Treasury “Reagan proved that deficits don’t matter”, back in the early 2000s, but now that there’s a Democratic administration, it’s suddenly OMFG DEFICITPOCALYPSE OH NOES!!!

    Curious, that”

    ….

    Crickets. Chirp. Chirp. Chirp.

  47. #53

    Deficit as a percentage of GDP 1980-1988 about 2.5 – 6%,
    Debt as percentage of GDP 1980-1988 about 30-50%
    (Reagan)

    Deficit as a percentage of GDP 2000-2008 about -2% – 3.5%,
    Debt as percentage of GDP 2000-2008 about 30-70% and rising at the end
    (Bush)

    Deficit as percentage of GDP 2009-2010 9-10%
    Debt as percentage of DGP 2009-2010 about 80-90% and rising sharply

    That’s not to say I have no problem with GOP deficit spending, particularly under Bush, but it is at least supportive of why one situation might be more dire than the others.

  48. Loved this line…

    “They [House Republicans] want to give people like me a $200,000 tax cut that’s paid for by asking 33 seniors each to pay $6,000 more in health costs. That’s not right. And it’s not going to happen as long as I’m President. (Applause.)”

  49. My biggest concern is that Ryan has proposed a hyper conservative budget. Obama has proposed a moderately conservative budget. It seems likely that the resulting bill will be somewhere in between the two, which means it will be a conservative budget.

    No one is even considering the sort of liberal budget priorities that many people would prefer. Cutting 4% of the military budget to make college free. Removing the cap on payroll taxes, so that all people contribute at the same rate to social security. Treating capital gains as normal income in the tax code. Taxing cooperate profits that are being hidden in overseas tax shelters. Stop funding mercenaries to fight our wars in Iraq, Afganistan, and Libya. Reform prisons, replacing many non-violent prison sentences with monitored work release/ probation/ joining the army. Raising inheritance tax. Reducing outsourcing of government jobs to private companies. Increasing education funding.

    That isn’t to say, I’m a raging liberal. I just feel bad that no one is making any effort to present their side of the budget discussion. Also I feel like conservative have so little credibility on budgets after the record of conservative darling George W. Bush.

  50. should stop jacking around, cut the military budget in half and pull out of Afghanistan. Never happen though, too many people getting rich off all the wars.

  51. ZBBM: How does a three percent hike of the personal income tax kill jobs? Boehner calls everything that’s associated with left of center policies “job-killing” because he was swept in on economics. And how has that gone?

  52. I believe Obama’s statement to be a mischaracterization-for-effect of Boehner’s position. If you disagree, and find those statements are equivalent, then I can see how you consider my arguement poor. I’ll move on.

    You’ve made the claim that Boehner never said raising taxes is bad, the onus is on you to prove it. The man called tax raises “chicken crap” in September of last year, and it was all over the news. I’ve yet to see him say otherwise.

  53. I’ll cop to being a batshit-crazy-libertarian but even I’m ready to say that we should raise taxes. And it probably needs to happen all around. It will be painful and it will suck but at this point there’s no way out of this that isn’t painful and doesn’t suck. And whatever happens won’t suck as much as the U.S. defaulting on its debt obligations. I think the best move Obama can make to help businesses navigate these waters would be to let them know exactly what their tax burden will be for the next five years. Whatever the right number is, eliminating the uncertainty will help to stabilize things.

  54. I’ll cop to being a batshit-crazy-libertarian but even I’m ready to say that we should raise taxes. And it probably needs to happen all around. It will be painful and it will suck but at this point there’s no way out of this that isn’t painful and doesn’t suck.

    Some of us said that three years ago, and we’ve spent two years with a bunch of people screaming, “No pain! No pain! There must be no pain!”

  55. gwangung: I haven’t heard too many politicians advocating that we raise taxes across the board as that seems to be tantamount to political suicide whether or not it’s necessary. Additionally, when people have talked about raising taxes in the recent past the purpose was more to pay for additional programs rather than to pay down the deficit. Maybe I’m off base here but we certainly had more options three years ago than we have presently.

  56. I think that you’re absolutely right about this being bigger than any platitude, from either side. I was doing some reading about the budget today, and have to do some more to be sure that what I’m seeing is right, but if it is: if what I’ve seen is right, and we eliminated 100% of discretionary federal spending (i.e. the stuff that Congress is set to vote on later this week), we still couldn’t balance the budget this year without raising the debt ceiling. When the auto-pilot programs alone are that huge of a cost….things clearly have to change, in a whole lot of places.

  57. It’s important to remember that the easiest way for the U.S. gov’t to balance the budget would be for Congress to do absolutely nothing about it.

    Yes, nothing.

    All the Bush tax cuts are set to expire. The Affordable Care Act will bend the cost curve of Medicare and Medicaid. Finally, the so-called “doc fix” will come in to effect.

    Those three things, plus the expiration of the AMT, will balance the budget in ten years.

    Now, the doc fix would be a bad thing; dropping Medicare rates so precipitously would make doctors stop seeing Medicare patients. The proper way to adjust costs is to do what ACA does, and reduce costs for private and government health care. (Actually, the best way would be… nevermind. Not the place.)

    However, it’s clear that reducing the deficit is not a serious GOP concern, not when the Ryan plan uses spending cuts for the poor and middle-class to pay for almost $3 trillion in additional tax cuts for the wealthy.

    Just saying.

  58. “some will argue we shouldn’t even consider raising taxes” – Obama

    and

    “any plan that starts with job-destroying tax hikes is a non-starter” – Boehner

    I believe Obama’s statement to be a mischaracterization-for-effect of Boehner’s position.

    Boehner signed the Taxpayers Protection Pledge which promises that he will “oppose any and all efforts to increase the marginal income tax rate for individuals and business” and he’s voted against every tax initiative I could find, so I don’t think it’s a mischaracterization at all.

  59. Maybe I missed something. Is ZBBM’s argument really that Obama mischaracterized Boehner’s position because while Boehner may have said that any tax increase was a non-starter he didn’t really mean it?

  60. I think that everyone is outrageously overtaxed now. The issue is insane spending. I already send about 1/3 of my income directly into the government sewer. I am then taxed 7.5% for the privilege of spending what is left. Add to that the hidden taxes, not so hidden ‘fees’, and other government-hand-in-my-pocket shenanigans and that is why I oppose all tax increases.

    As far as all of the loophole deductions and other scams in the current system – I oppose all of them. The entire tax system is corrupt – and designed as such.

    Show me an honest flat tax proposal where everyone knows what everyone else pays and why – sign me up.

    My expectation is that ‘American Exceptionalism’ will be exposed for the sick joke that it is and we’ll get the catastrophic disaster that we deserve.

  61. Gingrich has rolled out the “job-killing” canard for Obama’s proposals. I’d find that more interesting if Republican proposals for job creation weren’t limited to trickle-down economics.

  62. Fuzzy Wuzzy @ 68:

    How about a wealth tax: if you own x% of America’s wealth (including overseas tax dodges), you’re on the hook for the same percentage of tax paid, no exceptions, and let’s expand that to scaling criminal fines with wealth: an average person might pay $25 for a speeding ticket, but a billionaire might owe tens of thousands for the same offense.

  63. Kevin Williams @ 70:

    Finland has a sliding scale for traffic violations: you pay based on your income. So $103,000 traffic tickets are not unknown for the very wealthy.

    Why on earth did Finland’s rich allow this to happen? Don’t they buy legislators there?!?

  64. #70 – Kevin Williams

    I’m open to a tiered or progressive tax rate – to a point. I’ll never have to worry about being ‘rich’, but am opposed to looting people who have earned X times more than other people. So, that fits my ‘flat tax’ desire, while stipulating to being open to something that isn’t quite 100% flat. I’ll put in percentage tiers for 1,000,000 and 10,000,000 and the like – but the concept of everyone knowing exactly what everyone else is paying and why is intact.

    I would probably have a problem with manipulating the ‘cost of a service’ and charge everyone the same. I would oppose charging richer people more, considering that to be built in with reasonable tiers in tax rates.

  65. I’m favoring fining wealthy people more on the theory that the judicial system fines in order to modify behavior. Joe Billionaire would never miss $25, so that wouldn’t change his behavior. Losing the cost of a good car or house because he did 15 over in a school zone, however, might make him sit up and take notice.

  66. Part of me wants to get in on this discussion, but another part just wants to walk away and take a nap. Okay…here’s a question for John so that I can get a really good idea of where he’s coming from regarding the deficit issue: In your opinion, where did the deficit come from? I know that is a very broad question, but I am looking for a somewhat generalized answer. As you know from previous posts, I am a fairly fiscally conservative, but instead of playing this along ideological lines, I want to do something that they just can’t seem to do in Washington – find common ground and a workable middle ground solution to the problem.

  67. # 73
    Kevin, using that line of reasoning, would you say it would be proper and reasonable to have a sliding scale for say the price of bread and milk? Joe Average pays $2.50 for a gallon of milk whilst Joe Millionaire pays $2500.00? If being wealthy is seen as something to be punished, then shouldn’t the wealthy be punished across the board?

  68. No, that’s utterly nonsensical. This isn’t a state-run economy, for starters, and I think you’re deliberately misunderstanding me anyway – I’m not out to punish the wealthy.

  69. @68 – except we’re not. We have among the lowest tax burdens of any country in the developed world. Ther problem is you don’t want tp pay for the services you use. Like most people who scream about taxes, you’ll probably also turn around and complain about highways in need to repair, etc. Here’s the thing – we need tp pay for what we want. The people who thought like you about taxes but still supported the Iraq war? Yeah, that’s $800b of our deficit right there.

    So… what would you cut? Be specific and don’t use ‘cut the waste’ since there’s no line item called waste.

    People bitch and whine about the government sewer, then go drive on a highway system created by the government and eat food inspected by the government and when there’s a flu scare? It’s the government people look to to ensure there’s vaccine. When planes have to land without air traffic control at Reagan national, who do people question? The FAA. I’d have a lot more sympathy for you people if you weren’t such stinking hypocrites, complaining about government even as benefit from government services.

  70. Glenn Greenwald has an interesting take on Obama here:

    http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/glenn_greenwald/2011/04/13/obama/index.html

    The short of it is that Obama isn’t negotiating badly with republicans and losing progressive programs and Obama isn’t “shrewdly” negotiating with Republicans now to win Progressive points later. Rather, Obama is shrewdly fucking over progressives because he knows most of the Democratic base will vote for him know matter how much he cornholes them, meanwhile, Obama is pushing inititives that are further Right of Bush Jr to shrewdly keep the active component of the right wing small, and to entice the undecideds to vote for him. Because undecideds are fucking morons.

    And I have to say, Greenwald pretty much nails this one.

    Reading this speech makes me throw up a little in my mouth. Had any republican proposed these sorts of cuts to social programs while investment bankers get bailouts, more deregulation, and tax cuts, the left would have howled in unison at the idea. But Barack “Corn Cob to the Left” Obama proposes these same assinine cuts and half the Left loses their fucking brain, and suddenly thinks its a good idea because they think “their guy” thought it was a good idea.

    Here’s a tip to the left: Obama isn’t “your guy”. And the only part of this he thinks is a “good idea” is the part that will help his reelection. Obama isn’t doing any of this for anyone but Obama Reelection Campaign 2012.

    What a steaming pile of horseshit.

  71. John, there are provisions in Ryan’s plan that, in effect, raise taxes on the the most rich by getting rid of loopholes.

    Also, when looking at deficits, I think it’s more interesting to see which Congress did what. It should be obvious that Presidents don’t do it alone.

  72. I still find the framing of the whole debate hysterical. “Shall we tax or cut social programs or both?”. WTF, why are these the two and only two options? What about the damn military? What’s say we balance the damn budget on military cuts?

    I’m mean christ jesus people it is anywhere from 20-30% of the damn budget depending on how you count it. Yet you mention it, and it’s like your talking to a wall. Utterly mind boggling.

  73. John, there are provisions in Ryan’s plan that, in effect, raise taxes on the the most rich by getting rid of loopholes.

    That was the claim with the Reagan tax cuts too. The net result was that the extremely wealthy ended up with a greater share of the US’s wealth.

  74. The biggest issue I see with every budget currently being proposed is that they all have time lines of ten to fourteen years. The political climate will be totally different by that time and most of the people currently in office will have been replaced by people with different views and policy interests. Which means of course that a budget plan that requires ten years to implement will never be implemented. It’s wishful thinking to hope to see ideas for a four to six year balanced budget because that would require both an increase in taxes and some hard cuts large programs.

  75. JReynolds @71: Finland’s rich probably pay others to drive them.

    BigGuido @75: Joe Poorguy is probably getting his milk and food subsidized somewhat anyway, in that he may be eligible for food stamps or soup kitchens. Jo Poorguy may also be getting WIC, which means free food, and her kids get free or reduced-price school lunches. So they are “paying less” for the same milk and bread I get. I have to say as an income-ineligible-for-food-stamps person I’m not all that broken up about this.

  76. Mythago@85: Just who is this Joe Poorguy you speak of? I don’t remember him from my post. I believe the actual premise is that If we punish Joe Millionaire hard enough and often enough, everyone will end up Joe Average and Joe Poorguy will cease to exist.

  77. Kevin @#76: I was not deliberately misunderstanding you, I was just asking you to clarify your position via positing an extrapolation of what you stated in your post. So far as the American economy being state run or not, I would have to say that with each day we are getting closer and closer to it. The malaise we are seeing is a direct result of government tampering and ill-advised intervention. I’m all for economic oversight, mind you, as someone has to keep the bastards playing the game in check. The big problem is that another group of even nastier complete bastards has taken over the oversight controls and is running amuck. As the Joker said in the 1989 Batman movie, “THIS TOWN NEEDS AN ENEMA!” The town in question being, of course, Washington D.C.

  78. BigGuido @75: Joe Poorguy used to be Joe Average, but then he got laid off and the medical bills started piling up.

    While I don’t really agree with the wealth-based fine model outside of punitive damages, you’re surely aware that some entities charge what is known as a “sliding scale” based on the wealth of the customer or member? Is that immoral?

    That “sliding scale” doesn’t map very well to taxation, though, given that taxation is a lot more complicated than “X% of all the money you have coming in.” And of course you can’t possibly be serious if you think GE or Google will give up their current Utopia of Loopholes in favor of a simple flat tax on their earnings.

  79. John, please, send a check for 3% more to the Treasury on Friday. Don’t make a law that says I have to follow suit.

    I find it interesting how much people that think fairness and equality are important toss all that aside when they find out someone is ‘rich’.

    I’ll not get into a debate here as I read this blog for the sci-fi aspects and we are on opposite sides of the political spectrum. (Huge fan of your fiction work)

  80. Tracy, if memory serves John (and others) have addressed this n occasion. An individual doing this doesn’t really deal with the problem.

    I’m curious though, do you earn over 250k, and if so, by how much. I’d like to understand what that 3% looks like on your monthly household budget. When we were earning those amounts it would have cost us about $70 a month or about 0.3% of our monthly take home.

    The degree of outcry about this suggests people really aren’t grasping how the tax system, bad as it is, works.

    Meanwhile in conservative UK they’ve slashed government spending including defense and currently have a 50% top tax rate… Funny thing though, people seem to manage there.

  81. @Tracy: If you consider the fact that rich people generally use national resources(land, water, people) to get more money then it doesn’t seem unfair to tax them more than a garbage man in a non-union state.

  82. Tracy Coyle:

    “John, please, send a check for 3% more to the Treasury on Friday. Don’t make a law that says I have to follow suit.”

    Oh, waaaaaaaaaaaah, Tracy. If you’re making enough to have your top marginal rate go up in this case, you’re making enough to afford an additional 3% off the top tier of your income. I really have no sympathy for the suggestion that people making that much can’t tolerate an increase on their top marginal rate; likewise the suggestion that reverting the top marginal rate to 38% is somehow unfair to those in that bracket makes me want to retch. They can afford it, the country needs it, Ayn Rand took Medicare. So please spare me the “unfairness” argument, because it’s complete nonsense.

    As noted by Daveon, I’ve already addressed the “send a check” argument in the entry. It’s not enough that I send in that additional 3% at the top end of my earning; everyone else in my bracket needs to do the same. Also as noted by Daveon, it doesn’t entirely look as if you understand the concept of marginal tax rates. People not understanding marginal tax rates is the best friend the “taxes is theft” crowd has.

    In any event, I don’t have to make a law to raise the top marginal tax rate; all I have to do is let the current law expire in 2012.

  83. Shorter for the next two years: some discretionary spending will get cut and some of it will be tiny ideological “victories” Republicans can carry back to their supporters. In 2013 we will either get worse change (Republican Congress/Republican President) or gridlock (Obama/Republican Congress). The only interesting race is whether an Obama reelection means the Bush tax cuts actually sunset. If you think this is pessimistic, well, even if the Dems get the House back in 2012, how did that work out the last time?

  84. I don’t think we should believe any of the deficit reduction plans until we get more details and probably see it in action. They all say their play works. Then say the other guys plan doesn’t reduce the deficit. I have no idea who to believe. On the surface, tax increases and spending cuts seem to be the sensible way to handle this.

    One thing to point out about Obama’s plan. He wants to do it over 12 years, but I heard one criticism that Washington works on 10 year plans. I don’t know if it is significant. It very well could be. There could be something to a 12 year plan that makes it irrelavent. I am going to keep my eyes open on that.

  85. Fed gov’t spending in 2000 was 1789 billion
    Fed gov’t spending in 2010 was 3456 billion

    That’s about doubling the size of the federal budget in 10 years. Adjusted for inflation, it’s still around a 60% increase.

    Government (fed, state, and local) consumes 45% of GDP.

    I have no doubt there will be tax increases to help close the gap, but it’s pretty clear to me that spending is the problem, and has been for a long time.

  86. I think the “GOP never wants to raise taxes” meme obscures the fact that the GOP wants to drown government in the bathtub by starving it of money in reality. In the budget compromise of last week one of the items insisted upon by the GOP was NO funding for new IRS agents. Then this week comes a CBO report that there are $330 BILLION in uncollected taxes out there if the IRS can just spare the manpower to go out, find it and get it. That’s six times the amount the budget “compromise” is cutting from goverment spending. Study after study has shown that one federal dollar spent on IRS enforcement returns up to ten dollars to the government in taxes that people owe but have not paid. If the GOP was serious about not wanting to RAISE taxes they wouldn’t be so adamant against collecting what taxes people already owe under the current system.

    Fact is, the GOP just wants to eliminate any government spending they can in order to get rid of the federal government.

    At least, when a Democrat is in the White House that is.

  87. Tracy @89: Ah, I see you are of the “no tagbacks” rhetorical school. If you come here only for the SF/F discussion and prefer not to get into a debate, it’s more than a little disingenuous to start a debate first.

    Scalzi’s already pointed out repeatedly that he is of the income bracket where the Bush-era tax cuts matter, so he’s actually advocating for tax laws that do affect him, not The Rich.

    JohnW @95: [citation needed]

  88. in order to get rid of the federal government.

    No, it’s about reducing government, not getting rid of it. Anarchists are anti-state. For example, wikileaks is a fundamentally anarchist project that seeks to undermine governments everywhere. And it’s not exactly right-wing.

  89. risck @16

    So do nothing unless we reform the tax code?

    I didn’t say that. I said I don’t think we should be raising taxes without reforming the tax code. The cutting side can proceed in paralell.

    He’s the problem as I see it. Everyone has to have skin in the game. Every service the government provides has to have some price tag for everyone. If not, what’s the risk to you for demanding a cadillac when you know your not going to have to pay for it?

    We have seen polls where people want spending cut. But when asked about cutting specific programs, people start to balk. But no one ever asks the question how much is this program worth to you? Are you will to pay such-and-such for this service? And there’s the rub.

    It’s not so much a matter of “progressive” or “regressive” tax policy as it is a matter of every service has to have a value for everyone. Of course people will want the best if its free. But its not free. Someone is paying.

    And you can not have 80% of the people deciding the type of services that 20% of the people are paying for and call that fair and equitable.

    I hear “let’s stall this.”

    I’m sorry but the fact of the matter is that whatever you think of the Tea Party, it’s they who have brought this debate to the floor because of their instance that this matter can no longer be forestalled. If it wasn’t for them we still wouldn’t be talking about this. Now yeah, they may be on the far right of what people will tolerate, but the fact is the only reason we are starting to have serious discussions about this is because of them.

    Daveon @19

    One of the big lies with the “government must learn to live within it’s means” is that it’s, well, just plain wrong. It’s not even all that good advice for a household or an individual, unless you REALLY have no ambition with your life. I know very few people who saved the money to buy their home, or saved enough for a pension “within” their means, or were able to pay for their college education. We, as individuals, borrow money all the time for things we think will make us better off in the long run.

    True, but I’m not saying we can not borrow money. When a person or family buys a house, or a car, sure they finance it. But the buy as much car or house as they can afford (well, for arguments sake, clearly there has been a breakdown here). So the payments on these loans fit within their income. That’s still living within your means.

    Now it is quite obvious that the Government has done what has recently been done by homeowners who precipitated the housing crisis: They bough more than they could comfortably afford. The Federal Government has promised more than it can afford. Many homeowners found they could not afford their payments when the economy went bad, and the family lost a revenue stream. Same with the government; maybe this stuff was affordable when things were gandbusters but it has lost a revenue stream when large numbers of people get unemployed.

    So the government needs to not only live within its means for the good times, but budget for the bad times.

    Jesse @22

    The only reason most businesses provide that is through tax breaks.

    Most businesses provide benefits to attract talent.

    Especially in technical fields, the pool of qualified candidates is very limited. I for instance have experience in real-time embedded software for safety-critical systems. The number of people who can do what I do shrinks every year because it seems kids these days don’t like to spend their time doing math and science.

    They get degrees with the word “studies” in it.

    Scalzi @40

    Recent history shows strongly that “not agreeing to tax increases” is not a starting point to negotiations with the modern GOP; it is, rather, non-negotiable.

    I don’t think so. Even Ryan’s budget raised taxes by cutting subsidies. Of course its not presented as a tax increase but it raises revenue.

    No, the way I see it Ryan’s proposal and the President’s “proposal” are the defined extremes that set the boundries of the discussion. In the end, there will be a revenue increase. There will be cuts to entitlements. There will be cuts to the military.

    Its in the interest of both sides to ask for more than they think they can get so there is room for negotiation.

    So the good news is that it’s likely that Obama has asked for more than he think he can get. And if he didn’t, he made a serious error.

  90. So the government needs to not only live within its means for the good times, but budget for the bad times.

    Clinton did exactly that, and then Bush blew it all on a wild night out in Baghdad with his peeps.

  91. DA Monroe @99

    Reducing goverment…right. According to usgovernmentspending.com the two presidents in the last 100 years who had the greatest increase of goverment spending from their first year in office to their last year in office were:

    George W. Bush – 87% increase. (Though only 73% if you lop off the last year and don’t credit/blame him for the stimulus that passed in his last months.)

    Ronald Reagan – 82% increase.

    I say again that I feel the GOP wants to eliminate government. Whenever there’s a Democrat in the White House. I guess I left unsaid that they don’t mind blowing the doors off spending when they are in charge, which is why their cries for spending restraint ring hollow in my ears. The only President to have signed a balanced budget in my lifetime was Clinton.

  92. MaximumBob

    The only President to have signed a balanced budget in my lifetime was Clinton.

    Perhaps. But it was Republicans who wrote that budget.

    (PS, you an Elmore Leonard fan?)

  93. Frank @103 – Granted. I wish they would write a balanced budget when they had one of their own around to sign it though!

    And no, never read the book. But I loved Beau Bridges in the VERY short lived TV show. My first name is Bob and it made a good gamer tag since I got on XBox live back when that show was briefly on the air.

  94. The GOP line that the country doesn’t haven’t a revenue problem, it has a spending problem, is a fundamental philosophy with which I take issue. In my personal economy, I have been poor to the point of borrowing money from next month’s paycheck to pay this month’s bills. It was unsustainable and it got me in a nasty fiscal death spiral. I cut my spending back to the bone. I got rid of ALL of the luxuries. Then I started doing without things like heat in the winter & AC in the summer (if you’ve ever lived in the south, you’ll know how miserable that is). I cut meat out of my diet entirely.

    And then I took a series of temp jobs on top of my full time job. Because even cutting out all of the spending I possibly could and still survive, it wasn’t enough to pull me out of my hole, and it was the only way I could put away a little money for unexpected crises – because given my fragile fiscal health, one crisis would have been enough to derail me completely.

    Because of that, I was able to (barely) keep my head above water, and finally pull myself up onto firm ground. It took both spending control and increased revenue to do it.

    When we as a country have to borrow money tomorrow in order to pay yesterday’s bills, that sounds a lot like what I was doing many years ago. Even if we cut all of our national spending to the bone, the only way to really dig ourselves out of that hole is to ALSO increase our revenue streams. Revenue increases don’t always have to be permanent, but they do need to be considered, and unless somebody comes up with a brilliant, original idea for creating new revenue streams, it looks like a tax hike might be necessary.

    And you know, once I dug myself out of my hole, got on firm footing, and learned to understand and control my fiscal weaknesses with discipline and good habits, I quit my temp jobs, I got a better job that paid well, and I was able to afford all of the necessities, PLUS some of life’s luxuries, PLUS give something to charities in order to help others who couldn’t help themselves. And put back some reserves for emergencies.

    I have to believe that if I can do that on a small scale in my own household, that we as a country can do it on a national scale.

  95. (Good book. Not his best. But pretty good. The current show based on his work is FXs Justified. Great show And Elmore Leonard is involved with the production and the writing.)

  96. LOL, Obama has a idea how to reduce the debt? Maybe he should sit on his hands.

    I do not respect him at all. His so called change that never happened was a joke.

  97. As a follower of the Keynesian school, I would actually argue that right now we should neither raise taxes (except at the top marginal rate, or possibly even at a new marginal rate above the current top bracket, and almost certainly on inheritances) nor cut spending but rather focus on restoring demand. Now is actually the best possible time for the government to borrow. The federal interest rate is zero: this means that the government is currently selling its debt for no return whatsoever and people *still want to buy it*. In other words, the government can, right now, borrow at no cost. In this circumstance, it makes perfect sense to shift future spending to the present. Borrow the necessary funds and spend the money now on projects that A) desperately need doing, B) will employ the currently unemployed, which will C) give them money to spend on goods and services, thus D) restoring demand to other businesses that will then have the confidence and funds to restore production and employ more people. Once the economy recovers, the healthy tax base will produce more revenue, and at that time tax rates can be increased to pay off the debt (which, I again emphasize, has been accruing *zero interest* in the interim).

    But, of course, since the economic stimulus package which Keynesian economists predicted would be inadequate proved to be inadequate, Keynes is refuted and we should look to the economic policies of Herbert Hoover to get us out of this crisis just as they got us out of the Great Depression. :/

  98. (Look for Out of Sight, Rum Punch, Get Shorty, The Moonshine War, The Hot Kid, Mr. Majestyk, Kill Shot, and LaBrava are all better books. Start with one of them. All of his Westerns are good too.)

  99. #96 Maximum Bob – I think the “GOP never wants to raise taxes” meme obscures the fact that the GOP wants to drown government in the bathtub by starving it of money in reality.

    Weeeeeeell, that’s Grover Norquist’s idea. I know that a lot of the GOP has signed on to his taxpayers pledge, but I’m not sure they are all as libertarian as he is. He’s been great at getting them to agree to lower taxes, but the GOP has so far resisted the sort of massive spending cuts that he endorses.

  100. anarchists beleive in no state.

    libertarians and right wing nut jobs believe the complexities of government can be reduced to some mechanical set of nonnegotiable rules. these rules, interestingly, always map exactly to what THEY want the government to look like.

    as far as I am concerned, they’re worst than anarchists because what they really are are little tyrants.

  101. AlamM @112 – I know that a lot of the GOP has signed on to his taxpayers pledge, but I’m not sure they are all as libertarian as he is. He’s been great at getting them to agree to lower taxes, but the GOP has so far resisted the sort of massive spending cuts that he endorses.

    However he has got them to swallow whole the idea that ONE PENNY of new taxes is unacceptable! Which to my mind is a view entirely incompatible with meme of “We’re broke! We’re broke! OMG we are so broke! Cut everything!” And in fact Paul Ryan’s “Path to Prosperity” uses cuts made to programs that impact huge numbers of low income citizens to make permanent tax cuts for the richest of the rich in this country. And would end Medicare and Medicaid as we know it. Not reform them, end them.

    Also, in my view, letting huge tax cuts that were enacted during a time of surplus expire during a time of “budget crisis” is not evil and job killing so much as it is the way I would expect a responsible person to cut their own “mad money” budget in a financial hard time.

  102. The biggest problem we have now is an economy that can’t keep a middle class employed at a middle class level.

    It’s not the deficit – while the deficit is a problem, because it drains the capital market and is inflationary. To fix the deficit, raise some more money via taxation. Chose the rich to tax, because that will have the least negative effect. Somebody’s got to pay, and they can most easily bear that pain.

    But first get employment levels up.

  103. Frank @100:

    I can’t really agree that the government have really over borrowed, as somebody else noted, the capacity of the US government to borrow is effectively infinite.

    Let’s look at the Macro-economic facts for a second.

    Bush II presided over a massive and unfunded expansion in spending for a bunch of entitlement stuff to buy seniors and a couple of wars. He did this while decreasing tax rates and creating a large deficit that was largely unfunded.

    We then hit a global banking collapse which was not, as some like to think, anything to do with lending money to poor people, and everything to do with lending money to anybody with a pulse.

    This led to a massive recession.

    So we’ve unfunded spending for a decade. We’ve the collapse of the international banking system. AND we’ve still got huge levels of personal debt. Now, if individuals have huge amounts of personal debt and have lowered incomes, they can’t spend money. If people can’t spend money, economic activity goes down.

    Until individuals are out of debt and we’ve purged the hangover of the last 15 years of insanity we have to find money to run the economy on from somewhere and that’s the government.

    What is weird though, is we have an expanded class of very wealthy people paying less towards the upkeep of the society that supports than at any time in the last 50 years. That’s just plain wrong.

    It’s bad for the economy and it’s bad for society.

  104. Frank: And you can not have 80% of the people deciding the type of services that 20% of the people are paying for and call that fair and equitable.

    Yeah, lets not forget how much AIG has suffered in all this. Will someone not think of the billionaires?

    (cue Glenn Beck tears)

  105. DA Munroe @97:
    “The Ryan Plan is not about extending the Bush tax cuts and punishing the poor”

    It’s not. In all seriousness, you could have fooled me.

    One of the things that makes me feel more relaxed about retirement is that I can always move back to the UK if this kind of insanity comes in.

  106. Robert Reich recently pointed out in an interview that the top-end tax rate in the Eisenhower days was 91% and, assuming there were no tax lawyers or CPAs finding odds and ends of loopholes for their rich clients, were we to have the same rate now, something like 250 BILLION would be brought in per year in additional revenue, going a long way to reduce the deficit, among other things.

    Now, to be honest, he did indicate that it was unlikely that various loopholes wouldn’t be found or that everyone so affected would pay, but his point was that we’ve had higher rates on the truly wealthy within at least some of our lifetimes and a bit more sacrifice on the part of those in that part of the tax bracket wouldn’t hurt the national bottom line one little bit.

    I’m certainly within the middle class (probably the lower part, from my estimation) and haven’t seen my income rise in the last five years (I work in Florida for the State, which is quickly going downhill these days under our new Governor and extreme right-wing GOP, supermajority Legislature) and am anticipating essentially having my income taxed (despite a Constitutional provision otherwise, but the GOPer’s here have defined it otherwise), and paying substantially more for health insurance. I’m with John here, I’m tired of the folks on the high end of income (from whatever source) not exactly having to “share the pain” with those of us on the other end of the economic scale.

    I’m all for “shared sacrifice” when it’s needed, but not when the sharing has really been so one-sided.

  107. DA Munroe @97: “The Ryan Plan is not about extending the Bush tax cuts and punishing the poor”

    It’s more about how the uber rich are exceptional. Better than the rest of us. John Galt’s of the world who will take their ball and go home if they don’t get exactly what they want, and most importantly, the world would come to a crashing end if they leave.

    As Frank says, it doesn’t matter if EIGHTY PERCENT of the population agrees to a taxplan. It’s still unfair if 20% don’t like it.

    What this is, fundamentally, is whether we are a constitutional democracy or not, whether most people can find the right and fair balance in law, even if some people disagree, or whether we want a system that DEMANDS unanimous agreement to every thing we do, and anything less than that is somehow tyranny of the masses.

    Ultra conservatives, libertarians, and Tea Party, i.e. right wing nut jobs, want you to worry about the 20% being picked on by an unruly mob of 80% of the voting population. It’s not fair, they say, for EIGHTY PERCENT of the people to approave a tax plan if 20% don’t like it. When was the last time EIGHTY PERCENT of Americans agreed on anything? Christ, presidential elections keep coming down to 51% versus 49% since I can remember. And these yahoos think 80% voter approval is unfair TYRANNY.

    Take this to its ultimate end, and it has only one outcome: NO ONE has to do anything they don’t want to.

    Hey, look, I’m a billionaire. It’s not fair that the other 99% of the population want to tax me at 33% to pay for someone elses vaccines or highways. I have a personal doctor and a private helicopter. It’s NOT FAIR. The year later, 25% tax rate is again, too high, not fair. Why? BECAUSE I SAID SO!

    What these right wing nutjobs want boils down to an end to constitutional democracy and replace it with tyranny of the ultra minority, them.

  108. So, it’s not about punishing the poor, and it isn’t initially about shrinking government so its small enough to drown in a bathtub.

    What its about, initially, is that eighty percent voter support for a taxplan is unfair if 20% don’t like it.

    The problem is when you take that to its logical conclusion, you end up in only one place: a “constitutional democracy” where no one has to do anything they don’t want to, because that would be tyranny of the masses.

    Oh, sure, right wing nutjobs try to minimize this outcome with MECHANICAL APPLCIATION OF RULES. Physical violence, they say, is wrong, so its OK to pass laws against physical violence. BUT NOTHING ELSE.

    But then, the problem with THAT is that mechanical application of rules means they have now completely subverted the VERY REASON constititutional democracy exists and replaced it with laws THEY find acceptable.

    So, while these right wing nutjobs may not INITIALLY be about drowning government (it’s about “fairness” they will try to tell you), the problem is that ultimately their logic leads to the end of constitutional democracy, and they will let you pass laws that THEY approve of. Everything else is unfair they will tell you.

  109. Have any of you people studied economics? Every time the federal government has lowered marginal interest rates in the last 80 years revenues to the government increased. Including revenues generated from those in the highest tax brackets. This happened under Coolidge, Kennedy, Reagan and Bush 43. Raising the marginal rate for the rich will just change the way people manage their money. If we want to get out from under this debt bomb we need to:
    1. Reduce marginal tax rates so that that those who have money to invest will invest in markets that create job rather than investing in safe, secure, low yield municipal bonds. People don’t put money at risk if 50 % of it is going to be taken away.
    2. Stop spending money on things for which the government has no business spending money.
    If there was a market for high speed rail one of us greedy capitalists would already be putting our money at risk for it.
    The federal government has never educated anybody; get rid of the DOE.
    One of the reasons college costs are skyrocketing is because the government has made so much money available for it; the federal government should not be giving scholarships and grants.
    Obama’s health care bill is terrifying. It has already caused the price of health insurance to go up, and if the whole thing ever goes into effect, it will only get worse.
    3. Reforming the tax code would also help. 90% of Americans should be able to complete their taxes on a 3×5 card. If the tax code were that simple think about how much money we would be able to cut at the IRS. Think about how much money that goes to CPAs to do taxes and law firms to lobby the government for tax breaks. That money could be invested in to the marketplace to create real wealth not just to create make-work jobs to feed the federal government

  110. Paul @123

    Taxes on investment income are taxed at a 15% rate, not 50%.

    I also think the Trickle-Down theory that your first paragraph hints at there has pretty well be debunked. Lowering tax rates on the very rich will boost the economy and everyone will prosper! Meanwhile the gap between the riches in the country and the poorest has been growing steadily all through Regan’s and Bush II’s tax cuts.

  111. Daveon @116

    I can’t really agree that the government have really over borrowed, as somebody else noted, the capacity of the US government to borrow is effectively infinite.

    This is absurd. How is the US Government substantially different from the Geek Government? Why is our ability to borrow effectively infinite but Greece’s is not?

    People still have to invest in the US through Treasury Bonds. At the very point that people believe this investment is worthless is the very point at which our ability to borrow ends.

    Daveon @118

    One of the things that makes me feel more relaxed about retirement is that I can always move back to the UK if this kind of insanity comes in.

    Yeah…when you’re 70

    Workers will be forced to delay their retirement until their ‘70s and beyond’ in an explosive shake-up of the state pension.

    Doug from Tally @119

    Robert Reich recently pointed out in an interview that the top-end tax rate in the Eisenhower days was 91%

    Yeah and growth and income boomed when Kennedy (via Johnson) reduced the top marginal tax rate from 91% to 70%. Corporate taxes were reduced from 52% to 48%. Individual taxes were cut across the board by about 20%.

  112. Paul@123: One of the reasons college costs are skyrocketing is because the government has made so much money available for it; the federal government should not be giving scholarships and grants

    I think you just lost your right to lecture people about economics.

    Obama’s health care bill is terrifying. It has already caused the price of health insurance to go up, and if the whole thing ever goes into effect, it will only get worse.

    Also, your understanding of the concept of causation needs serious work.

  113. It’s not fair, they say, for EIGHTY PERCENT of the people to approave a tax plan if 20% don’t like it.

    Funny how that changes when it’s my body or right to marry whom I please that they’re voting on…….

  114. Paul@123: If the tax code were that simple think about how much money we would be able to cut at the IRS.

    I’m actually quite curious about this. What percentage of the budget do you really think is spent paying IRS salaries?

    Think about how much money that goes to CPAs to do taxes and law firms to lobby the government for tax breaks. That money could be invested in to the marketplace to create real wealth not just to create make-work jobs to feed the federal government

    Again, I’m quite curious what you think is going on. The money that private companies spend on lobbying and on tax accountants is equal to what percentage of the deficit?

    What is always entertaining is when someone comes out with a plan to reduce the deficit and then they present some “fix” that accounts for less than one-tenth of one percent of the actual deficit.

    It’s like the NRA saying “think of how much money the government would save if it didn’t have to pay the ATF and police to enforce all these gun regulations!” OK. I’m thinking of that number. Compared to teh amount of money teh government would have to spend if machine guns were available for sale through the mail to anonymous buyers, it’s actually pretty cheap.

    In short, it’s got nothing to do with the defict and everything to do with someone’s favorite hobby horse.

  115. Greg: It’s not fair, they say, for EIGHTY PERCENT of the people to approave a tax plan if 20% don’t like it.

    Pam@128: Funny how that changes when it’s my body or right to marry whom I please that they’re voting on…….

    So…… Who an individual marries in PRIVATE or whether a woman has the right to have a choice over what happens to her own body in PRIVATE is EXACTLY like having the PUBLIC decide how to tax the PUBLIC so as to pay for the government, which, you know, benefits the entire PUBLIC????

    Your argument only really works if your rich billionaire is living entirely a PRIVATE LIFE. i.e. he doesn’t drive on public roads, has his own private police force and court system, and doesn’t take advantage of LEGAL LIABILITY LIMITATIONS that one enjoys from being incorporated. He would also have his own food inspection programs, would license his own private doctor, and I have no idea how he deals with who gets to use what frequencies on the public airwavers. (I assume he sends his privagte military out to blow up any transmitter he doesn’t like).

    Care to try again??? I think you really ought to.

  116. Frank @100: The point you’re either missing or choosing to ignore is that employer-provided health insurance is an untaxed benefit. That is why the US has the rather bizarre setup where you’re best off getting health care through your employer; businesses started offering health insurance rather than plain ol’ money because it isn’t taxed that way.

    As for the “tyranny of 80%”, is there a specific Constitutional provision, such as equal protection, that is violated by this? I mean, if 80% vote for a Senator I don’t like, does that mean it’s unfair for that Senator to represent me or my fellows in that 20% minority in the Congress?

    AlanM @112: Norquist is less a Libertarian than a Gilded Ager. He doesn’t give a shit about individual rights or equitable treatment; he wants a return to the time when people of his socioeconic class got the benefits of government without any of the drawbacks, and screw the lesser folk.

  117. Where do we begin?
    Bob124-
    Taxes on investment income are taxed at a 15% rate, not 50%.
    You are right, right now they are. Doug 119 wanted to go back to Eisenhower rates. What I am saying is that when you increase taxes on investment incomes, those with money take less risk, which makes it harder to grow jobs.
    Greg127-
    I think you just lost your right to lecture people about economics.
    When the California gold rush hit, the price of a shot of whiskey in gold rush towns went through the roof. The same case can be made for higher education. It is not the government’s job to educate the masses, especially at the collegiate level. If the government was not giving college money away hand-over-fist, colleges would not be able to charge as much as they charge. When there is more money in the market place available to purchase goods, the price of goods goes up. That is basic supply and demand. I recommend Basic Economics by Thomas Sowell.
    Also, your understanding of the concept of causation needs serious work.
    The health care legislation required insurance companies to start paying for preventative measures and certain treatments that were not required of insurance companies previously. (Not to mention children to age 26, you have got to be kidding me.) My kid is off the gravy train at graduation. These things cost money. In the case of my policy 11% of the 17% increase this year was because of these new requirements. Also, we can no longer pay for over-the-counter drugs with pre-tax dollars. That is a tax on those who make less than $250,000. Don’t tell me health care costs did not go up because of this bill; you lose.
    Greg 129-If all of that money spent on IRS agents, Tax Attorneys, HR block etc. was producing wealth instead of getting dumped down a black hole, it would generate a great deal of revenue to the federal government. That is how it would impact our national debt.
    Please show me the document where the NRA endorsed the legalization of mail ordered machine guns to anonymous buyers.

  118. One more thing Greg. I did not write anything about trickle down economics. I wrote that reducing marginal tax rates has increased revenues to the federal government every time it has been done in the last 80 years. That is a fact. Now that being said, there has to be a sweet spot where lowest marginal rate meets the highest revenue. Since revenue went up with the Bush 43 cuts I think that rate is not above where it is now.

  119. Paul: If all of that money spent on IRS agents, Tax Attorneys, HR block etc. was producing wealth instead of getting dumped down a black hole, it would generate a great deal of revenue to the federal government. That is how it would impact our national debt.

    its a simple question really: What percentage of the budget do you really think is spent paying IRS salaries?

    I just want an actual number, not some handwavey shpeel about “producing wealth” that gets taxed and becomes “revenue to the federal government”. That’s taxes 101. I get taxes 101. What I’m asking is specifically the percentage of the total federal budget that is spent on IRS agents salaries.

    But for you to answer it, you’d have to give a value that would reveal just how far into fantasy land this idea is that you would suggest it as having any significant impact on the deficit. I mean if you had to come out and say that IRS agent salaries comprises 0.00000001% of the total federal budget, then you would have to admit that the reason you’re suggesting this has nothing to do with deficit reduction and everything to do with “taxes are so unfair” being some sort of hobby horse of yours.

    So, again, WHAT PERCENTAGE of the federal budget was spent on IRS agents salaries last year?

  120. OK Greg, I’ll chase your red herring for a moment.
    In 2010 the IRS utilized 94,000 people to collect $2,345,055,978,000 at an operating cost of 12,535,344,000. A greatly simplified tax code should be able to cut the cost by at least 75%. So, that is an easy 9 billion dollar savings annually. We would probably only see about half of that in the first year with all of the real estate we would need to offload and leases we would need to cancel. Obama projected a 12 year budget. That money will add up.

    http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-soi/10db29ps.xls

  121. will this how i feel with all of the comments. i DONT KNOW A DAM THING ABOUT POLITICS BUT DO KNOW BARACK TODAY BARACK TOMMROW BARACK FOREVER YOU TAKE THAT TO THE BANK.

  122. First of all, how is it a red herring if you’re the one who brought it up.

    Second of all, I notice you couldn’t bring yoruself to do the math.
    Probably because the answer is less than 1%.

    Oh,and a 12 year budget?
    Sure, it adds up in total amount saved, but so does the budgets add up in total amounts spent.
    So if you take the budgets for 12 years, and the money saved from slashing the IRS for 12 years,
    its still, surprise, less than 1%.

    This is like when the Republicans focused on cutting funds to Planned Parenthood. They weren’t focusing on the biggest wastes in the budget,they were focusing on their favorite hobby horses and using “zomg! Budget constraints!” as an excuse to cut funding.

  123. Between 1963 and 1965, the top marginal rate was reduced from 91% to 70%, and total federal government revenue in fact increased by about $10B (from $106B to $116B) over those two years.

    Four years later, the top marginal rate was increased from 70% (in 1967) back up to 77% (in 1969). So we would expect that people in the top bracket would have changed the way they managed their money, and federal government revenue would decrease, or at best stay flat, right?

    Actually, it increased by $38B over those two years.

    Between 1980 and 1982, the top marginal rate was reduced from 70% to 50%, and total federal government revenue increased by $100B, from $517B to $617B; again, between 1986 and 1988 the top marginal rate was reduced from 50% to 28%, and total federal government revenue increased by $140B, from $769B to $909B. That’s about a $5B increase in tax revenue for each percentage point drop.

    So when the top marginal rate was increased from 28% to 31% between 1990 and 1992, total federal government revenue should have decreased by about $15B, right?

    Actually, it increased by almost $60B.

    And when the top marginal rate was increased again from 31% to 39.6% between 1992 and 1994, total federal government revenue should have decreased by about $43B, right?

    It increased by $167B.

    Using the data that federal revenue increased when marginal rates decreased to argue that marginal rates shouldn’t be increased because it’ll cause revenue to decrease is not supported by the facts of what’s actually, you know, happened when marginal rates were increased.

  124. I believe that many of the wealthiest people on the Fortune 500 list were polled and they all agreed that they could and would pay more taxes than they do, but as you said, America isn’t asking. Forgive me, but if the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy are such incredible job producers, why haven’t they worked for the last few years when they were in place? let’s just let them expire. The mindless, knee-jerk reaction to the phrase “raising taxes” is just infuriating.

    If you run a profitable business, you look at both income AND expenses. If you want to make more profit, you don’t just cut expenses, you also seek out more sales (income). Why can’t people just accept that cutting spending is not the only solution to this problem we’re in? We need more revenue. Let’s give the corporations the lower tax rate they are telling us they deserve – BUT if they get the lower rate they have to keep jobs here in the US and there will be no loopholes to avoid paying the tax. As it is, the tax rate might be 35% on the books, but the revenue from that tax is 0% in too many cases.

    Finally, John, thank you thank you thank you for “Christ on a pony” – I’ve never heard that expression and I can’t wait to use it. Best ever.

  125. Greg@130,

    Sorry- either you’re misunderstanding me, or I’m misunderstanding you. I was trying to say that the tyranny of the majority argument is, in this situation, false.

    My point was that the people who say ‘80% of the public should NOT be able to vote to tax the 20% with the money’ also tend to say that ‘Since 80% (or pick the percentage of their choice) don’t approve of same-sex marriage, you the 20% who want it have to abide by our decision.’

  126. Greg #113 so anarchists are better than people who believe in small government? You’re worse than stupid.

    Greg #120 (on the Ryan Plan)

    It’s more about how the uber rich are exceptional. Better than the rest of us.

    False. Here’s Paul Ryan’s brief explanation of “The Plan.”
    Government spending is projected to overtake total GDP. FYI, that’s impossible. The system will melt down before that happens. It’s equivalent to a prediction that your credit card repayments will soon be more than your monthly salary.
    This is a real risk that can’t be wished away with soothing platitudes about how useful debt can sometimes be. The tour bus America is headed for a cliff.

  127. Pam, I think I missed the snark in your origianl comment. My bad.

    DA@142: Greg #113 so anarchists are better than people who believe in small government? You’re worse than stupid

    No. You missed the point completely. The point is that right wing nut jobs who say they believe in small government and who say that its not fair for 80% of the people to decide how everyone pays taxes (including 20% who don’t want to pay any), are actually are actually presenting a logical premise that has only one conclusion: “No one has to do anything they don’t want to because to allow the majority to tell a minority what to do is unfair.”

    Anyone advocating anything to the effect that a majority of people via a constitional democratic system have no moral right to impose law on people who don’t agree with those laws is missing the fundamental difference between constitutional democracy and anarchy.

    Frank at 100 said: And you can not have 80% of the people deciding the type of services that 20% of the people are paying for and call that fair and equitable

    Frank is saying that democracy, as a concept, has no moral standing.

    That isn’t “small government”. That’s no government.

    Frank starts with a moral premise (that a majority of people cannot morally legislate what a minority of people can do) that can only lead to one conclusion: Constitutional democracy has no moral standing.

    Now, saying that, Frank will likely strongly object that he supports democracy. It’s easy lip service to say as much. And he will likely say that he just wants small government. Small democracy.

    To which, I ask, if 80% of the population decides that 1% of the population should pay 50% tax rate, is that “small” or not?

    Because Frank already drew a line in the sand that said 80% can’t tax the other 20%. Apparently that’s too “big” of a government for Frank. OK. Fine. How do you define “small” in any meaningful way other than either “I’ll know it when I see it” or “a government that does everythihng the way I want it done”.

    This is where the mechanical rules of government of just about any ultra right wing nut job starts showing up. “Small government can regulate violent behavior. But cannot regulate voluntary transactions like a business transaction.” Or, “taxes can never be over 33%”. Or “absolutely no deductions” or insert some totally arbitrary rule here. And these rules are “mechanical” in the sense that they insist they are abolutely morally defensible, but nothing beyond that is. End of negotiation. End of discussion. End of democracy. No vote, no matter how many people vote for a law beyond these mechanical rules is morally defenisible.

    At which point, it’s a tyranny posing as a democracy. “You can vote on anything you like, so long as its exactly what I wanted anyway”.

    Which brings me back to my original point to you. Anarchists are crazy, but at least they’re honest about what they’re advocating.

    Right wing nut jobs who say that a constitutional democracy has no moral standing to tell their precious John Galts of the world how much taxes to pay or what sort of inspections their food must go through and who say they want “small government”, are only kidding themselves. They want a tyranny of some set of mechanical rules, and they don’t want any democracy to every be able to legislate beyond those rules.

    So, anarchists want anarchy, want no government. It’s crazy, but at least its honest.

    Right wing nutjobs who say they want small government but come with a list of mechanical (non negotiable, no overide voting allowed) rules in hand are actually advocating for a form of tyranny. Crazy and tyrannical.

    And yes, those right wing nut jobs advocating tyranny absolutely are worse than the anarchists.

  128. DGL, Great numbers. I am sure you are correct. Can you cite any years that the the federal government increased the top marginal rate and the government revenue went up that didn’t occur during the .com boom. Reagan reduced marginal rates during a recession and the revenues went up, Bush 43 reduced marginal rates during the .com bust and in the wake of 9/11 increased revenues. Bill Clinton would not have left office with a surplus had it not been for the .com boom and the Republican congress.

  129. DA@99: For example, wikileaks is a fundamentally anarchist project that seeks to undermine governments everywhere.

    Shit. I nearly choked on my cereal reading that.

    Generally speaking, constitutional democracies work best when governments operate transparently. Wikileaks is doing nothing that a good newspaper doesn’t do now, though most news agencies today simply toe the party line to maintain “access” to politicians and people in power.

    Folks who want push for more and more opaqueness are generally pushing for more tyranny.

    The publication of the Pentagon papers in 1971 was not a call for anarchism, but a call against the tyranny of a war mongering president, and a call for democratic action.

    Anyone casting transparency as “anarchist” is inherently advocating for some form of tyranny.

  130. Anyone casting transparency as “anarchist” is inherently advocating for some form of tyranny.

    Some opaqueness is required by governments. For example, the identities of spies and informers in hostile nations should be secret. Military plans. the details of ongoing criminal investigations. People under witness protection. medical evaluations…. the list is long.
    At any rate, Assange’s stated objective is to impair the state’s ability to function, so you lose this one on the facts.

  131. Some “democracy means I don’t have to if I didn’t vote for it” comments from the thread:

    Tracy Coyle@89: John, send in your extra 3% taxes to the government, just don’t make a law that says I have to. People think fairness and equality are important, but will toss that aside in how they treat rich people.

    Frank@100: 80% of the people cannot tax the other 20%

    Some “mechanical” rulers from the thread:

    Frank@8: eliminate tax deductions. Tax revenue for the year is the most the government can spend that year. Government spending should be capped at some fraction of the GDP, then restricted to spend no more than what it recieved in income.

    Frank@14: get rid of all of them.

    FuzzyWuzzy@68: FLAT TAX! NO DEDUCTIONS!

    Paul@132: “It is not the government’s job to educate the masses,”

    And some right wingers taking a fundamental democratic process like freedom of speech and freedom of press and freedom of information, and turning it on its head and calling it anarchy:

    DA@99: Wikileaks are anarchists

    That pretty much sums up the ultra right mentality: (1) Democracy has no moral authority to tell me what to do. (2) But here are some arbitrary mechanical rules I just made up that ARE moral and are also non-negotiable (3) What I am really vaguely hinting at is actually camoflage for tyranny made in my own image.

    Demonstrated quite succinctly in less than 150 comments.

    Not too shabby.

  132. DA: For example, the identities of spies and informers in hostile nations should be secret.

    Valerie fucking Plame

    Also, it has been reported multiple places that (A) wikileaks has withheld its information or redacted it if anyone might be put in danger by the release of that information and (B) absolutely no one has been killed or injured as a result of any information released by wikileaks.

    So, please, don’t lecture me on your “facts”.

  133. DGL @ 138: Your numbers are misleading: given that US population keeps going up and that inflation is almost always positive, the raw number of dollars collected by the US government in revenue has increased almost continuously since 1930 (with dips in 2000–2002 and 2007–2009… remind me who was President then?). A more useful figure would be inflation-adjusted Federal receipts per capita; for the convenience of the Whatever-reading public, I have generated a graph of that figure (thank you, St. Louis Fed) and posted it here.

  134. “Why is our ability to borrow effectively infinite but Greece’s is not?”

    Well, for one thing, the world doesn’t hold it’s debt in Greek government backed Euros or before that Drachma, which is what makes the two situations completely different.

    It might come to pass that global debt is held in German backed Euros, and the funny thing there is the Germans pay more tax than Americans and still have a stronger economy, AND have pensions and healthcare..,

    As for when I’m 70? Well, I’m 42 now, and I don’t think anybody my age should expect a pension prior to 70 or so, purely looking at life expectancy and health.

    On the other hand, I think EVERYBODY should have access to healthcare services regardless of age – and that’s something else that makes me feel comfortable about having a couple of EU passports in my desk drawer.

  135. Oh, and despite the US Government’s efforts to howl about the deaths that wikileaks has brought on American lives, the government admitted that it had absolutely no evidence that anyone was ever killed or attacked as a result of any wikileak information.

    http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2010/11/28/104404/officials-may-be-overstating-the.html

    Meanwhile, Bradley Manning, the American soldier who leaked the apache video and many other cables to Wikileaks, is being tortured in a military prison in Guantanamo.

    http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/glenn_greenwald/2010/12/14/manning

    Torture is a sure sign of tyranny.

    And we’ve got that in spades lately.

  136. Ruth @140: Actually, you’ll find lots of business “leaders” who’ve done very well for themselves by cutting costs and not looking at increasing revenues. The former CEO of the late Circuit City makes for a great example of what the GOP is trying to do to the US…

  137. http://politics.blogs.foxnews.com/2010/11/29/who-pfc-bradley-manning
    Greg @ 151
    I don’t usually get involved in these discussions preferring to just observe the frothiness but the above link states that Manning is being held in a maximum security brig in Quantico, not Guantanamo. It’s Fox news from last November, so YMMV, but still…

    I have not seen any verified evidence of him being tortured unless you feel him being incarcerated at all is in itself torture.
    I am not going to comment on his situation at all. It’s not related to the actual thread discussion.

    Back to the real topic of this thread. In my humble opinion, the GOP can’t stand to have any idea, good or bad, be accepted if it comes from the White house or the Democratic side of the aisle. The Democrats, on the other hand, can’t seem to work together at all and get anything meaningful done. For evidence, I bring your attention to the time period from November 2008 to November 2010.
    In my mind, it is not an either/or proposition. Cut spending, YES. Raise more Revenue, YES.
    Do both, make this huge pile of steaming economic crap get smaller faster, please.

  138. Paul @144: Why should he bother? You’ve already demonstrated that your theory is impervious to facts, and that if any facts do not fit your theory, you will find some unrelated and irrelevant reason why those facts should be ignored.

  139. Jeff@153, yes, Quantico, not Guantanamo. My mistake.

    As for “proof” of torture, I’m not sure what you are looking for. How Manning has been treated, at least to the extent that the military has been willing to acknowledge publicly, is in itself enough to meet the definition of torture.

    A letter to Obama signed by 250 lawyers and legal experts says that based on this information alone, Manning’s treatment before even being convicted of any crime, violates the Constitution and Bill of Rights.

    http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2011/apr/28/private-mannings-humiliation/

    It would appear that Obama’s war against whistleblowers is using Manning as an example to others who might consider revealing the government’s dirty laundry. Some also believe that the military is trying to “soften Manning up” to confess that Wikileaks conspired with him to release the documents, allowing the government to argue that wikileaks can be charged with a crime rather than being protected by freedom of press and freedom of speech rights.

    The UN Torture Watchdog has been trying to see Manning for some time, but has ben given the run around by the US, and only recently was able to see Manning in a “monitored” visit, meaning there is a miltary guard watching everything Manning says.

    http://www.newser.com/story/116177/un-torture-watchdog-rips-us-over-bradley-manning.html

  140. Seth @149: That’s the point, though. It’s silly to assume there is a correlation, let alone a causal relationship, between marginal tax rates and federal revenue simply because one went down and the other went up in a particular year.

    But “cut taxes and the government gets more money” is not a fact-based argument anyway; it’s a statement of faith.

  141. Greg.

    Greg.
    “So, please, don’t lecture me on your “facts”.”

    You’re misinformed, buddy. Wikileaks did not redact sensitive information about Afghan informants to the US against the Taliban. Assange’s explanation was that people who help Americans were “traitors” so he didn’t care what happened to them.

    We are not obligated to protect other people’s sources,” including sources of “spy organizations or militaries,” unless it is from “unjust retribution,” he said, adding that the Afghan public “should know about” people who have engaged in “genuinely traitorous” acts.

    Yes, I know he’s backtracked since then. Of course he did! The outcry was huge. Now he reckons he reacted all the information and the evil pentagon somehow slipped all the real names into the wikileak. uh huh… very believable.

  142. <blockquote“Why is our ability to borrow effectively infinite but Greece’s is not?”

    Well, for one thing, the world doesn’t hold it’s debt in Greek government backed Euros or before that Drachma, which is what makes the two situations completely different.
    Except it’s not “for one thing”, it’s the only thing that’s saving America’s bacon. But foreign holders of US currency are getting nervous – all that debt and those future liabilities are starting to scare them. If they start dumping the dollar in a big way, watch out and run for cover.

  143. China, choking on U.S. debt, is reportedly beginning to divest itself of U.S. bonds. Japan will need to sell U.S. bonds to get hard currency to repair the damage from the earthquake and tsunami. And the Fed is about to end its QE2 monthly purchases of $100 billion in U.S. bonds.

    It may be too late even for the Ryan Plan.

  144. DA, rather than get into the whole “You don’t know what a tragedy of the commons” back and forth again, I’ll just lay this out for you one more time.

    FACT: NO ONE HAS BEEN KILLED AS A RESULT OF WIKILEAKS.

    This FACT has been ACKNOWLEDGED by your very own US Government.

    The other FACT is that what Wikileaks did was legal and no different than Daniel Ellsberg publishing the pentagon papers.

    http://legallyeasy.rocketlawyer.com/is-wikileaks-illegal-9466

    FACT: Daniel Ellsberg was just recently arrested at a protest over Bradley Manning’s torture in a military prison.

    FACT, Dick Cheney leaked Valerie Plames identity in response to her husband leaking the fact that the whole “Iraq trying to get yellow cake from niger” hysteria was Republican bullshit fearmongering.

    So, please, spare me your efforts to spin this into something it isn’t.

    Freedom of speech and freedom of press is useless if you can’t exercise it.

    And Free Speech isn’t anarchist in nature.

    It’s in the US Constitution, that you right wingers hold so dear when it suits you.

    So, for god’s sake quit trying to sell me a line of bullshit that Thomas Jefferson was some kind of anarchist.

  145. Saith Paul @# 144, “Can you cite any years that the the federal government increased the top marginal rate and the government revenue went up that didn’t occur during the .com boom.”

    READ THE COMMENT. (Pardon me for shouting.) I don’t think the .com boom started in nineteen sixty-freakin-nine. Or for that matter in 1992. Some would even claim that the dot-com boom started in 1995, so none of the three marginal tax rate increases in the past 50 years happened “during the dot com boom”.

    Seth Gordon @# 149: I’m not sure if you’re trying to counter or support my argument. Paul (in this comment thread) and others (in various media outlets) say, “Every time the federal government has lowered marginal interest rates in the last 80 years revenues to the government increased.” They don’t say “inflation-adjusted federal receipts per capita increased,” they say “revenues increased”.

    Yes, yes they did. And when the federal government has kept the top marginal rate the same, revenues increased. When the federal government raised the top marginal rate, revenues increased. In even-numbered years, revenues increased. In odd-numbered years, revenues increased. In leap years, revenues increased.

    Which I think is pretty much what you’re saying – but inflation-adjusted federal receipts per capita just muddies the issue. By saying that every time the top marginal rate has been decreased revenues went up, people are implying (if they don’t come out and say) that if the top marginal rate is increased, revenues will go down. They haven’t.

  146. One more thing. Paul also says, “If there was a market for high speed rail one of us greedy capitalists would already be putting our money at risk for it.”

    If there was a market for interstate highways, one of us greedy capitalists would be already putting our money at risk for it.

    If there was a market for air traffic control, one of us greedy capitalists would be already putting our money at risk for it.

    If there was a market for flood control dams, one of us greedy capitalists would be already putting our money at risk for it.

    We could play this all day.

  147. If they start dumping the dollar in a big way, watch out and run for cover.

    They might do, they’d also, especially the Chinese, screw themselves in the process.

    The logical thing would be to kill the Bush tax cuts, drop a trillion from the debt instantly and get on with looking at the practically neolithic state of American Infrastructure.

    The Ryan plan is a fantasy, it’s not even a good one.

  148. Oh and DA… providing a quote stating something as a fact, which links to an op ed by PAT BUCHANAN(?!?!) doesn’t quite cut it for me as fact based referencing.

  149. So Paul, it occurs to me that if cutting marginal tax rates always works… how come Germany, with higher spending and higher taxes is currently doing better economically than the USA?

  150. So Paul, it occurs to me that if cutting marginal tax rates always works… how come Germany, with higher spending and higher taxes is currently doing better economically than the USA?

    More highly unionized, too, if I recall.

  151. Paul –
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:U.S.-income-taxes-out-of-total-taxes.JPG

    Tax revenue generally goes up every year – because the economy generally grows every year.

    But there are exceptions.

    Reagan cut taxes in 1982. 1983’s tax revenue went down.
    Bush I raised taxes in 1991. 1992’s tax revenue went up.
    Clinton raised taxes in 1993. 1994’s tax revenue went up.
    Bush II cut taxes in 2001. 2002’s and 2003’s tax revenue went down.

    Now, there’s one exception. Reagan did a massive tax shift from taxes on the wealthy to taxes on the middle class in 1986, and 1987’s tax revenue did not go down.

    To be fair, the few times tax revenue dropped from one year to the next, it was generally during a recession, and had little to do with changes in the tax rate. But still.

    We can head back to just post-WWII, where we raised the top marginal rate to 91%, to work on retiring the war debt.

    What happened to revenues then? They went way, way up. Otherwise there would have been no point in raising taxes, would there?

    When the war debt was retired and extra revenue was no longer needed to retire that debt, tax rates went down. Unsurprisingly, revenues went down. (Otherwise, there would have been no point to cutting taxes to decrease revenue, would there?)

  152. Germany’s a mixed basket. Their economy is growing right now, but they had a very bad year in 2009.

  153. Paul also says, “If there was a market for high speed rail one of us greedy capitalists would already be putting our money at risk for it.”

    Paging Dagny Taggert! (Okay, not really.)

    But again, “cut taxes and revenue goes up” is not actually a fact-based argument; it’s a statement of faith. Taxes are bad, they should be cut, and because cutting taxes is a virtuous act, it must lead to a virtuous result, QED. “It doesn’t matter if cutting taxes benefits the rich an decreases revenue to the government – it’s simply the right thing to do” would be the honest rendition of this viewpoint.

  154. If there were a market for mercenary corporations, one of us greedy capitalistz would be waging war for us.

    wait.

    that didnt work out so well. something must be wrong with these facts because they conflict with my ideals that the free market always comes up with the perfect and most efficient solution to any problem.

    someone get me some new facts. mine are broken.

  155. DA Munroe – EVERYBODY had a really bad year in 2009 – but they recovered…

    It also helps that the German people tend to live within their means in a way that would make the average Tea Partier blush in embarrassment.

    Given they’re a manufacturing economy coming out of the worst global recession in 70 years I think we can assume they’ve got some things right.

  156. #172 I think the official Tea Party position is that sub-prime CRA loans backed by Fannie and Freddie destroyed the global banking sector because the government forced all those US banks (like Northern Rock in the UK, and Icebank in Iceland and Royal Bank of Scotland and Lehman Brothers and…) to issue bad mortgages to poor people in the USA…

    Hmmm… something doesn’t add up there…

  157. Balancing rugged individualsim with being our brothers keeper. I like this theme. I’ve noticed the theme running through previous Obama speeches. That one before he was elected at the Democratic national convention before he was elected had the same theme. I’m one of those Christian Liberal Democrats that don’t exist according to ‘them’ but who enjoys those types of discussions on this site. Strange then, that I find myself posting on a tax issue. Still, I understand marginal tax rates and I believe that the rich can contribute more without being hurt too badly. I also think that we are ultimately judged by how we treat those less fortunate and that helping those we share this rock with is what matters more than anything. Also, its really not as much money as many people think since its only income above a certain point that is taxed at a higher rate. That’s why I’m irritated to hear things like “I work for a living and have to give 50% of my money to the Democrats.” But I also undertand wanting the governemnt to be responsible with the money that we give them and being frustrated with how they have spent in the past. I also understand that when Obama talks about raising taxes on rich married couples making a ‘quarter of a million’ that it sounds like a lot more money than couples who make $250 thousand even though I’m pretty sure its the same amount. I don’t think Obama is above politics even though I voted for him and really like him. As a member of a family (with a great deal of student debt), I can tell you that 250 thousand is far less money than Warren Buffet or Obama or Michael Moore and the real rich guys who claim to be able to afford it and who use that argument. By the same token, it would be shameful for me to even pretend that I am faced with the same sort of problems as those navigating the poverty line that this safety net is meant to help, especially since I used to be there. Thankfully now I can afford it too, but being lumped with millionaires as one of the nation’s richest is mildly irritating. The disagreement noted above between Mr. Scalzi and Tracy caused me to consider something. What if Obama fails and Ryan wins and we “rich” still don’t have to pay our fair share. Will we still contribute? I researched a little bit and found out that the goverment can take donations (tax deductible ones ha ha) from people with extra money to pay off the national debt. Nothing stops us from giving more if we truly think its important. I hope it is clear that I don’t mean this in a sarcastic way and I’m not trying to be a pain in the ass–I’m just pointing out that we can always give– to our goverment, political groups, homeless shelters, churches, whoever–and we don’t need permission from the tax code. Also, the real rich have been doing that recently, you may have noticed, giving away half of their net worth. Charity by choice makes you feel better than charity by force anyway. Brothers keeper and all that. Just an opinion.

  158. My father always says “You cannot tax yourself into prosperity”. That said, I think that the so-called Bush tax cuts should have never been put into place, much less extended. And the Social Security 2% tax reduction, that was plain stupid.

  159. For what it is worth when the IRS Tax Code was last massively reformed in 1986 the wealthiest taxpayers paid a flat tax of 28% of every dollar of taxable income; also all of their itemized deductions and personal exemptions to lower their taxable income figure were phased completely out. A bipartisan Congressional majority passed that reform that was signed by Republican President Ronald Reagan. Why cannot Boehner, Reid, and Obama just lead re-enactment the 1986 tax reform bill again? Ditch the last quarter century of tinkering with the tax code in one fell swoop of action? Sure would save a lot of ugly namecalling and bickering.

    The core issue becomes for 2012 what independent voters will think of the next several months of “leadership” by our national officeholders. Whoever comes across as keeping our government from doing what must be done will lose their trust and votes. What must be done? All of it. Some revenue raised, some spending cut, some paydowns to the existing level of national debt, some increases of the retirement age for younger taxpayers, some build in of incentives to hold medical cost down in Medicare and Medicaid. The accumulation of doing all of these things over the coming decade can and will restore fiscal sanity to our national wellbeing. Our national officeholders hold their own fates in their hands. Sadly, they hold ours too.

    And while they are at it making all of the above happen? Sell some assets (lots of Federal land west of the Mississippi); extricate our Nation from world policeman and wind down to a close Lybia, Iraq, Afganistan; don’t start up any new police actions; adopt an exit strategy for WWII Korea, etc. and shut down our bases in Germany, Korea, and elsewhere; pass the baton to China to be the superpower for the planet the second half of this century as she will become that even if we resist the change. Take our place as a part of the world community and not as the Leader of the Free World–share the responsibility with all free nations. We can still be proud Americans. First among equals? Been there, done that. Time to move on, put our fiscal house in order, and have high expectations of other free peoples and nations to keep this planet free and moving toward freedom in its darker corners.

  160. Why cannot Boehner, Reid, and Obama just lead re-enactment the 1986 tax reform bill again?

    That’s a rise in taxes. Unpossible.

  161. Not exaggerating here; capital gains has been taken down to 15%. Hedge fund managers (who, in no way, should be thought of as holding assets for a long term) are taxed at that rate. They’ve beaten back attempts to change that tax rate for hedge fund managers.

  162. from wikipedia: “About $8 billion in immediate cuts to domestic programs and foreign aid were offset by nearly equal increases in defense spending”

    Any Republican supporting this budget nonsense on the grounds of “fiscal responsibility” or “small government” is delusional.

    Cut domestic programs, increase military spending.
    Lower taxes on the rich, make low income people pay for it by cutting social programs.
    This isn’t about fiscal responsibility or small government.
    This is tyranny of a minority of right wing nutjobs arguing that while 80% teling 20% what to do is unfair, 20% can hold an entire nation hostage to their demands and that is somehow “fair”.

  163. Republican controlled House passes Insane Ryan budget.

    http://www.thefiscaltimes.com/Articles/2011/04/15/House-Passes-Ryans-Controversial-Budget-Plan.aspx

    quoting: “it sets a stake in the ground as far to the right as any political party has attempted since Barry Goldwater ran for president in 1964.”

    Oh, sure, this is just plain common sense. Right.

    “Cuts spending on domestic programs by over $100 billion next year and continues to add cuts… Holds defense spending at levels that remain 20 percent above the last peak during the 1980s… Overhauls the tax code to lower taxes on wealthier Americans and some corporations. ”

    Have you no shame, sir???

  164. guys, tax rates are a seconday issue. If spending passes GDP as projected, you could have 100 percent tax and still be underwater. Tax rates are just deck chairs on the Titanic.

  165. As of January 2011,

    http://afghanistan.blogs.cnn.com/2011/01/03/cnn-poll-u-s-opposition-to-afghanistan-war-remains-high/

    63% of Americans oppose the war in Afghanistan.
    35% of Americans support it.

    Find out how much you paid IN TAXES towards the war in Afghanistan here:

    http://rethinkafghanistan.com/iou/calculate.php

    The afghan war will cost 107 Billion dollars in direct costs for 2011.
    66% of americans oppose it.

    Tell me again about how 80% telling the other 20% is so unfair while 35% keep an entire nation at war.

    This will definitetly save a lot more money than closing Planned Parenthood ever would (about 360 Million of the federal budget last year). But hey, who am I to point out three orders of magnitudes in more savings.

  166. Good lord. Here is an interesting article:

    http://www.blogforarizona.com/blog/2010/10/dont-get-fooled-again-on-corporate-tax-rate-scam.html

    The headline is about corporations back in 2004 saying the would “repatriate” hundreds of billions of dollars to America and use it to build factories and create new jobs if the government would tax it at only 5%. The Republicans jumped at the offer. Only problem was that after they brought the money to american shores, about 60-90% of it didn’t do anything but go straight into shareholders pockets. No factories. no jobs.

    As shocking as that is a demonstration of Republican idiocy, that’s not the interesting part. The interestin gpart is towards the bottom.

    more than two-thirds of corporations pay no income tax at all according to the GAO. Majority of corporations avoid federal income taxes – study – Aug. 12, 2008.

    Would all the right wing nutjobs whinging about how Corporate taxes are killing the economy and creating unemployment, please shut the fuck up….

  167. Only problem was that after they brought the money to american shores, about 60-90% of it didn’t do anything but go straight into shareholders pockets.

    And then was taxed as personal income at a rate much higher than 5 percent.

  168. What exactly is your point, DA?

    That when the CORPORATIONS came to the government and said they would invest all the repratriated money in factories and jobs, and the REPUBLICANS gave them a tax exemption, and then the CORPORATIONS ignored making factories and jobs, ignored that part of their promise, and put the money in their pockets instead, your point was that it was… what??? OK??? because they got taxed at some PERSONAL income???

    Really, I have no idea what you could possibly be thinking here other than yet another version of , “those poor, picked on billionaires, just can’t get a break”.

  169. If the “patriot millionaires” are so upset at their tax rate they can go to the Treasury Dept. web site and pay whatever addition “tax” they wish. I have yet to see Buffett, King, et. al. do that.
    I keep hearing “fair share” and “patriotic” and I have yet to see anyone mouthing that sentiment step up and willingly volunteer.
    I keep hearing about the under-taxed rich yet 90% of taxes are paid by the top 25% and nearly 50% pay nothing.
    I will point out to those less knowledgeable that there is nothing in the Constitution that provides for planned parenthood. In fact a good start would be ridding the government of the Department of Education, Housing and Urban Development, Fannie Mae, Freddy Mac, the IRS, Homeland Security, CIA, BATF, DEA, cut funding to planned parenthood, PBS, NPR.
    When Democrats are serious about cutting spending then and only than will I be willing to talk about raising taxes.
    I am 100% for a flat tax and everybody who gets a paycheck pays 15%. No deductions for anything.
    Finally, Obama was forced to make his self congratulating speech because he was forced to by his and his party’s incompetence. There would have never had to have been a “budget deal” had Democrats done their jobs in 2010. The only thing that prevents me from supporting impeachment is the idiot Obama chose for VP.

  170. gwangung @177

    Unpossible to raise Federal taxes? Get real. Our only way out of this fiscal disaster is a little bit of everything as I argue in the comment to which you respond “unpossible.” Tax revenue must go up. Spending must go down. Both must happen or we will reap the whirlwind. Try responding to the arguments with reasoned rebuttals instead of naked assertions.

    For the record US citizens are in no way overtaxed. Check out the numbers of our US tax burden (Federal, State, Local) compared to all of the other first world nations. We are way down the list. I personally paid the IRS about $4000 for 2010 and I am damn glad that I did. I like the value I got for my money in Federal government services in 2010–a real bargin compared to like taxpayers in the UK, Canada, Australia, Germany, et. al.

  171. “I normally point to the New York Times for stuff like that, but in deference to those of you with paywall issues, I’m pointing to Talking Points Memo instead.”

    I’m not following you, John: the great benefit of the plan is that people get to read for free with links from blogs. By providing one, you’re helping them. Why not do that?

    I think it’s great that the Times is supporting bloggers in this way by making all links from blogs free past the paywall.

  172. Really, I have no idea what you could possibly be thinking here other than yet another version of , “those poor, picked on billionaires, just can’t get a break”.

    Yeah, that was my point, Greg. Poor, poor billionaires. Got it in one.

  173. Greg @180

    If you look at what the Tea Party and their self-deluded followers are actually pushing for rather then what they are saying, ignore the fancy costumes and unfollowed rhetoric. You get a blatant view of the religious right under a flimsy cloak of Tea Twit costume.

    explains a lot, dunnit. .

  174. The Tea Party has got nothing to do with religion. They’re talking about spending cuts; they’re holding rallies for spending cuts, they’re voting for anyone who will cut spending (no matter how nutty their views on just about anything else – don’t care); they’re pressuring politicians to make spending cuts. hmmm… I wonder what their agenda really is? Must be guns and religion.

  175. What are the tea party folks doing and saying?

    Second Ammendment solutions, cutting gas lines to politicians they don’t like, offering rewards to anyone who will punch politicians they don’t like in the face, making death threats to politicians they don’t like, bringing assault rifles to political rallies, holding political rallies where you get to shoot at the initials of the political opponent.

    Yeah, it’s all completely completely rational, logical and sane at Tea Party headquarters.

    But wait, there’s more:

    Saying laws against child labor are infringing on corporate rights,

    saying laws against segregation are infringing corporate rights,

    And then there is shit I couldn’t even make up because it’s just so fucking MORONIC that no one would believe it if it weren’t being reported by a republican congressman talking about a Tea Party meeting he went to where they all told him:

    “Barack Obama is a socialist, communist Marxist who wants to destroy the American economy so he can take over as dictator. Health care is part of that. And he wants to open up the Mexican border and turn [the US] into a Muslim nation. … on the back of your Social Security card, there’s a number. That number indicates the bank that bought you when you were born based on a projection of your life’s earnings, and you are collateral. We are all collateral for the banks. … And then of course, it turned into something about the Federal Reserve and the Bilderbergers and all that stuff. And now you have the feeling of anti-Semitism here coming in, mixing in.”

    The Republican Congressmen goes on to say: “Republican leaders are pushing rhetoric tainted with racism, that conservative activists are dabbling in anti-Semitic conspiracy theory nonsense, and that Sarah Palin celebrates ignorance.” All of this, he says, to appeal to Tea Party Paranoia.

    http://motherjones.com/politics/2010/08/bob-inglis-tea-party-casualty

    Oh, and Obama was born from a kenyan father and Martian mother in orbit around Saturn and then was snuck in through the mexacan border as a manchurian candidate who will hand the country (and the planet) over to the Borg.

    In summary, the Republican congreeman describes the Tea Party as racists, anti-semites, paranoid, and ignorant.

    Which is probably much closer to the truth than saying they’re a bunch of calm, cool, rational, logical, intelligent, folks with a sophisticated understanding of economics far beyond the power of us mere mortals thus enabling only them to see the conspiracies afoot to enslave the American population.

    wait a second….. Why does this sound familiar……

    Holy shit, Tea Party folks think they’re the heroes in the movie “They Live”. That they’ve got the secret glasses that allow them to see the truth.

    That explains some things…..

  176. Yeah, that was my point, Greg. Poor, poor billionaires. Got it in one.

    I feel the most moral choice between, for example,

    (1) giving tax breaks to billionaires and paying for it by letting 70,000 children die

    versus

    (2) increasing taxes on billionaires and saving those children

    is (2).

    (see my link at #111 explaining 70,000 dead children)

    Now, DA, I really would like to hear how your moral system arrives at the conclusion
    that it is a far far better thing to do to give tax breaks to billionaires resulting in the deaths
    of 70,000 children.

    A slightly higher tax on billionaires has far less impact than 70,000 dead children.
    We’re talking about the difference between (1) cutting the three month vacation at the
    summer mansion in the South of France short by a week versus (2) uhm, 70,000 children dying.

    Clearly, those “They Live” glasses you’re wearing allow you to see some hidden math that tilts
    the scales and requires those children to die.

    Perhaps you could enlighten me.

  177. jdkchem@187: I keep hearing “fair share” and “patriotic” and I have yet to see anyone mouthing that sentiment step up and willingly volunteer.

    This needs to be added to my “democracy means I don’t have to if I didn’t vote for it” list at #147.

  178. jdkchem @187: If “patriot millionaires” vote to raise taxes on patriot millionares, they’re doing better than writing the Treasury a check; they’re insuring that the Treasury gets its money.

    As for a flat tax, you are aware, I hope, that not all income comes from paychecks?

  179. Greg, the issue of aid is very important. Before I answer though, it’s wrong of you to link aid to tax breaks. They’re separate issues. My earlier point was about corporate tax rates (not “billionaire” tax rates by the way) in and of themselves.

    I would never condone a policy that caused 70 thousand children to die. But is “cutting aid” such a policy? well, here are some things to think about.
    1. the life expectancy in Africa hasn’t improved – in fact it’s gone down over the pat 3 decades or so. So this seems to suggest that American government funded aid programs actually dont do anything at all.
    2. that figure is likely to be a headline grabber – a figure plucked out of the air. A guess. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, because it helps make the issues concrete. But let’s not pretend that it’s an actual number of children who will die.
    3. we help others when we can. I’m undecided on this one but there are two reasons why you might not want congress to be in the aid business. THe first is that it’s imposing forced “charitable giving” on all American citizens. The second is, if you’re staring down the barrel of a fiscal crsis, you might want to make sure your nation doesn’t collapse before being generous with other nations, however poor they are.

  180. DAM @ 192
    Having a line-in-the-sand mentality over DOMA issues, rabid insistence on political holy war against abortions and Planned Parenthood, doing their best to roll back civil rights laws reflecting today’s less frothing attitude about LGBT issues, pushing hard at all levels to enact laws that would make criminal attempts to save the life of the mother even in cases where the only way to due so was to abort the child of a rapist (or in a case of incest). These my-way-or-the-highway stances on multiple “social engineering” goalposts look awful familiar to me and the fact that they will walk away from fiscal issues in order to push their signature crusades on the public simply underscores the reality. The fundamentalist groups that Bush the Lesser funded direct from the White House (in direct violation of constitutional passages forbidding state sponsored religion) are still there, even if they used corporate astroturfing to buy the megaphone.

  181. These my-way-or-the-highway stances on multiple “social engineering” goalposts look awful familiar to me and the fact that they will walk away from fiscal issues in order to push their signature crusades on the public simply underscores the reality.

    Sure. But I would suggest to you that’s Republicans being Republicans, and not the Tea Party agenda per se. As you say yourself, this is a residual effect of the Bush era.

  182. My two cents– the US government is in a really sorry pickle because we got left with a 4 trillion dollar tab from 2001-2008 and Obama started his term in a recession that we’ve softened the landing a bit but for working people, may take a long time to climb out a decade or so, with it taking longer the more inflation depreciates values.
    Letting the Bush tax cuts expire would be a start in bringing enough revenue in to help pay down the balance. Getting corporations to pay their fair share would help as well. Balancing the budget means biting the hands of many top campaign donors and honking off large segments of the voting public wanting a free lunch of functional government without paying for it.
    For the life of me, I don’t understand why the business lobby hasn’t been in favor of single-payer
    to reduce their overhead. We pay three times what Germany, the UK, and other developed countries pay for health care with worse results.
    Cutting the defense budget is a double-edged sword. To defend the US, we could probably scale back about 67-75% in raw expenditures, but all of a sudden, what do we do with the soldiers/marines/airmen/sailors let go en masse? Unemployment sucks now. Throwing 2 million or so folks out of work will NOT help matters. Should they be redeployed in rebuilding America’s infrastructure a la the CCC and NWA in Depression times? It would certainly help keep people busy and allow for growth later on. We need massive retraining programs for our workforce to be competitive, which thankfully, community colleges fulfill that role quite well. The big issue is, will there be jobs for them once they graduate that justify the retraining expense?
    If we want to lavish money on high-tech projects, why not go Apollo-scale on getting to Mars and improving orbital facilities? In R&D we’re tweaking a lot of low-hanging fruit in health care and IT. It would give the impetus for much more basic research and blue-sky tinkering to make those habitats work and exploit resources in the solar system which could give the US a long-term technical and economic advantage.
    Just a few random suggestions that would provide opportunities for the US economy to grow and produce something beneficial to humanity as a whole.

  183. To defend the US, we could probably scale back about 67-75% in raw expenditures, but all of a sudden, what do we do with the soldiers/marines/airmen/sailors let go en masse?

    The sooner you start, the less it has to be mass sackings. If it’s done over a period of time it can be orderly. with recruitment freezes, redundancies, etc. I guess there’s a case for a military presence in Asia-Pacific, but what’s the point of US bases in, say, Germany? The Germans can’t afford to defend themselves?

    Also, not all military spending is well spent. There’s a lot of bloat in defence. But as for unemployed servicemen, you get that after every major war. It sorts itself out.

  184. Sean @ 201
    If you want a high-tech approach and don’t need to worry about interference from greedy types like the Koch brothers and most of the oilogarchy, take a page from old fashioned S.F. and go with asteroid mining. Resource shortages go away in a hurry and deficits leave even sooner. Note: the type of deficits prefabricated by the Republican/Tealiban Governors all over the country would need a stronger fix (RICO perhaps?).

  185. DA@197: it’s wrong of you to link aid to tax breaks.

    They are linked because they were part of the same Republican budget.

    Tax breaks for billionaires were paid for in part by cutting funding to programs that would keep 70,000 children alive.

    They’re separate issues

    Oh, no, no, no, no, no, no, no.

    I see what you’re doing, and this is complete BULLSHIT.

    This is exactly what the party of “fiscal responsibility” does when things start geting uncomfortable for them and their choices: They refuse to be responsible for their budget cuts and their real world effects.

    You jokers proposed this budget. It gives tax breaks to millionaires. It pays for those tax breaks by cutting social programs. Some of those programs would keep 70,000 children alive.

    If you cut funding to keep 70,000 children alive, you are responsible for that being the outcome of your budget. Ebenezer Scrooge may have been an asshole, but at least he took responsibility for his apathy. Are there no work houses? No prisons? When pushed to make a contribution to help the needy, Scrooge said flat out it wasn’t his responsibility to take care of those people.

    You do absolutely do NOT get to actively push for these cuts and then shrug your shoulders at the effects and say “wasn’t me”.

    You know what I find hilarious about the right wing nut jobs and tea party zealots? They love to give lectures about their superior understanding of economics: money doesn’t grow on trees, money isn’t infinite, you can only get out what you put in, we can’t borrow forever. There is no free lunch. No magic fairies that pay for it all. Basically, the lecture is that money is a zero sum game. Simple math. It all has to add up. And we have to take responsibility for all the benefits we take from the government compared to what we put in.

    Right?

    But then when confronted, as I confronted you, about how your cuts will result in the deaths of 70,7000 children, suddenly, the math gets fuzzy. The zero sum game becomes mushy. And magic fairies pop up all over the place to try to provide you with a magical smoke screen so that YOU don’t have to take RESPONSIBILITY for the cuts that YOU support.

    In a nutshell, when the right wing nutjobs say “responsibility”, it applies to everyone but them.

    Like the right loves to say, DA, it’s simple math. It has to add up. And if you take something away, like tax revenue from millionaires, you have to pay for it somehow. And the way the right wing crazies, and tea party fanatics paid for it was to cut government programs, including one that would have kept 70,000 kids alive. You cut that funding, you are respnosible for the results.

    tax cuts and aid are NOT separate because they are part of the same mathematical formula the right used to arrive at their budget.

    + tax cuts – social programs = Republican “balanced” budget

    When someone points out that cutting that social program will result in 70,000 dead children, you don’t suddenly get to throw the math out the window, and get all fuzzy wuzzy, and try some right-wing feel-good (saying “They’re not related” so you can feel good about making the cuts you made) economics on me.

    Absolutely not.

  186. DA@199: the Tea Party agenda per se

    DA. Stop treating people like idiots. The Tea Party agenda is quite clear to everyone. And it is the culmination of what the Tea Party DOES. Whatever the Tea Party SAYS is irrelevant if it has little correlation to what it DOES.

    You are obviously a member of the Tea Party (or you have nearly identical philosophies, but for whatever reason you avoid the Tea Party label). And you are demonstrating on an individual basis exactly what the Tea Party does on a national lavel: You keep trying to say the Tea Party is what you SAY it is, and that we should all ignore all the other things the Tea Party DOES.

    As if we are idiots.

    I gave a list of all the things the Tea Party has DONE, back at #193. You trying to SAY that all the Tea Party is is a group of people who want “Small Government” is disconnected from everything else the Tea Party DOES. And we all know they DO those things. You don’t get to redefine the term to mean what you want it to mean.

    So, please stop trying.

  187. 70,000 dead children

    > 2. that figure is likely to be a headline grabber – a figure plucked out of the air.
    > A guess. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, because it helps make the
    > issues concrete. But let’s not pretend that it’s an actual number of children who will die.

    So, would 10,000 dead children be OK, DA? Is that your point? You acknowledge that the government is keeping 10,000 children alive through taxes, and cutting those taxes, thereby defunding that program, will kill those children? And you approve those cuts?

    Or are you trying to say there really can be no negative consequences to cutting any government social service? Because, lets be honest about it, the government can’t do anything that the Free Market couldn’t do better. So the government is keeping ZERO children alive, the program is just another example of government waste, and cutting it harms no one.

    I’m not sure which one you’re forwarding here.

    Zero dead children? So cut funding.

    Some number less than 70,000 but greater than, say, 1000 dead children? And you’re OK with that number of dead children, so cut funding?

    Maybe if you start by (1) giving a specific number of how many dead children you think cutting funding to this program will produce and then (2) saying whether you find that number acceptable and support defunding or not, then we could go from there.

    Answering those questions myself, (1) i think probably around 70,000 children will die from defunding and (2) I think that’s unacceptable and I oppose defunding.

    You?

  188. Greg.
    1. Tea Party.
    First, like I said earlier, don’t conflate “Tea Party” with “republican politicians” because they’re not quite the same.
    Second, the hype about the Tea Party being full of violent extremists is just that – hype. You want to talk about death threats? Scott Walker has recieved death threats. So has Sarah Palin. And the Giffords shooter was a left-winger.
    It’s really a debate about economic policy and the role of government in the economy.

    2. Foreign Aid.
    As I said earlier, there’s no evidence that government funded aid does much of anything at all. Life expectancy has gotten worse in Africa. I don’t find the claim that “70,000 kids will die” credible.

    How many kids would be acceptable? This is a judgement call and let me tell you why. Because if it was unacceptable to let any kid die anywhere of preventable causes, we’d tax ourselves at 100 percent and give it all to charity for third world countries. since we’re not prepared to do that, then obviously it becomes a question of how many children are we prepared to rescue, and how much money we’re going to spend doing it. The question can’t be answered with a moral absolute.

    Do you donate your entire paycheck to the red cross or similar? Probably not – and does that make you a bad person? No. You give what you can, and anything you give, above zero, is a bonus. Anything you do, beyond nothing, is ‘good.’

    same thing.

    So, unless you can convince me I’m evil for giving $10 to the Red Cross when I could have given $20, you can’t make a coherent case against congress for cutting aid.

    Congress didn’t make the world a harsh, brutal place with lots of suffering and unfairness. It was already that way before America existed and it will be that way when America is long gone. Congress isn’t to blame for kids dying on the other side of the world.

  189. DA @ 208

    “the Giffords shooter was a left-winger”?

    I call BS on that claim. The sniper scope target symbol the shooter was energized by was put on the internet by that grifter Palin who is obviously not a lefty. Your claim is not even enough to rate “good try” level.

  190. It’s unwise to call BS on things without first consulting the Google oracle.
    Those scopes on Palin’s web page had nothing to do with it. That was just a baseless smear. There was never any evidence that he even visited Palin’s website.

  191. DA: there’s no evidence that government funded aid does much of anything at all.

    Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding!

    We have a winnner!

    Government is useless. The mantra of the Right.

    Thanks for playing DA.

    I don’t find the claim that “70,000 kids will die” credible.

    You remind me of that guy who refused to look through the telescope for fear of what he might see.

    How many kids would be acceptable? … The question can’t be answered with a moral absolute.

    This is why I love you, DA. Sometimes you give pure right wing Tea Party gold. The question was how many do YOU find acceptable. That doesn’t require any moral absolute. It requires you to look at the numbers, the budget, the money spent on the aid programs, the taxes it would take to pay for it, and then it requires you to say “yay” or “nay”. Where your vote changes from “yay” to “nay” then indicates how many dead children you find acceptable.

    In this particular case, given your support of the Republican version of the budget in congress, it seems that you find the numbers acceptable. Give tax cuts to millionaires and pay for it by cutting aid that would have kept 70,000 children alive. That is acceptable to you by your support of the proposed budget.

    But then you challenge the number. You have absolutely zero evidence to challenge it. You challenge it essentially from an argument from ignorance “How could anyone really know how many children will die?” So, I was trying to nail down how many children you really thought would die as a result of the Republican proposed budget that you support. Because how many children YOU think would die, is the number of dead children YOU find acceptable to give millionaires their tax breaks.

    You get to pick the number that you think will die from cutting aid.

    And you picked zero.

    Because you want the tax cuts and you want “small government”, you want the government out of social programs, and you want to cut all the things it does, and most importantly you don’t want to take responsibility for what all the things you want will do in the real world. So, the thing you want, cutting government programs and funding, suddenly magically has no negative affects whatsoever.

    No negative effects whatsoever.

    Awesome, DA. Just awesome.

  192. The question was how many do YOU find acceptable.

    I already said, Congress is not morally responsible for third world poverty.
    I find it interesting that your plan is to take money by force from “millionaires” and put it into aid programs that have no track record of effectiveness. How very Robin Hood of you.

    Government is useless. The mantra of the Right.

    Not useless, but not very good. Anyway, who you calling right wing?

  193. DA: Congress is not morally responsible for third world poverty.

    “Third world poverty”? Is that a coded euphamism for “dead children” these days? Did you notice you keep avoiding answering the question without turning it into something else?

    Here is all you have to say, DA, so that I can leave this conversation with some semblance of respect for you being responsible for your actions: “70,000 dead third-world children is acceptable to me for this year’s federal budget.”

    If you cut the aid, own the consequence. Revel in it. Bask in it. Take responsibility for it.

    your plan is to take money by force

    Reminds me of a joke I heard a while back, called “How to be a professional libertarian”.

    Step 1: Take any staetment about any progresive program created in the last one hundred years.

    Step 2: Add an exclamation mark.

    For example:
    Step 1: “State run aid programs use tax revenue to feed and vaccinate children.”
    Step 2: “State run aid programs use tax revenue to feed and vaccinate children!!!”

    Looks like you added a step of your own.

    Step 3: “State run aid programs use tax revenue (taken by force!) to feed and vaccinate children!!!”

    I don’t think it could get any funnier…

    who you calling right wing?

    OK, it just got funnier.

  194. DA @ 210

    Let’s see, a large hate-filled base of radio screamers, politicians using guns and targets with left-leaning opposing candidates on them, a party with a decades-long record of blaming those that catch them in the act and using the “victim card” when all else fails. A party that advocates legalizing concealed-carry laws for bars. BARS?
    Why should I suspect them when they finally get what they have been pushing for so hard and so long?
    Why should I suspect them when they pull out the tired old CYA “It was the evil old lefty”.

    Because it is a lame, tired old B.S. claim and you know it.

  195. If you cut the aid, own the consequence.

    I didn’t personally cut the aid. I didn’t say – or even imply – that it was the right thing to do. My point was that it’s not an intrinsically evil act, because if it was intrinsically evil, you could never reduce aid spending, ever… it would always increase. That to me seems like an absurd conclusion.
    I can live with not conforming to your idealistic and extreme moral viewpoint.

    Why should I suspect them when they finally get what they have been pushing for so hard and so long?

    Republicans have been pushing for political assassinations? I see. That’s a very calm, balanced opinion you’ve got there, Nargel. By the way, I noticed that you skipped right over the Scott Walker death threats. Cognitive dissonance perhaps? Let’s face it, there are nutcases of all political persuasions.

  196. “Republicans have been pushing for political assassinations? ”

    [Second amendment remedies anybody?] not a path advocated by the left it seems.

  197. Scott Walker death threats?
    This is a man who is on the record as planning to bring in goons to disrupt peaceful demonstrations but only didn’t as he felt he would get caught at it. Right-wing agitprop actions have a long and slimy history and playing the victim card is a standard right-wing CYA. You can babble all the right-wing talking points you want but other people watch what goes on and pay attention too.
    I have only to look at the actions of the right-wing zealots during the last 50+ years when they failed to legally get their way and what they quickly resorted to as a default: bombs, bullets, lies and propaganda. . political assassinations? Define “political”.
    Based on the statements of Rethuglican politicians everything is political 24/7 and the campaign never stops. Your claim of “nutcases of all political persuasions” only works if you define “all political persuasions” as “blatant Republican persuasions”.

  198. @DA: “The shooter was a leftwinger” except for the holocaust denial and the libertarian streak that liked Atlas Shrugged. We could meet halfway and say “hodge-podge political leanings of a mad man” if you’d like to be a grownup about it.

  199. Nargel #217

    Scott Walker death threats?
    This is a man who…[insert outragous things Scott Walker has done]

    Gee, Nargel, it sounds like you’re saying, well, that he deserved those death threats. But that can’t be right, can it? I must have misunderstood you.

    We could meet halfway and say “hodge-podge political leanings of a mad man” if you’d like to be a grownup about it.

    Absolutely. I was trying to offer an olive branch on the issue when I said:”Let’s face it, there are nutcases of all political persuasions.”

  200. if you think that was one of the most”outrageous things Scott Walker has done” then you pay very little attention to what is happening in his state.
    Gee, DA, it sounds like you don’t know about how he front loaded his state budget with give-aways to corporate cronys and political funders and used the resulting budget deficit as cover for his quest to kill collective bargaining rights,much less his attempt to steal the taxpayer funded utilities and give them to the Kohk brothers for a pittance as payment for their campaign donations. But that can’t be right, can it? I must have misunderstood you.

  201. …so you were suggesting he deserves death threats.
    So much for democracy – voting out the politicians you don’t like seems preferable to hounding them out at gunpoint – but I guess I’m old fashioned like that.
    I’m done here.

  202. Greg, I agree with you about most of DA’s politics, but he did make one cromulent point there. We always accept some amount of death/bad consequences for policy decisions. Otherwise, every car would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars and/or we just would not have cars and/or [next policy extreme.] It is possible that the US cannot afford to put out X dollars of foreign aid and that lack of that aid will result in Y deaths. And it is possible that people of whatever political stripe will have to accept those consequences either now or in the near future when the US goes really bankrupt. I agree with you that the rich should not get lighter tax burdens on the back of those kinds of cuts. But what if we need tax raises (on people who make less than 250 as well as above) AND domestic cuts AND military cuts AND painful entitlement reform. Those Y kids are still going to die. Will that make us evil?

  203. RE: political violence

    The Tea Party and Right Wing has made a point to campaign on politically violent imagery. The Left has not.

    I would print the laundry list of political violence in right wing campaigns of late, but we’ve been through that already on some other thread, and not surprisingly, the Right Wingers here were unable to look through that telescope for fear of what reality they might see that contradicted their flat earth, the-Tea-Party-are-a-bunch-of-peace-loving-hippy-pacifists, worldview.

    Must preserve the wolrdview at all costs.

    To PrivateIron:

    The difference is whether individuals own up to their politics or not. If you support politicians and budgets and tax plans that give tax breaks to millionaires and pay for it by letting 70,000 children die, you are responsible for that outcome. You will notice that NO WHERE in this thread does DA ever manage to bring himself to say “I support tax breaks for millionaires paid for by cutting the program that keeps 70,000 children alive”

    What he has done *instead* is downplay the damage his politics inflicts on the world. His response: There’s no way the government could have kept 70,000 children from dying, the government is useless, It’s all lies!

    He also tried to change the subject: You can’t turn this into a moral absolute!

    Except I never asked for a moral absolute. What I asked for is for him to be responsible for supporting a budget that proposes tax breaks for millionaires paid for by cutting aid to a program that will result in 70,000 dead children.

    To be responsible means acknowldging the effects of your actions. Owning up to your actions causing whatever effects they cause. To quote the dictionairy: To be at cause in the matter. In this case, the “matter” is the federal budget proposed by Republicans. The action of that budget gives tax breaks to millionaires and pays for it by cutting aid. The effects of those actions will result in 70,000 children dying.

    If you take that action, and cause those effects, then take responsibility for it.

    What Republicans want, though, is to do whatever they want to do and take zero responsibility for the effects of their actions. This is almost a required attribute to being a right winger lately.

    Right wingers want to burn petroleum cause its cheap. And at the same time they refuse to acknowledge their actions causes global warming.

    They want to deregulate commerce because it makes them profit. At the same time they refuse to acknowledge their actions caused the econmoic collapse, monopolies, unfair busines practices, and a loss of themiddle class.

    They want to use violent imagery in their political campaigns but refuse to acknowlege any responsibility for any real world violence it causes.

    The Right keeps selling itself as the party of fiscal responsibility, or rugged individualism, of individual responsibility,

    But its total bullshit.

    Everything they want, they refuse to take any responsibility for the effects of their actions.

    The Right Wing idea of “responsibility” ends at their nose. If they used coal powered cars, they would refuse to take any responsibiltiy for anything that happened outside of their car. If they proposed “second ammendment solutions”, they refuse to take any resopnsibility for someone actually following through on their words. If they completely deregulate wall street, the inevitable economic crash is not their fault.

    They understand responsibility as something that ends at their fingertips. In the seven degrees of Kevin Bacon view of the world, they insist their responsibilty ends at the first degree, them. If they cut aid to starving children, in their minds they didn’t actually cause the children to die, malaria and hunger did, so they feel no responsibility. If they drive coal powered cars, their responsibility ends at their smoke stack. (DA’s insistence that atmospheric pollution is not a tragedy of the commons is one example of that). If they deregulate Wall Street, they don’t see any responsibility for the inevitable crash, because they didn’t “cause” the crash. It was something one or two degrees removed from them.

    That anyone is taking this nonsense seriously just boggles my mind.

  204. DA @ 221
    No, that is not what I said. What I said was simply that I understand why somebody dealing with Walkers tyrannical brutal actions and refusal to countenance any other option might say such a thing as a means to get through. Your prissy-ass refusal to even consider the multiple facts I pointed out, followed by snide comments reiterating your talking point of the day promoted my response making it clear just how laughable your you’ll-never-understand-you’re-being-insulted digs are. Couldn’t take it when I fed them back? Tough.

  205. Representative Jan Schakowsky has a bill called “Fairness in Taxation” which creates a new tax bracket for people earning over one million dollars. Millionaires have an effective tax rate of about 16%, A recent NBC/Wall Street Journal poll found that 81% of Americans favor boosting taxes on mllionaires and billionaires as a deficit reduction strategy.

    There is a petition being circulated to support the bill that you can sign here:

    http://act.colorofchange.org/sign/taxes/

    Offered as an alternative to the current insanity….

  206. No, that is not what I said. What I said was simply that I understand why somebody dealing with Walkers tyrannical brutal actions and refusal to countenance any other option might say such a thing as a means to get through.

    Oh right. you can see where she’s coming from. Don’t like his policies, so it’s understandable that people might want to kill him. Got it, buddy.

    Millionaires have an effective tax rate of about 16%, A recent NBC/Wall Street Journal poll found that 81% of Americans favor boosting taxes on mllionaires and billionaires as a deficit reduction strategy.

    Hey I’m all for ‘millionaires’ paying taxes. But there is a dangerous, growing belief on the left that all our problems can be solved if we just get the money out of millionaires (and billionaires). It’s dangerous, because it’s wrong.
    The fiscal crisis dwarfs anything you’ll get from that potential income stream. It’s also dangerous because it’s incorrectly portraying the problem as a redistribution problem when it’s actually a structural problem. ‘There’s plenty of money to solve our woes,’ the thinking goes, ‘if only we could crack open those juicy bank accounts owned by the rich!’

    History lesson #1. Populist class movements to take money from the rich always end in tears.

  207. Hey I’m all for ‘millionaires’ paying taxes.

    I hear you saying a lot of words DA, and none of them include “more”.

    Which suggests you think 16% is an all right amount.

    It also suggests that you have no intention of signing that petition, and you probably didn’t even bother clicking through it to read it.

    So, you’ll keep millionaire tax rates at 16% and make up the budget by cutting social programs including cutting ones that will cause the deaths of 70,000 children. But hey, at least you’re “for” millionaires paying taxes, right?

    The fiscal crisis dwarfs anything you’ll get from that potential income stream.

    Uh huh. That’s right wing code for “we have to cut . Don’t bother me with simple math.”

    ‘if only we could crack open those juicy bank accounts owned by the rich!’

    That’s rigth wing code for “any tax rate is a slippery slope to my personal hell, better to cut taxes just to be on the safe side.”

    History lesson #1. Populist class movements to take money from the rich always end in tears.

    I have a linguistic question for you DA.

    What objective means do you use to distinguish “Populist class movements to take money from the rich” from the concept called “progressive taxes”?

    Because it seems like you’re being a “professtional libertarian” again, DA, taking a progressive program and adding an exclamation point and suggesting it is all done “by force” because that’s what “taking” means, right? By force?

    Have you ever said what party you affiliate with, DA? If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, swims like a duck, it’s pretty much a duck.

  208. Not for nothing, but it seems that folks need to be reminded of some minor history here.

    Republican Scot Walker made a premptive threat to use the national guard against anyone who protested his plans to bust unions who didn’t donate to his election campaign. Before anyone had started rotesting.

    Republican Governor -> Threat of force

    It might very well be that both sides of the political spectrum have violent nutjobs as DA attempted with his “et tu” misdirection fallacy. The difference is that Republicans keep electing their violent nutjobs to offices.

  209. @DA: I’ve never read about death threats to Gov. Walker. If you could provide a non-blog source/non-rightwing mouthpiece(FOX, the conservative weeklies) to corroborate multiple death threats then that’d be cool. From what I’ve picked up it was Mr. Walker considering planting “troublemakers” in the protesters until he thought that it might make him compromise his plan which strikes me as a Nixon/Daly(democrats have been douches in the past too) move.

    That combined with the sting phone call paints a pretty damning picture of the man as a corporate shill who’s balancing his checkbook and tax spending in the form of marginal rate cuts on the backs of the worker(who perhaps should’ve negotiated less for pensions but actual pay raises so they get what they deserve long term, but I digress), the elderly, and the poor.

  210. @DA: I’ve never read about death threats to Gov. Walker. If you could provide a non-blog source/non-rightwing mouthpiece(FOX, the conservative weeklies) to corroborate multiple death threats then that’d be cool.

    here.
    For the record, I didn’t bring this up to paint left wingers/progressives etc as violent crazies – I don’t think that’s the case – but to counteract the notion that such people are found only on the right. Surely this, at least, can be common ground here.

    Have you ever said what party you affiliate with, DA?

    No. Who cares? Why do you care?
    Your entire strategy against me seems to be to prove – I imagine with a maniacal cackle – that I’m the archetypal Tea Party/paleo-neo-conservative Republican, and therefore I’m wrong. And not only wrong, but evil and hypocritical as well.
    Honestly I hold some views that are generally thought of as left wing but they haven’t come up here. (gay marriage for one… there are others)

  211. DA @226: why the scare quotes around “millionaires”?

    Because it’s a word that has more rhetorical punch than it deserves, mostly due to inflation. Once upon a time, a millionaire was someone with stupendous wealth. Today it may be someone who’s extremely wealthy, or may just be a comfortable retiree, or somewhere in between.

    For the same reason it’s funny when Austin Powers demands a ransom of “One MILLION dollars!”

    I feel the need to pre-emptively add that a million dollars is still a lot of money, and you’re very lucky if you’ve got it.

  212. DA @232: A millionaire is still somebody with stupendous wealth. (At least in the US. If I recall rightly, you are not in the US, so perhaps it’s less-stupendous where you reside.) It’s not as stupendous as it might have been many year a’gone, but then, in Those Days you could buy a candy bar for a nickel and gas was a quarter a gallon.

  213. DA: Your entire strategy against me seems to be to prove – I imagine with a maniacal cackle – that I’m the archetypal Tea Party/paleo-neo-conservative Republican, and therefore I’m wrong.

    No. My “strategy” is to prove you wrong. Having done that, I noticed that there are certain statements which are doubtlessly true, yet you refuse to acknowledge them. One, for example, is you support cutting taxes to millionaires and paying for it by cutting funds to programs that will cause the death of 70,000 children. It’s perfectly reasonable that you avoid acknowledging that fact. But your support of this belief is obvious whether you state it directly or not.

    Your attempt to misdirect with that silly “Hey I’m all for ‘millionaires’ paying taxes.” nonsense was what tipped you off. It reminded me of an xkcd cartoon talking about the liguistic silliiness in advertising that says “up to 15% or more savings”. That covers the range from zero to infinity. It is a meaningles statement. Just like “I’m for millionaires paying taxes.” is a meaningless statement.

    The important thing is whether you are for more taxes or whether you think millionaires payin an average of 15% taxes is acceptable. You didn’t answer that question. So, obviously, the answer is no, you don’t support more taxes. You didn’t sign the petition. Your “hey I’m all for millionaires paying taxes” statement was nothing more than an attempt to sound reasonable right before you threw out a couple of right wing sound bites about how taxes are evil! taken by force! and the government is mean!

    And so I was wondering if you just happened to not mention what party you were affiliated because it didn’t come up, or if you were avoiding acknowledging such a fact because you didn’t want to appear unreasonable because you were a Lyndon Laroucher or something. So I decided to ask directly. Your lack of answer pretty much answers the question.

    Your use of scare quotes around “millionaires” pretty much answered the question too, even if it was indirectly again. As if talking about how millionaires paying 16% tax rate is somehow demonizing “millinoaires” into something they’re not.

    But not answereing the questions is the loudest answer osible.

    Honestly I hold some views that are generally thought of as left wing but they haven’t come up here. (gay marriage for one… there are others)

    It’s called “libertarianism”, DA. That’s the word you are avoiding. It’s the party you align with.

    And no, you’re not wrong because your libertarian. You’re wrong because you’re willing to support a budget that gives tax breaks to “millionaires” (in scare quotes) and pay for it by letting 70,000 children die in the real world next year because you are afraid increasing taxes on anyone even a little bit today will some day one day slippery slope into the government seizing everyone’s property.

    It’s what you believe, though you cant bring yourself to put it in such direct terms, and it is simply wrong. It is wrong and morally indefensible, and I think you realize that on some level or you would have come out and said it directly.

    That you don’t want to identify with an actual party is part of being a “libertarian”. It’s what they do. It’s what you do. So, you’re a libertarian. And libertarians often support gay marriage. Usually they suport it by suggesting impossibly that government get out of marriages entirely. But some will give up that notion just to say the state shouldn’t prohibit two consenting adults from getting married. It’s called “libertarianism”. It’s what you are.

  214. DA @ 226

    “you can see where she’s coming from. ”

    1) I never specified a gender and
    2) now that I think about it, you never proved that these,so called, death threats were ever actually made, let alone by a lefty.

    also your choice of gender for a target is rather revealing, no? Coy reaction to questions about your leanings, fact free claims, the chosen target of choice being female…based on history I’m guessing right wing fundie.

  215. just for you, nargel.

    A 26-year-old woman was charged Thursday with two felony counts and two misdemeanor counts accusing her of making email threats against Wisconsin lawmakers during the height of the battle over Gov. Scott Walker’s budget-repair bill.

    btw: you mentioned “Coy reaction to questions about your leanings” wtf? sounds like “are you, or have you ever been, a Republican?”
    Can’t we debate issues, one at a time on their merits, without this stupid, childish ad hom stuff?

  216. @DA: Fair enough on the one person who leveled death threats, but it seems as if, as horrible as that may be, we could probably divide the proportional number of threats against the current president and still come up with a higher number in a given year. Part of that is probably visibility but there’s a good deal on the lunatic right that isn’t crazy about a democrat having the temerity to win the presidency or for that person to not be white.

    http://www.newswatchngr.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=297&Itemid=41 this is from a time before the man had assumed the office(and less than 20 days after he was elected) where he received 200. Which would be akin to Walker getting 3, let’s say, before he was sworn in himself. Death threats are always bad but there is a difference.

  217. DA @ 237
    Thanks for the link. one person sending an angry e-mail that she admits isn’t going any further.
    Seems a little small to generate the outrage on the right vs the hundreds that have gone in the other way, much less the guys with sniper rifles in the hotels outside the democratic convention in ’08. Still, you did find one person.
    “Coy reaction to questions about your leanings” wtf? sounds like “are you, or have you ever been, a Republican?”
    No, it sounds like I read the question you were asked further up the thread and your careful non-answer.
    “Can’t we debate issues, one at a time on their merits?”
    Debate involves facts/points being advanced/argued by both sides. The most response I’ve seen from you was to claim that 8+ years of the Bush White House funding and promoting the right wing fundamentalists from the Oval Office was “old news” and negligible. Some debate.
    You want to discuss the careful way Walker put his state budget in the red so he could use that as a reason to attack something which he admitted to Congress gained him not one thin dime? Or the Republican rush away from {jobs,jobs,jobs} to pursue and “fix” the debt created by Reagan, Bush 1, and Bush 2’s wars of choice, Pharma givaway and unneeded tax relief for the wealthy by more bribes to the overly wealthy to be balanced on the backs of those who don’t own their own Senator or who are old enough to be labeled “disposable”?

  218. Heck, Greg, I’ll own up to your parameters if it’ll make you feel better. I’m very much of a libertarian/minarchist bent; I support a flat tax (though the FairTax, from what I understand of it, sounds intriguing), and I don’t think the federal govt. should be in the business of taking care of the rest of the world. 300,000+ soldiers overseas? Bring ‘em home. $30 billion+ annually in foreign aid? Slash it all! People die, it’s an unfortunate fact of life. I’d like to think I’m not a thoroughly heartless bastard (I support Doctors w/o Borders, incidentally), but I’d rather our govt. that its’ own house is in order before a single cent of taxpayer money is sent abroad.

  219. Thanks for the link. one person sending an angry e-mail that she admits isn’t going any further.

    Well she would say that, now she’s been arrested.

    No, it sounds like I read the question you were asked further up the thread and your careful non-answer

    *sigh* fine.
    Since it’s so fucking important to tape bits of cardboard to our chests with labels on them, here you go:

    “Kind-of-libertarian.”
    I mostly sympathize with libertarian political views, although sometimes libertarians are unrealistic and a bit too idealistic, unrealistic, and/or hard-headed. (e.g., you can’t have a society with no welfare)
    I was in my youth, a socialist, passionately so. I have previously held strong religious views. I’ve changed my mind at least twice on the existence of god, the morality of euthanasia, abortion, global warming, and Iraq (which I thought was a mistake from the outset). Happy now?

    You want to discuss the careful way Walker put his state budget in the red so he could use that as a reason to attack something which he admitted to Congress gained him not one thin dime?

    We went over that in the original Walker thread, and I believe I already debunked that one.

  220. Amitava: Heck, Greg, I’ll own up to your parameters if it’ll make you feel better.

    It doesn’t make me feel better or worse. It’s just that DA’s insistence on dancing around that particular fact, especially since several threads ago it was pretty clear he was a libertarian, was silly.

    I support a flat tax

    Usually, libertarians want a flat tax because they fear the government, not because it makes any sort of economic sense. A flat tax is a mechanical rule, that I’ve talked about before. Mechanical rules are attempts to draw lines in the sand and insist that there is some impenetrable wall there (this is “fair”, this is the only “morally suportable” way to tax, or whatever), when there is usually little more than an uninformed opinion about how the economy works combined with a fear of big government.

    Flat Tax is one of those things that will never happen, so talking about it in any complex detail is a waste of time. But I do think it is important to at least address the real push behind flat tax, namely gross economic oversimplication of reality, combined with a somewhat irrational fear of government to the point that the person wants to fence the government in with some sort of mechanical rule.

    But in the end, its an arbitrary rule and not a very good one at that.

    So, my issue with DA wasn’t whether he was a libertarian or not. I already knew that. The issue was whether he was wiling to look at himself honestly enough to realize that’s what he was.

    So, for you, the question wouldn’t be whether you’re a libertarian or not. The question would be whether you are willing to look at yourself honestly enough to see how much of your support of a flat tax is driven by fear of government and a desire to fence it in, and to realize that supporting it for that reason means flat tax has nothing to do with it making any sort of economic or moral sense.

    And since flat tax doesn’t make economic sense, supporting it has to be driven by something irrational. The question is whether you can see yourself enough to identify the real drive behind supporting it.

  221. Nargel: You want to discuss the careful way Walker put his state budget in the red so he could use that as a reason to attack something which he admitted to Congress gained him not one thin dime?

    DA: We went over that in the original Walker thread, and I believe I already debunked that one.

    Walker had a budget bill that included union busting. He needed a quorum of so many senators to have a vote. The dems bailed. He finally tossed any fiscal part of the bill and essentially came up with a bill that did nothing but bust the unions, because that sort of bill required a smaller quorum and didn’t need any dems to be presetn to vote on it.

    So, even though Walker said this was about the budget, in teh end, it was about nothing other than busting up the union.

    If folks want to dispute that history, maybe we could move this discussion about Walker to the walker thread.

    http://whatever.scalzi.com/2011/02/17/wisconsin-and-labor/#comment-244313

  222. Greg: I’m not sure I’d say I ‘fear’ the govt., though I certainly am suspicious of it, regarding both its intentions and efficacy in many (most?) domains. This could very quickly descend into a matter of semantics, but in any case yes, my fear/suspicion of and a concomitant desire to ‘fence in’ the govt. certainly play a role in my support for the flat tax.
    Having said that, it’s only one reason among several. I’m not sure why you insist a flat tax doesn’t make any economic sense, especially given the libertarian perspective on what (few) things legitimately fall within the govt’s purview. Although I’ll agree with you that it’ll probably never come to pass, that doesn’t mean I can’t support efforts to move in what I believe to be the right direction (eg the Bowles Simpson plan. Were Obama to throw his weight behind it, I’d seriously have to consider voting for him next year).

  223. Amitavia @244: The problem with a ‘flat tax’ is, first, what it taxes. Usually it taxes paychecks – but completely omits other forms of income, like capital gains or stock dividends. It would also dramatically affect businesses, who can now write off operating expenses or move around losses and profits (this is how GE avoided paying taxes last year) but won’t be able to under a flat tax. It sounds very good, but actually coming up with a workable plan?

  224. Greg @ 243
    Your recap matches what I remember, thanks.
    DA @ 241
    I was not on the Walker thread while I did make a comment earlier on this one in response to a claim of yours.
    Please read @ 243, your debunk failed. My point that Walker’s original bill was front (deliberately) into the red was also correct.
    “Well she would say that, now she’s been arrested.”
    The point is that she said that before she got arrested.

  225. Amitava: yes, my fear/suspicion of and a concomitant desire to ‘fence in’ the govt. certainly play a role in my support for the flat tax.

    That is a very self-aware thing for someone to say. Most folks would not have the capacity for introspection to see that this is part of why they want a flat tax.

    I’m not sure why you insist a flat tax doesn’t make any economic sense,

    Because if you remove the fear driving the desire for a flat tax, you would come up with a totally different answer.

    This would require an even greater level of introspective capacity, trying to imagine yourself being exactly who you are now, but the fear behind your support of flat tax removed.

    BUt if you can imagine yourself like that for a moment, I think you wold see that you would come up with something other than a flat tax.

    Flat tax isn’t solving the problem of “what is the most fair way to tax people?” but rather it is trying to solve a problem more like “how can we keep the government from becoming totalitarian?”

    If you remove the fear, if you solve the anti-totalitarian problem some other way, and simply address the most *fair* way to tax people, most people come up with some form of progressive tax system. Even the flat-taxer people usually don’t propose truly flat taxes. They usually have a minimum income you have to have before you have to pay any taxes, they allow some kinds of deductions and adjustments for various behaviors, and that isn’t a flat tax. That’s a two-tier progressive tax. Others want three or more tiers. One for income too low to not pay any taxes, one tier for middle class tax rates, and one for uppler class tax rates.

    That’s not actually a flat tax. It’s a simple progresive tax.

    And once you agree on some form of progressive tax plan, all you’re really doing is debating how many tiers to have and what deductions to allow.

  226. So, even though Walker said this was about the budget, in the end, it was about nothing other than busting up the union.

    Well obviously, the union busting bill was only about busting unions. It does have some fiscal consequences, for example it wil be easier to change pension plans in the future, but yes, it doesn’t directly affect the bottom line.
    I happen to agree with the broad intent of the bill. Compulsory unionism denies teachers the right to freedom of association.

    So, my issue with DA wasn’t whether he was a libertarian or not. I already knew that. The issue was whether he was wiling to look at himself honestly enough to realize that’s what he was.

    I already realized it.

  227. Greg: Interestingly enough, what you described has many similarities with the aforementioned FairTax, a concept which I like but fear would not be rendered workable. Eh, one can always hope.

  228. Should British Petroleum be able take a $10 Billion tax deduction for destroying the Gulf of Mexico?

    That’s a tax write-down because they lost so much money! You think their tax bill should pretend it never happened?

  229. DA: it wil be easier to change pension plans in the future, but yes, it doesn’t directly affect the bottom line.

    Walker only busted the unions of state employees who didn’t contribute to his campaign. A couple of unions supported his campaign, and they weren’t broken up. It was a political hit job. Nothing more.

    Any attempt to spin it any other way is post hoc spin. And wrong.

    Compulsory unionism denies teachers the right to freedom of association.

    So by denying the right of teachers to unionize, you’re protecting their “freedom”. That’s such blatant Orwellian Doublespeak that it makes my head spin.

    That’s a tax write-down because they lost so much money! You think their tax bill should pretend it never happened?

    Oh, DA, once again, you fail to click through the links I provide and actually read them. If you had, you would have read the bit that said this:

    “BP didn’t have to write-off these costs. Last year, Goldman Sachs waived a tax deduction it could have claimed from having to pay $500 million in fines to the Securities and Exchange Commission for giving bad information to mortgage investors.”

    Which would have answered your question.

    You would also have read this part: “Tell BP to amend their tax return and pay their fair share.”

    Which would have informed you that it is a petition to BP to do the right thing, not to the govenment.

    But your response is informative on how knee-jerky your reaction is. Rather than read about it and get all the facts, you formed an opinion immediately and was set against something you didn’t even understand.

    Also, over here

    http://whatever.scalzi.com/2011/04/19/elaborately-self-justified-sock-puppets-are-still-sock-puppets/#comment-253488

    You say the following little nugget:

    if people start boycotting an author because of his views, it starts to look like a form of censorship.

    Then at #85 on the same thread you say:

    If it was a coordinated campaign, that might be censorship, but a personal decision isn’t.

    And back at 249 of this thread, you made clear you oppose Unions as infringing on individual teachers right to NOT unionize. Or something. You were clearly anti-union. Exactly why is sort of secondary.

    But if you put it all together, the picture it paints is that you oppose any sort of organized political activity, even if it isn’t state sponsored or state enforced.

    you would oppose, for example, blacks boycotting the segregated busses and restaurants in the south.

    The thought of which just boggles my mind.

    It also would suggest that you’ve got a significant anarchist streak driving your views alongside your libertarianism. You oppose individuals organizing to let the world know some author is racist/sexist/whatever. You oppose individual workers organizing to get fair working conditions.

    Yet you defend people’s right to organize into corporations to the point of defending British Petroleum’s unwaivering right to take their ten billion dollar tax deduction.

    You fear people giving an author bad reviews will have too much power and result in “censorship”, but you defend a trillion dollar corporation that likely killed the Gulf of Mexico through a systemic history of cutting safety corners.

    You oppose unions because you are afraid they might restrict some individual worker’s right to NOT join the union. And yet you defend the unasailability of corporate power to teh point that one cannot even start a petition to invite BP to pay what they deducted as taxes.

    Which would make you a “corporatist”. You don’t want government. You don’t want state. You don’t want individuals organizing even informally for any sort of political end even as simple as calling a sexist author a sexist for fear it might result in political censorship and prohibit someone from making profit. But what you consistently defend is the right of people to organize for profit. Even if that profit means killing an entire ecosystem. Even if it means polluting the atmosphere to the point where our planet is transformed into Arrakis.There is no problem, you assert, that cannot be solved by privitization, by corporatizing the problem into profit motive.

    This is a level of extremism that I don’t have the opportunity to run into very often. And I just have this to say about all that:

    Wow.

    I mean really, wwwoowww

  230. Greg, I’m not anti-union. I support the right to unionize. even support the right to strike (but on the other side of the coin, employers should be allowed to fire you if you do).
    What I don’t support is compulsory unionism.
    In other words, a new employee shouldn’t be told “join the union or you don’t get a job.” That new employee should be allowed to not join.
    And let’s not do the bit where you tell me about all the reasons why it’s good and proper because the employee benefits from the union’s work. I know that, and I concede that. But I still think people should have the right to not join.

  231. Amitava: what you described has many similarities with the aforementioned FairTax

    I support a progressive income tax. I oppose a flat tax and I oppose replacing a progressive income tax with a federal sales tax.

  232. “BP didn’t have to write-off these costs. Last year, Goldman Sachs waived a tax deduction

    How nice of Goldman Sachs, who incidentally recieved a lot of federal bailout money (now that’s corporatism). How much did Goldman Sachs get? I forget, but it was a lot. BP lost a lot of money with the Gulf oil spill and they’re legally entitled to write that down. You want them to pretend that they didn’t lose anything, that it was all just a big party for them.

    but you defend a trillion dollar corporation that likely killed the Gulf of Mexico through a systemic history of cutting safety corners.

    Not defending them. Wondering why they’re being demonized for paying the amount of tax they’re legally obliged to pay.

  233. What I don’t support is compulsory unionism.

    I say again, wwwwooowwww

    http://www.alternet.org/story/150130/

    Since you never click my links and read them, here’s the headline and byline:

    Public Employee Unions Don’t Get One Penny from Taxpayers and Can’t Require Membership, But the Big Lie That They Do Is Everywhere. Nobody has to belong to a union or support its political activities, but you’d never know that from reading the news.

    So, everything else I said about you, the corporatism, the anarchism, the libertarianism, the oppostition to any sort of political organizing no matter how minor, the support of any corporatist interists, no matter how damaging to teh planet, that you agree with. The thing you decided to disagree with is this bit about compulsorary unionism, which is a rigth wing myth in the first place?

    I was right about everything, except for the part that turns out to be a right wing lie.

    lemme say again: wwwwoooowwwww

    Oh, one thing I forgot to mention. You previously asked something to the effect of “who you calling rigth wing?” Lemme clue you in, DA: You and your libertarianism, your anarchism, your oposition to any sort of citizen driven political organization, and your blind defense of anything corporate or profit related, puts you so far to the right that it breaks the scale.

    If you look at the political compass here:

    http://www.politicalcompass.org/analysis2

    You fall off the map far, far, far to the right.

    Just wanted you to know, in case it came up again in discussion.

  234. Wondering why they’re being demonized for paying the amount of tax they’re legally obliged to pay.

    Jesus on a pony. You can’t have a conversation about corporate criticism without stramanning it into nonsense, can you?

    Since I have to spell everything out for you: THEY ARE BEING DEMONIZED FOR KILLING THE ENTIRE GULF OF MEXICO

    God damn, try to keep it straight, would you?

  235. The thing you decided to disagree with is this bit about compulsorary unionism, which is a rigth wing myth in the first place

    Thanks for enlightening me. In that case, I guess you’d be in favor of any law that banned compulsory unionism? Since it doesn’t exist anyway, nothing lost! Go for it, Governor Walker! Ban that non-existent myth.

    Since I have to spell everything out for you: THEY ARE BEING DEMONIZED FOR KILLING THE ENTIRE GULF OF MEXICO

    a) The oil spill did less environmental damage than first predicted;
    b) at least you admit they’re being demonized.

  236. by the way Greg, I’m somewhat disturbed by the way you’re collating and cross-checking things I’ve said in various threads. Honestly, it’s a bit stalkerish and I’m glad I’m using a pseudonym.

  237. The oil spill did less environmental damage than first predicted;

    Oh. My. God.

    Whatever the predictions were, it is still the largest marine oil spill in history

    There’s an 80 square kilometer dead zone around the well. Dolphins are washing up on shore ten times the normal number this spring.

    And here you are, corporate apologist, trying to downplay the real world damage in teh Gulf, while telling myths and stories about make believe damage to people having to join cumpulsory unions.

    Just amazing.

  238. DA: by the way Greg, I’m somewhat disturbed…

    Hm.

    I don’t know what to tell you, DA.

    If someone reading what you post over a couple weeks on a blog makes you paranoid, then I think we’ve probably reached the limit of this conversation producing anything productive. Or maybe it is indicative that you should stop posting on public blogs that other people might read.

    Or something.

    anyway, good night.

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