And There’s Nothing To Be Done

Our nation finds itself in the midst of two significant discussions right now.  The first is about how to resolve the so-called “fiscal cliff”, the wholly manufactured end-of-the-year crisis created by the utter inability of our elected officials in Washington to get the basics of their job completed in a reasonably competent manner.  The second is about what to do in response to the spate of mass shootings that have taken place in the second half of this year, culminating in the slaughter of 26 in Newtown, Conn. a couple of weeks ago.

What strikes me about both conversations is that one side of the aisle has shown a tendency to throw out ideas they don’t like solely on the basis that such ideas don’t solve the entire problem.  Take, for instance, Mark Thiessen’s column in today’s Washington Post.  Thiessen argues that since President Obama’s proposed tax increase on high-income Americans won’t close the deficit completely that we shouldn’t do it.  Or, better yet, we should raise taxes on everybody just to teach them a lesson!

Sorry, taxing the rich won’t solve our problems — that’s nothing but fiscal snake oil the president has been selling. He is demanding $1.3 trillion in higher taxes on the wealthy over 10 years. Imagine he got it. We are adding nearly that much to the national debt every single year. Taxing the rich would not put even a minor dent in our debt. It would pay for less than three weeks of federal spending every year. The only way to pay for the current expansion of government is to raise taxes on the middle class.

So let’s do it.

But such arguments have also found a home in the debate about whether or not there should be additional gun control measures should be enacted following Newtown.  Here’s an example of such an argument from the National Review’s Rich Lowry:

How many guns are in the United States? The answer is 280 million. In a country with that many guns, how is gun control possibly going to succeed? If you ban a small subset of new guns for sale, what are you going to do about the rest? Let’s say you succeed beyond anything that is remotely possible. Let’s say you somehow stop the new sale of guns altogether and somehow decommission half of existing guns. What are you going to do with the other 140 million guns?

There are numerous problems with such specious lines of argument.  The first, and most obvious one, is that proponents of such ideas are not and have not suggested that these solutions — be it taxing the rich or banning high-capacity magazines — are complete solutions to the problem.

But these arguments are even more dishonest in another way.  As we’ve discussed before, these sorts of arguments are just other ways of framing the debate to protect entrenched interests at the expense of everyone else.  Thiessen and conservatives may be opposed to Obama’s tax increase on the wealthy, but their proposals are equally (or even more) inadequate in addressing the nation’s fiscal challenges.

For instance, over the last month, Speaker of the House John Boehner has included in his proposals provisions that would change the way inflation benefits are calculated for Social Security recipients and he also proposed increasing the eligibility age for Medicare from 65 to 67.  Combined, these two proposals would reduce the deficit over the next decade by less than Obama’s tax increase on the wealthy.  And, of course, Boehner’s proposals would have very real consequences for the low- and middle-income people impacted by them.  The Social Security change alone would decrease payouts to recipients by 0.3% per year.  After a decade, recipients would have lost 3% of their payouts.  That’s significant, given that 40% of retirees have 90% or more of their income from the program.

Meanwhile, those who oppose any additional gun control measures have thrown nearly anything and everything out to bolster their case.  Just look at the National Rifle Association.  In the 1990s, they called federal law enforcement officers “jack-booted thugs”.  Today, they’re calling for the federal government to fund armed guards in every school in the country.  And, they call for a database of the mentally ill without calling for a database of gun owners to cross-reference it against.  Putting the Second Amendment ahead of the rest, I suppose.

Closer to home, you have state representatives who ignore facts that don’t support their frame of reference.  The notion that the potential presence of an armed individual deters such mass attacks is bogus, even if you ignore the Columbine example.  In recent years, we’ve seen shootings on an Army base and in the state with the least restrictive concealed-carry laws in the nation and on a college campus that had its own police department and SWAT team.  And, just today, inside a police station.

The challenges we face are far too large to be dragged down by reasoning that is so small.  We can have an informed and reasonable debate and talk about a wide variety of solutions without engaging in debate that is intellectually dishonest to its core.  We should expect better of all of our elected representatives.  We may not be able to solve every problem completely, but some progress is better than none.  So let’s get on with it, already.

(Image above is Francisco de Goya’s And There’s Nothing To Be Done, courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, which depicts scenes from the Spanish War of Independence.)


55 Responses to “And There’s Nothing To Be Done”

  1. Unfortunately, the candidate with the big ideas need to solve the nation’s woes didn’t win. Instead, Johnny six pack choose the guy who might give him a dollar some day, while being too stupid to realize that dollar won’t be worth a nickel when he retires due to the actions of this choice he made. Give me a dollar now, and I’ll worry about it’s worthlessness later. Real smart.

    • Romney had “big ideas”, but no plan to make them work. His big tax ideas were mathematically impossible. He was full of foreign policy critiques, but no solutions. And on too many issues, he had one idea one day and an opposite idea the next.

      • The old tired rant about no ideas. Makes a great talking point, but is completely false.

        • Then why did multiple independent sources confirm the point Sean just made, that Romney’s math didn’t add up?

          Then why did Romney (and yourself, just now) have to launch a class warfare attack, accusing the majority of Americans of being bought off rather than acknowledging that his ideas weren’t what Americans wanted?

          Sounds like the same tactics behind the Unskewed Polls, the same attack policies that are driving people away from the Republican Party. If this is all the GOP is, then they deserve to lose. The politics of rage isn’t enough to lead America.

          • The rage clearly exists on your side. Always has. Our side wants people to be free and prosperous. Your’s is about putting people into boxes, and dividing them up, and then getting them to fight one another rather than solve the very problems that will destroy this nation.

            There’s only one number that matters. 16 trillion in debt and rising. The reason folks claim his numbers don’t add up, is that they don’t understand how the economy works. Once the economy is booming again, revenues will skyrocket. By leaps and bounds over any thnig a tax increase will deliver.

            People like you look at the 80’s and say tax cuts lead to deficits, yet revenues doubled. What was the problem? Spending tripled. Pretty simple math.

            That’s where the Romney haters were wrong. They can’t forsee simple growth as the answer. Even here in MN, if half of the voting morons knew how effective the GOP budget was, we’d still have a GOP majority. Instead they beleive they should be coddled and fed by government, which fails everytime. Every single social system we have is going broke. It’s time a businessman looks at all of this crap and solved the problems, not some clueless community organizer.

            • If the rage is on “my side” as you suggest, then why is it that you and an unfortunate number of your GOP counterparts cannot go through a civil conversation without a tendency towards attacks and division? And I noticed that you ignored the whole thing about neutral sources discrediting Romney’s economic plan. When the evidence doesn’t fit your vision, just scream louder? Seems like a poor vision for America.

              Especially since it doesn’t work. Again, the similarities to the Bolsheviks is interesting, not in economic or social policy, but in the disdain for the average citizen you claim to serve. Like the Bolsheviks, you demean the average citizen as lazy and easily bought off, and claim a need to make policies “for their greater good” (not a quote from you, but fitting nonetheless). Policies that would redirect resources away from them, and that have evidence showing they don’t work, but are taken as gospel and virulently defended without taste or decency. I wonder why that idea isn’t popular, don’t you?

              So let me ask you: come next election, when you’re writing in your letters to the editor and trying to campaign for candidates, what will you say when your comments about the “voting morons” come home to roost? What will you say about refusing to hold public forums on issues if someone isn’t important enough for your time? What will you and some (not all, to be sure) of the local GOP BPOU say when asked if this is how a civilized political party behaves?

              That’s my problem, and that’s what I told the GOP fundraiser when they called during the election season. And I made sure to pass it on to the state GOP.

              Sean’s point was that arguments shift for the sake of convenience, that the same party used different logic when discussing the deficit than when they discuss gun control. Mr. Brunette, you turned that into an attack on “Johnny six pack”, which is odd given that the GOP was supposed to be the party of Joe the Plumber. If he and the rest of us “voting morons” mean that little, then why would we ever want to be part of your version of the Republican Party?

              • When you lose an election, it’s a response to how that party has behaved in office, the policies that party is proposing, and how that party reaches out to voters to sell things. Blaming it on the voters, as many Democrats did from 2000-2005 and as Mr. Brunette is doing now, is a great way to feel smug and superior, but it doesn’t do a whole lot to get things done. There are some smart Republicans who recognize that over the last two years that their party failed and are trying to address those deficiencies. We’ll see how long it takes for the mainstream of the party to listen to those voices.

                • I agree… and I try to be careful not to make my comments a broad indictment of all Republicans. As has been noted, there is a clear division right now in the GOP (and the rumblings of a similar division in the background with the Dems) between those that want to govern and those who want ideological purity. For the purists on both sides, it becomes too easy to blame the people for not thinking the right way, rather than looking at if their policies and tactics are actually what is right.

                • So you think the average Minnesotan feels the GOP did a good job on the last budget. Because the facts are in. They did. They delivered a huge surplus. Yeah they had to borrow to make that happen in a compromise with the dopey governor. (And by dopey, in mean doped up, just so Drew doesn’t get confused, again).

                  But much of that will be paid back, and in the meanetime, the “draconian” cuts seem to have left MN in a better place. But nevermind that lie that every one of you on left spouted about our budget cuts. Truns out, not only were they not “draconian”, and they were more efficient and effective than any forecaster projected they would be.

                  So when you go off on how independent economists view GOP policies, and I find these clowns to be wrong, yet again, yeah, I’m calling you on it. It’s BS. But keeping hauling water for these independents if you wish. Eventually you’ll see the bucket is made of mesh, and doesn’t carry water very far.

                  My GOP freinds in the MN House and Senate have saved us from economic disaster, and were ousted due to a national campaign of class warfare. And yes were too disinterested in what we’d done for them, or too blinded by envy to realize the great service that was handed to them.

                  The next budget will not be so kind to Minnesota, All we need is to look at the history of the DFL, and its absolute love of spending and government growth to know that this next one, will be awful for Minnesota.

                  • The reality is that the surplus is the result of improving national macroeconomic conditions, a trend that pre-dates the Republican majority. (Recall that the expected budget deficit last session was trimmed $1 billion in the February 2011 forecast because of the improving national economy.) Nobody in St. Paul has earned any credit in my book for closing a deficit by borrowing from our schools, spending $1.3 trillion to get $700 million in tobacco funds, and leaving us still facing a $1.1 billion deficit plus $1.1 billion in school shifts in the hole for the next budget. (But if you want to argue, please note that the single largest spending reduction contributing to the surplus you now claim as GOP responsibility is the early opt-in to the federal expansion of Medicaid by Gov. Dayton. Your party opposed that, John. Was Gov. Dayton correct after all?)

                    I would also argue that the efficiency and effectiveness of any government budget is not solely measured by the bottom line, but rather what is accomplished with those funds. The last two budgets passed by the Legislature (one DFL, one GOP) and singed by the governor (one GOP, one DFL) may have balanced and even produced “surpluses” at the end of the two-year cycle. What they didn’t do, though, was improve our education system, get our infrastructure modernized, or reform our tax code in any meaningful way. We have lost that time and paid a high opportunity cost for not moving us forward in those areas when we could have and should have. In the last economic recovery, Minnesota largely lost economic ground to the rest of the country. Let’s hope it doesn’t happen again.

                    • 6 billion shortfall to 1 billion, all in the worst economy of our lifetimes. Yeah, we’ll take that credit. It worked. Our team slowed the growth of government in one of the most liberal states in the nation, and it worked. Just like it always does.

                      If our infratructure is so sorry, perhaps we should stop building boondoggles like choo-choo trains and spend the money wisely, instead of “investing” in transportation that can’t sustain itself.

                      We spend plenty on education. If dollars equalled results, we’d have the best education system in the inner cities. Yet it’s the worst there. Money and government won’t solve that problem. Education reform could, but that means breaking the union, something Dayton and the DFL will never do. Too bad, cause it’s going to happen one way or the other. We’ll either run out of money to defund these things, or we can reform them now. Simple choice when you think about it.

                    • I just looked at a map. We don’t live in Europe. They gone down the socialist road ahead of us, and still haven’t meandered out of their disaster. But here as a Republic of States, we have staets that are figuring out that socialism doesn’t work. Too bad the federal level can’t figure that out.

                    • Macroeconomic principles don’t know where they are on the map, John.

                    • Another liberal fantasy. No 9/11 recession. If i had a nickel every time I heard that BS. We lived through for crying out loud, but somehow, it’s claimed that it never happened. What a crock. Q3 2011 a -1.1% retraction in the economy. Remember, folks weren’t traveling, flying, etc? Consumer confidence was in the toilet? You seriously don’t remember that? We’re you a child then or what? Of course there was a 9/11 recession. The fed lowered interest rates 4 times because of this, which has a lot to do with how government infuenced the housing bubble. They chased banks to riskier higher interest loans because there wasn’t money to made in these lower interest loans.

                      I can’t beleive you don’t know any of this. It’s common knowledge. Monetary policy drove banks to this, and yes Freddie and Fannie were a huge part of this bubble creation. People like John McCain warned about the problem long before the crisis hit. You can’t just re-write history because it doesn’t fit your agenda. I know there are alot of media outlets that will tout this BS line, but it doesn’t make it accurate. People were warning about this behavior long before it happened. Housing prices became artifically inflated due to monetary policy and through the GSE’s. Sure banks played a hand, but again, they were forced there. You see it’s their jobs at these places to make money grow. To gather interest for investors. When the market is artificially modified, there are almost always unintended consequences. But these “wizards” that we elect think they are smarter than the market. And every single time they meddle in it, they completely screw it up. They try to socially engineer results through monetary policy, and who gets screwed every time? That’s right. The little guy. And it’s not because the wealthy are intentionally screwing the poor. It’s just one goverment screw up after another.

                      And useful idiots continue to tout the government as the answer. Based upon what track record, one can only imagine. Look at the affordable health care act. Affordable for whom? Neaerly every American has seen thier insurance rates go up under this act, and go up substanially due to the new laws in this affordable act. By no measure is this making health care more affordable. And yet, we still have people who think a government solution is the answer. It’s beyond reason.

                    • Sure, the GDP drop in Q3 2001 was just a continuation of the previous trend of choppy economic performance in 2000-2001. The economy came back and had a solid Q4 and a decent year in 2002, so the only long lasting impact from 9/11 (and the 2000-2001 recession generally) was in the labor markets.

                      Again, can you provide me an example where the government FORCED a bank — over its objections — to issue a risky loan? You can’t, because it never happened. Banks may have chosen to chase higher profits in the subprime arena, and government policy may have increased the incentives to do so, but ultimately these banks have to take responsibility for their risky actions. Or is “responsibility” only for poor people?

                      What was happening in the mortgage area wasn’t a “market”. The purpose of a market is to properly price goods or services. What was happening with mortgage securitization and credit default swaps was pure speculation — essentially a casino. Yes, government policy was less than optimal in this area. But merely reforming Fannie and Freddie would have done little to stop this process. As noted previously, Fannie and Freddie were small players in the subprime mess. And 24 of the top 25 companies in that market weren’t subject to the Republican-maligned Community Reinvestment Act, so reforming that law wouldn’t have fixed it, either.

                      Were your health insurance rates going down before the ACA, John? The facts say that the last three years have seen the lowest rates of health care inflation in decades. That’s not to say that there isn’t more work to do, but it’s a start.

                  • I see you had to shift away from the topic again. Your original point was that Romney was the great savior of America, but the “voting morons” were bought off, to which I pointed out that Romney’s budget math never balanced out.

                    Here’s an analysis that sums it up nicely – “Missing from Romney’s tax plan: reality”


                    A nice quote: “Unfortunately for the Romney campaign, when you dig into the numbers, it looks like he will need a magician, not an economist, to help him implement his tax cuts if he is serious about sticking to his word to cut and balance the budget anytime in the next decade.”

                    You can shift and blame and insult, but it doesn’t address the fact that independent analysis showed a lack of business sense. If party loyalty requires you to ignore these facts, Mr. Brunette, so be it, but it doesn’t change the reality of things.

                    Additionally, calling the voters “morons” and demeaning them doesn’t lend any credibility to an argument of representing the people.

              • I attacked Johnny six pack? You make me laugh.

                • Your words:

                  “Instead, Johnny six pack choose the guy who might give him a dollar some day, while being too stupid to realize that dollar won’t be worth a nickel when he retires due to the actions of this choice he made.”

                  So yes, you did attack the average voter, pretty openly and in a petty and condescending fashion. It says something about such tactics that your memory of such comments is so conveniently short.

                  However, those comments will still be there come next election, and the “voting morons” will be able to judge for themselves. Seems like a poor way to represent your party and beliefs.

                  • Yeah, meaning the Johnny six pack that voted for Obama. Duh! And yes, if you think the DFL won’t significantly increase the size of the state budget, than yes, you are a moron. If you think that the GOP didn’t live up to it’s promise to shrink the state budget growth, you are also a MORON! 6 billion project deficit to a surplus! Your average DFL voter has no clue about that, I guarantee it. Your average Union bonehead sure doesn’t get it. And they never will.

                    • So you feel comfortable in your condemnation of anyone who doesn’t follow your agenda, even when it is proven to not be the glorious truth you had claimed? After all, your original point was about Romney… until independent sources were presented that left your argument about the wisdom of his budget in a pile of ash and dust. You haven’t gone back to it since.

                      You then tried to laugh off the idea that you had openly insulted the average American… until your words were quoted back to you, in which case it all became about those who don’t deserve to be treated with respect according to your assessment, Mr. Brunette. I’m still sure that “Johnny six pack” wouldn’t appreciate your comments, regardless of who it’s aimed at; political arrogance is never well received by the public, regardless of party or source. I guess we’ll see how your remarks play out when presented to the public in the future.

                      You also seem to ignore Sean’s points when they also contradict your views on this, including the adverse effects of austerity. Instead, there’s the “you’re either with us or an enemy” attitude.

                      You would think that the GOP would have learned better after Romney’s failures in this regard. His 47% comment, plus his comments after the election, revealed a hostility to a large portion of the American people, a view of them as sheep that aren’t worthy of time or respect.

                      Therein lies the problem: the idea that the people need to serve the ideals of the leaders, rather than the leaders serving the needs of the people. In this last election, the people rejected that standard, which also meant a rejection of the radical right (I do agree with Sean that the Democrats have also shown such short-sightedness in the past; this time, however, the hostility seems to belong to the far right wing of the GOP). The election won’t bring around the end of the world, nor do the results justify treating people with disrespect. It just means that the radical wing of the GOP will have to learn to compromise again, or lose relevance as the American people reject those who treat others with such disdain.

                    • Again, even though you will never, ever, get it I will try again, which pretty makes me insane for even trying, but what the hell.

                      People who choose Obama over Romney, did so out of a lack of understanding who would address the problem of dealing with the debt that will destroy this country. They choose to have an extra dollar in their pocket today over that dollar having any value in the future. They buy into this freebie notion that it’s federal government’s job to provide equal outcomes. Our federal government is spending us into oblivion. And if you voted for Obama, you definately voted for more federal control, more federal spending, more answers dictated from the one place that cannot deliver a viable solution. You voted for your dollar to be completely worthless, but you might end up with an extra one in your pocket. Pretty stupid.

                      The only problem we have that really matters anymore is the debt. It trumps all remaining problems. A nuclear Iran is peanuts next to our debt problem. Skyrockewting health care costs are peanuts compared to our debt. We will soon be to a point where just servicing the interest on the debt will be all our government can afford.

                      If Johnny six pack can’t come to these realizations, that our spending is completely insane at this point, and that our debt is going to destroy this nation, then yes, he is a clueless individual.

                    • Or it could be that Johnny six pack realized that your math doesn’t add up, just like Romney’s math failed. Cutting the deficit is important, but if your austerity measures devastate the economy, it only compounds the problem and further undermines national security. Blind austerity doesn’t work; there are a plethora of examples to prove that (Sean has already cited a few). Additionally, you (and the majority of the GOP) still have to explain why multiple independent sources rejected Romney’s math as factually impossible.

                      So rather than demean and degrade the average American, I choose to believe that they looked at the available options and made what was the best choice for them. Instead of calling them clueless morons, I see them as making choices based on the facts, and not blind party allegiance. Far less petty and mean-spirited, and far more likely to win supporters, than the tactics you are currently using, Mr. Brunette.

                    • I’m sure the 4 or 5 liberals who come here aren’t going to be swayed by ANYTHING I have to say anyway. We don’t know what would have become of Romney presidency. We’ll never know. I know it would have been better than this one. Those who don’t, do not understand the economy. They can’t look at their paychecks and say thanks to the guy paying him, and frown at all of the deductions the government takes from him. The average person doesn’t want thier taxes to go up. No one does. But over half of them voted for someone who just raised their taxes. And wants to raise them some more. And who wants to make the few dollars they have left worth less than they used to be. That’s pretty stupid.

                      You get that don’t you. We said Obama would raise all of our taxes, not just the richest amoungst us. And he did, And your happy about it. Welcome to the minority. You are now one of the very few who enjoy having to pay higher taxes. Good luck finding someone who agrees with that philosophy.

                      I don’t have to sell this. It’s reality. I don’t say these things to get votes. I’m not running nor will I ever run for office. Far tooo many assholes in politics, for my liking. I say these things because they are the truth. that we would have been better off with Romney. That Obama does want to raise our taxes, and now has. And he wants to increase spending, and again has. Wants to increase our debt, and has yet again, and will conitinue to do so until he’s gone. These are facts and will occur.

                    • John, if you’re opposed to raising taxes on “Johnny Six Pack”, how do you explain Republican demands to end the payroll tax cut?

                    • Again, that may be a response to some other topic, somewhere else… but not the topic at hand. You used the topic of this forum to launch into a diatribe on the evils of Obama and the “voting morons” versus the virtues of Romney… until definitive evidence was offered that undermined the fundamental tenets of Romney’s plan. After that, you didn’t go back to it. The point: Romney’s plan was so full of holes that is was not viable. If blind party loyalty requires you to demean anybody who points that out, then that says a lot about your expectations for your party.

                    • It’s not jut Republicans that wanted the payroll tax cut to end. Obama did as well. And it’s now ended. And he signed it!

                      Obama knows full well, he cannot get enough money from the wealthiest to pay for his agenda. He has to come at all of us to pull it off. All of us will see increased taxes under an Obama/Democrat budget. (If they ever were to produce one, that is).

                      And Drew, the holes in Romney’s budget are no different then the holes in any President’s budget. You see, when you don’t understand how revenues are raised by a rising and growing economy, you predict revenue outcomes. We saw it here in MN. All of the projections of gloom and doom about the GOP budget never came to pass, and we ended up with a surplus.

                      So when a couple of dopes come up with numbers that don’t fly on a proposed budget, chances are there is an agenda behind the projection. ANd the agenda is further growth of government.

                      THe missing element is every Romney budget critic is increased revenue from a growing economy. This is difficult to predict, especially from folks where it’s a foreign concept. We cannot get to a robust economy by pulling more and more money out of the system. I can’t work.

                    • So, you’re OK with Republicans supporting that tax increase on “Johnny Six Pack”, then?

                    • It should be noted that you still have to comment on Sean’s point that a significant amount of the savings came from the opt-in into the expansion of Medicaid, something which the GOP opposed.

                      As for the presumption of growth, that was part of the calculations, and it came nowhere close to bringing Romney’s budgets into the realm of feasibility. Hence the article I chose, Mr. Brunette, which granted generous estimates of growth… and still found a massive gap in the numbers for Romney’s budget. It takes into account a rosy picture, and still cannot make the numbers come anywhere close to working. I chose that article specifically because it wasn’t a partisan push-piece, but instead demonstrated that even with the best scenarios Romney’s math didn’t work.

                    • Here’s the failure point in that article:

                      If the amount of economic growth generated by the tax cuts would increase revenue as more people start paying into the system

                      While more people paying in will increase revenue, it’s minor compared to the amount of revenue acheived by the growth itself. You, much of the government revenue pie is based on economic propsperity. While the article focuses almost entirely on expansion of the base as the new revenue stream, (and caps in cuts) they conveniently ignore the fact that even without one single new tax payer revenues would skyrocket. That’s my whole point!

                      This article, seemingly intentenionally, ignores the reality of the federal revenue. Capital gains revenue will go way up. Corporation income taxes realized will go way up. Consumption tax revenue will go way up. Now add your millions of new tax payers and less demand on the federal teat. Suddenly the numbers actually do make sense.

                      Sorry, but this was just another in a long line of phony stories that spew pure nonsense and a complete lack of understanding as to how the government revenue system can be fixed, and to how our economic engine drives it.

                      It’s why a businessman like Romney can solve this issue, and a big government hack like Obama never will.

                      And what a great premise for an argument. You claim that Romney’s math doesn’t bring us to a balanced budget. LOOK AT THE CURRENT SITUATION. We are so far from a balanced budget as to wonder if we can ever get one again. And you want people to think this was the better choice?!!? How? It’s absurd! Nothing close to a balanced budget for 4 years! Are you insane? How does Obama’s plan stack up to Romney’s? 4 years of massive deficits, versus an actual plan to solve the problems, and the people chose massive debt. Brilliant!

                      All because of articles like this one, which is based on false premises while ignoring the fiscal disaster that this administration has been. and useful idiots to tout these false views.

                    • Tax cuts don’t pay for themselves. Never have and never will. That’s an economic fact, acknowledged by the key members of the economic team of the last Republican President.


                    • Mitt Romney claimed he could cut individual income tax rates by 20%, eliminate the AMT and estate taxes, eliminate most capital gains taxes, eliminate the taxes that support the ACA, and cut corporate income taxes AND have it all be revenue-neutral by reducing credits and deductions AND have those changes not increase taxes on middle-class taxpayers.

                      It’s mathematically impossible to do ALL of those things.


                    • Didn’t Obama negotiate this current tax increase? Why are you laying this increase at the feet of the GOP? Aren’t you ignoring the other side of the equation? This was Obama’s doing. He wants your taxes to go up. Everyone’s. He won’t say it publicly, but that’s what he wants. He needs more money for some perceived legacy. Right now he’s the food stamp president. He wants to be more, and thinks the only way to do that is to spend more money.

                    • I’m laying this increase at EVERYONE’s feet, John. Your side didn’t fight against the payroll tax increase — they didn’t include extending that tax cut in any of the Boehner or McConnell proposals.

                    • If a tax cut brings economic growth, then yes it does pay for itself. There exists a huge effort to discredit this effect, but that doesn’t make it so.

                    • You saying something over and over again doesn’t make it so. Even conservative economists have agree that most income tax rate cuts recoup less half of their cost through economic growth. I’d be happy to provide a litany of studies, but I doubt it would make an impact on you.

                      Let me just point out the key passage from the link I posted previously, which was written by Greg Mankiw (former head of G.W. Bush’s Council of Economic Advisors and an economic advisor to Mitt Romney):

                      In a paper on dynamic scoring, written while I was working at the White House, Matthew Weinzierl and I estimated that a broad-based income tax cut (applying to both capital and labor income) would recoup only about a quarter of the lost revenue through supply-side growth effects. For a cut in capital income taxes, the feedback is larger–about 50 percent–but still well under 100 percent.

                    • So if a tax cut can never pay for itself, then we should just ll be taxed at 100% I guess. Because everthing below that wouldn’t pay for itself. Absurd.

                    • Think about it. Let’s say we take $1 out of tax revenue and put it back into the economy. The average federal tax rate is about 17%, so in order to earn that dollar back, that $1 would have to generate roughly $6 in new economic activity. You don’t see that kind of multiplier from tax cuts or even direct government spending.

                      So, no, that doesn’t mean the tax rate needs to be 100%. But what it does indicate that if you’re going to sit here and talk about the debt being the number one problem, then you need to be realistic about what sorts of tax cuts you propose in that environment.

                    • First of all, it isn’t just one source that had these findings. Dozens of independent sources reached the same conclusions, including Market Watch, a subsidiary of the Wall Street Journal (hardly a liberal institution). Craig Alexander, chief economist at TD Bank, said Romney’s plan “will pose a drag on the pace of economic growth over the next four years.” The article I quoted gave it the most rosy picture ever, and it still failed. The Tax Policy Center could only balance the math by including tax increases on lower income earners, thereby violating the “no tax increase” pledge. U.S. News said the Romney plan “doesn’t obey the laws of mathematics.” So not one article, but dozens upon dozens, versus the Romney “studies” that came primarily from groups that supported or contributed to his campaign.

                      Secondly, your argument on the expectations of economic growth to compensate relies on finding a pot of leprechaun gold that has never materialized. The expectation of exponential economic growth has already been addressed on this forum, with a previous post of Sean’s. What is seen is a temporary spike in growth, then a leveling out and a decrease in revenue. This has happened each time with decreases in tax rates; hence the conclusions you are proposing do not reflect the realities that have been demonstrated. It is great for blindly promoting the GOP candidate, but utterly void of solid foundation in reality.

                      Lastly, when this is pointed out you return to insults and hyperbole on how we should just tax 100% of everything. Such tactics are usually the mark of a losing position that wants to drive people through fear, rather than persuasion. Seems a majority of voters felt the same way.

                    • Sean, that’s an extremely narrow view of what that tax cut can do. You cannot look to the path of an individual dollar to see what it can generate in revenue.

                      Extra dollars from tax cuts produce far more than just an extra dollar in one’s pocket. If everyone got an extra dollar, yeah, it wouldn’t do much for the economy. But when you cay taxes by a percent or two or ten, you create consumer confidence. People have significantly more money in their pockets, and consumer spending increases. Maybe that 1% puts several folks in a place to afford a boat, which generates revenue on that sale, which makes a profit and demand for parts and services employing more workers, and making more profits for those folks who in turn go out an spend more of their money on other items, or they go out to eat more often, and these dollars continue to expand their effecgt on the economy, and government revenue goes way up, far beyond the measly 1% loss on the tax cut.

                      It’s simple economics. And money removed from the economy has a huge effect. Government isn’t the engine of economic growth. The market place is.

                      While some think everything is a zero sum game where someone wins and someone loses, our marketplace is far more complex, with value being added along the way, and that value add is where the additional revenue comes from as folks gather profits and earn a iving off of these goods and services.

                      With such a narrow view of economic reality, it’s no wonder you think that austerity measures are bad for the economy. Without these measures, we are forced to take more and more from the economy, and starving the engine of prosperity for all.

                    • I admit my view of economics is limited — to facts. Your view is much more expansive and includes realms of fantasy and recycled talking points.

                      All those things you say about tax cuts generating additional economic activity are usually true — it’s just that they don’t generate enough additional economic activity to fully pay for the cost of the tax cut. As I mentioned above, for every dollar of tax cuts, you have to generate about $6 in new economic activity in order to pay for the tax cut. Typically, tax cuts only generate $1.50-$3 in new economic activity per dollar cut so the end result in government coffers is a loss of revenue and an increase in deficits.

                      That doesn’t mean that we should never do tax cuts — sometimes, they are in fact the right economic prescription or they accomplish some other desired goal. But we must always be aware of the impact they have on deficits and decide if they are the right thing to do given what ails the economy. Today, our economy suffers not from onerous levels of taxation, but from failure to invest in those other factors that drive economic performance like infrastructure, education and training, energy, etc.

                      John, can you provide me an example of a country that has pursued austerity measures and seen an economic boom as a result of those measures?

                    • Sure there’s a point where tax cuts will decrease revenue, just as total recovery will kill all revenue as incentive is lost.

                      You guys are lost in divying up the curve between classes. There exists a curve in revenue based taxation. It’s called the Laffer curve and it is correct. Now, to a liberal, this curve is contrary to their sense of reality that all trade is a zero sum game. Value add seems to fall out of the equation. 10 jars of paint might cost a total of $10. And a brush, some solvent, and a canvas, and you’ve got maybe $20 worth of supplies. But an artist turns it into a painting and suddenly someone pays $1000 for it. That’s value add, and it doesn’t have to be art. It happens with equipment and electronics as well. Government can’t provide that. Government doesn’t do value add. They do not realize profit. They take it. WHile government can foster a good environment for value add, it generally doesn’t create value add per se.

                      And so, you come to the curve where each and every dollar taken by the government has a net negative effect on the economy, becuase it remoes the capital from the system that feeds it. ANd you end up with a sweet spot, where we have to have some government funding, to provide defense and forms of protection, but once you make it too big, the effect is a drain, that only gets worse, and continues to drain accumulatively, like negative compunding.

                      And so government keeps finding ways to manipulate the situation, but the latest tactic, is get get everyone fighting over who’s responsible for picking up this tab, all the while, that tab keeps growing, and making it harder for folks to deal with the tab, which makes them fight even harder for thier slice, all the while the government keeps growing and taking more, which in turn makes it harder still to grow, and on and on it goes.

                      Suddently revenue is down, and the economy is stuck, and we all squabble over scraps until the scraps are gone too. It’s absurd.

                    • Saying the “Laffer Curve is correct” is a dubious proposition on its own (if it is, it’s certainly not in the way that it’s commonly drawn up). But, for the sake of argument, I’ll let that go for now.

                      How do you prove where on the Laffer Curve we currently are? What is the basis for your assertion that we are on the side where cutting taxes will increase government revenue and where is the break-even point?

                      It’s also factually incorrect that government is taking a larger and larger share. It isn’t. Federal tax revenues as a % of GDP were below 16% in each of the first four years of the Obama administration, representing the lowest federal collections over a four-year stretch since WW2.

                    • As a percentage of GDP doesn’t really matter, as much as the burden on hte economy. The dollars that are removed.

                      A certain portion of the GDP isn’t quite discrecanary for the populace. Some of our productivity is going to occur no matter what. Certain use of foods, supplies, like paper products, etc are going to occur no matter what shape the economy is in. Heat and electricty are also examples, and even energy to some degree. While energy use obviously goes up with a booming eonomy, a portion of it is somewhat a sustainable baseline.

                      Where the huge government burden comes into play is with consumer extras. Home electronics, higher dollar food items, luxury items, even higher end cars and such are totally affected by this consifactory nature of extreme government spending. So while folks in favor of government spending are fond of pointing out the GDP percentage, it’s a bogus measurement. Just as simplifying any measure of our economy tends to be, this oversimplification of the markets leads to unedcuated decisions, and a sense of apathy that really, everything is still sustainable.

                      Unfortunately, as we’ve seen, government spending is no longer sustainable. We just continue to borrow, and ease and borrow and ease, making our dollars more and useless, and our economy more and more stagnant and unable to rise up as it should.

                      And we just chose a community organizer over a self-made billionaire to solve this complex problem. I guess we get what we deserve.

                      And discrecanary spending happens in the business world as well. We’ll all scrap by on less at the business level, and at the personal level. We adjust to conditions, and make investments where possible in trianing or education, or trimming entertainment of holding off on new items. The government doesn’t. No matter what the conditions, the spending remains. That’s unsustainable.

                    • First, I note you completely ducked the questions. How do you prove where we are on the Laffer Curve, John? Do you have any evidence to back up your assertions? And, I note you don’t like % of GDP. Fine. Look at % of income or just about any measure to see that taxes are at or near post-WWII lows.

                      Second, you’re changing the subject. You have no evidence to back up your claims about taxes, so you’re back to your “too much spending” broken record. And that’s fine as far as it goes. (I’ve endorsed the notion of cutting spending in the medium- to long-term, but not now, lest we undermine the recovery.)

                      Third, the notion that Mitt Romney is a “self-made billionaire” is well, interesting. My definition of “self-made” doesn’t include using stock gifted to you by the CEO of American Motors to finance your college education. Yes, Mitt Romney was a very successful businessman. But he wasn’t self-made. Your mileage may vary.

                      Fourth, government — as you’re so fond of pointing out — isn’t a business. That’s not say that business experience can’t be useful in government, because it can be. But the goal of government isn’t the same as the goal of business, and being President isn’t the same as being CEO. Let’s not forget that George W. Bush had an extensive business background, and he sure didn’t exercise the greatest fiscal control.

                    • The point that you are missing is that continually expand government, taking more and more money out of the system. And that does have a major effect on the economy. Forget percentages. They don’t matter. What matters most is that government continues to take way too much out of our economy, momney that could be better spent by individuals and corporation to turn this economy around. This fact is what big government folks don’t understand. Leave the money in the system in the first place, and revenues will increase naturally as the economic system recovers, then if need be dial it up, but do it slowly and incrementally and evenly.

                      Here’s how, for example a businessman might approach the government revenue situation. Cut the taxes, somewhat dramatically if necessary. The economy bumps, naturally with more capital and certainty in the system, Then dial the rates up very slowly, and more importantly, evenly, and you could find out real quick where the pain point is. If the economy starts tanking again, dail ‘er back a tad, nice and easy, and evenly. Don’t leave us with drop dead cliffs. These guys are like race car drivers. When they should be feathering the throttles.

                      You can’t keep taking trillions out of the economy, and expecting results. It’s too much to make up. We need to ease er back, and let the system have some growth.

                    • The whole idea of a deficit is not that the government is taking money out of the system — rather, it’s putting money into the system by spending money that isn’t supported by our current tax base.

                      And, your idea of “certainty” is ever-changing tax rates?

                    • It’s double whammy. They are taking too much out of the system, i.e. our household income tax yank is over $1K per month according to the first new paychecks, AND they are spending too much as well, destroying the value of the dollar, which is a tax in itself.

                      Unsustainable. On both counts. We are screwed.

                      Seriously, what do you think 1k less per month is going to do to my spending? Do you think I’ll go out as much? Do you think I’ll buy a new car? Is the basement project going on hold? Now mulitply that across the country. Do you actually beleive this is going to be good for a stagnant economy? I can’t be! There is no way in hell this comes to any good. And I still have morons saying I don’t pay my fair share. Ridiculous. I wonder how many homes are suffering the same income decrease. That’s not even close to our total tab. We already pay more in taxes than the nation average income earner makes, and somehow that’s not fair? Ridiculous!

                    • Good thing you don’t believe in class warfare. Sheesh.

                    • I know you don’t get it and probably never will, but pointing out the massive holes in this “fair share” argument isn’t class warfare. You are still stuck on this absurd notion that some don’t pay their fair share, but are against a flat tax? Imagine for one second if every tax increase applied to everyone equally, whether by percentage or dues. Wouldn’t the whole country then get upset when an increase came into play? That’s what’s gioing with class warfare right now. It’s slight of hand. Get everyone fighting over their particular rate, so you never have to address the problem of too many taxes.

                      I mean you claim that the government averages 17% for every dollar made in America. So how in the hell does my paying over 30% of my income, amount something remotely fair? I’ll bet your own personal income tax is higher than that. Aren’t you personally getting screwed? Why do you pick up a greater portion of the burden than the average? Are you one of the wealthiest? Are you a 1 percenter?

                      Do you see where class warfare is getting you? More government spending. More debt. Less value for the dollar. And instead of fighting the system that is doing this to you, you fight your neighbor’s, who are already paying even higher rates than you do, and claim it’s not fair! Can’t you see how ridiculous that is?

                      The only fair share that should matter to anyone of us right now, is the government’s fair share of our hard earned money. They seem to think they have a right to our earnings, without accountability. The economic reality is that taking 4 trillion or more out of the system every year, is very hard on economic growth. And now they want more. It’s absurd! If, and it seems an unlikely if at this point, we ever get this brought back to a reasonable level, we will see the economy rebound, and do so tremendously, which will give the government far more revenue to work with, since most of it’s revenue is based upon economic results.

                      People think Wall Street is the problem. It’s not. It’s Washington. You have a lot of people who have no idea how to manage finances, (i.e. no budget), and who try to regulate economic success ineffectively, and forcing the market to to bend and shape it to a desired result with unworkable regulations, like those of the lending bust, and then blame the wrong people for the problem. It’s absurd.

                    • At some point you’re going to have to realize that the economy is more than tax rates. George W. Bush cut taxes on “job creators” multiple times and produced the first eight-year presidency in American history where there were fewer people employed in the private sector at the end of it than at the beginning. Taxes are but one lever that can be pulled to get the economy moving the way we’d all like it to be.

                    • What a completely phony argument. Under G.W. Bush and lower tax rates, the economy was booming and unemployment was extremely low. Until the housing bubble burst. And what caused that? Washington regulations to lend more money to higher risk individuals. Then when it tanked, Washington blamed Wall Street. Repulicans had been warning about this problem coming, and unfortunately no one wanted to fix it, while the boom was ongoing. We new it was coming and due to lower income demographics getting the housing dream, it was ignored until it finally collapsed. But the tax structure had absolutely nothing to do with the crash. Nothing!

                    • The economy was booming? Not so much. Bush’s expansion was the weakest in American post-WW2 history. Even the current sluggish recovery is better on many metrics.



                      Blaming Washington for irresponsible lending is ridiculous. No one forced banks to make those loans. Plenty of banks chose to chase what they saw as easy money in the subprime market.

                      I never said tax policy was responsible for it. The point, John, is that the economy is far larger than tax policy. It’s not the sole problem nor the sole solution, yet you and Republicans talk as if cutting taxes is some sort of magic elixir that will heal all ills. And it won’t, as the Bush experience shows us. We’d be far better off pulling some of our non-tax levers right now to improve the economy.

                    • The Bush era tax cuts completely turned around the 9/11 recession. We were on about as steady of a path of growth after that as we are ever going to find at our current spending levels, and oil based trade deficits.

                      And linking to Americans for Progress will not help your cause. If I wanted a communists opinion on G.W. Bush, I’d ask for it.

                      The facts are that the leading bubble came at the feet of government regulations to provide these subprime loans. It was designed to make homes possible for folks who might not be able to afford them. And yes the higher rates for higher risk made them appealing to baks, especially with the methods that were employed through the Freddie and Fannie GSE’s. Government is far more responsible for the crash than anyone on Wall Street was. Mandates to engineer results got us in this mess. And Republicans were screaming about the problem long before the bubble burst. No one wanted to change the regulations because it would look bad politically to undo regulation that was designed to get lower income folks into their own homes.

                      2003 when the final cuts came in through 2007 was a period of nice steady growth in the economy. Government revenues were going up again, (as they always do when the economy is growing), and unemployment was about as low as it gets in the modern age.

                    • There was no “9-11 recession”. In fact, the U.S. economy came out of recession in the 4th quarter of 2001. (Yes, there were job market impacts that lingered after 9/11, but the economy was not in recession.) 2003-2007 were solid, but not exceptional economic years. During that time, for instance, job growth per month was about 100,000 lower than comparable periods in the Clinton Administration.

                      Fannie and Freddie were not responsible for problems in the subprime market. As noted in Federal Reserve data:

                      More than 84 percent of the subprime mortgages in 2006 were issued by private lending institutions.
                      Private firms made nearly 83 percent of the subprime loans to low- and moderate-income borrowers that year.
                      Only one of the top 25 subprime lenders in 2006 was directly subject to the housing law that’s being lambasted by conservative critics.

                      Read more here:

                      Perhaps you can give me an example of where the government forced a bank to issue a loan over its objections, then?

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