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Gingrich Promises to Crash the Global Economy and Sink the World into Depression

March 14th, 2012 3 comments

How is that? Simple.

Gingrich claims he can bring the price of gas down to $2.50 a gallon.

Experts say that this is only possible if oil prices drop from $126 a barrel to $50 a barrel.

The experts also say that “Only a depression would bring oil prices down that much.”

Gingrich claims that he can achieve this through drilling, but the experts retort that it just ain’t so–no amount of drilling in the U.S. can move the oil markets that much.

So, either Gingrich is lying, or he’s planning to crash the world economy. Frankly, I think he’s lying, and would unintentionally crash the world economy. But that’s just me.

Like I Said…

February 8th, 2012 5 comments

Romney is still the front-runner, but I’m still not calling it over. I noted in a previous post that the race is so volatile that I am not willing to conclude that Romney will absolutely be the winner. Tonight just cements that impression: Rick Santorum became the new Anyone But Romney, and swept three states–beating Romney in two of them by almost 30 points. True, the delegates were all unbound, and Missouri in particular is meaningless in terms of delegates, but tonight’s results do kind of emphasize what I was talking about: the race is still open.

What’s interesting here is that, before tonight, Romney had only won 3 of 5 states (one of them being heavily Mormon), and from tonight, he has won only 3 of 8–with Santorum, who eked out a win in Iowa after a recount, having won four states–one more than Romney.

There may also have been a recent shift, considering that up until just a few days ago, Romney led Santorum by 10 points in both Colorado and Minnesota. Whether or not Santorum will jump in Michigan or Arizona enough to make a difference is going to be a big question; we’ll see what the polls say in the next three weeks. A few other states will weigh in–Maine is underway now, and Washington votes in early March–but that’s all until Super Tuesday, on March 6.

Like I said, Romney is still the likely candidate, but I ain’t paying off no wagers till the fat lady sings, and she ain’t sung yet.

Categories: Election 2012, GOP & The Election Tags:

Not That There’s Anything Wrong With That

February 2nd, 2012 2 comments

Romney is facing criticism even from his own party about his gaffe that he’s “not concerned about the poor.” What’s funny is that the right wingers are saying how stupid a statement this is while at the same time they are agreeing with it. Kind of like, “Hey, Mitt, no so loud!”

Jonah Goldberg, for example, says that:

…there are plenty of things one could say to defend Romney on the merits of what he says here. But great politicians on the morning after a big win, don’t force their supporters to go around defending the candidate from the charge that he doesn’t care about the poor. They just don’t.

In short, we’re with ya, Mitt, but let’s not go around telling people what we really feel quite so plainly, okay?

A man even more prone to inherent inconsistencies, Erick Erickson, said it best:

Not 12 hours after the networks called it for him, Mitt Romney went on CNN’s Starting Point with Soledad O’Brien, spoke from the heart, and played straight into the liberal caricature that Republicans don’t have hearts. …

The issue here is not that Romney is right or wrong, but that he is handing choice sound bites to the Democrats to make him as unlikeable as he made Newt Gingrich.

The built-in contradiction here is that Erickson is upset that Mitt makes right-wingers look like they have no hearts–but not that he’s wrong or anything.

It’s the Base, Stupid

February 2nd, 2012 12 comments

I’ve been saying for a while to people I know that Romney has a weakness which has not been widely discussed so far: he will fail to bring out the hardcore base, in particular the Religious Right.

In many recent elections, this has been a vital component for Republicans. They depend on the churchgoers, the people who are motivated by the kind of God-related stuff Newt has been peddling. Much of this is church-centered–their local churches are almost organizing centers, the church leaders tell them, directly or indirectly, who to go out and vote for, and they do. They are to the GOP what the African-American vote was for Obama in 2008.

For all of Romney’s other strengths, this is a key weakness: these people will see a Mormon who, despite his recent protestations, is on tape saying he believes strongly in a woman’s right to choose abortion.

These people will not head towards the polls with the same enthusiasm they have in the past few decades.

When I have said this, I kind of get lukewarm responses, like what I’m talking about won’t really be as much of an issue as I make it out to be. However, I just got an initial confirmation that it is, in fact, the case–this from a HuffPo contributor and professor from George Mason University:

In the graph I’ve plotted by county the percent vote for Gingrich against the percent change in turnout from 2008 to 2012. The graph tells a clear story. In counties where Gingrich did better, Republican turnout was up over 2008. In counties where Romney dominated, turnout was lower.

This is also reflected by the fact that GOP turnout was high in South Carolina, which Newt won, but low in Florida, which Romney won.

If, as people now believe, Romney will be the candidate (I draw no such conclusions myself, things being as volatile as they are), then the signs are excellent for the Democrats. Not just for Obama, mind you. If Romney depresses GOP turnout, this could give Obama significant coattails and could effect key Congressional races–and might guarantee Democrats control over the House in 2013. Newt will almost certainly lose the presidency if nominated, but he could at least bring out the core vote enough to generate victories for the GOP at the congressional level.

Categories: Election 2012, GOP & The Election Tags:

From Romney to Gingrich

January 24th, 2012 9 comments

The GOP candidate that I most feared in the election this year was Huntsman; he could sound reasonable, perhaps even get a good chunk of the Democratic vote, while still being a dedicated right-winger, and thus be a real threat to recovering what little of America remains after more than a decade of Republican trashing.

When the consensus seemed to be for Romney, my reaction was, “Are you kidding me?” The right wing wants to place as their candidate a plastic, super-rich, flip-flopping idiot like Romney? That’s the best you can do?

Now that the consensus seems to be swinging to Gingrich, my reaction is, “Are you freaking kidding me?” The right wing wants to replace Romney with a vitriolic, conniving, has-been serial adulterer with negatives as high as 60%? Sure, he’s more politically savvy… but the man is a cesspool of hypocrisy and slime. Sure, Obama won’t be able to make ads about how he got a blow job from a woman not his wife in a car while his kids walked past, or even hint about Newt’s requesting an “open marriage” with his… which wife was that? But not a problem, there is way more about Gingrich to bite into than just the salacious stuff.

I know their choices are bad this year, but to choose the worse of the bad is pretty pathetic. The only positive I see about Gingrich is that he’ll galvanize the religious right while the Mormon Romney might have made them stay home. But I hardly think either has much chance against Obama–unless the rather obvious Republican efforts to crater the economy work better than they seem to be.

Categories: Election 2012, GOP & The Election Tags:

Even More Regressive

January 6th, 2012 1 comment

When will Americans wake up to the fact that when Republicans say they will never raise taxes, they mean only on rich people? That Republicans are chomping at the bit to raise taxes on the poor and middle class?

Look at Romney’s new tax proposal:

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Contrast this with McCain from 2008, where the proposal was to cut taxes for everyone, but mostly for the rich and only a little for the poor and middle class.

Note that in both plans, the cuts for the rich are not just bigger because they make more money, they grow bigger in terms of percentage of income. So it’s not just a matter of getting more cuts because you pay more in taxes, it’s a matter of getting more cuts simply because you’re rich.

Conservatives are not against redistribution of wealth, they are all for it–as long as it is redistributed upwards.

A tune comes to mind… Dennis Moore Dennis Moore, Riding through the land; Dennis Moore, Dennis Moore, Without a merry band; He steals from the poor, And gives to the rich….

Voting Republican

December 24th, 2011 3 comments

Unless you consider yourself to belong to the upper class–that is, if you are worth less than a few million dollars or make less than a hundred thousand dollars a year–then if you vote Republican, you’re a total idiot.

Republicans want to do away with most taxes on rich people by lowering the marginal tax rate by more than half to 15%, and by lowering to zero the capital gains tax, which is a major source of income for the wealthy.

At the same time, they want to raise taxes on the poor, as evidenced by (1) the 15% flat rate which would instantly raise taxes significantly on the poorest Americans, (2) their intense disgust that people making a pittance don’t pay income taxes at all and should start doing so, and (3) their favor of de-emphasizing income taxes (which presently favor the poor) with sales or VAT taxes (which would favor the rich and hurt the poor). All this despite their pledge to never raise taxes–a pledge they only seem to honor if it refers to taxes on wealthy people.

Then there’s representation. Republicans love the idea that corporations are people and elevated the practice of lobbying to a high art, assuring that institutions of wealth, controlled by the wealthiest people, have the most powerful representation and influence possible.

Meanwhile, through voter ID and other laws based upon utterly false claims of election fraud, they seek to suppress the ability to vote amongst the poor, the elderly, the young, and especially among minorities. This tendency is accentuated with the use of practices like voter caging, false representation of voting times and places, fraudulent registration scams, illicit “felons list” disenfranchisement, and a host of other exercises in what is actually election fraud.

But, according to Republicans, it’s liberals who are engaging in “class warfare.”

You might say that Democrats will raise your taxes. See above–unless you’re in the upper class, it’s the Republicans who have come out clearly for raising your taxes–while Democrats have lowered your taxes, though you probably failed to notice it.

You might say that Democrats spend more. This despite the fact that Republicans show every propensity to spend as much as if not more then Democrats. Not to mention that Democrats want to spend the money on things that you probably want, like Social Security and Medicare, while Republicans want to spend the money on Defense and fighting massive land wars in Asia, which you might approve of but nevertheless benefits you not at all.

And yes, Obama has spent a lot–but most of it has either been spending Republicans pressured him to spend, or else has been spent trying to undo the mess Republicans got us into. Had Obama become president in 2000, it is likely he would have massively underspent Bush.

You might say that you’re social conservative–but even that’s not much to go on. Most of the stuff right-wingers go on about in terms of social issues are things that are not real, like the “War on Christmas” or other imagined attacks on white Christians (usually males), or are things that Republicans are not actually trying to change because they work so well to rally voters like yourself.

It could very well be that there are things that Republicans actually fight for and achieve that you really believe are more important than all the things they do which make your life worse–but the chances are against it.

And if you long for the classic Republicans, the Republicans of the Reagan years, for example, then look no further: they call themselves “Democrats” nowadays.

Specifics, Please

December 6th, 2011 2 comments

Newt Gingrich comes out with a positive ad:

Some people say the America we know and love is a thing of the past. I don’t believe that. Because working together I know we can rebuild America. We can revive our economy and create jobs. Shrink government and the regulations that strangle our businesses. Throw out the tax and replace it with one that is simple and fair. We can regain the world’s respect by standing strong again.

Being true to our faith and respecting one another. We can return power to the people and the states we live in so we all will have more freedom, opportunity, and control of our lives.

Yes, working together we can and will Rebuild the America we Love.

Something that I have long noticed about many of the right-wing commenters, on this blog and elsewhere: they usually don’t get into specifics. The few that do have trouble, because it then becomes a rather simple matter of tearing their arguments to shreds. There’s not too much to the right-wing message today that cannot be easily dismantled in the light of detail.

Look at Newt’s message. It provides a halcyon view of American life: immaculate, tree-lined, white-picket-fenced suburban homes flying the American flag, a pretty young woman running a flower shop, a rural Main Street tableau, wheat silos–even the Statue of Liberty and literally purple mountains. In short, ignore any problems we might have and take a trip to Pleasantville, the America we all imagine but which never really existed.

And how will we accomplish this? Vaguely, we will:

  • Shrink government
  • Reduce regulations
  • Produce a simple tax code
  • Stand strong
  • Be true to our faith
  • Respect one another
  • Return power to the states

Sounds nice, certainly to a conservative. Problem is, when you start to realize what specifics must be involved, it all falls to pieces.

Shrink government. OK. Except, when did Republicans ever do that, actually? They were in more or less total control for about half a decade–and government spending exploded. Now they want to shrink government? They were for that before, and didn’t follow through. Why trust them now? But OK, Newt is all about being forgiven and reforming himself, so let’s give him the chance. What will you shrink, Newt? Kill Social Security? Gut Medicare? Slash the military? Only the last of those has any chance of really drawing back government much (the others aren’t about “shrinking” government as much as they are about cutting back the safety net for Americans most in need). But cutting military spending is likely not on Newt’s plate–the opposite, in fact, is likely true.

Reduce Regulations. This conservative rallying cry would be great if they were actually interested in only cutting the ones that truly hold back business success without endangering, impoverishing, and even killing Americans. So, Newt, would you mind giving specifics about exactly which regulations should be cut? Really, what he’s talking about is doing stuff like allowing corporations to pollute the environment and steal money whilst evading any responsibility and not being legally obliged to create a single new job. Somehow conservatives think that by doing this, corporations will not simply collect the profits and run, but will instead pile every single penny saved into creating new high-paying jobs. Which, of course, is ludicrously stupid, and I think they know this. It’s not about jobs or benefitting Americans; it’s about more and more profit-taking to the dear expense of most Americans.

Produce a simple tax code. This has long been a code message meaning “give even more tax cuts to rich people,” playing on Americans’ hatred of filling out tax forms and the illusion that a “simple” tax code would make rich people pay as much as everyone else. It wouldn’t. Aside from instantly raising taxes significantly on most Americans at the lower end of the scale–a goal Republicans have openly endorsed–many flat-tax plans include a value-added tax or federal sales tax which would effectively be a double tax on poorer people, hardly affecting people with a lot more money. Wealthy people would also, inevitably, also still have loopholes and evasions, likely in the form of lower taxes on capital gains (Republicans also support no taxes on capital gains at all) and other rationalized deductions, exemptions, and ways rich people could shuffle their bookkeeping and so pay little or nothing in the end. So, Newt: mind releasing the full specifics of your “simple” tax plan and allowing us to project its actual effects?

Stand strong. Nice. Except, how? Aside from massively increasing military spending–i.e., expanding government and further enriching corporations–this is a meaningless platitude. But you can bet that, if Newt became president, it would eventually translate into more military spending. Again, Newt, mind being specific about how this will work?

Be true to our faith. Although Newt is not specific in this particular ad, he has sadly been specific elsewhere. In short, Newt sees religious piety as equalling goodness, and lack of same to represent immorality. He has effectively stated that he would not allow any atheists to hold a post in his administration (which violates Article VI of the Constitution, by the way) in saying, “How can you have judgment if you have no faith? How can I trust you with power if you don’t pray?” Statements which are extraordinarily dangerous, in many different ways. And what this means is, ironically, that government will be more in the face of the people, and in the most sacrosanct of contexts: their religious faith, or their right to the lack of same. Newt is not just making the usual religious pitch that he is informed and empowered by his religion, he is actively stating that he would openly discriminate against people he considered not religious enough–which you can bet also translates into specifically being Christian, which inevitably evolves into being the right kind of Christian. This is all even more ironic since Newt has a long history of rank dishonesty and immoral behavior; he seems to like religion because, so long as you toe the line, your sins are forgiven. Religious people would apparently place more trust in a religious man who always sins but asks God for forgiveness each time than they would an atheist who is never dishonest in the first place. This will somehow “restore America.” To which era he did not specify.

Respect one another. Umm, okay. How will you accomplish this as president, Newt? Because unless it’s more of government interfering in our lives–which it’s a good bet you’ll try to do–then how would a president make this happen? By example? Newt, really? Your example?

And finally, return power to the states. This is another conservative code phrase, most specifically meaning to outlaw abortion, but also standing in for a bevy of other right-wing causes like doing away with effective gun control. As always, it’s not really about giving states power; if states want to legalize drugs or give people the right to die, for example, then big government under a Republican president will always be pushing aside the states’ rights and powers in an instant–as has been the case under all presidencies. What “states rights” or “power to the states” really means is, whenever there is an issue which conservatives can’t win with or don’t like at the federal level, they will push it to the states where it will more easily be changed to whatever conservatives want it to be. But if states try to do something that conservatives don’t like, then states don’t have any rights and don’t deserve power.

This is why Newt and other conservatives love ambiguity: it hides the reality they’re proposing. None of these stand up to the light of day, and certainly none, in the light of day, would come close to producing the America Newt exhibits in his ad–unless it is a gated pocket community, complete with artificial rustic scenery, built for the very small minority Newt’s plans would in fact benefit, with the rest of the country outside going straight to hell.

The end result of Newt’s proposals would mean even more wealth to the wealthy, more unchecked corporate greed and malfeasance, bigger government paid for with higher taxes on poorer Americans, and greater government monitoring and control over the most private and personal details of our lives. In short, exactly what we had under Dubya, only this time doubled down.

Post-Racist Conservatism?

December 4th, 2011 5 comments

Some have commented recently that, no matter how it turned out in the end, the Cain campaign proves once and for all that conservatives are not racist and would accept a black candidate for president.

Um.

I have to respectfully disagree with that assertion. In doing so, I should make clear that I have never thought that all conservatives are racist to some degree, nor that most of them are. Exactly what proportion I cannot guess, but it is clear that a good many are. Probably only a small percent are hardcore racist (i.e., would admit to it openly), and most of the remainder who are racist find rationalizations and belong to the “some of my best friends” category.

How can I say that racism is still a problem in the GOP, however, after a black man was, for some time, the GOP front runner?

First of all, one has to remember that this is pre-primary, not an election. This is the tryout period, where you can “approve” of someone without it meaning anything.

One should also keep in mind that the current race is more of a political purity test among the GOP core, and reflects the other qualities of any given candidate to a much lesser degree.

Also, Cain never rose above 25% in the polls; he was the “front runner” only in that he was, for three weeks, no more than 3% ahead of Romney at any given time.

Next, one must remember that many white conservatives likely supported Cain for the same reason they assumed liberals supported Obama: because it made them feel good to be able to say that they support a black person for president. This was something which, when conservatives were accusing liberals of it, made little sense to most white Obama supporters. We didn’t vote for him because he was black; had that been the case, Jesse Jackson would have been the candidate long ago. Obama could have been white and we’d have supported him all the same. His race was no more than a fringe benefit, an inspiring side note. But for many conservatives, this was the only thing that made sense, because it is how they would have felt. Conservatives project a lot.

Then there’s the fact that they’re looking toward an election against a black incumbent; remember Michael Steele being appointed GOP chairman right after Obama became president? Remember how they imported Alan Keyes to run against Obama in the Illinois Senate race? There’s more than a little conservative history of playing race against race, especially against Obama.

Finally, one has to remember the context of Cain’s campaign. The GOP has been frantically scrambling to find someone, anyone, who could possibly challenge Obama next year. For crying out loud, Michele Bachmann, a complete loon, was the front-runner for a while. Perry, an idiot, had far better numbers. And after Cain, the same people are now looking to Gingrich, a mercurial, flip-flopping serial adulterer with serious likability issues. Against this backdrop, becoming the front-runner by a few percentage points is pretty far from a ringing endorsement.

So we have Herman Cain, who, for about three weeks, barely edged out the next candidate by a few percentage points in a political purity test a few months before the primaries in a desperate race where all the other candidates have serious problems themselves.

This is hardly what I would call iron-clad evidence that racism is no longer a problem for conservatives in America.

Categories: GOP & The Election, Race Tags:

Decoding the Scam

November 9th, 2011 6 comments

Romney’s Health Care proposal:

First, Medicare should not change for anyone in the program or soon to be in it.  We should honor our commitments to our seniors.

Second, as with Social Security, tax hikes are not the solution.  We couldn’t tax our way out of unfunded liabilities so large, even if we wanted to.

Third, tomorrow’s seniors should have the freedom to choose what their health coverage looks like.  Younger Americans today, when they turn 65, should have a choice between traditional Medicare and other private healthcare plans that provide at least the same level of benefits. Competition will lower costs and increase the quality of healthcare for tomorrow’s seniors.

The federal government will help seniors pay for the option they choose, with a level of support that ensures all can obtain the coverage they need.  Those with lower incomes will receive more generous assistance.  Beneficiaries can keep the savings from less expensive options, or they can choose to pay more for a costlier plan.

Sounds good: keep Medicare as it is for those who are in it, don’t raise taxes on anyone, and instead allow new entrants to choose from a competitive market. At first glance, it seems a reasonable plan.

However, it falls apart if you start to think about it. For example, who was proposing tax hikes specifically to secure Medicare? I was not aware of any proposals along those lines, rather plans to solve deficit problems in general. Romney is effectively saying here, “No tax hikes for rich people, instead we solve our deficit problems by addressing Medicare–which means making cuts.” He’s also trying to throw in the statement that he’s for Social Security, to reassure seniors especially.

Now come back to his first statement: “Medicare should not change for anyone in the program or soon to be in it.” If one takes a careful look, the implicit message buried in that statement is, “Medicare WILL change for anyone NOT soon to be in the program.” The word “soon” being undefined. Essentially, he’s promising to change Medicare a la Ryan’s plan, to get rid of it in favor of private plans.

But then we come to the last part, in which he talks about people having a choice. Now, this is immediately suspect: people have a choice right now. Unless I am badly mistaken, no one is forcing seniors to get Medicare. Romney’s plan would seem to differ only in that it allows people to use government subsidies to buy private plans. Subsidies which, you can bet your life on, will be substantially lower than current benefits.

Note that Romney uses nebulous terms: the government will “help” to pay for “needed coverage” with “more generous” support for people more in need. Those terms could mean practically anything–“help” could mean to pay a small amount; “needed coverage” is a subjective expression which could be interpreted to mean only vital care; “more generous” than a pittance might still be a pittance. All that is guaranteed here is that seniors will pay for a substantial chunk of their health care themselves.

At which point we get to the key statement: “Competition will lower costs and increase the quality of healthcare for tomorrow’s seniors.”

Really? How will that happen? Sullivan points out that, even ideally, only as much as 8% of costs could be cut by competitive means. And we can’t forget the fact that private providers will charge a profit, which Medicare doesn’t. Or that “competitive” inevitably means “lower quality.”

Now, Romney seems to be promising equal or better quality–but how can that be assured? Only one way: government regulation. Which Romney and conservatives are steadfastly against. Which means that we’ll fall back on “self-regulating,” which really means “corporations trying to make a crappy thing sound good,” which means lower quality.

Really, the private market can’t beat Medicare. Which is the whole point. Which also brings us back to Romney’s indirect statement that he will not preserve Medicare for future recipients. This seems to fly in the face of his statement that “traditional Medicare” will be an option. If that’s really true, then the private plans would not be able to compete. Which is where his proposal falls apart: in order for private plans to have any chance of competing, “traditional Medicare” cannot be allowed to continue–which would fall in line with his original suggestion that traditional Medicare would, in fact, not be preserved.

In short, Romney fully intends to dismantle Medicare as it now exists and replace it with an unspecified level of government support to buy private programs. The claims that this will provide the same level of quality as Medicare today are, we are left to deduce, purely an assumption. But don’t worry, seniors–he’s not shortchanging you, so you can still vote for him.

Which, if you look back at the original statement, is not exactly what Romney sounded like he was talking about. Nor is it anything which, if enacted, would (a) save any money or reduce the deficit in the short term, or (b) prove effective or not during any period of time Romney could potentially be in office.

Yep. Quite a plan he’s got there.

Republicans and Economics: Reputation for Expertise, Track Record for Cluelessness

October 23rd, 2011 8 comments

A few weeks ago, I posted a stump speech I felt Obama should be making. In it, I pointed out that while Obama is trying to push a modest jobs plan, Republicans are blocking it. I also claimed that Republicans have no jobs plan of their own. They would deny this, of course; they have pitched a plan that they call a “jobs” plan. The plan: erase even more regulations so corporations can pollute. The idea is, if we stop holding back industries from making our air unbreathable, our water undrinkable, and our soil packed with toxic wastes, they will be free to create more jobs. That is logic along the lines of letting criminals serving time for assault & battery out of prison so that we can hire more doctors and nurses.

Paul Krugman (hat tip to Ken) meets this proposal with scorn from the economic side, debunking the idea that it will create loads of new jobs. Pay close attention to the last sentence in the excerpt:

Mr. Perry has put out a specific number — 1.2 million jobs — that appears to be based on a study released by the American Petroleum Institute, a trade association, claiming favorable employment effects from removing restrictions on oil and gas extraction. The same study lies behind the claims of Senate Republicans.

But does this oil-industry-backed study actually make a serious case for weaker environmental protection as a job-creation strategy? No.

Part of the problem is that the study relies heavily on an assumed “multiplier” effect, in which every new job in energy leads indirectly to the creation of 2.5 jobs elsewhere. Republicans, you may recall, were scornful of claims that government aid that helps avoid layoffs of schoolteachers also indirectly helps save jobs in the private sector. But I guess the laws of economics change when it’s an oil company rather than a school district doing the hiring.

This is really what is at the heart of Republican thinking, especially when it comes to economics: “facts” are things we make up to benefit ourselves.

When people listen to conservatives speaking about economics, they tend to give them credence, in part because they sound so confident giving all of these “facts,” but also because conservatives have a long-standing reputation for fiscal responsibility and know-how.

The truth, however, is that they play fast and look with the facts, and when they want to argue their own points or lambaste the opposition, they tend to do so in reckless disregard for even the most fundamental economic principles.

For example, one claim they have been making for a few decades now is that during the Reagan years, taxes were cut and revenues doubled. I heard this just last week, coming from a conservative on Bill Maher’s show. This claim is not just wrong, it is actually fraught with distortion. It tries to proves the claim that cutting taxes increases revenues, but ignores that fact that while some taxes were cut during that period, other taxes were raised, arguably for a net tax increase.

However, the big lie in the assertion is that Reagan doubled revenue, based on the fact that government revenues went from $517 billion in 1980 to $1,031 billion in 1990. First, this calculation includes Carter’s last year in office as well as Bush 41′s first two years. To be accurate, we must actually run from Reagan’s first year in office–1981, by the end of which Reagan’s economic policies were just beginning to kick in (his first tax cut did not take effect until 1982)–as a baseline, and then take the last year in office as a reading of actual increases. That gives us a rise from $599 billion to $909 billion, an increase just a shade over 50%. So, right there, we see the claim half-shattered.

But that’s not even the main point–remember, I am positing the idea that conservatives abandon the most obvious economic facts and principles to distort reality. What was the fundamental economic idea they ignored here?

Inflation. In order for any judgment to be made on revenue, inflation absolutely must be factored out–otherwise Jimmy Carter would come across looking like a magician. So, when you look at the numbers honestly and factor out inflation–using 1987 constant dollars–how did Reagan fare? Well, he went from $767 billion in 1981 to $877 billion in 1989. A net increase of 14%. Add to that the fact that the U.S. population grew by 7% during that time, and we see the net increase which could be attributed to tax policy brought down to a mere 7%.

So, instead of Reagan cutting taxes and doubling revenue, we have him raising taxes overall and increasing revenue by 7%.

Conservatives, however, would prefer to credit Reagan for things that happened when he was not president, and conveniently forget fundamental economic factors such as inflation and population growth.

Nor is the conservative habit of playing fast and loose with economics limited to Reagan. A more current example is their claim that Obama is responsible for the unemployment rate hitting 10%. Sure enough, unemployment hit 10.1% in October 2009, fully 9 months after Obama took office. So, hard to refute that one, right? Pretty sound fact conservatives have to nail Obama with, right?

Of course, no. First of all, when Bush took office in 2001, the unemployment rate was 4.2%; this rate rose to 6.3% by June of 2003, a fact which, one can be sure, conservatives would quickly attribute to the recession they claim Clinton saddled Bush with. It was another two and a half years–five years after Bush took office–before the rate fell below 5% again.

Jump forward to early 2008, a full year before Obama took office. The unemployment rate was at 4.8%, near to where it had been hovering for the previous three years. Then, in mid-year, the effects of the sub-prime crisis, the beginning of Bush’s Great Recession, started to show; the unemployment rate rose until, in February 2009, when Obama was in office, it hit 8.2%. (Unless you want to credit Obama with numbers that represent a month 2/3rds presided over by Bush, in which case it was 7.8%.)

So, right off the bat, we have Bush overseeing a rise in the rate from 4.8% to 8.2%–a 3.4% jump, or a 70% increase. Conservatives conveniently pretend this never happened–that the rate rose under Bush at all, or that the trend began with him. While they would eagerly attribute two years of rises in the Bush unemployment rate to Clinton, they would not dream of crediting Bush with any of the rate’s rise in Obama’s first nine months.

But still, the rate rose from 8.2% to 10.1% under Obama, right? That’s a 1.9% rise, or about 23%–so, still we can criticize Obama, right? OK, let’s blame Bush for the rate’s rise once he started office. See? I can be reasonable when it helps my argument. Can’t we then blame Obama for the 1.9% spike up to 10.1%?

Here, again, is where conservatives conveniently forget Economics 101. The unemployment rate, you see, is what you can call a “lagging” indicator–in other words, it does not immediately reflect changes in the economy. It takes 2-3 quarters to do so. For example, consistent job losses did not begin until January of 2008–but it took until May or June for these figures to have an effect on the unemployment rate.

Which means that at least the first six months of the unemployment rate under Obama is actually a direct reading on the last six months of the Bush administration. That would mean Bush was directly responsible for taking the unemployment rate not just up to 8.2%, but up to at least 9.5%–a total rise of 4.7%, roughly double the rate. Obama, then, is only responsible for the rate going from 9.5% to 10.1%–a mere 6% next to Bush’s staggering 98%.

And that is only if you blame Obama for the unemployment rate increases that started the moment he sat down at his desk, which is unrealistic, as he had to slow the plummet before he could turn it around. It is completely fair to claim–I would even say it is a solid fact–that Bush was completely responsible for the rise in the unemployment rate. Considering also that job losses did not begin to slow until just after Obama’s stimulus and therefore can easily be attributed directly to that act, it would be just as fair and factual to attribute the subsequent lowering of the rate to 9.1% to Obama.

So, instead of Obama causing the unemployment rate to shoot up to 10%, Bush is fully responsible, while Obama stopped the increase and actually brought it down a bit. Conservatives deny this simply by ignoring Bush’s existence and then conveniently forgetting the fundamental economic fact that the unemployment rate is a lagging indicator.

Not that any of this is a surprise. Whatever financial & economic clout, aptitude, or reputation conservatives might have had, it has now been thoroughly trashed. Yes, there are undoubtedly conservatives with good economic smarts around–but they seem to be in hiding.

In fact, the Republican party seems to be going completely around the bend; instead of just claiming that tax cuts for the rich will create jobs, now they are clamoring for significant tax hikes on the poor and the middle class in addition to tax cuts for the rich–and are arguing that in order to create jobs, all we have to do is open the flood gates on pollution. And, oh yeah, they want to dismantle health care.

If the American people–the 99%–vote Republicans into office next year, they will get exactly what they deserve: a trashed economy, higher taxes for them, even more tax cuts for the rich, and air, water and soil so polluted they’ll start getting sicker faster–just as Republicans shatter the last remnants of public health care.

In other words, they will not only be idiots–they will be suicidal idiots.

Seriously, could the Republican Party be more openly hostile to the American people? They’re like a mugger who just stole your money and knifed you in the gut, then told the you that it was all the fault of the cop who tried to stop him but failed–so vote for the mugger!

We Got This One, At Least

June 24th, 2011 Comments off

Governor Perdue of North Carolina vetoed a Republican bill aimed at disenfranchising Democratic voters:

The right to choose our leaders is among the most precious freedoms we have – both as Americans and North Carolinians. North Carolinians who are eligible to vote have a constitutionally guaranteed right to cast their ballots, and no one should put up obstacles to citizens exercising that right.

We must always be vigilant in protecting the integrity of our elections. But requiring every voter to present a government-issued photo ID is not the way to do it. This bill, as written, will unnecessarily and unfairly disenfranchise many eligible and legitimate voters. The legislature should pass a less extreme bill that allows for other forms of identification, such as those permitted under federal law.

There was a time in North Carolina history when the right to vote was enjoyed only by some citizens rather than by all. That time is past, and we should not revisit it.

Therefore, I veto this bill.

The veto will, thankfully, probably not be overridden. However, it should be noted that Governor Perdue is a Democrat; it would have been much more encouraging had a Republican demonstrated the moral virtue of striking down a bill by his or her own party aimed at illegitimately stripping Americans of the right to vote based on political affiliation.

Sadly, that is not likely, and in many states where the legislature and the governorship are both held by Republicans, it is almost certain that such laws, passed by legislators eager to violate the civil rights of those who would not vote for them, will be happily signed by governors of similar moral depravity.

It should also be noted that for these laws to pass in the first place, almost the entire Republican bloc must vote in unison–demonstrating how very little moral courage exists among the individual members of the right wing of our legislatures.

Wisconsin Republican: I Hope My Constituents Are Sleeping on Election Day

June 2nd, 2011 1 comment

Yep. Wisconsin State Senator Dan Kapanke said that. It was a meeting with other Republicans, discussing the recall votes. The key quote:

We’ve got tons of government workers in my district – tons. … We have to overcome that. We gotta hope that they, kind of, are sleeping on July 12th – or whenever the (election) date is.

First question: if his district has so many government workers–if that’s who he represents, if those people are the ones he is supposed to be working for and fighting for–exactly why did he decide to screw them over with the union vote? I mean, I think that’s why his kind of job is called being a “representative” of the people, instead of, say, “party hack.”

If he’s screwed because he did something that hurt most of his constituents, then he absolutely deserves to be recalled. What the hell was he thinking?

Worse, he now actually has the cajones to say that he hopes the voters “kind of are sleeping” on election day. Whenever that is.

How did his campaign manager try to explain that comment off? According to her, (a) “some” of the people Kapanke was speaking to were “government workers,” and (b) he was just trying to encourage supporters to come out to vote.

Really. She said that.

First, the meeting was amongst Republicans at a country club. Something tells me there weren’t too many elementary school teachers in attendance. If there were “government workers” there, they were probably fellow party officials.

Second, trying to pass off “I hope my constituents are sleeping on election day” as “encouraging his supporters to come out to vote” is about as asinine an explanation as I can imagine. The campaign manager might as well have said that the senator was just trying to say that he hoped his constituents were idiots and could not tell the difference.

This is the quality of Republicans today: committed only to the party line, contemptuous of pretty much everything else.

The Right’s Dilemma

May 25th, 2011 2 comments

As I recently mentioned, the GOP seems to be painting itself into a corner with the Medicare bill. In a bizarre play of ideological purity, it seems that anyone who does not want to be a pariah in the GOP ranks must embrace a third-rail issue which could devastate their standing with the voters. Gingrich, until now a formidable candidate who spent years building himself up, is now seen as having self-destructed simply by disagreeing on that one issue–an issue which stands to lose the Republicans a safe seat in New York in a few days, one which their constituents are screaming at them in anger about.

In order to get the party’s nomination, there are certain things one has always had to do. Sometimes these things are a bit far out, but recently, it seems that the new GOP line which candidates must toe is so extreme that any candidate must essentially alienate themselves from the country at large before they can become viable in the primary race.

I guess this is what comes from the almost pathological abhorrence to anything connected with Obama, causing Republicans to denounce as evil the very things they themselves proposed as wise and right only years, months, or even just days before. Since Obama is in fact a centrist and embraces a fair number of ideas in the moderate Republican realm, all that is moderate becomes toxic to them, leaving only the more and more extreme positions, the extremist vitriol which candidates must now embrace and celebrate or else be excoriated by their own.

It has come to the point where there is now talk that Paul Ryan, the author of the “Kill Medicare” plan himself, is being seriously considered as a possible presidential candidate. The man who led the party into its lockstep vote which could lose them their only remaining island of political power, the House, which could take away from them even their dwindling chances of winning the White House.

They find themselves now bereft of a safe Republican seat, a seat that the GOP candidate should have won by several touchdowns; losing it to a Democrat, voted down by a predominantly right-wing constituency who have expressed particular dislike for the GOP Medicare plan.

The GOP finds itself more and more facing the wrath of Americans in general, and even more and more of their own voters–not the core, not the base, but those important moderates who don’t want Medicare to be scrapped and replaced with vouchers, and who aren’t all that wild about continuing massive tax cuts for rich people when it is clear that it only helps balloon the deficit and increase the debt. But they have to stand by these issues. It is become an increasingly more difficult balancing act for them, to be able to somehow avoid becoming hated by their base or hated by the electorate at large, or by both by trying to waffle somewhere in a center that no longer exists.

Not that I am not enjoying this, or that it is a richly deserved comeuppance. But it is also morbidly fascinating to witness. I am cautiously aware that I thought the same thing would happen due to the Republican obstructionism back in 2009, and was terribly wrong. Somehow I don’t think I am quite so wrong on this one, though.

The 26th as Political Barometer

May 22nd, 2011 4 comments

When Republicans first started talking about their Medicare plan back in April, I could hardly believe they were serious–and I predicted that it would cost them dearly if they were really going to try it out. That was before we knew the public’s reaction.

Now we know.

Case in point: New York’s 26th congressional district, recently vacated by Chris Lee after his now-infamous shirtless photo on Craigslist.

The 26th district is heavily Republican. Though held by a Democrat for most of the 90′s, it was redistricted after the 2000 census, and since then, Republicans have won by varying margins. The closest Democrats came to reclaiming the seat was in 2006, when Republicans were incredibly unpopular and the House fell to the Democrats; even then, the 26th was won by a Republican by 4% of the vote. In other elections in the last decade, Republicans have won by margins of 11.3%, 14.5%, and 51.2%, with Lee winning the seat handily by a margin of 47.2%, with 73.6% of the vote over the Democrat Philip Fedele’s 26.4%.

Now that Medicare is a big issue, Republicans are finding themselves in trouble. 21% of respondents to a poll in the 26th said that Medicare was the single most important issue in deciding their vote, followed by jobs (20%), the budget deficit (19%), and then by taxes and health care (12% each).

And with the special election just three days away, the Democrat, Kathy Hochul, has jumped ahead in the polls and now leads the conservative candidate by 4 points. Hochul carries the largest block, 42%, followed by Republican Jane Corwin, with 38%, with 12% going to the Tea Party candidate. True, the vote is being split on the right, but considering that the Democrat got only 26% of the vote just a year ago, this is pretty significant.

Furthermore, 66% of voters say their minds are made up, with another 27% saying that it’s unlikely they will change their minds by election day, with Democrats being the most firm in their decision. With only 7% to work with, that’s not much hope for the Republican–especially since most of the undecideds are independents and Tea Party people. You might think that was good for the Republican, but almost all of the people who defected from the Tea Party candidate so far have gone for Hochul, the Democrat. Which means that if anyone stands to gain from the uncertains, it’s Hochul.

If Hochul wins, it will be interesting to see the reaction of the GOP regarding their Medicare plan. Already they have tried to walk back from it, but walked right back into it shortly after that, even going so far as to vote for it nearly unanimously and shooting down one of their most popular presidential candidates because he dared speak out against it.

Will they continue to walk into the buzz saw, claiming the 26th was only an aberration? One can only hope so. Unless they are stupid, they will not only shelve the Medicare plan, but also do a 180 and disown it, with nothing less than a new bill that bolsters Medicare in its present form. Yes, they’ll look like pandering hypocrites, but they already look like that anyway. At least they won’t be firmly gripping a third-rail issue any more.

Amazingly, I get the sense they will not do this, but will instead, like lemmings were once thought to do, swarm in lockstep over the precipice on this one.

Like I said, one can only hope.

Newt’s Non-Walkback Walkback: If You Tell the Truth About Me, You Lie

May 19th, 2011 2 comments

On Sunday, Newt Gingrich criticized Paul Ryan’s Medicare plan, calling it “right-wing social engineering” and “radical.”

Later, when castigated by his own party, he tried to retract what he said, calling it a “mistake.”

Now he is attempting to claim that liberals make hay of his statements, if they quote what he said in any way, then they are dirty rotten liars:

Let me say on the record, any ad which quotes what I said Sunday is a falsehood. I have said publicly, those words were inaccurate and unfortunate. And I’m prepared to stand up, when I make a mistake – and I’m going to on occasion – I want to share with the American people that was a mistake. Because that way we can have an honest conversation.

Now, if you accidentally said something you didn’t really mean, then it might be fair game to try to take it back–not that Republicans would ever allow a liberal to walk back such a thing. Conservatives don’t even let liberals walk back from things they didn’t say. But if he said something intentionally, and meant what he said, then later decided it was a bad idea and decided to reverse himself, then, no–you cannot claim people who quote you are lying, so long as they don’t contradict the fact that you have reversed yourself.

And in this case, Gingrich hasn’t even reversed himself–he just played a damage-control PR game which made it seem like he retracted what he said–and then called anyone who quoted his un-retracted statement a liar.

In any case, let’s take a look at this. On Sunday, this is what he said:

MR. GREGORY: What about entitlements? The Medicare trust fund, in stories that have come out over the weekend, is now going to be depleted by 2024, five years earlier than predicted. Do you think that Republicans ought to buck the public opposition and really move forward to completely change Medicare, turn it into a voucher program where you give seniors…

REP. GINGRICH: Right.

MR. GREGORY: …some premium support and–so that they can go out and buy private insurance?

REP. GINGRICH: I don’t think right-wing social engineering is any more desirable than left-wing social engineering. I don’t think imposing radical change from the right or the left is a very good way for a free society to operate. I think we need a national conversation to get to a better Medicare system with more choices for seniors. But there are specific things you can do. At the Center for Health Transformation, which I helped found, we published a book called “Stop Paying the Crooks.” We thought that was a clear enough, simple enough idea, even for Washington. We–between Medicare and Medicaid, we pay between $70 billion and $120 billion a year to crooks. And IBM has agreed to help solve it, American Express has agreed to help solve it, Visa’s agreed to help solve it. You can’t get anybody in this town to look at it. That’s, that’s almost $1 trillion over a decade. So there are things you can do to improve Medicare.

MR. GREGORY: But not what Paul Ryan is suggesting, which is completely changing Medicare.

REP. GINGRICH: I, I think that, I think, I think that that is too big a jump. I think what you want to have is a system where people voluntarily migrate to better outcomes, better solutions, better options, not one where you suddenly impose upon the–I don’t want to–I’m against Obamacare, which is imposing radical change, and I would be against a conservative imposing radical change.

That sounds pretty darn specific and considered for an outburst which can be excused because he accidentally misspoke. I don’t think he can claim “slip of the tongue” on this one. So how exactly does he walk it back?

In a conference call with conservative bloggers, Gingrich said he “used language that was too strong” on NBC’s “Meet The Press,” and that he was reaching out to Ryan.

“My hope is to find a way to work with the House Republicans,” Gingrich said, according to Matt Lewis of the Daily Caller.

He also appeared on Republican commentator Bill Bennett’s radio show, where he was on the defensive from the outset. At first, he blamed adversarial questioning from the “Washington establishment,” and said he should have responded differently.

“I’m totally for what Paul Ryan is trying to do in general terms,” he said.

The “narrow question” he was asked, he said, was whether Republicans should adopt a plan that the public seems to oppose, not whether he agreed with it.

“I just said I am for the process of improving it. I didn’t say I was for the plan as it currently exists. I think that is an important distinction,” he said.

In short, he says that his language was “too strong,” he supports Ryan “generally,” is for “improving” the plan, and the question he was asked was too “narrow.”

Here’s the thing: that doesn’t contradict what he said Sunday. It only sounds like it contradicts it. Gregory wasn’t asking about the whole budget, he was talking only about the Medicare aspect, which Gingrich completely trashed, calling it just as radical and wrong as “Obamacare.”

In this response, Gingrich uses a straw man, and acts like he has been accused only of opposing the entire budget, and denies that is true. But that’s not what Gingrich got into trouble for–it was his specific criticism of the Medicare plan.

And Gingrich did not, as far as I can find, say that he now approves of Ryan’s Medicare plan–only of the total budget, which one can approve of overall while still disagreeing with certain parts of it.

As for blaming the question for being too narrow, or the questioner for asking a question he didn’t like or wasn’t prepared for, that is meaningless in the context of reality. He was asked a reasonable question, and gave a thoughtful, detailed response. That’s not an error, nor was he tricked into anything.

Gingrich also said:

“I made a mistake,” Gingrich told Fox News host Greta Van Susteren, recounting his apology call to Ryan earlier in the day. “The fact is that I have supported what Ryan’s trying to do on the budget,” he said. “The budget vote is one that I am happy to say I would have voted for.”

Attempting to preempt the inevitable attack on his description Sunday of Ryan’s plan as “right-wing social engineering,” Gingrich insisted: “Let me say on the record, any ad which quotes what I said Sunday is a falsehood. I have said publicly, those words were inaccurate and unfortunate. And I’m prepared to stand up, when I make a mistake – and I’m going to on occasion – I want to share with the American people that was a mistake. Because that way we can have an honest conversation.”

Again, he is claiming here that he would be happy to vote for the budget plan as a whole–the weasel being that he doesn’t have to like everything in the bill to vote for the whole thing.

However, as far as I can tell, he still has not contradicted or disowned his specific statements on the Ryan plan for Medicare. As far as I can tell, he is more for transitioning, making it voluntary to use classical Medicare or opting to use vouchers instead. That does not erase his statements that Ryan’s plan–to go whole hog into vouchers–is too “radical,” or is “social engineering” as “bad” as we see on the left.

Essentially, what Gingrich is doing is misdirecting (the straw man about the budget instead of specifically about Medicare), giving general approval of Republican policies (he approves of Ryan’s plan if forced to take it or leave it whole), and blaming his interviewer for ambushing him with a question that, in reality, was completely reasonable, and which Gingrich, had he wanted to, could easily have answered exactly as he is answering now.

As far as I can tell, if Democrats come out and run ads quoting Gingrich as saying the Ryan plan is “radical” and “social engineering,” or even that Gingrich opposes the specific plan for Medicare, those claims would be 100% true and not in the least misleading.

Gingrich, in short, is lying. He never retracted his remarks, and quoting him is completely legit.

Oh, and Republicans are still trying to kill off Medicare.

Depth of Field

May 17th, 2011 2 comments

You know something is off-kilter with GOP politics when more than one candidate is forced to decide whether they will run based on the schedule of television renewals, and you could tell how likely any one person was to run based on whether their show would continue for another season.

Categories: GOP & The Election Tags:

Republicans Trying to Have & Eat Medicare Cake and Not Gain Weight

May 6th, 2011 Comments off

This is kind of funny. Republicans are trying to sloooowly back away from their whole “let’s destroy Medicare and say we’re saving it” plan. Apparently they didn’t do nearly as good a job of masking their intentions as they thought they were, and are really feeling the backlash, especially from town hall attendees. After all but six of them in the House voting to pass this legislation, Obama & the Democrats have had a field day–simply by pointing out exactly what the Republicans were doing. No exaggeration necessary. Funny thing, it turns out people don’t like the idea.

What’s funny is that they seem to know it’s political suicide, but they can’t seem to completely abandon the idea, either. Most of the Republican mixed-message scrambling is journaled here, but it boils down to the idea that they want to (a) blame Obama for making it look bad, (b) take it off the active agenda at least until after the 2012 elections where it could really hurt them, but (c) nevertheless somehow keep it “on the table” so they can use it as an extreme starting point from which to negotiate what they like (which is probably what they expected it would be used for from the start). Like the actions of some neurotic binge & purge dieter, it’s an interesting mix of “blame Obama,” “we’re not doing it,” and “but we still want to use it anyway.”

Democrats are being smart about this for once. They’re effectively saying, “until you say you’re abandoning it completely, we get to tell the public you stand behind gutting Medicare.” And it’s working.

Pompous Blowhard

April 26th, 2011 1 comment

Trump was furious when city officials revealed that he hadn’t voted much for a few decades:

Records unearthed by NY1, Trump’s hometown news station, show he has not voted in primary elections for 21 years. City election board spokeswoman Valerie Vazquez confirmed NY1′s story at the weekend.

The news prompted a furious denial from Trump. “I voted in every general election … You’re going to pay a big price because you’re wrong … I have records that I voted and so does the board of elections … I signed in at every election,” he told NY1.

“Pay a big price,” huh? What, he’s going to sue?

And you know what would work better than threatening to show records that you voted? Actually showing records that you voted. If I were Trump and I had the records, I would have simply picked up the records (presumably they are not buried in the arctic or anything) and shown them right away. So far, no records.

Instead, all we get is hot wind from a man who has shown the intellectual and political savvy of a turnip. Really, the man thinks he’ll lower oil prices by just blustering, and had no idea why privacy had anything to do with abortion. And when he claimed that he was uncovering dirt on Obama in Hawaii and was asked for an example, he told the interviewer, “That’s none of your business.”

Right now, Trump has even less credibility than Palin, and that is saying a hell of a lot. It’s not everyone who can appear even dumber and more blustery than her. Seriously, Trump could claim that he was breathing and I would not trust him until someone held a mirror up to his nose.

So, naturally, he’s the most popular presidential candidate amongst Republicans.

Speaking of Lying…

April 21st, 2011 2 comments

Michele Bachmann (yes, I know) said this on a Sunday show this week:

If we taxed 100 percent of what everyone made who make $250,000 or more — everything they made — that would get us about six months worth of revenue.

This is hardly new–in fact, I quote Bachmann mainly because the line she is using, its truthfulness notwithstanding, is virtually a cliché. It might go back even farther, but I remember the exact same sentiment (though the starting figure was a million dollars back then) being used to argue against higher taxes for the wealthy back in the 80′s and 90′s.

However, when right-wingers are trying to argue against tax increases for the rich, they complain that the wealthy are paying far too much in taxes already–not as a percent of their total actual income or wealth (because that starts to get embarrassing), but as a percentage of the total taxes paid. This was used throughout the Bush years to justify his tax cuts going mostly to the wealthiest Americans. Ironically, Bachmann only recently used this other cliché just a week and a half ago:

Well, remember, again, already the top 1 percent of income earners pay about 40 percent of all taxes into the federal government. So if you want to talk about fairness, the top 1 percent are paying 40 percent of all of the income.

Got that? The richest people are paying the biggest share of the taxes already, but if you increased their taxes to 100%, you could only fund the U.S. government for six months.

Now, I may not be a math whiz, but something doesn’t compute. Obviously some games are being played here with the numbers. The marginal tax rate for personal and corporate income is 35%, meaning that nobody should ever be paying more than a third of their income in federal taxes. The top 1% earn $410,000 and up, so people earning $250,000 and more are without doubt more than that top 1%, meaning that the $250,000+ group are supposedly paying more than 40% of the taxes. And Bachmann says that the $250,000+ group could only supply half of the country’s revenue even if we confiscated all of their money.

Answer me this: how can you be shouldering more than 40% of the taxes, but if you triple your tax rate, you’re only paying 50%?

Like I said, clearly she’s playing games–just like right-wingers always are, lying with numbers to get what they want. And, like I said, this is nothing new–I have been hearing variations on these claims for decades. When you want to raise taxes on the wealthy, they don’t have enough money to matter; but when they want to cut taxes for the wealthy, they pay the lion’s share already.

Part of this number-twisting is exposed here (the top 1% pay a total of 28.1% of federal revenues), despite the fact that the same top 1% possess about 40% of the nation’s wealth. It is reported that they also earn about 20% of the total income, but I do not know how much of that is hidden, sheltered, or otherwise not counted due to what tax laws allow.

However, even assuming that the top 1% earn about 20% of the income, that they shoulder about 28% of the burden does not sound incredibly oppressive.

Now, the right wing (and Bachmann in particular) love to whine about how 47% of the people pay no taxes at all–which, of course, is a lie, because most of them do pay non-income taxes–in fact, only 10% pay no federal taxes at all, and almost everybody pays taxes of some kind, especially sales taxes.

What the right-wingers neglect to mention why so many people don’t pay any federal income taxes: it’s because most of them don’t make enough money to get by in the first place.

However, Bachmann and the wingnuts will go on and on about how people in the middle class might actually get tax credits when they pay no taxes, but will blithely ignore corporations like GE getting billions in tax credits while paying 0% on massive profits.

No, this is about scapegoating, creating a villain they can use to help their patrons. They want people to believe that (1) the 47% is the liberal half of the country, and (2) they make lots of money but leech off the honest, hard-working, conservative (“real”) Americans.

Of course, if Bachmann were earning the average income of that 47%, I betcha anything she would be whining about how high her taxes are. Now, instead, Bachmann is actually implying that we should be taxing the poor more:

Part of the problem, George, is that 47 percent of all Americans pay virtually no federal income tax, so we need to broaden the base.

“We need to broaden the base.” That can mean nothing other than raising taxes on the lower-middle class. At the same time when Republicans are clamoring for yet more massive tax cuts for the wealthy.

Wow.