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Undoing the Damage

December 5th, 2012 1 comment
The Los Angeles Times just gave us a reminder of the fact that when Bush proposed his tax cuts, there were 450 economists, including 10 Nobel laureates in Economics, who signed a public letter (PDF) warning that the cuts were dangerous:
Passing these tax cuts will worsen the long-term budget outlook, adding to the nation’s projected chronic deficits. This fiscal deterioration will reduce the capacity of the government to finance Social Security and Medicare benefits as well as investments in schools, health, infrastructure, and basic research. Moreover, the proposed tax cuts will generate further inequalities in after-tax income.
Well, a decade later later, and it has come to pass exactly as they warned. Well, not exactly—conservatives made it much worse. Bush and his cronies twiddled their thumbs while 9/11 unfolded, then bungled the war in Afghanistan, which should have taken at most a few years, mostly screwing up by starting the even more expensive and completely unnecessary war in Iraq, and then deregulated the economic sector so badly that we nearly imploded. Not that we didn't know this from the beginning. Conservatives made this debacle happen, and now they want to use it to further their agenda of dismantling the social safety net. Of course, conservatives will deny all of this. They'll make the claim that Clinton wrecked the economy, that 9/11 was unexpected and unavoidable and we had to spend more on security and wars, that the 2007 subprime mortgage crisis was caused by black people who were too greedy and the Democrats who forced banks to loan money to them, and that the debt all magically appeared on January 20, 2009. The LA Times suggests:
Here's another idea: Let's join hands and walk to the bottom of the cliff together. It's not very far down. The deficit and national debt will be reduced; Social Security, Medicaid and, for the most part, Medicare will go on unharmed; America will go back to tax rates that worked better than the cuts we've been living with; and Congress will actually be forced to do something for a change: Republicans and Democrats will have to work together to repair those programs damaged by sequestration, rather than filibuster or chant talking points to make their way around the hard decisions. Perhaps America is on the brink of a fiscal opportunity.


Categories: Economics Tags:

The Party of the Lottery Winner

December 5th, 2012 1 comment
Jindal and others in the GOP are awakening to a new concept:
Jindal said the Republican Party needs to convince voters it is the party of the middle class and upward mobility.
You know what would be a good way to start? By not refusing to give the middle class an extension on their tax cuts unless the rich get one too. And while you're at it, stop trying to dismantle programs the middle class depends upon; Social Security and Medicare are not just for poor people. Stop attacking institutions like education and unions which helped make the middle class. Stop endorsing policies that scream, “We're trying to increase income inequality.” Stop favoring banks and financial institutions over the middle class. Stop… aw, hell. You can see where this is going. The GOP would more or less have to dismantle its entire policy structure in order to be the party of the middle class. Instead, they will likely do what they have always done: push policies that hurt the middle class while insisting that they are “the party of the middle class.” The problem is, lying like that requires that you not delude yourself, else your lies become transparently ludicrous. That's hard when you think like this:
“We’ve got to be the party of the middle class. I don’t know why we’ve essentially ceded that ground to the Democrats,” said strategist Matt Mackowiak. “We don’t believe our policies only help rich people. We believe our policies help people become rich.”
“We believe our policies help people become rich”? What happened to “We built that”? I thought their entire point was that government can't do squat to help people. At best, what this kind of person is saying is, if you are in the middle class, and you decide to start a business (most don't), and, without our help, that business succeeds (most don't), and then it becomes so successful that you become rich (most don't)… then we're on your side, and we'll cut you special tax breaks and help you stay rich. As for the rest of you middle-class people, the people who try to open businesses but who either fail or just do OK… and most significantly, to the majority of people in the middle class who simply work hard and expect to stay afloat in at least modest comfort… well, you can all go screw yourselves. We're seeing after the people who can make something of themselves. They deserve our help; you don't. I wonder why that's not working better? The sad thing is, it's working a lot better than it should. America has too much of a “lottery winner” mentality.

Categories: Right-Wing Extremism, Taxes Tags: