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January 30, 2009

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I actually think that your psychological / ideological analysis has is exactly backwards.
You say: “I don’t think that most of them subjectively see their policies as attempts to enrich the top income brackets. Most of them presumably see their actions in ideological terms “.

However, I think that you are projecting your own tendency onto them. You (along with many other people that work with their heads, such as me) take IDEAS seriously. The Repubs DO NOT take ideas seriously !!! What have the last 8 years shown.
Where did Sarah Palin come from ??

They say that their ideology is important, but it is actually only important as a basis for talking points. They are interested in power and money ONLY, and we all better keep that in mind as we clean up their mess.

There is no need to be charitable to these people. They are WAR CRIMINALS, and should be treated as such. Do not believe in their good faith; they have none.

I don’t think that most of them subjectively see their policies as attempts to enrich the top income brackets. Most of them presumably see their actions in ideological terms – e.g., they are promoting liberty; they are promoting small government; they are protecting the real creators of wealth in the American economy.

Some Soviet Communists may have genuinely believed they were promoting the freedom and well-being of the proletariat. So what? They believe that only by ignoring the objective results of their polities and the conduct of their Party. I'm not sure if cognitive dissonance is evidence of good faith.

I think you're off a bit, due to your constitutional incapacity to imagine Republicans actually doing the right thing according to their own lights BECAUSE it's the right thing according to their own lights.

It's quite true that the years since '94, to be specific the years since the budget shutdown was abandoned, have been a terrible, ongoing repudiation of the principles Republicans claim to have, and must run on to have any hope of winning. (Because Democrats already have a lock on the constituency for the opposing set of principles.)

But... It's quite possible that they couldn't rouse themselves to stop digging while at the bottom of a hole, but being handed one of Project Plowshare's earthmoving nukes woke at least some of them up to what they'd been doing.

The test, of course, is how they behave after the 'stimulus' package. If they go back to business as usual, your analysis was probably right.

Jeeze. I was going to comment on publius’s extraordinary mind reading ability but then M. Carey’s rather sweeping claims left me speechless…

OCSteve, yeah M. Carey was a breath of some kind of air.

Actually, publius, I think that Brett has it right. They actually do think they have it right, and they work on that basis.

Now, the fact that history shows that lowering taxes has never worked as an economic stimulus, for example, does not prevent them from continuing to think lowering taxes is the correct thing to do.

I gave up assuming that republicans (in office that is, not republican voters) had either good faith or good sense a long time ago. That's because I watched them demagogue absolutely every issue, from child health care to contraception, religion to flag pins, torture to the death penalty with the same fervor, the same hysteria, the same joie de smear, the same childish invective. No one who read Newt's and Luntz's work, or who listen's to Rush, can be in any doubt that the top thinkers of the Republican party are actually pretty self aware and rather self forgiving, for that matter. I don't think its cognitive dissonance at all that drives these guys to accuse everyone to the left of genghis khan of being a "communist," all feminists of being "abortionists," all non christians or christians who don't follow their peculiar ideology of being damned, demon driven, perverts...the list goes on and on. Their idea of America excludes 75 percent of Americans. We're all too jewish, too atheist, to gay, too feminist, too left, too pacifist, too terroristic, too tall, too short, too fat, too thin for them. That's the platform they *ran on* for g-d's sake. They didn't vote against the stimulus for any reasons other than ideological purity, adn bully for them. I believe in ideological purity. They thought it was a bad bill because it explicitly set out to help a large number of people who aren't multi millionaires and it did so at a time and in a way that wouldn't garner them any votes. (They have been *explicit* since the specter of national health care that fear of losing generations of votes, not principle,was behind their opposition to Democratic initiatives).

aimai

The problem, then, with the GOP opposition isn’t necessarily that they’re acting in bad faith, but that they’re choosing to work through their personal demons rather than help pass legislation the country desperately needs.

I don't think that this is even close to the dominating reason for the GOPs disapproval.

Obama's package is very much Democrat 2.0 with a Democrat 1.0 albatross. The "jolt" side of the package is very Clintonesque, tweaking what are essentially Republican policies (a combination of tax cuts and rebates) and including the standard palliative spending (SSI, unemployment, medicare, aid to states). That's what we've discussed as "Division B" of the package, ad naseum, below.

I hope to write about this at greater length later today, but I don't think that there is a substantive objection to the idea of Division B. For instance, my main criticism of Division B is that it's a hodge-podge: I think Division B could be done a lot better, although I don't think that the Democratic leadership in Congress is capable of doing it better. (Note that I'm excluding Obama's economic team from that latter criticism. I may disagree with some policy proposals from Obama's team, but the team itself is first rate.)

But there's a lot wrong with Division A. If Division B is a hodge-podge, Division A is a grab bag: You have no idea what's going to pop out of it next. A lot of these programs have nothing to do with stimulating the economy and are marginal ideas, at best.

I could get behind a big, long-term public works style program that had a clear goal and clear benefits. I think many Republicans could as well. John Micah (R-Fl), for instance, has been touting a high-speed rail plan that costs $165 billion. That would be a real infrastructure improvement that might have real benefits down the road. It's nowhere in the plan. Instead, there are a dozen or more small investments in a bunch of little non-infrastructure projects. Roads and bridges do get $30 billion, but do we really want to build more roads? Is that the path to a green economy?

So, could a marginal Division B with a headless Division A and, yeah, there are plenty of reasons to vote against this plan in its current form. The House Republicans are setting down a marker that will help the Senate Republicans in negotiations.

That said, I don’t think that most of them subjectively see their policies as attempts to enrich the top income brackets.

I think we should apply the rule that people are presumed to intend the natural consequences of their actions.

Here you can find the taxable income and effective tax rate of the top 400 U.S. individual taxpayers in ~5 year intervals starting in 1992 and ending in 2006. In constant 2008 dollars:

1992 AGI: $70.8M Tax rate: 26.4%
2006 AGI: $277.4M Tax rate: 17.2%*

Damn it's good to be a gangsta.

*to be fair, Clinton should share some of the blame for this, as while the effective tax rate of the top 400 jumped from 26.38% in 1992 to 29.35% in 1993 due to his tax increase, the rate had gone down to 22.29% by 2000. Bush then pushed it down to 17.17% by 2006.

full IRS pdf here (where you can note that 31 people in the top 400 taxpayers had an effective tax rate of 10% or less! Way to go!)

Republicans have been wrong about everything and they haven't the honesty, the decency, and the humility to admit it. That's bad faith.

I think you're off a bit, due to your constitutional incapacity to imagine Republicans actually doing the right thing according to their own lights BECAUSE it's the right thing according to their own lights.

I think this is true in many cases. There is, no doubt, a generous helping of craven opportunistic whores for power in there, but that's true of both parties. IMO lots of folks are Republican and/or conservative because they think it's the right thing to be, and for constructive, positive reasons.

But then there is this:

It's quite true that the years since '94, to be specific the years since the budget shutdown was abandoned, have been a terrible, ongoing repudiation of the principles Republicans claim to have

Quite so.

What I would respectfully invite conservatives to consider is that the reason for this abandonment of principle is not a pervasive lack of conviction or character on the part of conservative elected officials, but simply a confrontation with reality.

Conservative principles are abandoned because they don't work. They are not practical or useful in the world we actually live in now.

We no longer live in a nation of yeoman farmers and artisans. We no longer live in a nation defended by a citizen militia. We no longer live in a nation where most folks grow their own food, build their own houses, and make their own clothes and tools.

More's the pity, in many ways. But there it is.

Conservative principles are not bad, or wrong. They are just not a good fit for the world we live in. Conservative politicians do, in fact, have to proclaim them when running for office, but then they have to basically ignore them once in office.

Either that, or reality kicks them, and all of the rest of us, in the behind.

One way or another, reality always wins.

William Bennett, Michelle Malkin, Rush Limbaugh, Newt Gingrich and the rest of them would argue, Publius, that letting human beings escape the full responsibility of their actions by blaming their poor self-esteem is how the culture went down the tubes in the first place.

Screw 'em.

Interesting table, Ugh. I'd want to crunch the numbers more, but I found it curious that one of the fastest-growing changes in the tables of trends is the number of people claiming foreign tax credit.

That's just the first thing that popped out at me. Not sure if it's significant.

Wierd, though, that I pay a higher tax rate than people who make a lot more money than I do. That trend is just going to increase if I have my way and pay my mortgage off early.

We no longer live in a nation of yeoman farmers and artisans. We no longer live in a nation defended by a citizen militia. We no longer live in a nation where most folks grow their own food, build their own houses, and make their own clothes and tools.

That's why they're trying to send us back to that way of life - so their principles will work again. (I'm not sure if I'm kidding.)

but I found it curious that one of the fastest-growing changes in the tables of trends is the number of people claiming foreign tax credit.

Lots more international investment by U.S. individuals in overseas debt/equities that suffer a withholding tax now than in 1992, methinks (but that's just my wild speculation).

Wierd, though, that I pay a higher tax rate than people who make a lot more money than I do. That trend is just going to increase if I have my way and pay my mortgage off early.

Well, when you set the capital gains/dividend tax rate at 15%, that's what happens, plus I'm guessing alot of these people invest in tax-free munibonds, as the spread between the yield on munibonds and US treasuries is more than made up for by their marginal (as opposed to effective) tax rate (i.e., the yield on muni-bonds is not 35% less than the yield on US treasuries).

"Their idea of America excludes 75 percent of Americans. We're all too jewish, too atheist, to gay, too feminist, too left, too pacifist, too terroristic, too tall, too short, too fat, too thin for them."

Which is exactly how the Democratic Party has emerged as the majority party.

Since publius was getting all psychological on us . . .

Isn't it possible the House Republicans were gun-shy rubber-stamping the stimulus bill after being guilted into endorsing last October's failed $350 billion bank bailout?

"I may disagree with some policy proposals from Obama's team, but the team itself is first rate."

von: Nobel-prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz seems to disagree.

(via H/A) I think that Michele Bachmann (R-MN6) defends her opposition quite well. I especially think this quote is relevant:

FDR's own treasury secretary, Henry Morgenthau, had to admit as much in 1939: "We are spending more than we have ever spent before, and it does not work. ... We have never made good on our promises. I say after eight years of this administration we have just as much unemployment as when we started. And an enormous debt to boot!"

We have Morgenthau’s admission. We have Japan’s “lost decade”. Why should we believe that massive government spending will work this time?

OCSteve, a lot depends on how the spending is done. It also depends on other conditions. The environment in which the Great Depression occured is different from now.

I think lj explained Japan's "lost decade" pretty well and why that cannot be used as a ccomparison.

The unfortunate thing about the bill that passed was the extent of the tax cuts. Those won't help.

BTW, Morgenthau was never really supportive of most of the New Deal projects, and by 1939 unemployment had dropped significantly, though still not enough.

"Republicans have been wrong about everything and they haven't the honesty, the decency, and the humility to admit it. That's bad faith."

Last I looked, generalizations that were that sweeping (all Republicans everywhere, as opposed to specifically the leadership) were a violation of the posting rules.

[...] Lastly, just a reminder that Left and Right have very broad definitions and that people are going to take it personally if you inform them that of course all Xs eat babies, should they themselves be Xs (or Ys trying to keep things cool).

"Wierd, though, that I pay a higher tax rate than people who make a lot more money than I do."

Do you think that's just an odd accident?

"Why should we believe that massive government spending will work this time?"

Because Morgenthau was a fiscal conservative, and he was wrong. It helps to actually read a bunch of books on the New Deal, and Roosevelt's presidency that aren't ideologically designed to attack both, and to know more context than a couple of paragraphs will give you.

I say after eight years of this administration we have just as much unemployment as when we started.

That's not even the correct measurement. The real question is whether or not you would higher or lower unemployment had you done something different. Maybe, if there were no New Deal, unemployment would have risen over the same period, maybe dramatically, instead of being almost the same afterward(not that I'm taking his word for it that that was even the case).

… and he was wrong.

How so Gary? I’m willing to learn….

It helps to actually read a bunch of books on the New Deal, and Roosevelt's presidency that aren't ideologically designed to attack both, and to know more context than a couple of paragraphs will give you.

Sure it does. To clarify, I posted this to demonstrate that at least some R’s who voted against this have reasons that they can articulate. Not pure evil or even opposing for the sake of opposing…

… that aren't ideologically designed…

Hmm.

Because Morgenthau was a fiscal conservative, and he was wrong…

Who is ideological? He was a fiscal conservative, therefore he was wrong? I assume that the unemployment figures are available… Did the gov spending improve the rate or not? If he was wrong I assume you can show your work…

Thanks!

OCSteve,

A couple quick points.

In 1932 the unemployment rate was 25% (higher among farm workers where it was 37%. By 1937 it had dropped to 14.3%. Still high, but a definite improvement.

Then we had the recession of 1937 and the unemployment rate had jumped up to over 19% but still almost 25% below 1932. It is interesting to note that it was in 37 and 38 that Roosevelt cut back on the public spending in response to the pressures of, among others, Morgenthau.

I am not saying that caused the recession, but it quite possibly kept the unemployment rate from staying down.

In the depression, it should be noted, there were a bunch of other factors involved, including as I mentioned on another thread, a major relocation of the population and a major drought which impacted the non-industrial segment of our country.

The point here is that 1) trying to compare now to then neglects to take into account several significant differences and 2) the massive spending did produce a significant drop in the unemployment rate and may have done even better if it had continued.

Odd accident?

Not odd. Not coincidental, either. But I don't think anyone is keeping an eye on my tax payments and manipulating the tax law so they're always paying less than me.

Attach smilies where you think they're needed, or wanted. If the question was rhetorical, burn before reading.

"How so Gary? I’m willing to learn…."

Because "massive government spending," as you put it, put millions of people to work, and saved endless numbers of people from starvation, loss of their homes, loss of their families, and so on. I'd suggest reading a good history on the New Deal that isn't a modern-day conservative piece of revisionism.

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