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December 07, 2010

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Jacob Davies, you're right on this one. I thought that Obama spoke forcefully and persuasively at his news conference. I wish he'd appear more often.

Yes we can. We just have to fight.

What I see is permanent gains for the Republican positions (although not titled such) and band-aids for the Democratic needs. The rich are getting a lot richer, the corporations are getting incentives, the Unemployed are still unemployed.

It's useful to me to compare the two parties in terms of which politico-economic era they would like to return to. For the 'new' Democratic party, it's around 1995; for the modern Republican party, it's around 1880.

Who wouldn't want to go back and see Pirates of Penzance when it opened?

Of course its not complete. The Rep must haves included tax cuts for everybody.

Also, they certainly were not against extending unemployment, they wanted budget cuts elsewhere to pay for it. I am curious why that's bad, except you wanted to pay for it another way? And I didn't see anyone complain about an employee side tax cut, you mean Republicabs objected to a tax cut? Where did you hear that fiction?

It's called governing, I am pleased that both sides rolled a whole bunch of this into a single agreement so now they can talk about the deficit and budgets and jobs and etc. without throwing this stuff in to kill things.

You may not like it,( "I don't want to hear about"), but it was a good step forward in clearing the decks of things that needed to be done.

Politics aside, it is a good thing to pass.

I don't want to hear from anyone who says that Republicans are on the side of those who work for a living in the United States. I don't want to hear from anyone who says that Republicans care about the deficit. I don't want to hear from anyone who says that Republicans are not, now and forevermore, a political party devoted to the very wealthy over everyone else.

Well then, my friend, you'd best throw away any implement in your house, including this here magick data box, that projects sounds, writings or pictures of what people are saying or doing in the capital of this "what a country" nation.

The problem is (and the GOBP knows it damned well) that the more, more people are in economic distress, the less they pay attention to politicks.

Its counterintuitive, but people tend to hunker down when things are tough. We might see torches and pitchforks when things get on the upswing.

I don't want to hear from anyone who says that Republicans care about the deficit.

oh they care a lot about the deficit. it's perhaps their most effective bogeyman, when they need to scare the electorate into voting them in, and when they need to scare the Dems into abandoning their principles. and it's nearly 100% effective in both situations!

just look at what happened the last time we didn't have a deficit (2000): the GOP pulled out all the stops to generate a new one as quickly as they could; they brought us unaffordable tax cuts, two endless wars, and an unaffordable giveaway to Big Pharma.

if those aren't the actions of a party that loves a deficit, i don't know what are!

no, the GOP loves, adores, requires a deficit. and the bigger, the better.

Also, they certainly were not against extending unemployment, they wanted budget cuts elsewhere to pay for it.

Until of course they could get budget-busting tax cuts instead, which makes the whole "they needed it paid for" argument entirely moot.

"Until of course they could get budget-busting tax cuts instead, which makes the whole "they needed it paid for" argument entirely moot."

At some point, maybe, there will be an actual discussion about spending less. And then we will be able to judge who wants to cut the deficit.

Several threads ago we discussed getting 4 trillion dollars in extra revenue and Jacobs first response was to post his plan for the government to spend every penny.

That is why people don't want taxes to go up. Show me a plan where we are going to spend less and I will consider supporting more taxes to make up the difference.

Meanwhile, in 2010, there was NO estate tax. George Stenbrenner, god rest his soul, died this year and his estate paid zero. I suspect 35% over 5M would have been a chunk.

Also, they certainly were not against extending unemployment, they wanted budget cuts elsewhere to pay for it. I am curious why that's bad,

Did they propose any budget cuts? And did they propose any budget cuts to cover the cost of extending the tax cuts to those making >$250k (or all of the tax cuts)?

The Rep must haves included tax cuts for everybody.

So did the Democrats'. Everybody would get a tax cut on their first $250,000 of income.

efgoldman: my friend, you'd best throw away any implement in your house

Yeah, I know.

But what is blogging for if not grandiose but completely impractical statements on things you have no control over?

That and pictures of cats and/or babies.

Marty: The Rep must haves included tax cuts for everybody.

No, they absolutely, positively did not care about tax cuts for everyone. They only cared about tax cuts for the very wealthy. You can tell this because they were willing to hold the tax cuts for 98% of the population hostage to the tax cuts for the 2%.

That is absolutely incontrovertible from what happened. They could have passed tax cuts for 98% at any time - nobody opposed them. They could have then tried to pass the 2% cuts separately. But no, they absolutely had to have the 2% cuts and nothing whatsoever was going to stand in the way of that.

I didn't see anyone complain about an employee side tax cut

Oh yeah? Then how come it was the subject of negotiation in this deal? How come it was only for one year, if the Republicans loved it so much?

they certainly were not against extending unemployment, they wanted budget cuts elsewhere to pay for it

Oh give me a break. They didn't want any budget cuts anywhere else to pay for the massive tax cuts they insisted upon. It's only unemployment benefits that need to be paid for? And again, the unemployment benefits were extended for only 13 months, not two years like the high-end tax cuts. If unemployment benefits were so important to them, why would they be the subject of negotiation?

At some point, maybe, there will be an actual discussion about spending less.

we have that discussion every two years. and the public consistently votes against those who it thinks are going to reduce spending (even though it often thinks that way out of ignorance).

politicians know that, and that's why they refuse to talk about cutting anything substantial while they're in office.

the "spending conversation" has happened and the public has decided it likes spending, the more the better; the more spent on an individual, the more that individual wants it.

the conversation we really need to have is: "OK, idiots, you want all this stuff? you gotta pay for it, so STFU, you bunch of childish imbeciles, and take pay your taxes!"

" And again, the unemployment benefits were extended for only 13 months, not two years like the high-end tax cuts."

This really an apples and oranges comparison. Unemployment benefits were extended for people who already had 99 weeks of unemployment for another 50+weeks, unemployment doesn't "expire" in 13 months. It just means we have to decide again in 13 months what to do with the people who will have been unemployed for 3 years.

They are different things.

Marty: Several threads ago we discussed getting 4 trillion dollars in extra revenue and Jacobs first response was to post his plan for the government to spend every penny. That is why people don't want taxes to go up.

People don't want taxes to go up because taxes going up means less money for them.

You don't need an elaborate explanation for why people don't like taxes. They don't like taxes because they like money. Period, end of story.

People love government spending because it means direct payouts to them or jobs or contracts.

And no, they don't connect spending to higher taxes, because they understand that the connection is very elastic and involves this highly abstract thing called the national debt that does not affect them in any way whatsoever.

"And no, they don't connect spending to higher taxes, because they understand that the connection is very elastic and involves this highly abstract thing called the national debt that does not affect them in any way whatsoever."

Yes they do connect them. No they don't process the high elasticity of the abstract national debt. It does impact them, and they know it.

It seems you, at least you, missed the very essence of the last elections. People know that jobs are important and that the national debt can't be infinite. Both things sent a huge freshman class to Congress. You should process both in your evaluations.

Marty: It seems you missed the very essence of the last elections

If the unemployment rate had been 2% lower and economic growth 2% higher the Democrats would have won in a landslide.

Nobody cares about the national debt or the deficit or how much the government spends. They care about how much it spends on them and they want it to be as much as possible, and they care about how much it taxes them and they want it to be as little as possible.

But mostly, they want a job, and a house, and healthcare, and to feel like if they lost their job they could find another.

You don't need a more elaborate explanation - and there does not exist either evidence or a plausible causal connection to support the idea that they made their decisions in the last election on the basis of excess spending or excess debt.

"You don't need a more elaborate explanation - and there does not exist either evidence or a plausible causal connection to support the idea that they made their decisions in the last election on the basis of excess spending or excess debt."

Except for the election of every Tea Party candidate, most Republicans, and the Democrats that ran away from Obama all talking about reducing the debt.

You are right, if all that debt had generated more jobs the landslide would have been smaller, but it would have been a landslide either way.

Several threads ago we discussed getting 4 trillion dollars in extra revenue and Jacobs first response was to post his plan for the government to spend every penny.

That is why people don't want taxes to go up.

As Jacob notes, folks don't want taxes to go up, because they don't want to pay them. I doubt they care much about what it gets spent on, beyond wanting what it gets spent on to benefit them.

My evidence for this is the distinct lack of folks putting their hands up to give up their personal SS, Medicare, federal pension, highway improvement, etc., in the interest of reducing the national debt.

The stuff Jacob named were investments. They were not wild-eyed liberal plans to piss away everybody's hard-earned cash.

The wisdom of spending revenue on capital improvements and other forms of investment, vs buying down debt, is a pretty basic question.

It ought to depend on which is going to return more to you.

Sometimes you spend money to make money. Every business, household, and person understands this.

And the people's reward for their concern about the debt, as evidenced by this deal? More debt! Hooray!

Except for the election of every Tea Party candidate, most Republicans, and the Democrats that ran away from Obama all talking about reducing the debt.

you should probably demonstrate that the electorate actually knows what "the debt" is, how it differs from the deficit, how both are created, reduced, how they relate to taxes, spending, etc..

cause, i got a pretty strong feeling that the general public don't know s--t about any of that.

More debt! Hooray!

principled conservatism at work.

most Republicans, and the Democrats that ran away from Obama all talking about reducing the debt

Show me which Republicans ran for election telling voters that they would stop paying interest on the national debt. Tell me which ones ran for election telling voters they would slash military spending. Show me which Republicans told elderly voters, "Vote for me and I will cut your Medicare and Social Security benefits".

If they didn't do those things, they may have been talking about reducing the debt, but they were talking about it in the same way they talk about ending illegal immigration or outlawing abortion. The technical term for this kind of talk is bullsh*t.

They want the bear patrol, but they don't want to pay the bear tax.

My evidence for this is the distinct lack of folks putting their hands up to give up their personal SS, Medicare, federal pension, highway improvement, etc., in the interest of reducing the national debt.

Also missing, I think, are people who kvetch about not paying enough taxes making generous monetary gifts to the United States Treasury.

But I could be wrong about that.

funny though, over the last several days everyone has been discussing dealing with te debt AFTER the economy recovers, unless the spending/tax cut is your ox to gore.

We get a plan, through the one of the best acts of true leadership from Obama, and everyone has a complaint. This is a good thing he did, I admire him for trying to get it done and argue about it another day.

For Democrats, if you reall believe the "jobs is all that matters" from above, temporarily extending it gives you a great chance to have the argument again when you might win, like when there are, hopefully, more jobs.

Someone should be giving him the credit he finally deserves, it is a good move for the country AND for the Democrats in 2012,

Jacob, you're hysterical, but you do have company. Please try and remember that it wasn't so very long ago when a VAT was being bandied about in certain circles, a possible answer as it was called. Come to think of it, the idea of across the board tax increases was not beyond consideration, our president declaring himself an agnostic on the various proposals.
Does it really hurt that much, do you really lose sleep over tax cuts for the rich, skin off your nose fella? UP until very recently those increases would have hit Sub-S corporations, small business to you.
Chin up guy, you'll find someone else to hate, some other target for da guvmint to punish.
In the meantime, act on principle and start sending in your own extra $$, a cover letter and SS # will do the trick.

And whatever the Democrats may do that drives me crazy, when it comes down to it, they do look out for the welfare of those of us that work for a living

Oh, right, the Democrats are such great advocates for the working class.

Here's the deal. With unemployment at the highest it had been in a lifetime, and with inflation at historic lows and in fact with a real threat of deflation, Ben Bernanke straight up said that he was going to ignore the law and ignore unemployment to focus on fighting inflation.

And then Obama reappointed him and the Democrats in the Senate confirmed him. That lost Obama my vote next time around, that and his appeasement of torturers.

I can't say that I agree with the chart's assertion that Republicans oppose short-term employee-side payroll tax cuts. First off, I don't really see them opposing any tax cuts, even if they prefer some over others. Second, when a tax cut weakens Social Security, as this package does, I bet they're strongly in favor of it. See http://digbysblog.blogspot.com/2010/12/one-more-nail-in-social-security-coffin.html. I'd argue that this provision is the worst from a progressive viewpoint, far worse than the millionaires' handout.

At some point, maybe, there will be an actual discussion about spending less. And then we will be able to judge who wants to cut the deficit....
That is why people don't want taxes to go up. Show me a plan where we are going to spend less and I will consider supporting more taxes to make up the difference.

Here's my thinking- progressives/liberals have a real plan: raise taxes enought to cover existing spending. Maybe reduce defense spending some. In an ideal world, chop out pork such as the ag subsidies, in the real world where there are too many Senators from tiny states with big farms, probably not.
Conservatives have a plan, but I dont think it's a real plan. Keep taxes where they were under Bush, and cut spending to balance the budget. But what spending? All I have ever heard about is either penny-ante (eg get rid of earmarks or foreign aid) or fantasy (Rep Ryan's plan to gradually defund Medicare).

You do seem to be making a straightforward proposal, but I just don't see that mirrored in the GOP today. There is an ironclad insistence that taxes cannot rise, coupled with the leadership's inability to embrace even the shell game of the Ryan plan.

It seems you, at least you, missed the very essence of the last elections. People know that jobs are important and that the national debt can't be infinite.

iirc voters didn't rank the debt very high on their list of priorities; the economy/jobs was the headliner.
I would observe this fact: every single human being appears to view the election results as a validation of their viewpoint: Americans hate Obama, Americans want Obama to be more progressive, etc. This ought to prove a warning to anyone using this logic- lacking any serious additional support, if you think that the election confirmed your viewpoints, you are probably as right as everyone else is. Or lucky.

Except for the election of every Tea Party candidate, most Republicans, and the Democrats that ran away from Obama all talking about reducing the debt.

1)Angle, O'Donnell, Miller. Dont need google to know you're wrong on that one. Going back to my previous point, I saw the results as something of a repudiation of the TP candidates. Folks like Rubio who had been serious politicians before the TP ever happened were able to utilize its support, but candidates either from the TP or who won primaries against the establishment via TP support faired badly.
3)The blue dogs suffered the worst. The ones running away from Obama. But probably not because they were running from Obama, because they were from swing districts in a bad year for Dems. Again, in my biased reading.

Good chart, but one suggested correction:

Instead of "Tax cuts for households making over $250k", a more accurate title would be "Extra tax cuts for those with taxable income over $250k".

Also missing, I think, are people who kvetch about not paying enough taxes making generous monetary gifts to the United States Treasury.

To put this in context, what "people who kvetch about not paying enough taxes" are looking for is a return to the status quo ante the Bush cuts, which were, basically, stupid.

Not crazy confiscatory BS, not a levelling of all incomes, not "soaking the rich".

Just freaking sanity. Just not continuing a policy that has achieved precisely none of its claimed goals of fostering a robust economy, and that has instead taken us from black ink to red.

And, "not continuing it" means simply letting it expire, as it was originally intended to do, because at the time it was passed, it was known that it would create freaking huge deficits.

Nobody likes to pay taxes. Some people are willing pay the bills.

If you want to raise my tax rates to pay for stuff that needs doing, I'm more than happy to pony up.

You want another five percent from me? That is the most that is being asked. I'd pay that. All I ask is that something useful be done with it.

Show me the Tea Bagger who is volunteering to give up whatever they get from Uncle. I'd like to meet one.

Also missing, I think, are people who kvetch about not paying enough taxes making generous monetary gifts to the United States Treasury.

Actually, I need to expand my reply a bit.

When I say "nobody is putting their hand up to give up their federal benefits", I am not referring to individuals giving back their personal benefit.

I'm talking about people who claim they want to reduce the size or scope of government drawing the line at programs that help them.

Hopefully that distinction is clear.

It would do bugger-all for Bob Smith of Muncie IN to give back his $1,000 a month of SS money. Other than, maybe, making Bob Smith feel happy in some odd way.

It would make a large dent for SS benefits as a whole to be reduced in one form or another.

The complementary analogy on the "lefty" side is for people to support representatives and policies that actually end up increasing their tax burden.

Which I personally, and millions of people like me, have knowingly done.

We have put our money where our mouth is. Everybody else's money, too, which maybe sucks for them, but that's life in a representative polity.

Net/net, it seems to me that people like me walk the walk. We think government is worthwhile, and if it costs us money, we pay.

I don't see a corresponding willingness on the other side to sacrifice things that actually benefit the folks with the big mouths. Maybe it's there, but I don't see it. At all.

russell, I am curious where those lefty proposals are that their reps are pushing that increase their tax burden.

Middle class tax cuts were a must, payroll tax cuts were good.

Adding taxes to the rich and then spending every penny is all the solutions I have heard.

So where is this lefty willingness to contribute.

" And again, the unemployment benefits were extended for only 13 months, not two years like the high-end tax cuts."

This really an apples and oranges comparison.

Marty: Yes, they are apples and oranges. One is money for people who a.) are trying to survive, and b.) will spend every dollar (a good thing in an economy suffering from lack of demand). The other is mostly keeping money in the portfolios of people who already have more money than they know what to do with. Very different indeed.

I have never heard a rational argument for cutting government spending during - especially a severe - recession. I've heard emotional arguments ('we' binged and now 'we' must pay) and facile, and false, analogies (government budgets are just like a family's), but NOT ONCE a rational, sensical one. Got one?

"now and forevermore"

That third word has a problem.

If it didn't, it would be reversible, and the Republican Party of today would be identical to that of 1906, 1886, and 1866.

It isn't.

Pull that word, and you have a fine post.

Maybe the Republican Party of 2200 will be the Party of the rich, and maybe you're confident predicting that, in which case, all power to you. Maybe even in the year 22,000. Could be.

I think you're really stretching it by then, though. "Forevermore" is a very long time.

Me, I won't go further out than 20 years, but I'm known to be cautious, though not necessarily conservative.

If you didn't want to hear this, I'd apologize, but since you're posting it to the internet, I'm taking the risk.

And, yes, of course I know you're using a metaphor. I'm saying it's a bad metaphor, because it isn't true. And it does matter.

If we plan on the basis that fifty years from now the Republican Party is going to be the same as it is today, that's nuts.

And if we -- Democrats, at least, but anyone, really -- not looking ahead a few decades, we're schmucks.

The Nytimes has a summary of the deal, highlights:

At least a quarter of the tax savings will go to the wealthiest 1 percent of the population.
...
The wealthiest Americans will also reap tax savings from the proposal’s plan to keep the cap on dividend and capital gains taxes at 15 percent, well below the highest rates on ordinary income.
And negotiators have agreed that the estimated $900 billion cost of the cuts will simply be added to the deficit — not covered by reductions in spending or increases in other taxes. That is good news for hedge fund managers and private equity investors, who appear to have withstood an effort to get them to pay more by eliminating a quirk in the tax code that allows most of their income to be taxed at just 15 percent.
In fact, the only groups likely to face a tax increase are those near the bottom of the income scale — individuals who make less than $20,000 and families with earnings below $40,000.
...
Instead, the plan creates a one-year reduction in Social Security payroll taxes, which are generally levied on the first $106,800 of income. For an individual earning $110,000, that provision would reduce payroll taxes by $2,136.
Although the $120 billion payroll tax reduction offers nearly twice the tax savings of the credit it replaces, it will nonetheless lead to higher tax bills for individuals with incomes below $20,000 and families that make less than $40,000.
...
Under Mr. Obama’s failed proposal, which would have raised the rates on income over $250,000 for families and $200,000 for individuals, the taxpayers at the top 1 percent of the income scale — those with incomes above $564,000 — would have received an average tax break of $28,000. Under the agreement reached with Republicans, the top 1 percent will receive breaks of about $70,000.

No offsets, tax increases on the poorest earners, carried interest still taxed at capital gains rates, $70k to the top 1%.

What a deal!

well, hmmmm, I watched Obamas press conference and I think he did it great.

Cut the deal without Congress onboard, called the Republicans hostage taking terrorists, called the Democrats sanctimonious.
Deemocrats really upset that he gave up too much and then dissed them, Republicans feel backstabbed being dissed the day after they talk about his bipartisanship.

Nothing passes because the Dems get fired up and he gets to be the guy who was willing to compromise. The Dems get to be outraged for their constituents and the Republicans eventually have to sign a middle class tax cut.

A perfect political play. He never ceases to amaze me.

it is a good move for the country AND for the Democrats in 2012,

It's a horrible deal for the country, considering the options, and bad for the dems, with one exception: Obama himself.

Speaking of whom, I was formulating a longish comment about Obama's presser, but that young Yglesias fella pretty much beat me to it:

ask yourself about a theory of change in which Republican intransigence is rewarded with lectures to liberals about the evils of intransigence.

And yet...

1. The Republicans agreed to an estate tax rate of 35% of $5 million.
2. The Republicans agreed to an extension of the Earned Income Tax Credit, the Child Tax Credit and the American Opportunity Tax Credit.
3. The Republicans agreed to a 13-month extension of unemployment insurance.
4. The Republicans agreed to a 2% cut in payroll taxes paid to employees for 2 years.

...but it's so much easier to demonize, and what's more, those charts have really pretty colors.

To put this in context, what "people who kvetch about not paying enough taxes" are looking for is a return to the status quo ante the Bush cuts

Actually, I was referring to guys like Warren Buffet and Bill Gates, both of whom have complained that they don't pay enough taxes.

I really hate the way this played out, and I know this deal is bad for the country, and I wish Obama would give the Republicans hell. But.....

I honestly can't say I would've wanted the Democrats to play the GOP's game of chicken with unemployment insurance. That's a whole lot of people who would've been harmed in a big way, immediately, and I think the Republicans would've let it happen. Half of them are crazy enough, and the other half are just callous and confident that the Democrats would get the blame anyway.

Say a maniac is holding a little kid at gunpoint and demanding the keys to the bank vault and your car. Obviously this isn't good or fair and he shouldn't be able to get away with it. But if you just tell him "no, you're bluffing", because the loss of the money and the car will have bad consequences, and because you don't want to make things too easy for the maniac - and if you have reason to think he's not bluffing, because he's already gunned down five other strangers at random - sorry, that's just stupid, and no one's going to give you credit for being a tough negotiator if the kid gets shot. That's not the time to be fighting the battle. The battle was lost when the maniac got the gun and the kid.

The best you can do at that point is try to keep the maniac away from guns and kids in the future. Get the damn Republicans out of Congress, because this is how it's going to be as long as there are this many Republicans in Congress, under the current definition of what a Republican is. They don't care who gets hurt.

And yet...

1. The Republicans agreed to an estate tax rate of 35% of $5 million.
2. The Republicans agreed to an extension of the Earned Income Tax Credit, the Child Tax Credit and the American Opportunity Tax Credit.
3. The Republicans agreed to a 13-month extension of unemployment insurance.
4. The Republicans agreed to a 2% cut in payroll taxes paid to employees for 2 years.

...but it's so much easier to demonize, and what's more, those charts have really pretty colors.

So your contention is, if I understand correctly, that because the Republicans finally agreed to these things after successfully holding them hostage to tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans for so long, that the assertions in the OP are incorrect--to wit, that Republicans don't favor the wealthy at the expense of the working class?

What a strange world you live in. Sad how little has changed in it for having been gone so long.

Slartibartfast: There's a huge fallen tree blocking the street, and 100 unusually strong people have gathered around. Warren Buffett says, "Let's all put in some effort to move this tree." You say, "Well if you think it's so important, why don't you go push on it right now, while we think it over?" Not helpful.

The whole point of having a tax system is to be able to plan roughly how much revenue we want to raise, and then make rules to determine what each person's share will be to achieve that goal. Absent that, voluntary gifts to the Treasury are irrelevant. Warren Buffett is not going to solve our problems by himself, and there's no reason to think other billionaires will follow his example just for the hell of it. I'm sure you know this and you're not actually saying that that would help; but then what are you saying? Is it--

(a) You don't think Buffett really means it, so we shouldn't listen. Then why did he say it? He doesn't need the PR.

Or (b), he means it, but he doesn't deserve to be taken seriously unless he symbolically abases himself first-- let him push on that tree fruitlessly on his own for half an hour till he's broken a sweat, then we might listen.

Or (c)-- please fill in the blank.

Hob, back to your kidnapping analogy:

Carrying that analogy a bit further, what do you do AFTER you give the kidnapper the money in order to save the hostage? Do you, for instance, honor your promise to him NOT to hunt him down like a dog, get as much of the money back as you can, and throw his ass in prison?

It seems to me that if you wanted to cultivate a reputation as an honorable hostage negotiator, you would scrupulously honor any promises you made to the kidnapper. But if your goal was to deter future kidnappings, you'd go after the son of a bitch the minute he let the kid go.

In this analogy, BTW, there's only ONE kidnapper to deter: the GOP. Obama does not have to protect his honorable-hostage-negotiator reputation in order to be able to negotiate with some OTHER future kidnapper.

So if he does not turn around, the minute the deal is actually done, and go after the GOP with all the political force he can muster, I for one will find it very hard to re-up his contract as the hostage negotiator for my side. He will have to get himself re-elected by people who think principled hostage negotiations are the best defense against a serial kidnapper.

Also BTW, the hostage in your analogy is "the American people". Maybe they LIKE being held hostage over and over. If so, Obama has nothing to gain by deterring the GOP, and his main hope of a glorious legacy is to be a good little hostage negotiator again and again. It's not a legacy I would aspire to, myself, but personal tastes differ.

--TP

Tony P.: I pretty much agree with your extrapolation.

It's easy to find prominent people on the right who complained even in the Bush era that too much of the tax cuts goes to the rabble instead og the nobles. I consider the constant claims by GOP leaders that they want the tax cuts for everyone to be bald-faced lies. If they could get away with a plan that would have only the top 2-5% profit from any tax plan, they would do it. Cf. the demands to do away with estate and capital gains taxes altogether and painting a picture of an ideal world where income is not taxed at all and all (at least federal) revenue is from tariffs and (if unavoidable) sales taxes. And even in the latter case I would expect demands for luxury exemptions in order to stimulate demand by the rich to be right around the corner.
Let's polygraph every congresscritter on that!

1. The Republicans agreed to an estate tax rate of 35% of $5 million.

How many $5 million+ estates are there out there, anyway? Is Charles, like, Not Red Enough for Redstate if he's posting here again? I'd think he'd be embarrassed, what with his whole "Party Of 'No." shtick of his ObWi tenure having blown up in his face like a TNT stick in the Coyote's hand.

Slarti: There's a lot more context to Buffett's "I'm not being taxed enough"; I've had the pleasure of hearing him speak on it twice, in person. The other side of that is, "If the government is not going to tax my money and use it do to the government's business, I'll make sure it goes to organizations that will."

4. The Republicans agreed to a 2% cut in payroll taxes paid to employees for 2 years.

i really don't get how having the GOP "agree" to yet another unaffordable tax cut is any kind of victory for anybody but the irresponsible greedy pinheads that make up the GOP.

Does it really hurt that much, do you really lose sleep over tax cuts for the rich, skin off your nose fella? UP until very recently those increases would have hit Sub-S corporations, small business to you.

only if that S-corp made enough money to hit the cutoffs. and not all of them do.

At some point, maybe, there will be an actual discussion about spending less.

This is the dumbest thing I have ever heard. The United States is has more people in it than it did 20 years ago, or even 10 years ago. The economy is larger. Why would government cost less?

Marty, your ability to mindlessly mouth GOP talking points while sanctimoniously acting like you're some disinterested observer is disgusting to watch.

Does it really hurt that much, do you really lose sleep over tax cuts for the rich, skin off your nose fella?

Yes, actually. The Republicans acted like rapacious locusts during the Bush administration, stripping the government bare to pay for tax cuts while rabidly and angrily pushing for war, torture, and unfunded expansions to Medicare for political gain. And now they don't want to pay for the very things that have caused this country so much trouble. Sounds to me like a bunch of dishonest greed. If the top tax margins go up (you understand that taxes are marginal, right?), the high earners still get the tax cuts available at the lower margins. They sounds like a bunch of whiners and, honestly, hostage takers.

Also BTW, the hostage in your analogy is "the American people". Maybe they LIKE being held hostage over and over.

Some of them are much like the children who are in league with the kidnappers and split the ransom paid by their parents with the captors. And some of them don't even get that, but think their captors are nice guys who deserve a nice ransom. But Obama promised to bring together the siblings who liked the kidnappers and the siblings tired of watching their parents hand their money over to the hostage takers, so this is what you end up with.

You say, "Well if you think it's so important, why don't you go push on it right now, while we think it over?" Not helpful.

Granted. But the same applies to russell's complaint that I was responding to.

Or (c)-- please fill in the blank.

russell said:

I doubt they care much about what it gets spent on, beyond wanting what it gets spent on to benefit them.

My evidence for this is the distinct lack of folks putting their hands up to give up their personal SS, Medicare, federal pension, highway improvement, etc., in the interest of reducing the national debt.

To which I responded with what you responded to.

Blank filled in? I saw russell calling something like hypocrisy, that people would fail to act consistently with their stated goals. I might have misread russell, in which case I might have to retract, but he hasn't said that I have.

There's a lot more context to Buffett's "I'm not being taxed enough"; I've had the pleasure of hearing him speak on it twice, in person. The other side of that is, "If the government is not going to tax my money and use it do to the government's business, I'll make sure it goes to organizations that will."

And if we all did that, then what? Giving to charity doesn't necessarily pay the federal government's bills. Some of it replaces what the government might spend; some of it doesn't. There's really no way to know.

I am fully aware of Buffett's and Gates' charitable contributions. Lots of people give to charities; not in those amounts, but in amounts that they can afford.

Still, decent point. But still: as a counter to russell's point, above, I don't see that in general, individuals espousing higher taxes are spontaneously paying them even when not required.

Hob's right: it doesn't work that way. Granted, it doesn't. Which is why you don't see people spontaneously abandoning their SS (and the like) benefits that they don't really need: because it doesn't do any good.

This is the dumbest thing I have ever heard.

What? The suggestion that the government might spend just what it takes in is stupid?

I don't think anyone's suggesting, here, that the government spend less than it did 20 years ago. I think what's being suggested is that we might want to spend less than a trillion more than we take in every year.

russell, I am curious where those lefty proposals are that their reps are pushing that increase their tax burden.

For starters, we could look at the original vote on the Bush cuts in the Senate and the House. I can tell you how my reps voted.

I have to assume your comment here is a sort of rhetorical belch.

Do you really need a laundry list spelling out the measures supported by folks on the left that are likely to cost them money?

How long a list do you want? Do you want federal only, or federal state and local?

Should I zip it up and mail it to you? I don't think it will fit in a blog comment. Not even one of mine.

And as an aside, "adding taxes to the rich" should, in context, be read as "allowing existing tax cuts to expire as intended". And expire they ought, because they cost us a sh*tload of money and they didn't accomplish what they were supposed to accomplish.

Results count. Isn't that a big conservative principle?

I'm still waiting for the groundswell of "tea party" support for eliminating SS, Medicare, Medicaid, VA benefits, or any similar entitlement program.

I'm waiting to see one person with teabags on their hat say "Yes, cut my SS in half, because the nation needs the money".

They don't roll that way. If there's a deficit, or the debt is too large, their approach is to cut something that helps somebody else. Or at least, something whose value to them escapes them, because it doesn't deliver a nice crisp check to their personal mailbox.

I want to see tea bag / libertarian / conservative / what have you skin in the game. Then I'll take them seriously when they talk about their concern for the nation.

IMO they don't give a crap about the nation, they just don't want the government spending their money on anybody but them.

Understandable, but not particularly helpful.

I might have misread russell

You did not.

Which is why you don't see people spontaneously abandoning their SS (and the like) benefits that they don't really need: because it doesn't do any good.

That isn't what I'm looking for.

I'm looking for people who advocate reducing the size of government, who also explicitly and clearly support eliminating or reducing programs that benefit them, directly and concretely.

The way that I, as a "lefty", which in this country apparently means "someone whose first impulse is not to dismantle any and every public institution", will explicitly and clearly support public efforts that *will cost me money*, because I think they create value for the nation overall.

I'm not seeing it. If you do see it, by all means enlighten me. No snark.


russell:


I have to assume your comment here is a sort of rhetorical belch.

Tyro:

Marty, your ability to mindlessly mouth GOP talking points while sanctimoniously acting like you're some disinterested observer is disgusting to watch.

What I say is not a belch or mindless. I read reams of liberal/progressive talking points with little or no substance or thought of the bigger picture. Mindless raging against the machine is useless, although sometimes cathartic. If anyone here is sanctimonious it ain't me.

The extension of all tax cuts for two years was NOT a Republican goal, it was a compromise from a position that businesses needed long term tax stability so they should all be made permanent. Thats a win for Obama.

They never opposed extending UI, they wanted to discuss paying for it with out of the existing budget. They also knew that it would be in any agreement. The length (13 months) was a win for Obama or at least a tie.

Estate taxes had run out, they were ZERO, something is now in place. Win Obama.

Plus payroll tax cut etc. etc. all add up to 900 billion only about 250B of which is the Bush tax cuts.

Overall, Obama got a lot for what he gave.

So is that mindless talking points? Or is your faux rage?


"I'm looking for people who advocate reducing the size of government, who also explicitly and clearly support eliminating or reducing programs that benefit them, directly and concretely."

I guess I will address this finally at risk of being somewhat snarky.

Your question assumes an intimate knowledge of the Federal budget that most people should not be expected to have. It is the classic defense when someone knows the other side has inadequate information to form a final conclusion.

Put the debt commission results in front of people with a clear explanation of the benefits and costs of each and a lot of people would vote for it even though some of it takes from them.

Sure, no one sends their check back to SS because they don't need the money, but lots of people would not miss it if it didn't show up, so better means testing.

It's a long list of possibilities, but the federal budget is a huge document. We elect people to do what you keep asking and when they don't, we elect other people. And, if this group doesn't, we will elect other people until they do.

The whole "well if you want higher taxes why don't you donate money to the IRS" thing is such a steaming load.

I am willing to pay more in taxes to help bring the budget back into balance (that's the very very short version). I am NOT willing to do this while other people just as rich as me free ride. No.

The reality is that a ton of deficit spending now = higher taxation later (likely in combination with benifits cuts, which will impact me too, even if I'm well off). So I figure I'm gonna pay either way. If I pony up more now while a bunch of other folks don't, I will make a miniscule impact on the situation and thus will STILL have to pay more (and/or receive less) later. You aren't asking me to be principled. You're asking me to be an IDIOT.

That isn't what I'm looking for.

Oh. It sounded a lot like what you said.

I'm not sure exactly what you're after, though. Are you after Congresscritters voluntarily relinquishing some of their pay, retirement benefits, medical coverage, etc? Are you looking for people, irrespective of party, volunteering to cut back on what the government gives them?

I'm willing to, for instance, means-test SS payments so as not to hand out money to folks that really don't need it as much (this includes me, if I turn out to be one of those people). But when I say things like that, I get pounced on by people who are outraged at the notion of means-testing a time-honored government-assisted retirement program, thus making it welfare. Because it's posturing and scheming, and not a bonafide attempt to achieve something closer to fiscal sanity. Even though that's not my goal, people are willing to make it my goal in order to stop the discussion.

So much for voting counter to my wallet.

I'd bid pulling us out of Afghanistan and Iraq, posthaste, cutting back on some clearly unnecessary military programs, and seeing what can be done about limiting the rate of growth of Medicare, which is pretty much the fastest growing line item in all of government spending.

We can discuss some of those details, but any of those would be a decent start.

We'll never see Congress cut back their own pay & benefits, though, because the collective bunch of bastards are entitled to that. And we all know what happens when we throw the bastards out: we just get a new bunch of bastards.

...it was a compromise from a position that businesses needed long term tax stability so they should all be made permanent.

Well, at least the Republicans understand how to negotiate from an advantageous starting point, however unsupported by facts. These tweeks aren't significant enough to hold back businesses from profitable opportunities, and wouldn't letting the Bush cuts expire be just as permanent as anything? Or proposing any tax regime that would (be intended or said to) last whatever amount of time was necessary for businesses to move forward with all the bold, economically stimulative plans they've been hesitant to implement?

They never opposed extending UI, they wanted to discuss paying for it with out of the existing budget.

Somehow the tax cuts for the wealthy came with no such strings.

Whether the GOP compromised or "agreed to" anything depends on what the baseline is if there were no compromise and what the GOP's general position is.

The "no compromise" baseline is the expiration of the 2001/03 tax cuts, which means higher marginal rates and the estate tax at pre-tax cut levels. The GOP negotiating position is, AFAICT, "taxes are bad, spending is bad (unless we like the spending)".

Looking at the deal it appears that the big GOP "compromise" is allowing unemployment benefit extension without requiring a "pay-for." Pretty much everything else in the deal is "win win win" for them.

Estate taxes had run out, they were ZERO, something is now in place. Win Obama.

From Wikipedia (emphasis mine, and if anyone has a better cite, I'd welcome correction):

On January 1, 2010 a "one year repeal" of the tax was effectuated by a temporary, one-year-only rate of 0%, but on January 1, 2011 the estate tax is scheduled to return at a top rate of 55% and the exemption amount is scheduled to drop back down to $1.0 million.

You have to keep in mind what the starting point is when determining what direction you have to move in to get to somewhere else. You got your relativity relatively twisted up there, Marty.

it was a compromise from a position that businesses needed long term tax stability so they should all be made permanent

care to explain how the prospect of the individual tax rate going from one known value to another, slightly higher, known value creates instability for business ?

it's not like the tax rate was going up 15%, or 10% + (Rand mod 20)%, or (sum (3 dice rolls))%. it was scheduled to go up a known, small amount.

It should be noted that the 35% rate/$5 million estate tax exemption that the GOP agreed to as a "compromise" is, from a quick Google, the lowest rate and highest exemption amount since before WWII, other than the one year repeal this year (which, you know, you have to die to take advantage of).

hsh, I am fine if you think there goals weren't necessary, but this:

Somehow the tax cuts for the wealthy came with no such strings.

is exactly the kinds of talking points that everyone keeps repeating. They were two very different issues, with different potential solutions. Both needed to be done. However the payroll tax cut wasn't paid for either. In fact, the percentage of Republican goals in this agreement is about the same as in the original stimulus bill.

I will repeat what I said above, overall this seems like a good compromise that reflects some of the best governing that has been done in the last two years.

The problem seems to be that if the Republicans get anything the Democrats get enraged.

Where is the Republican saying the Dems held the tax cut extension hostage to the payroll cut? There is absolutely no good faith on the Democrats side.

Even Obama himself cut the deal and then ruined any shot at moving forward in a real bipartisan way by taking his shot at the Republicans to try and satisfy the left. Good partisan politics I am sure. But reinforces my view that he is better at that(partisan politics) than really trying to "change" Washington.

He should have laid this out as a big victory and left it at that, because, in many ways, it was.

Marty - what is it in this that the GOP would be opposed to on its own merits, standing along? The only thing I can come up with is the extension of UI, which you say above they would be fine with if there was a pay-for.

So, that's one, what else?

Both needed to be done.

Both what, and why did they both need to be done?

And, in lots of ways, Ezra Klein agrees with me.


If you look at the numbers alone, the tax cut deal looks to have robbed Republicans blind. The GOP got around $95 billion in tax cuts for wealthy Americans and $30 billion in estate tax cuts. Democrats got $120 billion in payroll-tax cuts, $40 billion in refundable tax credits (Earned Income Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit and education tax credits), $56 billion in unemployment insurance, and, depending on how you count it, about $180 billion (two-year cost) or $30 billion (10-year cost) in new tax incentives for businesses to invest.

But that's not how it's being understood. Republicans are treating it as a victory, and liberals as a defeat. Which raises two separate questions: Why did Republicans give Obama so much? And why aren't Democrats happier about it?

Where is the Republican saying the Dems held the tax cut extension hostage to the payroll cut? There is absolutely no good faith on the Democrats side.

I don't see how these two sentence relate to one another. What are you saying here, Marty?

hsh,

The Republicans cut the deal, said it was a good deal, great bipartisan solution and the next day the POTUS called them hostage taking terrorists. No Republicans were calling him names. until he did that of course.

"So, that's one, what else?"

Actually I agree with this point, but the public political lines that had been drawn give most of this stuff to the Democrats as a win.

POTUS called them hostage taking terrorists

cite?

IIRC, he did not use the word "terrorists".

Marty: Which election were you watching? The one I saw had Republicans running against Democrats alleged cuts to Medicare and Social Security, running to protect the tax cuts for the highest marginal incomes. They also used the deficit as a scare tactic, but given their main priorities in the campaign, I have to say their deficit concern comes across as insincere, shall we say?

The Republicans cut the deal, said it was a good deal, great bipartisan solution and the next day the POTUS called them hostage taking terrorists. No Republicans were calling him names. until he did that of course.

Well, okay. But, even if I accept that, it's very different from what you wrote before. No biggie, though. Moving on.

I wonder which part of this deal Obama would have had to give up if he hadn't frozen federal employee pay.

The estate tax thing is a big win for the GOP.

The 2-year extension of the Bush tax cuts is a win for the GOP. Potentially a huge one, since I figure they will beat that horse into subatomic particles come 2012. Hmm, what happens in 2012?

The payroll tax holiday is pretty neutral, possibly a win for the Dems.

Unemployment extension = clear win for Ds.

On balance, why exactly should liberals be happy with it? I get "not enraged" and that's where I fall, but happy? Come on.

Nate,

EVERYONE in Congress says the debt will become a problem. The very right wing Republicans want to balance the budget by massive spending cuts right away. The rest of almost everybody says we need a plan to deal with it "after the economy improves". I am not sure the two sides are very far apart on the priority and timing of that objective. They will start pretty far apart on HOW to do it, but the ways are actually pretty limited so they will figure it out in a few years.

Everything before the 2012 elections, from both sides, on the topic is theater.

Where is the Republican saying the Dems held the tax cut extension hostage to the payroll cut? There is absolutely no good faith on the Democrats side.

Only have time to address this one terrible argument, among the others.

The only thing germane to whether Obama negotiated in good faith - and remember, this was Obama's deal, not the dems' - is whether he meant what he agreed to. I think he did. So, no 'bad faith'.

If 'bad faith' means not 'being nice', rhetorically, and you are accusing the dems or Obama of that compared with the Republicans...well, I'm not going to dignify that with anything more specific than laughter.

Obama is not the Congress.

any legislative deal he negotiated is the equivalent of "let's you guys and those guys fight".

cleek,

You're right, he didn't say terrorist.

EVERYONE in Congress says the debt will become a problem. The very right wing Republicans want to balance the budget by massive spending cuts right away. The rest of almost everybody says we need a plan to deal with it "after the economy improves".

Marty, again, I don't see that at all. There's lots of TALK about how "The Deficit"* is a problem, which coincidentally started after a Democrat won the Presidency. As for how serious anyone is about this? I would say Not At All. The Republicans? In 2000, they inherited a surplus, and their first move was to pass tax cuts with a large part dedicated to benefiting just the extremely wealthy, and put the government back into a deficit. During the eight years of the Bush Administration, when they had all the levers of government under their control for at least five of those eight years, they did nothing to reduce the deficit, in fact they made it many times larger.
So now we have a freshman class of Tea Party Republicans coming in, on opposition to "socialism" and debt and cuts to Medicare and Social Security and making sure those tax cuts that ended the 2000 surplus are extended, at the cost of billions of dollars a year. This is at the very least incoherent.

So no, I don't believe that the Republicans, either the Old Guard, or the Gingrich Republicans, or the Tea Party Republicans are concerned about the deficit and the debt at all. Their actions have shown otherwise, repeatedly, for more than a decade. "The Deficit" is a weapon to attack Democrats with, to try and dismantle Social Security with, and nothing more.

And until that changes, which I doubt, Democrats being concerned about "The Deficit" is pointless at best, and actually harmful at worst. It's why the stimulus was too small and it's why the ACA had easily-demagogued cuts to Medicare Advantage (which is just payouts to private insurers).

So what evidence do you have that this time, the Republicans are really worried about "The Deficit", really, for honestly true this time?

* It's in quotes because "The Deficit" as a problem is something completely divorced from the actual facts of government balance of payment and spending, IMO.

"Obama is not the Congress."

This is also very true. But his recorded message to supporters this morning finally ties the deal to "change" in Washington(summary by ABC News) which really undercuts the Dems in Congress that want to fight the deal or filibuster in the Senate.

"we have that discussion every two years. and the public consistently votes against those who it thinks are going to reduce spending (even though it often thinks that way out of ignorance).

politicians know that, and that's why they refuse to talk about cutting anything substantial while they're in office.

But we also have the tax cut conversation every year. And the public consistently votes against politicians who mention raising their taxes.

the conversation we really need to have is: "OK, idiots, you want all this stuff? you gotta pay for it, so STFU, you bunch of childish imbeciles, and take pay your taxes!"

Yes, and this is where politicians in the US virtually never come through. The Democrats only look good on this issue in contrast to the Republicans. Even Obama campaigned on a 'tax other people' plan when he promised not to raise middle class taxes. We've set up a nasty dynamic where cuts and payments are always talked about as being for other people while expansions and tax breaks are for you. There is never a conversation about raising *your* taxes to pay for things. My problem with that is: so long as you think get them to think that other people will pay, spending will hugely outstrip taxation. This will continue well after it becomes obvious that it is going to be a disaster (see California).

"So what evidence do you have that this time, the Republicans are really worried about "The Deficit", really, for honestly true this time?"

No one has any evidence that anyone means what they say about the deficit or the debt, either side. I will be watching to see if they address the rcommendations that have been put forward by the commission to decide who to believe in 2012.

The past, well, everybody had a good reason to spend that one more dollar. Again, both sides. Even up to the 900B proposed today. So it is yet to be demostrated by either side.

I will be watching to see if they address the rcommendations that have been put forward by the commission to decide who to believe in 2012.

I will end the suspense for you Marty - come January 2011, no one will remember the commission or its recommendations.

Marty: So, hang on, first you say that everyone's worried about "The Deficit", and now you're saying nobody's really worried about "The Deficit", which seems like it undermines your entire post you made earlier, about how "EVERYONE" is concerned about "The Deficit" and would have to deal with it soon.

Which is it? Are people REALLY TRULY HONESTLY WE MEAN IT THIS TIME concerned about "The Deficit", or is it just posturing and a political weapon to wield against things they don't like that will cost money?
"Thins that cost money" consisting of tax cuts, or some kinds of spending, if we're taking your claim that both sides are just as bad, which neither history nor current actions actually support. If anything, certain Democrats are too concerned about "The Deficit", IMO, or at least too ready to be not concerned when it comes to things like tax cuts that only benefit rich people.

Even Obama campaigned on a 'tax other people' plan when he promised not to raise middle class taxes.

Relative to what would have happened if the Bush cuts had simply expired, Obama's plan would have lowered everyone's taxes. Tax rates on income above a certain level may have returned to what they previously were, but you'd have to make the dollars taxed at relatively lower rates before getting to that level. (And we don't have tax rates for people, we have have tax rates for incomes. We are all subject to those rates to the extent that we make the applicable income.)

"Which is it? Are people REALLY TRULY HONESTLY WE MEAN IT THIS TIME concerned about "The Deficit", or is it just posturing and a political weapon to wield against things they don't like that will cost money?"

Both. They are truly worried about the debt, caused by the deficits, and they are posturing to reflect that concern in an environment where they can't do much about it yet. Not a hard concept.

But they can START doing things over the next 18 months to convince me they WILL do something about it.

@Rob in CT:

The payroll tax holiday is pretty neutral, possibly a win for the Dems.

That's one way of looking at it...

"Both. They are truly worried about the debt, caused by the deficits, and they are posturing to reflect that concern in an environment where they can't do much about it yet. Not a hard concept."

Except it has no evidence to back it up. Why would they bey truly worried about debt now, when none of their actions previously have shown them to be? Republicans have postured about "The Deficit" and threatened not to raise debt ceilings and all the rest before, but the instant tax cuts were possible, all those objections went out the window. Many of the Senators and Representatives voted for the Bush tax cuts originally that got us back into deficit, and not one said anything about paying for renewing them, and fought hard to get the parts that only benefit a tiny portion of the country through.

Maybe I'm asking too much, maybe I'm asking for mind reading, to ask why you think any of the politicians talking about "The Deficit" are really worried about it. So, instead, why are YOU worried about debt and deficits now? And if you are so worried about them, why are you approving of this latest set of tax cuts, unemployment extensions, etc, given that it will add billions to the debt?

And what do you think would be proof that they're Really Concerned This Time about the debt? Since you can't know their minds other than their actions, but whose should you know better than your own?

"And if you are so worried about them, why are you approving of this latest set of tax cuts, unemployment extensions, etc, given that it will add billions to the debt?"

I approve of spending the money in the short term and putting in place structural changes to reduce the debt over the medium term. I worry about both things but the surest way to reduce the debt is for the economy to expand faster, generating more revenue at whatever tax levels you are at.

In fact, without economic growth you really cant get there from here. My view will be based on what we do with the increased revenue as the economy grows.

In Reagan's second year in office the Democrats wanted to increase taxes. He agreed if they gave three dollars in spending savings for every extra dollar of revenue the tax increase brought in. They both held up their end of that bargain. The savings were incurred over several years but they found them.

That was leadership on both sides.

That was leadership on both sides.

And yet, this was also a period of sustained high deficits. I see that as the period when leadership on this issue went out of the window- the GOP learned that they could run endlessly on cutting taxes, and the Dems learned that they could bargain those tax cuts against not controlling spending.

Jacob, I understand that you're very frustrated, but hauling out the tired old class warfare trope to see if you can beat it around the track for the amusement of everybody in the cheap seats isn't really going to do much to advance the discourse.

Are there constituencies that the two parties need to serve? Yes. But for every money-grubbing plutocrat raking in untold lucre on the backs of the working guy there's a redistributionist slacker who wants his existence maintained with other people's money. There's a grain of truth to both of these old cliches (that's how they got to be cliches), but these arguments are fundamentally unproductive.

So let's see if we can boil this down a little and look at it a little differently:

  • Both sides fundamentally have the interest of the country at heart and are proposing things that they genuinely think promote the common weal.
  • The conservative/Republican vision holds that small government best serves the country, and the instrument for achieving small government is to deny it resources. The liberal/progressive/Democratic vision holds that a large government can best serve the country, and the instrument for achieving large government is to enact programs--especially entitlement programs--that force increases in revenue.
  • Both sides want power so they can execute their vision of the things that best promote said common weal, and the acquisition and maintenance of that power requires pandering to core constituencies.
  • Power corrupts both sides.

If you're going to claim some particular moral virtue for one side or the other, we've ultimately got nothing to talk about. On the other hand, if you want to talk about what policies actually promote the common welfare, and what the undesirable consequences of those policies are, I'm all ears. The real problem is, and continues to be, the Republicans' unwillingness to cut spending commensurate with their tax cuts and the Democrats' unwillingness to raise taxes commensurate with their spending increases. These are fundamentally conflicts between core beliefs and the maintenance of political power; in short, they are corruption problems on both sides of the aisle.

The Left took a heavy hit yesterday. Frankly, the deficit-hawk portions of the Right took a pretty heavy hit, too. I think they call that a compromise. So I understand your frustration. But all your arguments get degraded when you're furiously angry. It makes for bad rhetoric in addition to bad policy.

But if your goal was to deter future kidnappings, you'd go after the son of a bitch the minute he let the kid go.

Tony, in this analogy the kid is never let go. The GOP still has the ability to filibuster everything plus control of the house soon.
The analogy breaks down- what is needed is a public that understands the finances of the government, but what we have is a public consistently and intentionally misinformed by media outlets more interested in sensationalism than information.

Where is the Republican saying the Dems held the tax cut extension hostage to the payroll cut? There is absolutely no good faith on the Democrats side.

The Dems tried to pass a bill extending the tax cuts on income below 250k. iirc the GOP filibustered it (or threatened to). So what you said would be untrue.
If you said "the Dems held the tax cut extension on income above 250k hostage to the payroll tax cut", that would be true, but when you say it out loud it doesn't sound so bad.

No one has any evidence that anyone means what they say about the deficit or the debt, either side.

Well, Ive got this- the Dems do actually seem to want to raise taxes (or allow the cuts to sunset) in the medium term, to increase revenue. It'd be easy for them to take the GOP position- ("let's cut taxes today and talk about spending cuts tomorrow!"), run up the deficit, and let someone else figure it out. I don't see a lot of upside for the Dems to tussle about this issue, except that the Dem base appears to recognize that revenues must be made to match expenditures at some point.
When I see the Greens marching down the street with their "keep your dirty federal hands off of my National Parks" or the teachers' union marching with "keep your dirty federal hands off of the Dept of Education" then we can talk.

"In Reagan's second year in office the Democrats wanted to increase taxes. He agreed if they gave three dollars in spending savings for every extra dollar of revenue the tax increase brought in. They both held up their end of that bargain. The savings were incurred over several years but they found them.

That was leadership on both sides."

Yet despite this leadership from both sides, and this happy little story, the US total debt (adjusted to 2010 dollars) in Fiscal year 1982 was 1.9 trillion, in FY 1983 it was 2.2 trillion, and in FY 1984 it was 2.4 trillion, if I'm reading the charts available here right.

Spending those same years (adjusted to 2010 dollars) was 1.25, 1.29, and 1.3 trillion. So I'm not sure I quite understand how the math of that anecdote works out, or what else it leaves out.

TheRadicalModerate, I understand that you're very frustrated, but hauling out the tired old "both sides are equally bad" trope to see if you can beat it around the track for the amusement of everybody in the cheap seats isn't really going to do much to advance the discourse.

"Well, Ive got this- the Dems do actually seem to want to raise taxes (or allow the cuts to sunset) in the medium term, to increase revenue."

On other people, not their core voters. That is of course about as easy as Republicans talking about cutting programs for people that don't vote for them...

The conservative/Republican vision holds that small government best serves the country, and the instrument for achieving small government is to deny it resources. The liberal/progressive/Democratic vision holds that a large government can best serve the country, and the instrument for achieving large government is to enact programs--especially entitlement programs--that force increases in revenue.
The real problem is, and continues to be, the Republicans' unwillingness to cut spending commensurate with their tax cuts and the Democrats' unwillingness to raise taxes commensurate with their spending increases.

Thanks Mr.Broder- the first problem I have with this is that the Dems have enacted only one signficant social program since LBJ (HCR), and that was projected to actually produce a cost savings. The GOP has cut taxes several times since then, and continues to argue forcefully for permanent lower taxes.
So it's just not the case that the Dems are 'enacting programs that force increases in revenue'. We are, for the most part, trying to 1)keep the existing programs and 2)cope with the underlying changes in healthcare costs.
Second, you've also misportrayed the GOP position- it's not just low taxes and small government. It's low taxes, small government- but without touching anyone's social security or medicare!- and a big "defense" coupled with budget-busting military adventurism. If there's a vision for a GOP future that involves a balanced budget, Id love to hear it.

If there was a GOP that really wanted to cut taxes and also articulated a smaller government, Id probably oppose that on ideological and practical grounds. But there is no such beast- they've even refused to embrace the Ryan plan, which while fundamentally flawed, is at least a starting point in the discussion about what the GOP's vision for the future actually looks like.

I don't believe that the Republicans, either the Old Guard, or the Gingrich Republicans, or the Tea Party Republicans are concerned about the deficit and the debt at all. Their actions have shown otherwise, repeatedly, for more than a decade.

It's manifestly clear than they didn't and don't care about debt. But,'More than a decade'? Technically correct, but when it's actually *three* decades of deliberate debt build up, it sounds a little misleading.

The Democrats only look good on this [tax] issue in contrast to the Republicans.

So refreshing to agree with Sebastian for a change. But I hope he and other sensible conservatives remember than quantity can affect quality. Being somewhat prolifigate and massively so produce two very different qualities.

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Whatnot


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