Thursday, November 11, 2010

When Do We March In the Streets?

One grows tired of hating Republican scumbags. And of feeling so disillusioned with Democrats.

How can we get the White House and both houses of Congress under (brief) Democratic control and STILL find our country's policies being dictated by a fairly small group of white guys with a hundred million stupid lap dogs (think: Koch brothers)?

Paul Krugman's latest column talks about the recent deficit commission report, which sounds like it came straight from the Bush White House. A few quotes from Krugman's column (but I recommend reading it whole):

It seemed obvious, as soon as the commission’s membership was announced, that “bipartisanship” would mean what it so often does in Washington: a compromise between the center-right and the hard-right.


The goals of reform, as Mr. Bowles and Mr. Simpson see them, are presented in the form of seven bullet points. “Lower Rates” is the first point; “Reduce the Deficit” is the seventh.

So how, exactly, did a deficit-cutting commission become a commission whose first priority is cutting tax rates, with deficit reduction literally at the bottom of the list?


It will take time to crunch the numbers here, but this proposal clearly represents a major transfer of income upward, from the middle class to a small minority of wealthy Americans. And what does any of this have to do with deficit reduction?


It’s no mystery what has happened on the deficit commission: as so often happens in modern Washington, a process meant to deal with real problems has been hijacked on behalf of an ideological agenda. Under the guise of facing our fiscal problems, Mr. Bowles and Mr. Simpson are trying to smuggle in the same old, same old — tax cuts for the rich and erosion of the social safety net.

The economist Robert Reich was recently on Fresh Air talking about how our policies of the last years have perilously concentrated a huge percentage of the country's wealth in a tiny group at the top of the food chain, a situation which last occurred on the eve of the Great Depression.

It's not surprising that the rich want to be richer. What's surprising is how completely they have railroaded the non-rich public into carrying their water. Why is middle America agitating to protect the tax rates of the very wealthy? How do you get average folks to panic about the national debt and to circle the wagons around the country's wealthy elite? How do you manage that feat?

Apparently those folks really are smarter than the rest of us.


wunelle said...

I see now that the President is prepared to compromise on his tax ideas, knowing the new Congress will have no stomach for it.

Really? We still have the White House and the Senate!

Mr. President, a useful phrase for Speaker-Elect Boehner:

Fuck off!

Malaise Inc said...

It will take time to crunch the numbers here, but this proposal clearly represents a major transfer of income upward

I would have expected an academic (and one with a Nobel Prize, no less) to wait until after the numbers were crunched before drawing a conclusion, but ever since he complained about the Bush Administration spending on port security in Little Rock (without actually trying to figure out why), I've come to expect little but partisan hackery in Krugman's commentary. It would seem to me that he already knows what his conclusion is and that the report suggests lower *marginal* tax rates is all he needs to get his rant on. No need to try and understand what actually happens to *effective* tax rates with all or most of the deductions are eliminated. That could end up being most inconvenient to the narrative.

Less emotive responses can be found here and here.

wunelle said...

My own pieces surely qualify as "partisan hackery," but Krugman, I would think, is not so easily dismissed. He surely needs no help from me.

The Derek Thompson piece is interesting--a kind of critique of the critiques--but Megan McArdle's piece is hardly less emotional than Krugman's. Nor does she seem less partisan, though perhaps she embraces a different party (not that there is a shortage of conservative voices).

I do agree that K's caveat--"It will take some time to crunch the numbers"--implies that he does not know the full impact of things, but I suspect he grasps the implication. His criticism stands just the same; the crunching of the numbers will not show what appears to be an upward income redistribution to be something else.

It's frustrating that liberal voices aren't getting much air time, despite our having a slightly left-of-center government. Krugman may be a partisan--everybody represents some point of view--but he's pretty centrist in the grand scheme.

shrimplate said...

It's witch-buring time, and the guy who fixes your car, the lady who rings up your groceries, the cops and firemen, the teachers and nurses; they are all witches.

wunelle said...

They are witches, or they believe it when they're told that everyone around them is a witch...