Saturday, June 4, 2011

reagan spinning in his grave and palin's growing nose

lots o' news since the last posting - the yemen situation is looking scary, libyan officials keep on defecting but still moamar hangs on, the economy is shakey, republicans are still playing 'chicken' on the debt ceiling, a mormon entered the republican presidential field, and the list could go on.  but in my mind, the biggest "news" is an article by bruce bartlett, a former economic advisor for the reagan administration, which focused on the tax rate being too LOW.  yes, folks, that's too LOW - and from a reagan official - that's pretty telling, in and of itself.  here's an excerpt:

The postwar annual average is about 18.5 percent of G.D.P. Revenues averaged 18.2 percent of G.D.P. during Ronald Reagan’s administration; the lowest percentage during that administration was 17.3 percent of G.D.P. in 1984.

In short, by the broadest measure of the tax rate, the current level is unusually low and has been for some time. Revenues were 14.9 percent of G.D.P. in both 2009 and 2010.

he goes on to explain that the case made by "disingenuous" arguments from the right focus on the "statutory tax rate", which he notes is a not a fair or relevant metric to use compared to the rates expressed as percentage of GDP, as listed above. 

but wait, the fun doesn't stop there - the republicans insist on reducing corporate taxes further, even though the U.S. has the LOWEST CORPORATE TAX RATE IN THE OECD (Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development) - which is to say, the lowest of modern western democracies with a basically free market/capitalist economic system (i.e., everyone).  again, the corporate statutory tax rate is cited by reps, which inflates the rate to an absurdly high rate compared to reality, to make their arguments. 

the question is, are the reps just evil or stupid?  well, that's a long and complicated argument we've had for years and will continue to have for years, but i think it's a little of both (see w. bush (stupid) vs. cheney (evil)) with a bit of lazy thinking and convenience in rhetorical argument on their part.  if they're evil, they knowingly are distorting the facts.  if they're stupid, they just don't know (or don't care to look?).  either way, you have to ask yourself - why?  well, my answer is that it feeds into their world view - the a priori argument that lower taxes ALWAYS leads to economic growth (and therefore increased tax receipts).  as a former and recovering conservative who wasted too many hours being brainwashed by rush limog, i can tell you that reps often harken back to jack kennedy's action to cut tax rates in the early 60's that led to strong economic growth as an argument (wow, a democrat cutting taxes?  really?).  this, of course, is an argument that is simplified and presented without any/much context by a self-proclaimed "entertainer" who knows as much about economic theory as i do about the history of the russian ballet (not much).  the early 60's were a post-war time - and of course, during WWII the tax rates were extremely high to pay for the war - unlike today - so the rates had nowhere to go but down anyway.  and there are other factors to account for - increased productivity, the baby boom generation getting kick started, the birth of aggressive american consumerism, etc.  but let's forget ALL of those factors and just focus in one aspect - taxes.  just goes to show, the more you water down an argument, the more dangerous you become.

so today, the reps continue to claim that increased tax cuts will lead to more jobs, etc.  but even THEY have to understand that there is a concept known as "diminishing return", right?  are all tax cuts at all times and rates the same?  of course not - and not that our tax burden is the LOWEST IN 60 YEARS - the argument that further cuts (either person or corporate) will lead to economic growth is just wrong.  period.  or as bruce bartlett states, "The truth of the matter is that federal taxes in the United States are very low. There is no reason to believe that reducing them further will do anything to raise growth or reduce unemployment."  some would say that ronnie reagan would be spinning in his grave, but not if he knew that his own people are making these statements.  hopefully, there will be some truth and sanity brought to this argument before the continiuing chasm between rich and poor grows and the middle class is increasingly marginalized economically by the machinations of the elite super-rich.  and this bring us to the next article...

this is more of a fun piece about palin's recent bus tour, where she makes a host of false and incorrect statements, in a seemingly fast-paced and efficient fashion.  what's interesting about her is that she really does seem to represent the redneck middle/lower-middle class voters who continue to vote against their own best interest by supporting rich a-holes who espouse "freedom" as being "lower taxes on the rich".  i mean, her arguments are very simplified and completely without nuance - which reflects the arguments made by the group she represents.  i think THIS is her genius, personally.  she literally channels the views of "folks" in this group, hence she is "folksy" to them, i guess.  but it's dangerous to have someone like this making policy (or wanting to make policy).  very dangerous.  the "founding fathers" didn't envision "professional politicians", perhaps, but the certaintly didn't want to opt for idiots running the place, i'm sure.  she seems to fit the bill perfectly for this good-looking, down-home, in-your-face, watered-down, black-and-white, redneck candidate that gets the powerless right wingers fired up and, well, empowered.  and don't get me started about michelle bachman.  that's just a race to the bottom. 


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