It appears there is something in the water or air in Washington, DC that has caused massive memory loss not only in the politicians but also in the media people who cover them. Because the world they are talking about continues to move farther and farther away from mine, I thought I’d make some notes, in case whatever is affecting them makes it to my town soon.
1. As I recall, the American economy was doing pretty well before the Bush tax cuts, when Clinton had managed to balance the budget and accumulate a surplus. I also recall that, despite the Bushista’s religious devotion to the counter-intuitive idea that cutting taxes would actually raise revenue and stimulate the economy, that did not actually happen.
In fact, because the tax cuts weren’t accompanied by spending cuts, they are a large driver of the current and future deficit.
Yet the President is reportedly about to cave and agree to GOP demands that all of these tax rates be extended. WHY?
I realize no one likes to see their taxes go up, but … why aren’t we just letting the damn thing expire? The sad truth is that, for nearly 10% of the workforce, currently unemployed, the rate difference will be on income they aren’t making anyway. And, to be perfectly blunt, the old rates were still relatively low, when looked at compared to post-war averages.
If we must put up with Presidential Commissions that give insufferables like Alan Simpson a pulpit, I demand that we give equal time to the “you know, if we taxed the heck out of those hedge fund managers for a few years, it would bring a lot of things back into balance” perspective. Stop talking about cutting Grandma’s Social Security payments, and start talking about cutting down on the US consumption of Rolex products.
2. Speaking of insufferables, Pete Peterson, the billionaire with the mission to make sure Grannie has to eat catfood, just released a fart about fiscal patriotism which makes my blood boil. Perhaps I have a bit of memory loss myself, but I don’t recall Peterson using his money and prestige to argue that we needed to raise taxes to cover the war in Afghanistan, or that we couldn’t sustain a second war in Iraq by putting it on our credit card. Where was his “fiscal patriotism” then, when he could have been encouraging his wealthy friends to rally ’round the flag and put their wallets behind the troops?
Because, as so many of those in DC seem to have forgotten, another big reason we have a deficit problem is that the previous administration went into TWO wars without a plan to pay for them. Worse, the accounting and financial controls on our misadventure in Iraq were amazingly poor. It’s hard to contain costs when you are literally shipping pallet loads of cash into a war zone, or are willing to pay international contracting corporations for showers that electrocute soldiers or myriad other abuses.
Perhaps, before we get too heated in our discussions about raising the retirement age, we could spend a few more minutes asking why a single US government dollar is still going to the company that not only brought us so many of those Iraqi fiascos, but ALSO had a hand in the huge Gulf of Mexico oil spill?
Sadly, because everyone in DC is drinking the same water, there isn’t anyone there who can even imagine why we should say “WTF! You Republicans want tax cuts for the wealthy? When we’ve just spent billions to preserve their damn jobs after their mortgage ponzi scheme failed? When we were already in the hole becaue of the Bush bungling? Screw that, what we need to get this economy going is an emergency tax on you bastards! Personal income over $5 million will be taxed at 90%, until the unemployment rate drops below 5%, and we’ve fully withdrawn our military forces from Afghanistan. Money will be spend on massive civics works projects to both employ the unemployed and provide infrastructure for the next century. I’m lookin’ at you, Pete Peterson. Step up or shut up!”
But no. For those drinking the magic water in DC, the simple, fundamental physics is that spending and taxes must be cut, even, perhaps especially, if it means making Grandma (and her unemployed children) eat catfood. Suffering for the masses and tax cuts for the wealthy is the only moral way out of this dilemma. Obviously.
Update: cf: tax rates as percentage of GDP