February 9, 2012

Is This the Hill We Want to Die On?

In a previous thread, the venerable DaveG noted the following:

The fact of the matter is that the average 35-year-old, college educated, white collar professional voted for Reagan in the 1980s, and now this sort of voter won’t touch the GOP. Simply won’t touch it. Even though this sort of voter disagrees with the Democrats on 8 out of 10 issues, the GOP just seems abnormal to the increasing portion of Americans who fall under the following demographic tent: well-educated, creative class, under 40, multicultural, secular, urbane, modern. It’s hard to beat a party that seems incapable of governing the America of 2012 with a party that seems woefully inadequate at even comprehending what the America of 2012 looks like.

There is a lot of truth to this. The fact is we aren’t doing as well in the cities and suburbs as we used to. The common reason given for this, by those not committed to social issues, is the so called “culture war.” We talk too much about abortion, and God, and guns, and gays. And while it is true that Gen Y is more secular than their seniors, it is also true that they are more pro-life than the Baby Boomers. And while they are also more accepting of homosexuality and homosexual marriage, we should note that even California- the capital of American Hedonism- passed Prop 8 just a couple years ago. But it is true that to the degree that the Republican Party is perceived as anti-science, anti-environment, and intolerant, we are going to struggle with that cosmopolitan demographic.

As luck or providence would have it, another commentator noted the following, in the same thread as Dave:

This month’s New York Times poll found that 86 percent of moderates, and 74 percent of independents, support deficit reduction through a combination of tax increases and spending cuts. It also found that 65 percent of moderates, and 57 percent of independents, favor tax hikes on those over $250,000.

Last month’s Marist-McClatchy poll found that 80 percent of moderates, and 68 percent of independents, support dealing with the deficit by raising taxes on income over $250,000.

Last month’s CNN poll found that 74 percent of moderates, and 62 percent of independents, think the deficit supercommittee should raise taxes on businesses and higher-income Americans.

And so that got me thinking. What if it isn’t just Young Earthers who handle snakes and speak in tongues that are driving young urbanites away? What if the Fiscal Young Earthers- those who declare taxes can’t go up as a matter of holy dogma- are also turning off those young hipsters we need to woo? Indeed, Obama has set a trap for us, and we’re walking right into it. He is going to make the Republican Party live or die on its insistence that taxes not go up a single dime for the top 1%. He will incessantly remind people that Warren Buffet pays a lower rate than his secretary, and we will shrug, and thoughtful Americans will wonder at the justice of that, and our defense of it. And while some are embarrassed for Presidential candidates who raise their hand in debates to indicate their belief in Intelligent Design, I am just as embarrassed for our Presidential candidates (all of them) who raised their hand and insisted they would rather not balance the budget than accept $1 in tax increases for every $10 in spending cuts. Our supply siders will insist that if we raise taxes on Buffet, it will wreak our economy. Buffet- widely considered to know a thing or two about economics- will say “No, it won’t.” Our libertarians will insist that he is overtaxed as it is, to which he will respond, “No I’m not.

And we will lose that debate.

Ponder the lunacy of that hand-raising moment, in the minds of pragmatic Americas. Here we have a group of would be Presidents, effectively saying it is better that we stay on the precipice of fiscal disaster rather than accept modest tax increases. Our candidates declared themselves as Fiscal Young Earthers- panderers to a narrow subset of the populace who hold a position untenable and unrespectable in the face of overwhelming consensus. Consider these numbers:

275
40
18
0

The first number is the percentage, in inflation adjusted dollars, that the income of the top 1% of earners increased between 1979 and 2007. The second figure is the percentage increase for the middle class over the same period. The third figure is the increase in incomes of the poorest fifth of Americans, and the last figure, the increase of incomes of the middle class between 1996 and 2010 (in the 2000s middle class income fell 7%).

One needn’t Occupy Wall Street or be a Marxist to be troubled by those figures, or see in them an electoral challenge. Just as fossil records make it hard to believe Adam and Eve were riding dinosaurs, so too do such figures make it difficult to sell Trickle Down Economics to a chaffing electorate. As we prepare to nominate a man worth nine figures, we ought to reconsider the efficacy of dogmatically adhering to a position that is absurd to the broader electorate, and madness to the Independents who will decide this race.

And yet, some of those who insist we need to soft peddle our defense of life and religious liberty to appeal to the sensibilities of secular urbanites, seem ready to go down to defeat for the sake of a particular marginal tax rate. Should we continue to insist that returning rates to where they were in the Roaring 90s is going to destroy America? Is this really the hill we want to die on? At least SoCons can say God is the author of the rights we seek to protect, whereas the tax code is a creation of man.

____________________________________________________________________________________

Citations:

http://money.cnn.com/2011/10/26/news/economy/cbo_income/index.htm

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/plum-line/post/yup-moderates-and-independents-support-taxing-the-rich/2011/03/03/gIQAB9gMiK_blog.html

by @ 9:34 am. Filed under 2012 Misc.
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133 Responses to “Is This the Hill We Want to Die On?”

  1. Metro Says:

    Good people would rather live in a society where the poor can increase by 18% and the wealthy by 275%, rather than one in which the poor increase by 0% and the wealthy some number less than 275%

  2. Booyeah Says:

    I agree with all of this.

    The problem is, if the Republican party is not about social conservatism, long ago abandoned personal liberty, is rivaled on defense issues by someone like Obama (who, let’s face it, is killing it overseas), and has lost the argument on something as fundamental as taxes….what are its reasons for existing?

    Look for Democrats to become the party of smart government in the future. Then it will be truly, 100% over.

  3. Metro Says:

    Stealing from the rich in order to make the growth of wealth even across classes, is no different from socialist egalitarianism.

  4. Matt "MWS" Says:

    Metro,

    Fine, but you’re not going to convince those who will elect our next government that the widening income gap is A-Ok, or that the lives of the poor can improve only if the lives of the rich improve exponentially more.

  5. Metro Says:

    #4: The entire history of America is based on my sentiment. People come here because they have a shot at wealth.

  6. Metro Says:

    Between federal and state income taxes my marginal tax rate is already over 50%. How much more do you want, you f’ing thief?

    I just hired a new $100K employee. He would’ve been hired last year if my tax rate were lower, and I’d already be hiring my next one.

  7. Metro Says:

    Or would you rather motivate me to retire and stop hiring altogether?

  8. Matt "MWS" Says:

    Metro,

    Look at it this way…..

    If radical SoCons could somehow demand that we nominate someone who would ban porn, contraception, and divorce, we’d get Obama nominating our next 2 Supreme Court Justices.

    If radical FiCons demand that Warren Buffet not pay a dime more in taxes, and that bankruptcy is preferable to compromise, Obama is going to be proposing the next 4 budgets.

  9. Metro Says:

    #8: If nobody is arguing for the American Dream, it will cease to exist.

  10. NoMoreModerates Says:

    The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits unexpectedly fell last week, underscoring a firming of the labor market.

    Initial claims for state unemployment benefits dropped 15,000 to a seasonally adjusted 358,000, the Labor Department said on Thursday.

    The four-week moving average for new claims, seen as a better measure of labor market trends, fell 11,000 to 366,250 – the lowest level since April 2008.

    Economists polled by Reuters had forecast new claims rising to 370,000.

  11. Booyeah Says:

    #8, there’s the problem again.

    We’re looking for someone who doesn’t care about social issues, and supports raising taxes. That person can win.

    That person is Barack Obama.

    Like it or not, his basic ideology as communicated in policy (not rhetoric) is where most Americans are. Their frustration with him is really just job market frustration. Growth there will fix all ills.

  12. Metro Says:

    All your arguments about to raising a mob to come to my house and steal my money at gunpoint.

    That’s what Christianity is about?

  13. Booyeah Says:

    Let us not forget, too, that 20% of the 60% that oppose the Affordable Care Act don’t like it because they think it isn’t liberal ENOUGH.

  14. Matt "MWS" Says:

    The top federal marginal rate is 35%.

    The highest marginal state rates I could find is 11%.

    46% is a high top marginal rate, for certain, but nobody pays anywhere near that in their effective tax rate.

  15. Matt "MWS" Says:

    Metro,

    LOL!

    So are all taxes a mob robbing you at gunpoint?

    Does the government not have the moral authority to collect any taxes?

    If so, at what magical inflection point does that legitimate authority become “the mob robbing me”?

  16. Massachusetts Conservative Says:

    The party is turning off cosmopolitans, Gen Y, and suburbanites because it’s angry. It’s really that simple.

    The anger leads to dogma. The anger leads to shouts of no compromise. The anger leads to birtherism. The anger leads to opposing things the party once supported, just because Obama is on the same side.

    It’s really anger that is clouding the rationality of the party. And non-political types who aren’t accustomed to this anger are taken aback by it.

    Now, we ought to be angry. But it ought not make us seem irrational and disagreeable.

    Again, another reason I support Romney as the nominee. Because he would restore the respectable reputation our party had with these groups of voters from long ago.

  17. Common Cents Says:

    Our tax rates are not the issue, and I really don’t believe that if the GOP caved and gave Obama his tax increases we’d suddenly become more popular with voters. Also, it’s a complete lie that we can tax our way out of these deficits.

    Even if Obama got what he wanted and we let the Bush tax rates expire on those that earn over $250k a year, you’re talking about reducing the deficit by 1%. This is all about symbolism and politics.

    On something like Simpson-Bowles, I think the GOP would agree to tax hikes in exchange for REAL entitlement reform, but it’s clear the Democrats would rather run on “pushing grandma over the cliff” than actually fixing the problem. We’ve also been “fooled” by this before, where the tax increases come but the spending cuts never materialize.

    The GOP’s problem with independent, younger voters is almost exclusively because of the “Santorum” wing of the Party. I always hated that caricature of the GOP being a the Party of Religious Right, televangelist, theocrats, but if Santorum is our nominee, that description will be on the money. That might be whey he lost Pennsylvania by nearly 20 points in his last election. Voters in his state were sick of his crusades.

  18. Massachusetts Conservative Says:

    The anger is what keeps our lawmakers from doing what they believe is right – even the Tea Party lawmakers.

    Many Republicans were willing to go along with Boehner’s compromise when Obama agreed to entitlement reform if we increased “revenues” by $300 billion over ten years.

    The Republicans then blew up over it because of the backlash fueled by the carnival barkers and angry frothers.

  19. Matt "MWS" Says:

    MassCon,

    I agree on the anger thing. And I hope Romney would be able to inject a little pragmatism into our fiscal policy. It’s one of the reasons I supported Huntsman.

    But right now, Romney is saying no increased tax revenue, and a bigger budget for the military.

  20. Booyeah Says:

    16, great point, but anger from what? I think it’s because the tenets of their perfect society, which are all too often overt, unquestioned religiosity, and acceptable levels of racial animus, are being destroyed. It’s not okay to be stupid. It’s not okay to reject evolution. It’s not okay to oppose interracial marriage (as some 35% of Republicans in the South actually DO).

    We have to face facts: we’re in a backward party. I’m done with it, regardless of the primary fight’s result. Only reason I stayed a Republican after 2008 was to vote for Romney in 2012.

    I’ve already done that here in Florida. I’m out.

  21. Matt "MWS" Says:

    Common,

    “Even if Obama got what he wanted and we let the Bush tax rates expire on those that earn over $250k a year, you’re talking about reducing the deficit by 1%. This is all about symbolism and politics.”

    Right. The tax cuts need to expire for everyone to have a meaningful impact. But it still begs the question, why would we sacrifice control over that budget for the sake of symbolism?

    We’ve got Warren Buffet out there telling people we’re morons when it comes to his tax rate. People who are struggling are going to believe Warren, not Metro.

  22. Metro Says:

    #14: You’re forgetting about 15.3% in self-employment taxes, 2.9% of which remain in effect over $100K. My state tax (CA) is over 10%. The state takes another 1.5% in corporate tax from my business income.

  23. johnnyG Says:

    I think a big part of the problem is the tax code is such that those who can hire really expensive accountants and lawyers pay far less money than those who can’t. People don’t have confidence that when they pay 35% of their income, everyone else who makes the same amount as them is also paying that much. How much would a simplified (flat?) tax solve the public’s dissatisfaction at what the rich pay compared to themselves?

  24. Matt "MWS" Says:

    MassCon,

    “Many Republicans were willing to go along with Boehner’s compromise when Obama agreed to entitlement reform if we increased “revenues” by $300 billion over ten years.
    The Republicans then blew up over it because of the backlash fueled by the carnival barkers and angry frothers.

    And Huntsman was the only candidate who supported that compromise, incidentally.

  25. Metro Says:

    We can debate about the threshold, but when it’s over 50% it’s theft.

    And you’re willing to laugh at that. What do you want, 75%?

  26. Boomer Says:

    10.

    Look for the number of new claims to be revised upward next week just as it is every single time it is released.

    The biggest hidden issue with the unemployment numbers is the number of people in the work force. We are now at a 30 year low for the raw number of people in the work force even as the number of people between 16 and 65, the range used for measuring the total number of people eligible to be in the work force has climbed.

    The biggest challenge we face that the vast majority of the public is ignorant of how the economy actually works. They don’t realize that the majority of people don’t pay any income tax and they are very susceptible to the typical Democrat class warfare argument, soak the rich, the very people who pay the overwhelming amount of taxes already and the people we need to create jobs to get the economy rolling.

    Matt-

    I posted a new study in a previous thread that lists the actual effective tax rates from 2011. You might find that one interesting.

    The bottom line is as I said in the previous thread raising taxes on the “rich” may be good politics but it is lousy policy. If you want to crush the weak recovery we are seeing right now, raise taxes on the “rich”.

  27. Massachusetts Conservative Says:

    19

    Romney is agreeable to the swing voters and suburbanites despite his election refusal to raise taxes. That’s the thing. He just comes off as reasonable and level-headed. Everyone knows he isn’t on some dogmatic mission to send Planned Parenthood secretaries in F35s to bomb Iran.

  28. Matt "MWS" Says:

    Metro,

    So bottom line, what is your effective tax rate?

  29. Metro Says:

    You’re confusing capital gains tax rates with income tax rates.

    Don’t punish small business owners like me who already have a marginal rate over 50% because you have a problem with a low capital gains tax rate for the uber wealthy.

  30. Massachusetts Conservative Says:

    24

    And Huntsman lost. That just proves my point on where the party is. It’s not on issues, it’s on ANGER.

    Anything you do to oppose Obama is good. No matter what benefit can come of it.

  31. Matt "MWS" Says:

    Boomer,

    I think a good argument could be made that deficits and debt are a bigger weight on our economy right now than tax rates. And we’re not going to solve those deficits without some meaningful compromise on tax rates.

  32. Metro Says:

    My marginal rate is a hair over 50.0, my effective tax rate is in the 30s.

  33. Matt "MWS" Says:

    Metro,

    “You’re confusing capital gains tax rates with income tax rates.”

    No. I’m talking about taxes, period. In whatever form. The sum total.

  34. Matt "MWS" Says:

    Metro,

    High 30s or low 30s? Does that figure include FICA and MICA?

  35. Metro Says:

    #33: So you don’t care that you may be advocating tax rates for some top 1% earners at 50%+ and others 15%?

    A real sense of justice you have, there.

    About the same as a common thief.

  36. Harold Says:

    “Is This the Hill We Want to Die On?”

    .

    Look, I’m getting tired of the willardbots using martial references to blood and death to make their point. Come on, let’s be civilized here. Like we here in Michigan will be civilized on February 28, when we kill Willard’s candidacy. ;-)

  37. Metro Says:

    Mid 30s and rising, and yes.

  38. Mary Says:

    Despite all this talk about how Republicans are turning off moderates with social conservatism, the truth is that we have no history of Republican presidential candidates losing elections by being too far to the right on cultural matters. The last Republican to lose because he was too ideologically conservative was Goldwater – and that was almost 50 years ago. And most of the social issues we debate today were not on the table during that election. He lost because he was an economic conservative and one who ran a terrible campaign.

    Most of the commenters here are social liberals and engage in wishful thinking when analyzing the current political scene. I respect social liberals, but what they really need to do in order to succeed is to either win over more Republicans to their viewpoint, or bring into the party new people who have their view. Constantly telling peoople not to mention social issues makes no sense. Social issues are already controversial – and people who pride themselves on “tolerance” should realize the absurdity of telling people they disagree with not to speak.

    Of course, socons DO have to watch what they say. There always IS the danger of alientating people, at least for one election.. But most people are not worried that Republicans are going to take away their internet porn or force them to marry by 21 and have 5 children. Or give up their rock music and listen to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

    No intention of being insulting here, but try to put things in perspective. I’m 50 and have followed politics for decades. The idea that young urban liberal people are going to rise up against old conservative fuddy-duddies goes back a long way – but it doesn’t happen. Young people are never as monolithic as we imagine. And they also have this habit of getting older and changing their priorities.

    Sorry for the length of this post. I just couldn’t take the constant insinuation that Rick Santorum is the George McGovern of 2012.

  39. Massachusetts Conservative Says:

    Let me clarify something:

    Regular folks don’t fear the Republican Party because they won’t raise taxes, they fear the Republican Party because they sense opposing all tax increases is a means of hurting Obama out of anger in spite rather than on policy merit.

  40. Common Cents Says:

    22.

    I have to respectfully disagree, I really think the entire “Warren Buffett” attack is silly, and clearly isn’t working. It’s just dumb for all Americans to have their taxes increased just because an elderly billionaire who’s in philanthropy mode decides to be a shill for Obama. He’s also hypocrite, no single American benefited more from the TARP bailouts than Warren Buffett (no wonder he’s for big government) and his firm is also involved in a very high profile lawsuit with the IRS for NOT paying his fair share of taxes.

    If you increase taxes on the “rich” what you’re really doing is raising taxes on small businesses that are the real job creator in America. As a small business owner, I’m not going to go on a hiring spree if my taxes are doubled.
    Also, why should retirees who AREN’T rich have their capital gains taxes increased? They live off those investments and have already paid taxes once when they earned it.

    I really think the GOP should introduce something like a “billionaires tax” to just shut up these ultra-wealthy people like Warren Buffett and George Soros. Make it ridiculously punitive, like an Alternative Minimum Tax with something like the pre-Reagan rates of 70%. It would only effect maybe a 100 high profile people, but I think it would score some populist points and shut up the Warren Buffets of the world.

  41. Harold Says:

    Oh, and it’s the spending, kids.

    Check the data, and you’ll understand that the electorate understands that spending is the problem in this country. It’s what filled those statehouses throughout the Midwest in November 2010… with fiscal conservatives. It’s too bad Willard is too dumb to campaign on that, but he’s pretty dumb as we know.

    If you want to die on a hill, try to make it the spending hill, because the electorate will at least give you a fighting chance there.

    Yes, there may be room to maneuver on the revenue side, but it’s in spending that we get the great mass of the country, and especially those evil teabaggers you willardbots hate so much, to swing over to fiscally conservative candidates.

  42. Not Your Promiscuous Daddy Says:

    Keep up the good fight Matt. My heart goes out to you. You are telling the much needed truth here and are getting mobbed for it. I am seriously considering caucusing for Paul in my state on Super Tuesday if Romney doesn’t win both MI and AZ. Why? Becuase with Paul we at least get some sanity on spending, with the others we don’t get sanity on spending or taxes. Romney drives me crazy with his very strong statements about increasing defense spending and cutting taxes. This is insanity.

  43. Boomer Says:

    http://blog.american.com/2012/02/more-evidence-the-buffett-rule-is-a-sham/

    Just some economic facts instead of spin.

    >>Romney drives me crazy with his very strong statements about increasing defense spending and cutting taxes. This is insanity.

    Funny, this is exactly the plan Reagan used and conservatives seem to think he was a pretty good guy.

  44. Harold Says:

    And yeah, Willard talking about jacking up defense spending and doubling the number of ships rolled out each year is simply delusional. Nobody who’s a fiscal conservative talks like that… not in this environment. It’s only profligate spending pander bears, like Willard. And that was his record in Taxachusetts, fyi. he’s a profligate spending progressive.

  45. Matt "MWS" Says:

    Metro,

    “Mid 30s and rising, and yes.”

    I’d say that’s approaching the limits of a just tax, bearing in mind that we are in extraordinary circumstances. So perhaps you aren’t personally the type of wealthy we are talking about.

    But this post isn’t about you, personally, but the principle that compromise and tax increases on some will be necessary to solve our budget problems, and we as a party look insane to Indies when we insist otherwise.

  46. Matt "MWS" Says:

    Nacho,

    Thanks. I appreciate that.

  47. Massachusetts Conservative Says:

    44

    You don’t have the slightest clue what you’re talking about. He’s not talking about jacking up defense spending, he’s talking about making the DoD more efficient and using the savings to pay for ships and aircraft.

    And don’t forget that spending on war is going to zero once we’re out of Afghanistan.

  48. Matt "MWS" Says:

    Mary

    #38

    Well said.

  49. XorGate Says:

    One term that we would do well to adopt from the left is the idea of sustainability. I know that they use it in the environmental sense, but we really need to commandeer it and apply it to the economy.

    Raising taxes is not sustainable, but neither is cutting taxes and increasing spending (as Bush did). Our current level of military involvement is not sustainable. If we want a more active military, we will have to raise taxes. That’s simply a truth. Our current level of entitlements is unsustainable. We cannot give people more while they put in less. If we want current entitlements, we need to raise taxes. The current interest rates set by the Fed are unsustainable. They will only lead to more and more bubbles, each getting worse and worse.

    People understand the idea of sustainability. We need to pound this into their skulls. We need to sell the idea of long term fixes and sustainable growth. We cannot be the party of anger, radicalism, and get-this-guy-out-and-the-economy-will-be-instantly-better. We cannot adopt the leftist idea that we can provide instant fixes like “tax the rich”.

    At the same time, we need to remember that when you hit hard times, you don’t just cut expenses, you get a second job as well.

  50. Matt "MWS" Says:

    MassCon,

    I believe Mitt has called for another $100 bil a year for defense.

  51. Teemu Says:

    http://www.taxfoundation.org/blog/show/27134.html
    United States tax system is already the most progressive in the industrialized world. United States is getting out of it’s rich more than any other country. Other countries have higher level of redistribution, but they are less progressive in their taxation, they rely more on middle class taxation when it comes to redistribution. You never hear of these stories of bus drivers making $150k a year or other typical crazy public sector union abuse stories from countries like Germany, Netherlands, Austria, Switzerland or northern European countries.

    High progressiveness is partially responsible for these excesses, the public employee unions feel more free to rip off the system, and more people allow them to get away with it, because “Hey, they are just ripping off the rich people” kind of thinking. Making United States tax system more progressive isn’t solution, since it encourages waste and abuse.

  52. Metro Says:

    #45: Perhaps you should know the facts before you raise a lynch mob.

    Many small business owners have marginal tax rates around 50% with effective tax rates in the 30s-40s.

    Most billionaires pay around 15% in capital gains taxes.

  53. Matt "MWS" Says:

    Xor,

    #49. Excellent point. I love it.

    Truly, what is at the heart of conservatism if not “sustainability”? And that is a concept that people readily grasp, and it takes some of the sting off of unsavory choices.

    “You know, I’d love to give you all these benefits at these tax rates, but it’s not sustainable.”

  54. Matt "MWS" Says:

    Metro,

    “Perhaps you should know the facts before you raise a lynch mob.”

    Ummmm… Let me reiterate that this post was not all about you.

  55. Massachusetts Conservative Says:

    50

    Link?

  56. Boomer Says:

    Matt-

    Here’s what I think you’re analysis is missing. I think you are assuming that increasing taxes on the rich, which is about the worst thing you can do in a recession but leave that aside for the moment, would result in all that money being used to pay down our debt. It won’t and here’s why:

    One in five Americans—the highest in the nation’s history—relies on the federal government for everything from housing, health care, and food stamps to college tuition and retirement assistance. That’s more than 67.3 million Americans who receive subsidies from Washington.

    Government dependency jumped 8.1 percent in the past year, with the most assistance going toward housing, health and welfare, and retirement.

    The federal government spent more taxpayer dollars than ever before in 2011 to subsidize Americans. The average individual who relies on Washington could receive benefits valued at $32,748, more than the nation’s average disposable personal income ($32,446).
    At the same time, nearly half of the U.S. population (49.5 percent) does not pay any federal income taxes.
    In the next 25 years, more than 77 million baby boomers will retire. They will begin collecting checks from Social Security, drawing benefits from Medicare, and relying on Medicaid for long-term care.

    As of now, 70 percent of the federal government’s budget goes to individual assistance programs, up dramatically in just the past few years. However, research shows that private, community, and charitable aid helps individuals rise from their difficulties with better success than federal government handouts. Plus, local and private aid is often more effectively distributed.

    http://blog.heritage.org/2012/02/08/dependence-on-government-at-all-time-high/

    We are rapidly moving from a free enterprise system to a European style socialist democracy. Government dependence is increasing at an alarming rate and the governments roll is morphing under Obama into a re-distributor of wealth from the makers to the takers. This is unsustainable and a quick look across the Atlantic demonstrates that clearly.

    There is another report out today that says that taxpayers paid $1.6 billion last year for cell phones for the poor. This is where we are headed with this constant desire to take from those who produce wealth and give it to those who leech off the system.

    If the Republican Party does not stand for free enterprise and a return to the structure that built this country then we have already lost and all we are doing is aiding the Democrats in destroying this country. I understand that it is easier to pander to voters and promise them free goodies that someone else will pay for but it is economic suicide. Yes, this is emphatically the hill to die on.

  57. XorGate Says:

    53. Exactly. :)

    And then people will understand that it is a choice between higher taxes and real growth. When faced with that choice, they’ll most likely choose our path. It may hurt at first, but we’ll be stronger because of it.

  58. NoMoreModerates Says:

    I watched Romney’s stump speech in GA from yesterday and he said he wants to build more ships and add 100k troops, but he made no mention of how to pay for it. Given Penetta is already carving out some $500 billion in defense cuts it is impossible for Romney to claim he can fund his military expansion by savings or cuts.

    At the same time, the only “independent” analysis of his tax plan concluded the plan would increase the deficit and debt.

    These are the types of issues I personally wish all the candidates would address. Voters are not fools. We listen to proposals and automatically begin adding them up in our heads. We deserve to hear how proposals will be paid for and how they will impact the federal budget.

  59. Matt "MWS" Says:

    We can’t raise meaningful amounts of revenue without broadening the tax base, and that means raising taxes on the middle class. And you can’t justify raising rates on those whose incomes rose 40% in 30 years, if you refuse to touch the tax rates of those whose incomes rose 275% in 30 years.

  60. Matt "MWS" Says:

    MassCon,

    It may have been $100 bil over 10 years. But he isn’t calling for increases. Not sure the current tally.

    http://www.businessweek.com/news/2011-10-08/romney-pledges-to-increase-u-s-military-spending-deter-iran.html

  61. Matt "MWS" Says:

    Boomer,

    “As of now, 70 percent of the federal government’s budget goes to individual assistance programs, up dramatically in just the past few years. However, research shows that private, community, and charitable aid helps individuals rise from their difficulties with better success than federal government handouts. Plus, local and private aid is often more effectively distributed.”

    You are conflating Social Security and Medicare with welfare. They aren’t quite the same.

    But I agree that the government has to trim benefits, in some cases dramatically. We don’t get close a trillion dollar deficit without shared sacrifice.

    But if we insist that burden of balancing the budgets be born entirely by the poor and elderly, while exempting the rich (because they are too precious) we are going to lose this election, badly.

  62. Ryan60657 Says:

    3. “Stealing from the rich in order to make the growth of wealth even across classes, is no different from socialist egalitarianism.”

    When the wealthy received disproportionate benefits from the Bush tax cuts, what would you call that? Maybe Newt would call that “right wing social engineering”?

  63. Matt "MWS" Says:

    #60 should read that Romney IS calling for defense spending increases.

  64. Ryan60657 Says:

    I do not believe that Mitt Romney is a fiscal conservative (see: additional $100B in defense spending; Billions more tax dollars to build a wall across the desert and defend it, etc.) or will materially shrink the size of the federal government.

    However, he is the “tallest midget”/”best house in the ghetto”/etc. when it comes to fiscal conservatism:
    Romney: Big Government
    Obama: Bigger Government
    Santorum: Huge Government
    Gingrich: Enormous Government

  65. Boomer Says:

    61.

    Matt-

    >>You are conflating Social Security and Medicare with welfare. They aren’t quite the same.

    No, actually I’m not. That quote is from the Heritage Foundation. Those are their words and what they are talking about is all forms of income transfers. Social Security and Medicare have been upside down for years with people taking far more out of them than they paid in.

    Everyone understands the class warfare battle Obama has launched. Frankly, its his only chance and it presents a thorny problem for any Republican, speaking the truth as opposed to pandering to voters. But thats the battle we always face.

    All the Republican candidates have proposed some form of broadening the tax base, lowering rates and getting rid of some of the gimmicks and loopholes. But just adopting the pitch from the left of Eat the Rich would not only depress our own base but it is economically unsound and unserious. If you took all the wealth of the top 5% of this country not just raised their taxes it would put a dent in our debt. We need to stop spending money we don’t have. Full stop.

  66. Harold Says:

    He’s not talking about jacking up defense spending, he’s talking about making the DoD more efficient and using the savings to pay for ships and aircraft.

    And don’t forget that spending on war is going to zero once we’re out of Afghanistan.

    .

    Oh, so now you willardbots are grasping for the ol’ saw about “waste, fraud and abuse”, eh?

    And after all that “waste, fraud and abuse” is gone, we double the number of ships rolling off the slips, like Willard’s blathering?

    Sorry, but this is just delusion.

    Willard was a profligate spender in Taxachusetts, and he’s blathering and pandering that same rot now. He is NOT a fiscal conservative, and he isn’t even making noises about it now, because he’s flipping we conservatives off, right here in the primary. He’s not even waiting for a general election to do it.

    We’re out of Afghanistan with or without Willard, bud. We don’t need to elect a Taxachusetts progressive to do that, we already have a South Side Chicago progressive to do it.

  67. Massachusetts Conservative Says:

    MWS,

    If we wanted to close the wealth gap, we’d do it through:

    1. Education – it worked here in Mass. Best schools, 2nd highest median incomes.
    2. Manufacturing – These jobs take skill, but not a degree. This is the sort of job that allows less-educated people to make more money.

  68. Harold Says:

    …and the South Side Chicago progressive sings better, too. ;-)

  69. Massachusetts Conservative Says:

    66

    You’re one to talk. Noot has been talking about preserving Medicare bennies by pursuing “waste, fraud, and abuse” for decades, without touching any bennies, even for 20 year olds.

  70. Metro Says:

    #54: When it comes to those earning $250K+, 95% of them are in my situation, not Warren Buffet’s situation.

    I am a stand-in for all small business owners.

    And you’d better realize we take it personally when you are arguing to take more of our families’ incomes.

  71. Harold Says:

    You still campaigning against Gingrich, willardbot? That’s so last Tuesday, dude.

    You better keep your head up. The Anybody But Willard monster comes in many forms. It’s like Terminator. It’s Gingrich today and it’s God knows who tomorrow. I’m expecting Willard’s dog to morph into it at some point (if it ever comes down from the roof of his car). ;-)

  72. Viking Says:

    MassCon–the GOP is perceived as angry because liberals control the media. There’s much more hate in the Democratic party from occupy to the culture wars with planned parents and against the Catholic Church. The reason why conservatism is always on the defense is the liberals control the narrative. It’s the conservatives fault for letting the liberals control the media and hollywood.

  73. Viking Says:

    #70–politics is a marketplace. Right now, many creative class, upper middle and above are voting their liberal values rather than their pocketbooks. If people would rather vote their values, why should the GOP defend the rich when they can still be center-right and get an even greater portion of middle class Whites, union households and Hispanics. If you want those low rates, then those people need to vote GOP. Otherwise shut up.

  74. Massachusetts Conservative Says:

    71

    I’m saying you’re a hypocrite for criticizing Romney on waste fraud and abuse. Your own candidate is guilty of far worse.

  75. Matt "MWS" Says:

    Boomer,

    You can’t get to 70% of the federal budget without Social Security and Medicare.

    Those two combine for over 50% of the FY2012 budget.

  76. Harold Says:

    I don’t have a “candidate” in this race, willardbot.

    You’re a delusional willardbot.

    And Willard is a delusional progressive, pandering to stupid people with fiscal profligacy, just as he demonstrated in Taxachusetts.

  77. Matt "MWS" Says:

    Metro,

    It’s hard to argue with made up stats.

  78. Matt "MWS" Says:

    Harold,

    I think you’d be more effective if you didn’t waste so many words trying to put people down.

  79. Boomer Says:

    75.

    Matt-

    >>You can’t get to 70% of the federal budget without Social Security and Medicare.
    Those two combine for over 50% of the FY2012 budget.

    Thats my point. As I said, even if you took all of the wealth of the top 5% in this country you wouldn’t even put a dent in the deficit. The only way is to cut spending and that includes on entitlements. Entitlement reform is the politically correct term but the fact is the only way to get these programs under control is through cuts. Thats the hard truth and people need to understand this.

  80. Metro Says:

    #77: What made up stats? These stats are very widely available.

    But apparently you’d rather raise a lynch mob before familiarizing yourself with any facts.

  81. David S. Says:

    Someone once said it to me like this: “You want to cut the deficit? Really tagibly cut the deficit? You have four ways that can be done: Increase tax revenue by 25%, Cut defense spending by 25%, cut total Social Security benefits by 25% or Cut Medicare benefits by 25%. You need to go through with at least two of those four options to see real reduction, so it boils down to: Which two are you proposing?”

    I don’t actually agree that it’s that simple, but I do agree with the gist of what he is saying. Those four buckets are the key to balancing the budget. If something is going to be done about the deficit, then serious cuts are going to have to be made in some or all of those areas. The fewer buckets we are willing to touch, the more that has come out of each of the remaining buckets.

    And personally, I say we dip into all the buckets. Cut Entitlement spending. Cut defense: The wars of the future aren’t going to be fought with tanks, and ships anyway. Cut social security benefits for new retires and scale the cuts so that they are deeper for people retiring in 20 years and not so deep for those retiring in 2. And yes we’re going to have to raise taxes, but let’s set a limit now. $10 of spending cuts for every $1 of tax increases. That way we don’t let dems and moderates play class warfare with the deficit.

    Bottom line is we have to pick some buckets and “none of the above” or “one of the above” is not a good enough answer.

  82. Matt "MWS" Says:

    Metro,

    “What made up stats?”

    That 95% of people who earn over 250k are just like you.

    Now, why don’t you make the case to John Q Voter that the budget should be balanced completely on the backs of the poor and elderly, and that the wealthy are too precious to touch. Go ahead, let me hear you make that convincing argument.

  83. John Mark Says:

    Great article Matt. Metro I could be convinced that certain taxes shouldn’t go up, if it was demonstrated that the tax cuts were basing their ideas on pragmatic real world economic situations; however, when all but five congressmen and every single presidential candidate has signed an unconditional pledge to never ever raise taxes, it make me quite skeptical that their basing their ideas on such thinking. I could accept low taxes as an post-priori assumption, but the GOP has made it a a-priori assumption. I think it’s despicable to think man was made for ideology rather than ideology for man, but the Grover Norquist Republican Party is even worse than saying man was made for ideology: they’ve essentially decided man was made for policy.

  84. Metro Says:

    Also, I would think that you would take my position to heart if you had any concern about social mobility.

    Those of us who were not born wealthy have to work hard to climb the latter, via income, not capital gains, because we don’t have large sums of capital to invest passively. But income is taxed at a very high rate, for the self-employed, when you combine all the federal and state taxes.

    Yet those who are born wealthy invest their wealth passively, live a life of leisure, and pay only 15% on their “income.”

    I would think you would have a problem with that.

    This is not to imply I favor raising the capital gains taxes, which has other economic consequences.

  85. Liz Says:

    Can’t pay taxes when you don’t have a job. So none of this interests me right now.

  86. Matt "MWS" Says:

    Boomer,

    Okay, we must have been arguing around each other. I agree that we have to cut entitlements. My earlier point was that you were including Social Security and Medicare in a pool of government spending (70%) that amounts to “hand outs” from the government that is best left to private charities.

  87. Metro Says:

    #82, see #84. A point which I have been making throughout the thread.

    Why are you after raising income taxes instead of capital gains taxes?

    As far as what the income percentiles are, who is paying income vs cap gains tax and at what rates, a little Googling will show you all you need.

  88. Matt "MWS" Says:

    David S

    #81

    I whole-heartedly agree.

  89. John Mark Says:

    87, The party is just as opposed to capital gains taxes as it is to income. Are you saying you wouldn’t have a problem if we proposed raising capital gains?

  90. Metro Says:

    And a P.S. to #84: Tax loopholes are also something those who started with little and who are climbing their way to the top, via income rather than capital gains, are generally unable to take much advantage of. Those are for people with accumulated wealth.

  91. Metro Says:

    #89: Apparently you missed #84. I am asking why MWS is not talking about raising the capital gains tax rather than the income tax, particularly in light of social mobility.

  92. Metro Says:

    There is no reason to be for ANY tax increase when government is so enormous. Cutting government is the issue.

    This nation was built on zero to little income taxes.

  93. Matt "MWS" Says:

    Metro,

    I would think a climber like yourself would be appreciative of some of the things that made social mobility possible, and more prevalent.

    Public schools and universities. Public libraries. A safety net that means an entrepeneur can risk capital without the fear of starving to death or winding up in debtors’ prison. Student loans. Government subsized small business loans.

    And to top it off….

    A progressive tax structure that pays for all of that, ensuring people on the lower rungs don’t get snuffed out by taxes trying to reach the next rung.

    In your 19th century Robber Baron utopia, there was far less mobility.

  94. Matt "MWS" Says:

    Metro,

    I never limited my post to income tax. I was speaking of taxes, in general.

  95. Matt "MWS" Says:

    Metro,

    “This nation was built on zero to little income taxes.”

    If we’re talking 18th and 19th century America, you’re right. The federal government was largely funded by high protective tariffs.

    Is that what you’re proposing?

  96. Metro Says:

    #93: Why are you not responding to my repeated question? In #93 you argue for progressive taxes, but by not distinguishing between income and capital gains taxes, you are implicitly for REgressive taxes. I am making the exact same point Warren Buffett is with respect to him vs. his secretary. Yet you don’t want to agree with that for some reason?

  97. Metro Says:

    So, government is at an all time high, and you want to raise taxes. And the cycle repeats, like the frog in a boiling pot.

    Talk about head in the sand.

    Nothing is going to save us ultimately but cutting government, Ron Paul style.

  98. Ryan60657 Says:

    I would like to say for the record that this is a very interesting discussion on this thread. Thank goodness we are not required to abide by the 4 posts max limitation.

  99. saladdin Says:

    “This nation was built on zero to little income taxes.” Sure in the 18th century when an ocean would protect us from enemies. When we didn’t have a standing army or bases around the world. Or reliance on an international market whose forces we don’t wholly control. Also, no police force or any type of central government.

    This kind of thinking is discouraging. I was born in the latter half of the 20th Century. Conflating ideas about America in the 18th century and trying to apply it to 21st Century America is strange, to say the least.

  100. Metro Says:

    #99: Strange to think Republicans don’t think I am paying enough taxes at a 50% marginal tax rate.

    What the hell is the use of this party?

  101. Matt "MWS" Says:

    Metro,

    Sure, I’d agree to a progressive capital gains tax. Didn’t mean to get hung up on that.

  102. Matt "MWS" Says:

    Ryan,

    “Thank goodness we are not required to abide by the 4 posts max limitation.”

    I think that’s only enforced on the annoying and degenerates. ;-)

  103. Harold Says:

    MWS – I think you’d be more effective if you didn’t waste so many words trying to put people down.

    .

    Well, arguably yes, and I wouldn’t go that route ordinarily, but you gotta remember that this place is a fever swamp of deluded willardbots. And the willardbots pretty much let it be known that I’d be run out of here, when I showed up in here a week or 2 ago. So it’s kind of a fun challenge, now.

    I’m not sure I’m much worried about being “effective” with this bunch. I’m more of a data driven guy, and I’m satisfied with jamming the data into the faces of the deluded. It’s really the best thing you can do for such types. Not persuasive, mind you, but I highly doubt the fever swampers are much to be persuaded.

    You all here have just evolved into a willardbot fever swamp, for some reason. That’s just asymmetrical, ya’ know?

  104. John Mark Says:

    “Strange to think Republicans don’t think I am paying enough taxes at a 50% marginal tax rate.
    What the hell is the use of this party?”

    Seriously Metro?! 99% of elected Republicans have signed the Grover Norquist, every singe presidential candidate has signed the pledge. And yet you’re going to define the party based on what a couple of un-elected bloggers say who are opposed to overall direction of the party? It would be great if MWS and me represented the GOP but we don’t, the party’s a lot closer to your viewpoint on taxes.

  105. MarqueG Says:

    Read the post and only skimmed some of the comments so far, so I’m ready to pontificate!

    Seems to me the basic overlooked question in arguing for higher taxes is whether individuals or a centralized bureaucracy are better at being thrifty and responsible with the money. The answer seems obvious to me.

    As to the point that we’re in over our heads in terms of irresponsible federal spending: How does giving the federal spenders who’ve broken the bank more money to spend make any sense?

    We should demand instead that the elected folks cut spending substantially, and stop doling out other people’s money in order to buy permanent voter loyalty. I recognize that the last sentence is controversial around these parts and will be deemed angry, irrational, and uncompromising. So be it.

  106. Matt "MWS" Says:

    Marque,

    I understand Washington is full of boobs and nincumpoops. I understand that the free market more efficiently allocated resources. But I also understand that we face fiscal calamity from our deficits, and that problem won’t be solved solely by sticking it to the poor and elderly.

    So the question is, would you rather the government go bankrupt and our financial system collapse (that’ll show those shiftless bureaucrats!), or have a modest tax increase coupled with large spending cuts?

  107. Matt "MWS" Says:

    Marque,

    BTW, your opening line made me smile, really big.

  108. MarqueG Says:

    Public schools and universities. Public libraries.

    Back in the fun days of the 1800s, folks paid for their own kids’ teachers directly. In the original European universities, students would pay the lecturers a few shillings out of pocket after the lecture. Many public libraries were funded by wealthy benefactors initially, some of whom asked for future public support of the community while others left endowments.

    A safety net that means an entrepeneur can risk capital without the fear of starving to death or winding up in debtors’ prison. Student loans. Government subsized small business loans.

    I can hardly tell you how many folks I know who earn quite well but don’t bother to save a dime. They live entirely hand-to-mouth, never socking money away to pay for big ticket items in full, to keep an emergency fund, or to plan for retirement.

    Most of these folks assume that there’ll be some government program or litigated payoff if they get in a financial tight spot. The safety net has become an inviting hammock, where some Forgotten Man is made to pay for your livin’ large and financial imprudence. This is the moral hazard of our welfare state and entitlement culture. It’s the stuff that’s driving us to ruin. But arguing that any of it should be cut back is akin to murdering firefighters, cops, teachers, and your favorite grandma.

  109. Real Conservative (Just Win Baby!) Says:

    66.

    Bingo, Harold 8)

  110. Real Conservative (Just Win Baby!) Says:

    108.

    Trampoline! > Safety Net for the “poor”

    (But that takes CARING intelligent political solutions.)

  111. MarqueG Says:

    we face fiscal calamity from our deficits, and that problem won’t be solved solely by sticking it to the poor and elderly

    The problem as I see it is that we’ve spent seven decades operating under the Blue Model assumption that it’s okay to live for today because someone else anonymous will be there to keep you afloat at some future date when you’re poor and/or elderly. The problem is that the so-called safety net is no longer viewed as the assistance of last resort. Instead, it’s there for you as your first choice.

    So the question is, would you rather the government go bankrupt and our financial system collapse (that’ll show those shiftless bureaucrats!), or have a modest tax increase coupled with large spending cuts?

    The problem is that, by the game that the Dems are playing (and the media are covering for), the supposed compromise amounts to a set of goal posts on wheels. You’ll be denounced for insufficient desire to compromise so long as there is anyone left who could be deemed rich, and modest reductions in the rate of spending growth rates will be deemed to be radical cuts. The problem is getting the truth out.

  112. Real Conservative (Just Win Baby!) Says:

    103.

    Harold,

    Don’t give up on Matt “MWS” just yet. He’s seen the dark side of the Rombot empire and is likely furiously writing checks to Santorum.

    Matt,

    OT but you will be happy to know that Huck is launching a daily three hour radio show to go head to head versus your hero, Limbaugh. See the NYT story from yesterday — something about a $50 million deal. But I doubt Huck will be using Metro’s tax accountant. More likely, Huck will use Willard’s tax avoidance strategy of Cayman Islands, Swiss secrets, and family gifting.

    ALL legal by the way ;)

  113. Franklin Says:

    The reason for the lower capital gains is the need to create capital. Without capital there cannot be jobs. You don’t get a job from a poor person. Without capital gains there would be no Apples or Microsofts. When the government spends more money that means they take more capital out of the market either through taxes or taxes and debt.

    The lower capital gains rate encourages investors to invest in riskier behavior. If you work for a company and get a salary or a hourly wage then your money is safe unless the company goes broke. When you buy a stock or invest in a company there are no guarantees. You could win big or lose everytrhing. Look at what happened to MF Global. That could happen to anyone who invests their money. They could lose everything. Mark Zuckerberg will make a lot of money from the Facebook IPO but if the company had not been successful, he would have had a bunch of worthless stock.

  114. Real Conservative (Just Win Baby!) Says:

    100.

    To reign in flaming social libs like you, with all due respect.

    We use you Club for Greed types for your votes. Where else are you gonna go?

  115. Real Conservative (Just Win Baby!) Says:

    113.

    Ummm… MF was a Ponzi scheme.

    But I get your point. Extremely LOW CG rates rule!!! :)

    That reminds me of Willard Einstein’s advice to Americans suffering: “Buy more stocks!”

  116. Matt "MWS" Says:

    Craig,

    Good to hear about Huck. I’d rather listen to him than Blowhard.

  117. Matt "MWS" Says:

    Marque,

    I agree that most people are naturally lazy and live for today. But politicians erecting and protecting the welfare state aren’t the only ones who profit from consumers’ insatiable desire for instant gratification. Our Holy and Just Capitalists have exploited this tendency to the nines.

    Indeed, true capitalists broke ranks with traditional conservatives as soon as the commies were no longer a serious threat to their property, and they discovered how much money can be made off of sex and sloth.

    So I wouldn’t pin all of societal decay and moral rot on the welfare state. It’s part original sin, part welfare, and part a culture and economy that thrives on the exploitation of vice.

  118. Matt "MWS" Says:

    Franklin,

    There’s a good argument against every kind of tax, and yet, we’ve got to come up with some money somehow.

  119. David S. Says:

    Well Matt you have your answer: This IS the hill many of us want to die on.

  120. Vin Says:

    Absolutely brilliant and spot on, MWS. DaveG’s description fits me well, and you peg me well for why I’m weary of the GOP but not really on board with the Democrats.

  121. XorGate Says:

    A far better solution than trying to muck with the current federal tax system is to get rid of it. The Federal government only needs enough revenues to maintain defense and a few other functions. The rest of the actions can be passed on to the states.

    States are the engines of democracy. The reason states work so well is because it really is self government. Do you honestly think that the Federal government cares about or understands the people of Canton, Ohio? What about Highland, Utah? What about Queen Creek, Arizona? Obviously not. This is why central governments of large nations are inherently inefficient. It’s impossible for them to account for many situations, so they craft one-size-fits-all programs. These programs are inherently costly, inefficient, and bureaucratic. For example, what can the Dept. of Education do for the educational quality of a school district that that school board can’t do better and more efficiently.

    Each state, if they so choose, should be able to fund its own welfare programs. Eliminate most streams of federal revenue. State taxes would go up. Federal taxes would go down. You’d have a net decrease in taxes, and you’d end up with more efficient programs that cater to people in more direct ways.

  122. MPC Says:

    100% agree with the content of this post.

    Look, I support Ron Paul. He takes the future of the country and our love to enjoy things we don’t pay for seriously, unlike other Republicans. He like I prefers a small government that fulfills basic roles and leaves the rest to society and communities, and consequently is one that requires less taxes. Other Republicans prefer a massive government that does a lot of things, and don’t want to pay a dime in taxes. Each year they scream about how we need to cut taxes, and they don’t want to go for their own sacred cow – foreign wars and entitlements. Republicans don’t touch either of these.

    Rick Santorum pontificates for lower taxes while having supported a lot of things that should have justified higher taxes as a sacrifice for them – the wars in the Middle East, and a Medicare expansion.

    And on Romney, I sense that while Romney would likely close the deficits, he likes bigger government than I prefer and would definitely raise taxes. I don’t see him wanting to cut much government, so he either wants deficits or more taxes. I’d support him in so doing as it’s better than the alternative, which is eventual default or inflation, but I don’t really want the government to be a behemoth.

    Further, MWS is right about the inequality spread as well. Like it or not, inequality spreads like those we have here are the hallmark of third world countries. Look up the data if you don’t believe me. No doubt America can prosper for a time like this, but eventually it’s going to eat away at our society, and it’s going to bring us down, no doubt about it. I’m not a libertarian or Ayn Randian. I don’t think we should just let the wealthy who clearly have outsized influence in government via their bucks run the place to their liking, and that’s honestly what a lot of people perceive the Republican Party as being about. Not about small government and personal responsibility. You just can’t argue with facts like Warren Buffett pays a lower tax rate than his secretary, when Buffett clearly benefits from the government’s provision of the general welfare more than his secretary.

    America needs to rebuild financial and social capital in the middle and lower classes before we head any further down the third-world road, or all of us are better of getting out and going back to Europe in the long run as this country will become a kleptocracy and historians in some future civilization will read about our documented decline of America and wonder how they could have achieved so much and then collapsed, just like Rome before them. I hate handouts and how they destroy responsibility and dignity. There’s no reason we can’t at least have these people staffing community centers and soup kitchens and doing public service. But everyone has to pay for the government they use. And rich people get a whole lot more out of the government than anyone else. Post-Christian America is an outrageously selfish America and this relentless pursuit of “me, me, me” will doom us to third-world status. Democracy and rampant individualism have given us a people that inevitably only want to live it large now and leave ruins behind for their impoverished descendents.

  123. MPC Says:

    Plato and Aristotle chronicled well the faults of unbridled democracy where the people answer to neither king nor lord nor God nor even the most basic of moral principles, and we are living them today

  124. MPC Says:

    What David S said as to our debts is correct, and mutual sacrifice has to be the principle of all cutbacks.

    And personally, I say we dip into all the buckets.

    Cutting largely lower and middle class programs and not raising taxes on the wealthy violates that principle.

  125. Vin Says:

    Further, MWS is right about the inequality spread as well. Like it or not, inequality spreads like those we have here are the hallmark of third world countries. Look up the data if you don’t believe me. No doubt America can prosper for a time like this, but eventually it’s going to eat away at our society, and it’s going to bring us down, no doubt about it.

    Agreed completely. Among the economic arguments that I find most convincing is the one that a thriving middle class is the best indicator of a healthy economy.

  126. Real Conservative (Just Win Baby!) Says:

    Oh and Matty, my fellow Huckanutter..

    If you’re going to write up quality FPP’s like your last two, I expect to see one a day!

    :)

  127. Real Conservative (Just Win Baby!) Says:

    Vinny,

    There is no “middle class”. That’s just moderate/liberal crazy-speak by pathetic desperate politicians playing the class warfare card.

  128. WA_Independent Says:

    Lots of discussion here about the policy implications of raising/not raising taxes on the wealthy, when Matt’s original post was more about how this played electorally.

    And clearly you can see that Romney, who is being advised by the best consultants and campaign strategists the GOP has to offer, does not view cutting taxes for the wealthy as a political winner. That’s why his tax plan is much less bold than those of his opponents. He’s running on the standard GOP boilerplate policy of extending the Bush tax cuts, and even adds to that the (entirely politically motivated, IMO) pander of zero capital gains only for the middle class.

    If Romney got into office with an all-GOP House and Senate, I suspect he would pursue pretty radical tax reform. But he doesn’t want to run on that issue, because there’s little upside to it.

  129. Vin Says:

    There is no “middle class”. That’s just moderate/liberal crazy-speak by pathetic desperate politicians playing the class warfare card.

    You know what, you’re probably right. And I bet that Warren Buffet’s wealth isn’t any greater than my own. It’s just a “fact” invented by the liberal media.

    Speaking of “crazy-speak”… o_O

  130. Real Conservative (Just Win Baby!) Says:

    129.

    Vinny,

    What state are you in?

  131. Real Conservative (Just Win Baby!) Says:

    Hey Vin,

    Tell me what you make
    a year and I’ll tell you what you are. And it has nothing to do with liberal class warfare 8)

  132. Pablo Says:

    Matt,

    You analysis was so spot on that I am taking the time to comment on it. Excellent!

    I kind of see you and Dave’s point of view. We don’t have to be less pro-life. We can, however, stop pursuing a Southern Strategy (read Newt’s Food Stamp crusade) and we can offer economic policies that respond to the real world.

  133. MPC Says:

    One of the most important ways we can restore an honest living is by breaking down the inequality between labor and capital that globalization has brought about. Some mechanism for currency stability, whether it’s just raising tariffs in response to high trade deficits or actually returning to a gold standard as an automatic stabilizer, has to exist to penalize the type of consumption-driven economy that now exists, that gradually impoverishes the consumers, and enriches the comparatively few owners of capital.

    Given that we can’t all own factories in China, we have to place tariffs on their products to make up for the lost value in producing goods here with American labor. I am convinced that closing our trade deficits is one of the most important measures we can take to reverse the problem.

    Whatever happens passing the buck on to society or future generations is something we must avoid.

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