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Hey all, I'm back (sort of; full-time blogging will resume first thing Tuesday morning). Many thanks to Adam Serwer for his excellent guest-blogging in this space. And many thanks to all you readers and commenters for helping to keep the conversation going in my absence.

How did it go last week? What did I miss? And what else is happening?

By Greg Sargent  |  September 4, 2010; 8:31 AM ET
Categories:  Miscellaneous  
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Hi Greg, hope you enjoyed your week off and to welcome you back here's my daily report on Social Security. Enjoy your weekend, I plan to.

"the United States has one of the lowest tax burdens in the developed world. In 2007, our overall tax burden ranked 26th out of the 30 countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, dubbed the “rich countries club.”

As I write in my forthcoming book, The 15 Biggest Lies About the Economy, budgeting comes down to a simple question of priorities. Do we want to live in an America where the elderly are forced to eat cat food? If not, we can pay a bit more in taxes, or bring defense spending in line with other advanced countries or eliminate the cap on payroll taxes so higher earners kick in the same share of their paychecks as everyone else.

According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, the 75-year “Social Security gap” represents the same dollar figure as those Bush tax cuts that were targeted at the top 2 percent of American earners projected over the same period of time. For much of Washington’s cognoscenti, one is an imminent crisis, and the other is something we simply must keep in place in order to retain our economic edge. That should tell you all you need to know about the nature of our Social Security “crisis.”

http://www.alternet.org/economy/148082/we%27re_being_conned_on_social_security_--_how_we_could_easily_raise_benefits_or_allow_people_to_retire_earlier/?page=2

Posted by: lmsinca | September 4, 2010 9:01 AM | Report abuse

Hi Greg! I hope you a great time!

Imsinca:

I want to thank you for your relentless focus on Social Security. I agree with everything you've said on the topic and I'll just add these comments. First, it is appalling that we are even considering cutting Social Security under a Democratic president and Democratic Congress. The social safety net should be expanded, not shrunk. Second, you are absolutely correct that this is a matter of priorities. Let's downsize the National Security apparatus, which has been bloated for decades and devoured the budget after 9/11. Let's eliminate Corporate Welfare and stop subsidizing Agribusiness and Big Oil.

Finally, I add this: If the Democrats roll back the New Deal they are doomed politically.

Posted by: wbgonne | September 4, 2010 9:17 AM | Report abuse

... oh, and third, let's raise the highest marginal rate to its historical norm of 70% and end this bizarre reluctance to tax the oligarchs.

Posted by: wbgonne | September 4, 2010 9:21 AM | Report abuse

wbgonne, there's a lot of mis-information out there regarding the SS fund and some nonsense about shared sacrifice. I won't let it ride without fighting back. There are also progressive members of Congress pushing the issue on more moderate members and Republicans, time to take a stand. We need to know pre-November and pre-commission report where the line is. If Dems are smart and want to improve their chances at the polls they know which side to fall on, and besides full support of SS is the right thing to do.

There was a picture last week of a protest outside of Paul Ryan's town hall meeting and it looked like a large crowd, this should be taken as a hint.

The middle class has shared about as much sacrifice as we can afford.

Posted by: lmsinca | September 4, 2010 9:37 AM | Report abuse

Bring Back The Manufacturing Jobs To America.

That is the only way to restore our Economy. We can not continue to borrow from China, just to purchase all the stuff that we used to make, and that China now makes. Without a well paid Blue Collar manufacturing Work Force, we are doomed.


We should restore our domestic manufacturing base, so that people, who are not college material, can earn a decent wage, and afford to send the smartest of their kids to college. That was the way it used to be, until the Robber Barons shipped out the factories, to where workers are paid a starvation level hourly rate, and have no health or environmental protection standards.

Why should our middle class have to drop their wages to compete with places where workers are paid almost nothing?

Restore our manufacturing of consumer goods, and put a wage differential tariff on imports. We do not mind competing on productivity, but why the hell should we reduce our workers to third world wages and conditions, in order to compete?

Tariff the difference, and force the low wage nations to either raise the wages of their workers, so that they can afford to purchase items we export, or Tariff the wage difference, and use it to pay off our debt to China.


Posted by: Liam-still | September 4, 2010 9:39 AM | Report abuse

"... oh, and third, let's raise the highest marginal rate to its historical norm of 70% and end this bizarre reluctance to tax the oligarchs."

70% at what income level?

Raise other brackets as well?

And how do you define historical norm?

Posted by: quarterback1 | September 4, 2010 9:55 AM | Report abuse

lmsinca - glad to hear about your book. The economic illiteracy of most people in this country drives me nuts and is the major cause we're in the situation we're in right now. I like my house/boat analogy, and if it works for you, feel free to use it. I liken Social Security and Medicare to a home mortgage - for most of us, they are investments in our future. Meanwhile, tax cuts for people who don't need them are like a stupid new boat parked in the driveway which is rarely used. According to our conservative brethren, the sensible thing to do from an economic standpoint is to walk away from the house and allow it to be foreclosed, so we can keep up payments on the boat.

This is why conservatives' analogies between the federal debt and household budgets break down (or one of the reasons - there are others); it's because people don't behave that irrationally with their own household budgets, at least not for the most part. You'll find luxury cars parked outside trailer homes sometimes, because there are people who are just dumb when it comes to managing money. But for the most part, if a family faces a choice between losing a home they've been paying on for 10 or 20 years vs. tightening the belt by cutting off the cable TV and dropping the gym membership, most people are sensible and will do the latter. Current "conservative" economic theory doesn't recognize the distinction between "essential" and "discretionary"; to hear them talk, the only way to cut spending is to cut everything (which means cutting out part of the mortgage payment) rather than to make a distinction between essential and discretionary costs. Prolonging tax cuts for people whose incomes grew by over 200% over the past decade or so are something most of us would recognize as non-essential - the stupid new boat in the driveway.

And don't think for a second that they're going to let us live in that boat after the bank takes back the house.

Posted by: JennOfArk | September 4, 2010 10:03 AM | Report abuse

Imsinca:

My apologies. I missed the mention of your book. How exciting! Greg (Oprah) Sargent will be all over it, I imagine.

Good to hear from you again. JennOfArk.

Posted by: wbgonne | September 4, 2010 10:09 AM | Report abuse

Jenn, the quote about the book was from Joshua Holland at Alternet. The only book I'm writing is here at the plumline, lol. Thanks for the vote of confidence though. If we had blockquote, Greg, it would be much easier for people to separate quotes from our own words. Please.

Posted by: lmsinca | September 4, 2010 10:12 AM | Report abuse

oops, my bad. I completely missed the quotation marks.

But you SHOULD write a book.

Posted by: JennOfArk | September 4, 2010 10:24 AM | Report abuse

"I liken Social Security and Medicare to a home mortgage - for most of us, they are investments in our future."

This is part of what you claim shows you understand economics while others don't?

Perhaps you could explain what you mean by investments and how these things meet the definition. Or is this just another example of liberals' calling all spending they favor investment?

"Meanwhile, tax cuts for people who don't need them are like a stupid new boat parked in the driveway which is rarely used."

Just leaving aside the truth or error of your characterization, presumably you don't consider Obama and your party leaders economically illiterate. Presumably they understand what you do here. But for some reason they haven't done the sensible thing and moved to raise taxes.

"Current "conservative" economic theory doesn't recognize the distinction between "essential" and "discretionary"; to hear them talk, the only way to cut spending is to cut everything (which means cutting out part of the mortgage payment) rather than to make a distinction between essential and discretionary costs."

Feel free to provide some sources to back this up.

As for comparing the federal budget to family budgets, I guess that must be bipartisan. Here is Obama debating McCain:

"Finch: How can we trust either of you with our money when both parties got -- got us into this global economic crisis?

Obama: Well, look, I understand your frustration and your cynicism, because while you've been carrying out your responsibilities -- most of the people here, you've got a family budget. If less money is coming in, you end up making cuts. Maybe you don't go out to dinner as much. Maybe you put off buying a new car.

That's not what happens in Washington. And you're right. There is a lot of blame to go around."

Posted by: quarterback1 | September 4, 2010 10:31 AM | Report abuse

From 1936 until 1982, the highest marginal tax rate was never lower than 70%. One might note that that period was the greatest economic expansion in U.S. history. Beginning in 1982, tax rates began dropping precipitously to levels not seen since the 1920s. One might note that our most recent drastic tax cutting for the SuperRich preceded the Second Worst economic crisis in Modern American history, just as the 1920s cuts preceded the Great Depression.

http://www.taxfoundation.org/publications/show/151.html

Posted by: wbgonne | September 4, 2010 10:44 AM | Report abuse

If keeping tax rates low, for The Oligarchs, was the answer, then why are so many people out of work, and most of the working class having to take pay cuts?

The cost of living, and health care costs have not gone down, but more and more workers are being forced to take drastic pay cuts, and unpaid furlough days.

To hell with Pampering Billionaires. Let us take care of the people who earn their livings, by the sweat of their brows.

Posted by: Liam-still | September 4, 2010 10:53 AM | Report abuse

Bill Kristol writes a column at the Weekly Standard titled "Beck To The Future". Witty, no? It's typical Kristol, that is, providing about the same amount of solid reality and nutrional value available in a ghost's fart. Or, one might think that on a superficial reading.

But I'll argue that there are some rather interesting things to attend to here. For example, Kristol writes:

"For better or worse, where conservatives tend to look to God, liberals tend to look to mankind; and where conservatives tend to think first of country, liberals tend to think first of humanity."

As generalizations go, this isn't a bad one. I could easily write the same thing. And, to his credit, he even hedges on which perspective or "reality" will work out better.

That is because his neoconservative ideology is, for all its serious failings, considerably more sophisticated than the Beck/Palin/Tea Party ideological mix he is describing. For example, Kristol himself (and this applies to his father along with almost everyone else in the neoconservative camp including, importantly, Strauss) demonstrates little or no personal religious belief or behavior. These things are social/psychological phenomena and their importance to neoconservativism is as an available means to organize or arrange society in the manner Kristol and camp find philosophically agreeable. If people are prone to religious ideas (and we are) then this fact is to be utilized to move people in certain directions. Precisely the same is true regarding "patriotism", that is, nationalist fervor. If people have the propensity to be stirred by appeals to such fervor, and we obviously have this propensity, then go ahead and stir them so as to arrange society as you believe best.

It's interesting and important to consider who Kristol is talking to in this piece. He's clearly NOT talking to the Beck/Palin/Tea Party audience to whom Kristol's "for better or worse" formulation is already established beyond need for reflection. Even posing it explicitly as an uncertainty is, to that crowd, a dangerous falling-back from key certainties. America is real and good and best but Mankind is a liberal bleeding heart abstraction which even includes Muslims and dreaded athiests and the French. This is certain. And Faith is to be placed in the benevolent and all-knowing Divine, not in fallen man. That is certain.

Posted by: bernielatham | September 4, 2010 10:57 AM | Report abuse

These are, as Kristol suggests, the two key aspects in Beck/Palin's notions of "humility" and "patriotism" as developed in the speeches. And as I noted on Greg's blog a few days ago, this conceptual construct has as a fundamental purpose a framing which validates the notion that Obama (with his education, his talking down at us demeanor, his brain, etc) is the elitist-other. Not really American with his bows to other national identities/values. Not really "humble" (much too much faith in himself, his education, his brain and in Man).

But, of course, is we look at Kristol himself we see someone far closer to Obama than to the "masses". Same level of education via Ivy League universities, same intellectual aspirations, etc. In fact, Kristol's private school Upper West Side wealthy upbringing represents something far more elitist than Obama's upbringing. Further, there's less indication of attachment to a place of worship to to a particular theological view in Kristol than in Obama (though this is more opague than the matter of intellectual/social elitism.

And this tells us to whom Kristol is actually talking here. He is trying to convince the intellectual elites of his party and movement that Beck/Palin and the Tea Party rabble might be a way into future power - even if they represent something quite intellectually and socially undignified to the upper classes of the modern right.

Here's Kristol's concluding graph:

"That certain portion of the country was “stirred up” at the rally to express pride in America and faith in God. That certain portion of the country is about to show itself (at least for this election) as a majority of the country. If that majority is animated not just by limiting government or living within our means or getting power back to the people—important though those are—but is also moved by the notion of rededicating oneself to God and Country, it could well be a lasting majority."

You'll perhaps appreciate the double entendre in "Beck To The Future" - an acknowledgement of moving backwards (into the undignified muck of the masses and populism) in order to get back to power in the future. Power is the all-important goal of neoconservativism as when they don't run the show, it will fall to the lesser classes and their unpredictable base responses.
http://www.weeklystandard.com/articles/beck-future

Posted by: bernielatham | September 4, 2010 10:57 AM | Report abuse

@Ims - I don't envy you the slog of it, but I'm damned proud of you for setting to the task.

Posted by: bernielatham | September 4, 2010 11:04 AM | Report abuse

@Greg - Welcome home. I like Adam a lot but think of him as a slightly distant cousin who I don't see much. I think of you like you're my mother. Thus as I am, again, comfitted.

Posted by: bernielatham | September 4, 2010 11:07 AM | Report abuse

Bernie, I'm not writing a book. It was a function of the site and missing the quotes around an Alternet piece.

If however, you're talking about my crusade to save SS, you're welcome.

Mommy Greg, I like it.

Posted by: lmsinca | September 4, 2010 11:20 AM | Report abuse

Nice stuff, Bernie.

I'm sure I'm not the only one here or in these United States who is bored to tears with the Right's mission to alienate Dems/liberals by branding them as "the other" and somehow less-than-patriotic.

Damn them, but they do belong to a long and storied line of notorious hucksters.

Posted by: ChuckinDenton | September 4, 2010 11:50 AM | Report abuse

Imsinca wrote,
"Do we want to live in an America where the elderly are forced to eat cat food? If not, we can pay a bit more in taxes, or bring defense spending in line with other advanced countries or eliminate the cap on payroll taxes so higher earners kick in the same share of their paychecks as everyone else."
-------

All the talk about destroying Social Security isn't much more than a distraction. I'm as fiscally conservative as anyone, and I would never support privatizing or dismantling Social Security. Conservatives who show their bonafides by attacking this program are simply marginalizing themselves. This reminds me of the hullabaloo about Rand Paul wanting to undo the Civil Rights Act.
The debate on Social Security occurred and was settled in the 1930s. It's over.

Life insurance companies occasionally have to adjust their rates and actuarial tables.
They don't close up shop; they just do what's necessary. Getting Social Security back on track would be relatively painless right now. Medicare is in much worse shape than Social Security. It is the height of political cowardice to kick this can down the road. Representatives who can't handle a simple problem like this aren't fit to hold office; Representatives who think the answer is to privatize or dismantle the program have holes in their heads where some common sense leaked out.

The cat food analogy is too gentle. I don't doubt some people are already doing that if they need to buy other necessities.
Does anyone really think this country would stand for millions of old people starving and living homeless because some crooks line their pockets by steering them into worthless investments with their "privatized" fund? Not likely.

The people who talk about means testing are also on the wrong track. It's an insurance program, not a welfare program. Like any other type of insurance, some people pay in and get nothing back. I doubt those who clamor for everyone being able to designate a survivor to "inherit" their benefits would be happy with the "rate adjustment" that would be necessary to accomodate the change.

The country has entered into a contract with its workers. They pay into the fund and hope to live long enough to draw from it. If the fund's in trouble, adjust the withholding, raise the limit, or whatever it takes, but fix it. NOW! And instead of trying to win young people to the privatization side by telling them it's the only way they'll ever get anything back, how about simply assuring them that you'll do whatever is necessary to fix the program.

Tens of billions of dollars in reconstruction money for Iraq disappear into thin air, and we can't figure out how to put Social Security in the black. Maybe we need to elect some different people to run our country.

Posted by: Brigade | September 4, 2010 11:59 AM | Report abuse

If retirees, and those soon to retire, would stop voting against their own interests, by voting for Republicans who want to kill the Social Security program, we would stand a far better chance of sustaining the program.

Posted by: Liam-still | September 4, 2010 12:24 PM | Report abuse

wb of course did not answer any of my three simple questions, except to imply that to him 1936-1982 represents our "historical norm" for income tax rates. The roughly 147 years before and 28 years after are thus deemed abnormal, I guess we conclude.

"From 1936 until 1982, the highest marginal tax rate was never lower than 70%. One might note that that period was the greatest economic expansion in U.S. history."

Hoover and FDR both raised taxes. Fairly broad consensus is that they hurt the economy by doing so. No one of whom I am aware would consider the 1970s a time of great expansion. Indeed, Reagan was elected in the midst of stagflation, something those under 40 or 45 don't remember.

Economic growth soared after taxes were reduced. But Bush I raised taxes, and recession followed. Clinton raised taxes a few more percentage points, and then admitted he raised them too high. Although he didn't remotely restore taxes to pre-Reagan levels, liberals like to fondly recall his years as boom years. (Of course, they forget that he left the tech bust, market crash, and recession for GWB.)

"Beginning in 1982, tax rates began dropping precipitously to levels not seen since the 1920s. One might note that our most recent drastic tax cutting for the SuperRich preceded the Second Worst economic crisis in Modern American history, just as the 1920s cuts preceded the Great Depression."

The "most recent drastic tax cutting" amounted to 4.5%. That is "drastic"?

You've just stated a post hoc fallacy. No one of whom I am aware makes a case that tax cuts caused this recession, or that tax increases will help us out of it.

And I'm not even aware of any coherent case that tax cuts caused the Great Depression. There is a standard liberal account of declining demand (which happens not to be true at all), but not tax cuts as the cause. The shrinking of the money supply by a third or more, the decision of the Fed to allow massive bank failures, and tariffs allow pushed the economy into the depression, and there is, again, wide agreement that Hoover's and FDR's tax increases worsened it.

The drumbeat to soak the rich is about resentment and greed, not economics.


As to the answers to the questions I asked, I'll just assume that by "super rich" you mean John Kerry and George Soros.

Unfortunately, however, according to Obama and Biden, people like me are super rich as well, which is a sick joke.

Posted by: quarterback1 | September 4, 2010 12:29 PM | Report abuse

Bush cut taxes for Billionaires, and it did not work. It did not create jobs, and it turned an annual budget surplus into a massive annual budget deficit.

Furthermore; Those Wealthy people, have those same tax cuts, now, but they are not investing in job creation. If they were, then Bush would not have left office, after eight years, without adding a single net job, and in fact having lost many millions of jobs.

It did not work, so there is no reason to keep on doing something that only benefits the very rich, and expands the budget deficits.

Posted by: Liam-still | September 4, 2010 12:36 PM | Report abuse

"The debate on Social Security occurred and was settled in the 1930s. It's over."

I hope you're right, but I'm afraid that SS may end up being a victim of its success much in the way the childhood vaccination program has been.

I think some people have been much more willing to forego vaccines because they don't remember the days when children suffered from diseases such as polio, whooping cough, etc. Many today also don't remember the days before SS. And keep in mind that we're not only talking about SS as retirement income - what about those who receive SS disability benefits or receive survivor benefits? How will that be handled under privatization?

Posted by: schrodingerscat | September 4, 2010 12:39 PM | Report abuse

lmsinca 9:01 AM

I don't believe the US has the lowest tax burden in decades - does that include property taxes? Does that include Federal, State and local taxes ???


To be honest, I have no idea how some people pay their property taxes - with wages stagnant - especially younger people - in the previous generations, you did not see so many two income households - is it fair to compare two incomes with one ?

Obviously inflation-adjusted dollars have to be used.

.

Posted by: SaveTheRainforest | September 4, 2010 12:41 PM | Report abuse

Liam et al

The nation has already come to the conclusion - people on both sides - that the free trade deals need substantial modification.


The problem is all the corporate money is going in the other direction - the corporations are convinced that "efficiency" is the way to go - and they make more money.


In the end, I don't think they make more money - but that is another discussion.


I don't know how you get the parties in Washington to swing behind this idea - especially when they are collecting so much money for the complete opposition policy.


Even Obama brought up the subject during the primaries - but he quickly shifted his story when "they" got to him.


.

Posted by: SaveTheRainforest | September 4, 2010 12:44 PM | Report abuse

TPM's David Kurtz can be damn near as funny as Josh, and that's saying something.

Today, noting that Brewer has finally figured that she has to acknowledge her idiocy in the "beheadings" claim, Kurtz writes in the teaser blurb:

"Arizona governor concedes she "misspoke" when falsely claiming that headless bodies were turning up in the Arizona desert due to illegal immigration."

Here's his title:

"BREWER: I LOST MY HEAD"

Posted by: bernielatham | September 4, 2010 12:49 PM | Report abuse

quarterback - congratulations on presenting one of the most simplistic (and wrong) assessments of the past century's history of tax changes and their effects.

First off, ignoring pre-1900 tax rates makes sense, which is why you don't want to do it. Of course taxes were lower when we didn't have interstate highways, the FCC, modern medicine and a whole host of other things I could name. Pretending that government doesn't have to grow when both commerce and the population grow by orders of magnitude is, to put it quite simply, stupid.

Then you go on to blame the economic slowdown under Bush 1 on a tax increase - completely ignoring the mini-economic meltdown that proceeded it with the collapse of the S&Ls - which occured, by the way, because Reagan-era tampering with the tax codes offered huge incentives for building commercial properties when there was no demand for them. Duh. When bubbles burst, the economy suffers.

Then you completely gloss over the fact that Bush II's tax cuts created Not. One. Single. Job. Which pretty much flies in the face of conservative economic "theory" (if we can call it that). Making things easier for rich people is what you yokels have been claiming for 30 years now drives job creation. I guess you just never bothered to mention that all those jobs would be created elsewhere, eh?

Bottom line: this reverse-Robin Hood tendency of the GOP to give to the rich pretty much amounts to strip-mining of the US economy. It's not "conservative" or "free-market" to give rich people or companies incentives to offshore production or to move their headquarters to PO boxes in tax havens, but the Republicans have been stalwart in their defense of both practices. So we not only don't get jobs from making things easier on the rich - we also get less in tax collections, not only from the tax cuts but also from the policies that reward them for moving wealth out of the country.

Yep, that's the very avatar of patriotism, right there.

Posted by: JennOfArk | September 4, 2010 12:51 PM | Report abuse

Comparing tax rates over the decades makes little sense - we now have a post-industrial economy - a free trade economy.

In free trade, investments and jobs move easily across national borders.


If you raise your taxes significantly above what is elsewhere, you INSTANTLY price yourself OUT - and you DIE ECONOMICALLY.


.

Posted by: SaveTheRainforest | September 4, 2010 12:54 PM | Report abuse

SaveTheRainforest - I'd buy that if 1) our tax rates were higher than in other similarly wealthy nations and 2) if I truly believed that rich people would start moving out of the country to avoid taxes. They won't, because the other places where they wouldn't be afraid to live have tax rates higher than ours.

But there's certainly no reason we should make it easy for them by allowing them to move the money out and continue to live here. If you want to send your money to the Caymans, go live there. Otherwise, the long arm of the governmnent should be taxing that money heavily on its way out of the country.

Posted by: JennOfArk | September 4, 2010 12:59 PM | Report abuse

The most important thing right now is to get out of the recession - and get the economy moving again. Raising taxes is not going to do that.


In addition, in a free trade economy, raising taxes is economic death.


The STRUCTURAL ISSUES from moving to free-trade economy from the 1990s until now HAVE to be addressed.


The most important thing to the American economy is EMPLOYMENT - not necessarily efficiency.


Efficiency has been up to now the goal of all the free trade policies - and everything else has been thrown overboard in favor of efficiency.


However, the American economy needs to keep money at home. It makes no sense for us if EVERYTHING can be made cheaper outside the country - there would be no jobs left here - and then no one would be able to buy anything anyway.


There is a DOWNWARD FREE-TRADE SPIRAL going on right now - we are sapping the demand in our economy.


At some point, some genius in the Fed has to distinquish between REAL DEMAND - and BORROWED DEMAND. For too long, we have been creating demand on borrowing.

The trade deficit with China has to be stopped immediately - We need to CAP our purchased with them at the SAME amount they buy from us.


Many people do not realize that the ECONOMIC MODELS for free trade require that - a balanced trade comes in through economic forces - THAT is not happening - and we have to deal with it.


Free Trade is NOT working the way it is supposed to - AND it has to be modified as soon as possible.

.

Posted by: SaveTheRainforest | September 4, 2010 1:02 PM | Report abuse

JennOfArk 12:59 PM

I'm not sure how to respond to your points.

You are focusing in a individuals - however the situation involves corporations and funds too.


For instance, a hedge fund decides to invest in foreign stock, foreign bonds - and once the money is initially outside the country, that money earns interest and other income.

So these funds end up with foreign income - as well as US income.

They can keep the foreign income outside the country - or bring it back to the US -


Or send some more of their US income to foreign investments.


ONCE the cat is out of the bag - the internation companies are out there, the hedge funds are international - the flows of capital are all over the place.


And the idea of foreign income coming back to the US enters in.


So - the complex system we have has to be looked at - it is just not "rich people" who have a tax rate - it is the whole financial system - and how international corporations get taxed and where they make their investments.


Usually the jobs FOLLOW the investments - a good environment for investment means corporations locate operations there, then they hire people - which brings in more tax revenue.


This is a part of the out-sourcing problem which several posters on this board keep talking about. A low tax rate somewhere opens up operations - and all of a sudden next year jobs are there and not here.

The loss of those jobs further stresses State and local budgets in the US - as people adjust their activity and less tax revenues are here.


.

Posted by: SaveTheRainforest | September 4, 2010 1:16 PM | Report abuse

I've been looking at news from New Zealand after the 7.1 quake near Christchurch and thinking about (as I do too often) what's up the road as a consequence of the inevitable 9 magnitude quake from the Cascadia subduction zone off the coast of BC, Washington, Oregon and Northern California. And here it won't be just a megaquake but immediately after, a tsunami that could reach 80 - 100 feet. Of course, that tsunami will hit around the Pacific but we'll get it worst.

If you consider the major cities involved and all the lesser communities on the coasts and up-river, the industrial and high-tech operations and productive farming operations in the PNW, it all gets downright scary. It will surely be the largest and worst natural disaster our continent has, in the modern period, faced. I don't know what the consequences to the world economy this might be expected to cause but I can't imagine it will not be very significant.

And if anyone believes we ought not to put our shoulder to the wheel for events like the present flooding in Pakistan, those folks ought to consider this scenario here and how needful the US, Canada and everyone else this wave hits will be.

On that cheery note (along with my previously unspoken wish that a rabid gopher will crawl up Bill Kristol's arse), may I wish you all good day.

Posted by: bernielatham | September 4, 2010 1:16 PM | Report abuse

I suppose I am saying that lower taxes lead to MORE JOBS.

We are not dealing with a 1940s economy here - we are past post-industrial - and we are in a free-trade economy.

The economy simply can NOT afford more taxes.


If someone is looking at tax rates - one must review the health care situation. In many European nations, the taxes include health insurance. In the US, employers pay the health insurance.


So if you want to get some solid numbers, add in the health insurance premiums which employers pay to the US tax rates - then you get a clearer picture.


In addition, in Germany and France I think some of the higher education is paid for by the government as well.

So ADD the health insurance premiums, the cost of college AND graduate schools, PLUS THE US TAX RATES - and then you get an idea of how US taxes stack up compared to other nations.

It JUST is not as simple as you guys are making it out to seem. If you are desperately trying to justify higher taxes so Obama can start a whole bunch of new government programs - forget it - you will hurt the economy dramatically and it will never work.


Posted by: SaveTheRainforest | September 4, 2010 1:26 PM | Report abuse

"Reagan was elected in the midst of stagflation, something those under 40 or 45 don't remember. Economic growth soared after taxes were reduced."

Reagan created a Voodoo Economy of shell games by the SuperRich. That house-of-cards collapsed under George the Worst. Reagan launched the GOP's War On Reality and St. Ronnie is the man primarily responsible for the rot that afflicts the United States today.

Taxes on the wealthiest Americans are at historic lows, just as they were preceding the Great Depression. The glorification of Greed and Consumption animates an unsustainable economic model and leads directly to economic disaster. Americans have to grow up and recognize that -- the GOP's War On Reality notwithstanding -- natural laws and scientific principles do apply to America and Americans.

Posted by: wbgonne | September 4, 2010 1:29 PM | Report abuse

SavetheRainforest, sorry, but your premises don't hold up. Tax rates were slightly higher under Clinton and it didn't kill the economy. It won't kill it now, either, even with it being as unhealthy as it is at the moment.

You leave aside the real issue - that of over-concentration of wealth in fewer and fewer hands. Taxes wouldn't be the issue they are if wealth was being more evenly (and yes, fairly) distributed. That's how we got where we are now, and we won't get out of it without either 1) mandating higher wages or 2) taxing the people who have money more. Choose your poison, but it's one or the other.

Posted by: JennOfArk | September 4, 2010 1:44 PM | Report abuse

The economy has to be the most important priority.


The problem right now is that Obama has DECIDED that the economy is NOT the number one priority - health care and his "transformations" are more important.


NOW this has opened up a MAJOR DISPUTE between the American People and Obama.


The American People are being governed AGAINST their will - plain and simple.

I have to point out: the economy has been going through a "transformation" - a transition to a Free-Trade economy. How is that working for you?


ALL the STRUCTURAL changes of the transformation to a Free-Trade economy have NOT been worked out yet. Many parts of the economy have hung on. That is why when people say this recession is taking jobs away that aren't coming back, that is what they mean.


SO HOW IS THAT TRANSFORMATION WORKING FOR YOU ???


These "transformations" have unintended consequences. AND many "transformations" are NOT thought out too well.


For instance, if someone told Congress in the 1990s, our trade deficit and debt to China would be what it is by 2010, they NEVER would have agreed to it.


But they just took their campaign money at the time, blew it all on 30-second attack ads - and we all are stuck with the rumble of an economy.


"Transformations" go bad - and when they do they cause serious damage.


"Transformations" need to have a way OUT - they need to be RE-EVALUATED on an ongoing basis.


This RARELY happens - someone RAMS it through, it is never reviewed - and everyone else just gets hurt.


Look at Obama - his attitude is to RAM through PERMANENT changes before he loses his votes in Congress - HOW DO WE UNDO THIS MESS ???

This whole talk about "tax rates" - it is all coming through from DEMOCRATIC TALKING POINTS - because they want more "transformations" - they want more MASSIVE GOVERNMENT PROGRAMS.


The whole thing has DISASTER written all over it.


.

.

Posted by: SaveTheRainforest | September 4, 2010 1:48 PM | Report abuse

... oh, and third, let's raise the highest marginal rate to its historical norm of 70% and end this bizarre reluctance to tax the oligarchs.

Posted by: wbgonne | September 4, 2010 9:21 AM


__________________________________


All the hedge funds will leave immediately. Everyone who makes any kind of money through investments will leave.


What's more - the economic dislocation will be incredible.

Once you get people to leave, they rarely come back - you can change the policy back, but if they have already re-located their houses and investments - and the corporations have decided to have operations elsewhere, they aren't coming back.


I'm not sure what percentage of the economy you will DESTROY with this policy - maybe 10% or 20% of the economic activity in the country will disappear.

What you have to think about is this: compared to the additional tax revenue you THINK you will get, how much tax revenue will you lose???


I think you will end up bankrupting about 30 US States - because of the tax revenue losses - in addition to the loss of local revenues.


Is this ALL the Obama liberals have to offer the country ?

.

Posted by: SaveTheRainforest | September 4, 2010 1:54 PM | Report abuse

The MOST IMPORTANT THING TO HIS NATION RIGHT NOW is to get rid of Obama's health care plan.

Obama's health care is a DRAG ON HIRING.


This discussion brought up one thing: A company deciding where to locate new operations - is that company going to choose the US and pay Obama's high health care costs - OR go somewhere else and pay much less for health care ?

It is pretty simple - Obama is destroying the prospects for JOBS.


In addition, US companies, alreay here, are UNCERTAIN what their health care costs will be - and that is a further DRAG ON HIRING.

Obama is a complete disaster, from A to Z - he has no idea what he is doing.

It is so important for the nation to VOTE OBAMA OUT AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.

.

Posted by: SaveTheRainforest | September 4, 2010 2:01 PM | Report abuse

SaveTheRainforest @ 2:38pm on Sept. 1

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Jake

"I have the best solution for the southern border.

All we need to do is set up machine guns with camaeras at various points - linked to the internet.

We can charge people to log onto the website for each gun and see the surrounding area.

This way, we don't even have to pay for border guards - we can take care of the border from the comfort of our own homes.
Quite a deterrent - huh ? I think after a while, they will stop coming.

What do you think ???"

SaveTheRainforest @3:23 am on Sept. 3 @ me

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"I would suggest that you cease from these hostile statements from now on.

If you do not, I would suggest that we meet personally and discuss what your problem is. Please post your name, address and phone number.

We can set up a personal meeting to discuss exactly why you hold these views - and what we can do to make sure that innocent American lives are properly protected.

If you do not want to post your name, phone number and address, I suggest you take your bad attitude elsewhere and shut up."

Posted by: lmsinca | September 4, 2010 2:16 PM | Report abuse

JennOfArk 1:44 PM

There is not much to debate here - you appear to be advocating a high-wage, high-tax economy.


Well - perhaps in the 1940s, when there was little international competition, the economy would have been better off that way.


The key to understanding all this is ECONOMIC GROWTH - you want to set the conditions which will encourage GROWTH.


10 years go by quickly - if a high-wage and high taxes slow down growth 3% a year - you will LOSE 30% in 10 years, probably more.


I am just trying to give you an example of how important growth is. You are looking at this as a STATIC environment - you take one dollar from here, and put that one dollar over here.


But those people you are taking that one dollar from - they are going to leave and that dollar won't be there anymore - but ALL the other benefits from that economic activity will be gone too.


You might actually be advocating a system which will yield LESS taxes overall.


A job brings so much to the economy - property taxes, sales taxes - not just the income tax.


Anyway - you can continue to fantasize that somehow these Obama ideas are a path to growth - what they are is a path to the US looking like a third world country.


Once Obama and the democrats are out of office, the economy will begin to grow again.


Obama has created so much uncertainty on Wall Street about WHAT the actual costs of his regulation are going to be -


ONCE the polls showed Obama winning, the valued of so many US companies when down dramatically, stock fell dramatically - because OBAMA THREATENS ECONOMIC GROWTH.


It is CLEAR - the democratic talking points - Obama is ALWAYS trying to do something that hurts economic growth.


.

Posted by: SaveTheRainforest | September 4, 2010 2:26 PM | Report abuse

Oh, thank God you're back!

Posted by: Dema | September 4, 2010 2:27 PM | Report abuse

lmsinca | September 4, 2010 2:16 PM


Is there anyway you can grow up ?


The country has to get rid of Obama - vote him and the democrats out.


Time to accept it.


.

Posted by: SaveTheRainforest | September 4, 2010 2:42 PM | Report abuse

It is unbelievable that the democrars are NOW trying to justify higher taxes


That is not what Obama said during the campaign.


The country does NOT want bigger government - somehow the democrats are now squirming - they want to figure out a way to expand government and get more taxes.

The free-trade economy is standing in the way - those are Clinton's policies.


It is ironic that Clinton's policies are preventing Obama from raising taxes, however I suppose it is true.

.

Posted by: SaveTheRainforest | September 4, 2010 2:45 PM | Report abuse

If Obama wants to give back his pledges from 2008, he should give back the election as well, and resign.


This bait-and-switch has gotten ridiculous.


"Transformations" and a far-left health care plan was NOT what Obama was elected to do.


And when the economy got bad, Obama's priority should have been JOBS, Obama's attitude for "big things" amounts to a betrayal of the people who voted him, and treason.

America deserves a President who will handle the priorities of the American People - not put his own ego first.


History will not be kind to Obama - an ironic result of his desperation to do "big things."

.

Posted by: SaveTheRainforest | September 4, 2010 3:02 PM | Report abuse

Quote of the day from Bill Clinton:

"Republicans are utterly impervious to evidence."

Posted by: bernielatham | September 4, 2010 3:15 PM | Report abuse

This one's good also Bernie:

"Nothing is so admirable in politics as a short memory."

John Kenneth Galbraith

Posted by: lmsinca | September 4, 2010 3:27 PM | Report abuse

Imsinca


The key to the immigration situation is deterrence - the balance of incentives - good and bad.


The construction of guns at the border - will stop immigration - no one has to be shot - guns cause people to run the other way, back into Mexico. Maybe we can put tranquilizers into the guns.


How about a NOISE WALL - we can erect high-frequency noise walls which will emit sounds that will prevent anyone from being able to be in the area for long enough to stay there.

ON THE INCENTIVES - there are too many positive incentives toward people illegally moving to this country - we have been too kind -

Our good-will is getting abused. Our good will toward illegal aliens have caused more to come here.


In the mid 1980s, we were talking 3 million illegal aliens in the US - NOW we are seeing 50 million illegal aliens here.


Amnesty, "path to citizenship" or 'comprehensive immigration reform - however you want to fool people into thinking you are not talking about amnesty - that is the WRONG way to go - it just CREATES another incentive.

.

Posted by: SaveTheRainforest | September 4, 2010 3:46 PM | Report abuse

Quote of the day (Hawaii edition). From the head of the Republican Party there on why the Republican candidate will triumph...

"Duke will win because the church has been behind him the entire time operating in the POWER and the AUTHORITY of the NAME OF JESUS!"
http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/archives/individual/2010_09/025533.php

That seems to settle everything.

Posted by: bernielatham | September 4, 2010 3:58 PM | Report abuse

I tend to lurk here, but Adam was interesting.

---
How did it go last week? What did I miss? And what else is happening?
By Greg Sargent | September 4, 2010; 8:31 AM ET
---

The comments section was discovered by the Fix exile 37thandOstreet (commenting here as Savetherainforest). As you'll see from today's thread (14 posts in 3 hours), StRF tends to be a thread bomber.

Good luck.

BB

Posted by: FairlingtonBlade | September 4, 2010 4:00 PM | Report abuse

The economy needs tax breaks for JOB CREATION - create a job - and you get a tax break - not for anything else.


That is my position.


The Free-Trade deals of Clinton have to be rolled back.

.

Posted by: SaveTheRainforest | September 4, 2010 4:11 PM | Report abuse

Ims - One smart cookie, Galbraith. Born and raised Canadian, of course. A Republican friend of mine spent time at the Galbraith home when she was younger and remained very fond of the family even while holding rather different ideas. And as I may have mentioned before, Galbraith and Buckley retained a life-long friendship.

Posted by: bernielatham | September 4, 2010 4:14 PM | Report abuse

And from the "It would be wrong to victimize someone unnecessarily" file (noted in the Benen link from earlier post):

"As if the Roman Catholic Church's scandal involving the sexual abuse of children couldn't get worse, it gets worse: "The former leader of the Roman Catholic Church in Belgium urged a victim of serial sexual abuse by a bishop to keep silent for a year, until the bishop -- the victim's own uncle -- could retire, according to tapes made by the victim last April and published over the weekend in two Belgian newspapers."

Posted by: bernielatham | September 4, 2010 4:16 PM | Report abuse

Case Study in Unintended Consequences


Obama and Biden decide to start putting pressure on Karzai in Afghanistan - they end up focusing on certain bank officials and the central bank.


A bank official gets pushed out by the Central bank - and as a result there is a run on Afghanistan's biggest bank.


THE US TAXPAYERS NOW have to BAIL OUT THE BANK because Obama didn't think things through.


This is typical of Obama and the democrats - tinker with something, and when it is a mess, the taxpayers have to pay.


.

Posted by: SaveTheRainforest | September 4, 2010 4:21 PM | Report abuse

@Brigade...You and I got off on the wrong foot the other night. I apologize I had you confused with some of the trolls who inhabit this place. As I reread your posts and consider what you have posted today...not sure I agree with all that you say but you are at least making rational thoughtful comments that don't sound as if they are coming from an idealogue. As I have to say frequently here Brigade...mea culpa.

@JennofArk. I'm alway excited to see you return to our little spot for discussion of issues. One of your posts today..

"But for the most part, if a family faces a choice between losing a home they've been paying on for 10 or 20 years vs. tightening the belt by cutting off the cable TV and dropping the gym membership, most people are sensible and will do the latter."

Alas my wife and I are living proof of that. I just put my golf membership on hold for a year to save money...we are unable to visit our Lake Superior cottage as we originally planned because we can't afford to take the time off of work. But I am not saying this for pity, I do not feel sorry for me or my wife...we are two of the luckiest people on God's earth...we have our health, we have each other, and we are not upside down on any of our mortgages.

I say this simply to illustrates Jenn's point. We could have gone to Superior..I could keep my golf membership...but we simply are not going to borrow anymore money! It will p*ss me off bigtime if the Bush Tax cuts for those over $250,000 are extended so that our nation can borrow more than 30 billion more from China!!!

I would call my wife and I upper middle class. We are in six figures but far from $250,000. What upsets me worse than our situation is to see hard working people...like the husbands of our employees struggling mightily to deal with this economic train wreck.

Our dental assistant's husband worked for a hurricane shutter company...pretty good business here in the state of Florida...however six months ago the Corp that owned the business said they had to shut it down. For two weeks our assistant and her hubby anguished about his loss of job...but then..voila..two board members said they were buying company and saving their jobs. Yea! Sorta. They slashed their salaries and ended their health insurance. Now our assistant her hubby..both 40 years of age are one serious illness away from bankruptcy.

Our country can and should do better!!!

Posted by: rukidding7 | September 4, 2010 4:21 PM | Report abuse

Fairlington

If you would like to post something postive or on-topic go ahead.


However, please leave your attacks on other posters to yourself.


.

Posted by: SaveTheRainforest | September 4, 2010 4:23 PM | Report abuse

@GREG...

As FairlingtonBlade posted..."StRF tends to be a thread bomber."

We did suffer from a troll virus last week.
We are only talking about two obvious candidates. We have plenty of righties on this blog who give it a sincere effort...but these two...well..

I have a relatively painless solution for you Greg. Virtually all of your regulars recognize these two and are now simply scrolling past. What would really help is if you could simply get your techies to place the name of the poster at the head of the comment instead of the end. This then makes it easy for ALL of us to quickly scroll by the comments of people they wish...this could include me as well btw. :-) I'm willing to take that chance to chill out our two worst offenders.

Several others have also agreed with this approach if possible. We all realize how tough your job is without having to determine who to toss and who to keep. This at least can help ease the problem.

Posted by: rukidding7 | September 4, 2010 4:27 PM | Report abuse

Greg, second what ruk just wrote.

We need a site overhaul so that we can navigate and manage our reading and commenting without it becoming too cumbersome. There's too much dilution of threads right now and the site structure is making it worse.

Posted by: BGinCHI | September 4, 2010 4:37 PM | Report abuse

rukidding7

Sorry about your golf.


If the democrats allow ALL the Bush tax cuts to expire, will you have to get rid of the golf permanently ?

.

Posted by: SaveTheRainforest | September 4, 2010 4:37 PM | Report abuse

"Galbraith and Buckley retained a life-long friendship."

And this is exactly what is wrong with our nation today. The right and the left have lost respect for each other. One side is fascist and the other is socialist. And these insults are being hurled by illiterates like Joe Wilson who couldn't identify the definition of Socialism if it was on a multiple guess test.

Obama to his credit has tried to address the situation, but it takes two to tango and it's really hard to discuss issues when one side's idea of one of the most critical issues facing our nation (see my earlier post about our 40 year old employee and her husband) is to simply go for "Obama's Waterloo" That is so despicable as to truly be indefensible.
Demented should be shunned by everybody in Congress..from both sides of the aisle for throwing the American people under the bus of political expediency. I cannot think of a more egregious example by either an R or a D and yet what did he suffer? Nada!

As long as so many voters still suffer from Obama derangement syndrome..and Faux news keeps pumping them up...and there are truly no R leaders or statesmen to correct this horrid situation, our country remains in deep dooty!!!

Posted by: rukidding7 | September 4, 2010 4:38 PM | Report abuse

@strf...I wouldn't normally waste my time with you but perhaps this will make you understand why normally decent folks want to shun you.

"If the democrats allow ALL the Bush tax cuts to expire, will you have to get rid of the golf permanently ?

See rainforest that is a prime example of truly WASTING OUR TIME!!! WTF does that comment have to do with anything?

NOBODY...not Dems..not R's have talked about rescinding tax cuts for folks under $250,000. NOBODY has even discussed it!
Anybody with even a shred of political awareness understands that will never be on the table! So what is you point in bringing it up and WASTING OUR TIME!!!

Perhaps you are unaware strf that Obama's stimulus contained the the LARGEST MIDDLE CLASS tax cut in our history!!! I've have illustrated the effects of that cut on our small business...enabling our employees to get a 3% after tax raise at a time we couldn't afford to give them anything. It was heaven sent because we literally love our employees. We only have five, not counting ourselves, and so our small business is more like a family. The R's never gave a rat's arse about us...because we DON'T MAKE A MILLION A YEAR!

Posted by: rukidding7 | September 4, 2010 4:44 PM | Report abuse

rukinding7

We had a discussion about this the other night


All the comments which attempt to create an "us vs. them" atmosphere are not productive at all.


First, you are taking your personal opinion and applying that to the group.

But more importantly, YOU are not engaging in civil discussion - rather you are saying you are just "scrolling past"


You aren't just ignoring someone by yourself - YOU are creating a hostile atmosphere by saying you are "scrolling past" time and time again.

That is not civil discussion - that is creating a hostile situation.


Furthermore, your hostile attitude does NOTHING to alleviate the situation - it makes it worse.


Freedom of Speech involves tolerance - Obama promises bipartisanship.

From the democrats we do not have tolerance - we have demands to shut down the CONTENT of other people - based on CONTENT.


If you COUNT the left- right postings on this blog - the left is far ahead.


So the left has more postings - and yet the right is supposedly the one which is "exceeding" its limit.

The truth is the left does not want to admit the right exists in this country - and that the right does not have a majority of the country - we do.


.

Posted by: SaveTheRainforest | September 4, 2010 4:44 PM | Report abuse

rukidding7 at 4:44


I'm not sure WHAT you are talking about - however ALL the Bush tax cuts are scheduled to EXPIRE this year.

THAT is because the democrats forced it to be that way when the Bush tax cuts went in originally.


So, if nothing is done, they WILL expire.


Congress has to ACT to change that situation - which means the democrats have to be involved.


Today's threat had a good amount of tax policy in it - because several democrats posters started with some democratic talking points which advocated RAISING tax substantially. So that is what that threat is about.

Yes - you mentioned your golf - and I am truly sad for you - I would prefer to see you enjoy on the golf course.


And I dispute your comment that Obama never had the tax increases "on the table" - I believe at several times there are budgets which reflect allowing ALL the tax cuts to expire - even those UNDER 250K - and it is only recently that the democrats have been open to changing that position.


.

Posted by: SaveTheRainforest | September 4, 2010 4:53 PM | Report abuse

"From the democrats we do not have tolerance - we have demands to shut down the CONTENT of other people - based on CONTENT.


If you COUNT the left- right postings on this blog - the left is far ahead."

Nobody has said anything about shutting down the content of ANYBODY. If people choose to scroll past your comments you that is also the freedom to CHOOSE...choose who bores us...who wastes our time. Remember my solution does not involve banning you or shutting you up. What are you afraid of? That you can't as someone posted earlier bomb our threads out of existence...as happened according to you and a friend..at the fix.

BTW Of course there are more comments from the left than the right...THIS IS A PROGRESSIVE BLOG!!! If I went to Red State I'd expect to see far more comments from the right than the left...therefore I don't even bother to waste my time there.

We have quite a few thoughtful posters who are not from the left so we still get a good feel for the conservative mindset...
tao9...Kevin W & Brigade(although they may be independent not sure yet..and that's a good thing IMHO)Scott C and Q.B. SBJ and others post thoughtful comments here..and while I might consider them ideologues I will still respect and read THEIR posts even if Greg does manage to get posters names at the head of the comments instead of the end.


Posted by: rukidding7 | September 4, 2010 4:54 PM | Report abuse

The left already far exceeds the right in number of postings.


Just because 20% - 30% of the posts are conservative, the left starts to complain that they don't control everything.


This is called all sorts of thing - no matter what they call it - it is the same codewords for intolerance of opposing view points - and attempting to intimidate people into not posting their opinion.


.

Posted by: SaveTheRainforest | September 4, 2010 5:03 PM | Report abuse

@ru - to describe one side as fascist and the other as socialist is to get them both wrong. But I'm too busy right now to write about this. "Socialism", for example, isn't properly used to describe those nations more left than the US including Canada or the northern European nations. And the US is nuts but not fascist.

Posted by: bernielatham | September 4, 2010 5:12 PM | Report abuse

Obama spent all of this money on a new rug for the White House - and apparently two of the quotes are wrong.


In one case Martin Luther King is given credit for a quote of someone else.


Then there is a quote of Roosevelt which is twisted.

This guy went to Harvard ?

.

Posted by: SaveTheRainforest | September 4, 2010 5:19 PM | Report abuse

rukidding7


I find the fostering of a hostile attitude not in line with the "civil discussions"

It doesn't make any sense to make the comments you do - it only encourages people to fight - which is what no one wants.


The rules clearly prohibit postings which are "predatory, hateful, or intended to intimidate or harass"

Certainly stating clearly that you will not engage in discussion - and encouraging others to take a hostile attitude as well - falls under this category.


Again - your postings are not tolerant - and you are not encouraging civil discussions.

AND your problem appears to be with the CONTENT of the messages - had these messages been leftist in support of the democrats, I do not believe you would be taking this stance.

.

Posted by: SaveTheRainforest | September 4, 2010 5:26 PM | Report abuse

Glad you are back!

I didn't much care for Mr. Server with his stupid questions as headlines. I see his last post also employed this shtick. For me it's just too redolent of the FOX News approach.

Posted by: seattlechemfem | September 4, 2010 5:33 PM | Report abuse

"The rules clearly prohibit postings which are "predatory, hateful, or intended to intimidate or harass"

STR's comment to lmsinca at 3:23 am Sept 3

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"I would suggest that you cease from these hostile statements from now on.

If you do not, I would suggest that we meet personally and discuss what your problem is. Please post your name, address and phone number.

We can set up a personal meeting to discuss exactly why you hold these views - and what we can do to make sure that innocent American lives are properly protected.

If you do not want to post your name, phone number and address, I suggest you take your bad attitude elsewhere and shut up."

Posted by: lmsinca | September 4, 2010 5:38 PM | Report abuse

rukidding7


I don't know what you call "thoughtful"

Being duped by Obama is not very "thoughtful"


Yesterday's discussion was about Eugene Robinson complaining that a segment of the electorate has switched its support away from Obama - he called that "spoiled."


I don't know what you call being fooled by Obama's commitments to the American People - and then watching Obama turn toward a far-left wing agenda.

One thing I have discovered - many times the difference between conservatives and liberals is the conservatives tend to add their "thoughts" on what things cost to the discussions.

For instance, health care - I would always ask the liberals when they talked about an aspect of health care "how much is that going to cost?"


To a person, no one knew - they didn't have the foggyist idea how much the changes would cost.


.

Posted by: SaveTheRainforest | September 4, 2010 5:38 PM | Report abuse

My tax program is this


Cut ALL government by 30% - the Federal Government, the State Governments - all local governments.


PASS the full amount onto the PEOPLE -


Cut all taxes by 30% - income taxes, sales taxes, property taxes - everything.


HAND the money right back to the people.

Imagine what YOUR budget would look like if ALL your taxes were 30% less.

.

Posted by: SaveTheRainforest | September 4, 2010 5:42 PM | Report abuse

Greg, check this out; another obscenity we're fighting for in Afghanistan: "Afghanistan's Dirty Little Secret," Joel Brinkley, Aug 29, SF Chronicle, http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2010/08/29/INF21F2Q9H.DTL

Posted by: dozas | September 4, 2010 5:57 PM | Report abuse

"Reagan created a Voodoo Economy of shell games by the SuperRich. That house-of-cards collapsed under George the Worst. Reagan launched the GOP's War On Reality and St. Ronnie is the man primarily responsible for the rot that afflicts the United States today."

That's about as ham-handed a conglomeration of straw men and post hoc fallacies as can be rolled into six lines of otherwise vacant rhetoric. Congrats.

Posted by: quarterback1 | September 4, 2010 6:02 PM | Report abuse

Here's a reminder. This is a post from Ezra Klein on June 11th of this year.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"In 2005 and 2006 and 2007, I wrote a lot about inequality, which had reached highs not seen since the run-up to the Great Depression. After the financial crisis, I largely stopped, as I figured that the sharp crash would pretty much wipe out the build-up in wealth. And I was right, for a time. But now it's come back.

The basic story here is that assets have recovered so much more quickly than the broader economy that in 2009, "the millionaire class held a larger percentage of the country's wealth than it did in 2007." In other words, inequality has actually gotten worse. If you want to see why that's unexpected, check out the chart I cadged from the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities: After the Great Depression, inequality fell and didn't recover until 2007. That's about 80 years. After the Great Recession, inequality fell and didn't recover until ... 2009? That's one year.

In part, that's attributable to the fact that this didn't turn out to be as bad as the Great Depression. But it also says something about the policies we used to respond to this crisis. In the 1930s, we did a lot to reshape the economy so it was more balanced, and so its gains were more broadly shared. That's not been a major part of our response to this crash."

Posted by: lmsinca | September 4, 2010 6:03 PM | Report abuse

Have a nice weekend all, I'm out to babysit and swim............................

Posted by: lmsinca | September 4, 2010 6:14 PM | Report abuse

In tribute to Bernielatham, here's another great Bill Clinton quote:

"The one thing you got to say about this guy is he has been truly independent; he is not partisan,” Clinton said while stumping for McMahon at Wagner College.

“He has not voted for the president on every issue. On health care, for example, we New Yorkers have a special problem. We have a lot of immigrants here who are undocumented, and our hospitals claim real problems under this health-care bill,” Clinton added."

http://www.nypost.com/p/news/local/staten_island/bubba_nod_to_si_candidate_shot_across_ySAh9tquAQtvG6h8g4QGoJ

So, if Willie thinks it's o.k. to vote against Obamacare, why vote for a Democrat at all?

Posted by: TrollMcWingnut | September 4, 2010 6:29 PM | Report abuse

@Bernie..."to describe one side as fascist and the other as socialist is to get them both wrong." Which is exactly my point Bernie. Too many idiots post comments here and on the St. Pete Time site that always have a "socialist" reference. Obviously these idiots don't understand Socialism.

I included the fascist part to placate our rightie friends who would have been quick to point out that during GW Bush's term there were people calling him a fascist...also technically wrong.

Perhaps a failed attempt at snark.

Posted by: rukidding7 | September 4, 2010 6:48 PM | Report abuse

jennofark said:

"quarterback - congratulations on presenting one of the most simplistic (and wrong) assessments of the past century's history of tax changes and their effects."

Judging from shoddy quality of the your succeeding argument, thanks for the compliment.

But I was only demonstrating the crudely post hoc nature of the hoary Plum Line tax cut legend being repeated by wb. Tax increases preceded the consolidation and deepening of the Great Depression, the 1937 recession-within-the-depression, the Clinton recession, and others as well. Strange how such never appear in your contrived narratives.

If you want to be the first to actually show that higher taxes cause greater economic growth than lower taxes, rather than just asserting the crudest of post hoc fallacies, we would all love to see it. A Nobel Prize likely awaits you.

"First off, ignoring pre-1900 tax rates makes sense, which is why you don't want to do it."

I merely commented on wb's characterization of a period of less than a quarter of our history as the "historic norm."

"Of course taxes were lower when we didn't have interstate highways, the FCC, modern medicine and a whole host of other things I could name. Pretending that government doesn't have to grow when both commerce and the population grow by orders of magnitude is, to put it quite simply, stupid."

I made no argument about this, but yours is tendentious in the extreme, to say the least.

First, the claim made was that income tax rates must be raised, because higher taxes cause economic growth, and our current tax rates are the cause of recession and crisis. It was not that government is too small. But you are welcome to try that as well.

Second, there is not logical reason at all why either taxes must be higher or government larger now than in the past. Why does the existence of more advanced medicine mean government must be larger? Can you even begin to articulate a persuasvive argument?

In fact, standards of living and wealth today are so enormously higher than they were 150 or 200 years ago that the opposite argument can probably be made more persuasively. A much, much smaller percentage of the much larger national income should suffice to fund government today. Moreover, technology has made work so much more efficient that a tiny number of government employees should be able to do what it took many to do before.


Posted by: quarterback1 | September 4, 2010 7:01 PM | Report abuse

Seriously, "Republicans" are ruining this blog like they've ruined everything else. Yay, small government just like the 18th Century woohoo! America is diseased. This blog is inflicted. Politics is inflicted. The media is inflicted. The malady is "small government" and "tax cuts" and it is being injected into our bloodstream by people who know better but get paid top dollar. What a sham.

Posted by: Ethan2010 | September 4, 2010 7:11 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: quarterback1 | September 4, 2010 7:01 PM |
===========================

Reagan proved deficits don't matter.
-Dick Cheney.

Game, set, and match, you Koch-funded "think-tank" stenographer.

We endured a radical experiment in Chicago-school economics under the Cheney-puppet regime.

It was a disaster. Go take your lying points and stick 'em where the sun don't shine.
~

Posted by: ifthethunderdontgetya | September 4, 2010 7:16 PM | Report abuse

Jenn further said:

"Then you go on to blame the economic slowdown under Bush 1 on a tax increase - completely ignoring the mini-economic meltdown that proceeded it with the collapse of the S&Ls - which occured, by the way, because Reagan-era tampering with the tax codes offered huge incentives for building commercial properties when there was no demand for them. Duh. When bubbles burst, the economy suffers."

No, I didn't blame the 90-91 recession on tax increases. I said recession followed. According to you and wb (and ruk), not me, this means one caused the other. I was merely demonstrating the fallacious and ahistorical nature of wb's claims.

I am no expert on the S&L crisis, but I'm pretty sure you have the cause (a complex matter) close to backwards. Tax reform in the mid-80s actually removed tax shelters and loopholes, which was part of the Reagan agenda. It can be argued that the removal of these distortions in the real estate market contributed to S&L failures, but you seem to be starting from a completely false premise.

And, most importantly, you have no argument that the 90-91 recession was caused by reduced income taxes. What a ridiculous argument that would be!

"Then you completely gloss over the fact that Bush II's tax cuts created Not. One. Single. Job. Which pretty much flies in the face of conservative economic "theory" (if we can call it that)."

Here you are simply wrong as a factual matter. First, as I've said before, I don't claim that tax cuts "create jobs." Only business creation and investment create jobs. These are inhibited by higher taxes. Second, we had healthy job growth following the Bush tax cuts. We only lost jobs with the 2008 financial market seizure.

And no one claims that was caused by the tax cuts. Again, if you'd like to be the first to show it was, feel free to dazzle us with your brilliance.

"Making things easier for rich people is what you yokels have been claiming for 30 years now drives job creation."

Nice straw man.

"I guess you just never bothered to mention that all those jobs would be created elsewhere, eh?"

Does it come as a surprise to you that international trade exists? Apparently it does. We could always do spamming fool Liam keeps bleating for and impose import tariiffs. That worked great in 1929-30. Or why not just ban imports. Then we would all have to "buy American" and our problems would be solved.

I guess that's the same old rubbish you are peddling. Soak the people who hire, and ban imports.

Posted by: quarterback1 | September 4, 2010 7:29 PM | Report abuse

First, bernielatham said: "along with my previously unspoken wish that a rabid gopher will crawl up Bill Kristol's arse".

Then ifthethunderdontgetya said: "Go take your lying points and stick 'em where the sun don't shine."

Um, is there some sort of reason for this anal fixation? At least mention lube for God sakes.

Posted by: TrollMcWingnut | September 4, 2010 7:35 PM | Report abuse

And Jenn further said:

"Bottom line: this reverse-Robin Hood tendency of the GOP to give to the rich pretty much amounts to strip-mining of the US economy."

You obviously suffer the typical liberal moral confusion and corruption of thought in which not taking from a person is the same is giving to him. So you assume all wealth and income belong to the government. You and your side have corrupted the very language in order to corrupt the debate.

"not "conservative" or "free-market" to give rich people or companies incentives to offshore production or to move their headquarters to PO boxes in tax havens, but the Republicans have been stalwart in their defense of both practices."

Another hoary Democrat talking point with no basis in reality. Please provide specific proof that Republicans have been stalwart in giving "rich people or companies incentives" to move overseas. And explain why the oppressive regulatory and tax state erected by Democrats is not the only incentive needed.

"So we not only don't get jobs from making things easier on the rich - we also get less in tax collections, not only from the tax cuts but also from the policies that reward them for moving wealth out of the country."

This claim is empirically false. You can look up the data yourself. Tax collections increased after the Bush cuts. They increased after the Reagan cuts. And collections from the highest brackets, as well as their share paid, increased.

So, in sum, you again have no clue what you are talking about. Put down the Democrat talking points for a minute and get some facts. Unplug from your daily brainwashing.

Posted by: quarterback1 | September 4, 2010 7:40 PM | Report abuse

"Again - your postings are not tolerant - and you are not encouraging civil discussions."

Bwahahahahahahahahah!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Oh, that's really rich.

Posted by: schrodingerscat | September 4, 2010 7:48 PM | Report abuse

Why is Ethan still here complaining about other people after I posted absolute proof from his own mouth that he, by his own admission, had posted "SERIOUSLY OFFENSIVE" personal attacks in violation of the rules?

Posted by: quarterback1 | September 4, 2010 7:52 PM | Report abuse

Wonderful parting words from a member of Obama's fantastic crew of economics experts.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/09/01/AR2010090106148.html?wpisrc=nl_pmheadline&sid=ST2010090106698

Posted by: actuator | September 4, 2010 9:11 PM | Report abuse

The Summer of Recovery has been a resounding success:

Only 283,000 Jobs lost.

A 9.6% Unemployment Rate which is just shy of the Obama Administrations Projected Unemployment Rate at this time of 7.2%.

http://www.politico.com/static/PPM116_obamadoc.html

The Obama Administration also projects that thanks to the Stimulus the Unemployment Rate will be at 5.3% in November 2012.

I look forward to seeing the success of the Stimulus highlighted during the 2012 campaign.

I'm sure that the Obama Administration is not worried about their documented projections for Unemployment as a result of their $1 Trillion Stimulus.

Now on to the 'Fall of Recovery'.

Posted by: Washington13 | September 4, 2010 9:28 PM | Report abuse

A revealing peak inside the mind of Bernie L.

Speaking of the title of a Kristol's recent article, 'Beck to the Future", Bernie characterized it as a reference to going back...

"...into the undignified muck of the masses..."

This is quite revealing of a contempt for the average American that is typical of the "progressive" movement, particularly among academic/intellectual elites (and those that fancy themselves to be such). Usually this disdain for the hoi polloi is revealed by implication, the most notable example being the constant despair at the "propagandizing" influence of the likes of Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh, which is obviously grounded in an assumption that the masses are just too dim and stupid to see the Becks and the Limbaughs for the charlatans that they are, unlike bright progressives who naturally see right through them. Whenever large majorities of the population reject a part of the progressive litany, it is inevitably attributed to the manipulation of the common folk by some nefarious right-wing force which is, as usual, up to no good. Of course, the progressives themselves are never subject to such manipulation, they being too clever to fall for such things.

Occasionally this contempt gets displayed a little more directly, for instance Obama's infamous "clinging to guns and religion" statement. But rarely is it made so explicit as Bernie's reference to the "undignified muck of the masses". And it is a contempt that ultimately reveals the utter insincerity of progressive appeals to democracy or the "popular will", a will that they see as easily manipulated and founded in ignorance.

It is, therefore, no wonder that progressive policies are so regularly aimed at trying to control the masses rather than leaving them to their own devices in freedom.

Posted by: ScottC3 | September 4, 2010 9:29 PM | Report abuse

Welcome back. This post from Bruce Web at the Angrybear blog on blogspot deserves a post all by itself...

.
.
.
The Medicare Headline You Didn't See (and won't)
.
For years we have been regaled with scary, scary numbers about how Medicare's projected unfunded liability was in the TENS OF TRILLIONS. And sure enough if you consulted the Medicare Report and examined the actuarial projections for Medicare Part A you would find that number. But a funny thing happened with the 2010 Report and is shown in the data table above: the 75 year number is down to $6.9 trillion, a big number but only 0.5% of projected GDP over that period, and the infinite future number is actually a $600 billion SURPLUS.

Oddly this multi-multi trillion dollar turnaround did not result in banner headlines in the NYT or the WaPo, nor did congratulatory telegrams pour into the offices of Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and dare I say it Barack Obama from the folk at Cato and Concord that have been weeping bitter, bitter tears about 'intergenerational inequity' and begging us to 'think about the grandchildren'. Because that is not how they roll nor was any of this what the kerfluffle has been about. The fundamental hostility to Medicare among the self-style deficit hawks is not because it is broken, but instead because it works. For them that infinite future $600 billion SURPLUS is terrible, terrible news. Which is why it never made it to the inboxes of Lori Montgomery and Perry Bacon at the WaPo, though you can bet big that any deterioration would have. Funny that.
.
.
.
http://www.angrybearblog.com/2010/09/medicare-headline-you-didnt-see-and.html

Posted by: grooft | September 4, 2010 10:11 PM | Report abuse

ruk,

I left answers to all your questions and claims two threads back.

Posted by: quarterback1 | September 4, 2010 10:41 PM | Report abuse

It appears that after everyone had a chance to think about Obama's Iraq speech, the bottom has fallen out of his numbers.


Total Disapprove 56%


Total Approve 42%

It appears that the polls numbers have been sinking all week - as people discuss Obama's speech and hear what other people have to say - Obama's numbers sink further.


Obama has lost the confidence of the American People - and he has done it in a way that no one wants to give him a second chance.


In addition, Obama's "strongly disapprove" is now up to 45% - which is an unbelievable high - a number which is almost impossible to overcome. Opponents only have to add another 5% to that to win.


.

.

Posted by: SaveTheRainforest | September 5, 2010 12:31 AM | Report abuse

You guys should stop complaining because, one the health care we have now isnt as good as it was supposed to be. also the law has just been signed so give it some time. so if u want to say u have the right to choose tell that to ur congress men or state official. If you do not have insurance and need one You can find full medical coverage at the lowest price by calling 877-882-4740 or check http://bit.ly/9fDY7U If you have health insurance and do not care about cost just be happy about it and trust me you are not going to loose anything!


Posted by: cadynhenry04 | September 5, 2010 1:06 AM | Report abuse

@Peggy, you insurance is very costly you can save money on your auto insurance by making few simple changes find how much you can save http://bit.ly/cHUBop

Posted by: cadynhenry04 | September 5, 2010 3:04 AM | Report abuse

Hey all, thanks for this thread -- I did enjoy the break.

Here's a fresh open thread for today:

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/plum-line/2010/09/sunday_open_thread_4.html

Posted by: Greg Sargent | September 5, 2010 8:12 AM | Report abuse

ru said: "Perhaps a failed attempt at snark."

Sorry. Sometimes my snarkometer drops out and has to be reset.

Re the remark above on conservatives "ruining this blog"... Nah. It's easy enough to pass over those who aren't worth reading or engaging. The mistake is to take the bait when it's tossed out in front of you.

Posted by: bernielatham | September 5, 2010 8:19 AM | Report abuse

foo. bar.
baz.  bat.

Posted by: jzap | September 5, 2010 10:46 AM | Report abuse

Foo. Bar.
Baz.  Bat.
Bam.   Mam.

Posted by: jzap | September 5, 2010 10:49 AM | Report abuse

PLEASE, leave Adam Serwer OFF your 'guest host' list the next time you take a holiday. He sounds like he came right in from the cold off John Boehner's staff...

Posted by: rbaldwin2 | September 5, 2010 1:54 PM | Report abuse

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