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Parsing the Polls: Understanding Independents

During The Fix's much-needed vacation last week, the Post polling staff launched a fascinating project looking at self-identified independents and their impact on American politics.

The project includes a major survey conducted jointly by the Washington Post, Kaiser Family Foundation, and Harvard University, graphical presentations of the data, and an analysis by Post senior political writer Dan Balz and Post polling director Jon Cohen.

While perusing the survey data we gained some insight into the gains made by the Democratic Party in 2006. More independents now lean Democrat. But are those gaines sustainable through 2008?

Let's Parse the Polls!

From 10,000 feet, it is clear that Democrats have made inroads with independents. The Republican brand remains tarnished nationally. Forty-one percent of independents hold a favorable view of the national GOP and 55 view it unfavorably. National Democrats fair slightly better. Fifty-five percent of independents felt favorably about the national party, while 41 percent felt unfavorably. (Interestingly, independents were far more favorably inclined to their state Democratic -- 59 fav/34 unfav -- and Republican -- 50 fav/43 unfav -- parties.)

On specific issues, the news is also quite good for Democrats. Asked which party better represented their views, independents time and time again sided with Democrats, often by wide margins. On healthcare, 48 percent of independents said the Democratic Party was closer to their position, while just 20 percent chose Republicans. That trend was mirrored on the war in Iraq with 44 percent identifying with the Democratic position and 28 percent opting for the Republican stance.

Even in traditional areas of strength Republicans have seen their leads erode or disappear. On the economy, independents side with Democrats by a three point margin; on the "U.S. campaign on terrorism" Republicans hold a nine point lead, a drastic drop off from the 2002 and 2004 elections when Democrats were unable to overcome the sense among voters that Republicans were better able to keep America safe.

And yet, despite all of that pro-Democratic data, there is also information in the survey that suggests that the country's ideological underpinnings have not been fundamentally altered. In the sample as a whole, which included not just independents but also Democrats and Republicans, 39 percent identified themselves as conservatives, 30 percent called themselves moderates and 28 percent referred to themselves as liberals. Among independents, 38 percent said they were moderates, while 35 percent identified as conservatives and 25 percent called themselves liberals.

On social issues, the trend line is similar. Thirty-five percent of independents described themselves as liberal on social issues, while 32 percent said they were moderate and 31 percent said conservative; on fiscal matters just 15 percent identified as liberal, while 35 percent chose the moderate tag and 48 percent called themselves conservatives.

Why the discrepancy between affinity for the Democratic party (in general and on issues) and the fact that most Americans still see themselves as either moderates or conservatives?

As usual, a single factor cannot explain it.

First, thanks to an extended campaign by conservatives over the past few decades the word "liberal" has turned into a pejorative term. As a result, many American shy away from calling themselves "liberal" even if their political philosophy fits squarely into that category.

Second, and more importantly, the Post poll and numerous other surveys that indicate that much of the gains Democrats have made among independents is as a result of a strong distaste for President Bush and his policies in Iraq.

Asked to name the worst president in the "modern era" a near majority of independents -- 48 percent -- chose Bush. The next worst was a tie between Richard Nixon and Jimmy Carter, both of whom received 13 percent. Just 29 percent of Independents said the war in Iraq was worth fighting -- five percent lower than the broader sample -- and a whopping 67 percent said it was not worth fighting.

Another sign of discontent among independents for the current political environment, which has largely been created by Bush and the war, is the fact that 86 percent described themselves as "frustrated" with the current state of politics; 58 percent said they were "pessimistic" and 56 percent called themselves "angry."

It's hard to predict how these feelings will develop or change once George W. Bush is no longer the face of the Republican Party. By early next year Bush will begin to take a back seat to the chosen GOP nominee who, almost certainly, will attempt to distance himself from the current incumbent.

With a new face representing the party will independents return back to "normal," splitting their votes relatively evenly between the two parties in 2008? Or has Bush created a new normal among independents -- creating a new voting bloc that will continue think and, more importantly, vote like Democrats?

By Chris Cillizza  |  July 11, 2007; 7:00 AM ET
Categories:  Parsing the Polls  
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Posted by: kilka | July 31, 2007 9:10 AM | Report abuse

Blarg, you are right in that in saying that the Democrats have a plan for dealing with rising health costs. However, since they will not acknowledge that making something "free' to the consumer can only result in irresponsible behavior and unlimited cost to society, they will only make things worse.

As far as the Democrats opposing interference in people's lives, deconstructing the institution of marriage is a pretty big one. Our government was not created to tell us what marriage is. The institution of marriage predates our government by more than a few millennia. This is a good example of the government creating a problem - it has no business in this type of social meddling.

You also mention that some Republicans are trying to address our uncontrolled immigration problem. However, just few years ago, the Republicans controlled both houses of Congress as well as the presidency and managed not to deal with this issue. However, they did manage to expand the size and scope of the government along with the deficit.

Posturing is not the same thing as solving problems.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 13, 2007 7:03 PM | Report abuse

"The FBI is gathering and sorting information about Americans to help search for potential terrorists, insurance cheats and crooked pharmacists, according to a government report obtained Tuesday.

Records about identity thefts, real estate transactions, motor vehicle accidents and complaints about Internet drug companies are being searched for common threads to aid law enforcement officials, the Justice Department said in a report to Congress on the agency's data-mining practices.

In addition, the report disclosed government plans to build a new database to assess the risk posed by people identified as potential or suspected terrorists.

The chairman of the Senate committee that oversees the Justice Department said the database was "ripe for abuse." The American Civil Liberties Union immediately derided the quality of the information that could be used to score someone as a terror threat. Read more..."

Posted by: rufus1133 | July 12, 2007 11:51 AM | Report abuse

Every election turns on independents. That's why Democrats get elected in supposedly "red" states and Republicans get elected in supposedly "Blue" states.

The fact is that the majority of American people are not ideologically aligned. Some are issue oriented. Others are simply moved to vote by perceptions of the moment.

Take the recent statement by a Polson, Montana Republican Senator who just said publically he will vote for Democrat Max Baucus, if the only annouced Republican challenger, former GOP House Majority Leader Mike (profanity-laced-tirade) Lange, is the only Republican on the ballot. Lange still is ideologically in line with most republicans, but a perception him being out of control will cost him not only idependant votes, but even GOP votes.

Sometimes it's just the perception of who is the "winner" and "loser" leading up to an election. The press drives a lot of this, not by ideological slant, as ideologues would have us believe, but by the "horse race" style coverage of elections that focus only on the current opinon polls.

As far as multiple parties, there is nothing that prevents multiple parties. They spring up all the time. To be successful the Constitution would have to be amended to allow proportional representation, as in European Democracies.

Posted by: alan in Missoula | July 12, 2007 11:39 AM | Report abuse

Chris, you said that the Democrats and Republicans aren't doing anything about America's problems. But now that you've listed what you perceive to be America's problems, that just isn't true.

Every Democratic candidate has a plan to deal with rising health care costs. The Democrats in general oppose increased governmental interference in peoples' lives. (Assuming you're talking about the Patriot Act and other civil liberties abuses.) Some traditional conservative Republicans agree. Many Republicans are trying to restrict illegal immigration or deport current illegal immigrants. And I don't know what you expect government to do about fatherless children that doesn't fall under the category of "uncontrolled involvement in the lives of citizens."

There are very few problems which neither major party will address. You could make a case for campaign finance and the way we run our elections, because the current system benefits both parties. But for regular domestic and foreign issues, it's ridiculous to say that neither the Republicans nor the Democrats are trying to solve them. You might not like the solutions they propose, and you might not agree with one party a majority of the time, but you can't say that nobody's dealing with these issues.

Posted by: Blarg | July 12, 2007 9:33 AM | Report abuse

According to this study, I am apparently a disillusioned dislocated deliberator.

I find your comments to be interesting, but I have two minor quibbles:

First, I would not put much weight on results of survey questions that ask people for the worst or best President ever. Have you never noticed that every time someone does a poll on best songs or movies ever, the resulting list is heavily loaded with songs or movies from the last ten years? People have short memories, and feelings tend to moderate with time.

Second, you state that there is "discontent among independents for the current political environment" - an understatement if ever I heard one. However, I disagree that this "has largely been created by Bush and the war". I, for one, am thoroughly disgusted with both political parties. They both seem willing to say or do almost anything to get into power or stay there. They seem to believe in nothing, and show no interest in honest discourse. They have raised hypocrisy to an art form. Yes, I know that ethics and politics parted ways a long time ago, but it seems to me to be worse than ever.

Thanks again for the intelligent commentary. I'm going to bookmark this site.

Posted by: Robert Sullivan | July 12, 2007 9:09 AM | Report abuse

Add on, Rent, my part $137.00, all electric, cooking Ac/heat avg about 60 a mo. year round. We have Marshall U. with about 25,000 students, and that is what keeps the town going.

Posted by: lylepink | July 11, 2007 10:03 PM | Report abuse

Blarg -
A list of America's problems:

A totally disfunctional Federal bureaucracy;
Our public schools;
Uncontrolled national borders & the growing alien underclass;
Health care costs;
Uncontrolled Federal government growth and involvement in the lives of its citizens.
Growing number of fatherless children with all of the problems to which this leads.

This list could go on and on. I believe that we have lost focus as a nation and our government is not even beginning to address most problems.
The strength of this nation is its people and our shared culture - not our government. We need to take back our government and make it part of the solution, not part of the problem.

I am an ex-member of the Liberal Party (NY) that has spent many years observing the Federal government from the inside (Federal employee).

Posted by: Chris | July 11, 2007 9:51 PM | Report abuse

Mark in Austin: Sounds like you have a very wise young lady for a daughter. Cable/Internet varies, I have Comcast, the old Adelphia, and my cost is $99.70, and problems galoore, they have people working for them that are lucky if they could count to 100, at least they act that way. Phone 37, with 300 daytime, unlimited night/weekend. Rent for 1 br/eff runs 3 to 400 with water/sewage usually included. Those are the differences I noted, although I am disabled and get help with my rent and my Rx's rarely exceed 20. With both Medicare and Medicaid I am able to get the meds needed to keep me alive, otherwise no way.

Posted by: lylepink | July 11, 2007 9:33 PM | Report abuse

We have had Republicans and Democrats in office since the 1986 Amnesty program. No one closed our borders, now both parties wanted to give all illegal aliens Amnesty, telling us as they did in 1986 that this would end illegals coming in to our country. It didn't and it won't. Only a secure border will ensure protection of our borders. Why National Guard on the border "unarmed"? Border Agents fired for stopping smugglers bringing drugs in to America, agents fired for laying hands on illegal aliens trying to protect us from this Human horde invading our nation. Now Republicans didn't stop this, Clinton didn't stop this, our voters elected Democrats in 2005/6, and border still not protected, so where do voters turn? We have tried both parties, and nothing happening. Citizens are tired of do nothing elected officials, in 2008 our citizens are looking for action, and results. The Republicans and Democrats spend, spend, spend like there is no tomorrow.
As an Independent, voters can split the ticket and vote for the person, not the party.
Since there doesn't seem to be much difference in both parties anymore, voters are re-registering as Independents. So now you have an independent running for President! Don Cordell if you elect me, I'll take action, and close our borders. I will send armed National Guard to protect our borders with orders to shoot to kill, until we have that fence in place. Jump over the fence, and "you will" be shot. That will stop a lot right there, as there is no penalty for invading America.
Changing party affiliation is not necessarily for Conservative or Liberal as much as it is, homeland security. Everyone is angry at the Hispanic invasion, the war in Iraq, not so much spending on anything in America. But our inflation of about 10% a year right now is killing the middle and lower class citizens. People loosing homes to foreclosure, because of down sizing, it's just a shame what is happening to our economy, while we are spending billions a day in Iraq. When we finally pull out, and we will eventually, of course we will leave all the military vehicles and supplies behind, as usual. What a disgrace for a nation that use to be so respected. I'm embarrassed at the behavior of our government, the treatment of prisoners.
We must change our government to have a secure nation, with respect.
Next will be to circumvent the imports from China, to stop this Globalization, start helping American companies return production back to America. I want to see more "Made in America, by Americans"

Posted by: Don Cordell | July 11, 2007 9:28 PM | Report abuse

M in A, I see I was looking at the wrong place. The pie chart on the site shows DOD spending at $466b out of a total budget of $2.8 trillion. I have no idea why there's a discrepency. Still, I think drindl led with 1/3 of the budget (no doubt consumed entirely by no-bid contracts for the evil defense industrial complex, lol)

No matter. As you say, when in war, you do what you need to do. And maybe the more meaningful measure is DOD spending as a % of GDP. Measured that way, historically, we're not spending near enough to keep us all safe.

Posted by: JD | July 11, 2007 9:17 PM | Report abuse

lylepink -

I just had dinner with her and she is beating the budget slightly. She packs lunch 3 days.
She is an analytical chemist so she wears jeans to work - clothes budget so far is zero. She works out on my family Y membership and takes kickboxing at a UT extension program - and guys are paying the rest of her entertainment budget, pretty much.

She is driving well over 200mi per week, however. We had figured San Diego at $52000, Houston at $33000, and Austin at $35000. She also had a potential offer in Conn and in DC but she wanted to stay in Austin for her first year out of school.

She also does her laundry at our house.

Posted by: Mark in Austin | July 11, 2007 8:40 PM | Report abuse

lylepink -

rent 655

Elec, gas, water, wastewater, garbage, household items, cat 180

cable+internet 78

telephone 82

Auto expense @ 700 mi./mo:
gasoline 85
Oil 8
Ordinary maintenance 100
depreciation 50
insurance - liab only 100/300/50 51
50 meals home 125
40 meals out 400
clothing 50
entertainment 150

Unreimbursed med:
dentist 50
md/gyn 25
drugs 25

Misc., travel, savings 186

Posted by: Mark in Austin | July 11, 2007 8:28 PM | Report abuse

JD -
Article says 699B/2800B. Pie chart did not include war, apparently. Article goes on:

* $699 billion

U.S. Military Budget - DoD Base Spending: The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) has the single largest budget of any government agency in the discretionary budget. Last year (FY 2006), Defense Department base budget expenditures were $411 billion, nearly half of net discretionary spending. This year (FY 2007), it has increased to $430 billion, still about half. Next year (FY 2008), it is projected to grow to $481 billion, or 52%. This so-called base budget is the basic level needed to keep the DoD in readiness.

U.S. Military Budget - War on Terror Base Spending : The War on Terror (WoT) incurs additional costs by other departments. When added to the DoD base spending, the amount comes to: $474 billion in FY 2006, which is 56% of net discretionary spending, $505 billion in FY 2007, and $554 billion in FY 2008, nearly 60% of discretionary spending. Total base budget for all non DoD/WoT departments is around $370 billion, which stays at the same funding level for all three fiscal years.

FY 2006 Supplemental Funding : The Defense Department base budget also does not include "one time only" costs attributable to the War on Terror, which are submitted as Supplemental Funding. In FY 2006, an additional $153 billion in Supplemental Funding was added to the base budget - the War on Terror received $120 billion, while $33 billion went primarily for Hurricane Katrina. As a result, 60% of last year's discretionary spending went to DoD/WoT.

Posted by: Mark in Austin | July 11, 2007 8:18 PM | Report abuse


edit to add: Boko beat me to the explaination punch. Well done.

Posted by: JD | July 11, 2007 8:07 PM | Report abuse

M in A, my cite showed Def at 17% I think. Did I read that wrong?

As for secondary stock sales creating wealth - we know that the market creates liquidity, therefore making it much more likely that an individual will invest risk capital in a business venture. (I.e., individuals would be reluctant if they thought their capital was 'captured' by the corporation, creating a chilling effect). Taken as a whole, increasing risk capital pool means there's more production in the economy, again as a whole. Some people lose money of course, but more people gain, increasing the size of the pie.

Posted by: JD | July 11, 2007 8:05 PM | Report abuse

Mark in Austin: The cost of the Apt? Also, what about health insurance, and does she have only liab. on the car without comp.? The deduct on comp. can be a killer. Saving is a dream of most folk, and most have theirs in various 401K's, and others offered my their employer, if at all. The 27k take home seems a little high for most of the south, and for Ca. and NY, it is hardy a liveable wage.

Posted by: lylepink | July 11, 2007 7:33 PM | Report abuse

It seems a bit absurd to try and understand independents as a group. By definition, independents have independent positions. The statistics we see here are averages of a series of independent variables(the variables being the voters). That doesn't make much sense.

Posted by: Antigone | July 11, 2007 7:24 PM | Report abuse

This from your own people Julie and Razor. Look in the mirror. don't attack me. Stop the "you", I'll stop the "rufus"

"GOP fears for credibility after scandals
Lust, predation, hypocrisy. These behaviors were observed in humans, including Washington politicians, even before Republicans roared to power on Capitol Hill in the 1990s.

But the agony of Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) -- a self-proclaimed social conservative exposed Monday night as a customer of an escort service -- is one more float in a long and flamboyant parade of sexual follies and scandals served up by his generation of congressional Republicans. Previous attractions include former House members Newt Gingrich, Henry Hyde, Bob Barr, Bob Livingston and Mark Foley.

Embarrassment for the GOP was entertainment for many others, as people in Washington and around the nation chortled over the latest stubbed toe for a crowd that took power, and held it, in large measure by decrying the decay of traditional values and by issuing censorious attacks on the personal failings of political rivals.

Beyond the chortling, however, the Vitter scandal is a small piece of a much more significant development: The demoralized state of the social conservative movement on the brink of the 2008 election
"It's the hypocrisy that people can't stand," said Michael Cromartie, a social conservative himself who chaired the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom under President Bush. "It's not the fact that people are frail and given to sinful behavior. It's when they try to pretend to be morally upright and end up being self-righteous because they preach one thing and live another."

The gulf between the professed values of conservative political leaders and the way some actually conduct their lives has sapped energy from a movement that was a powerful engine for the Republican Party over the past three decades."

Posted by: rufus | July 11, 2007 6:55 PM | Report abuse

I am one of the persons quoted in last Sunday's (July 1) story. I am an R but only so I can vote in local elections. I would be an I but they are generally excluded from voting in primaries in Florida.There has recently been some movement on changing those laws but each party protects its status as the majority party. More and more people here in Florida think of themselves as I even though they register as a D or R. I think the moderates are eventually going to dominate here.
Have you ever noticed how similar the far left and the far right really are? No idea has any merit except theirs. No compromise on the issues. No legislation from the bench, unless it agrees with me. The best government is local government, except when the state or federals disagree.
Moderates and independents are not spineless, they are thoughtful.

Posted by: Julie | July 11, 2007 6:19 PM | Report abuse

Mark - I have been working but I would have given essentially the same answer as Razor.

Razor - you challenged us to find NY Times coverage of Dingell's carbon tax proposal:

Posted by: JimD in FL | July 11, 2007 6:17 PM | Report abuse

lylepink, we went through that exercise with our youngest daghter in June as she was deciding on her first career job as a chemist.

We gave her a 2002 car outright so she would not have car payments and we covered her first month of expenses.

We came up with yearly net cash outlay in Austin, living alone in a one br apt, of about $27k, necessitating a salary of about $35k. That was on a frugal, but not minimum, budget [allowed for 50 meals at home and 40 meals out, for example, and allowed her about 700mi/mo on the car, and $150/mo savings].

Pretty scary, huh?

Posted by: Mark in Austin | July 11, 2007 6:07 PM | Report abuse

While reading the comments on taxes, I notice no reference made on the actual cost of living a moderate lifestyle in todays world. Some of you math buffs may be able to figure this out by region, city, or even at a state level. Take this on an family and a single person, which would include food, clothing,shelter, and health care. I would like to see what you folks come up with and compare it to my situation and other working folks I am familiar with.

Posted by: lylepink | July 11, 2007 5:48 PM | Report abuse

Yeah you giggle about the universities, the jobs, the advances in technology. Market capitalism is at the heart of the Amrican story.

Posted by: Razorback | July 11, 2007 5:48 PM | Report abuse

Razorback writes
"The existence of an efficient transparant well regulated market which causes a person like you (and millions of others) to even think about buying stock has created the largest pool of investment capital in the history of the world."

Yup. Its not Mark's transaction that counts, its the existence of the market in which Mark conducts transactions.

Rz continues...
"This has been, despite the occasional frauds and foibles, one of the greatest forces for good in all of human history."

Geez... Got hyperbole?

Calling capital markets 'forces for good' makes me giggle.

Posted by: bsimon | July 11, 2007 5:35 PM | Report abuse

Independants are taking over. You corporate sell-outs had your chance. You chose poorly. You chose yourself and or $$$$$$ over the future (country).

That to me is treason. Independant nation.

That's what this country IS WAS AND WILL ALWAYS BE. Now that the people know aobut you GOP, you are done. Done blame me. Look in the mirror.


Posted by: rufus | July 11, 2007 5:29 PM | Report abuse

Peace in the middle east. Have a good day everybody.


Read my boy. He will help you GOP'ers return to reality.

Posted by: rufus | July 11, 2007 5:26 PM | Report abuse

It was asked:

"I have always had difficulty with understanding the effect of the secondary stock market - when I buy stock, it is a bookkeeping transaction offset by a bookkeeping transaction of a sale by another "investor", less a broker's commission. I am missing how secondary trading increases investment capital."

Mark in Austin, when a person buys a stock from someone else, it generally does not contribute to the investment capital of the company. An increase in value caused by many buyer would potentially increase the capital of the company (if it owned its own stock, if it issued bonds that could be exchanged for stock, maybe others).

The existence of an efficient transparant well regulated market which causes a person like you (and millions of others) to even think about buying stock has created the largest pool of investment capital in the history of the world. This has been, despite the occasional frauds and foibles, one of the greatest forces for good in all of human history.

Posted by: Razorback | July 11, 2007 5:19 PM | Report abuse

I watch Fox. Have since 2001. I have been angry for years the people they attack and the reasons they attack them. I don't need you to tell me that Fox reports facts, because you know that's false.

Your playing games. Your probably laughin glike a school girl when you make posts like that. Play time is over. That is why the GOP is done.

There are no NEWS stations that only report good news for dems and bad news of the rebubs, are there? I've never seen them. You can cherry pick all you want. Look what the've done to the media.

You want me gone. Help me get Fox/Rush off the iar. Until then your going to have to put up with it. That or keep your mouth shut

Posted by: rufus | July 11, 2007 5:17 PM | Report abuse

Rufus, I am not trying to push you off this cite. I am just trying to get you to check out the Fox News site BEFORE you post that Fox failed to report something, so I don't have to post a link which shows that Fox did report precisely what some goober claimed they did not.

Posted by: Razorback | July 11, 2007 5:11 PM | Report abuse

Razorback or JD - Could you address the question I asked JimD at 4:44p? He may be off doing something productive.

Posted by: Mark in Austin | July 11, 2007 5:10 PM | Report abuse

JD, in Gore's book, he compares polling data of American opinion which his opinion of objective truth, and determines that there is an "assault on reason".

If over the last 20 years, Democrats were polled and asked the size of the defense budget as a % of federal spending, the results would be so astronomically higher than the actual defense budget it would show where reason does not lie.

More Democrats believe in UFOs than believe that the defense budget is way less than 10% of federal spending, and has been so for a long time.

Posted by: Razorback | July 11, 2007 5:09 PM | Report abuse

Play time in Razor's pen.

YOu will not push me off this site. Your party of fascsits has a couple months. What will you do without your avatars?

Posted by: rufus | July 11, 2007 5:09 PM | Report abuse

JD - I looked at your cite and saw that Defense is about 1/4 of the budget. Is that what you intended to demonstrate?

I think Defense should be the biggest item in the budget. We are in two military ground engagements in Asia.

Posted by: Mark in Austin | July 11, 2007 5:08 PM | Report abuse

Rufus said: "SEE Razor. The main-stream media (liek the market DOMINATING FOx) refuses to report facts."

They did report the facts, you said they didn't.

Posted by: Razorback | July 11, 2007 5:03 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: JD | July 11, 2007 4:58 PM | Report abuse

JimDinFL says:

"Razor - interest rates are higher than they were a few years ago. Foreclosures are on the rise due to rate increases on adjustable mortgages."

If you compare this table on interest rates....:

....with Figure 3 (surplus/deficit as % of gdp)...

... you will see that as the surplus peaked in 1999 and 2000, interest rates were nearly as high as they were in January 1993, before the Clinton budget. Compare Jan. 1993 and July 2000 rates.

As the surplus turn into a deficit from 2000 until 2004, interest rates declined to historic lows. In fact, the interest rate for each year of "Bush" deficits is LOWER THAN the interest rate for each year of "Clinton" surpluses.

You bought the Clinton "not one Republican vote" spin. Its on the wall at the Clinton library, its all over Krugman. Its only link to rational cause and effect tie(as you point out) is interest rates, but as Harry Truman pointed out, there are so many different causes and effects going on that there is always an "on the other hand". The tie held for a few years in the 1990s, but the spin goes on forever.

Clintonian taking credit for low interest rates because of the first budget vote disappeared from policy discourse when rates when down as the suplus declined and turned to deficit. It remains in public discourse because of Clintons never ending quest for credit.

There were many other factors at work in the 1990s, most of which had to do with the efficiencies created by technology and the technology stock bubble, not government policy. As I said before, politicians of both parties greatly exaggerate the role of government in the economy.

Posted by: Razorback | July 11, 2007 4:56 PM | Report abuse

JimD, I have a question for you, too. I understand how savings create multiple times as much lending capital in banks and s&l's .

I understand how new issue investment directly capitalizes a business.

I have always had difficulty with understanding the effect of the secondary stock market - when I buy stock, it is a bookkeeping transaction offset by a bookkeeping transaction of a sale by another "investor", less a broker's commission. I am missing how secondary trading increases investment capital.


Posted by: Mark in Austin | July 11, 2007 4:44 PM | Report abuse

Chris, what do you mean by "America's problems"? Give some examples.

Posted by: Blarg | July 11, 2007 4:42 PM | Report abuse

As a long time independent, I feel that the Democrat party has ceased to offer a program for America as a whole. It appears only to pander to specific groups, offering to expand the rights and priviledges of these specific groups at the expense of the rest of America. To me, it has no respect for American values or vision for the future of America.
On the other hand, the Republican party has become more and more come to resemble the Democrats, e.g. the expansion of the Federal government under Bush, as well as the shameless pandering to illegal aliens pouring across our borders. While many of us independents are now discusted with the Republicans, I don't see me and others like me voting for the Democrats.
I'm looking for a party that will responsibly address America's problems. Maybe I'll vote Libertarian.

Posted by: Chris | July 11, 2007 4:39 PM | Report abuse

Two seperate issues, Razor. That's why I put a space. Are you a lwyaer trying to rebuttal? :) What a funny guy you are. What are you trying to prove? Who are you trying to convince? YOurself?

I spell it out for you. I know dittoheads CAN'T think for them selves.

1. Your people are hypocrites. You tell (preach)other how to live while doing the exact opposite. The FOx first amendment was an exapmle. Ok.

2. All news organization are now run by THE CORPORATION rather than newsmen. The worst is fox. They are liars. They should be reporting news. Your gonna "news flash" that they reported news for once. They should do that. Their title has NEWS in it.

You look like a fool. Are you really this dumb or are you messing with me.

Posted by: RUFUS | July 11, 2007 4:34 PM | Report abuse

Mark in Austin, there are so many variables in play when attempting to accurately describe investment taxation and I have seen so many studies which are contradictory that I am not comfortable with any of them.

I did see a note that stated there is rebate for toursist of Danish VAT.

Posted by: Razorback | July 11, 2007 4:33 PM | Report abuse

As I was asking ??? you posted Danish tax treatment. I am reading it.

Posted by: Mark in Austin | July 11, 2007 4:22 PM | Report abuse

Colin, I am sure then that you recall the part in Woodward's book where Clinton voices frustration that reduction in interest rates would not be automatic, but would depend on what the BOND MARKET did in reaction to the deficit reduction.

The bond market (yes, thats right, all of the greed bond daddies speculating) and the Federal Reserve Board have alot more to do with interest rates than does the President.

Politicians of both parties greatly exaggerate the influence that they have on the economy when claiming credit. The reason our economy works so well is because the government has relatively little influence.

The real irony here is that the thing that politicians most like to claim credit for is the creation of jobs. Politicians attempting to claim credit for creating jobs is the number one reason for corporate welfare.

Posted by: Razorback | July 11, 2007 4:21 PM | Report abuse

Razor -

I understood our previous discussion of corporate taxes with JD to be that JD agreed with me that corporate income taxes in a competitive market theoretically could not be passed on as pricing because the same price would maximize profit before or after tax;
however, both of you explained to me that in a global economy the corporation was free to choose a tax haven to set up shop.

If I have got a handle on that, do you know how our corporate tax structure compares with the EU? Japan? Is it not easily compared because of VAT? JD seemed to think that VAT played into any comparison, which seems realistic to me. Of course, VAT can be passed on, and strikes me as a way for a Euro company to hide what would be an unlawful tariff as a lawful tax in its overseas trade. I know Canada rebates the VAT to US tourists - does EU rebate VAT to American customers?

Posted by: Mark in Austin | July 11, 2007 4:18 PM | Report abuse

Danish tax treatment of holding companies cite.

Posted by: Razorback | July 11, 2007 4:13 PM | Report abuse

Danish tax treatment of holding companies cite.

Posted by: Razorback | July 11, 2007 4:13 PM | Report abuse

MikeB, its not stupid to point out that Demark does many of the things that you call corrupt lobbyist driven Republican political evils, and you are praising Demark.

You would be howling of you knew that the the US allowed something like this:

"Compared to most other countries, Denmark is a unique holding company location, especially for investors from outside Europe.

The Danish tax regime allows an efficient routing of subsidiary dividends from other EU countries through a Danish holding company to an ultimate parent outside the EU without any taxes."

That you do not understand how Demark is using tax laws favorable to corporations to attract investment and jobs in a manner I said the US should do makes YOU stupid, not me.

Posted by: Razorback | July 11, 2007 4:11 PM | Report abuse


Actually, savings is investment in the macroeconomic sense. The banks invest your savings when they loan to businesses or to home buyers. I don't know where you draw the line on the well-off, but over the last 20 years more and more middle income people have invested in mutual funds.

Razor - interest rates are higher than they were a few years ago. Foreclosures are on the rise due to rate increases on adjustable mortgages.

Posted by: JimD in FL | July 11, 2007 4:07 PM | Report abuse

I applaud Independent voters who vote for the best candidate based on who among the field of candidates is the best choice. They are not blinded by any party affiliation. They vote based on an intelligent research and analysis of the candidates.

Perhaps government would fare better if we had a government with no party labels (Repbulican, Democrat, Green or Independent) and everyone was felt free to vote for the candidate they felt would do the best for the America and We the People.

Posted by: andrea | July 11, 2007 4:03 PM | Report abuse

Razorback keeps making stupid posts about Danish "Free Enterprise". Well, most Dane's wouldn't knows that KOZ is talking about. Corporations are heavily regulated and made to be socially responsible. To give you all an idea about this, I quote from a recent article in the COpenhagen Post:

09.07.2007 Print article (IE & NS 4+)

A UN study has named Denmark as one of the world?s best countries when it comes to corporate social responsibility

A well-balanced mix of capitalism and social integrity have helped make Denmark the world's second leading nation for corporate social responsibility, according to a study completed for the United Nations' Global Compact Leaders Summit, which ended Sunday.

The study, conducted biannually by London-based think-tank AccountAbility, rated Denmark second-best in its 2007 Responsible Competitiveness Index, which determines how effectively a country's companies are carrying out responsible business practices.

Denmark moved up one place from its ranking of third in the last RCI and only Sweden ranked higher in the 2007 study.

RCI 2007 examined 108 countries represented on all five continents and consisted of over 96 percent of global GDP. Variables used in the study included carbon dioxide emissions, ethical behaviour of companies, employment of women in the private sector, public perception of government corruption, freedom of the press, and countries' participation in the signing of socially and environmentally beneficial treaties.

The Global Compact Leaders Summit, held to discuss ways to build international markets while promoting social responsibility, was chaired by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and included many of the world's top chief executives, heads of state and government ministers.

All five Nordic countries - Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland and Iceland - placed in the top six, with the UK, New Zealand, Ireland, Australia and Canada making up the rest of the top ten.

And, KOZ? The U.S. ranks in the bottom 10% in that study.

Posted by: MikeB | July 11, 2007 4:00 PM | Report abuse

JimDinFL says:

"Colin - no and yes.

Actually, the taming of the deficit is widely credited by non-partisan economists with being a major factor in the econmoic boom of the 90's since it allowed lower interest rates. The Clinton tax package played a key role in deficit reduction. Senator Phil Gramm predicted grass growing in the streets of America if that bill were passed - which it did without a single Republican vote."

Economists USED to say that the taming of the deficit led to lower interest rates which spurred the economy. Did interest rates go back up when the deficit went back up? NO, this is why you don't hear that element of the Clinton spin anymore.

The reason interest rates have stayed low despite the deficit is because inflation has stayed low (despite oil prices), mostly because the labor competition resulting from Chinese imports.

Harry Truman once said he would like to "meet a one handed economist". This is because economists always say "on the other hand" when explaining the negatives that come with the positives of anything that happens in the economy. Chinese imports have cost the US alot of manufacturing jobs, but they have also allowed alot of people to finance homes inexpensively.

Posted by: Razorback | July 11, 2007 3:47 PM | Report abuse

JimD in FL - I would draw your attention to the fact that the same sorts of laws exist all across Europe. If a company lays off an employee, they end up paying up to 2 years unemployment. This was done as a disincentive to willy nilly fire employees and replace them with cheaper workers as U.S. companies do. And, I might note, it hasn't harmed the employment numbers, the job creation numbers, nor corporate profits in Scandinavia, Austria or Germany. Almost alone amoungst Western European countries outside of France, the U.K. has laws similar to ours, and their economy is floundering!
In France roughly 14% of the population is over 65. Ten percent of the population are Muslim immigrants, mostly from North Africa. Amoungst those immigrants, unemployment reaches close to 30%, butmost this population doesn't speak French and has never integraed into French culture. These two groups alone account for more than half of the "unemployed" in France. The fact is, however, that neoither of these groups wants to work and it is problematic that they could anyways. In a lesson on lying using statistics, if these two groups are subtracted from the unemployed pool be bandied about by the likes of Razorback/KOZ French unemployment would actually be on with our published figures.

Posted by: MikeB | July 11, 2007 3:46 PM | Report abuse

Razor -- I didn't say it created budget surpluses. I didn't even mention surpluses. My point, which JimD has already articulated, is that by raising taxes Clinton's economic policy contributed to taming the deficit, which in turn enabled interest rates to decrease, which helped spur economic growth. Which is EXACTLY what Clinton said it would do.

Bob Woodward actually has an entire book detailing the tug-of-war inside Clinton's economic policy team that details Bob Rubin and Secretary Bentson's views in favor of aggressive deficit reduction prefailing over calls for immediate middle class tax cuts.

Posted by: Colin | July 11, 2007 3:46 PM | Report abuse

'You're wrong about DOD being 1/3 of the budget though, it's more like 17%. '

Not since 9/11, JD. It's skyrocketed. It's now a quarter of our entire budget. Just read a report this morning... will try to find a link for you.

JimD-- I understand what you're saying ahout encouraging investment,but I think it's an outdated idea. People [particularly the well off] don't need incentives to invest. Those that have, will. Saving is not investing... I could certainly suppor earned income from savings as worth a lower rate [espcially for those on the lower end of the scale] but that's different.

And as far as creating jobs -- jobs where? Not necessarily here, that's for sure.

Posted by: drindl | July 11, 2007 3:44 PM | Report abuse

Rufus, you are busted. Fox News not only has a story, they quote Vitter's WIFE:

In 2000, Wendy Vitter told Newhouse News Service she could not be as forgiving as Livingston's wife or Hillary Clinton.

"I'm a lot more like Lorena Bobbitt than Hillary," she said. "If he does something like that, I'm walking away with one thing, and it's not alimony, trust me.",2933,288740,00.html?sPage=fnc.politics/senate

Every single time that I have seen a reference in a post which claims Fox News is biased for failing to report a story, I have found that very story on Fox News in less than 5 minutes.

Now lets see if anyone can find New York Times or CNN coverages of John Dingell's 50 cent per gallon carbon tax? You will find coverage of Al Gore's rock concert.

Posted by: Razorback | July 11, 2007 3:37 PM | Report abuse

Colin - no and yes.

Actually, the taming of the deficit is widely credited by non-partisan economists with being a major factor in the econmoic boom of the 90's since it allowed lower interest rates. The Clinton tax package played a key role in deficit reduction. Senator Phil Gramm predicted grass growing in the streets of America if that bill were passed - which it did without a single Republican vote.

Posted by: JimD in FL | July 11, 2007 3:35 PM | Report abuse

Chris, Please write out all the poll numbers, or put them all in digits.

It's jarring to jump back and forth between "forty-one" and "41".

Posted by: Just a stylepoint | July 11, 2007 3:33 PM | Report abuse

Colin, if we did EXACTLY what you propose to do, and then used all of the money for a "middle class" tax cut, the impact on the middle class would be far less than the impact of the Bush tax cuts.

Colin also says: Razor -- Folks a whole lot smarter than I am seem to think the economic plan Clinton passed after coming into office, without a single Republican vote, had an awful lot to do with the record and sustained economic growth that came afterwards.

That was one budget, Colin. Do you really think that one year's budget determins the economic performance of the next 8? Your quote, which is very popular, is the triumph of spin over reality. The budget would have failed, except David Boren of Oklahoma insisted that Clinton's "BTU" tax be stripped.

The best way to prove that the argument that the vote you referred to created the surplus is to look at the very budge document that Clinton submitted. What did CLINTON say would happen if you passed CLINTON's budget? I will give CLinton 100% of the credit for whatever he claimed would happen in that budget. It is no where near the surplus.

This same principle applied to Reagan's and Bush's budget is the reason that I do NOT support what some call "supply side" economics. When Republicans say that a tax cut will spur enough growth to offset the revenue lost, go back and see what the actual revenues were compared to the forecast in the first budget. You will see that the shortfall is on the revenue side, not just the spending side, contrary to what Larry Kudlow says.

The government is about 25% of the economy. What happens in the 75% that is the private sector has alot more to do with what happens in the economy than what the government does.

Posted by: Razorback | July 11, 2007 3:30 PM | Report abuse

Mike - all France's problems are not due to immigration. France's problem with unemployment is directly related to the barriers to firing employees in French law. They have one of the highest unemployment rates in Europe. Also, I think extrapolating from a country with 16 or 17 million to one with 300 million is dicey at best.

The problem with mass transit in the US is largely due to sprawl. The DC area had a pretty good system when I lived there in the early 90s. But, for mass transit to be anywhere near cost effective, even with subsidies, you need to have population centers large enough to provide enough riders in a compact enough area so that, for example, getting workers from the residential districts to the working districts can be done in enough numbers to make it effective and in short enough time so as to encourage people to use it. With dispersed populations and spread out work areas - look at the proliferation of industrial parks and office parks in suburbs for example - it gets trickier to devise the routes that will have enough riders to be worthwhile and will get people where they need to go in a reasonable amount of time. The sheer size of the US has encouraged sprawl. Europeans are far more likely to live closer to urban centers and in apartments as opposed to single family homes in the suburbs than Americans. The size of European countries and the age of their cities play a role too. I have driven in Europe (I lived in Italy for several years) - urban traffic is much worse than in most US cities.

Posted by: JimD in FL | July 11, 2007 3:29 PM | Report abuse

"The blogs are having a field day with that hypocrisy.... The mainstream media, however, has largely steered clear of focusing on Vitter's past statements, opting instead to play the story relatively straight. The Washington Post, noting only about his rhetoric that Vitter is "reliable conservative vote in the Senate," didn't front the story, opting instead for A3. Rather, it's the blogs and liberal sites like Salon that are jumping on the story and hammering Vitter for statements at odds with his behavior.

If you want a straight news story, then, you can stick with the traditional media. But if you want a spotlight placed on Vitter's hypocrisy -- and the rush of satisfaction that comes with experiencing schadenfreude that you can justify -- you can head over to the blogs. Is it any wonder that the latter get so many clicks?"

SEE Razor. The main-stream media (liek the market DOMINATING FOx) refuses to report facts. Once Fox is gone you won't see me here. Once CNN and MSNBC (other than olberman) start reporting facts and truths other than paid advertisments parading as news, the nI'll be gone. YOu have every other media.

Give us the internet you greedy little pigs :). Or better yet stop complaining for once. Fear doesn't exist.


Posted by: rufus | July 11, 2007 3:24 PM | Report abuse

JimD -- Would raising tax levels back to Clinton-era levels constitute "soaking the rich?" Because that's really all I'm talking about. At best, my proposal would include creating an additional tax bracket for individuals making more than $1 million a year, who would pay a marginally higher percentage. Maybe I'm off, but that doesn't exactly seem like "soaking" anyone to me. Although obviously reasonable people can disagree.

On a somewhat related point, would you support some tax increases -- along with judicious benefit cuts -- to make sure our entitlement programs remain solvent?

Posted by: Colin | July 11, 2007 3:19 PM | Report abuse

" It would be an issue (for me) if he would just keep his mouth shut on telling others how to live"

Wouldn't be an issue. rather

Posted by: Anonymous | July 11, 2007 3:17 PM | Report abuse

No dope, we have to compete with other countries for investment, or others countries get the jobs.

Investors in CHINA pay the CHINESE TAX, not the US tax, that is precisely why taxes on investments should be lower.

Most major nations do not double tax dividends.

Capital flows to the point of highest after tax return. If we tax to high, investment and jobs go elsewhere.

And as MikeB tends to do, gets it wrong again and posts no source. Check out this source for Demark's business taxes:

The Danes promote:

Low corporate tax and minor social costs for employees

Competitive, effective taxation through flexible depreciation and amortisation methods and financing

Attractive holding company tax regime
Special expatriate taxation regime for salaried foreign individuals working in Denmark for a shorter period of time
Attractive taxation of research and development activities

Full deductibility regarding interest arising from acquisitions

Sounds like alot of "loopholes" as Colin would say.

MikeB, did you see that Corporate tax rate of 28%? Alot less that individual rates. How is that for progressive Denmark?

Why, they even ADVERTISE their corporate taxes are below the average European level. I wonder why they do that?????

Posted by: Razorback | July 11, 2007 3:17 PM | Report abuse

as soon as world peace breaks out and the cost of the defense of europe is not borne by the usa the usa can be compared to the austrians we protect. not before.

Posted by: for MikeB | July 11, 2007 3:17 PM | Report abuse

Razor -- Folks a whole lot smarter than I am seem to think the economic plan Clinton passed after coming into office, without a single Republican vote, had an awful lot to do with the record and sustained economic growth that came afterwards. We can debate that till the cows come home though, b/c there is ultimately no way to PROVE what variable, amongst many, lead to economic growth. But I think you already knew that, didn't you.

As far as what I'm talking about when i say middle class and wealth, why don't we use the current income tax brackets as a jumping off point -- since my only specific proposal to date was to raise the top bracket back to 39%. I would then suggest creating another top bracket, for income over $1 million/year that would be taxed at a somwhat higher rate. To the extent those "definitions," which I've pulled off the top of my head, don't work I'm open to making changes. The point is to have a rational discussion about tax policy that doesn't rule out any tax increases as a matter of ideology.

Posted by: Colin | July 11, 2007 3:16 PM | Report abuse

Gop hypocrites. Your people tell you one thing while representing the opposite. This happens much more than not. Most things you republicans claim to be for run counter to what you say. I could go on forever. You don't want that.

Most recent is Vitters. The republcian that caught up in the dc madam scadel. Now I don't care if you go and see prositues. That's his business. But don't go out there and tell other people they need to have conservative christian wholesome marraiges. It would be an issue (for me) if he would just keep his mouth shut on telling others how to live. This is the GOP. You love to tell others how to live, but can't measure up to the same standards. Like fox "news" saying free speech needs to be protected while ATTACKING AND TRYING TO SILENCE ALL NON_CONSERVATIVES. YOu can't have your cake and eat it to.

Like Bush, you can't make the rules then tell others the rules don't apply. YOu can't be free from laws/rules while going after the next guy

Posted by: Rufus | July 11, 2007 3:14 PM | Report abuse

WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Bush's most recent surgeon general accused the administration Tuesday of muzzling him for political reasons on hot-button health issues such as emergency contraception and abstinence-only education.

Dr. Richard Carmona told lawmakers that the Bush administration interfered with his work.

Dr. Richard Carmona, the nation's 17th surgeon general, told lawmakers that all surgeons general have had to deal with politics but none like this before.

For example, he said he wasn't allowed to make a speech at the Special Olympics because it was viewed as somehow benefiting a political opponent. However, he said he was asked to speak at events designed to benefit Republican lawmakers.

"The reality is that the nation's doctor has been marginalized and relegated to a position with no independent budget, and with supervisors who are political appointees with partisan agendas," said Carmona, who served from 2002 to 2006.

Posted by: this guy is a republican | July 11, 2007 3:14 PM | Report abuse

Yo Razor! Have you read that book or not. Simple question, simple answer. Why don't you respond? Why are you guys talking about Paris Hilton? She's not even that hot.

Posted by: Kevin | July 11, 2007 3:12 PM | Report abuse

JimD in FL - Frances problems are a direct result of an enormous immigrant community, both legal and illegal. But, then, the reason Sweden has been so far behind Denmark and Norway is becasue they have allowed in hundreds of thousands of Mulim immigrants who wont learn the language, are actively opposed to their culture, and simply wont work. Denmark had a bunch of them at one time, but the rounded them up and expelled them. The lesson for us is to get rid of the 20 million illegals here and do whatever it takes to prevent new ones from coming. And, Razorback's figures about Scandinavian populations, as with everyhting else he posts, is so wrong as to make one think he simply invents these things. The population of Sweden alone is more than 9 million. Norway has a population of 4.6 million. Denmark's is 5.5 million. Holland's population, the Netherland's having similar taxes and programs to her Scandinavian neighbors, is 16.6 million. Moreover, Austria also has similar social programs and taxes to Scandinavia and her population is 8.2 million.

Instead of denigrating these countries for paying off their national debt and having universal health care and other programs, I would think people would marval at them. How can you explain efficient mass transit systems that reach the farthest parts of the country with such a small budget, given the limited population? Same for universal health care, universal retirement, etc. If we initiated similar programs here, we would become an economic powerhouse and restore people's faith in this coountry and the Amercian dream.

Posted by: MikeB | July 11, 2007 3:12 PM | Report abuse

No razor(kiddo).

She is a republican plant. Like always (sabotage). So you have something to point to and say " See, she is a lefty). The proof is in what she does not what she claims (as with everybody, but gop hypocrites especailly)Have you been listening to anything I've been saying the last few months:)

Did she even vote that year?

Posted by: rufus | July 11, 2007 3:08 PM | Report abuse

I have to agree with Razor up to a point. The amount of money to be raised via a "soak the rich" policy is usually well short of the amount needed to finance the schemes of the people proposing it. I remember reading some statistics about what could be raised by taxing incomes above $1 million compared to the annual budget deficit in the late 80's. Even taking 100% of all income over one million was a drop in the bucket compared to the deficit.

Also, polls have shown that the vast majority of high income Americans do not consider themselves rich.

Posted by: JimD in FL | July 11, 2007 3:08 PM | Report abuse

'An additional fact it the only thing that creates private sector jobs is private sector investment. Again, the appropriate level of taxation on that investement can be debated reasonably.'

private sector jobs -- where? with globalization, you cannot reasonably say that american workers should feel that they should pay more taxes on wages than investors do on capital gains sothat jobs can be created in China.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 11, 2007 3:05 PM | Report abuse

Rufus, Paris was affiliated with "Vote or Die".

Are you really suggesting that Vote or Die, P Diddy's urban voter turnout operation, was Republican?

Posted by: Razorback | July 11, 2007 3:05 PM | Report abuse

Wealth and Democracy, not Weath.

Posted by: Kevin | July 11, 2007 3:01 PM | Report abuse

Razorback: Have you ever read Kevin Phillip's book Weath and Democracy?

Posted by: Kevin | July 11, 2007 3:00 PM | Report abuse

I got a solution. Remove the sabotage from the eqation. Remove the people who only care about the corporations (most GOP but some D's)

At least the dems aren't ONLY of the corporations. Let the corporations fend for themselves, like they used to. Get them out of politics. We can vote. That's about it. Nobody is reading this post trying to figure out how to "fix" the economic problems fo this country. Is Alan Greenspan out there HEEELOO :)

Vote out the GOP. Start there. If the dems follow the same path we vote independant. As many parties as it takes. When the dems and repubs act right they would be able to re-enter politics. WHEN WE LET THEM. When they act right. That brings them back to working for the people as opposed to for big business. Naive? What else can we do? Vote them out. As long as it takes.

Posted by: rufus | July 11, 2007 3:00 PM | Report abuse

'whats the incentive to work hard in a system that punishes you for being rich and rewards you for being poor?'

what planet do you live on? apparently you have never been poor, you freaking moron. i just get sick of this kind of BS.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 11, 2007 2:59 PM | Report abuse

Colin, the "thriving Clinton economy" had more to do with the internet and other technology that it had to do with Clinton. The surplus was driven by the same things that drove the stock market bubble. The bubble led to the bust and 9/11 didn't help, and there went the surplus.

The lack of even an attempt to apply basic ideas of cause and effect when crediting or blaming a president for econmic performance is much more psuedo-scientific than Rush Limbaugh is on global warming.

Colin says:

"I think the point is that the debate shouldn't start with the proposition that ANY tax increase on the wealth, even if its purpose is to REDUCE tax rates for the middle class, is a non-starter. The modern GOP seems to feel that way, which is a shame and -- to borrow their term -- a real example of class warfare."

The problem with the left and the tax issue is that the discussion is a poll driven political pander instead of a real debate. This point is proven by the fact that leftist politicians amost never define "middle class" and "wealthy". These terms are relative. Even those who most would consider to be wealthy think that they are in fact "middle class". It makes for a great political issue, because the wealthy people whom you want to tax support taxing the wealthy more, because they think they are middle class. Cute politics.

In 2004, to be in the top 10%, you had to make 99,000 and to be in the top 25%, you had to make $60,000. What is wealthy, and what is middle Colin?

The higher you define "wealthy" the fewer taxpayers you have. As a group, those that make between $60k-99k have ALOT more income than those who made over $350,000, just because there are so many more of them.

Posted by: Razorback | July 11, 2007 2:52 PM | Report abuse

mikeB's answer to almost every problem seems to be "look at Norway and Denmark"!

I don't claim to be an expert in economics but considering that the combined population of Scandinavian countries is a little over 10 million, it seems a bit of a stretch to compare their way of life and social system to the United States with a population of 299,398,484 people.

California alone has a population of over 36 million people.

Posted by: proudtobeGOP | July 11, 2007 2:50 PM | Report abuse

MikeB - to add to my earlier comment, France is having problems now with the cost of its welfare state. Sarkozcy was elected on a promise to scale it back in order to grow the economy and reduce unemployment. The UK under Labour had an extensive welfare state financed, in part, by confiscatory taxes on the well-off, not just wealthy. Thatcher repealed those very high taxes and the British economy took off.

I think the French and British experience are more applicable to the US than the Scandinavian.

Posted by: JimD in FL | July 11, 2007 2:47 PM | Report abuse

drindl, I agree with you about the labels 'lib' and 'con' being morphed over the last few decades. That's why I'm a lib(ertarian) I guess; less government not more, let people live their own lives, live with the consequences of their actions, etc.

You're wrong about DOD being 1/3 of the budget though, it's more like 17%. Social Security is bigger, at 21% of our budget (1/5!!!), and Medicare is 14%.

Posted by: JD | July 11, 2007 2:45 PM | Report abuse

"The endpoint of libertarianism (another 'ism' in the spectrum above) would be to let him figure it out for himself or starve to death in the process."

Is that libertarianism or capitalism? "teaching him to fish will take to long. While teaching I won't be making money."

Posted by: rufus | July 11, 2007 2:44 PM | Report abuse

No argument, Keith. I'm just responding to the communism/socialism labeling that suggests we throw the baby (government programs to help the poor) out with the bathwater. Teaching a man how to fish - your well-worn analogy - could be an example of either communism or socialism if you look at it the right way.

The endpoint of libertarianism (another 'ism' in the spectrum above) would be to let him figure it out for himself or starve to death in the process.

Posted by: Judge C. Crater | July 11, 2007 2:41 PM | Report abuse

You pay a man a good wage you can expect loyalty. You pay a man a slave wage you get a slave.

High stocks do not equate to a "good economy". High stocks are good FOR PEOPLE that can afford to buy them. Do you gop'ers (who think the economy is SOOO good right now) think that the 12 billion a month will not catch up to us. High stocks means nothing but the rich are gettign richer. Ther eis no excuse for teh ceo's to be making millions. There is no excuse to be paying employee's the lowest possible amount.

Again, you want loyalty from your employee's you pay them like you want loyalty. If you can throw your employee's over the bridge and replace them on a whime. DON'T EXPECT BUSINESS LOYALTY. There is an old saying You get what you pay for. You pay your employee's peanuts, expect them to jump ship when an oppurtunity arises.

Posted by: rufus | July 11, 2007 2:40 PM | Report abuse

Colin - my point on confiscatory taxes was in response to MikeB's call to raise taxes on the rich "through the roof". The tax rates I was referring to were marginal rates of 60 to 90% at some levels of income.

MikeB - I did not say it did not work in Scandinavia. I said that extrapolating from small, homgeneous countries to the US is tricky.

Posted by: JimD in FL | July 11, 2007 2:39 PM | Report abuse

JimD -- I don't think we disagree on a theoretical level. It's simply a matter of where the rubber meets the road I suppose. To be honest, I'm all for taxes being as low as possible for everyone. But since, as you say, there are services that the public demands the next question is how we should prioritize that tax burden. For me, I tend to think it's better to reduce the tax burden of the middle class relative to the extremely wealthy to a greater extent than is done right now. Conversely, when Reagan pushed his first set of tax cuts through he was absolutely right in arguing that the top income bracket was being taxed TOO much. So obviously, context matters quite a bit.

Mark -- Point taken and obviously I'm NOT a tax attorney myself. I suppose my basic point is simply that taxing one entity -- a corporation -- and its sharholders, who have a separate legal status, doesn't strike me as particularly novel under our tax system. We do it all the time. Since I don't think corporations are currently over-taxed, it just doesn't bother me much. And I certainly don't understand why that provides a particularly compelling argument in favor of lowering investment income taxes. At the very least, shouldn't we be talking about fixing the AMT first? That is hurting more and more middle class families every year, yet the GOP isn't willing to even consider raising any other taxes to fix the problem. That strikes me as incredibly cynical on top of being bad policy.

I'll check back in later, but great conversation today.

Posted by: Colin | July 11, 2007 2:38 PM | Report abuse

"Or humanitarianism. Or Christianity. Nope, we can't have any of that going on in THIS country."

whats the incentive to work hard in a system that punishes you for being rich and rewards you for being poor?

I agree, it is humanitarianism to help those that are less fortunate, but if you give a man a fish, he will eat for a day. If you teach a mean how to fish, he will eat for a lifetime.

Posted by: Keith | July 11, 2007 2:33 PM | Report abuse

To me "Independent" means being willing to say something true even when your base is in the habit of denying it.

For example, Obama is acting Independent when he says that some American blacks need to watch less TV and do more homework. Obama is also acting Independent when he says that teachers who are willing to teach badly-needed subjects should be rewarded (i.e., that the concept of merit pay has something going for it).

I consider myself an Independent with a Democratic base. But that Democratic base says some pretty bizarre things... see this page any day of the week. I really don't like liars. I see a lot of lying going on in both bases, D and R.

And so I consider myself Independent in some ways, Democratic in others. I do register as a Democrat to be able to participate in the primaries; I have never felt motivated to participate in a Republican primary. I vote Democrat often, but not always.

Posted by: Golgi | July 11, 2007 2:33 PM | Report abuse

The top rate in '92 was 36% and Congress added a "surtax", 10% of 36%, to "balance the budget". The surtax was called "temporary" within the legislation. After we balanced the budget the temporary surtax was supposed to be repealed and the top rate dropped from 39.6% back to 36%. The Ds did not follow through on that.

Posted by: Mark in Austin | July 11, 2007 2:32 PM | Report abuse

Colin and MikeB are the men/woman. I don't even need to post. These guys are on point. The truth is getting out there. good job guys. Keep up the great work.

Pretty soon I'll just be able to chime in with Zouk is a fascist. Or Let's throw Bush in jail for treason. :)

You guys are on point. With real voices like yours in here it exposes zouk/razor for the propogandist they are. That is good

Posted by: rufus | July 11, 2007 2:32 PM | Report abuse

Colin - as I said before, taxes are the dues of a democratic society, a necessary evil. I believe in paying for what we get in the way of services and not leaving the bill to our children and grandchildren. Taxes have an impact on the economy - Razor correctly points out many of those impacts. However, since the public wants certain services from government, we have to impose taxes to finance them. It is all a matter of trade-offs.

As for "valuing" earned over unearned income, I don't even like the terms. I would tax income from work at very low levels at the lower end. I definitely believe we need to encourage savings, however. Tax policy is intended to finance the government and to encourage or discourage certain economic behavior. We should encourage savings and investment. Properly used, investment fuels productivity which is the main engine of economic growth. Even those desiring a European style welfare state should understand that it is unsupportable without economic growth.

Posted by: JimD in FL | July 11, 2007 2:25 PM | Report abuse

Colin -

I would not strongly consider "not McCain" among the Rs.

I think Razorback makes a valid point about dividends - the IRC intends a double taxation of dividends. I was, at one time, convinced that the double taxation model should be modified by making dividends deductible to the entity. I think Razorback underestimates the efficiency of a corporate tax - that is a conversation he, JD, and I had weeks ago.

I think that there are computer models of various tax tweaks out there but I have not read them. My wife is a CPA with an MS in Taxation so I get regularly that I am w-w-rong. I claim no expertise...

Posted by: Mark in Austin | July 11, 2007 2:24 PM | Report abuse

Paris Hilton affiliated herself with "Vote or Die" the leftist celebrity youth voter turnout movement, although she didnt register to vote."

Now paris hilton is a "lefty". Anothe lie by the propogandist. He can't help himself. Everything about her points to her being a Repub. She's willfull a moron. Doesn't want to grow up. As said above, got tons of money from her parants. Do you think she fo more tax? Doesn't think she needs to follow the laws. Are we getting somewhere here.

I saw Baca ( the guy that let her out) speaking at a conferance with Bush 43. Her jailing took attention off bush the war the gop. On fox they were defender her left and right.

another lie or mislead by razor. She is a repbulican, as is richie. I see the signs. Not that I care at all. That's Fox "news's deal.

Posted by: rufus | July 11, 2007 2:24 PM | Report abuse

Razorback - Wrong again! The VAT and sales taxes are two diffeent taxes on goods and services in Scandinavia. Both apply, in varying amounts, to everything people purchase. This is made up for by the fact that the poor and lower income people pay far less in income tax. The income tax is at a flat rate of 25%, depending on the country, on the first (roughly) $50,000 people make. After that, this tax applies and an added income tax of 25% is applied to the additional income up to around $100,000 annually. Additional taxes are added for more money until, after around $200,000 a year, virtually all of a persons income above that amount goes for taxes. And, JimD, as for not working, it works just fine. Denmark and Norway have NO national debt and Sweden's is due to be retired next year. For all of that, they have a national HMO that everyone participates in (medical, dental and prescription drugs), a national retirement insurance covering every worker, pehaps the best mass transit system in the world, and close to universal home ownership. There are no homeless or drug addicts laying around the streets, the rivers and lakes are clean, virtually universal employment, and people are generally happy.

Posted by: MikeB | July 11, 2007 2:22 PM | Report abuse

Judge C. Crater, the notion that Christianity requires a bloated bureacracy to administer an ineffective welfare state that encourages dependency is just as stupid as the notion that God is a Republican.

Posted by: Razorback | July 11, 2007 2:19 PM | Report abuse

JimD -- Severely taxing the wealthy will have a negative impact on the economy. Raising the top income bracket back to 39%, which it was at during the entire Clinton administration, didn't seem excessive to me or the many others that enjoyed the thriving economy. The Devil is always in the details, but I think the point is that the debate shouldn't start with the proposition that ANY tax increase on the wealth, even if its purpose is to REDUCE tax rates for the middle class, is a non-starter. The modern GOP seems to feel that way, which is a shame and -- to borrow their term -- a real example of class warfare.

Razor -- the so-called problem of "double taxation" can easiliy be avoided, as you well know. Entity choice is one option, as S Corps, LLCs, and a variety of partnership permutations allow for pass through taxation. The trade off, which you don't bring up, is that some of those entity choices provide less liability protection.

You also don't bring up, I notice, the fact that it's not at all uncommon for a revenue stream to be taxed multiple times or for an exchange of a portion of a revenue stream to be taxed when it changes hands. SS taxes are a good example of the former, as they apply on-top of income taxes, and the sales tax is an obvious example of the latter. Strangely, none of these common taxes are referred to as "double taxation."

Finally, as an aside, the effective rate of taxation for investment income is already much lower than for income taxes precisely b/c things like SS taxes don't apply to it.

Posted by: Colin | July 11, 2007 2:18 PM | Report abuse

JimD writes
"Confiscatory taxes on the wealthy are drags on the economy. Taxes on wealth, as opposed to income, have a particularly negative impact on the economy."

At what level does taxation become 'confiscatory'? To hear the current GOP talk, all taxation qualifies. The logical fallacy that self-described fiscal conservatives continue to apply is that tax cuts always increase revenue. yet, if we pull out the good old laffer curve, we see that there's a 'sweet spot' where both increasing and decreasing taxes diminishes revenue. What we don't know is the tax rate that achieves this maximization of revenue. Yet, 'conservatives' don't want to seek out this point, they merely want to cut, borrow & spend. They also don't want to ask what the target spending should be - they grow government while disparaging all that government does, claiming to be in favor of eliminating gov't waste while borrowing the money to continue gov't growth.

Posted by: bsimon | July 11, 2007 2:17 PM | Report abuse

I am very much a capitalist, but I still support the SEC, FERC and FTC pretty much in their current form.

Those who have posted vile derogatory things about me on this blog (and to be fair, I respond in kind) should read some of the work product of these regulatory commissions. They would be shocked to see that the DEMOCRATIC appointees on these commissions agree with about 90% of what I post on the blog that is related to economics.

Posted by: Razorback | July 11, 2007 2:12 PM | Report abuse

You are wrong, Chris. George Bush is the face of the Republican party and will continue to be so for at least the next election cycle and perhaps a generation.

Posted by: Greg in LA | July 11, 2007 2:08 PM | Report abuse

You are wrong, Chris. George Bush is the face of the Republican party and will continue to be so for at least the next election cycle and perhaps a generation.

Posted by: Greg in LA | July 11, 2007 2:08 PM | Report abuse


Confiscatory taxes on the wealthy are drags on the economy. Taxes on wealth, as opposed to income, have a particularly negative impact on the economy. The British had extremely high marginal tax rates - far beyond anything we've ever had outside of WWII - they experienced a tremendous economic boom when Thatcher came in and repealed them. I would also be cautious about extrapolating from small, very homogeneous populations like the Scandinavian countries to the US.

Razor - I would have voted for Tsongas in 1992 if he had gotten the nomination. He was the only major party candidate seriously addressing the deficit.

Posted by: JimD in FL | July 11, 2007 2:07 PM | Report abuse

Colin says:

"Razorback -- you'r wrong in arguing that taxing dividends constitutes double taxation. Trust me -- there are a billion ways to avoid that from occuring and companies and funds, whether private or public, take advantage of all of them. If you want to close those loop holes, then I'm open to reducing dividend taxation - but not till then."

There is no such thing as a loophole. There is within the law, and outside of the law. A "loophole" is a derogatory term similar to "technicality" which people used to describe parts of the law that they don't like.

Name ANY loophole you want to discuss.

Paris Hilton affiliated herself with "Vote or Die" the leftist celebrity youth voter turnout movement, although she didnt register to vote. I detest Paris, I thought she deserved jail time for thumbing her noses at the courts. I can live with the shenanigans of an idiot like Paris as long as society gets the benefits of an entrepenuer like her grandfather.

I would support changing the "death tax" in a manner proposed by some Senate Dems which cut the rate and raised the exemption IF all of the money was used for income tax reductions.

Income taxes and capital gains taxes are the job killers, not the so called "death tax".

Posted by: Razorback | July 11, 2007 2:03 PM | Report abuse

"hmm.. redistributing from the rich to the poor.. sounds like socialism to me -- or taken to the extreme, communism."

Or humanitarianism. Or Christianity. Nope, we can't have any of that going on in THIS country.

Posted by: Judge C. Crater | July 11, 2007 2:03 PM | Report abuse

"I'm all for anything that takes enough money from them so that they cannot afford to do this any longer"

hmm.. redistributing from the rich to the poor.. sounds like socialism to me -- or taken to the extreme, communism.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 11, 2007 1:55 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: Razorback | July 11, 2007 1:51 PM | Report abuse

MikeB, will you ever learn?

First, you said that software engineers have a 25% unemployment rate in the US. That is a complete joke, an obvious falsehood. I even let it go unchallenged, because I am tired today.

MikeB says:

(MikeB) would NOT be for anything reseembling a flat lowering of taxes on savings becasue it would reward the wealthy, who already pay far less than their fair share.

Denmark has a VAT (value added) tax, which is similar to a sales tax except that it applies to both wholesale and retail sales, unlike most US sales taxes, which applies to retail sales only.

Like sales taxes, VAT taxes are not progressive. A rich person and a poor person pay the same.

So MikeB says he is against "flat" non progressive taxes, and prefers a Scandanavian model, when in fact, Denmark has a non progressive VAT tax of 25%.

A VAT tax hits the poor much harder than the rich, unless there are exemptions for necessities and surcharges for luxuries.

The VAT tax, if it were hidden in the price of products (as it is in Europe) rather than added at the cash register, is nearly invisible. It would be the easiest to raise without howls of outrage -- good for budget balancing, bad if you're the type who wants a lot less government.

MikeB, you get busted so often for falsehoods that should at least try to check out some of what you say before you post.

Note that the VAT is a "hidden tax" hidden in the cost of products. Drindle will like that, because she can pretend she isn't paying it.

Posted by: Razorback | July 11, 2007 1:50 PM | Report abuse

This is one of the best days that this blog has ever had. I too took the test and find myself in the lower right hand corner of the chart (more libertarian than anything else). I guess age has something to do with it. From my experience the "I"s tend to be less engaged in the day to day movement of the candidates and candidacies than the self-identified "party regulars". That appears to be a good thing, what with this gaggle of fundraisers, consultants, flame-outs and "tiered" candidates, SIX MONTHS before any scheduled state primary. I would prefer a parliamentary system where many more views, issues, and voices could gain traction. That would require at least one constitutional amendment, which wont happen in this political climate.

Posted by: L.Sterling. | July 11, 2007 1:49 PM | Report abuse

Razorback -- you'r wrong in arguing that taxing dividends constitutes double taxation. Trust me -- there are a billion ways to avoid that from occuring and companies and funds, whether private or public, take advantage of all of them. If you want to close those loop holes, then I'm open to reducing dividend taxation - but not till then.

JimD -- I agree we need to incentivize savings, and I don't have anything INHERENTLY against keeping taxes on investment income lower. But if you had to prioritize where tax rates should be adjusted, doesn't it make more sense to tweek the tax system so that it values earned income more than investment income? At some point, there is a necessary tension between the taxes people are willing to pay and the services that they're unwilling to lose. I guess my only point is that to the extent a specific baseline of tax revenue is needed, I'd rather increase the burden on those earning large amounts of investment income than those struggling to stretch their pay checks on a month-to-month basis. And I say that as someone whose clients tend to be in the financial services industry.

Mark -- I'm curious whether you would strongly consider voting for any of the current GOP candidates other than McCain. I understand his appeal, but given your list of policy priorities I can't really imagine any of the other GOPrs being a good fit for you, even IF Hillary won the Dem nomination. If Romney was still the guy who got elected governor, obviously things would be different, but since he's not...

Posted by: Colin | July 11, 2007 1:45 PM | Report abuse

MikeB, if you want to stop Paris Hilton, don't raise taxes on income. Raise the inheritance taxes. (More accurately, return them to their previous levels.) She's an heiress. She's rich because her parents and grandparents did something useful for society, allowing her to be an extremely wealthy leech. And because Republicans keep reducing inheritance taxes, Paris Hilton gets to keep more of that money earned by her ancestors, instead of having to work for it.

Nobody should be able to live Paris Hilton's lifestyle without doing something to actually earn that money. Raise the inheritance taxes and eliminate lazy billionaire heiresses for good.

Posted by: Blarg | July 11, 2007 1:40 PM | Report abuse

Simpletons debate tax policy in terms of what they think the tax policy does it do for them or their preferred special interest group(s), rather than focusing on how tax policy impacts the economy as a whole.

The same simpletons also sound off about unemployment and lack of jobs. It never occurs to them that the 2 issues are related.

Why do some of those simpletons who like to lecture about technical expertise in the context of global warming exhibit such hostility to technical expertise when it comes to economics and accounting?

Posted by: Razorback | July 11, 2007 1:37 PM | Report abuse

Rufus: I thought he meant ex-convict, too, and I just assumed that was the the latest Faux News hit job on Obama. Glad to be wrong about what Mark meant. Anyway, its nice that for once on this blog cooler heads can prevail. I notice the frequent ranters don't really want to participate. That works for me!

Posted by: KEVIN | July 11, 2007 1:34 PM | Report abuse

JimD in FL _ I "might" be for lowering taxes on individual savings to encourage it. I would NOT be for anything reseembling a flat lowering of taxes on savings becasue it would reward the wealthy, who already pay far less than their fair share. Ditoo for capital gains. Raise those taxes through the roof! The wealthy already have made a mess of things in this country by their political activities. I'm all for anything that takes enough money from them so that they cannot afford to do this any longer. In Scandinavia they actually have laws that accomplish this and they work. They also apply to corporate officers getting those obscene bonus's. Basically, the income tax rate increates geometrically, based on projected income and *all* assets, until it simply doesn't make sense to get more pay than the maximum taxed ceiling. In answer to the obvious objection by Razorback, I might point ut that this would effect our Hollywood stars and twits like Paris Hilton. Imagine a world where Paris and Britney and the like didn't have the money to run around partying every night, where they actually had to get a job and make a living like everyone else. Then, imagine this applied to the Kennedy's and similar wealthy politicians, too. It might actually make them understand what ordinary folk go through in making a living. Looks better all of the time. Huh?

Posted by: MikeB | July 11, 2007 1:31 PM | Report abuse

Great discussion today.

Its difficult to add a new perspective. I'm some combination of JimD & Mark in Austin.

I generally think gov't should butt out of our lives, until people start abusing the system. i.e. completely unfettered markets are great, in theory, but the SEC has turned out to be rather necessary (for example) in maintaining a somewhat level playing field. In other words, the reason markets fail is the moral and ethical failings of the participants.

Posted by: bsimon | July 11, 2007 1:31 PM | Report abuse

AFTER: Every living Democratic appointee

INSERT: to the Federal Reserve Board of Governors or the Federal Trade Commission would agree with this paragraph.

In my previous post.

Posted by: Razorback | July 11, 2007 1:25 PM | Report abuse

A tax on dividends is a tax on the owners of a company which has already paid the tax on that income.

This might be good policy. It might be bad policy. That can be debated.

The suggestiong that dividends are taxed less than a wage earners pay is false and cannot be reasonably debated. A dollar paid in dividends has already been taxed to the corporation. It is taxed again when it goes to the shareholder. It has been taxed MORE than regular earnings, not less. This is the reason the "Subchaper S" Corporations exist. SubchaperS allows the shareholders portion of corporate income to be taxed directly to the owner so the income is only taxed once. You can think what ever you want to, but every living Democratic appointee

My view on the matter is that all business taxation is just a cute political shell game because costs of a company are passed on to the companies customers. If they are not passed on, the company eventually goes broke.

A tax on Proctor & Gamble Inc. is alot easier of a political sell than is a tax on diapers. This is because some idiots, even after it has been explained to them again and again, do not understand this basic economic concept. Proctor & Gamble Inc. adds the cost of their taxes into the price consumers pay for products.

Business taxation is an artifice designed to fool idiots into believing that someone other than them is paying the taxes. I am amazed that people fall for it.

An additional fact it the only thing that creates private sector jobs is private sector investment. Again, the appropriate level of taxation on that investement can be debated reasonably.

What cannot be debated reasonably is that when you tax investment to the extent that it alters ivestement decisions, it alters job creation.

To quote Paul Tsongas, former Democratic Senator from Massachusetts:

"You can't be pro-jobs and anti-business at the same time,""You cannot love employment and hate employers," Tsongas said.

Posted by: Razorback | July 11, 2007 1:21 PM | Report abuse


I also favor lower rates on capital gains and interest income. Generally I would favor savings over spending since we are so heavily skewed towards spending. Of course, that might need to be changed if circumstances warrant. In fact, I would exempt dividend income that is automatically reinvested as is often done with mutual funds.

Posted by: JimD in FL | July 11, 2007 1:16 PM | Report abuse

Puhleeze boys and girls.

It would be tough for the independents not to sway towards the dems after the last six years under Republican Domination. Also, with the Prez at anywhere between 26% and 29% (discounting Rasmussen the Republican's 35% as an outlier)dosen't look like there would be much convincing to do anyway.

Who else would they vote for...the Whigs?

More important is the strategy to build the Prez's sagging numbers. Mike "Gut Feeling" Chertoff played the '9/11', 'Terrorists under every mattress card' with the chicago Trib again yesterday. That used to get a temporary bounce for the White House.

Can't see that buying much anymore.

But wait until next year to see if the Dems can snatch defeat from the jaws of Victory by doing something characteristically stupid.

Posted by: chi town hustler | July 11, 2007 1:06 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: Anonymous | July 11, 2007 12:56 PM | Report abuse

I said "these people defending bush"

If that applies to you rather thn mark so be it. From what I've seen he has been a GOP apologist. That's my opion. I did oppologize. I said "these lawyers denfending bush." It only applies to those" defending bush". I would think that would be obvious

Posted by: rufus | July 11, 2007 12:53 PM | Report abuse

Chris- You say early in your post that National Dems fair "slightly better" than National Repubs in terms of favorability among independents and give the numbers as 55/41 favorable/unfavorable for Dems and 41/55 favorable/unfavorable for Repubs. 14 point difference is slight? If those were the splits in a presidential election, it would be considered a landslide.

Posted by: rocko | July 11, 2007 12:53 PM | Report abuse


rufus - you owe Mark in Austin another apology for that. He didn't vote for GWB and, to my recollection, has never been a Bushapologist. Now, me on the other hand...

Posted by: proudtobeGOP | July 11, 2007 12:50 PM | Report abuse

JimD, I buy favoring capital gains on two grounds: the one you have stated - capital investment encourages growth; and another - postponed enjoyment of the income should be taxed at the lowest bracket as a simple method of approximating averaging of income over the life of the investment.

But favoring dividends over earned income is another way of trying to permanently skew the economy to "supply side" when sometimes it would be preferable for people to spend freely and not save. Favoring earned income, as drindl proposes, would permanently favor spending, which I think is a mirror image flaw.

Further, favoring dividends favors one kind of investment, stocks, over all others: bonds, cds, real estate, and even long term capital investments like one's own business.

That's how it strikes me, but I have not read the multiple regression analysis that I am sure is out there.

While I am disagreeing with you, I have to second Colin on how tort reform has only lined the pockets of the insurers and not saved the consumers. I think we are both not plaintiff's lawyers, so we may have some credibility. I hope.

Posted by: Mark in Austin | July 11, 2007 12:48 PM | Report abuse

"I must be a racist hispanic because I can not stand Obama either. He is such a fake. Hey which religion is he this week?"

Becaue you are hispanic doesn't mean you can't be a racist. A racist is a person who see's color first. Who has preconceived conclusions based on race. A black man can be racsit just as easy as a white/hispanic.

I was just refering to the statement that he is an ex-con (because he's black). Whcih Mark didn't make. Your being a hispanic doesn't make you any more or less likly to be a racist.

"According to the Oxford English Dictionary, racism is a belief or ideology that all members of each race possess characteristics or abilities specific to that race, especially to distinguish it as being either superior or inferior to another race or races. The Merriam-Webster's Webster's Dictionary dictionary defines racism as a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race, and that it is also the prejudice based on such a belief.[2] The Macquarie Dictionary defines racism thus: the belief that human races have distinctive characteristics which determine their respective cultures, usually involving the idea that one's own race is superior and has the right to rule or dominate others."

Posted by: rufus | July 11, 2007 12:36 PM | Report abuse

Olympia "snowes" on Bush's parade. Republicans in complete disarray. Vulnerable incumbents tell Bush to shove it. Film at 11.

Posted by: Loudoun Voter | July 11, 2007 12:33 PM | Report abuse

I understand the economic argument for lower rates on dividends - they are designed to encourage investment. One of the problems with our economy is that we have an extremely low savings rate. Encouraging investment helps raise the savings rate. Raising the savings rate increases the amount available for investment in the economy which produces more growth.

Furthermore, more and more middle income people have become investors through mutual funds evenaside from retirement accounts. I would accept some application of the minimum alternative tax at a higher level than today to keep progressivity but I think a lower rate on dividends make sense as a pro-growth measure.

Posted by: JimD in FL | July 11, 2007 12:32 PM | Report abuse

Rufus: understandable. Fox was certainly headed in that direction back when they made a huge fuss about Obama's unpaid parking tickets.

Posted by: Judge C. Crater | July 11, 2007 12:31 PM | Report abuse

"Obama is a terrorist"

You know what I'm talking about. It NEVEr stops. Again. Sorry for my ignorance on legal matters. not a lawyer.

Others reading may have been misled also. Thanks for clearing up. That's one clear up. Thousands more to go. I'm trying to get O'REilly/Hannity to recant the last ten years. It's not going to good :)

Posted by: rufus | July 11, 2007 12:31 PM | Report abuse


Edwards is a fa__ot. Obama is an ex-con. Sorry. I watch Fox sometimes. This kind of basly insults run rampet all day with the GOP. Sorry for my lawyer ignorance. Use less abbv. next time :) Just kidding. my bad

Posted by: RUFUS | July 11, 2007 12:28 PM | Report abuse

[Thanks, JimD...]

Posted by: Mark in Austin | July 11, 2007 12:26 PM | Report abuse

Rufus: Simmer down. 'Ex-con' means ex-constitutional in this particular context. Lawyers do have their own language. Put that back in context and you'll see that it's much less interesting than your interpretation.

Posted by: Judge C. Crater | July 11, 2007 12:25 PM | Report abuse


He meant an ex-CONSTITUTIONAL law professor not an ex-convict. Take a look at the context.

Posted by: JimD in FL | July 11, 2007 12:23 PM | Report abuse

I must be a racist hispanic because I can not stand Obama either. He is such a fake. Hey which religion is he this week?

Posted by: CG | July 11, 2007 12:21 PM | Report abuse

' I actually found Edwards "war on work" an appealing slogan, because I cannot buy the justifications offered for favoring dividends over wages.]'

hear hear on that, Mark, how anyone can justify paying lower taxes on money 'earned' sitting around the pool, watching the dividends from your parent's investments come sailing in, over money earned saying, hauling steel beams at 30 stories like my 'little brother' used to do, is beyond me.

Income is income. "unearned' income as it used to be called, should be taxed at a higher rate thna wages, if anything.

Posted by: drindl | July 11, 2007 12:19 PM | Report abuse

Independents are democrats in drag.

Posted by: CG | July 11, 2007 12:19 PM | Report abuse

"I would choose an ex-con law prof like Obama"

WOW. ex-con huh? Are you a racist or do you just hate what he stands for? What right do you have to call the next president of the US an ex-con. Read up. You have been misled.

You got a lot of nerve calling the next POTUS an ex-con after supporting YOUR CURRENT president. WOW. The lies and propoganda never stop with you people. Even in normal conversation. You just can't help yourself from propogating , can you?

Posted by: rufus | July 11, 2007 12:16 PM | Report abuse

This is one of the better days for the Fix.

I used to vote Republican for president and congress far more often during the Cold War.

I still think the Democrats are not forceful enough in addressing the "war on terror". They seem to want to qualify their statements too much for fear of annoying the rapidly anti-war left. The Democrats have an opening to regain the public's trust on national security issues and they would be crazy to fumble it.

They will never get the folks who prattle about "victory" in Iraq or who think that al Qaeda is the main enemy there as opposed to the Shia-Sunni civil war. But, they need to project more vigilance on the need to combat al Qaeda and its clones. They need to spend more time discussing how they would proceed in this struggle as opposed to critizing Bush's actions.

Posted by: JimD in FL | July 11, 2007 12:13 PM | Report abuse

colin and razor -

i was going to get razor some actual panders, like my fave R, McCain, actually favoring teaching creationism in the hs biology curriculum`and actually saying the terrorists will follow us here if we leave Iraq, which is partly true only because they are planning to attack us no matter what we do. And I would still vote for him against some of the Ds.

That is where Colin would ask "why?"

I am a management lawyer. I have negotiated union contracts. I have been before Admin Law Judges. I favor the traditional R approach to unions - open shop, secret ballot, etc. Colin, Clinton nominated good fed judges, but total labor hacks to the NLRB. Clinton's own judges threw out Clinton's hack NLRB decisions with regularity and often with biting sarcasm. I believe your guy, Obama, would not appoint hacks anywhere, by the way.

I am a fervent constitutionalist. Congress can spend on anything it wants, but because education and family law are not in the Constitution, I get antsy when Ds want to have an entire presidential debate about education [or when Rs want one on "family values"].

I am a fiscal conservative, at least I think I am. Given limited resources, I would prioritize the budget differently than most Ds - at one time I remember that I would have prioritized like Voinovich [but I would prioritize taxation differently than Rs - I actually found Edwards "war on work" an appealing slogan, because I cannot buy the justifications offered for favoring dividends over wages.]
Voted Perot, on deficits, in '92. Would have voted Dole in '96 but heard a speech by Archibald Cox
suggesting that Dole took $17m in Arab contribs and Clinton took $6m in Chinese contribs [both illegal] and voted for Perot again. Voted for GWB as Gov in '98. Voted Gore and Kerry, b/c I thought GWB was going to be in over his head as Pres., and then was in over his head as Pres.

Am closer to Bush 41 on foreign policy than to any other recent President. Thought James Baker's presentation to the Senate on Gulf War I was masterful.

Given that like everyone else I must compromise with my choices, I would choose an ex-con law prof like Obama over someone-I-cannot-understand-or-predict like Romney every time. And Ruth Marcus says Obama risked the cold silence of the NEA when he lightly touched on performance standards. He is scoring more points with me than any D not named Biden, who predictably is too management oriented for most Ds.

Posted by: Mark in Austin | July 11, 2007 12:09 PM | Report abuse

He should practice what he preachs. He should sacrafice himslef for what he believes in.

"China executes ex-head of food and drug agency
Zheng sentenced to death in May for taking bribes to OK substandard drugs"

I'm talking about TREASON. Choosing money/or party over country. Alligning with outside influences (on the opposite side of country) to further personal or political goals. Treason used to be handed in all countries the above way. It's not just me talking. I'm not the problem. I'm just this websites jimminey cricket :). These problems/issues exist whether a blank poster is posting on the fix or not. Please don't attack the messenger

Posted by: rufus | July 11, 2007 12:07 PM | Report abuse

drindl: I am pretty much with you today. The word "Liberal" has been used to describe anyone of either party that their opponents use in a negative way without appearing to be seen as negative. Hard to explain the political terms/words when they mean something else in the real world.

Posted by: lylpink | July 11, 2007 12:04 PM | Report abuse

Rufus: I believe Bush helped Texas execute 155 inmates while governor so yes, he favors the death penalty. Obviously NOT a Christian yet the GOP agonizes over whether Christians will vote for Romney, a Mormon who presided over a state in which there have been no executions (Massachussetts) since 1947. Go figure. WWJVF?

Posted by: Judge C. Crater | July 11, 2007 12:01 PM | Report abuse

Isn't bush for the dealth penalty for criminals? That is.

Posted by: rufus | July 11, 2007 11:55 AM | Report abuse

I guess I'm disillusioned and disguised. I'm an idealistic liberal who hates the way campaigns and parties are financed. I vote almost exclusively for Democrats, but can't be part of their party because of the means required to gain power.

Posted by: Rich Evans | July 11, 2007 11:55 AM | Report abuse

JimD: I think the extreme left and the extreme right hate America because they certainly seem to hate Americans who don't abjectly agree with everything they say. Limbaugh being Exhibit A.

Reason: come on, does Iraq have to creep into everything you say? Since a lot of D politicians voted for the war and supported it for a while does that make them I's? Is Dick Lugar now an I? Not a very comprehensive definition.

Drindl: good point about government. Interesting that R's preach small government while promoting bigger government. Another hypocrisy among the many.

Posted by: Judge C. Crater | July 11, 2007 11:52 AM | Report abuse

"The remedy is a criminal trial, conviction and imprisonment or execution for treason"

Wor dis born MIKEB. Whether he is in office or not. The only way to make sure THIS DOESNT HAPPEN AGAIN is to make sure there are consequences for bush's actions. He is trying todrag it out until he is out of office. That shouldn't save him. Criminal investigations. 40 years each. This never happens again. That of the same penalty as China HAS FOR TREASON (which ALL countries used to use). It's Bush FOR the death penalty for criminals?

Posted by: rufus1133 | July 11, 2007 11:51 AM | Report abuse

" It sometimes seems to me that the right and left hate the middle more than each other. "

You cannot remain silent. You cannot hide your heads in the sand forever. It's not hate. It's frustration. It's "hating" willfull ignorance, not moderates. You have to stand with the fascsits or agaisnt them. You cannot stand idolly by. If so you let their fascsim win, A LA Germany in the 30's

Posted by: rufus | July 11, 2007 11:48 AM | Report abuse

ira - Saying that Bush and Cheney have merely sold the country out is the biggest mis-statement of the decade. Bush and Cheney and their gang are a criminal conspiracy. They have, and continue to, block every investigation their wrong doings. We only see the tip of the iceberg, but that is enough that it ought to frighten every American. From the energy task force to the reason for invading Iraq, the Valerie Pflame exposure, the firing of U.S. attorney's, payment from private corporations to the President and Vice President while in office, use of the IRS to punish their politcial opponents, spying on U.S. citizens, their illegal imprisonment and torture of enemy combatants, and on and on, they have demonstrated that they are not just the worst Administation in our history, but the most corrupt and the most dangerous. People keep talking about impeachment as the remedy. Hogwash. The remedy is a criminal trial, conviction and imprisonment or execution for treason. We either do this to them or sometime, some day, another president will push just a bit farther than Bush and this country will go the way of imperial Rome.

Posted by: MikeB | July 11, 2007 11:47 AM | Report abuse

JimD -- for what it's worth, I think labels can be misleading b/c you and I agree on quite a bit, even though I identify as a progressive democrat. As an aside, I know you and I disagree about tort reform, which is fine, but I would suggest at least targeting insurance companies along with us evil lawyers. The primary reason your premiums are as high as they are is b/c the insurance companies have made sure to mantain very high profit margins despite making devastatingly bad decisions in the stock market before the bubble burst. Also, just b/c I can't help myself, tort reform has generally NOT lowered premiums in states where it has been enacted. OK, I'll stop now -- couldn't help myself.

Posted by: Colin | July 11, 2007 11:47 AM | Report abuse

I am not a fan of Rush Limbaugh - to say the least. But one time I was somewhere where he was on the radio. He launched into a tirade against moderates. Essentially he called them "useful idiots" for liberals (as Lenin called liberals and democratic socialists). One of my first posts in the Fix last year stated my centrist position and I got blasted from the left in startlingly similar language to Rush (except I was being called a tool of the right then). It sometimes seems to me that the right and left hate the middle more than each other.

Posted by: JimD in FL | July 11, 2007 11:45 AM | Report abuse

I agree reason, as an independant, with that. Good point.

I would add this is why so many independants don't get the current GOP. The GOP continues to defend, what WE see, as the un-defendalbe. It's crazy. We mention a CRIME, they say " well clinton did the same thing (even though it's not true). It seems to be lying or being a lawyer for criminals. I hear you GOP. Loyalty and all. Loyalty ( to party)does not trump loyalty to country, does it.

I feel you, believe me I do. That doesn't make it right. That doesn't mean we can't change. I think we should all be independants. This way what happened the last 10 years can never happen again.

Good point reason. I don't agree with you often

Posted by: RUFUS | July 11, 2007 11:39 AM | Report abuse

Interesting discussion today folks! Great comments from the Judge, Colin, JimD, as always... RCD, very interesting too.

' A progressive is one who believes the government as our institutional collective should be involve in tweaking our lives in hopes of betterment. A conservative believes that we should let the natural organic societal development happen uninterrupted and uninfluenced'

Indeed. Although I would say that is what conservative USED to mean. The 'liberal vs. conservative' narrative that the media insists on hewing to is indeed a false dichotomy. It became outdated 30 years ago but the pundits can't let go of it. I expect it serves their needs, which I would assert are driven by corporations.

Most 'liberals' as I suppose most would call me, are not liberal about much. I am a very strict mother, so much so that my teenaged daughter's friends think it's funny, I am appalled by the casual sex and drugs and violence in media, I am also appalled by the casual drunken-sailor spending of this administration, their irresponsibility, their lack of forethought, or planning, their lack of interest in the helpless and vulnerable. How is any of this conservative? I remember when conservative had something to do with conservation. remember Teddy Roosevelt?

Now it seems all those who call themselves that are interested in is helping multi-national corporations get a bigger piece of taxpayer money. One third of our national budget now goes to the Pentagon, and we don't even know where it goes, because a great deal of it is secret, no-bid, black box contracts. It may well go to equipping our enemies or future enemies--how would we even know?

I support democrats, not because I love them either, but because I am less afraid of them. I really see the modern conservative movement as tilting toward a neo-fascist authoritarianism that tramples constitutional rights and is way too interested in regulating private behavior along religious lines.

IN a lot of ways, the roles have become reversed.

Posted by: drindl | July 11, 2007 11:39 AM | Report abuse

Just took the test - I lean slightly right of center economically and somewhat more towards libertarian than authoritarian.'

I would also like to disagree with RCD's very thoughtful post. I think that people can have a variety of views on issues that are a mix of left, right and center. I know people who are decidedly conservative, if not reactionary, on social issues who are classic New Deal liberals on economic issues. They tend to vote based on which issue is most important to them at the time. One major cause of my heartburn with the major parties is their tendency to enforce ideological conformity.

You could classify me as a liberal, a conservative or a centrist on different issues, for example:

Abortion: Generally pro-choice but willing to accept some limits. As a parent and grandparent, definitely in favor of parental notification.

Gay rights: There is more and more scientific research indicating gays are "hard-wired" that way and that it is most definitely not a lifestyle choice. Therefore, I can see no rationale for discrimination against gays. I am uncomfortable with gay marriage but the issue certainly does not animate me.

National Defense - I am pro-military (as a retired naval officer what else could I be). I understand that everything on DoD's procurement wishlist is not necessarily a prudent investment but am far more in favor than opposed. I do not have hangups on the use of force although I opposed the decision to invade Iraq.

Foreign Policy - I guess you could call me a realist in the George H W Bush, James Baker, Colin Powell tradition. I would be somewhat more inclined to pursue human rights and democratization agenda then they did but nowhere near the extent that Carter and George H Bush did - to pick left and a right wing examples of that agenda run amok.

Government Regulation - There is a role for the government to play especially in the area of product safety, mine safety and the environment. However, I believe much regulation has been too heavy handed and that market oriented measures are usually the preferred way to accomplish this. OSHA is the prime example of a heavily rule oriented bureaucracy.

Tort Reform - I believe our tort system has run amok and reform is necessary. As a small businessman, I am paying totally outrageous amounts in liability and workers compensation insurance. The number of frivolous claims made to our insurance providers is astounding. Some were actually fraudulent. I do believe that the system should retain the ability to "sock it to" deliberate malfeasance. Classic example is the tobacco industry suppressing information about how deadly their product is. On the other hand, I favor a system in which that $54 million suit against a dry cleaners over a pair of pants would have been laughed out of court and the plaintiff fined for wasting the court's time.

Fiscal Policy - I think large deficits in a time of near full employment are dangerous. I understand basic economics and know that taxes are a drag on the economy but they are also the dues of a democratic society. One of my pet peeves is that NO ONE is seriously addressing the coming fiscal train wreck that is Social Security and, especially, Medicare. Do not tell me that Bush's privatization plan was a serious attempt to fix the problem. I see much good in a system of private accounts invested in the market and would design a system from scratch that included this. However, taking money away from the Social Security system at this point is exactly the wrong thing to do.

Economic Policy - Globalization is here to stay. In the long run, to the extent that it brings more prosperity to the Third World, it will make the world a better place. I am pro-free trade although I recognize the need for safeguards. Some of the Democrats, especially Edwards and Mondale in 84, remind me of the Luddites at the start of the industrial revolution.

One more thing - I definitely agree with MikeB on public employee unions (although little else). Having seen large bureaucracies up close in my 20 years of naval service, I know how dysfunctional they can be. That is why DoD has tried to aggessively outsource non-essential functions (what is happening in Iraq is a different story). I am talking about what was done pre-Iraq. I was involved both as an active duty officer and as a consultant after my retirement. I have been away from that business for 5 years now.

I am running out of time and steam although I could say more.

One last thing, Razor said that independents tend to favor what the more moderate Democrats and Republicans do. That is true to a large extent. However, the more moderate Democrats and Republicans tend to be marginalized by their parties. Moderates only come to the fore when their party has been generally unsuccessful. Look at the Democrats nominating Clinton in 1992 after 12 years of Republican presidents. Look at the number of moderate and even pro-life Democrats who ran for Congress in 1996. Bush campaigned in 2000 as a "compassionate conservative" attempting to at least appear moderate. In fact, many on the right were highly suspicious of him when he first ran. The Republicans showcased their moderates at the 2004 convention but marginalize them at other times.

I was a long haired hippy back in the day. As I matured and my political views evolved I voted for Anderson in 80, Reagan in 84, Bush in 88, Perot in 92, Dole in 96, Gore in 00 and Kerry in 04. I probably agreed more with Clinton than Dole but like Dole a lot more. I know Perot is crazy, it was a protest vote because no one was addressing the deficit and I would do it again.

Posted by: JimD in FL | July 11, 2007 11:39 AM | Report abuse

The biggest joke of the NEA convention was Hillary Clinton.

"Next, imagine a speech on Monday, July 2nd where Hillary Clinton would focus most of her remarks concerning education on what she had accomplished as First Lady of Arkansas, rather than as a Senator from New York. She extolled the Arkansas accomplishments so much that delegates from across the country, at a meeting after the conclusion of business that day, wondered how engaged she had been in education issues since she has been in the Senate. It was noted repeatedly that her education record lies in Arkansas."

Hillary's involvement in Arkansas started as a result of a 1983 Arkansas Supreme Court decision striking down Arkanas's system of school funding.

Bill and Hillary established national reputations on education that were so extensive that Hillary was still referring to Arkansas last week before the NEA.

What Hillary (and the media) didnt tell you was that in 1992, the year Bill was elected, another suit was filed. This suit said the system largely crafted by Bill and Hill was both discriminatory and inadequate. After a decade of litigation, the Supreme Court ultimately agreed.

The record that Hillary was promoting before the NEA is a record of complete failure. This is not only my opinion, but that of the Arkansas Supreme Court.

Start with "SUPREME COURT OF ARKANSAS, Case No. 01-836" to review all of the court opinions. The final ruling is here:

Posted by: Razorback | July 11, 2007 11:38 AM | Report abuse

Colin correctly points out that Obama made the hard choice of going on record as supporting merit based pay. He also has gone on record as supporting parts of the No Child Left Behind legislation which I believe is admirable. Parts of it are a train wreck but not all of it is. So far he seems more willing to stand on principle than any other candidate on the D side. He should do really well in attracting the Disillusioned voters as his message of hope is targeting directly at them.

Rufus: apparently only non-humans can vote for either party?

And I'm passing on the obvious 'Brian' joke.

Posted by: Judge C. Crater | July 11, 2007 11:38 AM | Report abuse

Independents seem to go by the moment. They have no political label to hold on to and/or defend. They call things the way they see them at the time. This has both up and down sides.

The up side is that they have their own beliefs, and if things are going badly at the time, their attitude is "hey, it's not working. Let's change it into something that does work." They are the straight shooters who have nothing to worry about because they are willing to criticize anyone supporting ideas that are not going well at the present time.

The down side to independent thinking is that sometimes it takes a while for a plan to work. Things just don't happen over night, and they many times are too quick to dismiss sacrifice and try something else. This may downplay an idea in progress that may be great, and kill it before the rewards are reaped.

That's my take on the voting habits/ideas on independents. Of course, that is from the mind of a Conservative Republican.

Posted by: reason | July 11, 2007 11:32 AM | Report abuse

I agree with Bill O'Reilly (wow. not often) That we need three (or four) parties. The dems are refusing to do what the left elected them to do. They are only slightly less of sell-outs. We need (at least) a left, right and moderate.

My only fear is the left would be ignored. Not enough money in ideals. The middle and right would combine on most issues. The left would be without of a voice. Money talks. Freedom/american values walk. It's still worth it. At least WE would know you "leaders" were on the same side as us. Not waiting of emails or calls so they can gauge what they should be doing. What a joke.


Posted by: rufus | July 11, 2007 11:29 AM | Report abuse

Mike Moore does what should have been done years ago. Lays the blame at the feet of the people responsibile for misleading the American people. It's a start. CNN is only slightly less "crazy" than Fox "news". We are a self-government. In a self government we need real news so we can make real political decision based on fact, not corporations propoganda.

Posted by: rufus1133 | July 11, 2007 11:23 AM | Report abuse

Correction - the number of Amercian software workers unemployed ought to have read 25%.

Posted by: MikeB | July 11, 2007 11:21 AM | Report abuse

why dont you writers have the guts to mention that pres bush & vp cheney should resign for the good of the the country,they have already sold us out

Posted by: ira | July 11, 2007 11:19 AM | Report abuse

why dont you writers have the guts to mention that pres bush & vp cheney should resign for the good of the the country,they have already sold us out

Posted by: ira | July 11, 2007 11:19 AM | Report abuse

Razorback, "...Your response indicates that it is a broader group of issues. That makes me wonder what issues keep you from being a Dem..." This is the first intelligent question you have asked here. Bravo! I'm a partisan liberal and a *very* disenchanted Democrat and would like to take a swing at your question. Many (most?) liberals are extremely distrustful of public employees and their unions. It has been proven again and again that they don't give a rats behind about the general public, only about their own pay and benefi increases. To achieve those increases, they will lie, cut off essential services (while keeping the very goofiest of programs intact). In Oregon, the Democratic Party is wedded to these people and represents them over the good of the tax payer. So, liberal though I am, I just finished working for a sucessful campaign to roll back a County COmmissioner impossed tax increase. I figure you kill the beast by strangling it. On a national level, the Democratic Party is acting in the same manner. Worse yet, the apparently put illegal immigrants and guest workers and corporate interests above the wishes and needs of ordinary working men and women. A part of the just defeated "immigration reform", an amendment added by Senator Kennedy yet, was to DOUBLE the number of H1-B visas! At a time when at least 5% of Amercian software workers are unemployed, when salaries have fallen by as much as two-thirds, when working conditions have worsened, this flat out doesn't make sense. Either this corrupt old hag has gotten so out of touch with the voters that he and other like him need to be retired or he has been feeding at Bill Gates' trough too long. Either way, I followed the votes and Obama and Clinton and most of the Democratic leadership followed lockstep in their support for this disgrace. It was the Republican's who represented MY wishes and the wishes of the majority of the American voter. Likewise, the universal healthcare legislation being considered are these gigantic government programs that will create huge numbers of public employees and doom this much needed program. If we followed the Scandinavian model, we would simply create a national HMO that would be regionally administered by (presently existing) private firms, using proven competitive bidding and cost proposals to reduce medical medical expenses. HMO's are very good at doing this right now and there is no rational reason to create a government program. I am not opposed to paying taxes, even very high taxes, to fund programs that work for the public good. I am s9imply opposed to throwing money away and I really mistrust the government and government employees.

Posted by: MikeB | July 11, 2007 11:19 AM | Report abuse

Mark -- I think you previously mentioned you used to identify as a conservative Democrat, but no longer do. I'd be curious to hear how the Democratic party could win you back.

As a general rule, I think the idea that modern mainstream democrats are somehow more "liberal" than they used to be is pretty flawed. Folks like Charlie Rengel, who are referred to as "liberals," are actually quite moderate on tax and spending issues these days. Since Clinton, Democrats have proven far more responsible with respect to budget deficits than republicans.

At any rate, I'd honestly be curious to find out what changes Democrats would need to make to more consistently appeal to you. Judging from your note above, throwing money at education w/out standards seems to be an example. Given that Obama just endorsed merit-based pay in a speech in front of teachers unions and liberal icon Ted Kennedy was the biggest support of testing standards in the past, sounds like the party may already be listening on that issue. :)

Posted by: Colin | July 11, 2007 11:03 AM | Report abuse

Mark in Austin, I just wondered if your problems with Repubs were based on a narrow group of issues or a broader group of issues. Your response indicates that it is a broader group of issues. That makes me wonder what issues keep you from being a Dem.

Posted by: Razorback | July 11, 2007 10:56 AM | Report abuse

Razor -

I withdraw my quick-and-dirty list. I answered too quickly. I will take time during lunch to post some actual R panders rather than policies.

Posted by: Mark in Austin | July 11, 2007 10:48 AM | Report abuse

Another interesting thing about the political compass test is that people who score libertarian left always seem to think their score is interesting. I have noticed this with my friends. It is not that interesting, guys...

Posted by: Anonymous | July 11, 2007 10:42 AM | Report abuse

These questions about independents seem circular. I think the confusion is based off of the false dichotomy of liberal versus conservative. In reality the opposites are progressive versus conservative.

Political ideology has to do with the role of the government in society. A progressive is one who believes the government as our institutional collective should be involve in tweaking our lives in hopes of betterment. A conservative believes that we should let the natural organic societal development happen uninterrupted and uninfluenced. To what extent of said intervention or nonintervention is what makes one hard or moderate in a spectrum.

I consider myself a progressive because I don't fear democratic government intervention through regulations, investment, entitlements, taxes or social policy. A true conservative shouldn't like government intervention when it helps big corporations either. Of course I'm against total government control, and I'm sure any conservative of today accepts that the economy, culture and the political arena need some level of government intervention just to safeguard the basic rules of engagement.

Independents are simply people who don't pick a party, but that is mostly because of the personalities and past performance of their natural party. They are progressive or conservative, just moderated. Moderation doesn't make one an independent, it just describes how much government intervention or nonintervention one is willing to stomach.

Posted by: RCD | July 11, 2007 10:41 AM | Report abuse


I guess I am a Dislocated, Disillusioned, Deliberator.

Posted by: JimD in Fl | July 11, 2007 10:36 AM | Report abuse

As a formerly Republican leaning independent, I'd say that it is not just Bush that has pushed me away, it is the decimation of the moderates in Congress on the Republican side that has moved me away. I was a big fan of Simpson, Dole, Danforth, Fitzgerald, D'Amato, and others. Now all that's left are the women from Maine, Lugar, and Specter, who is a constant target in primaries anyway. Once Trent Lott won the battle for the head of the Senate in the mid-90's was when I started to become less enamored.

Posted by: Chris | July 11, 2007 10:34 AM | Report abuse

Mark said "Generally, I found myself more afraid of Rs than of Ds during the GWB years due to the ascendance of social and neo cons".

The underlying point in Mark's post, as I see it as someone who usually agrees with him, is that we independents usually end up voting against rather than for. That has certainly been the case in my 35 year voting history.

Posted by: JimD in FL | July 11, 2007 10:33 AM | Report abuse

Thanks Mark. Apparently, I'm a Libertarian Left as well as Dislocated.

Posted by: Judge C. Crater | July 11, 2007 10:17 AM | Report abuse

hi Razorback -

1] God, gays, abortion.
2] if we do not fight al quaeda in Iraq, they will come here.
3] trade civil liberties for security - indefinitely.
4] gummint is the enemy of the people, not its servant - certainly a self-fulfilling prediction.
5] save the flag from desecration by the army of flag desecrators.
6] supply side economics all the time [Ds preach demand side all the time, of course]
7] call for judicial restraint when they mean judicial activism.
8] patriotism denies dissent.
9] debt-and-spend as the cure for tax-and-spend: Rs now argue deficits are good.

That's a quick-and-dirty reply. Gotta go.

Posted by: Mark in Austin | July 11, 2007 10:02 AM | Report abuse

Joseph Oddo says: "The Big Two fear the American public would hear solutions that could never be offered by institutional parties run by their biggest contributors."

This is false. The solutions offered by independends are basically the same offered by the more moderate R's and D's. Joseph's complains that there are solutions out there that are not being offered. Why not offer them on this blog?

The problem isn't the parties. The problem is that people disagree on the issues. The happy consensus that independents want does not exist.

Posted by: Razorback | July 11, 2007 9:51 AM | Report abuse

Mark in Austin, I am curious as to what you see as the typical Republican "panders".

Posted by: Razorback | July 11, 2007 9:42 AM | Report abuse

Judge, "roo" posted a website with a self test for placement of one's political position on a two-dimensional graph. It was an interesting short read and exercise. I repost, here:

Posted by: Mark in Austin | July 11, 2007 9:28 AM | Report abuse

CC comes up with a good column. Nice, balanced set of comments. I am shocked by the appearance of the sentence "Asked to name the worst president in the "modern era" a near majority of independents -- 48 percent -- chose Bush." Wow. The BushCorp ship really must be sinking fast, isn't it?

From the analysis by Balz and Cohen five categories of independents emerged from the survey. Pick your own label:

"Deliberators," who are classic swing voters.
"Disillusioned," who are acutely upset with politics today.
"Dislocated," who are both social liberals and fiscal conservatives.
"Disguised," who are partisans on the left and right who behave almost identically to Democrats or Republicans.
"Disengaged," who generally sit on the political sidelines.

I am a Dislocated, apparently. Many trolls are obviously 'Disguiseds' (a mouthful).

Posted by: Judge C. Crater | July 11, 2007 9:10 AM | Report abuse

"Understanding Independents"? I wouldn't even try...

Posted by: m | July 11, 2007 8:46 AM | Report abuse

What independents want is a fair shake,and neither of the Big Two are willing to allow it. We independents know exactly why ballot access laws enacted to reduce competition. we know why 50 percent of all elections go uncontested, because they are not opposition parties. We know why they will not debate indies and third parties... fear. The Big Two fear the American public would hear solutions that could never be offered by institutional parties run by their biggest contributors. is rising and in 2008 we will have a complete set of options for the public. Now if the press gives us a fair shake, perhaps we can be included in the debates...

Posted by: Joseph Oddo | July 11, 2007 8:30 AM | Report abuse

I am one of these - but I may not be the same one of these at different times. Generally, many national stands of both parties strike me as silly-to-wasteful-to-dangerous. Take this morning's WaPo column on Ds wanting to just throw money at public education without demanding standards for an example of the most recent disgusting pander. Tomorrow there will be an example of disgusting R pander.

Generally, I found myself more afraid of Rs than of Ds during the GWB years due to the ascendance of social and neo cons.

And I think many of "us" are motivated by fear of pet schemes and ideologies of both left and right, rather than love of some of the pets of both.

Posted by: Mark in Austin | July 11, 2007 8:11 AM | Report abuse

Huge info collection --


Posted by: louise | July 11, 2007 7:38 AM | Report abuse

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