James Fellows on Democratic messaging and Sen. John Kerry’s recent appearance on Meet the Press. An Effective Presentation of the Dems’ Tax-Cut Case
“You care about unemployment? We’re committed to extending benefits that can help families stay above water, hold onto their houses if possible, and have at least some spending power as they keep looking for work. You need a tax break in a recession? We agree — we want to cut taxes for every household in the country. And that’s why we’re in a fight with the Republican minority that is determined to stop tax relief for you, and deny help to families who’ve lost jobs, unless we give huge extra tax cuts for the people who’ve already enjoyed the greatest tax-cut benefits and are least likely to spend that money to keep the economy strong. We’re saying: tax cuts for everybody on income up to $250,000 — and for money above that, to control the deficit, let’s go back to the rates of the 1990s, when the economy boomed. They’re saying: no tax cuts for anybody, unless there’s a special bonus for people at the very top.
We’re all for compromise — but not with bad, destructive, budget-busting ideas. That’s why we’re drawing the line here.”
I mention this both because I think Kerry’s argument is right on the merits, and because it’s worth recognizing political arguments presented competently.
Kerry has always been a good speaker. Even his advocacy could be trimmed down a bit – Democrats have the best plan for the middle ground. We want to give 95% of Americans a tax cut and generate revenue to bring down the deficit. Republicans want a tax cut for the wealthy which will increase the deficit, plus the interest on that debt. Even with the right message President Obama and Democrats are at a disadvantage. One, rather it is just appearances or the latest media Village meme – Obama does not seem to be leading the way. House Speaker Pelosi – who continues to be the most effective House leader in decades – is not only on message, but actually passed a a good tax bill. It looks as though the Republican hostage crisis has been settled – as I write this anyway – with the White House willing to pay the Republican tax extortion with a promise Republicans will extend unemployment benefits. The message war is thus already over. Democrats, or more precisely Obama held all the cards and for reasons unclear to most of us – has caved. The consensus seems to be that threatening to veto anything less than a tax cut only for those below the $250k threshold would make Democrats look as though they were rising taxes. That is arguable. The message wars never cease and any victory or defeat by Democrats will always be spun as a victory for the far right. Obama has been shown time and again there is no compromise with the nutbars. Republicans are the extortion party. They’re shamelessly willing to hold America hostage for the sake of a few hundred people who make their money via the labor of millions of hard working Americans.
Until Dubya came along Ronald Reagan was up there as one of the worse presidents ever. Even he could see the dangers of a slash and burn tax policy – The Great Taxer
But Ronald Reagan does hold a special place in the annals of tax policy, and not just as the patron saint of tax cuts. To his credit, he was more pragmatic and responsible than that; he followed his huge 1981 tax cut with two large tax increases. In fact, no peacetime president has raised taxes so much on so many people. This is not a criticism: the tale of those increases tells you a lot about what was right with President Reagan’s leadership, and what’s wrong with the leadership of George W. Bush.
The first Reagan tax increase came in 1982. By then it was clear that the budget projections used to justify the 1981 tax cut were wildly optimistic. In response, Mr. Reagan agreed to a sharp rollback of corporate tax cuts, and a smaller rollback of individual income tax cuts. Over all, the 1982 tax increase undid about a third of the 1981 cut; as a share of G.D.P., the increase was substantially larger than Mr. Clinton’s 1993 tax increase.
Krugman also reminds us Reagan did not look at Social Security ( currently Social Security is good for another 38 years) and Medicare short-falls and see nothing but benefit cuts. Reagan increased payroll taxes to keep those programs going. Even with his tax increases Reagan saddled the nation with record breaking debt. Anyone stay p late occasionally and watch those commercials which promise windfalls of wealth if you buy their course. If they worked we’d all be millionaires by now. Republicans have been selling the same shame scheme for decades. They promise the American people they can have all the things they ever dreamed of – great roads, the best schools, great police and fire protection, a world leader in space exploration and medical research…all without paying for it. Yes cutting taxes puts money in one pocket – but they take money out of the other pocket by having roads and bridges in disrepair, falling behind on new technologies that create the jobs of the future, fewer college graduates and fewer good paying jobs for people who don’t attend college, more children in poverty, more American without health care and dental benefits, dirty lakes and rivers ( the degradation of America’s natural heritage) and the income gap between the haves and have littles growing every year as an economy and culture we value wealth and the wealthy over work, initiative and innovation. Republican love to while about Democratic complaints over class warfare that they say doesn’t exists. Democrats should never ever back down from the fact there is a war of the classes in America. Conservatism has the same agenda as monarchs and princes of early Europe. Conservative are the chosen and everyone else should learn to accept their place as a permanent underclass:
Contrary to the cherished beliefs of most Americans, the United States has less social mobility than any other developed country. As Ron Haskins and Isabel Sawhill of the Brookings Institution have shown, 42 percent of American men with fathers in the bottom fifth of the income distribution remain there as compared to: Denmark, 25 percent; Sweden, 26 percent; Finland, 28 percent; Norway, 28 percent; and Britain, 30 percent. The American Dream is fast becoming a myth…
What do we see on the broadcast media and read in print from conservatives – the problem is the American people are lazy and untrustworthy. Listening to conservative politicians and pundits we’re to believe that America has dissolved into a cushy nanny state. Any readers feel like they can quite their jobs tomorrow and live an easy life with all those too easy to get gov’mint benefits rolling in? Of course not. Our minuscule safety net barely provides funds and food to survive – and then only for a short time. There is no upside to being lazy in the U.S. Well, you can be lazy and rich. Acknowledging these facts would mean conservatives would have to admit the conservative agenda – which has largely eroded the progressive pro middle-class policies of Teddy Roosevelt and FDR’s New Deal has deep structural fallacies. The daily noise we hear about creeping socialism is simply the sound of the scared and ignorant who are afraid real working Americans will get their fair share of the pie.
Conservatives do have some entertainment value. They can pull ridiculous memes out of their ass faster than Superman can leap a tall building: Thus we need to give the wealthy tax cuts because they are so darn uncertain about the future. Gingrich: Let Rich People Decide How Long Their Tax Cuts Last
Appearing on Fox News Sunday, disgraced former House Speaker Newt Gingrich proposed an odd method for determining how long to extend the Bush tax cuts for the very wealthy — ask the very wealthy how long they want them:
What Republicans ought to do is say to people who create jobs, how many years does the tax code need to be extended for you to make an investment decision? I mean, the goal’s not to have an annual extension of the current tax code, and then have every business in the country trapped saying, “I don’t know. I want to make a 20 year investment in a factory.” … There is a number, but I would have the business leadership of the country describe the number.
Gingrich’s moral compass is made the point of Satan’s tail and his knowledge of the current state of corporate America’s finances from a 25 year old box of fried big skins,
Tax cuts for the rich, on the other hand, are only marginally more useful than simply burning the money. Indeed, corporate America is presently sitting on a massive $1.6 trillion in cash reserves, but their actions in recent months demonstrate that business leaders would rather let this money grow mold than actually spend it to put Americans back to work. Gingrich offers no explanation for why simply giving the rich even more money to hoard will magically cause them to spend it on hiring people.
Moreover, while Gingrich’s proposed windfall for the Kardashians would no doubt win wide support from the superrich CEOs he wants to set tax policy, his idea is massively out of step with the rest of the country. Only 26 percent of Americans believe that Donald Trump needs another tax cuts. Likewise, Americans reject Gingrich’s plan to let the unemployed eat cake by a massive 3 to 1 margin.