Spruce Snow wallpaper – Yet Another Report Debunks Republican Tax Myths

Spruce Covered in Winter Snow wallpaper

 

One of conservatism’s most cherished myths is that the lower taxes are on the wealthy the more that trickles down to the middle-class and working poor. So any empirical data that shows Voodoo Economics Chapter 1, Verse 1, is false is offensive to the cult of conservatism. There will be no heresy on the subject. Republicans who have bathed in the waters of Trickle on America economics are not called heretics, though that is what they mean, they call them statists or socialists, or Glenn Beck calls them progressives as he hisses. So no wonder that Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and his senate Politburo tried to censor a report showing that Trickle on America tax policy just made the rich richer. Nonpartisan Tax Report Withdrawn After G.O.P. Protest

The Congressional Research Service has withdrawn an economic report that found no correlation between top tax rates and economic growth, a central tenet of conservative economic theory, after Senate Republicans raised concerns about the paper’s findings and wording. ( link is a pdf of report. It may not last long)

The decision, made in late September against the advice of the agency’s economic team leadership, drew almost no notice at the time. Senator Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York, cited the study a week and a half after it was withdrawn in a speech on tax policy at the National Press Club.

But it could actually draw new attention to the report, which questions the premise that lowering the top marginal tax rate stimulates economic growth and job creation.

“This has hues of a banana republic,” Mr. Schumer said. “They didn’t like a report, and instead of rebutting it, they had them take it down.”

Republicans did not say whether they had asked the research service, a nonpartisan arm of the Library of Congress, to take the report out of circulation, but they were clear that they protested its tone and findings.

Mad Dog McConnell, after throwing a temper tantrum has claimed the CRS withdrew the report all on its own. Which is like the sidewalk madman that screams in your face and your walking to the other side of the street was strictly a voluntary act on your part. Why The GOP Muzzled The Library of Congress’s Research Agency

The withdrawal is, nonetheless, outrageous. McConnell spokesman Don Stewart told the Times that the CRS report wasn’t just criticized by Republican senators; it was also criticized by what the Times (in a paraphrase) calls “people outside of Congress.” I wish the Times had taken the opportunity to say who these “people outside of Congress” are. You can probably guess. There’s the conservative Heritage Foundation. And there’s the Tax Foundation, a conservative nonprofit (not to be confused with the Tax Policy Center, which is non-ideological and nonpartisan but has nonetheless been vilified by the right for pointing out that Mitt Romney’s proposed tax cut benefited the rich at the expense of the middle class). The author of the CRS study, Thomas Hungerford, has written many excellent studies on themes directly or indirectly related to income distribution, and that’s made him a conservative target for some time. This past April, Kevin Hassett of the conservative American Enterprise Institute (a prominent income-inequality denialist and Romney adviser doomed never to live down his co-authorship, shortly before the dot-com bust, of a book titled Dow 36,000) testified before Congress’s  Joint Economic Committee that a different Hungerford report was “radically at odds with the literature. I relish academic debate, and think that authors serve a valuable service when they challenge research. But a CRS report that is supposed to inform about the consensus of the literature that veers so far from that activity is a disservice to Congress, and the taxpayers.” When Hassett cites “the literature” he means “the literature acceptable to AEI hacks and their Republican allies in Congress,” or what Jacob Weisberg has felicitously labelled “the Conintern.”

What’s the matter with the CRS report? Well, it calls the Bush tax cuts “the Bush tax cuts,” which is somehow deemed partisan but in fact is merely explanatory. The Bush tax cuts were tax cuts passed when George W. Bush was president. Bush proposed them, pushed them through Congress, and signed them into law. Even Republicans call the Bush tax cuts “the Bush tax cuts.” The CRS report also stands accused of making reference to “tax cuts for the rich.” This is unacceptably hurtful, I suppose, to a group that any sensitive person would know to call the “special-incomed.” As it happens, though, my PDF search of the CRS report reveals that nowhere does the phrase “tax cuts for the rich” appear. The word “rich” does appear here and there, but always in a neutral context, such as, “Under both definitions of the top of the income distribution (i.e., the rich) the income shares were relatively stable until the late 1970s and then started to rise.”

As Timothy Noah notes there is really no shocking news in the report. It is simply another report in a long history of reports that show the top tax rates for the top 1% have steadily declined over the past five decades – under Democrats and conservatives. Despite those ever lower tax rates, there has been no real benefit to the country in terms of improved or better maintained infrastructure, better education, lower post secondary education costs, a bigger space program, or more investment in technology or scientific research – or narrowing the wage inequality gap. In all these areas of public policy, thus national progress, we have fallen behind. Conservatives decided in 2008 that they really really cared about the deficit. If that were true they would have paid for their spending from 2000 to 2008. Currently they would tap into new revenue streams – like having a minimum tax for millionaires and rising the capital gains tax to 30%. Instead they use some math that would shame a 6th grader, propose gutting Medicare and rising the age for Social Security again ( even though the only people living appreciably longer are the wealthy, not the working class Americans who really need those programs they have invested in over the course of their working life). Sites like World Nut Daily and of course Fox News display big headlines about the billions spent on Medicare. Just the sticker shock is supposed to scare people. What should scare people is America’s seniors and disabled living off baloney and Romain noodles, not being able to afford their meds.

Romney’s Tax Secrecy: Did He Get Away With It? The short answer is yes because most of the media gets tried of a story and likes to move on.

3. Did Romney really get away with something? On one level, the answer clearly seems to be yes: Romney has managed to get through an entire campaign for president without having to give up the basic information his predecessors did, information that could have been seriously damaging to his prospects, and now finds himself a lucky break or two from the White House. But the strategists are quick to argue that this elusiveness came at a cost. Romney’s secretiveness about his taxes, they say, was a major element of the unflattering frame the Obama campaign managed to construct around him for most of the campaign, of a self-interested plutocrat who was not to be trusted. “He paid a price,” Jordan said. “When these issues were front and center, as he was becoming known to the American public, this oddness, this secrecy, this penchant did help to shape his image in significant ways….The image of him as being secretive and behaving in sort of unprecedentedly plutocratic ways has sunk in.” Again, Devine agrees. “He’s gotten away with it, but it’s hurt him,” he said. He noted that Obama’s stubborn polling lead in Ohio is almost surely due in part to effective attacks over on the summer on Bain Capital and the few things that have emerged about Romney’s taxes, including his accounts in the Cayman Islands and Switzerland, which were so memorably targeted in this ad. “In terms of getting away with it,” concludes Devine,“it’s only something can get away with if…you’ve won the election.”

Let’s envision this imaginary Democratic candidate: he dodged the draft ( well, got deferments for some thin reasons), used leveraged buyouts to cut American jobs and outsource them, used government tax breaks and loans to make himself wealthy, told everyone he was a self-made entrepreneur, kept money in multiple offshore banks, used some very creative accounting to have an IRA account worth over million, set up his own charity to which he donated and took the tax deductions, told 533 documented lies in 30 days. That Democrat would have been bulldozed and buried by the conservative media a year ago. His decaying corpse would be getting nada in the polls. Yet, here we have a Republican with just that record and he is at least competitive. Romentum seems to be largely a construct of the Romney campaign, echoed by the right-wing noise machine. He is actually trying to buy the election in Pennsylvania with a media blitz. Ditto for Ohio. He has lost ground in Virginia and Florida. The noise machines’ answer to all of this is to try to tie President Obama to some kind of negligence in regards the terrorist attacks in Libya. The picture is messy, but the evidence suggests that is probably largely due to the CIA letting out new information in bits and pieces, C.I.A. Played Major Role Fighting Militants in Libya Attack

Security officers from the C.I.A. played a pivotal role in combating militants who attacked the American diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, on Sept. 11, deploying a rescue party from a secret base in the city, sending reinforcements from Tripoli, and organizing an armed Libyan military convoy to escort the surviving Americans to hastily chartered planes that whisked them out of the country, senior intelligence officials said Thursday.

The account given by the senior officials, who did not want to be identified, provided the most detailed description to date of the C.I.A.’s role in Benghazi, a covert presence that appears to have been much more significant than publicly disclosed.

Within 25 minutes of being alerted to the attack against the diplomatic mission, half a dozen C.I.A. officers raced there from their base about a mile away, enlisting the help of a handful of Libyan militia fighters as they went. Arriving at the mission about 25 minutes after that, the C.I.A. officers joined State Department security agents in a futile search through heavy smoke and enemy fire for Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens before evacuating the mission’s personnel to the apparent safety of their base, which American officials have called an annex to the mission. Mr. Stevens was one of four Americans killed in the attack.

The entire episode was over in no more than eight hours. The deaths seemed to have taken place within the first hour- the first wave of the attack. So conservatives who want to drop all of this in Obama’s lap have two expectations of the readers they want to buy into their account: that Obama is Superman and did not use his super powers to squash the attack immediately or he is an incompetent commander-in-chief. This is from the same people who thought that George W. Bush was a great leader when he landed on an aircraft carrier and declared ‘mission accomplished’ after which over 4000 Americans died in a needless war. It is not that conservative propagandists are wrong about Libya – and pumping it into a scandal (Hidden Tapes & Secret Emails: Right Wing Now Throwing Kitchen Sink At Obama On Benghazi, Libya) directly connected to the White House, it is about the credibility of conservative pundits and pols who have a cowardly brazen record of shoving disinformation down America’s throat. Four Star General debunks claims of Obama lies and dereliction in Benghazi-gate

The Benghazi arm chair generals on Fox News like Sean Hannity and Bill O’Reilly cannot be too happy today with the comments made by retired Four-Star General Jack Keane yesterday regarding “Benghazi-gate” and the laying of blame on President Obama. Being interviewed by Geraldo Rivera of Fox News, General Jack Keane basically debunked the theory that more could have been done to conduct a timely rescue mission at the U.S. consulate in Libya or that the President somehow screwed up or was incompetent. Here are some of the General’s direct quotes:

“The consulate was stormed”.
“There was no gunships in the region”.
“There was nothing that could have prevented it”.
“It was over in about an hour”.
“Forces got there as soon as possible”.
“To politicize this is very hurtful”.

General Keane is already catching a lot of flack and criticism from those on the right and the Romney supporters for his comments. Even for the Obama-haters it is disrespectful and despicable to call an experienced Four Star General a liar who is covering for the White House and the Commander in Chief a liar and a coward. It’s rather ironic for those who would politicize this tragedy to call the President a coward, when it was Mitt Romney who was the draft dodger – ahem! a draft deferment- while his peers were getting shot and killed in Vietnam.

There does seem to be some push back between the Sate Department and the CIA. I’ve ready some theories about this and let’s just say they’re armchair theories for now. Most of us know how Washington works. If you’re completely honest you’ll get buried. If you let out more than one version of a story, varying just a word or two, you’ll be nailed for the biggest cover-up since Watergate. I would like The Daily Beast to survive as a media outlet, but they’re doomed if they think this piece by Eli Lake ( who used to work for the conservative rag The Washington Times) is news, Two U.S. officials tell Eli Lake the State Dept. never requested military backup the night of the attack.

The only security backup that did arrive that evening were former special-operations soldiers under the command of the CIA—one from the nearby annex and another Quick Reaction Force from Tripoli. On Friday, Fox News reported that requests from CIA officers for air support on the evening of the attacks were rejected. (The Daily Beast was not able to confirm that those requests were made, though no U.S. official contacted for this story directly refuted the claim either.)

Lake resorts to the theory or pure conjecture that military assistance would have stopped the last part of the attack – which was the mortar attack that killed a SEAL  ( who might have been there working for the CIA). That sounds like a discussion you could have over beers at the kitchen table and everyone puts in their two cents worth. We’re all entitled to our little theories and what if’s. that is not the same thing as fact based reporting. Think back to the initial breaking of the story. In that flurry of media reports we were all told there was no military response. We were likely told that because the CIA did not want anyone to know they were there. That leaves gaps for the Republican keyboard commandos to drive a truck through.