Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Populist Pandering and Other Anomalies

Well, I'm back from my travels and won't be on the road again till the fall. I like to travel, but I like getting home almost as well . . . in fact, just as well. Even when you're treated almost like visiting royalty, as we usually are when we visit relatives, God bless them all, home is still home, even if it is Oklahoma where the current temperature is 102 degrees.

I read today in the latest Newsweek--a magazine that just got sold (again), and that will surely not be surviving much longer. The Internet has done or will do all of the weekly news magazines in. Anyway, Fareed Zakaria, the talented editorialist, writes that Congress needs to let the Bush tax cuts lapse, for a quite simple reason: the country cannot afford them. But in the Alice's Wonderland that is American politics, even the Democrats, who still are theoretically running things, are running scared from doing this. They want to keep them only for the very richest. They opposed these taxes in 2001 & 2003. So if the tax cuts were a bad idea then when deficits were small, why are they a good idea now? I tell you, it's insane. Here are a passel of salient facts about the Bush tax cut, and why it ought to be allowed to die.

  • It would cut the deficit by $300 billion. (And the Republicans, remember have been howling about the horrible deficits unceasingly.)
  • Over ten years the tax cuts have deprived the U.S. Treasury of--are you ready for this?--$2.3 trillion. "According to the Congressional Budget Office, nearly half the cost of all legislation enacted between 2001 and 2007 can be attributed to the tax cuts."
  • Everybody of course screams about taxes and what a burden we Americans have to shoulder. That says Zakaria, is a "nice piece of populist pandering." Wanna know something about our tax burden?
    • Federal taxes as percentage of economy are at lowest level since days of Harry Truman
    • Family of four in precisely the middle of income spectrum will pay only 4.6 percent of its income in federal taxes.
    • Half the country pays no income taxes at all.
    • Top 3 percent of Americans contribute almost 50 percent of income taxes.
The fact of the matter, given the massive expenditures for the two wars and the prescription drug benefit in Medicare, the tax cuts were a ridiculously stupid thing to do. They did not stimulate the economy nor did they reduce federal spending. Now, with everybody shrieking about the deficits, the people's servants in Washington are about to require that we all bend over and grab our ankles again.

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