The Big Tax Deal

Here’s an interesting nugget from Ezra Klein:

If you look at the numbers alone, the tax cut deal looks to have robbed Republicans blind. The GOP got around $95 billion in tax cuts for wealthy Americans and $30 billion in estate tax cuts. Democrats got $120 billion in payroll-tax cuts, $40 billion in refundable tax credits (Earned Income Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit and education tax credits), $56 billion in unemployment insurance, and, depending on how you count it, about $180 billion (two-year cost) or $30 billion (10-year cost) in new tax incentives for businesses to invest.

But that’s not how it’s being understood. Republicans are treating it as a victory, and liberals as a defeat. Which raises two separate questions: Why did Republicans give Obama so much? And why aren’t Democrats happier about it?

Let’s start with the Republicans. For one thing, the things they wanted were things they really, really wanted. A number of sources with direct knowledge of the negotiations have fingered the estate tax as the major player in the size of the deal. “Republicans were extremely eager to get benefits for the top tenth of a percent of Americans,” says one senior administration official.

Extremely eager to give more money for the super rich. Charming. Who was it who said the love of money is the root of all evil? The greed of these people is incomprehensible.

Meanwhile, here’s Obama”s latest Sister Souljah moment:

This is the public option debate all over again. So I pass a signature piece of legislation where we finally get health care for all Americans, something that Democrats have been fighting for for a hundred years, but because there was a provision in there that they didn’t get that would have affected maybe a couple million people, even though we got health insurance for 30 million people, and the potential for lower premiums for 100 million people, that somehow that was a sign of weakness and compromise.

Now, if that’s the standard by which we are measuring success or core principles, then let’s face it, we will never get anything done. People will have the satisfaction of having a purist position and no victories for the American people. And we will be able to feel good about ourselves and sanctimonious about how pure our intentions are and how tough we are, and in the meantime the American people are still seeing themselves not able to get health insurance because of a preexisting condition. Or not being able to pay their bills because their unemployment insurance ran out.

The political calculations are pretty simple. If Obama had drawn a line in the sand then on January 1 a Democratic President would have presided over a huge tax increase. By January 2 his approval ratings would have been down to single digits. End of discussion.

As for bashing liberals, the administration figures that the angrier the left gets the more independents will return to the fold. I have no idea if they are right, and I mostly don’t care. Bill Clinton bashing Sister Souljah was a shrewd way of showing he was willing to stand up to his base without actually alienating his base. Obama, by contrast, seems to take positive delight in sticking it to his supporters.

Whatever. In 2012 we can look forward to the usual choice. A conscienceless Republican lunatic or a Democrat who will at least slow the rate of American decay just a little bit. Not very inspiring, but it’s also not a tough choice.

What angers liberals is not the need for compromise. We, after all, are the ones who take governing seriously and try to support policies that promote the greatest good for the greatest number. What angers us is the administration’s fecklessness in conducting its negotiations. Obama began the health care debate with a compromised position, not even using single-payer as a starting point, and then couldn’t wait to compromise further. He never wanted the public option in the first place. Likewise in the present debate. Perhaps this was the best deal that could be brokered at this point. But it was only Democratic listlessness and political incompetence that put them in this unfavorable position in the first place.

It’s the usual problem with Obama. Is he playing political long ball, slowly getting things done within an incredibly hostile environment? Or is he just a wuss who is so conflict-averse that he is unwilling to fight for much of anything?

Comments

  1. #1 Pam Ronald
    December 8, 2010

    What bothers me is that although both the republicans and the democrats say reducing deficits is important, the tax deal just adds to it. At least the payroll tax and unemployment insurance will help spur some spending and keep people fed a bit longer but what about education, scientific research, infrastructure?

    THe NYT estimates that the $125 billion instead could have been used to TRIPLE the US science budget.

    Sure I am all for carpenters having jobs, but who else will the $125 Billion really benefit (for that is what the wealthy due-they build houses (I guess they buy motorized things too))

    And what about education? Do we just say bye bye to the best education system in the world? The latest reports show Shanghai way ahead of us now.

    Obama should have let all the tax cuts expire and use that money to help the poor that really need it and for specific projects that the US needs.

    But he just. let. it. go. Never to be seen again

  2. #2 Nick
    December 8, 2010

    Greed? Look at the reframing going on.

    You want to take money from people to spend as you see fit, and you are saying that the people you want to deprive of their money are greedy.

    That’s a serious problem when a scientists distorts the facts for a political end.

  3. #3 homunq
    December 8, 2010

    Nick: a smart man once reminded people to look at whose picture was on their money. My toothbrush and my house are mine; with my money, yes, I’m being greedy if I refuse to render a reasonable portion of it unto the government.

    Jason: “Long ball” and “wimp” not the only options. “Double agent” is also possible. A year and a half a go, I would have said “long ball”; six months ago, “wimp”; now, I’m leaning more and more to “double agent”.

  4. #4 david
    December 8, 2010

    at this Nick fellow:

    You are probably hired by the Repubs to post often and post early on anything you can find, and say anything to make it appear that a real person can be as off the mark as you show. If not hired, you are prostituted. We’ve seen this pattern with Young Repubs and the Acorn attackers. We are not suckers forever, greedy guts. Since you are the depth of deceit, no use taking you or what you say seriously.

  5. #5 386sx
    December 8, 2010

    Greed? Look at the reframing going on.

    You want to take money from people to spend as you see fit,

    Nick, who is not a reframer, thinks that spending money is greedy…

    and you are saying that the people you want to deprive of their money are greedy.

    Nick, who is not a reframer, thinks that having money is not greedy…

  6. #6 Mystyk
    December 8, 2010

    #4,

    It’s obvious at even a moment’s thought that Nick’s argument is a strawman, but I would highly suggest we avoid speculation about his presence here without more evidence. If he has been spamming all over the place and I’m not aware, fine (as long as it can be demonstrated), but we need to avoid random finger-pointing.

    Nick,

    On the assumption that you’re not simply a Repub troll or insurgent, let’s actually look at what’s going on:

    One of the ways to measure a country on the scale of democracy vs. despotism is by looking at the amount of income inequality. The higher the inequality, the lower the democracy value. For over the past 50 years, Republicans have been pushing policies that (whether they admit it or not) are explicitly designed to increase that disparity, while Democrats have been trying to decrease it. Under Bush Jr. policies in particular, the single largest increase in income inequality in living memory was accomplished in less than a decade. The Bush tax cuts for the wealthy were a major driver of that shift (although admittedly not the only one).

    The problem is that, contrary to the prevailing Republican talking point, the wealthy tend not to invest their income all that much in more jobs. It’s the middle and low-income earners who actually invest it back, either through entrepreneurship or by spending their income on necessities (thus employing people at the businesses they patronage). When the economy isn’t going well, the wealthy tend to clam up even further than before. This is the central fallacy of “trickle-down” (voodoo) economics! It assumes action on the part of certain entities in society that we know is empirically false.

    Compare this to what Democrats were asking for: things that are well known to actually help the economy, with the highest dollor-for-dollar bacg for the buck, by targeting the low and middle brackets of society. The difference is that while Reaganomics falsely asserted that supplying extra to the top would filter down, the bubble-up philosophy behind things like unemployment insurance and earned income credits is known to be effective. If you’re going to increase the deficit (and it’s hard to get out of a bad economy without doing so), the least we can do is incur those deficits through programs that – you know – actually have merit.

  7. #7 Mystyk
    December 8, 2010

    Oh yeah, here’s part of the problem: Many of the same people who utilize government aid programs feel certain that they’re not actually utilizing government aid. This doesn’t help things, because those people then vote against their own self-interest.

    Want to take a guess which party those who use government services while denying that they use government services tend to belong to? “Take your government hands off my medicare and social security,” indeed…

    (for more info, see this post by MTMB)

  8. #8 pough
    December 8, 2010

    You want to take money from people to spend as you see fit

    What a strange and creepy thing to say. Is Jason Rosenhouse getting money from taxes to spend on hookers and blow, or something? Because if it isn’t him, but the goverment, and the money is for things that benefit the nation as a whole, your argument makes you look crazy.

  9. #9 david
    December 8, 2010

    at number 6

    Suggestion rejected.

    The earliest instance I remember of the rhetoric that tricks liberals is the McLaughlin report on PBS. McLaughlin, Jesuit Catholic, and from the Nixon White House. On that program faded reporters shouted at each other, the subject was ultimately who was going to win an election (horserace reporting). Germond said he liked the money. On that pattern then mainstream television had Hardball, and others like it. We started getting feckless reporters everywhere watching the race and not the issues. They wanted to quote guys apparently against each other, what they came to call “balance.” Now Fox news seems to have perfected fake reporting. You may note that crazy ideas, also lies, are right next to worthy ideas. Attention, it’s the format.

    The whole nation is now divided along those lines. They are called “talking points.” They don’t have to be true, they don’t have to be on topic, can be anything that appears to be a reply, which attempts to put them on an equal footing with, whoever, and in this case, Jason. You can get the Repub ones off an RSS feed where guys and gals sit in front of computers all day typing them in, without regard for fairness or fullness. They are very like the plant put in these comments. Just take them seriously and you give them, hand them, donate them, credibility, often undeserved. We as a group can be, have been, suckers cornered by rhetoric and don’t even catch on. Reporters, so called, too are offenders.

    So, sorry, I’m not waiting for more evidence. I think the guy is paid or prostituted in some way. This is not a trial, no beyond a reasonable doubt, no preponderance, no clear, cogent and convincing, no compelling required. I can make an inference of probable on the slightest, which I cited, anytime I want. I’m ticked that the nation has gone crazy and I’ve got enough inference to call a spade a spade, and sometimes as now a f-ing shovel. You mean well, so what.

    Because further evidence either for or against makes no difference. It’s the credibility that should be denied.

    With whatever kindness you deserve, I hope you take it. Enjoyed talking at you.

    Attention.

  10. #10 Charles Hixson
    December 8, 2010

    FWIW, and mainly off topic…
    At this point I remember that Faux News went to court to defend their right to lie to the public in a news program. And that all of the other stations covertly supported them. (I.e., no big splash to their viewers: “Look! The competition stations lies to you!”)

    I believe that it’s now precedent that a public station can intentionally lie to it’s viewers for gain. Think about this whenever you watch the news.

  11. #11 Mystyk
    December 8, 2010

    @david, #9:

    Got it. You want to mirror one of the very things that many find wrong with our opposition: the unevidenced reactionary ad-hominem.

    It works well if your entire political model is built on deliberate deception, hence why [modern] Republicans are so keen to use it at every turn, but it doesn’t help those actually trying to do the right thing — which is the very thing we should be stepping up to do (since the opposition stopped putting up even the pretense of it decades ago).

    I’m all for countering Nick’s poor reasoning (which is not much of a challenge except in taking the time to draft it), but I draw the line at attacking or insinuating against Nick personally unless I have a damn good reason to assume so against the null hypothesis. This isn’t an argument about tone, or about whether it is convenient, it’s one of principle. Why? Because we’re better than that! Or at least we should be…

  12. #12 Mystyk
    December 8, 2010

    @Charles, #10:

    The core takeaway from the “fox can legally lie” case is right, but the details of the case and the precedent it sets were more complex.

    The case was not about the right of the news companies to lie per se, but about whether being fired as a news anchor for refusing to lie (when it was clear to both the anchor and the executives that the report contained clear falsehoods) was considered wrongful termination. Fox held that since the employment contract required him to present the topics and general scope of analysis, his refusal was a breach of contract.

    Other news agencies, not wanting to lose the ability to direct their company operations more distinctly, filed statements on Fox’s behalf, although the court records do show that several of the companies made at least passing statements against Fox’s decision to deliberately perpetrate falsehood. Given this, it’s a little more understanding that the court could see to side with Fox, but it’s still depressing that Fox essentially admitted to intentional dishonesty and nobody seriously called them on it…

  13. #13 Chris Hallquist
    December 8, 2010

    “Or is he just a wuss who is so conflict-averse that he is unwilling to fight for much of anything?”

    I haven’t seen the evidence that Obama actually cares about the things I care about. When he made his campaign slogan “change,” people assumed he was actually opposed to the things they didn’t like about Bush, but actual, specific differences from Bush were never front and center.

    Obama has always struck me as a man of style, not substance.

  14. #14 Omer
    December 8, 2010

    I don’t think you’re fair to Obama; He has achieved some real Liberal hallmarks, especially of course healthcare, but also considerable amountof stimulus. The current deal, although it makes a mockery of both parties’ commitments to ballance the budget, is essentially a second stimulus, which is by now a Liberal position (The catch word of the present may be “We’re not all Keynesians anymore”).

    Maybe Obama’s tactics are flawed, but his achievements are not to be slighted.

  15. #15 J. J. Ramsey
    December 8, 2010

    Pam Ronald: “Obama should have let all the tax cuts expire”

    If the economy were in better shape, that would be a good option, and if Republicans turn out to not accept the compromise of temporarily extending tax cuts for the rich rather than extending them permanently, it may become the least worst option. However, having everyone get a sudden drop in their paychecks in the middle of an economic slump is a lousy idea.

  16. #16 david
    December 8, 2010

    at M, previous, decorously

    If you can’t put enough together to make the inference, that does not mean someone else does not get to. We are always running into this type of, “oh no, you can’t make that connection”, such as at Alfred Wegner, or Louis Pasteur, and the “oh no” is common with some types of scientists. If Mendel had been like that, if Von Braun had been like that, they would have flunked. Note that those are in science, while Nick’s is much less weighty, a snark on the face of it, a post by a provocateur.

    Nick will probably not be back. A sock puppet may be, but I doubt it. Nick’s off throwing that crap in elsewhere. Typically the Nicks are the first ones to comment on a Yahoo story, and the comment is of the very same ilk as Nick’s comment here, basely obtuse, sounding exactly like the post planted here by him in unwarranted hyperbole.

    You ignore my original specifically cited reasons, oversight no doubt. In the paragraph above I cite more. I see a pattern and I’m sticking to it and am not deterred by sanctimonious talk of how great we are or should be. I believe he is paid or prostituted.

    All right, let’s switch this around. You give the specific reasons of why you believe he’s not. I think you have none. So you say you can’t because you have no evidence. So you put your no evidence versus the inferential evidence I have given, and see where the weight lies.

    Even if Nick were to come back and say he is not paid nor beholden, unlike the paid Young Repub organizers on campus or the paid attackers of Acorn, you would have no reason to believe him, still no evidence.

    Therefore, second suggestion also rejected.

  17. #17 Modusoperandi
    December 9, 2010

    Keep in mind, too, that the payroll tax holiday is:
    A) Chokes Social Security, a GOP goal,
    B) Will be much harder to undo than it was to do, a GOP goal, because it…
    C) Gives the GOP another “The Democrats will raise your taxes!” plank to run on next election.

    The political calculations are pretty simple. If Obama had drawn a line in the sand then on January 1 a Democratic President would have presided over a huge tax increase. By January 2 his approval ratings would have been down to single digits. End of discussion.

    They’ve had two years to figure out the best path, two years to cut it down to a simple talkingpoint, and two years to get the message out and two years to keep pounding it in to the public psyche. The GOP, by contrast, has been figuring out how to combat the Dems over this ever since the temporary tax cuts were enacted. (And, yes, the GOP has a considerable advantage in getting their message out. If anything that fact, which is no secret, damns the Dems’ inactivity and half-hearted, too late action more). This means that one message got out, got repeated and became “conventional wisdom” long before the Dems had the opportunity to squander the opportunity that they squandered at the very last minute.

    Or is he just a wuss who is so conflict-averse that he is unwilling to fight for much of anything?

    You know, I would’ve thought that a secret Marxist Kenyan atheist Socialist Nazi Muslim would be better at fighting.

    Nick “Greed? Look at the reframing going on. You want to take money from people to spend as you see fit, and you are saying that the people you want to deprive of their money are greedy.”
    I’m with you, Nick! I think it’s despicable that these…these… these liberals expect the rich to pay a disproportionate amount back to help support the system that disproportionately benefits them!

    Mystyk “The problem is that, contrary to the prevailing Republican talking point, the wealthy tend not to invest their income all that much in more jobs.”
    Pah! They do so! And Republicans are for Small Government! And also Liberty!
    Alternately:
    The Democrats are for “spreading the wealth”. The Republicans are for keeping where it belongs. At the top.

  18. #18 kosmodisk
    December 9, 2010

    They are called “talking points.” They don’t have to be true, they don’t have to be on topic, can be anything that appears to be a reply, which attempts to put them on an equal footing with, whoever, and in this case, Jason. You can get the Repub ones off an RSS feed where guys and gals sit in front of computers all day typing them in, without regard for fairness or fullness.

  19. #19 Collin Brendemuehl
    December 9, 2010

    Amazing. Truly amazing.
    #1 The money does not belong to the government. It belongs to the wage earners, high or low.
    #2 The persistence of the social dialectic (eg Marxism unrecognized) I expressed in the persistence of viewing wealthy as evil and poor as good.
    #3 Who pays your salary? A lot came from private donations. Those don’t come from the poor. Why don’t you be consistent and quit your job so that you aren’t taking money from those evil rich people?
    #4 What do rich people do with their money? They buy stocks in business which *hires people* to produce. Have you ever produced anything? Ever work on a farm or in a factory and *created value*? And if they buy things, it takes people to build or produce those things. In any sense, wealth creates productive jobs. Not purple-shirt thug jobs.
    #5 An economy, according to the Left, is accounted for by the simple circulation of money. Spread it around and all is well. But that has been shown to fail over and over, form the USSR to the Obama/Pelosi/Reid bailouts.
    #6 What rich are being served? This is the worst of the argument. Obama and Clinton have both worked to bail out their big bank buddies. Clinton with the Mexico bankruptcy and Obama with Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac/Wall St./banks all rolled into one. The print empty dollars, illegally take ownership in private industry, and the complain when people dare make private profit.
    Class envy is a disgusting mechanism. But at least it serves one valuable purpose — it shows just how endemic Marxism is in the academic world.

  20. #20 NJ
    December 9, 2010

    Collin, demonstrating that his understanding of economics matches his understanding of science.

  21. #21 Collin Brendemuehl
    December 9, 2010

    NJ,
    To be succinct: Marxism sucks.
    The only thing that causes a deficit is overspending.
    But if you don’t think the multiple trillions of monetizing done to this economy will lead to rampant inflation …

  22. #22 eric
    December 9, 2010

    How exactly is taxing people marxism? AFAIK know the concept of taxation is both older and prevalent in many other political systems.

    Ok, I can vaguely see an argument if the tax rate we were talking about was universally 100%. But we’re talking about people arguing over whether capital gains taxes should max out at 15% vs be treated like any other profit and max out at 35% (or 39.5% or whatever it is). Neither side comes close to earning the label “marxist.”

  23. #23 Collin Brendemuehl
    December 9, 2010

    Eric,
    And I thought you knew how to read?

    How exactly is taxing people marxism?

    I didn’t say that.

    The social dialectic is Marxist. Libs/leftists and other anarchists use it to create envy and hate.

  24. #24 Troublesome Frog
    December 9, 2010

    It never ceases to amaze me how quickly people go from, “You want to tax people who have money because that’s where the money is,” to, “You hate the rich! Class warfare!” It’s almost as though they don’t understand what taxes are for. They see taxes as “punishment” or “vengeance” for being wealthy.

    It never occurs to them that taxes might simply be a necessary evil, and that when revenue needs to be raised, the most sensible place to look is the people who will be hurt the least by an increase in taxes. No, there must always be a moral reason and an insidious undercurrent of hate. Anything that isn’t fun must be some sort of punishment.

  25. #25 eric
    December 9, 2010

    Collin: I didn’t say that.

    The social dialectic is Marxist. Libs/leftists and other anarchists use it to create envy and hate.

    Ah, my apologies. I thought you were making an on topic comment. Feel free to continue explaining how unidentified but very angry and envious liberals use marxist political tools to promote non-marxist anarchism.

  26. #26 Collin Brendemuehl
    December 9, 2010

    Eric,
    Not on topic? So attacking the theme, the presupposition of the argument, is off-topic?
    If only Jason were as precise in his politics and economics as he is in his mathematics.

  27. #27 eric
    December 9, 2010

    Okay, I’m all ears. Explain what part of Jason’s theme deals with social dialectic. Or marxism. Or anarchism.

  28. #28 Collin Brendemuehl
    December 9, 2010

    eric,
    Don’t make things so easy:

    The greed of these people is incomprehensible.

    Either that or you are totally daft.

  29. #29 Modusoperandi
    December 9, 2010

    Collin Brendemuehl “…and Obama with Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac/Wall St./banks all rolled into one. The print empty dollars, illegally take ownership in private industry, and the complain when people dare make private profit.”
    You do know that TARP preceded the Obama administration, right? As such, I assume you have citations proving that you were as outraged during the Summer of Palin as you were when the cold Fall of McCain turned to the Spring of Obama?

    “Class envy is a disgusting mechanism.”
    It’s not class envy. It’s class warfare (and it’s not in the direction the Right wants you to believe). Why the heck should our roads, schools, emergency services, Social Security, etc be stripped to ensure that those above us pay less?
    Tell me, how badly are you willing to screw your own family to ensure that the Haves have more?

    “But at least it serves one valuable purpose — it shows just how endemic Marxism is in the academic world.”
    I had endemic marxism once. Hurt like the dickens! It took an operation to push it back in. (email me for pictures)

    “Either that or you are totally daft.”
    So, what you’re saying is that the greed of these people is, in fact, comprehensible? Point for you!


    Also, Colin is right! It’s disgusting that you liberals think that those with more should pay more than those with less! If it’s “one man, one vote” should it not also be “one man, one dollar”?
    You should take the trickle-down of trickle-down and thank God that you get that much, you disgusting lazy parasites! Why, we should cut their taxes entirely, in fealty and joy for the sunshine of wealth and jobs and ponies that they’ve showered down on the little people over the last decade, versus the the dearth of same during the previous one, with its confiscatory and alsosomethingbad tax rates!
    Did you know that lots of people don’t even pay any income tax? Sure, they’ve got plenty for big screen TVs and wheels on their Escalades that spin, but when Uncle Sam comes around, they say their pockets are empty! And remember, paying no income tax is exactly the same as paying no taxes at all! How fair is that to rich people, who have no way to hide their money or reduce that which they pay? How?!
    Why should a Have with one job, who has plenty left over at the end of the year, have to subsidize the sloth of some single mom who works three part time jobs and yet doesn’t even manage to make three times as much as the Have? The math is with me, people!
    Why should that Have have to pay for your police, when he lives in a walled community and has his own personal bodyguard? And why should he pay for roads, when his roads are laid before his feet, in rose petals tossed by his many servants?
    There’s no “we” in society, you fools, but there is an “I”!

  30. #30 david
    December 10, 2010

    Seems there is a dispute. Strange, seems artificial. Senator Bernie Sanders has facts and can speak about greed.

    http://dailykos.com/

    video Dec. 10

    PolitiFact: Sanders telling the truth on vast income inequality
    by Joan McCarter

  31. #31 Cumberbatch
    December 11, 2010

    mystyk,

    One of the ways to measure a country on the scale of democracy vs. despotism is by looking at the amount of income inequality. The higher the inequality, the lower the democracy value.

    So democracy would be maximized if everyone had the same income? Absurd. The rest of your post is almost as silly.

  32. #32 Ozoderm
    December 11, 2010

    It never occurs to them that taxes might simply be a necessary evil, and that when revenue needs to be raised, the most sensible place to look is the people who will be hurt the least by an increase in taxes. No, there must always be a moral reason and an insidious undercurrent of hate. Anything that isn’t fun must be some sort of punishment.

  33. #33 Bıktım Tozu
    December 11, 2010

    The problem is that, contrary to the prevailing Republican talking point, the wealthy tend not to invest their income all that much in more jobs. It’s the middle and low-income earners who actually invest it back, either through entrepreneurship or by spending their income on necessities (thus employing people at the businesses they patronage). When the economy isn’t going well, the wealthy tend to clam up even further than before. This is the central fallacy of “trickle-down” (voodoo) economics! It assumes action on the part of certain entities in society that we know is empirically false.

  34. #34 NJ
    December 12, 2010

    NJ @ 20:

    Collin, demonstrating that his understanding of economics matches his understanding of science.

    Collin @ 21:

    To be succinct: Marxism sucks.

    QED.

  35. #35 kosmodisk
    December 13, 2010

    Did you know that lots of people don’t even pay any income tax? Sure, they’ve got plenty for big screen TVs and wheels on their Escalades that spin, but when Uncle Sam comes around, they say their pockets are empty! And remember, paying no income tax is exactly the same as paying no taxes at all.

  36. #36 eric
    December 13, 2010

    Eric @27: Explain what part of Jason’s theme deals with social dialectic. Or marxism. Or anarchism.

    Collin @28: Don’t make things so easy: “The greed of these people is incomprehensible.” Either that or you are totally daft.

    [Note I changed some formatting to make the back-and-forth easier to get.]

    Really, that’s your best example of Jason discussing anarchism, marxism, or the social dialectic? That’s what you’re going with? Um, okay, let me say that if this is your best argument, I’m not at all convinced. Calling wealthy people who fight against an increase in capital gains and/or inheritance taxes ‘greedy’ is has absolutely nothing to do with a communist system of government, nor with the political position that all government should be done away with. If anything, a demand for more taxes in anti-anarchist since it calls for an increase in government power. Those who oppose tax increases and want to shrink government size and power down to practically nothing are, politically, much closer to anarchists.

  37. #37 Collin Brendemuehl
    December 14, 2010

    Eric,
    Context. Context. Context. Read society and read his statements within the air of today’s trends. Contextualize it.

    And let’s talk about that “2 percent” who are so rich. Yes, $250K is a very good living. But that encompasses many working professionals, not just Wall Street demons, as they are treated. Doctors. Small business success. Perhaps even a lot of people who are successful in publishing a lot of books over time. It is not about the rich but about taking their money. It is demonization on the basis of economic class.

  38. #38 Modusoperandi
    December 14, 2010

    Hear hear! I agree with Collin Brendemuehl! Pointing upwards to the skyrocketing income disparity is, like, all class warfarey ‘n’ stuff!
    This is America, “demonization on the basis of economic class” is supposed to be pointing at those below you!

  39. #39 Collin Brendemuehl
    December 14, 2010

    ModusO,

    I am waiting for a new version of Bambi, staring Sarah Palin.

    The remainder of what you say confuses and conflates (probably through ignorance) common socialism (social services) with redistributive socialism.
    Maybe we should revisit the progressive’s original income tax scheme, where they declared that it would only be paid by the most wealthy. Then the tax trickled down (because trickle down does work) to the rest of us. Do your really trust these people? Amazing. Naive.

  40. #40 Modusoperandi
    December 14, 2010

    Did you see the curve in my link? Did you notice how for most it barely rises, while for the top few (while varying more over time) it goes way, way up? We’ve already got “redistributive socialism”. It just doesn’t work the way the Right accuses the Left of it working. We’re headed back to the Guilded Age.

  41. #41 eric
    December 14, 2010

    Collin, neither Ezra nor Jason are talking about the top 2%. They are talking about the top 0.1%. It says that very clearly in Ezra’s article. Top tenth of a percent.

    They cite the estate tax as a major part of the deal; the estate tax refers to estates over $3.5 million at time of death, not people who earn $250k.

    IOW the group you think Jason is referring to seems to be utterly different from the group Jason is actually referring to. The two groups are separated by more than an order of magnitude in wealth. You are projecting a position onto Jason and Klein they never claimed to have.

    Moreover you have still not explained how Jason calling the people who fit Klein’s category “greedy” has anything to do with marxism, anarchism, or the social dialectic. Simply admit you threw those terms around for rhetorical effect. That your use of them was merely derogatory and not meant to imply that Jason’s opinion had anything to do with the actual political philosophies of marxism or anarchism. If you do that, I’ll move on.

  42. #42 david
    December 14, 2010

    @ modus… Curve noted. Fox News or Fake News viewers are being suckered into voting for an American aristocracy (Gilded Age if you wish) which they are not and will not be a part of. Also huge swaths of others. Robert Reich also has been warning of this aristocracy. http://robertreich.org/

    The Republican talking point to keep them in line is named by the Republicans “class warfare” which they are against. While in reality what Repubs. are against is people voting in their own self-interest, and not on sucker social issues, not on conservative pique or feel-good. As usual for decades, the media doesn’t get it, or goes along, and falls right in line for them. The Republicans do this word rhetoric all the time–other examples are the changes of “estate tax” to “death tax” and the change of “public option” to “government run insurance.” They do the switches consciously and deliberately. When will Dems and the media catch on, if ever? That same Republican technique has been going on since at least Nixon. Talk about framing! The Dems get framed, we are allowing it.

    ***********

    @ ALL…More on: Are certain commenters paid or organized?

    There’s a documentary on it, and the answer is yes, even in America, and seems the Brits have a term for it, “astroturfing”. George Monbiot reveals details in the Guardian:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/libertycentral/2010/dec/13/astroturf-libertarians-internet-democracy

    Noteworthy: “…from a single donation, of $3.7m. A group that trains rightwing libertarians to distort online democratic processes was, in other words, set up with funding from a person or company with a very large wallet.”

  43. #43 mua
    December 15, 2010
  44. #44 Collin Brendemuehl
    December 15, 2010

    Eric,
    But against whom are the tax law changes to be applied?
    Sounds like simple scapegoating.

    David,
    Read the late Paul Tsongas’ “Call to Economic Arms”. That’s what it means to be a Democrat, and in the words of a Democrat.

  45. #45 Modusoperandi
    December 15, 2010

    Expecting the few who got the most from the decade where most got the least to pay more is “scapegoating”? Don’t look at us! We’re monsters!

  46. #46 david
    December 15, 2010

    at what’s his name:

    It’ not David, it’s david. It’s not Eric, it’s eric.

    Sorry what’s your name, I don’t give persons stuff to read and take the lazy way out with no opportunity for rebuttal or cross examination and so I don’t accept stuff to read either. If you like that book, tell what it says. You can’t probably.

    Whatever it says, there are hundreds of ways to be a Democrat. I’m not bound by even one word Tsongas says.

    Your inflexibility however gives you a huge blind spot so that you would not have recognized that. I would have no idea whether there is hope for you.

    Your inflexibility causes you to not see or to deliberately miss the point : which is : Republicans mostly are rhetorical liars, starting with Nixon. Cheney should be in prison.

    Well, still, I am not insulted. If you want to insult me, call me a Republican.

  47. #47 eric
    December 16, 2010

    But against whom are the tax law changes to be applied?

    All Americans. Everyone, no matter what you race, sex, creed, color, age who fulfills the condition. The estate tax is even irrespective of annual income!

    You can be living below the poverty line and if some rich uncle leaves you their money, you’d pay the exact same estate tax as if you were Bill Gates. Its about as flat a tax as you can get. (For the record, I wouldn’t be opposed to treating inheritance income as normal income, in which case the tax on it would be progressive, but that’s not the system Congress is currently discussing.)

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