Much of the political debate these days centers on taxes, particularly those not paid by very rich people like Mitt Romney. If he gets elected chances are good he and his pals will pay even less. It is important, therefore, to understand America’s tax policy in context. The chart accompanying this article (see below) helps to do this. While the article may only interest a few the chart should grab everyone’s attention…
America the Undertaxed
U.S. Fiscal Policy in Perspective
Andrea Louise Campbell | Foreign Affairs | Sept-Oct 12
Compared with other developed countries, the United States has very low taxes, little income redistribution, and an extraordinarily complex tax code. If it wanted to, the government could raise taxes without crippling growth or productivity. Tax reform is ultimately a political choice, not an economic one — a statement about what sort of society Americans want.
________________________________________________________________________________ Andrea Louise Campbell is a professor of Political Science at MIT.
I have not tuned into the festivities in Tampa this week. I have a pretty good idea what is being said. There may be variations but I would guess that one of the recurring themes is ‘Freedom.’ Republicans are fond of this word because it evokes so much of the ‘brand’ they aspire to. The brand and the imagery, however, do not match the reality of today’s republican party. That reality is closer to Sheldon Adelson than Patrick Henry. More like Donald Trump than Abraham Lincoln. To a republican today, ‘Freedom’ means ‘Ownership’. Liberty means a license to steal. Democracy means dominance over those who threaten wealth and the power it brings. The speeches mean nothing. They are a side show. The main event is on November 5…
Revolt of the Rich
Our financial elites are the new secessionists.
Mike Lofgren | The American Conservative | 27 Aug 12
It was 1993, during congressional debate over the North American Free Trade Agreement. I was having lunch with a staffer for one of the rare Republican congressmen who opposed the policy of so-called free trade. To this day, I remember something my colleague said: “The rich elites of this country have far more in common with their counterparts in London, Paris, and Tokyo than with their fellow American citizens.”
That was only the beginning of the period when the realities of outsourced manufacturing, financialization of the economy, and growing income disparity started to seep into the public consciousness, so at the time it seemed like a striking and novel statement.
Numbers can be cruel. They take away the soft, gauzy rhetoric that shrouds political platitudes and subject them to a hard-edged reality. So it is for the Ryan budget. The document was lengthy enough that it—and he—automatically acquired gravitas. Yet it was examined carefully by precious few, which is probably a good thing for Ryan. Here is the number that is perhaps the key to his view of the future: 3.75 percent.
Some of you who are old enough will remember David Stockman as Ronald Reagan’s budget manager who got “taken to the woodshed” for having the temerity to describe his boss’s budget as trickle-down in disguise and being quoted as saying, “None of us really understands what’s going on with all these numbers.” It is therefore deliciously ironic to read David Stockman’s candid assessment of the latest incarnation of conservatism in action, Paul Ryan, whose budget proposals make Reagan look like the biggest spender in history…
Paul Ryan’s Fairy-Tale Budget Plan
David Stockman | NYTimes | 13 Aug 12
PAUL D. RYAN is the most articulate and intellectually imposing Republican of the moment, but that doesn’t alter the fact that this earnest congressman from Wisconsin is preaching the same empty conservative sermon.
Thirty years of Republican apostasy — a once grand party’s embrace of the welfare state, the warfare state and the Wall Street-coddling bailout state — have crippled the engines of capitalism and buried us in debt. Mr. Ryan’s sonorous campaign rhetoric about shrinking Big Government and giving tax cuts to “job creators” (read: the top 2 percent) will do nothing to reverse the nation’s economic decline and arrest its fiscal collapse.
The myth that Barack Obama is a big spender was covered here before (see “Obama Spending Binge Never Happened” May 2012.) What makes this article stand out is that it comes from Forbes Magazine, a source not known for supporting Administration economic policy…
The Smallest Government Spender Since Eisenhower
Rick Ungar | Forbes | 24 May 12
It’s enough to make even the most ardent Obama cynic scratch his head in confusion.
Amidst all the cries of Barack Obama being the most prolific big government spender the nation has ever suffered, Marketwatch is reporting that our president has actually been tighter with a buck than any United States president since Dwight D. Eisenhower.
To introduce this article I was going to tell a banker joke. The problem is that bankers don’t think they’re funny and normal people don’t think they’re jokes. That point is made clear in this article by Robert Reich on the LIBOR scandal…
The Wall Street Scandal of all Scandals
Robert Reich | RobertReich.org | 7 July 12
Just when you thought Wall Street couldn’t sink any lower – when its myriad abuses of public trust have already spread a miasma of cynicism over the entire economic system, giving birth to Tea Partiers and Occupiers and all manner of conspiracy theories; when its excesses have already wrought havoc with the lives of millions of Americans, causing taxpayers to shell out billions (of which only a portion has been repaid) even as its top executives are back to making more money than ever; when its vast political power (via campaign contributions) has already eviscerated much of the Dodd-Frank law that was supposed to rein it in, including the so-called “Volker” Rule that was sold as a milder version of the old Glass-Steagall Act that used to separate investment from commercial banking – yes, just when you thought the Street had hit bottom, an even deeper level of public-be-damned greed and corruption is revealed.
This video may strike some as old news. It has, after all, been a week or so since the Supreme Court issued its stunning announcement regarding the constitutionality of “ObamaCare”. One oft-heard criticism of the administration is that they have done a poor job of explaining the healthcare law. Aside from ‘Death Panels’ and ‘taxes on the middle class’ disguised as penalties, we really have not had much to go on in assessing what this law is all about. Or so they say. So that’s why I’m posting this video. Here you are folks. Listen up!
At the end of this article Prof. Reich suggests that one reason the Democrats have been so timid about “casino capitalism” is because their political fortunes depend on protecting the Wall Street banks that created the mess we’re in and that the mess is worse than any of them care to admit. Even more frightening is that with regard to economic policy and wealth distribution in this country there’s not that much difference between the two parties. They both want your money and will do just about anything to get it…
Mitt Romney and the New Gilded Age
Robert Reich | Robert Reich.org | 30 Jun 12
The election of 2012 raises two perplexing questions. The first is how the GOP could put up someone for president who so brazenly epitomizes the excesses of casino capitalism that have nearly destroyed the economy and overwhelmed our democracy. The second is why the Democrats have failed to point this out.
This summer we will be hearing endless advertisements, speeches and political chatterboxes talking about the vast sums of money the US government spends on health care, entitlement programs and “welfare”. If you listen to the republicans you could easily think we live in some sort of socialist Sweden with everyone on the dole paid by your taxes. The truth, of course, is somewhat different. This video from Al Jazeera (the “terrorist” network) lays it out pretty clearly…
53¢ of Every $Dollar Goes to War
Dennis Bernstein and Dave Lindorff | Al Jazeera | 18 June 12
________________________________________________________________________________ Dennis Bernstein is an American producer and co-host of the radio news program, Flashpoints Radio on Pacifica Radio. Dave Lindorff is an American investigative reporter, a columnist for CounterPunch, and a contributor to Businessweek, The Nation, Extra! and Salon.com. He received two Project Censored awards in 2004 and 2011.
If you read news reports about the European economic mess you probably think Greece is a giant ponzi scheme that got caught in the act. This view is understandable because the news media generally avoids pointing the finger at those who bankrolled Greece and the other schemers in Europe’s rapidly collapsing house of cards. Paul Krugman, however, doesn’t hesitate to call a spade a spade…
Greece as Victim
Paul Krugman | NYTimes | 17 Jun 12
Ever since Greece hit the skids, we’ve heard a lot about what’s wrong with everything Greek. Some of the accusations are true, some are false — but all of them are beside the point. Yes, there are big failings in Greece’s economy, its politics and no doubt its society. But those failings aren’t what caused the crisis that is tearing Greece apart, and threatens to spread across Europe.
No, the origins of this disaster lie farther north, in Brussels, Frankfurt and Berlin, where officials created a deeply — perhaps fatally — flawed monetary system, then compounded the problems of that system by substituting moralizing for analysis. And the solution to the crisis, if there is one, will have to come from the same places.