Saturday, October 15, 2011

Many of our rich men have not been content with equal protection and equal benefits, but have besought us to make them richer by act of Congress. By attempting to gratify their desires we have in the results of our legislation arrayed section against section, interest against interest, and man against man, in a fearful commotion which threatens to shake the foundations of our Union. It is time to pause in our career to review our principles, and if possible revive that devoted patriotism and spirit of compromise which distinguished the sages of the Revolution and the fathers of our Union.
- Andrew Jackson, Veto of the Second Bank of the United States, 1832.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Goodbye to All That: Reflections of a GOP Operative Who Left the Cult

Both parties are rotten - how could they not be, given the complete infestation of the political system by corporate money on a scale that now requires a presidential candidate to raise upwards of a billion dollars to be competitive in the general election? Both parties are captives to corporate loot. The main reason the Democrats' health care bill will be a budget buster once it fully phases in is the Democrats' rank capitulation to corporate interests - no single-payer system, in order to mollify the insurers; and no negotiation of drug prices, a craven surrender to Big Pharma.
But both parties are not rotten in quite the same way. The Democrats have their share of machine politicians, careerists, corporate bagmen, egomaniacs and kooks. Nothing, however, quite matches the modern GOP.

Causing the Least Pain

I've noticed that opponents of the so-called "Buffett Rule" (that millionaires shouldn't pay lower tax rates than the less well off) throw out phrases like "class warfare" and "jealousy" as if the point were just to punish rich people for the hell of it.

The fact is, government operations need to be paid for. Doing this requires taxes and taxes on anyone cause at least some pain. So we should try to find  the source of taxes that cause the least pain and the least distortion of the market. Charging millionaires like Warren Buffett the same tax rates that others pay as a way to narrow the budget deficit seems about as painless as we can get.

The same holds true for Inheritance Taxes. Sure, it would be nice to inherit millions without paying any taxes, but it would be nice for a janitor to pay less tax on his paycheck too. Which do you think causes more pain, inheritance taxes on estates over $1 million or income taxes + state taxes + payroll taxes on the average pay stub?

I've read articles that explain away the lower taxes Buffett pays based on the fact that payroll taxes have a cap and capital gains are taxed at a lower rate as if this were just the way things are and there's nothing we can do about it. Those tax rates weren't set by edict from the Flying Spaghetti Monster. They were set by political decisions and can be changed by political decisions. Payroll taxes skyrocketed under Reagan as a way to disguise the size of the deficits he was running and no President since has done a thing to lower them; even as upper income tax rates, inheritance taxes, and capital gains taxes have been slashed or entirely eliminated.

The tax burden has been trending in the direction of most pain, as taxes on those who can least afford it (mainly payroll and sales taxes) have gone up while taxes on those who aren't struggling have gone down. If we need to do something about the deficits (and we do), then I'm simply asking that we go in the other direction and look at taxes that cause the least pain.
"There is always an easy solution to every human problem--neat,
plausible, and wrong."  
H.L Mencken
Herman Cain

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Politics is not a game. It effects real people in very real ways. It decides what taxes we pay, if we go to war, and how your kids are educated. So I can't hope for someone batshit crazy like Bachmann to win the Republican nomination just because she'd be easier to beat. Whoever gets the nomination could easily end up the next President, and I'd prefer that not be someone batshit crazy. So definitely pulling for a moderate, preferably someone with enough spine to stand up to the wingnuts in his own party. Unfortunately, that's not the moderate we're stuck with. Romney is the only non-wingnut to gain any traction, so I guess he's the man. Not that he'd be a terrible President if he was working with a Democratic Congress (he wouldn't be); just that he's not the man to stand up to a Republican Congress and tell them to slow down.

This definitely appears to be the race Romney wants. He's the only moderate the press acknowledges (sorry, Huntsman) and there are 3 conservatives to split the far more numerous rightwing vote. He's just got to hope they don't coalesce around one candidate because if they do Romney is toast. His only path in a year dominated by wingnut anger is to win with a moderate plurality. He'll be helped by the press and Republican establishment, who are scared of a loose cannon and really don't give a damn about social issues.
Not going to dive into a complex explanation of where I've been. Just figure it's enough to say I saw a lot, did a lot, and had a hell of a lot of fun. Definitely should have kept writing, but I didn't. Always missed it, so now I'm back.
So, umm, how ya been?