(Tony Auth via GoComics.com – click link for full-sized image)
Professor Krugman, on his blog:
… I thought I’d look at the dollars and cents — and even I am somewhat shocked. Those [high income] tax hikes [proposed by the Obama administration] would raise $1.6 trillion over the next decade; according to the CBO, raising the Medicare age would save $113 billion in federal funds over the next decade.
So, the non-serious proposal would reduce the deficit 14 times as much as the serious proposal.
I guess we have to understand the definition of serious: a proposal is only serious if it punishes the poor and the middle class.
Also known as, “The Class Wars of 2012“:
… This was very much an election pitting the interests of the very rich against those of the middle class and the poor.
And the Obama campaign won largely by disregarding the warnings of squeamish “centrists” and embracing that reality, stressing the class-war aspect of the confrontation. This ensured not only that President Obama won by huge margins among lower-income voters, but that those voters turned out in large numbers, sealing his victory.
The important thing to understand now is that while the election is over, the class war isn’t. The same people who bet big on Mr. Romney, and lost, are now trying to win by stealth — in the name of fiscal responsibility — the ground they failed to gain in an open election…
The point is that the class war is still on, this time with an added dose of deception. And this, in turn, means that you need to look very closely at any proposals coming from the usual suspects, even — or rather especially — if the proposal is being represented as a bipartisan, common-sense solution. In particular, whenever some deficit-scold group talks about “shared sacrifice,” you need to ask, sacrifice relative to what? …
So keep your eyes open as the fiscal game of chicken continues. It’s an uncomfortable but real truth that we are not all in this together; America’s top-down class warriors lost big in the election, but now they’re trying to use the pretense of concern about the deficit to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. Let’s not let them pull it off.
Apart from keeping a sharp eye on GOPers bearing ‘non-negotiable’ demands, what’s on the agenda for the start of a new week?
You know what I really like about the fiscal cliff. It’s the result of deals in which both the left and right believed Obama caved. (Boehner got 98% of what he wanted!) Yet it’s the GOP and their coterie of concerned centrists in the media who are now running around with their hair on fire. Eleven-dimensional chess*, how does it work?
*And by 11-dimensional chess, I mean exercising basic competence while in the midst of incompetents.
Ah yes, Prof. Krugman. Which one of the proposals affects the high income, well insured, Villagers negatively and which one doesn’t? The one that has a negative affect on them is of course the non-serious proposal.
Could someone tell Claire McCaskill to just be quiet. She doesn’t need to remind everyone who contributed to her campaign right off the bat just what an idiot and panderer she is.
Call McCaskill’s office and tell her so.
Neither side is remotely serious in this conversation.
When I hear somebody talking about what we need to do in order to achieve a surplus of a half trillion a year, and when I see legislation imposing a VAT being marked up in the House Ways & Means Committe, then I will say we’re being serious. Until then, it’s all just varying degrees of bullshit.
I would be disappointed but not shocked if one or both of my Virginia Senators did some “blue dog”-style grandstanding in this process.
Recovering from some crappy family drama. My father, who stopped recognizing me over two years ago, is going into a nursing home, and I get his ashes.
Why any of this is even contentious baffles me. But it resulted in a SIL I haven’t even heard from for years getting on Facebook to bash me for things I haven’t done and feelings I do not hold. Apparently someone is using me as an excuse for themselves, and SIL fell for it and decided to join in.
So I took it rather easy this weekend and feel the better for it.
@burnspbesq: Incrementalism is not unseriousness.
I’m so sorry to hear about your father, and how terrible it must have been – continues to be – for you the last two years.
Alzheimer’s (or dementia) is so tough on the loved ones, I consider myself a little lucky that I haven’t had to deal with it on that level.
Best wishes, take care.
@WereBear: My sympathies. Many years ago my mom had a falling out with a niece, my cousin, near the end of her mother’s life (my mom’s elder sister, the niece’s mother). There were false accusations involving money. It was ugly and we lost relations with what had been a cherished branch of the family.
I’m so sorry that you’re going through all of this. Sometimes families are at their worst when the elders are fading away. I know mine was.
I think this is an excellent description of Obama’s “11-dimensional chess”. FWIW, it seems to me that one of Obama’s core competencies is identifying other competent people and pointing them at important things. His re-election campaign exemplified this.
@WereBear: I feel for you re: the crappy family drama. Having been through them in a couple of different circumstances over the past several years, I have some idea how much joy they can suck. Good that you recognize it and are coping.
Getting out my stone tablet and chisel for this one.
Thanks all! for the kind words. Dementia means you lose the person again and again. It’s a lot of stress for the family, and the person losing their mind is having a horrible time, too.
There is a political angle beyond the obvious, too, which is the hour I spent on the phone convincing the out-of-state attorney, who I couldn’t get to in person, that my father would not want any “extraordinary measures” taken to prolong a life that is so insubstantial now.
The thought that some interfering busybody trying to increase the suffering in the world would use their religious fervor to trump the family’s wishes makes my blood boil. Fortunately, he’s in the NE; and not some less enlightened state.
Bwahahaha. Not a student of history, or an economist, are you? The last time we ran a surplus was ten years ago. The surplus ran for only four years. The biggest annual surplus was a QUARTER of a trillion in 2000.
Just about everyone in the media who is deciding which proposals are “serious” and which are not is about to have his or her tax rate go up if Obama prevails in this fight. Feel free to discount their opinions appropriately.
Since this is an open thread, I don’t feel too uncomfortable asking this. When reading the mobile site on my iPhone, if a thread is too long (usually around 100 posts or so), it will often crash mybweb browser. The screen just goes black and then I get dumped to the home screen. Has this happened to anybody else? Is there a solution?
@Lurking Canadian: Hasn’t happened to me, either on Android (Chrome or Dolphin) or iPhone in Safari.
@Lurking Canadian: Arrgh. Moderation. No, it hasn’t happened to me.
It’s not just this site for me. iOS Safari has gotten more unstable with each succeeding update.
It happened in my old iPod 4. I think it’s related to not enough built in memory to handle the long thread. My new smart phone doesn’t crash.
What did she say? (She impresses me as being a bit of an idiot)
@Lurking Canadian: My iPhone does it at around 200 posts (around 150 if I try to comment on the thread). No idea about a solution.
@Baud: It could be that there are other apps that are still “open” that are sucking up memory. A BJ thread by itself shouldn’t crash a browser.
Lots of people don’t know that when you “quit” an app, it is still there in the background unless you double-tap and then close them.
ETA: Does anyone use a different browser for iOS? I hate having to scroll back to the bottom of the comments. Is there one that does that automatically?
Yeah – a lot of what gets described as 11-dimensional chess is just reverse psychology, or thinking one move ahead. As examples: making offers he knows the opposition will reject, so as to make him look reasonable. Making cuts that look bad at first, but then turn out end up on parts of the economy that should be cut. Trading a single thing that will be of benefit to one part of a plan (say, a government-run public option) for several things that will be of less benefit singly, but over several parts of the plan (national administration of the exchanges, and government-contracted non-profit options in all exchanges).
That isn’t 11-dimensional chess. It’s barely chess.
It only looks that way when your opponent hasn’t yet mastered tic-tac-toe.
Correct, Mr. Krugman, and while that’s not a new observation, I thank you for discussing it where it can get at least a little national coverage. Your peers in national level journalism strongly and almost universally believe that cutting services to the poor and middle class is moral, responsible, beneficial to the poor and middle class in a ‘builds character’ way, and a sign of true political bravery because they’re supposedly willing to stand up to their own constituents to get important things done. Some, like Brokaw, have said all of this explicitly. Others just lavish compliments on anyone who supports these positions.
I’m just so sorry you are going through this WereBear. Send her half the ashes? I understand that this, an transience, is one reason why cremation is so popular these days. People just can’t agree on a disposition of the remains, and don’t feel they are likely to be near the gravesite for long. Also, I (sort of) recommend the website “Dealing with the in laws and famil of origin”–I just got banned from there but the kickass women on the board will give you a lot of comfort in dealing with in law grief.
lol. And all the articles pointing out that Obama, after four years of failure, has finally figured out to negotiate with the Republicans?
And you’re insinuating ’11-Dimensional Chess?’ Blow that for a lark.
One, inadvertent, win in four years doesn’t make him Bobby Fischer.
@WereBear: So very sorry, WereBear. We lost a family member last year after a decade of suffering from Alzheimer’s, and can identify. Peace to you and yours.
Firebagging early this morning, aren’t we?
Political advice from the whiny left is sort of like hearing the opinion of a 400 pound couch potato on precisely what athletic advice he should give to a football quarterback. Except the couch potato has at least watched a few games, as opposed to the internet political expert who knows only what they’ve read in a few angry blogs.
And what good would a $500 billion a year surplus do?
Err… part of the problem was that my stepmother, who has been married to my father for decades now, decided he should eventually rest in my grandmother’s plot, which is already taken, last year.
Perhaps she has not made any plans for herself, in which case she cannot guarantee him a resting place; she isn’t consulting me, so I don’t know. And perhaps this has to do with him being put in a nursing home? I don’t know that, either.
But it doesn’t matter; I was pleased to step up and take custody if it smoothed anyone’s path. My husband and I would be glad to find some scenic spot for him when the time comes. I will tell funny stories about him and we’ll play Beethoven’s Ninth.
He’d like that.
@MosesZD: Are you pretending, or you’re actually that delusional?
Let them whine. Like the GOP, they went all in against Obama and they lost.
Unlike both Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter, President Obama actually delivered on health care reform.
So, since you apparently can’t stand President Obama, I bet you then just hated Clinton and Carter since they accomplished even less?
@Paul: Nader/Stein 2016!
I wish more people would point out that the current Republican “compromise” is actually just Romney’s campaign platform which was soundly rejected in 2012 – “close loopholes” and “get rid of deductions” without the Republicans coming up with a single real loophole or deduction to eliminate.
I realize that no one wants to re-run the election, but the whole reason for pointing this out is that Republicans are trying to act like the election never happened.
Also, all of you need to calm the shit down on your staggering Nader-2000-linked martyr complex that allows you to get ultra-trolled in every single thread, blah blah blah, I have really dealt with all these frolics enough that it shouldn’t be necessary again. Just close your eyes and meditate on my wisdom.
The left voted the way you wanted them to vote. Jill Stein is not a thing. Nader is gone. You can breathe, come out from under your beds, etc. You don’t need to hang any of your fellow Democrats. You won! Deal with it.
Set you up for the bad years when you need to run a $500 billion a year deficit.
Governments all over the world have been doing the same thing. Using surpluses from the good years to cut taxes and then using deficits from bad years as an excuse to cut expenditure.
After a few decades, the end result is lower taxes for the rich and less services for the poor.
The idea should be to run fiscally neutral over the economic cycle. Boom to bust. Not year to year.
I mean, if someone comes on here and says blah blah blah, Jill Stein, you know that’s not worth responding to, right?
You know the left, even the left that is critical of Obama, voted for Obama and that’s one reason Obama won, right?
Can you keep that idea in mind? Because it’s simply the facts and the right is going to try its damndest to make Democrats think that something that didn’t happen, did, i.e., that there was a left opposition that voted against Obama so the Democrats shouldn’t listen to the left.
The Democrats should listen to the left, because the left helped elect Obama.
It’s going to be very damaging to the Democrats if they can’t manage to keep this idea in their heads.
And if it’s you that brings up Jill Stein, Ralph Nader, etc., out of nowhere, then you are the problem.
@AA+ Bonds: Your concern is noted. Also, successful trolling would imply that someone responded substantively to firebaggery. Open mocking does not equal successful (especially “ultra”) trolling.
Open mocking that derails a conversation can be successful trolling. On many blogs if a troll can convince people to mock it then it has won.
But not here. Because 99% of the posts on this site are all about the mocking of the trolls. Especially the posts named “Open Thread”. So it’s all good.
@WereBear: Hugs. I’m so sorry you’re going through that. Your plan sounds great. Can never go wrong with Beethoven.
We’re still in the bad years. Since it’s so cheap to borrow, we should be spending money on education and infrastructure. That would create jobs and help us in the long run.
I’m not an economist, but I don’t see a lot of good to running a surplus. It’s not like the government is saving for retirement or something. You might as well spend it productively.
Exactly. It’s a right wing propaganda technique to compare government to a family sitting down at the dining room table with a checkbook.
But it’s not the same thing at all.
Well, it’s not enough to vote for Obama. It’s not even enough to vote for Obama and give him $1000, like I did. If you don’t agree that Obama is the First/Second Coming, you’re scum.
(That said, I really do think Obama’s current fiscal “cliff” stance is awesome and heartening.)
Right. Because a VAT is the only way to raise revenue. /snark
This happens to me, too (iPhone 4, iOS 5). I don’t know how mobile Safari works, though various people online have suggestions about what the problem could be–no obvious solutions. Also, it seems to be a problem with the mobile site; if you switch to the desktop view, long comment threads aren’t a problem. (The mobile site is problematic for me for another reason–it doesn’t allow for resizing, and the text is pretty small.)
@AA+ Bonds: Right On!
Maybe you should upgrade your handle to AAA+ :)
Hilarious offing of Petraeus. Note before his outburst, he sends everyone out except three, including Zuckerberg….lol
Also – a vat is a regressive tax – the poor are much harder hit by a vat than the wealthy.
Regarding the hows and whys of where we are, may I recommend…
Who Stole The American Dream – Hedrick Smith
Predator Nation – Charles Ferguson
The tax code is a political document. In a time of limited resources (is there any other time?), a fight over taxes is a fight over how the pie gets sliced and who gets to hold the knife. This obviously does not constitute a brilliant insight, but it’s very illustrating to view the timeline of events and legislation in Smith’s book. The 1% has been buying the kind of government they want for thirty years, and they have gotten a damned good return on their investment.
VATs always remind me of Colbert (the other one) who said:
“The art of taxation consists in so plucking the goose as to get the most feathers with the least hissing.”
VATs are designed to reduce the hissing from the rich while at the same time the poorest get plucked.
You might switch to the “regular” site and see if that works better. I read the regular Balloon Juice site on my cell phone (Droid) and don’t have a problem with long threads.
Dentist this morning, a possible lunch date with some friends afterwards.
Later this week we’re driving back to Seattle from SoCal, so we’ll be winterizing the cabin.
@WereBear: I’m so sorry to hear this.
I lost my dad in September and there was plenty of drama, including the accusation that I should have somehow gotten a ticket home from Paris a few days early, because we are “rich”. I actually looked at last minute flights to LA and we simply could not afford them, but my sister still does not believe me.
I got to Southern California in plenty of time for Dad, she just wanted to hand the whole thing over to me which she did, and which was fine. Dad and I talked when I got there, although it was hard for him to communicate with the breathing gizmo, but we told each other how much we loved each other. Ok, now I’m crying. Dad was 94 and not senile so we were lucky in that.
@WereBear: I’m sorry to hear you’re going through this.
My father had Lewy Body Dementia before he passed away last year. All the delusions of Alzheimer’s, plus the added bonus of all the hallucinations and motor control issues of Parkinson’s – what a deal! Fortunately, my mother still had enough of her marbles, even after her stroke (which led to Pops being in the nursing home because she couldn’t deal with his stuff at the same time she was recovering) that she had everything well laid out, and my sibs and I were focused on making sure that things happened the way my parents wanted. All of us have had issues with our in-laws, though, so I suppose we’d seen enough ugly not to want it to happen in our family circle.
Glad you felt able to take the ashes when the time comes. Beethoven’s Ninth is an excellent choice. Pops’ ashes are currently buried under the kitchen window where Mom can see the spot when she washes the dishes. They spent their entire married life doing the dishes by hand together in that kitchen.
(Edited for typo corrections.)
@liberal: Me? I’d go with the inclusion of multiple new progressive upper-level income brackets, tax all sources of income as income, and implement a financial transactions tax targeted at stock market high frequency traders. But then I’m guessing neither of us are tax lawyers and burnspbesq will just say my solution is a rant and dismiss it, like they did the last time they brought up the VAT.
Actually, the tax incidence of a VAT isn’t necessarily regressive. I’m not sure what the incidence is; it might depend on the industrial sector. Of course, it’s entirely possible that it’s regressive.
What I do know is that it’s always best to tax economic rents first, because that is (a) both “efficient” (nondistortionary) and (b) fair. VAT doesn’t do that. While income taxes are hardly rent taxes, at the upper end of the income scale they begin to approximate them, because most of the income of the extraordinary wealthy is economic rent. Financial transaction taxes would also mainly tax economic rent.
My newly minted Wingnut Father – the one who cancelled Xmas after the election since he didn’t want to be around “you people”, has had a “Come to Darwin” moment and has reached out and apologized to everyone, myself included. I had a long talk with him on this Birthday this past Saturday and did not make any mention whatsoever of politics or anything political, even though I could tell he was waiting for it.
Am I a bad person in that I am laying a trap (already lain – Xmas at my house and he’s spending the night) and will stick it to him in person when he has no escape?
My revenge dish will be served cold and will be oh so tasty.
funny thing is, making the poor feel some pain (because they’re inherently inferior or god would smile upon them with riches) is the only real rule.
the rest is calvin(ism)ball.
What Del said.
As danilex rightly notes, the tax code is a political document. A good part of the reason we have such pushback against raising rates on higher incomes is thanks to a calculated move during the Reagan administration to greatly flatten the progressivity of the system. In the decades leading up to the reign of St. Ronnie, we had at times over 2 dozen brackets. During Reagan’s terms, those were at one point reduced to just two, meaning that the guy who made $100 million was paying the same rate as the guy who made the equivalent of about $50K in today’s dollars.
It’s not hard to see why they did what they did – there are several million people in the country earning over $250K per year, but very, very few making a few million per year or more. Lumping in those who make $250K with those making $5, $10, $25 million greatly increases the numerical clout of top bracket taxpayers.
Of course it’s absurd that a couple making $275K are paying as much on the last dollar earned as the guy making $10 million. $275K is well-off, but it’s not filthy rich and there’s no reason it should be taxed at the same rate. If they’d add some brackets, maybe those in the $250 – $350K range would only see an increase of 1%, with an additional percent being added over $350K, another percent over $500K, and so on and so forth – with a top rate of 45 or 50% coming in at the multiple-millions level.
Also, cut out the shit of allowing hedge-fund managers to claim their income is “interest” and start treating capital gains like other income. People will still invest – because that’s the only way they can get a return on their money.
Well, that sounds fun. :-/ I’m always a little amazed when in-laws feel empowered to start openly criticizing the rest of the family. As far as I’m concerned, my job as an in-law is to listen to my husband complain about his family, give him support and advice, and keep my damn mouth shut to their faces (or Facebook pages). So far, it seems to be working fine, even if I end up having to bite my tongue a whole lot when I’m around my sister-in-law.
We were fortunate with my paternal grandmother that she never suffered true dementia — she was mostly deaf and mostly blind, so she lost track of what was going on around her, but if you got close enough that she could see and hear you, she remembered who everyone was, even if she wasn’t quite sure what day it was. My maternal grandmother had full-blown Alzheimer’s and forgot all of us, which was very distressing for the whole family, especially when she kept asking where my mother was (my mother had died at least 5 years before).
The last time I talked to my dad while he was still my dad, he called me after a TV program that had broadcast Beethoven’s Ninth.
With both of us as huge fans, we had a long talk. The music seemed to help all his brain areas align in a way I hadn’t seen in a while, so the conversation was with my voice very light and happy, to fit his mood, and tears streaming down my cheeks because I had the hunch this was our last phone conversation.
And so it was.
Perhaps not, but what were currently seeing isn’t incrementalism, it’s infinitesimalism.
Apparently, Dr. van Winkle, it has escaped your notice that the magnitude of the problem has grown somewhat since 2000. Or perhaps your math skills have atrophied to the point where you can no longer figure out how long it would take to retire a $16 trillion debt at a rate of a quarter trillion a year.
@Lurking Canadian: That also happens to me on my iPhone. I can look at comments numbering 130-160. If larger, it crashes and sends me to home screen. I just don’t look at comment threads that are larger than 160.
@burnspbesq: Sorry, but fuck the VAT.
@burnspbesq: So tell us, how long would it take? And, while you’re at it, please also tell us why it matters if we take 10, 20, or even 100 years to do so? Is the Country worried it’s not going to have enough in it’s nest egg for retirement? That it will have to eat cat food when it’s old and gray because it’s paying off it’s debts too slowly? You want to eliminate the debt? Fine, propose a plausible (in THIS country) solution that doesn’t rely on an entirely new regressive tax paradigm; you know, one that actually stands a snowballs chance in hell of becoming law.
@Paul: I wouldn’t be surprised if that were the case. There’s a permanent whining class in this country.
So what if it takes a long time to reduce it? Sure the interest gets expensive but we are borrowing at pretty low rates right now.
Why is it that you want a regressive tax to fix a not insurmountable problem with non-regressive fixes that we know work? OK maybe we won’t get them through any congress that can be elected currently but do you think a VAT would be better? And how would it be better? And who is going to vote for that?
Bullshit? Of course bullshit, hell that’s the only thing conservatives have to sell. Their last standard bearer was a master bullshitter. That was his career, that’s why he was selected, he spent his whole life polishing the pile he pushed.
So, lets talk about real responses about taxation and progressive fixes for that. We do have history on our side after all.
Let’s be clear that the $113 billion that raising the Medicare eligibility age “saves” (as a Federal line item), actually INCREASES aggregate health care costs as % of GDP, in addition to increasing out-of-pocket costs to people in their mid-60s who are forced to find private insurance or go without. There is no “savings” from increasing the Medicare age – only hocus-pocus that contributes to the pre-existing health costs inflation that’s seen as not sustainable.
@WereBear: In my experience, a death in the family can bring out the very worst in people. My mother died, my daughter died, my father-in-law died, my mother-in-law’s mother died, all relatively recently. I hope never again to see such a concentration of people saying bad things about other people.
Our porch is full of things left behind, that people expect us to get rid of in some ecologically and economically sound way, but that’s another problem.
A VAT system? People already don’t have enough money to buy the shit that creates jobs and you propose a remedy of making it more expensive? It is nothing more than a sales tax that doesn’t piss you off at the counter and maybe you can think of some people that pay little of their income into sales taxes? One of the biggest problems you’ve got is workers competing for a rapidly and drastically shrinking portion of the economy and you think it is serious to make the fucking problem worse by yanking even more money out of that percentage.
Really, take your horseshit over to Redstate where they take that crap seriously.
Maybe a rocket scientist like burnsie can explain to me the logic in making me pay 6% for the priviledge of having paper to wipe my ass with and trading $100M is free and clear unless you bother to take some cash out of it? A sales tax is one of the stupidest ways to finance government that exists. About the only exception even within range of sanity is made by communities with huge tourist influxes and there are better ways to deal with that one.
I just moved from a state w/o sales tax to one with it, fuck me. Not to mention that their shitty minimum wage can get excepted to a lower number for tip personel as long as the tips reach minimum. What part of “Gratuity” is it that escapes these mother fuckers? And no, it isn’t a bit cheaper around here. Lyin’ mother fuckers.
Yes. Grown somewhat is an adequate assessment. This does not mean that any solution besides a VAT is unserious.
Thanks for you input, lawyer.