Friday, April 15, 2011

Joe Klein lights up the Church of Cut My Taxes

Here's the truth no one on the right wants to talk about:
And so it's painful when reality intrudes. Here is the reality: the Republicans have spent the past 30 years creating deficits and the Democrats have spent the past 30 years closing them. The unimportance of deficits became an article of faith during the second Bush Administration: "Reagan proved that deficits don't matter," Dick Cheney famously said. It has been rather hilarious for those of us with even a minimal grasp of recent history to watch these folks pull fierce 180-degree turns on the issue--and it is even more hilarious to watch them accuse Obama of hyper-partisanship after the dump-truck full of garbage they visited upon his head these past few years.

Indeed, the sheer hatred that Republicans have for Obama has led them to overreach, to latch onto Paul Ryan's well-outside-the-mainstream budget plan. They now face a presidential election where they are completely tied to the idea of destroying the most popular government program out there--Medicare. They are now tied to the incredibly cruel and witless notion that they're going to ask 90-year-olds to make free market choices, with vouchers constantly diminishing in value, in an extremely complicated health market. And most important, as the President said, they are now tied to a slick attempt to make middle class people pay more for Medicare while demanding lower taxes for the wealthy.

And so, the predictable screechings: It's class warfare (as if Ryan's plan isn't)! It's vague (actually, it's based on the findings of the bipartisan deficit reduction commission)! It's hyper-partisan (guffaw)!
Yes!  Does anyone remember that the 2001 Bush tax cuts were specifically sold as being temporary?  What happened to that?  What happened to the Clinton-era surplus that was going to pay off the national debt entirely?

Oh, that's right.  The Republican Party happened.  And now the Church of Cut My Taxes is insisting that even more tax cuts for the haves and even more cutbacks for the have-nots will fix it.  It is well past time we called this what it is: patent bullshit.  If tax cuts for the top 1% worked, they would have worked years ago.  They haven't, the budget is in crisis, and it is time to pay up.  Want more proof?  Have some:

Of course, the effective rate on the top 1% is actually around 23% because of things like itemized deductions that help the rich a lot more than the middle-class.  Not to mention that the payroll tax cap means that the payroll tax is essentially a regressive tax, because you pay a smaller and smaller percentage of your income as you get wealthier and wealthier.    And the top 1% are a lot better equipped to hire accountants and lawyers to make use of every single loophole in the tax code.
But one party is (finally!) willing to look at this and all other avenues to balance the budget.  Cuts need to be made, to be sure, but revenue simply has to increase.  The GOP just plugs their ears and screams "I CAN'T HEAR YOU!" whenever the very idea of the well-off paying a bit more comes up.

After a decade of "deficits don't matter," why the hell should we listen to the Church of Cut My Taxes now?

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