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Obama’s Deficit Reduction Plan

President Obama lays out his deficit reduction plan. We’ll dig through the details and big picture.

President Barack Obama gestures while speaking in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, Monday, Sept. 19, 2011. (AP)

President Barack Obama gestures while speaking in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, Monday, Sept. 19, 2011. (AP)

No more Mr. Nice Guy in the White House Rose Garden yesterday, as President Obama laid out his own deficit reduction package. No more “grand bargain” talk. No more cool adult in the room while others scrapped over details.

This time the president was scrappy, combative, and clear in his framing: a fix will require more from Americans of wealth, he said. Spending cuts and more tax revenue, from the top.

Republicans raced to call it class warfare. The pundits said it won’t pass. But the markers are down now.

This hour On Point: debt, taxes and the Obama plan.

-Tom Ashbrook


John Harwood, chief Washington correspondent for CNBC.

David Osborne, a senior partner of The Public Strategies Group, he’s also the author of “The Price of Government: Getting the Results We Need in an Age of Permanent Fiscal Crisis.” He’s also the author of this recent op-ed in the Boston Globe.

Russ Roberts, J. Fish and Lillian F. Smith Professor of Economics Chair, Mercatus Center Professor of Economics, and author of “The Price of Everything: A Parable of Possibility and Prosperity.” He’s also the author of this recent op-ed in the Boston Globe.


President Obama called for more than $3 trillion in deficit reduction this week, with much of that money coming from a tax increase for higher-income Americans. “Either we gut education and medical research or we’ve got to reform the tax code,” Obama said in a Rose Garden speech this week. He threatened to veto any bill that cuts benefits without raising taxes.

“The most important thing in the [President’s] plan is the politics,” CNBC chief Washington correspondent John Harwood told On Point. “The president, having tried and failed to negotiate a grand bargain with the House speaker over the summer, has decided that if he is going to make a deal with Congress it is going to be because he beats them over the head with public opinion.”

Critics of the president’s plan, like George Mason University economics professor Russ Roberts, claim that the proposal doesn’t go far enough to fix the country’s serious financial problems. “Three trillion dollars over ten years is not a big number,” said Roberts. “It would be easy to cut out $1.3 trillion per year and not punish poor people, children, and the elderly.”

David Osborne, a former senior advisor to Al Gore and an Obama backer, says that increasing taxes on the rich is a step in the right direction, but only a “small part of the solution.” “In my opinion, other people should be paying higher taxes too,” Osborne said. “If we want true economic health, we should go back to the tax rates of the 1990s.”

Caller Mark from Acton, Massachusetts “Our economic crunch right now is caused by fact that demand has basically dried up. There’s a good reason for that, and that’s because demand was always driven by the middle class and the middle class has gotten very poor. The U.S. is 64th in income inequality, right below Ivory Coast, Cameroon, and Iran. [more on that here] For the last 30 years, more than 80 percent of the total increase in American incomes went to the richest one percent. And they now take home almost a quarter of all income in the United States, which is why Warren Buffett says that there is class warfare alright, but it is the rich that’s making the war and they are winning. As you pointed out, President Obama wants the top earners to go back and pay about what they paid under Clinton at which point – I’d like to remind people – that unemployment was 3.9 percent. Now, I don’t think that’s class warfare.”

From Tom’s Reading List

New York Magazine “Obama’s strategy now is to keep the two things separate. Last week, he introduced a jobs plan to cut taxes and spend more on things like infrastructure. He introduced his plan to reduce the long-term deficit today.”

Politico “In a feisty appearance from the White House Rose Garden, Obama detailed a proposal that reads more like a blueprint for shoring up his restless Democratic base than a vehicle for reaching across the aisle in search of bipartisan compromise. His tone — incredulous, exasperated and firm — was a notable departure from his usual reluctance to go too hard after the Republicans whom he needs to pass bills through Congress.”

CBS News “Even before President Obama unveiled his $3 trillion proposal to cut the deficit with $1.5 trillion in tax hikes for the rich, Republicans on Capitol Hill were declaring it dead, with a key lawmaker labelling it “class warfare.””

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  • Terry Tree Tree

    The CONCEPT is great!  Rich people paying more of their share of the bill.   It’s about time!   The GREEDY rich don’t want to pay anything!  They want the working class to pay their way!  They whine and whine about how bad they have it, and how much worse it will get for them.      
        Most of them couldn’t live in the real world! 

    • NathanD

      God’s commandments say “thou shall not steal.”   They don’t say, “thou shall steal with government approval from those richer than thyself.”  The immoral income tax is what’s ruining the country.  There are other ways to raise federal revenue. 

      • Ray in VT

        Really, what about when the top rates were above 50 or 60% back back in the 1950s and 1960s?  Face it, top tier income tax rates are lower than they have been in decades, no matter what the GOP, the Tea Party and Fox News says.  Also, last I knew the Ten Commandments weren’t the law of the land, and the idea that taxation is theft is just a joke.

        • NathanD

          Not all taxation is stealing, only INCOME (and wealth) taxation.  A consumption tax would be more moral.  I really don’t understand why so many people blindly accept an income tax system that costs hundreds of billions (!) to administer, presumes guilt over innocence, plays favorites,  serves as a tool for partisan engineering, encourages cheating, rewards people to snitch on there neighbors, and treats successful people as villains.  That may be what YOU prefer, but I think we can do better.  

          • Anonymous

            @69339376a61bbb293e7b0c3a29eb432e:disqus And then the tax system could be made really non- progressive. See this result for California in 2007 and note the figure on page 2, where RED sections of each vertical bar, which is the SALES TAX impact, the closest stand-in for a consumption tax effect:


            To offset the real anti-progressivity the spending side of the budget would have to be really progressive, and in that realm ALL the problems you cite for an income tax would reappear! And how do you think taking 50% or more of the income of those earning less than $50,000 will fly? For that is what it would take to come near paying for the military and income and health care for retirement.

            The one shining light(?): All the processing of the worst foods would get taxed, making fresh vegetables, etc., cheaper and the country might avoid/recover-from the obesity epidemic it is facing.

          • NathanD

            I don’t buy your calculations.  The Fairtax legislation pending in Congress addresses your concerns about the level of taxation and progressivity.   It takes out-of-the box thinking to get one’s head around this, but it’s worth the effort.  

          • Terry Tree Tree

            Consumption Tax lets the rich get RICHER!  They’re sitting on their money now.  Why do you think they would spend more, just to make your Consumption Tax fair?

      • Cory

        I’m not sure, but I recall Jesus teaching some things about the treatment of the poor and sick…

        • NathanD

          Of course, Cory.  But he didn’t advocate forced robbery to help the poor and sick.  We should all be ashamed of the way America shuns people in need.  I am saying only that higher income taxes are not the answer.  

          • Terry Tree Tree

            The churches are spending their money on bigger, fancier churches, protecting child molesters, protecting child abusers, lobbying AGAINST organizations that help people, and SOMETIMES they help some needy people, at the price of being dictated to!
                The rich mostly only help people, when they can get MORE publicity for it, than the deed costs them!   Some rich pay back a SMALL PART of what they have victimized people for, out of GUILT.

            PROVE ME WRONG!

      • Terry Tree Tree

        STOP the corporate thieves ripping off the country with corporate welfare!  STOP the thieves that are committing Welfare fraud.  STOP the thieves that stole $Billions from the U.S., in ‘unaccounted for’ monies shipped to Iraq and Afghanistan.  STOP the thieves that have sold their souls to corporations and the wealthy, that make laws that benefit the corporations and the wealthy, at the cost to the working-class!
            Many self-righteous hypocrites use the Bible, or other religious texts, when it makes THEIR POINT, but ignore what they want to!

      • JayB

        I recall something about “Render unto Caesar…” when Jesus was faced with people bitching about their taxes.

        Please don’t invoke religion to defend your materialism.

    • Margbi

      G.K. Chesterton said it best: “The poor have sometimes objected to be governed badly; the rich have always objected to being governed at all.”

  • Artonpaper

    We all strive to create a better life, call it rich. Some are more successful than others. Some are lazy, others more ambitious, they  push and take risks.

    Sure I am jealous when I see some one drive the Mercedes Benz.

    Lets not loose this basic dream of America.

    • nj

      Something’s loose all right.

    • Anonymous

      What a load of complete nonsense. Most Americans who work are working over 40 hours a week. The working poor 60+ and they are getting know-where in terms of the economic ladder. The idea of getting rich or being successful is for the majority of working Americans a falsehood. Wages have been flat in this country for decades and they are going down. The American dream is just that, a fantasy for most people. For those who are now unemployed or underemployed it’s a nightmare. We have over 40 million people now living poverty and the numbers are growing everyday. Your last comment, “lets not loose this basic dream of America” seems misplaced in context to what you seem to be saying.

      People need to feel they have a stake in the game. Right now that’s not the case for huge part of the population. As George Carlin once said: it’s called the American dream, because you have to be asleep to believe it.


      • NathanD

        So you think that confiscating wealth from the “rich” will improve the lot of the working poor?  Dream on, pal. 

        • mary elizabeth

          Most of the rich got rich by the massess lining up at their cash registers; by the sweat of dedicated workers; by the largesse of government provisions too numerous too mention.
          Back in the day when  taxes were higher and the “rich” corporations rewarded their workers with job security, a living wage and benefits, and often help with education, the middle class prospered.
          Greed has the upper hand now.

          • NathanD

            Some people also got rich by hard work of their own.  In any case, do you really think that higher income taxes now will bring on job security, a living wage and benefits, and help with education, and restore the prosperity of the middle class?  I don’t.  

          • mary elizabeth

            No, not directly.  But it may help the government  pay for programs such as medicaid and benefits to the unemployed that increased as corporations left workers behind for China and as CEO’s salaries leaped to 300 times the average worker with an average pay of $11,000,000.

          • NathanD

            A much better way to accomplish those things, and much more (I am not against social spending) is to tax consumption, not income. Imagine the investment this country would attract  if there were corporate or personal income tax.  After all, this country lived without an income tax for 140 years. 

          • Anonymous

            @69339376a61bbb293e7b0c3a29eb432e:disqus You are just throwing out a red herring, as I explained above.

            This county’s first 140 years were largely agrarian. Do you really want to live on a farm, or require over half the population to do so? That will really crash the economy.

          • Anonymous

            BS, complete BS. They got rich by using roads, bridges, and public schools. By having decent police and fire departments. By having a decent education so that they could run a busniess. You’re argument is as hollow as a rotten tree.

          • NathanD

            I don’t believe in stealing.

          • Anonymous

            @69339376a61bbb293e7b0c3a29eb432e:disqus Taxation is the way the population decides to pay for what it jointly determines should be done jointly; i.e., by government.

            It is in no way stealing, since those who do not like it enough can live somewhere else (except the poor, who may not have that choice), or work to change how the revenue is raised. Calling taxation stealing does not help in that process; most (at least some) people can see through the rhetorical trick.

          • NathanD

            Taxation, yes, certainly.  But why INCOME taxation when there is such an attractive alternative on the table (fairfax.org).  There are just so many things wrong with taxing income.  Yet most people believe there is no other way.  It’s depressing. 

          • Terry Tree Tree

            I explained elsewhere in this article how this doesn’t work!

          • Terry Tree Tree



          • Anonymous

            @69339376a61bbb293e7b0c3a29eb432e:disqus Some people really did! BUT, and a BIG BUT, there is LESS movement between the different levels of economic status now than there was when taxes were higher. That is just a correlation, but it DOES prove that high taxes are NOT an impediment to success.

            Also, and perhaps even more important, there are studies which show that the wealthy benefit even more than the less wealthy from GOVERNMENT (even though they don’t like it). Even in their “gated communities” they rely on the TOTAL economy to produce the environment that supports their lifestyle. Why do you think the wealthy in Europe accept the EU social compact and don’t all just move away? (Don’t just list a few exceptions! They always exist.)

          • Terry Tree Tree


          • Anonymous

            I’m at least partly with NathanD on this: painting all “rich” people (what exactly is “rich” anyway? Someone who has more than you?) with a broad brush is as much of a mistake as saying all people on welfare are lazy and make babies to raise benefits.

            I do agree, however, that Obama’s plan to raise taxes on millionaires is a good start. Even more simplification of the tax code is needed for everyone.

        • Anonymous

          When i read comments like yours I can only shake my head in disbelief. Taxes are not confiscating anything. If you want a civil society it costs money. If you don’t understand that you are the one who is dreaming, pal.

          • NathanD

            Sure it costs money.  But you can raise that money without taxing INCOME, which is stealing, pure and simple.  

          • Anonymous

            Explain why taxing income is “stealing” but taxing what you have to spend for food, clothing, etc. is not.  I don’t understand your logic.

          • NathanD

            When you walk into a store to buy a new computer, you decide whether or not to pay the price.  If you don’t want to pay the tax, then don’t buy the computer. Or buy a less expensive one.  A reasonable consumption tax would exclude basic necessities.  Conversely, if you decide not to pay an income tax, you will ultimately go to jail. In other words, give me your money or I’ll shoot.  Surely you can see the difference. 

          • Terry Tree Tree

            POOR analogy!!

        • Cory

          I’d like to give it a try once and see how it turns out.  Something about taking the word of the top 15% that it won’t work that doesn’t mesh with logic.

      • Cory

        I love Carlin.  So sad he is gone…

    • http://twitter.com/PersnicketyRph Jonathan Lloyd

      Or are the Benz owners just lucky? Are the rich mainly smarter, more intelligent, harder working? Some, surely. Most, I’m betting, are just lucky.

    • Terry Tree Tree


  • Hidan

    I’m assuming that Obama’s plan is not the end all be all, which will include other things as well. But who wants to bet the Republicans are going to claim since raising taxes on the rich does not solve the entire deficit therefore it’s pointless?

  • Hidan

    It’s also beyond hypocritical to tell the poor, old, middle class, military and so many other groups that there going to have to suffer feel the pain while cutting taxes on the richest among us.

  • Hidan

    It be interesting to find out that if taxes were to be raised on people making 250k or 1 Million how many in congress would this effect? 60% maybe? 80?

    Amazing how after republicans took control of congress in 2010 theirs been a free fall ever since.A down grade, and a possible recession yet again.

    • mary elizabeth

      It seems that that is true. Hidan.  We were on an ever so little upward swing until the 2010 elextions.    The debt ceiling debacle has done untold damage to the confidence of this nation.  All the more sad because it was in many ways just another chance to stick it to this President, the country be damned.   Near evil. 

      • Hidan

        Just wait until the 2012 elections ads start to kick in.

        • Anonymous

          They kicked in the day Mitch McConnell announced, “The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.”

      • Anonymous

        @94179c70e3f1b88c89d46a2182e8e760:disqus The reason that the slow uptick dropped off was because the ARRA (stimulus) was in the last half of its period. Spending was starting to decrease and that drop is contractionary for the economy (if you remember your calculus, just realize that expansion and contraction are features of the SLOPE of spending). 
        The main problem with the ARRA was its size relative to the problem, and that was true in January 2009; since then the economy estimates have been revised downward by about a factor of TWO or more (-0.5% to -3.8% for 2008Q3 and -3.8% to over 5% for 2008Q4. The stimulus included $200 billion for the Alternative Income Tax yearly amendment (which was going to happen anyway) plus the big tax cut which “no one knows about.” These cuts did little for job creation, but you would NEVER know that from the headlines/lead paragraphs in the MSM “news.”

        When you also note that it was spread over a two year period, it was like putting a gallon of gas in your car and expecting to drive from Boston to New York. The ARRA did not have to equal the lost spending (GDP) but it had to be at least a third of it and it was NOT. But now because that gallon only got the country to Worcester (stropped the hemorrhaging) the Republicans claim (as predicted at the time that they would) that, because it did not bring back a strong economy, it failed.

        Note also that the CBO predicts from the difference between a “full employment” economy and its predicted economy that the five year lost GDP will be over $5 TRILLION! For those who continually say you have to invest to make money, why shouldn’t the government invest to put the unemployed back to work and save a lot of that $5 Trillion?

        But the Republicans are doing their best to make sure that $5 trillion lost GDP will be more like $7 to $12 trillion. All to make sure ANY Democrat cannot be president.

        • mary elizabeth

          Thanks.  I do learn so much from the comments.

  • Anonymous

    Please, quit inviting folks from the Economics Dept. at George Mason U., the economics that they subscribe to (Austrian) has declared intellectual bankruptcy. They’re on the fringe within the discipline.

    • Anonymous

      @utahph:disqus The Koch brothers fund a lot of the work done there; as per radical right “think tanks” much of their work misstates facts and cherry-picks data to contrive results that do not reflect reality.

    • Dave in CT


      When and where has modern Austrian economics been listened to let alone enacted?

      Austrian economists were the ones screaming about the growing malinvestment bubble and coming crash while all your mainstream economists were preparing their “Nobody could have seen this disaster coming” speeches.

      The establishment is so Malinvestment entrenched and Unsound money/Fed addicted, to create its Fannie Mae schemes, and fund its wars of empire, its not even funny!

      What 6 people recommended this post?

      When has there been an honest Austrian-type economist on this show to talk about the status quo?

      • Anonymous

        Um, Russ Roberts is an unapologetic Austrian economist, and a contributor on Cafe Hayek. If he’s not Austrian, I don’t know who is. Unless, you have got some mythical image of a modern day Austrian economist.

        • Dave in CT

          That’s pretty funny, if he really is Austrian-influenced, that I had no idea who he is, but thought his words sounded reasonable, given how much I try to get people to at least incorporate those ideas into their thinking and our discussions.

          • Anonymous

            Well he is. He blogs at Cafe Hayek; and GMU Economics is an Austrian department.

  • TheBigPicturePart1

    It’s an economic shakedown.

    You are being bamboozled.  Hoodwinked. 

    Don’t you think you are paying too much already.  Don’t you think you are working hard enough for less and less.

    Please don’t believe the hype of the stimulus/austerity dichotomy.   

    When the clowns in DC take a pay cut and our defense department budget is cut in half and these two illegal, ten-year old, wars with-no-end-in-sight are no longer funded, and the CIA, FBI, DHS, NSA, DEA, etc. become one agency – then you’ll know there’s not enough money and we need deficit reduction.

    When the hungry are fed and the sick are taken care of (especially our military families) and the elderly don’t have to spend their life savings to live, then maybe we can talk about ADJUSTING “entitlements”.

    (You know why they are called that – ENTITLEMENTS?- because THEY ARE A RIGHT GRANTED BY LAW OR CONTRACT – because as a civilized society, that’s what we’re paying for – so everyone citizen of this great country has a safety net.)

    The number one reason for bankruptcy in the US?  Medical bills.

    The number of countries that have a lower risk of new born death rate than us?  Thirty Nine (Yes, we’re #40. We were #28 in 1990).

    You could go on and on. 

    Talk about ‘planned obsolescence’.  Just look at the middle-class in America.  We’ve been on the road to nowhere since the 1980′s.

    Remember when a family of five could thrive on one income?

    We ARE the ‘Cash Cow’ for almost every developing second- and third-world economy on the globe.

    And that’s not all:

    Didn’t you hear that giant sucking sound from the last four bubbles over the past 15-20 years?

    Remember the dot-com bubble. Remember the commodity bubble.

    Remember the energy bubble.  Remember the real estate bubble.

    Where did all of the those Trillions go?  We’re did all the retirement funds, investments, jobs and industries go?

    They didn’t just disappear.

    Where is yours?

    • LinP

      I could not agree more. This is what I will add: congress passes laws that allow corporations to do what they
      please rather than what is good for the people. To want the opposite is to be
      labeled a commie. This is worse than the post 9-11 paranoia when anyone who
      criticized Bush was at risk of being ostracized at the very least. And now we
      want to go backwards, economically, industrially, commercially, with our health
      and welfare. What we all saw happen in 3rd world counties over the last 50
      years is happening here. On every ranking that is made of the top 50 countries
      in any category, we are failing. So called 3rd world counties have
      better results than some USA
      results. And for Texas,
      we are even further down the list.


      Of all the grand achievements of the rich, duping the poor
      and working class into doing their bidding has got to rank at the top. Only in America
      will you find poor people making the case for the rich, oblivious to the fact
      that these tax cuts they defend are eating away at the quality of their own


      The Republicans will continue to design policies designed to let the mega-rich
      keep more money. That’s how they continue to exploit a weakness in the American
      electorate. Somehow, specious arguments about the wealthy needing the money to
      hire more workers have gotten through, while sensible arguments to the contrary
      have fallen on deaf ears. All the while, middle-class voters are undermining
      their own financial security, gleefully sawing off the branch they’re sitting
      on, by electing people who are clearly out to drain them dry.


      Presently, both parties are deeply mired in connections to
      the small, very powerful, ultra-wealthy segment who care very little for this
      country as a whole.

      • LinP

        Sorry about the formatting. I don’t know what happened.

  • http://twitter.com/PersnicketyRph Jonathan Lloyd

    What difference does any of this make? The GOP will shoot it down and talk nonsense about “job creators” and how you need to lower revenue to raise revenue. And people will eat it up, at least enough to get them elected. 

    • Gregg

      I think it works better to say lower taxes (on achievement) to broaden the tax base. More revenue can be generated by more taxpayers paying less than with less taxpayers paying more. It’s not class warfare, it’s math.

      And it sure makes more sense than spending more to reduce the deficit.

      • Anonymous

        If we don’t want to tax “achievement,” why don’t we tax at 100% inheritances over $500,000 per estate? 

        • Gregg

          A second time?

          • Anonymous

            That’s not true.  Most estates on which the estate tax is levied are made up of capital gain on which ZERO tax has been paid to that point.

        • Yar

          All that would do is change how families passed resources to the next generation. Trusts and other vehicles are already in place to allow people to avoid tax and pass resources to the next generation. 

  • NathanD

    It’s curious that Obama invoked George Washington’s name in his speech, saying that our first president recognized that taxes were painful but necessary.  What he didn’t mention was that federal income taxes were unconstitutional back then.  Washington certainly was not advocating higher income taxes on the “rich.”  As a US citizen, I find political rhetoric of this kind from a US president rather insulting.  

    • Ellen Dibble

      How did we pay for the costs of the Revolutionary War?  I’m pretty sure income tax would be tough to impose when people didn’t have regular jobs, but maybe swapped furs with the Indians, maybe sold fish without keeping receipts, that sort of thing.

      • Ray in VT

        We also took a bundle from the French.

      • Anonymous

        @ellendibble:disqus  There were (state) property taxes and the federal government passed taxes on alcohol (Whiskey Rebellion), etc.
        But the point is that was an agrarian society and those types of taxes will not provide the revenue NEEDED for the government to accomplish what the people WANT it to do today.

        The 16th Amendment made the income tax, begun in 1861 to pay for the Civil War, CONSTITUTIONAL.

        But this shows that Nathan is one of the hard-core radical-right Republicans that formed the Tea Party and wants to make all government social benefits UNCONSTITUTIONAL! See:


        for a more complete explanation. Such an article should be over-the-top extreme ridiculousness; but unfortunately the debt ceiling debacle shows the world that it isn’t.

        • NathanD

          I beg your pardon.  Not everyone who opposes an income tax is a Republican, least of all me.  I support a consumption tax (specifically the Fairfax, since it’s the only reasonable proposal at present)  as a way of paying for the social programs so dear to Democrats, especially healthcare reform.  I think income taxes have put us in the bind we’re in today. 

  • Rational

    One thing the powerful and wealthy cannot scream is: Taxation without representation…  Congress belongs to them, and this bill which has the backing of the working people of the United States but is vehemently opposed by Congress is going nowhere. Congress acts against the will of the people so consistently, we have lost all doubt as to who they really represent.

    How Deregulation Eviscerated the Banking Sector Safety Net and Spawned the U.S. Financial Crisis: http://moneymorning.com/2009/01/13/deregulation-financial-crisis/

    “Wall Street bankers, their exorbitantly well-paid lobbying army of former congressmen and former regulators, their greatly contributed-to sitting legislators and, most egregiously, the self-righteous and still mega-rich “former” Street executives have systematically eviscerated the muscle and bones from the regulatory bodies charged with protecting us from banks’ self-destructive greed. An inordinately powerful group of executive insiders from the once-deeply respected House of Goldman Sachs (GS) have served as U.S. Treasury secretaries and in innumerable other administrative capacities. ”

    IMO We the people will see no serious legislation for financial reform, because Congress is all about protecting parasites that suck the life blood out of the nation and now the world.

    And we the people can add the SJC to the list of protectors of wealth as well.

    National Usury permitted under the Marquette decision…
    The Effect of Consumer Interest Rate Deregulation on Credit Card Volumes, Charge-Offs, and the Personal Bankruptcy Rate: http://www.fdic.gov/bank/analytical/bank/bt_9805.html
    Frontline: SECRET HISTORY OF THE CREDIT CARD: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/credit/etc/script.html

    Another act against the will of the people; Campaign finance corruption…Or Corporations are people too. Thus allowing monied foreign influence into the representation of the people of the US.

    Congress finally gets the rhetoric correct. “ITS CLASS WARFARE!..”

    You bet it is! 

    Congress has been waging CLASS warfare for a long long time now, and we the people are defeated in every engagement against the top five percent.  

  • Anonymous

    I read Russ Roberts’ op-ed. He says this:

    “Social Security isn’t exactly a Ponzi scheme. But like a Ponzi scheme, the money to fund Social Security doesn’t come from productive investments but from getting money from future beneficiaries. Unlike a Ponzi scheme, you can’t decline to participate when you discover that reality.” 

    What a crock. For a professor of economics to mislead people like that is inexcusable. Does he really think Charles Ponzi was making “productive investments” when he was taking money from Peter to pay Paul? And promising a 100% profit in 90 days?

    Roberts is lying about an essential public program that has operated successfully for 80 years, and is fully capable of paying 100% of benefits for the next 25 years with no changes. Thereafter, it will pay 75% even if nothing is done. And the fix is easy: simply raise the cap on payroll contributions from its present limit of $106k. That will also make it less regressive.

    Have trouble understanding the difference between Social Security and a Ponzi scheme, professor? Here’s a simple Venn diagram that you should be able to comprehend:


    Very simple: anyone who says that Social Security is a Ponzi scheme either misunderstands Social Security, misunderstands Ponzi schemes, is deliberately lying, or some combination of those.

    In my view, saying that Social Security is a Ponzi scheme is a more awful thing to say than Romney’s “corporations are people” thing or Perry’s “pretty ugly” comment, although it’s not far from Perry’s accusation that Ben Bernanke would be committing treason if he tried improve the economy over the next year. After all, a Ponzi scheme is a deliberate fraud. Saying that Social Security is financed like a Ponzi scheme is factually wrong, but saying that Social Security is a Ponzi scheme or is like a Ponzi scheme is basically a false accusation of fraud against the US government and the politicians who have supported Social Security over the years.


    • Gregg
      • Anonymous

        A Ponzi scheme is a fraud and is, by its nature, unsustainable. Krugman never called SS any such thing:

        “Notice what I didn’t say. I didn’t say that the system was a fraud; I didn’t say that it would collapse. I said that in the past it had benefited from the fact that each generation paying in to the system was bigger than the generation that preceded it, and that this luxury would be ending in the years ahead.
        So why did I use the P-word? Basically because Paul Samuelson had done the same; he was basically just being cute, and I was emulating him — which now turns out to be a mistake.
        But anyway, anyone who uses my statement as some kind of defense of Rick Perry and all that is playing word games. I explained what I meant in that Boston Review article, and it was nothing at all like the claims that Social Security is a fraud, is destined to collapse, and all that. Social Security is and always has been mainly a pay-as-you-go system, which is nothing at all like a classic Ponzi scheme.”http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/09/14/the-ponzi-thing/

        Fonzie has a certain Ponzi aspect, too, but if you think SS is a Ponzi scheme, then you too have jumped the shark.


        • Anonymous

          Don’t bother, he’s just trying to wind you up with this crap.
          Ponzi scheme is the new right wing talking point and it’s in there with class warfare. It’s all lies.

          • Gregg

            You guys are amazing. All I said was the term has been used.. a lot.. by everybody… for years. It certainly is NOT a  “new right wing talking point”.

          • Anonymous

            But you accept that it is totally wrong, and always has been, right?

          • Gregg

            Not even going there, it’s irrelevant. While everybody is bickering over the same semantics used for decades, Social Security remains in peril. I’ll go this far: A Ponzi scheme and Social Security are alike in that they are BOTH unsustainable. 

      • Anonymous

        @327b60c55221432e499267aebfb70c09:disqus You probably didn’t go to the source of the out-of-context quote from Krugman’s piece as he mentioned last week:

        The Ponzi Thing

        “Well, I gather that a lot of right-wingers are quoting selectively from a piece I wrote 15 years ago in the Boston Review, in which I said that Social Security had a “Ponzi game aspect.” As always, you should read what I actually wrote. Here’s the passage:

        Social Security is structured from the point of view of the recipients as if it were an ordinary retirement plan: what you get out depends on what you put in. So it does not look like a redistributionist scheme. In practice it has turned out to be strongly redistributionist, but only because of its Ponzi game aspect, in which each generation takes more out than it put in. Well, the Ponzi game will soon be over, thanks to changing demographics, so that the typical recipient henceforth will get only about as much as he or she put in (and today’s young may well get less than they put in).

        Notice what I didn’t say. I didn’t say that the system was a fraud; I didn’t say that it would collapse. I said that in the past it had benefited from the fact that each generation paying in to the system was bigger than the generation that preceded it, and that this luxury would be ending in the years ahead.

        So why did I use the P-word? Basically because Paul Samuelson had done the same; he was basically just being cute, and I was emulating him — which now turns out to be a mistake.

        But anyway, anyone who uses my statement as some kind of defense of Rick Perry and all that is playing word games. I explained what I meant in that Boston Review article, and it was nothing at all like the claims that Social Security is a fraud, is destined to collapse, and all that. Social Security is and always has been mainly a pay-as-you-go system, which is nothing at all like a classic Ponzi scheme.


        Of course, the usual suspects won’t pay any attention to what I’ve just said. But if anyone is actually listening …”


        So Gregg, should I trust you to drop that scurrilous attribution? Only if everybody else calls you out when you repeat it, as ALL Republican trolls do when they have a falsehood that they want the general public to believe is true.

        Sorry, NewtonWhale, I had not looked down to see your response, but it will take more than our two responses to “cure” Gregg of his megalomaniac insanity.

  • Yar

    Both republicans and democrats are advising the super-committee to go big,  do twice the deficit reduction as required by current legislation. It sounds like they are serous about debt reduction, however I am much more cynical.  If half of the reduction comes from cuts and half comes from revenue increases then each side needs twice the required debt reduction to meet the target while keeping their ideology in tact. 
    I wish we could have a honest conversation about the role of government, and relationship with taxation.
    I hear 50% don’t pay any any income tax,  while technically true,  it is their labor that pays the majority of taxes.  It is like saying the Pharaohs built the pyramids.  The slaves built them, and slaves grew the food, and it was slaves who’s bodies greased the skids when they complained. 
    What do CEO’s really do that earns their pay, they earn it through economic slavery.  Their value is in limiting the pay of all who work for them.  This is also true in our society.  We exploit those who make less than us and are exploited by those who make more.  All of this works in our economy, until conditions change that makes the people on who’s shoulders we stand either fall down or rise up in violence.  It seems that we are at one of those times.  What are we going to do?  Try to regain the past or define a new future?  The gap between rich and poor must be narrowed, or anarchy will strike.  
    Can we drop the partisanship and save the country?  If we do it will look very different tomorrow than it does today, if not, i don’t think we will survive as a free people.   What kind of America do you envision?

  • Gregg

    Despite President Obama’s denials, his plan is all about class warfare. He has no record to run on so he is proposing something he knows will not pass. He can then blame Republicans for the economy. Don’t take my word for it, ask Bill Clinton who gave his assessment of Obama’s re election chances:

    “Yes, if the people believe that he had a credible plan and the
    Republicans thwarted it either because they were wrong or because they
    just wanted to beat him.”

    Obama’s speech was full of meaningless, emotion based terms like “fair share” and “tax loopholes”. Hell, every green jobs incentive is a tax loophole. Or “Corporations”, NPR is a corporation.

    The most disgusting lie is the false choices like this whopper:

    “Either we gut education and medical research, or we’ve got to reform the
    tax code so that the most profitable corporations have to give up the
    tax loopholes that other companies don’t get.”

    I recall some one getting scolded recently on this blog when they suggested Obama would raise taxes for this boondoggle. The commenter said it was common knowledge, naturally that invoked accusations about Fox or Rush. Well, the commenter was right. $1.5 trillion removed from the private sector in this climate is suicide. Harry Reid says maybe they’ll do something with it in October. There aren’t the votes on either side because it’s a ridiculous plan… by design.

    • Hidan

      “Obama’s speech was full of meaningless, emotion based terms like “fair share” and “tax loopholes””

      didn’t know ‘Tax Loopholes””fair share” are meaningless terms?

      So when republicans say such like they have about reforming our tax code and lowering the rates while closing “Tax Loopholes” and complain how 40% of Americans aren’t paying their “fair share” i’ll be sure to ignore them, since both are meaningless and emotional base terms.

      • Gregg

        Unless you are prepared to say what the “fair share” is then it’s meaningless. Obama has already rejected the debt commission’s plan to lower rates and end all deductions (loopholes) so he’s not talking about that. It’s meaningless, I don’t care who says it.

        • Anonymous

          There was no debt commission report to accept or reject.

        • Anonymous

          @327b60c55221432e499267aebfb70c09:disqus Many of the pundits are now echoing David Brooks’ comment that the Republicans were about to reject the “Deal of a Lifetime” offered by President Obama against the interests of his core supporters. Don’t even think you can convince people that it was Obama that “rejected” the debt commission’s plan.

          • Gregg

            Sure he rejected it, where is it?

    • Rational


      Decreasing taxes on the wealth of the top 5 percent is the best thing for America and the bottom 95 percent, but increasing taxes on the top 5 percent is the worst thing for America and the bottom 95 percent. 

      When the top 5 percent get what they want, they say its what America wants, and its NOT about class warfare, but when they don’t get what they want, its what America does not want, and it IS declared class warfare.

      • Gregg

        I didn’t say anything about decreasing taxes… but I like it!

        • Rational

          How about no taxes at all on the wealthy?

          • Gregg

            No, they should pay their fair share.

          • Terry Tree Tree

            WHEN did the rich EVER pay their FAIR share?

    • Anonymous

      It is only called “class warfare” when we fight back.

      • Gregg

        Perhaps “class envy” works better.

        • Anonymous

          Gregg you’re a real piece of work, period.

          • Gregg

            Thank you.

        • Anonymous

          Are you referring to the envy of the wealthy for the wonderful life of those too poor to pay income tax? 

        • Terry Tree Tree

          Why envy thieves that lack morals, and do nothing that isn’t calculated to profit them, more than they put into it?

    • Anonymous

      Funny who it w as not called class warfare when Eisenhower was president and the tax rate was higher. It would be really refreshing if someone on the right had the balls to stop using these right wing talking points and slogans. But you go on to use the right wing Fox talking points, it’s as if you just copied your post from one of their shows. You show your true colors as well. Don’t complain about me giving you hard time buddy, you earned it.

      It’s not class warfare to tax people with a fair tax related to how much they earn.  

      • Gregg

        Scroll up and read the comment by Acnestis. Selling that lie is Obama’s only hope.

        BTW, I wasn’t around in Eisenhower’s day.

        • Anonymous

           Well in case you don’t understand why I mentioned it, taxes on the wealthiest 1% were in the 90% range and the economy was booming. Also the middle class was growing and prospering and guess what, that’s what fueled the economy, not the top 1 to 5% of the wealthiest part of our population, it was the middle class spending their money in droves.   

      • Gregg

        “Jobs are created out of demand, period.”

        How much demand was there for the IPad 5 years ago? It’s about putting capital at risk to create or identify a demand and then supplying it.

        I notice you like proclamations but just because you proclaim and say “period” does not make it so… period.

        And what’s with Fox?

        • Anonymous

          Because you sound like someone who is rehashing the talking points from their so called news shows. 

          How much demand was there for the IPad 5 years ago? It’s about putting capital at risk to create or identify a demand and then supplying it.

          What does this have to do with the taxes that Steve Jobs pays?
          Or for that matter the taxes Apple pays?

          Are you suggesting that Apple would not have developed the iPad due to higher taxes? This is a baseless argument.

          • Gregg

            No, I’m suggesting supply comes before demand not after. 

          • Anonymous

            The real question is “how much of a factor in starting and building Apple was the amount of tax that would have to be paid on the income and gain it would generate if it was a success?”  And the answer, of  course, is none at all.  Period!

            Can you name one person who refused to make more money because their taxes would go up?

          • Anonymous

            @jimino:disqus @327b60c55221432e499267aebfb70c09:disqus The much Republican-maligned Warren Buffett pointed out exactly that point when he said that even in the “high tax” 1950s to 1970s, nobody he knew held back on an investment if there was money to be made. In fact, even NOW, when Republicans are making much of the lack of confidence to make investments, investments in manufacturing are up (while actual manufacturing capacity is down). This furthers the argument that aggregate demand (AD) is the problem, not taxes, etc.

          • Anonymous

            @327b60c55221432e499267aebfb70c09:disqus But the number of iPads “supplied” did not occur BEFORE the demand was verified! If the first iPads had not been bought, there would have been no “boom” in iPad sales! Check out HP’s tablet offering!

        • Anonymous

          @327b60c55221432e499267aebfb70c09:disqus If “no one” had any “excess” money (like right now!) there would have been no “demand” created. The iPad is in that niche that there are enough people that have enough money exist; but other things like cars are suffering a big decline in demand because people are making do with what they have.

          Businesses see that clothing stores are down in sales, etc. Therefore people who DO have good ideas are NOT being given the money to develop and market them right now.

          One example (or even several) does NOT prove your point.

  • Markus

    I don’t think much of Obama. Great speaker, but I think he’s proven he’s in over his head or maybe just not all that bright. But I think taxing the rich at a significantly higher rate is both a good idea and a strong political move. Given the image that’s been put on bankers, brokers, lawyers, CEOs and other high earners, they’re hard to defend. And you never see the person who put two mortgages on his house, took all the risk, lost his family, but ended up running a successful business.  I think that’s too complicated a picture for most.
    I hate the idea of giving the jerks who got us into this mess more money. I think they’ll just waste much of it. And giving more back to the states where I see the massive waste every day really irks me. But they dug this hole for us and getting out of it requires cut backs and tax increases. Politically, if the republicans kill this, it just reinforces the image that they’ll do anything to hurt Obama. I think this is a mistaken image, but I also believe most media will fall over themselves to make conservatives look bad and the republicans have made themselves an easy target.

    • Cory

      The whole country is so far right now, it’s impossible for Obama to behave progressively.  He’s called marxist if he tries to even be a centrist.  We have a long way to go, if the journey is even possible any more.

  • Gregg

    I’m just wondering about the terminology. It’s just like the “stimulus” plan but that word is used up. I thought it was a “job’s bill” now I’m reading “deficit reduction plan”. It’s especially ironic because it won’t stimulate, create jobs or reduce the deficit. What gives?

    • Cory

      The poor “gives” to the rich.  That’s what gives!

    • Anonymous

      @327b60c55221432e499267aebfb70c09:disqus As you well know, there were TWO speeches, one on paying for the job creation initiatives that are immediate, for the short term, and a second one for the long-term reduction of the deficit. Trying to confuse the two seems to be your objective here.

  • Acnestis

     John Kenneth summed up the Republican position perfectly:
    “These people believe that the poor have too much money and the rich
    don’t have enough.”

    • Acnestis

      John Kenneth Galbraith, that is.  Who also said:
      modern conservative is engaged in one of man’s oldest exercises in moral
      philosophy: that is the search for a superior moral justification for

  • http://www.dogoodgauge.org The Do Good Gauge

    Social Class Warfare?  The GOP has been stealing from the middle class for years.     Entitlements is what Republican’s call the money taken out of a middle class pay check to help support a respectful end of life income.    Entitlement is the term the GOP assigns to social security because they feel they are entitled to something which they did not pay for.   Please understand taxes over $100,000 are not taxed for social security.

    Let me tell you a different story of Social Class Warfare. 

    The Collateral Damage of the GOP Agenda

    Few would suggest abortion is
    a good thing.   Maybe a necessary evil, though it need not be.  There
    are unexplored solutions to abortion.   Instead the focus remains on the
    hypocrisy of the conservative agenda.In a prior essay I equated the word ignorance to the conservative view point. I stated the root of the word ignorance
    is ignore. I would like to expand on the idea. Ignorance is not a
    mental deficiency. One can ignore a solution because a lack of
    knowledge or one can explicitly hide their intention.I understand that people wish to be left
    alone and I assume many who waive the conservative flag wish to live in
    solitude. The problem is the elite few who glorify the term
    conservative to enact class warfare.  It is the same mentality which
    exploits the have nots of the world.
    Slavery still exist as it existed in biblical time. In the United
    States slavery is associated with the color of skin, though history
    shows individuals lacking social economic means are at risk of being
    enslaved.I’m about to use
    another term which some may find offensive, though I use it in the
    context it was intended. Many allude to the conservative sincerity of
    loving a child until it is born. Not only do I agree, I suggest bastard
    is the term many conservatives use for a child born out of wedlock.
    The same conservative mentality believing the bible supports slavery,
    is the mentality which sees bastards as an opportunity for social class
    I’m not suggesting all conservative activist support this evil. Many
    holding the conservative flag ignore the collateral damage out
    of a refusal to understand. Though I suggest a few are ignoring the
    collateral damage with hope to exploit the sweat equity of many
    Could it be a woman lacking means understands social economic
    slavery and fears bringing another bastard into the world for
    exploitation. I don’t believe any child deserves such a derogatory
    label. If there is a God, I pray all children are loved to the
    appeasement of the highest authority.  I only wish those of who use God as a revenue stream understood his message was sent through an abandoned son.
    Poor bastard never had a chance.   Think about it.   Maybe each of
    us should examine the collateral damage of our good intentions.

  • nj

    Again, even while sounding more “vigorous,” Obummer starts out from a compromised position. He won’t—absolutely will not, i tell ya!—cut benefits for the poor unless the Teabag-addled Republicons allow some token increases on taxes for the most wealthy.

    This good-cop/bad-cop Kabuki theater disguises the fact that O is more Republican than most of the Republican presidents of the last few decades. 

    • Rational

      You’re right Obama submits a new script for the opera, and then the cast all start howling and jumping about, wasting time to keep things just as they are…or if possible nudge inequity a little higher.

      Does it strike anybody that the most obvious and greatest no cost stimulus for the country would be to outlaw usury nationally, and yet it is never even mentioned by either side of the political isle…

  • Ellen Dibble

    If the “job-creators” were going to be creating jobs with their current stash of profits, then they would be doing it now, not setting it aside until the tax situation looked better.  If the tax situation is what determines the time and place of job creation, then I’m suspicious those types of jobs could be fluffy ones that could float overseas with the next shift in the tax breezes in any country at any time.

    • Anonymous

      @ellendibble:disqus  You have so NAILED the problem! And they are earning those low interest rates less than 2% on all that money! That is why the government could borrow it to spend on job creation and product demand, which would benefit the whole economy.
      And if the Fed would say that it was going to target an inflation rate of 4 to 5% for the next 3 to 5 years (or longer), it would give these businesses a strong incentive to spend the money rather than watch inflation eat it away.

      That is why the “inflation hawks” are out again (e.g., see Paul Volcker losing his economic credibility in yesterday’s TNYT!

      Paul Volcker in today’s NYT

      and then see the Krugman blog to find out why

      When Inflation Was Good


      There Are Worse Things Than Inflation

      if it is not already obvious); to intimidate the Fed from doing ANYTHING to promote job growth.A slightly higher inflation rate would also help people with underwater mortgages as housing prices would go up and, secondarily, possibly build wage growth.

  • Yar

    There is a tax that is increasing, it isn’t even called a tax.  I call it the inflation tax.  Real goods and services purchased by average folks are seeing a real rise in their expenses while their wages are stagnant or even lower.  Food, medicine, healthcare, education, items needed by just about everyone cost more.  Luxury items may have gotten cheaper but the inflation tax is real, even if government statistics properly show how much it has gone up.  

    What would happen if wages were indexed to inflation?  Wasn’t that what brought Brazil through their economic hard times?  By indexing wages to inflation we are shifting inflation taxes from the poor to the rich.  Inflation is what really ends up paying off the debt, the fight is over who will pay, the poor or the wealthy.  

  • Ellen Dibble

    One of the networks made a remark about Obama’s plan seeking to change Medicare’s approach to home health care.  I am hunting around the White House speeches and blogs and don’t find it.  I know that the local home health care places tell me that in recent years Congress has determined that private supplementary insurance cannot cover home health care; instead they have to bill Medicare.  This surprised me; it would certainly save the government a ton of money to have someone visit an ailing senior as needed rather than revert to nursing home.  I would suspect private supplementary insurance would leap at the chance to cover this, but none of them do.  I mean, there is long-term care insurance, but it is not designed to deal with something that puts a person out of commission for a month or two.  Right now, one has to pay for home health care out of one’s pocket, it seems to me.  Now I’m forgetting why I was mad about it, and I’m not sure Obama et al see the same problem (in terms of the national Medicare budget).  

    • Anonymous

      Ellen:  This and more from Robert Pear at the NYTimes yesterday evening — link to full article at bottom.

      About 5 percent of the 48 million Medicare beneficiaries now pay the
      higher premiums. The proportion would eventually rise to 25 percent
      under the proposal.

      Starting in 2017, Mr. Obama would require certain new beneficiaries to
      pay co-payments for home health care, which is now exempt from such
      charges. The co-payment would be $100 per episode, defined as a series
      of five or more home health visits not preceded by a stay in a hospital
      or a skilled nursing home.

      Howard J. Bedlin, vice president of the National Council on Aging, a
      service and advocacy group, said such co-payments would “significantly
      increase out-of-pocket costs for many low-income widows with multiple
      chronic conditions.” Likewise, Mr. Bedlin said, “The Medigap proposal
      would shift costs onto Medicare beneficiaries.”

      Mr. Obama also proposed these changes:

      ¶ Require drug companies to provide additional discounts, or rebates, to
      Medicare for prescription drugs bought by low-income beneficiaries.
      This proposal, opposed by drug makers, would save the government $135
      billion over 10 years.
      ¶ Squeeze $42 billion over 10 years from Medicare payments to nursing
      homes, home health agencies and rehabilitation hospitals. Cut Medicare
      payments to nursing homes with large numbers of patients hospitalized
      because they did not receive appropriate care in the nursing home.

      ¶ Require doctors to get approval from Medicare for the most expensive imaging services.

      ¶ Revise the formula for calculating Medicaid payments to states, saving
      $15 billion over 10 years. Restrict states’ ability to finance their
      share of costs by imposing taxes on care providers.

      ¶ Cut $3.5 billion over 10 years from a prevention and public health fund created by the new health care law.


      • Ellen Dibble

        Thank you, Prairie-W, for spelling that out.   Thanks to the New York Times.

  • Ellen Dibble

    In scouting the links above I read somewhere that the national debt has devalued our currency 40 percent, which has led to a trade imbalance.  Okay, I’m waiting to hear what Tom says.  To me if our currency devalued 40 percent, people all over the world would be buying American.

    • Anonymous

      @ellendibble:disqus Exactly! What HAS devalued our currency is our buying products made elsewhere! The trade imbalance, now back to about $2 billion per DAY, is due to companies offshoring the production of goods; an example is Alaskan fish shipped to China for gutting and packaging and then shipped back here. But the rising cost of transportation (oil, duh!) and, for some products, the need to be responsive to the customer (clothing, etc.) requires the manufacturing to be CONUS; so many companies are bringing SOME jobs back here. May there be more to come.

      Note: the cost of transportation has nowhere to go but up (unless the world drops into a second Great Depression) with the decline in oil production except at much higher cost (peak oil).

  • Charles A. Bowsher

     I never thought I would be saying this, but I find myself in favor of going to war.
    Sign me up for this “Class Warfare” thing the Republicans keep whining about. From what I understand there will be no guns, bombs or planes needed. For ammo we use our voices and our votes. Finally, the kind of battle we actually have a chance of winning, that is, if the facts win out in the end. They haven’t in the past, but I sense a level of anger and frustration in the country that just might carry the day this time. We also need to undo the “Citizens United Mess”. Easily done, just ask me how.
    In the coming war our rallying cry will be,
    “WE SURRENDER! THE RICH, THE POWERFUL, AND THE GREEDY HAVE WON! Since they now control 95% of the wealth in the country.” We all need to post a white-flag in our front yard as our sign of solidarity in this “War”. I am putting mine up today.
    I say it is time to reshuffle and cut the deck. If they can’t definitively prove the jobs that the tax cuts they received created, then they have to begin paying it back. Either that or the Republicans who drove us into this mess need to sit down and shut their pie-holes for however long it takes us to get out of this mess.
    In the meantime they can go back and learn basic math. When it comes to solving our countries debt crisis the formula for determining debt or surplus is-
    Revenues – Expenditures = Debt/Surplus.
    The formula is not one of a single variable, it has two variables. The only way to solve the crisis is by using both components of the equation. Until they quit thinking first and only of the rich they do not belong at the table. If their mantra that tax cuts create jobs were true, we would be at full employment, and not in the hole we are currently in.
    As Earl Pitts hused to say “Wake-up America!”

    • Cory

      Stages of class warfare as prescribed by ME:
      1.  Fight with your vote
      2.  Civil disobedience
      3.  Violence against property
      4.  Off with their heads

      Hopefully it never gets to step 3 or 4.  Be ready for a police state to control the masses somewhere between step 2 and 3. 

      • Dave in CT

        Until a vast majority can agree on who the enemy is, that is a recipe for horror and failed disaster, with some despot picking up the pieces.

        After people toss out their Dem or Repub allegiances, and follow the money much higher up, the Fed and the Bankers and their financial sector sycophants who pull all the strings and shake the Dem and Repub marionettes, and develop a laser like focus on what/who makes the War/Debt machine tick, then maybe we’d have a chance. Anything less or based on partisan illusions, would be a further gift to them.

        We need to be free of them. That’s the liberty idea. The vast majority of us are decent, liberty-appreciating, willing to work/compete within a rule of law, level playing field, ready to help friends and family in need, without being beholden to some power/ruling elite that manipulates and divides us to further their own grip on power, never letting people build and maintain a dignified, secure, peaceful life.

  • Anonymous

    Class warfare? I love it: a year ago the US average for gasoline was 2.60 per gallon. Today it has fallen back to just over $3.60. At a time when the economy was on the ropes, speculators (aka wealthy gamblers) drove the price of gas up, up and away. The impact to our economic growth was huge. Net result is that discretionary income and imcome that would otherwise have been spent fueling our recovery was taken out of the economy by the oil industry. Talk about class warfare… this has hurt millions upon millions of people whose lives are not subsidized like “people” like big oil corporations. When will the Democrats declare that the Republicans have been waging class warfare on the Middle and lower classes for decades no? The casualty figures are mind boggling. Class warfare on the rich? Give me a break!!!

    • Gregg

      And how would the speculators have acted if there wasn’t a moratorium on drilling, we drilled in ANWR, offshore, built refineries and expanded nuclear?

      • Anonymous

        Did you read the content of this post? It was about speculators.
        Drilling for oil in ANWR would not do anything to lower the price at the pump. Why do post so many absurd ideological posts?

        • Gregg

          It’s a point Herman Cain has made well. If we were exploiting our own resources then speculators would speculate down instead of up. Didn’t mean to go over your head, sorry.

      • ulTRAX

        Gee Gregg… it comes as no surprise that you’d frame this argument in terms of what speculators would do instead of whether we should even ALLOW speculators into this market? Speculation is NOT real demand… and speculators only distort market prices… and when they run amok, they can bring our economy down with $147 a barrel oil.

        • Anonymous

          @984d6c3560932f1bf695184396762ca4:disqus @327b60c55221432e499267aebfb70c09:disqus It is clear that Gregg is a radical right troll, probably paid to obfuscate the discussion on these types of talk show websites.

          He knows that a six month drilling moratorium is insignificant in the timeline of locating, drilling and setting up for product delivery and refinement. The price of oil is set on International markets, with some short-term fluctuations depending on supply worries; Libya, a supplier much larger than the few oil wells that might have come online had a small effect though speculators probably used it to spike oil prices.

          But Republicans have opposed regulation (in Dodd-Frank) of oil speculation, to much greater harm than anything Obama has done.

        • http://twitter.com/PrometheeFeu PrometheeFeu

          Speculators do actually provide a real service. They provide liquidity and allow others to lower their exposure to price changes. Let’s say you’re a farmer who wants to lock in your price right now so you can make your decision regarding how much to plant, how much you can pay your workers, what to invest in machinery etc. Well, the risk of the price going down can’t just disappear. Somebody else has to take on that risk. That’s what speculators do. They allow you to offload risk you would rather not take on.

          That doesn’t even touch on the impossibility of defining a speculator without reading the mind of people.

    • Cory

      If it was truly class warfare, wouldn’t the side with the 8-2 numerical advantage in a democracy win?

      The class warfare tag is just another smokescreen for the rich to maintain the status quo.  I WISH we had class warfare!

  • Winston Smith

    “Dealing with the budget deficit when economic conditions warrant” as those on the left advocate is and always will be “in the future”, never now.  And the “savings” and deficit reductions NEVER amount to anywhere as much as is initially presented.  By the way, I favor raising taxes on the rich (reversing the Bush tax cuts) in order to deal with the deficit.

    • Gregg

      Reversing the Bush tax cuts would hit the poor harder than the rich. The poor benefited the most.

      • Anonymous

        Oh please what a load of bunk.

        • Gregg

          It’s a fact dude.

      • ulTRAX

        And yet you’re also opposed to increasing taxes on the rich. And PLEASE don’t respond with your disingenuous argument that you might support higher taxes when the economy is booming because you’ve said this happened in 06-07 and you NEVER said Bush should have raised taxes then. Just the opposite… that you credited revenue then TO the tax cuts.

  • Walter

    It is the Republicans who are waging class warfare.  Let those who benefit the most (the wealthy) pay the most.   

    • Ray in VT

      In case you missed it, it’s not called class warfare when the wealthy put the middle and working classes over a barrel.

  • Erin in Iowa

    Of course 50% of households don’t pay taxes.  Half of that 50% live at at or below the poverty level, and the other half take in less than the national median income.  Quit trying to bleed a stone!

    Trickle down economics is back!  It didn’t work the first time and it won’t work now.  If the GOP is so torked about paying (not really) high taxes then they should quit their jobs and live like the “welfare queens” that have it so easy.  Not gonna happen.

    • ulTRAX

      Careful… you’re falling into the Right’s bogus frame that income taxes = ALL taxes.

    • Anonymous

      And what they are talking about is the Federal INCOME Tax! There are analyses showing that when the total of Federal, State and Local taxes are considered as a percentage of their income, the graphs show that the rich pay a lower percentage of their income than all but the lowest two percentiles. See the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy


      and the affiliated group Citizens for Tax Justice.

      Note that the TOTAL federal income tax paid by the 400 top income tax returns (in the $billion range) was just over 16%; how many people do you know that pay less than 25%?

  • Ellen Dibble

    The spin machine came up with something bizarre on network TV last night, saying something like one in ten Americans “only” would end up earning a millionaire dollars, and I’m thinking isn’t the question about people who earn a million dollars EVERY year…  That’s not one in ten.  It’s not one in 100, not in my state.

  • Dpweber83

    So, Russ Roberts’ op-ed ended with “quit caring so much.”  Nihilism’s supposed to save us?

    Boston, MA

  • Missdemorest

    it’s NOT a “millionaire’s tax”

    it’s a million-A-YEAR-onaire’s tax.

    if you have a million in money or assets it does NOT apply to you.

    if you earn a million A  YEAR it does.

    i’m sure someone on mitch mcconnell’s staff coined this misnomer to scare old people, right?


  • Pete

    The President couldn’t be more disingenuous. The top 1% of earners already pay 40% of the total federal tax and the top 10% pay 70%. How is it that they are not already paying well beyond their “fair share”?  Seriously, does anyone here want to answer that? Warren Buffet pays 15% on investment income, which is exactly the same rate his secretary would pay on any investment income she earned. Buffet pays the top rate (far higher than his secretary’s rate) on the regular income of $100,000, which he pays himself . The money Buffet has risked as investment has already been taxed at least once already, either as earned income or investment income depending on what assets he used to invest. So the actual tax based on double taxation would be at least 30%. The reason there’s a lower rate on investment income is to encourage investment and risk, which is the type of economic activity most likely to create jobs. As history has shown, lowering the rate on investment income usually brings in more tax receipts and raising it brings in less. Higher rates will also throw up a huge roadblock to job growth, the supposed reason behind Obama’s plan.

    Clearly, the proposal is one of politics, appealing to the democratic base that are enamored by class warfare and setting up Mr. “we are the change we’ve been waiting for,” as Harry Truman fighting against a “do-nothing Congress.” That Obama’s remaining phone booth full of supporters would not see the insidious, bald-face hypocrisy of this pitch coming from the man who so sanctimoniously lectures us on the need to ‘stop playing politics with the American people’ shows how hard it is for people to let go of utopian dreams.

    • Simon

      The answer is simple: the rich has gotten richer and the poor has gotten poorer for the past few decades. That is one of the reason we had the crisis.

    • Yar

      Pete, I will repeat, the wealthy are the tax collectors for those who work for them, they get to keep a pretty nice percentage of what they take in.  The many in this country create the wealth of the few.  Who’s labor created your wealth?

    • Anonymous

      Are you kidding? So your argument is that Warren Buffet’ secretary would also only be charged 15% on her dividend earnings?

      So Buffet’ argument that he’s not paying enough taxes means nothing to you, as you conveniently left it out.

      As for “Utopian dreams” well call me a Utopian dreamer but I like driving on safe bridges, breathing clean air, having safe drinking water, and you know what a decent health care system that is not market based. Now that’s a ponzi scheme, the health insurance game.

      • Pete

        My argument is that it is disingenuous to compare investment income with earned income as an example of unfairness in tax rates. To claim Buffet, despite what he says, pays less than his secretary on his money is disproved by the evidence. He pays more on his earned income, and over time, more on his investment money. Buffet’s investment money gets taxed at least twice, his secretary’s earned income only once, unless she invests it.

        Whatever you think of the Buffet example, the bulk of taxes are paid the “rich,” this is a demonstrable fact. So the idea that they aren’t paying their “fair share” is absurd.

        But the most important point is that if the tax rate on investment income is raised, it will most assuredly slow job creation and job growth.

        • brian parizek

          “But the most important point is that if the tax rate on investment income is raised, it will most assuredly slow job creation and job growth.”

          based on what?  Republican rhetoric?

        • BHA in Vermont

          That ‘taxed twice’ argument is full of holes.

          - The money put in Buffet’s account is now HIS money. He did NOTHING to earn most of it other than buy the right stocks and hold them at least a year. He ISN’T making most of his money on salary,  interest and dividends. He is making it selling stocks he has held a year or more at a higher price than he paid for them. The company that originally issued the stock gets ZERO benefit from that sale.
          - Warren Buffet will NOT slow job creation if he pays more taxes. Warren Buffet has no employees. Berkshire Hathaway has employees. OK, Warren probably has house keepers and yard care people but I really don’t think their jobs are in danger if he paid 25% to 35% effective instead of 17%. The same is true of most of the “job creators” the Republicans want you to believe exist that would be affected by any ‘tax the rich’ plan. They have NO employees, they create NO jobs.

          Most jobs are created by SMALL companies, their owners don’t make anywhere near $250K taxable. The big companies with lots of employees are corporations (and they are sending the jobs offshore). The ones who would be affected are individuals shoveling their profits from their company to their personal income tax BECAUSE they pay a lower tax rate than they would if they incorporated the business. Legal tax evasion, pure and simple.

          The republican ‘job creators’ are nothing more than ‘tax avoiders’.

    • ulTRAX

      Who’s being disingenuous? It was BUSH who bragged about taking 5 million people off the tax rolls… so when that happens of COURSE the rich will pay a larger percentage of the shrinking tax pie. But that doesn’t mean that they are paying more in actual dollars… unless they also capture a bigger piece of the income pie. The simple reality is that even during the BEST Bush years of 2007 that he was still running a $342 BILLION on-budget deficit.  

    • BHA in Vermont

      Warren Buffet said his effective rate is 17%, he has no accountant hunting up deductions/loopholes, etc. He makes almost all his money in long term capital gains thus the 15% rate.

      Buying existing shares of stock through a broker is NOT investing in companies. The only time there is investment is during the initial IPO. The company gets NOTHING to help them run their business when you buy a share of stock from me. There is ZERO productive value in waiting for someone to pay more for a share of stock then you paid for it.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_Y6CO5C2HE4WM2OYGCDVWGPRXXM oldman

    Although he didn’t say it this way – he did acknowledge one truth – the Bush tax cuts are unsustainable.

    • ulTRAX

      The Bush tax cuts were DESIGNED to prevent debt paydown… and they worked magnificently!

      • John – Williamstown, VT

        And w3re supposed to unleash the ‘job creators.’  Instead it unleashed the financial services sector to create a boom housing market based on blatant fraud (regulators and some investors spotted it but no one listened).

  • Mthierry508

    Hi Tom,
    Please ask your guests regarding budget issues “how much could we save if we did NOT provide lifetime pensions and th best healthcare policy to Congress?”. They don’t want to pay for Military or Medicare!
    Mary Thierry, SC

  • ulTRAX

    There’s a simple common sense argument I’ve yet to hear any US politician make… that tax cuts if there were no national debt can make sense. Cutting revenue when we’re in debt with NO plan to ever recoup that lost revenue is fiscally IRRESPONSIBLE. Yet that’s exactly the situation we’re in. The Bush tax cuts were enacted when We The People were close to $6 TRILLION in debt. These tax cuts were so severe that in Bush’s 8 years revenues in constant dollars only exceeded Clinton’s last year in two of those eight years. That the GOP is determined to cling to these fiscally irresponsible tax cuts is proof they are unfit to govern.

    • ulTRAX

      There’s another simple truth… that it’s OUR generation that pissed away some $14 Trillion on itself that it REFUSES TO TAX ITSELF FOR. Despite this simple reality, the Orwellian Right has convinced many on the Right that taxes are too high. It seems the Greatest Generation gave birth to the spoiled rotten Free Lunch Generation.

      • Anonymous

        I refuse to take the fall for “our generation”.
        I’ve been fighting right wing idiots my whole life over civil rights, the Vietnam War, women’s rights, workers’ rights, you name it.

        The “Greatest Generation” had even more right wing idiots. Who do you think were DEFENDING the beaches at Normandy?

  • Cory

    In a nation with as many firearms in civilian hands as people, I wonder what will happen when millions of people discover they must work until their bodies fail and are then told that medicare won’t cover medicine for said broken bodies?  Should be a helluva show.

    I’ve heard more and more people joke about robbing a bank when it’s time to retire and let the state subsidize their retirement in that way.  I let them know that in my state (Wisconsin) legislators are proposing things like eliminating one meal per day to save money.  BTW, a meal in state prison here costs about 99 cents.  I also tell them that the healthcare isn’t much better on the inside.  A dentist visits only once per month, and that is ONLY to perform extractions.  No cleanings or fillings in the Hoosgow!

    Looks like their is nowhere to hide for the majority of us when it comes to American style austerity.  Get to know your neighbors, start a garden, and stock up on beans, rice, and water!

  • Anonymous

    Robert Reich has an excellent article on today’s subject.


  • Mac

    This has always been class warfare. It’s just that the side that has the ear of the Congress has always said “let’s not indulge in class warfare” and then sticks it to the other classes or gets us to pay for their folly (think about the bank bailouts).

    West Union, IA

  • Charles A. Bowsher

    There is always lurking this talk of “economic uncertainty” supposedly preventing the businesses who have hoarded cash from investing. Balderdash! It is called risk/reward for a reason. You get a reward if you take a risk. You don’t get a reward if you don’t. To claim “I am unwilling to invest because of regulatory uncertainty, or economic uncertainty” is tantamount to saying you are not competent to do the job you were hired to do.

    Those holding cash now and for the last two and a half years have done so out of greed for power, and greed for more control. They are willing to willing to commit “Economic Treason” (Charles A. Bowsher 2011) to see that this president fails. Every state needs a recall capability for their Congresspersons. Time to start resesrching, gathering petitions and organizing rallies. Yahoo!

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_QME6C6XTBAYFEJP2GYDH3VQEMU Beat

    Add Value Added Tax – Almost the entire world has VAT, why not America?

    • Yar

      I am generally against VAT’s but I would agree to a 10% VAT that covered 90 percent of medical expenses for every citizen, it would drive down healthcare costs and stop cost shifting in the industry.  Everyone would have a 10 percent copay, and people would not be held as slaves to a job because it had health insurance.  A VAT could transform our economy.  Nothing is more regressive than current funding of our health care system.

  • Simon

    You bet it is class warfare. But that is because the rich has been waging the class warfare on the middle class and poor for the past thirty years. The gap between the rich and poor has never been so wide. It is time to turn that around and for the middle class and poor to wake up and fight back – by voting the GOP out of the office!

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_QME6C6XTBAYFEJP2GYDH3VQEMU Beat

    it is disgusting to see people buying $500,000 cars on Barrett-Jackson car auctions on Speed channel. some people even buy 3 of them in one dsy. Do they get tax too?

    • Ray in VT

      But just think how many jobs those people create by hiring people to wash those cars.

  • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

    When Democrats talk about raising taxes on the rich, it’s class warfare.  When Republicans talk about cutting Medicare, it’s something else.  Does that make sense to anyone?

  • ca_brit

    As Dubya said “Fool me once, shame on you; feel me twice … I can’t be fooled again. President Obama said this same stuff in the run up to the 2008 Elections. Mr President you had a super majority for a few months and you chose do nothing. I believe that you are playing to liberal base. If you get re-elected by some miracle, this proposal will go right to the bottom of the pile just as GITMO did.

  • Bill

    For the no new taxes folks – isn’t getting a lot less Medicare and SS for our contributions to these the same thing as a tax increase?

  • J.B. Andover, Ma

    Finally! Our presdient is taking the stand that “We the People” have been hoping for since the day we elected him.
    If there is class warfare going on in this country, it was begunwhen the Republicans refused to let the Bush tax cuts expire on the wealthiest among us.  

    BRAVO, Mr. President!

  • Walter

    If a family makes $100,000 per year and pays 15%, that makes $15,000 – and that represents money they NEED to buy milk and clothing etc.
    But if a family make $1,000,000 per year and pays 15%, that makes $150,000 – but that still leaves $850,000 !!!
    The wealthy can easily afford to pay more, even 40% tax – in this case leaving them $600,000 per year !!!
    And a family who earns $5,000,000 per year, can afford to pay 75% tax and still be left with $1,250,000 per year !!!  Who the He** needs over $1,000,000 per year in cash?  No one.   Tax the Rich.

    • Cory

      Either tax them or eat them.  I’m okay with either.

      • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

        Hm… there’s probably too much fat on that meat.

        • Anonymous

          I’d be afraid of contracting mad cow disease.

          • brian parizek

            it’s “soylent green”

        • Cory

          Just requires a slowcooker…

          • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

            We’ve been too slow to cook them for far too long.

  • Worried for the country(MA)

    No less than AP debunked Mr. Obama’s ‘math’ in yesterday’s campaign speech with a fact check today.

  • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

    It’s astonishing how much backbone a looming election gives to a president…

  • BHA in Vermont

    Class warfare is the rich NOT paying more. You could increase their taxes 20% and their lifestyle would not change significantly. You can only spend so much money. But there is the entitlement issue – they earned it (arguable) so they should get to keep as much of it as possible.

    It is easily done by removing loopholes and deductions. For instance, the mortgage interest deduction was created to help people afford to buy a home. If you make $250K a year you DO NOT need help buying a home.

    I still advocate a ZERO deduction/loophole system with graduated tax brackets that start a lot lower than they are now. A simple tax system is more fair and easy to understand. No need for accountants to figure it out for you (or find ways for rich people to avoid taxes). No need for tons of paper for instructions and forms. But it won’t happen because every politician has their ‘special’ cases that ‘must’ be kept and the businesses, PACS, ect threatening their reelection if they don’t toe the line.  

  • Ellen Dibble

    Happy birthday yesterday, Russ Roberts.  May you stay forever young.

  • Bijom

    I fear he will fold again at the last minute to cut another bad deal with the Rad-publicans.

    But one thing he should make clear is that the opposition has things backwards again – he should say he is ENDING class warfare by evening up the financial sacrifices with the proposed tax hikes.

  • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

    I’m sick of hearing class warriors like Paul Ryan whine about how the Democrats occasionally join the battle.  Please, class warriors, just fight.

  • BHA in Vermont

      Get Speaker Boehner in your studio and put his feet to the fire:
    NAME the people who will create jobs (and how many) if they DON’T have to pay personal income more tax
    NAME the people who will cut jobs (and how many) if they DO have to pay more personal income tax.

    The silence will be deafening

  • Rich

    It’s about time. I was getting seriously worried about the president’s resolve. It’s a shame that it took this long. I will enjoy the squirming and rephrasing that the opposition will go through as they try to frame this as how their position is better for the economy given the abject failure of the “no tax increase” mantra.

  • Ellen Dibble

    What would Roberts do about capital gains?  If he doesn’t want an income tax.

    • brian parizek

      why not tax capital gains at income tax rates?  income is income?

      • BHA in Vermont

        It’s been done in the past. Always the arguement of ‘stimulating investment’ (though, again, you buying stock from me does nothing for the company that issued the stock) by keeping taxes on the gains low.

        • brian parizek

          the lower tax on capital gains…seems like the financial lobbyists did their job years ago to expand their industry.  and just look at who actually can afford this type of investment?

  • Ellen Dibble

    We have to focus on we’re trying to figure out how to pay for the Iraq adventure, for one, with interest on it.  I consider that not the looming babyboomers coming of age but the homefront of the war coming home to roost.  The president does point this out.  But it isn’t sinking in.

  • BHA in Vermont

    Social Security is NOT causing ANY part of the national debt.
    Social Security is OFF the table.
    … Except for the people who publically call to cut it. They can ‘write a check’ to the government by NOT taking their SS since it is apparently too generous.

  • Anonymous

    Privatize the military.

    • Cory

      reinstate the draft.

      • nj

        Draft offspring of those voting for wars first.

    • ulTRAX

      Yup… pay every private soldier $100k a year. That will solve all our problems.

  • Brandstad

    A Little Bit Of Math On The “Buffett Tax”Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/math-on-the-buffett-tax-2011-9#ixzz1YVCpgSOu


    The buffet tax does very little to stabalize our tax system not to mention Buffet spent millions per year to avoid paying taxes, so why is he begging to pay more taxes now?  The only thing that makes sense is he expects to still be in a tax loophole and he hopes his rich competitors will be taxed.

    • ulTRAX

      Oh the tangled web the Orwellian Right weaves as it struggles to deceive. In the end higher taxes is a crucial PIECE of the balanced budget puzzle. It’s a classic red herring to claim it will balance the budget by itself.

  • Michiganjf

    I saw a great chart yesterday on MSNBC that the esteemed EZRA KLEIN put up… it shows once and for all that tax INCREASES help create jobs while tax cuts have a NEGATIVE effect on job creation!!!!

    Here’s Ezra’s excellent article and the related chart:


    Don’t be a mindless drone for the uber wealthy by protecting them from FAIR taxation at the behest of Republican politicians!!!

  • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

    I find cuts to programs like NASA to be painful.  We used to be a nation of explorers and discoverers.  Now, we’re an empire on the credit card.

  • Bill

    All the deficit cutting talk is nonsense. Anyone who has a handle on money knows it is not about how much you save. It’s about how much you spend. And in the end it’s about how much you owe.

    Greece is currently being forced to acknowledge this. Eventually it will be our turn.

    • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

      You left out one part of the equation:  how much you earn.  In terms of the government, that’s taxes, the taxes that Bush cut twice and put us into deficit spending.

  • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

    The term, “class warfare,” is an attempt by Republicans to scare poor people who plan to become rich by winning the lottery.

    • Anonymous

      I always thought we should exempt idiot tax winners from income tax in order to defeat that thought.  Most of them blow their winnings rather quickly and the money goes back into circulation.

      • TFRX

        Is it true, or just Onionesque, that for a chunk of Americans playing the lottery is the most likely way they’ll ever see $50,000 in their hands at one time?

        (Thought I read it somewhere and reality is catching up to satire so fast I can’t tell any more.)

  • Muriel

    People who make millions of dollars should be taxed relative to their income at a similar rate at least as other people with the same income whether it comes from wages or from dividends or other means.  The argument that 47% of US people do not pay income tax and therefore they are not doing their fair share while the rich already contribute most of the taxes paid is NOT VALID.  Poor people and lower middle class people do not pay income tax because their salaries are so low they can barely afford a place to live or a meal for their kids  (47 million peole are under the poverty line in this country and the line is at about 22,000 a year for a family of 4!  Try living with a $30,000 or even $40,000 income in the greater Boston area and you will see that they should also be considered poor!) 

    It is clear that the Bush tax cuts have not created jobs so the Republicans’ argument that tax hikes during a recession will prevent the creation of jobs is NOT VALID.

  • Scott B, Jamestown NY

    A consumption tax doesn’t work, and is even less fair than the fact that the ultra-wealthy are paying a smaller percentage of income (if you live off it, it’s income, so that’s capital gains, et al) than someone making mid-five digits a year.

    Coming up with the money for another tax, say even 5%, is vastly different for someone making minimum wage and trying to feed, clothe, and shelter their family and shopping at the dollar stores to make ends meet, than someone making millions of dollars debating on what new car to buy, what new giant TV to put in their den, what restaurant to eat it.

    • TFRX

      And on the other end: Giving poor people gov’t money is good for the economy.

      Food stamps and UI are just two examples of the higher multiplier effect. It just gets into the economy faster than the tax cuts given to the people who actually buy things advertised in (for example) The New Yorker.

      • Scott B, Jamestown NY

          I know some think that ending unemployment insurance and social services and food stamps will make these people go find jobs and end all problems.  But without giving then assistance they end up costing society more.
         They grow poorer health, and lacking insurance, end up in ER’s on  someone else’s dime for even simple things because they have nowhere to go.  Plus, their problem is often exacerbated by having delayed treatment or just not having the basics that would have kept them healthy to begin with.

         They can’t afford housing, so now you have more homeless and more need for social services.  The empty houses some leave when they default on their mortgages, bring down property values,  and reducing the taxes collected by their local gov’ts.  Further taxing the system.




  • Jhsusak

    The point has been raised that the top 1% pays 38% of the total taxes.  May we know what percentage of total income that 1% receives?

    • Simon

      And the total wealth they have?

    • Cory

      Now you are asking too many questions, serf!!

  • Anonymous

    You go, government radio!!!!   One commentator who is a semi-moderate and one who is to the right of louis XIV.   Fair & balanced!!!!

    • Cory

      Let them eat cake!

  • Simon

    Why is that 47% (or whatever) of people do not pay federal tax? Because they make too little money! If a person works hard full time but only makes minimum wage, I am totally ok if they do not pay any tax.

    • TFRX

      Those Lucky Duckies! How dare they?

      • Anonymous

        And they are the envy of every wealthy person for their good fortune.  Class envy indeed.

  • Emjones

    Tax the rich. This craziness that the rich pay most of the US tax burden is nonsense. The POOR people certainly can’t, and 50% of the population is stone poor. See:

  • Mac

    I just heard something that made my baloney meter go off. The poor in America are not healthier than anywhere else. I believe that the poor in Europe are healthier than the poor anywhere else. Just a reaction, off to do my research …

    • nj

      Measurable “health outcomes” (life expectancy, child mortality, etc.) are worse in the U.S. (which pays more per capita for “health care” than any other industrialized country).

  • Ellen Dibble

    Discourage accumulation of savings — try the formulas for those under the exact middle, about $40,000, where Obama’s plan subsidizes that, but in effect, it taxes each say thousand dollars you earn up to that ceiling, after which money you earn you get taxed at the regular rate. Ditto for people in “affordable” (subsidized) housing, where each say thousand dollars you earn gets docked for higher and higher takes to the (tax-protected) developer, only letting you actually set aside money (say to buy your own house or 401k) AFTER you hit that threshold.  
         No wonder the lower half is having trouble.  If you set your money aside in home-ownership, you can deduct mortgage interest, and you can spend your third of your income on an asset.  If you are so “fortunate” as to pay a third of your income (the lease requirement) in affordable rents, you are not setting that aside at all.
        I mean, under the exact median, you are being squashed by the very beneficence of these basically subsidies — unless you like moving in lock step with the generic lifeplan.

  • John – Williamstown, VT

    Thank you!! The class warfare label is a red herring.  The banking crisis and the failed response to that (started under Bush) plus the waging of two wars and building a giant anti-terror bureaucracy without generating the revenues to pay for it are all the basis for this crisis.  And the GOP is allowed to hide from the FACT that they did all this because the Dems feel culpable for going along meekly with it.

  • Dave in CT

    Can we be honest here?

    Demand in this country has been driven by DEBT, and we are addicted to it.

    Stop looking for magic solutions, like “middle class demand”.

    We have a terribly distorted economy and need to deal with it.

    • Anonymous

      It wasn’t always so.
      It all changed under Reagan. 

      “The epitaph of the Reagan presidency will be:  ‘When Ronald Reagan became President, the United States was the largest creditor nation.  When he left the presidency, we were the world’s largest debtor nation.’”–Lester Thurow, MIT professor of economics


    • Dave in CT

      REAL Middle class demand, organic, nuts and bolts, food and shelter demand, would NEVER support the amount of money and compensation sloshing around Boardrooms and Washington.

      Our easy money banking system has done this. And understand who profits from it.

    • Lucinda J.

      Yeah, I can’t believe when people talk about getting back to the way things were, when so MUCH of it was funded by debt – credit cards and home equity money, which is gone now.   It won’t go back to the way it was, and shouldn’t. 

  • ulTRAX

    It’s as amusing as it is disgusting that the Right will bitch and moan about entitlements… and sure they should be fiscally sustainable, yet they remain utterly silent on the BIGGEST waste of money in the budget. In Bush’s eight years he pissed away some $2.9 TRILLION just on interest… and that money bought We The People NOTHING.

    • Redherring111

      Similarly, as they rag on “entitlements” and “welfare,” there’s never—well, rarely, anyway—a peep about the billions in corporate subsidies, tax breaks, bargin land leases, etc., etc.

      • TFRX

        That’s the peasant mentality hard at work.

  • Jim

    Can someone tell me why we have tax brackets? Why not have a smooth logarithmic curve – that way people won’t be playing games to get their income under this or that bracket, and the rich will pay more of what they owe.

    • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

      How will the products of our current (underfunded) public educational system calculate how much they owe?

      • Jim

        If only there were a machine that could do complex calculations that people had access to. Or even better if only there were a complex communications system that would connect to that machine, even over the phone or via a network of connected machines. I know. It’s a fantasy.

        • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

          Oh, right, give the poor, ignorant voters a black box that they don’t understand…

          • Jim

            Wait, are you talking about TV? I didn’t mean TV. Or did you mean phone?

          • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

            I mean all the electronic whizbangs that are substitutes for thought.  I’ve taught far too many students who can’t do simple arithmetic without an electronic crutch.

          • nj

            That started a long time ago. I started college as the first hand-held calculators were starting to become affordable. (I still have my Texas Instruments TI-50. Spent $150 then. Coupla years later, it was $50-ish. Eventually went off the market at $14.95, i think.)

            A woman in my dorm was going door-to-door to find someone with a calculator with “percent” key because her’s didn’t, and she needed to do a series of “What percent is x of y?” calculations. Honest.

    • Dave in CT

      Too rational and transparent for our corrupt favor traders in D.C., both parties.

    • John – Williamstown, VT

      Tax brackets are held onto because of an unholy alliance of supporters of the ‘progressive taxes’ and the accountants & lawyers who make so much money from it.  the Congressman’s answer has been to build in loopholes for their contributors.  Just ask former Sen Bill Bradley who made tax simplification the cornerstone of his term & ended up with nothing.

      • Jim

        Okay – so that’s the why it has not changed, – but why not start expecting something with a smooth curve? The math is not simple, but it would be more fair than a flat tax, and be less corruptible.

    • BHA in Vermont

      The brackets just make it easy to calculate the tax owed. Be a bit tough to publish the tax tables if logs are used :)  Of course it could be a simple entry in an online tax calculator app, kind of like calculating your BMI.

    • Anonymous

      I have long advocated that we progressives essentially “surrender” on this topic.  That is, take the tax structure that applies to a typical true middle-class person, which is 15.2% of their GROSS INCOME, off the top, plus 15% of their taxable income, and apply it to everyone.  Then see how the defenders of the top 1% react as they have to confront the undeniable fact that their current tax rate is lower than that paid by the average working stiff.

  • Jgnedeau

    Demand has dried up because the housing market no longer exists, but the robust housing market was a house of cards to begin with, predicated on loose lending standards and leveraging by the banks.  So ultimately, our economy, without some type of “bubble” to prop it up, must re-develop its manufacturing sector.

  • Jim

    The president’s proposal sounds like a variation of the Flat Tax that was pushed in the past by Steve Forbes and other Republicans. So what’s wrong with it now?

    • BHA in Vermont

      Removing unneeded tax breaks is not a flat tax. A flat tax is everyone pays the same percentage. I see that at socially unfair. Even if there are no deductions, someone making $100K, $500K, $1,000M should NOT be paying the same percentage as someone making $20K

      • John – Williamstown, VT


  • Scott B, Jamestown NY

    The age for retirement, Soc Sec, etc probably should be raised. Report after report shows that most aging Americans want to keep working beyond 65, and that there’s no difference in health for most Americans between the ages or 65 and 79. 

    Start with the low-hanging fruit such as fraud, redundancy, getting people that don’t need it (millionaires) to opt out, making it simpler for health care providers to deal with paperwork and quicker, more fair, payments. 

    • TFRX

      Usually I dig anything you say, but you’re not accounting for Plumber’s Crack: Life expectancy of poorer (manual labor, shower-after-work) 65 year olds is marginally better than it was ~40 years ago. Life expectancy of richer (desk jockey, shirt-and-tie, shower-before-work) 65 year olds is much higher now than then.

      Raising the SocSec age across the board is asking those two-job Joe Lunchbuckets to give up one or two of those precious years of retirement so the Monty Burns out there can enjoy it.

      • Scott B, Jamestown NY

        As a society, Americans are still working and staying in good health longer. Not that the working longer is always a choice just to stay active, as many seniors have to stay working to make ends meet.

        Many seniors think that what they’re getting is just the money they put
        into Soc Sec plus interest and such, when in reality the avg person gets
        all the money they ever paid in back in a couple years.
        What needs to happen is getting more people to get on board with not using it when they don’t need it.  I doubt multimillionaires have much use for a Soc Sec check that maxes out at a couple grand, unless they’re using it for greens fees or something. 

  • Dania

    Why is there a cap on Social Security payments at approx. $104K? It should be a percentage of all the income as it is in other countries.

    • Lucinda J.

      I can see why they want to cap it, as after a certain point you’re unlikely to ever see that money in your lifetime.  BUT they should definitely jack up the cap, as most people currently take out more than they ever put in.

      • BHA in Vermont

        I don’t see a need for a cap on paying in, but I do for pulling it out. SS is supposed to be a safety net, not a savings account. If you make $250K+ a year, you hopefully are smart enough to be saving for retirement. The SS payment would be so small a percentage that it wouldn’t even be noticed.

  • Dave in CT

    Russ Roberts sounded very reasonable about finding savings in spending, and going after loopholes and government benefits to the wealthy.

    The problem, even though any honest person should see that, Dem or Repub, is do we really expect Barack Geithner Rubin Summers Obama, like George Greenspan Paulson Bush, to go after their political donor base of friends in high financial places, where all the corrupt wealth is?

  • LJSpeakup

    the only class warfare is indeed the one being conducted by the Koch Brothers and those that fund the Tea Party – and it’s against nearly everyone else.  They want the government payola for themselves, and they are willing to destroy nearly everything else about government in order to get it.

  • Missdemorest

    re. the “millionaire’s tax”  misnomer-

    it’s NOT a “millionaire’s tax”

    it’s a million-A-YEAR-onaire’s tax.

    you only have to pay it if you EARN a million A YEAR.

    i think it won’t pass if old people on fixed incomes who have homes and savings think they’re going to get a tax increase.  i suspect that’s the sort of misinformation we’ll hear from republicans .

    and remember, the proposal only asks that people who make a million a year pay the same tax rate that the rest of us are paying now.

  • nj

    Note the (typicial On Point) panel composition:

    One mainstream media type for the “just-the-facts, m’aam” background.

    One well-disguised, right or pretty-far-right corporate shill. Note the funding to the Mercatus Center (from which Mr Roberts eminates): 

    (The Mercatus Center was founded and is funded by the Koch Family Foundations. According to financial records, the Koch family has contributed more than thirty million dollars to George Mason, much of which has gone to the Mercatus Center, a nonprofit organization. Democratic strategist Rob Stein described the Mercatus Center as “ground zero for deregulation policy in Washington.”

    And note their climate change denialism:


    And one representative of a vaguely, left-center, establishment Democratic outlook, in this case Mr Osborne, who for example, has worked with Al Gore, and seems to have argued for insurance-based market reforms for health care, rather than a single-payer, universal-coverage approach.

    So, once again, we get what appears to be a deliberately narrowed, skewed-to-the-right discussion.

  • LJspeakup

    And, I wish our political discussion would have more of the good ideas Russ Roberts and David Osborne are presenting – make the minor reforms in social security now, put reasonable brakes on medicare, and close the major payments from the government to the wealthy such as the bank bailouts.

  • Anonymous

    “Deficits don’t matter.” – Dick Cheney

  • http://www.facebook.com/coltof Gideon Coltof

    What do I think of Obama’s new approach?  All I can say is…

  • Barry

    When I hear someone like your guest say that the poor are better off in this country than elsewhere in the world, I want to scream.  If I’m poor in Canada or France and I get sick I still have access to health care, while even as we speak there are people having to decide between eating and buying the medicine they need.  In this country, the “haves” who made the Medicis look like paupers are STILL not content, and want to get their greedy hands on the few remaining things they don’t control, like social security and medicare.  The rich and their Republican and Tea Party proxies have been waging war on the poor, not the other way around.  They believe that their well-being is ordained, while being poor is the sign of heavenly disapproval.  It’s utterly immoral, inhuman, and disgusting.  

  • SK

    Why not the Flat Tax.  It would eliminate tax breaks for the wealthy and avoid “raising” taxes.  Oh I forgot, Washington can’t handle anything simple.

    • BHA in Vermont

      Because the rich should pay a higher percentage than the poor. They would pay far less in taxes even if ALL their tax breaks were removed if they paid at a percentage that is reasonable for the poor and middle class.

    • ulTRAX

      A flat tax would be regressive which is why the Right supports it. They pillaged the government and created massive debt, then hope to pay it down once the tax burden is shifted downward.

  • BHA in Vermont

    How about a totally new tax method:
    Everyone pays the same percentage of their income in taxes (all taxes, not just income) as the poor pay. Even if the poor pay no tax on income they pay it at the cash register, in their rent (you know the landlord isn’t eating the property tax), social security and medicare, gasoline, tax on the electric bill, phone bill, etc. Also adjust it for the rich to take into account the percentage of the poors income used to pay for rent, clothing and food.

    The rich might be happy to lose a few tax breaks. 

  • Scott B, Jamestown NY

    Why are there only SIX(!) tax brackets, the highest of which tops out at $35K@yr:disqus ? That makes no sense.

    Charitable donations should remain tax deductible.

    • BHA in Vermont

      I presume you mean 35% not $35K

      • Scott B, Jamestown NY

        I meant $350 per year, but I missed the “0″ and my ‘puter decided it wanted to make a little blue box out of the rest.

  • TheBigPicturePart2

    Come on folks – this is not a left/right issue. 

    That’s what they want you to think.  That’s the angst they are trying to drum up and want you to harbor.

    It’s like the red/blue thing… how can a state be red or blue?

    Don’t forget Clinton signed the Glass-Steagall Act into oblivion in 1999.

    Don’t forget Clinton’s administration decimated welfare, as we knew it.

    Remember, the ‘Tea Party’ started out as a grass-roots organization by a bunch of disgruntled citizens – from all walks of life – unhappy after the last election. 

    People from all backgrounds and political parties, who sort of had a libertarian slant, were basically fed up with the system and became involved.

    Then, the Republican masterminds co-opted the ‘Tea Party’, financed it and created the perfect opposition. 

    A ‘collective-someone’ to shine a spot light on.  Somewhere for the Republican disenfranchised to belong to.  It’s the same old technique.

    Remember Gingrich’s ‘Contract with America’ folks?  Remember ‘Bush’s Religious Right’ folks?

    How else do you turn a powerful, majority Democratic South into a Republican stronghold in one generation.

    It’s the perfect two-party political strategy:

    Create an opposition, then divide and conquer while ruling the masses. 

    The “Tea Party” and the GOP is not the problem.
    Like the “Liberals” and the Democrats, they are just being used.

    These are only terms, labels that are co-opted, words turned inside-out so that there becomes an opposition – something to attack or blame.

    Get the rest of us squabbling with each other so we don’t see the class issue – while our standard of living and quality of life drop through the floor.

    By creating nonsense, flim-flam candidates, then we don’t really have any substantial choice or possibility of authentic change.

    So please keep this in mind when people are pointing fingers:

    Don’t believe the slogans, the labels, the lies in the messages.

    Don’t blame your neighbor – they are your fellow patriot.

    Blame the people who bring you the game.

    Then you’ll have something in common.

    • Dave in CT

      The whole first chapter of Gretchen Morgenson’s “Reckless Endangerment” (NY Times reporter BTW), is all about the Clinton administration and Fannie Mae.

    • Dave in CT

      What are you trying to be a better Tea Party? Gasp!  Too radical and too much hard work thinking and communicating for us seems to be the usual response. One of the parties will save us won’t they? Barack was a “good” Democrat. One more chance. 

      Presidency and both halls of Congress for 2 years? Wait I’ll think of an excuse….

      • TFRX

        Over the last three years all the bi-curious independents and Dems have left the Tea Party. It is now boiled down to about 80% hardcore rightie-whitie Christianists. (Americangrace.org.) That’s why its popularity (at least among dying news networks not named CNN) is akin to that of New Coke or the Yugo.

        • Dave in CT

          I find that hard to believe. As has been noted ad nauseum by many, the original Tea Party spirit was a straw that broke the camels back rage at the COMBINATION of Big Finance/Banking and Government Planning/Spending, that worked together, with a mix of good, and ill, intentions, to bring us financial Armageddon, and and country-threatening debt.

          Nothing partisan there, any thinking, halfway critical person was or should have been outraged.

          Since the Republicans have always branded themselves (Ha!) the fiscally responsible party, and (Ha!) the smaller government party, obviously they jumped on the situation to co-opt a fired up group of people and try to herd them into their camp for votes, and they have largely, sadly IMO, succeeded.

          I find it VERY hard to believe, that all those people who were/are outraged at our situation, who did come from all places and parties, have all become satisfied that everything is ok now, and have melted back into their 2-party stupor, leaving only Christian nuts behind.

          Just don’t buy it.

          It is too bad they don’t have a better figure or party to get behind, and stay united, stay outraged, and fight for accountability.

          The 2-party, media-enabled beast knows how to divide and conquer very well, and perhaps they have done it again.

          I hope some libertarian/progressive hybrid (progressive values, hopes,visions/libertarian, limited government, anti banker/war, rule of law principles) pops on the scene.

  • Fgrimm2

    Why is it rarely brought up to eliminate the cap on income subject to Social Security taxes? This single change would solve any shortage for decades to come, if not forever. Suggestions to further raise the full retirement age are mean-spirited and further hurt the less fortunate.

  • Cory

    Squeezing more money out of the rich is like squeezing a balloon, the air (money) just squishes to one side or another.  Popping the balloon, on the other hand…

  • Dave in CT

    Why oh why can’t Obama just say a rational thing about Tax loopholes and the things Russ Roberts said, things reasonable people could get behind (independents), instead of fueling the more simpleton Tax the Rich mantra, that may have elements of truth, but without wiser execution like Roberts says, will NOT improve our long term situation?

    • TFRX

      Can’t disagree more about “wiser execution”. There is none of that to be had considering the infants with hand grenade WATBs on the other side of the aisle.

      If President Obama came out for stepping off the train tracks when he heard the whistle, the GOP would come out in favor of staying there and getting run over.

      And our media has a habit of anointing something short as “good bumper sticker politics” when the right does it, in which “simpleton”ism is not a bad thing.

      The media has stopped calling the normalization of marginal rates “soak the rich”, and is now “tax the rich”. If this continues, the press may get a hold of all the polls which show its popularity, and might, just might, call it “good bumper sticker politics”.

  • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

    What I want is a discussion in this country about what we want to do and what we mean by waste.  Waste is throwing money at programs that are inefficient or that go against our goals.

    • Cory

      I wonder what the rate of return has been on the Iraq and Afghanistan investments?

  • Bill

    10 years ago the Republicans could have made all the government spending cuts they wanted – why didn’t they?

    • Cory

      But they really mean it THIS time!  It has nothing to do with a democrat in the white house!

  • Peter

    1) Wealthy folks who hire a worker, AKA create jobs, do not pay taxes on the money they spend to pay that worker. Businesses and business owners only pay taxes on their profits, and wages are taken out of profits.

    2) Tax cuts for the wealthy obviously do not stimulate job creation based on the evidence of the past 10 years. This is simply more of the “trickle down” economics that have been disproved time and again. Job creation is a factor of how much money is in the pockets of the average worker, since the majority of the economy is based on consumer spending and the majority of consumer spending is at the hands of the average American rather than the wealthiest Americans. Businesses hire when they see demand, not when the business owner gets a tax break.

    Peter in CT

  • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

    Um, consumer spending is back to normal?  Not in my observation, and not out of my wallet.

  • Dave in CT

    Russ for President.

    Why not?

    Too sane? 

    • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

      Too deep in fantasy.

      • Dave in CT

        Guys, what did that Russ Robert’s guy (again I don’t even know who he is, just listened to his words) say that was so crazy, bad or fanciful?

        The partisan filter to rational debate is so depressing.

    • ulTRAX

      Oops… take away a “like” vote for Dave’s post. I thought he meant Russ Finegold LOL.

    • Cory

      Feingold sure would have my vote!  Go Russ!

    • nj

      Yes, and Koch Brothers for Secretary of Commerce and EPA head.

      Get a grip, Dave! You’re giving my home state a bad name.

      • Dave in CT

        Can you give us some links to your Koch Brothers evil plans for the world?  Not 3rd party conjecture and opinion, but some primary materials that show how they want to pollute the earth and impoverish Americans.

        If its there, and its convincing, it will certainly go into my thinking.

        If its just more boilerplate conjecture that libertarian views automatically mean that stuff, that’s a tougher sell.

  • Dave in CT

    We can’t handle the truth.

  • Dave in CT

    If an Independent would run on Russ Robert’s ideas, against the finance, religious and military nuttery of the Republican party, and the ostrich behavior of the Democrats, he would win.

  • Dave in CT

    Please bring up the FACT that our apparent good times in the 90′s were a mirage built on DEBT- Government, Housing, Finance and Personal.

    • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

      Weren’t we running a surplus at some point?

      • Brandstad

        mostly on paper when looking to the future…

      • Dave in CT

        Talking debt, not deficit, which is an easy short term affair. Since that surplus was part of the house of cards easy money debt fueled speculative bubble, currently being deflated back to reality, I imagine the further debt we have accrued trying to save ourselves, is much larger than that surplus blip.

      • ulTRAX

        A small surplus in the annual budget doesn’t mean much if there’s a huge debt overall… and the GOP cynically ends the possibility of paying down debt by sabotaging revenue with irresponsible tax cuts.

        • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

          That’s my point–we could have used the surplus to pay down the debt, but we didn’t.

        • TFRX

          The GOP is the alcoholic who only decides that everybody within earshot needs to be a teetotaler when somebody else wants a drink. But when the urge hits them, all restraints are off.

  • Bluzader

    I do not understand:


    I hear news items about 1) people who earn more than $250,000 a year should pay more taxes and 2) increasing the taxes on businesses will stifle employment and the growth of businesses


    I would think that if a person owns a business, then the more the business spends on new materials and employees, the less the person who owns the business makes and therefor the less they pay in taxes


    The terms “tax”, “tax rate” and similar terms seem to used interchangeably

    I assume that I donot understand how the tax laws work with respect to “small business”.

    I suggest a change to the tax laws that 1) define the income of a business owner where the owner’s income is defined as business “income” minus “spending on materials and employees” and 2) there is a ‘simple’ definition of “small business” and NO lower limit on a company’s “income” that defines it as a “small business” and 3) please, tighten up the definitions and/or the reporting of the terms “tax”, “tax rate” and so on (in a related issue – change all absolute numbers into percentages – speak only of tax rates as a percentage of income and change the 62 year retirement age in Social Security a number that is related to the actuarial tables used by insurances companies (Is that where the original Social Security Act got the number 62? – sorry to throw in a misconception about another issue BUT they are related….

  • thegreengrass

    How has government “done a bad job” in education? Plenty of people have gotten public high school and college educations and have fantastic jobs. I have, I know plenty who have, and I’m not from a rich municipality. Is her seriously suggesting that we have for-profit high schools? For-profit companies by definition do not care about people, only money. If Russ thinks that for-profit education would be good for poor people, he’s insane.

    • Ellen Dibble

      To some extent, the indictments of government’s bad record as cited by Russ are good food for thought. 
         In education, the end result of public education (and the current split where private education is available for a price) has been to increasingly favor those who already have connections, who already have families behind them able to invest in their offspring getting started in this way or that.  It seems to me that some statistics might show that.  Maybe there is a trend showing a spike towards favoring the already rich, maybe there is a slow curve since the end of the GI bill.  I don’t know.
          But to me, his point suggests not that the private sector should take on the whole educational project, and effectively leave behind vast swaths of us, but that the public sector needs to play catch-up.  It seems to me.

      • thegreengrass

        It’s too bad he didn’t go any further into it, I’d be interested to know what he really did mean. It’s endlessly upsetting to me that people’s education is at the whim of politics and budgetary constraints, because educating kids is just about the most basic, primal function a society has. If he’s saying that direct government involvement in education is bad, maybe we could go towards a non-profit type of situation? Actually, isn’t this the idea behind charter schools? Should more schools adopt this model?

        I think this upsets me so much because I always thought that no matter how much manufacturing goes overseas, the US was always a top-tier country because of how it educated its children. And now that that’s at risk, what do we have left to boast about? A growing income disparity and the loss of most of our manufacturing base is going to really impact a country of over 300,000,000 people down the line…

    • Anonymous

      What get-government-out-of-education really mean is that they want someone other than organized union teachers to get the money.  Current for-profit, “private” education providers get almost all their income from federal dollars, while providing an undeniably poor product.

  • AndyF

    We have to be the stupidest country in the world – at least thats what you would have to believe if you just looked at the last 20 or 30 years of our history.

    Your guest hit the nail EXACTLY on the head – Ronald Reagan TRIPLED the country’s deficit.  Then George Bush (the second) got us into a war we cannot win, cannot afford, and has cost us TWICE the number of deaths as on the morning of 9/11/2001.

    Now any reasonable person would think the Republicans would look at this and say to themselves; “Hmmm, we really dont have the right idea…”  But no, they stir up passions, act like Kindergarten bullies, and then try to pretend they have all the good answers when history has shown time and again, they have the WORST ideas that get us into these messes!!!

    And what is the Republicans best idea?  Dumb down the American people and enflame them to rise up against (OMG!) a black President who IS trying to do the right things!  This is just racism, nothing more.  Even Mitch McConnell, announcing Republicans would do nothing but say “No” so that Mr. Obama is a one-term President – not a single Republican had the backbone to stand up and say thats a lousy idea.

    Imagine any one of us going into work and telling the boss we were going to spend the next four years holding up any progress for our companies – would we keep our jobs???  Not a chance.  But these same bozos who gave us the financial black hole of Iraq war (not to mention the useless deaths) now want us all to believe they have the “best idea” to get us out of the mess THEY CREATED!!!

    Stupid?  You bet.  The Apex of Stupidity – and the saddest part is that so many Americans and an entire Tea Party is drinking up their Kool-Aid.  Where were those people when George Bush was tanking our country?  Why didnt they rise up then?  Once again, racism.  Pure and simple.  Bush was a white guy, the worst President in the entire American experience, and yet they followed him to this mess we’re in now.

    Yeah, Stupid indeed.  We should just change USA to mean “Us, the Stupid Americans”.

  • Bill

    As long as people juggle and cherry pick statistics, like the guests speaking, we’re not going to get anywhere.

    • http://www.dogoodgauge.org The Do Good Gauge

      That is a quote to archive.

    • BHA in Vermont

      Which is why we aren’t going to get anywhere. All politicians do it all the time.

      As my mother used to say: “Lying by omission is still lying”.

  • Charles A. Bowsher

    Class warfare? More like “Class Genocide” (Charles A. Bowsher 2011 Copyright). It is time to surrender. I am going to plant my White-Flag right now. Spread the word. I am willing to yield half my worldly wealth to help balance the budget. Of course that is less the deficit caused by the Iraq war. The North Carolina woman, I love her voice, but how much people “think” is being wasted, is not an actual fact.

    • BHA in Vermont

      “how much people “think” is being wasted, is not an actual fact”

      I thought the exact same thing.

  • Mungo 1

    1.  In misusing the word “class” you are buying into the rich people’s game.  You mean Middle INCOME….. The majority of Americans are the same class, C1/C2, then D/E below them.

    The difference between the top and the middle is higher than at any time since just before the 1929/32 crash.

    Close all tax breaks, both corporate and income: take back the rich people’s breaks.

    2.  Why do you use the word “entitlement” so pejoratively?  Sociual Security is an entitlement because it is a Federally-mandated pension scheme into which WE HAVE ALL PAID.  Successive ‘governments’ have, possibly criminally, mismanaged that fund.  Add 5c per week to each employed person’s contribution and it is fixed.

    3.  Medicare.
    It is the costs which must be contained, not the care.  Beat off the medical industry and its lobby.  Why are we the most expensive in the world per head. but No 37 in quality?  

  • Dan Finley

    1) Please, understand, that if taxes are high, business looks into ways how to expand and invest, so they don’t waste their money on taxes. THAT CREATES JOBS. Jobs decrease the amount of taxes businesses will pay, because job expenses are tax deductible. INCREASING TAXES CREATES JOBS! 

    2) How taxes work: Increasing the percentage on income over $1M does NOT increase a penny in taxes on income below the $1M. Only income over $1M gets taxed in a higher bracket! Earn $1,000,123 and you’ll pay higher tax on that extra $123 that you earned over the $1M, not the entire amount.

    • John – Williamstown, VT

      Thanks Dan – GOP arguments rely on most people not knowing how business accounting works.  Taxes are figured AFTER capital investment so businesses that invest in their business pay less in taxes.

      • Ellen Dibble

        Businesses could also pay less in taxes, if they creep up to that $250,000 limit, by sending some of that income to new hires, right?  And then the new hires could be paying the tax instead of the person creeping up towards $250,000.  And the business might get more work accomplished as well, depending.

    • TFRX

      There are some reporters who need to be told this. I don’t mean hack propagandists, but members of “our liberal media”.

  • Timothy

    One of the biggest costs in healthcare are the top heavy administration that is entrenched in hospitals, second, nurses spend more time doing paperwork and documentation due to regulatory requirements than doing patient care.  This is a result of lawsuits and trying to prevent lawsuits.  Next, we pay doctors more in the United States than in any other country in the world.  Lastly, we need to address the out landish compensation given to pharmaceutical sales and other health care related sales people.  All those contribute to the exploding costs.  It has nothing to do with he number of patients, it is the gross levels of greed and inefficiency in health care.

    • mary elizabeth

      Agreed, Timothy.  Or nurses are being paid overtime in order to give patient care and document.
      In many countries the cost of medical training is subsidized therefore eliminating the huge amounts paid back for education leading to the  US MD’s needing   higher fees to pay these bills.

      • BHA in Vermont

        Yep. We need a universal health care system.
        - GPs pay ZERO for their medical training and in exchange charge lower rates.
        - Specialists pay their own way after their GP degree unless they charge no more than the GPs. The extra education wouldn’t ‘require’ higher pay to cover the cost.
        - Not for profit hospitals stop paying their execs like those of Fortune 500 companies (who are not even CLOSE to being worth what they are paid)

    • TFRX

      How has tort reform affected things in those states it’s been implemented? More actual nursing by nurses, less paper-pushing, lower rates, less CYA unnecessary testing?

    • Dave in CT

      And when all those profit seekers know the Government will reimburse them, all the more likely they are to game the system.

      Make them compete for longer term sustainable busisness models based on innovation and value, not locking in govt $.

    • Anonymous

      You failed to mention the significant underwriting costs in determining just who to accept as insureds, who to reject, and which part of their treatment to pay or refuse to pay.

       You know that the AMA actually owns the complicated coding system that drives this byzantine, costly record keeping process.

      And without getting into  the “lawsuits” part of your claim, don’t you find it at least ironic that it’s the medical providers practicing “defensive medicine” that are making all the money, while blaming the lawyers for this terrible outcome?

  • TomK in Boston

    The funny thing is that after 30 years of class warfare by the elites against the middle class, a suggestion that the rich pay what is still a historically low rate is called class warfare. What a crazy media universe we live in:

    The right has bombarded us with deficit hysteria. When they want to cut what benefits the middle class, like turning medicare into a groupon,”we’re broke” and it’s “shared sacrifice”. But when the rich are asked for a little bit more, starting from all time low rates, the deficit concerns vanish and we’re not broke, it’s not shared sacrifice but class warfare.

    When the rich are asked to kick in a little “shared sacrifice”, the right are deeply concerned about how it will weaken the economy. When they slash the budget and lay off public sector workers, you don’t hear a peep about the devastating effect of austerity on the economy.

  • Michiganjf

    This guy doesn’t even understand that spending is described in relation to GDP?????!!!!!  WTF?!!!!

    What, we should increase in population by tens of millions, but not expect increased revenues and spending?!!!

    What an idiot!!!!

    I think you should choose your guests better.

    • ulTRAX

      GDP is a deeply flawed economic indicator… as are others we seem to parrot like the DJIA. 

      Per capitia spending is perhaps a better one.

      • Ellen Dibble

        Or per capita spending minus the part of the spending that is done on credit, or something like that.  People have borrowed against their homes, against their life insurance, whatever.  I’d say what is most telling is the amount of spending that goes into growth factors, what you’d call investment.  So money spent on new utilities or plant or having a dentist take care of your teeth would count differently than money spent on marijuana and cocaine and alcohol or tattoos, for instance.  If you borrowed against a business that is still in the growing phase, versus the phase of paying out dividends — oh, it gets complicated.
            It seems to me that our per capita spending in the 2000s was a deeply flawed indicator.

  • Anonymous

    No demand = no new jobs. End of story: supply side economics is rubbish: Voodoo economics! If I have no increased for demand at my sneaker factory, I won’t add a shift to ramp up production.

    If I have a “great idea” and go to investors, they’ll need me to prove that there is ore will be a demand for it before they’ll invest.

    We have two trillion dollars in capital sitting on the sidelines. With all that money looking for someplace to go, it’s not going into investment in domestic business endeavors.

    All the Republican rhetoric about discouraging or encouraging investment ignores the fundamentals of economics: investment is based upon demand: supply side economics is a huge lie.

    • Dave in CT

      So Demand is contracting in an arguably healthy manner, in terms of our consumerism and materialistic expectations.  Great! Hopefully supply is following and we will have less impact on our environment do to the insane levels of production of crap.

      I’m not for growth for growth’s sake.  It’s not real or sustainable, and there have to be other ways for people to live a decent, dignified life.

      Let entrepreneurs make whatever they want, and if we need/want/buy it, they succeed. If we don’t they can fail.

      Our ginned up demand based on materialism and debt, has been a dagger in the heart of this nation, IMO

    • Pblossom

      Mark you are absolutely right. The consumer is the “job creator.” It’s time we stop treating the rich like gods (creators) and get people to understand that the GOP semantic point about “job creators” is a lie.

    • ulTRAX

      The reason the Right never gives up the Trickle Down lie is because it’s the ONLY rationale they have to sell irresponsible tax cuts for the rich is to claim we all benefit from feeding the hog… I mean “job creators”.  

  • Scott B, Jamestown NY

    Russ is WAY off base on “rich farmers”.  Those working for Con-Agra and Big Ag maybe, but it doesn’t take much for a small farmer to have a million dollars in land, a barn, and some tractors and equipment.

     Farm subsidies were originally meant for growing what the country needed during war (hemp, mohair), or after an agricultural disaster like floods, drought, hail, etc.  I have no problem that. But they end up being endless; or we get people being paid to start “ranches” that don’t grow anything and are in fact paid not to grow anything; or the space shuttle damage subsidy that was meant for damages incurred when the shuttle crashed during re-entry and ended up paying “farmers” for nothing over an area of tens of thousands of square miles outside of the shuttles debris field. Debris that never caused any damage, anyway.

    • TFRX

      Is this another case of the millionaires hiding behind the “Joes the Plumber”?

      And does “Mohair Sam” Donaldson still pull down a six-figure subsidy for his ranch?

      • Scott B, Jamestown NY

        They whole program is $750K a year, so Sam and others are limited to $50K@yr.  Not that Sam needed them by any means, and is explanation always seemed to be, “Because I can get it, I do.”  Just because he could doesn’t mean he should have.  I seem to recall that he did stop receiving the subsidy.

        • TFRX

          There’s a limit now? And he’s no longer receiving it? Good, I guess. I’d hate to think that every Beltway Inbred is so insulated from the world you and I live in that a yearly $50k is a meaningful influence on how they think of a government program.

          BTW, “Because I can get it, I do” is the way rich people think, and is something to remember when someone who isn’t driving a Bentley is asked to give up, say, a year of SocSec or Medicare.


  • John – Williamstown, VT

    What we have here friends and neighbors is a war on Joe and Jane Jobholder – the job doers.  They are being relegated to third class status their efforts and taxes mean nothing to Washington. 

    The rich people on the rich people’s network (Fox) are shocked that poor people pay NO taxes.  I fully expect them to advocate for the return of debtor prisons to the U.S. and the schtoops who follow them to cheer for it.

    Most of the poor are the WORKING poor – not welfare recipients but probably food stamp (four squares) recipients. 

    What we need in this country is a hero who will speak up for the job doers will care about Doug Jones more than they care about Dow Jones; someone who will cater to Main Street rather than Wall Street. 

    But you won’t find that person in America today instead you find politicians, lousy & faux economists who are busy digging a huge financial hole that we won’t be able to get out of.  The U.S. is dead but just doesn’t know it yet.

    • ulTRAX

      PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE stop buying into the Orwellian Right lie that the poor pay no taxes. They pay no INCOME taxes… largely because the BUSH took so many off the tax rolls.

    • BHA in Vermont

      Your ‘hero’ is in Washington but Bernie would never get elected President ;)

  • brian parizek

    cut spending…end the national governments education department.

    • ulTRAX

      And this will save how much? Do you even have a number? And will this actually save money or just shift costs to the states? And let’s not forget that one of the reasons the federal government picks up some of the tab is to improve the quality of education in the poorer states. Oops… that’s SOCIALISM!!!!

      • brian parizek

        instead of sending money to washington, let the taxes (that fund education) money stay w/in your state’s system.  cut down on the unnecessary bureacracy.  it’s called local control and has been one of the most successful models to follow.  that was the point of my commentary. 

        let’s go even further and end the fannie and freddie…they do not need to be in the home financing business…along w/ any other subsidy that goes to private industry.

        our national gov’t should be tasked to perform the “basic” functions of society…defense/borders, a social safety net (medicare, medicaid, social securtiy), food and environmental safety.

        • ulTRAX

          Interesting… in your mind Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security are part of the “basic” functions of our federal government… when none of them is mentioned in the Constitution. But Freddie and Fannie cross some line?  Why aren’t they ALL covered by the mandate in the Preamble to promote the General Welfare?

          • brian parizek

            government assistance so you can own a home?  you would call that a general welfare issue?  i wouldn’t.

            i never said anything about being a strict constitutionist…which is obvious if i’m for a general safety net, which include medicare, medicaid and social security (which were’nt specifically mentioned in a “preamble”).  while we are a society of laws, which are based on a “living document”, i believe we need to task our government with “basic” functions, which should be evaluated based on protection of the individual’s rights, while not encroaching on anothers (functions for consideration…defense, environmental isssues, common/national medical issues, transportation, exploration, general welfare).

            while you can live anywhere you want in this country, depending on your personal means or wealth, i don’t believe the government should be subsiziing that right to ownership of property (bottom line, rent, save and buy a home when you can afford to…not through the government’s welfare).

    • TFRX

      Yes, let all the states race to the bottom and enjoy Texas’ standards.

  • Dave in CT

    I have some hope.  Some of the things Ron Paul has been saying forever are being said by new voices, and might get past all the character assassinated baggage and find a more “electable” vessel.

  • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

    Regarding our healthcare system, I’ll quote that great class warrior, Bono:

    “The rich stay healthy, and the sick stay poor.”

    • Anonymous

      Don’t forget tax weasel in your description of him.

  • Cheryl in Virginia

    I am not surprised at a politician using class warfare to get ahead but it is extremely disappointing when the person who is supposed to be OUR leader (all classes of Americans) uses this tactic.
    I think the Presidents speech yesterday was nothing more than a campaign speech.  He is rallying the same supporters as he did with “Hope and Change”.  
    Americans are fed up with politicians.  Period.  All of them.  We need a leader that will compromise and fight more for the (economical and physical) survival of our country and less for the survival of his political career. 
    Here’s an idea…  Get rid of the IRS and our tax system as we know it.  Institute a CONSUMPTION TAX!  Basic good and services (food, electricity, etc) have no tax or low tax.  All other item are taxed.  Rich people spend more and will therefore pay more taxes.  Luxury items (boats, sport cars, 2nd homes) are taxed at higher rates.  This system will work but politician would loose a card they can play and therefore they don’t want to discuss it.
    Not to mention the $$$$$ we immediately save by wiping out the huge government entity of the IRS.

    • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

      Here’s an idea:

      The price of food, shelter, and fuel is about the same for everyone.  Does it make sense to raise the cost of those, when the percentage of income for the lower end of the wage distribution will be much higher than for the wealthy?

    • Who’s on YOUR side?

      “Class warfare” is Republican-speak for “Oh no, the middle class might actually realize they’ve been chumps for years” and for “Corporations are people too” (to quote Romney). Honey, I bet you’re fighting for the wrong side of the “war” here, unless you’re one of the 400 top-earning families? Open your eyes and your ears!

      • Cheryl in Virginia

        Just saying it’s a distraction.  The guy is not serious about fixing our problems – instead he is in “campaign re-election” mode.
        As Americans we are smart enough to fix this mess but we are too busy behaving stupidly over politics to do it.
        And no, not in top 400 club.  I earn $36K a year an I am tired of my hard earned taxes paying for income tax refunds every year to people who haven’t bothered to even try to work.  Just fill out the 401EZ and wait on your check.

        • BHA in Vermont

          How about your income taxes helping people who make WAY more than you do buy a house with their mortgage interest deduction?

    • TFRX

      “The huge gov’t entity of the IRS”?

      Prove it.

  • snathan

    I am sorry but as bad as Govt is providing housing/education/health care to poor and needy private sector will be worse. The policies advocated by Russ Roberts has only led to the decline of the American middle class since the advent Reganism

    • TFRX

      Especially heatlhcare.

      Roberts really wants us to look at the overhead of Medicare v. private sector HC?

      Medicare is much more efficiently run. It costs more because our H.C. in total is messed up, and the profit model is a big part of it, as the other guest says.

      “McAllen, TX and the High Cost of Healthcare” is the cautionary tale we’ve all been wanting our host to mention to Roberts.

      • TFRX

        “It costs more” = “It’s more expensive now than it was a generation ago”, not “it costs more than private sector insurance and delivery.

      • Dave in CT

        Healthcare is a 101 case of Government intervention and subsidizing of the market in various ways, driving up prices.  And I mean subsidizing the corporate players in the health care “market”, which is not a free market.

        We rightly think something is important, ie health, and so we wrongly start turning the government debt/$ spigot toward it, and predictably, the business herd rushes in to turn the subsidies into profits, as that is their nature, as it should be.  But instead of competing and working to be efficient, smart enterprises to turn a profit, they work to best game the system, and how to hook up to the government spigot.

        Then they raise prices and the government turns up the spigot and on it goes until we have a broke government, and health care business not focused on health solutions, but on corruption/collusion.

        If you build it they will come.

        • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

          Then explain why healthcare costs in other First World nations are so much lower.  And please don’t quote any death panel silliness.

          • Dave in CT

            If the government subsidizes payment to the medical industry it is spiking demand (at least the payment ability behind demand), and thus prices increase.

        • TFRX

          Medicare is better run than the private sector.

          The profit method, by which a clinic or doctor or hospital make more if they run more tests, screws up healthcare and costs more money and delivers nothing in the way of better health on the macro or micro level.

          Libertarianize that and it won’t work.

          • Dave in CT

            “The profit method, by which a clinic or doctor or hospital make more if they run more tests, screws up healthcare and costs more money and delivers nothing in the way of better health on the macro or micro level.”

            That is precisely what happens with guaranteed payments!

            The issue of horrible incentives in the health care delivery business is an important one, but one in which those business are corrupting our rule of law, or notions of common sense with their lobbying power, to avoid models that reflect outcomes, not tests.

            Why bother investing, working out, enacting new models that are more efficient, when the government will keep paying you for doing the same?

            If the subsidized, unaccountable froth was taken out of health care, providers would have to compete for customers $, rather than just keep nuzzled up to the teat.

            People are lazy and like shortcuts until force to perform/compete.

            I would argue the Health Care field is not competitive.

          • WhyBother

            Competitive?  It’s not even healthy.

        • nj

          Please stop with the “free market” nonsense. No such thing.

  • http://abellia.myopenid.com/ Andrew

    You have Russ Roberts on?  Really?  I’m all for hearing the conservative thought on things, but it needs to be thoughtful conservative thought.

    • Dave in CT

      I don’t even know who he is, but his words certainly sounded rational and realistic.  I can see you have some preconceived notions though.

      The stuff about loopholes, wealthy welfare, and Government botching of things from housing to education is all plain fact.

      • nj

        What if he had said, “Hi, I’m from the Mercatus Center which receives most of its funding from the Koch Brothers.”

        Would that sound “reasonable”?

        • Dave in CT

          What’s more unreasonable, listening to his words and judging the content and merit, or prejudging his motives because due to conspiratorial notions.

          This kind of filtering and knee-jerking and fear to explore the merit of ideas is what I found so frustrating when I started reading this board a couple of years ago with an open mind, and really has changed my view of “liberals” or the “left” or Democrats more than I ever thought would happen, having been a good progressive myself.

          What started as almost a devil’s advocacy around here, has really changed into something else for me, leaving a much more depressing view of our political/economic situation as I see how far we are from pragmatic, rational examination of our situation and solutions.

          • nj

            With no hesitation, qualms, or second thoughts, i can reject out of hand anything coming from someone whose income is being provided, at least in part, by entrenched corporate interests, in much the same way i can reject out of hand global warming denialism funded by Exxon, or cigarettes-are-not addictive pablum funded by tobacco companies. “Follow the money,” as they say.

            Skilled as the shills are, the rhetoric is dressed up and moderated enough for audiences like this so that it appears cogent and reasonable, but look deeper, and it’s all a cover to protect the moneyed puppet-string pullers and undermine the interests of the working middle class.

            You’re free to delude yourself otherwise, and dismiss the obvious with the ever-useful invocation of “conspiracy” something or other.

            Your protestations are harder to take seriously having admitted, “I don’t even know who he is.”

          • Dave in CT

            Where does following the money take you? 

            It takes me to the biggest banks and the unaccountable financial organizations like the Fed and the WTO.

            The puppetry I see is played with both party characters.

            How did the tobacco industry get away with things so long? Help and cover from people in high places?

            What ultimately has smacked them down a notch? Law suits against them for damage done to people life/liberty.

            Its hard to fight and sue against corruption and collusion and those who want to profit from harm.  But the law provides an avenue.  More likely than not, the corruptible halls of government will stand in the way of that justice, and be in bed with such industries, than bring swift justice to the People.

            Expecting the Dems or the Repubs to be the white knights, or to believe that a centralized panel of czars, with great power, will not be corrupted or “captured” and actually make the problem worse (read-financial scandal), seems naive.

      • http://abellia.myopenid.com/ Andrew

        The government does many, many things quite well.

        Botched education?  Perhaps, but take a look at what has happened at many of the privately run (and publicly funded) charters — not pretty and certainly no better than the public schools on average.

        What about our public University system?  It is still the envy of the world.

        What about the VA medical system?  One of the best in the world.  What about the US military?  Bloated, yes, but respected and feared, yes.

        What about housing?  Despite Robert’s assertion, the government was not directly involved in the housing bubble.  Study after study show that loose lending lead to the bubble.  Want to blame Fannie and Freddie?  Fine.  But they aren’t part of the government.  The government implicitly guaranteed their loans (bad decision), but allowed them to act for private profit.  Government career people wanted to restrict actions that lead to the housing bubble, but our congressmen said no.

        The government does some things right and some things wrong.  That doesn’t mean that it should be dismantled.  Fix the wrong.  Improve the good.

  • Dave in CT

    This guy is rewriting reality big time.  Government manipulation of the “private” sector, ie cronyism and collusion (Fannie and Clinton and the Fed, Greenspan) inflated our bubble! That is old news!

    • TomK in Boston

      It was deregulation of the banks and non-banks, Dave. Gramm and Clinton made it illegal to regulate derivatives, bush removed limits on leverage, we removed the whole structure based on the lessons of the first depression!

      • Dave in CT

        Agreed on those facts. I call it a failure of the Rule of Law with a rational set of transparent ground rules, mixed with a huge helping of Government mismanagement due to doomed to fail execution of good intentioned central planning, and pure, predictable corruption b/w government and finance, all made possible by the Fed/Debt spigot.

        This is why, while I, and any honest libertarian types (as opposed to Anarchists) support limited government and an equally applied Rule of Law, I cannot support the establishment Democratic or Liberal view of Government as savior and a competitive free market as the devil.

        • TomK in Boston

          I know, Dave, we have some common ground….Tom

  • ulTRAX


    What’s a killer idea for a product or service worth in an impoverished 3ed or 4th world nation without the infrastructure to exploit it? Probably nothing.

    The Right fails, or pretends not to understand that good ideas, free choice, and markets alone do NOT make people wealthy. In reality for an inventor to exploit an idea requires the infrastructure built up by previous generations.

     It requires a stable currency, a legal infrastructure of contract and patent law, a functional court system to enforce those laws. It requires an educational infrastructure that can produce an educated workforce with the skills needed in the inventor’s area. To exploit an idea there has to be a public health infrastructure for clean water, air, a vaccinated public to prevent pandemics. It requires a scientific and technological base of research that can be built upon. Often someone gets rich for only providing one last piece in a puzzle worked on by others for years. It requires a nation secure behind its defense infrastructure, and domestic tranquility provided by law enforcement infrastructure. It requires physical investments be safe behind a fire fighting infrastructure. It requires an infrastructure of highways, sea ports, and airports for transportation of raw goods and parts to a factory and to bring finished goods to market.

    A good idea in an impoverished 3ed world nation won’t make someone rich, but it will here in the US because previous generations have paid taxes and built up this nation’s infrastructure. Yet Libertarians and the far Right seem to believe no one should feel there is much of a debt to society for that opportunity even if it’s the rich who arguably most exploit those public resources. If there is a MORAL BASIS for progressive taxation it’s the above. That’s one reason I’ve long believed the income tax should be renamed the Opportunity Tax.

    • Anonymous

      Please stop using boldface in posts.  It is distracting.  I’ve stopped reading posts with it.

      • ulTRAX

        Good for you. And perhaps I’ll stop reading post with annoying underscores in the author’s name.

    • http://twitter.com/PrometheeFeu PrometheeFeu

      Well, it’s kind of difficult to feel a debt to abstract concepts.

    • http://twitter.com/PrometheeFeu PrometheeFeu

      A little more of an answer:

      The point that Russ Roberts was making is that just because we need/want something doesn’t mean the government is the right provider for that thing. Public education is terrible. The New York Times (not a bastion of conservativism and small government) was recently talking about the fact that infrastructure projects are rarely if ever preceded by much analysis and they end up being political cronyism. Vaccination is something people seek out whether the government provides it or not because not being sick is something we all desire. Most regulations are designed so as to benefit incumbents at the expense of innovative new-entrants. (When the regulators are not just doing drugs and sleeping with lobbyists)

      You see this as the problem that must be solved by “returning the government to the people”. But I (and many others) see this as a fundamental problem with government action. A powerful government will always attract powerful interests. And there is nothing that stops the government from simply giving in with an occasional “change of heart” around election-time. Again and again, some guy shows up telling us he will change Washington and again and again it’s a lie. Why should we trust that the next guy will do a better job? It’s time we made government as irrelevant as possible so we stop having cronies interfere in our lives.

  • jim

    The bush tax cuts were never intended be pemanent. We have had these (tax reductions) in place for 10 years now. So where are all the jobs? The idea that providing additional tax cuts to the wealthy (job creators) is crazy. All the tax cuts in the world will not make anyone hire one additional worker. But if the middle class and the poor are helped that will create demand, and that will cause businesses to hire. In the short term the wealthy may need to chip in to reap the benefits of a growing economy latter.

    • Ellen Dibble

      We were told that the Bush tax cuts were executed because there was a tax surplus, and apparently the government, unlike the Social Security branch of our supposed lockbox of reserves, or stockpiles of gold or silver, our tax surplus was impossible to hold onto until the next hurricane or terrorist act or whatever might happen.  It follows that if our coffers WERE called upon to support a war or an epidemic or what have you, that those tax cuts would come right off.  Without fail, without hesitation.

      • BHA in Vermont

        Too bad all this ‘extra’ money wasn’t used to buy back some of the debt run up by Reagan and Bush the First.

        Most people pay down the credit card if they make more than their current expenses require. Well, at least intelligent people do. The others buy a bigger TV and add to the CC debt.

  • Cathy Etheridge

    One question:  Why do we need 900 military beses around the world?  The rest of the world seems to be eating our lunch.  What can we possibly be gaining by maintaining those bases?  Why don’t we ever enen talk about it?  Why is the US military budget more than all other countries combined?    Why do we have 50,000 troops in Germany?  Again, why aren’t we even talking about it? 

  • BanTheFed

    Folks – Please read your history.

    Your getting involved in the wrong argument.

    Why should there be any personal income taxes at all?

    Americans didn’t pay personal income taxes until 1913 when the Federal Reserve Bank was created. (Even Woodrow Wilson new he was fooled.)

    Corporations employ teams of lawyers to get away with not paying any taxes. (Remember the GE story).

    The wealthy do it too. (Just ask Warren.)

    Our economic system is sick and personal income taxes are the symptom.

    It all started with the Bank of London model, where a country turns over the printing of its money to a group of private central bankers.

    Congress should abolish the Fed and take back the printing of our own money. (As is granted in our Constitution.)

    Franklin knew it.  Jackson knew it.  Lincoln knew it.  Kennedy knew it. 

    That’s the elemental solution. 

    All discussions should be based on this premise.


    • BHA in Vermont

      Check your facts:
      - The first income tax was instituted in 1862 to pay for the Civil War (GWB obviously slept through that part of history class). And the president then was, hmmm, let me see, oh yeah Lincoln.
      - It was eliminated in 1872 (no longer needed, the war debt was paid off)
      - Instituted again in 1894
      - It was ruled unconstitutional in 1895
      - It was put in the Constitution as an amendment in 1913.

      Warren Buffett does not have a team of accountants hunting tax breaks. Said so himself yesterday. Keeping his taxes low is easy: Make most of your money on long term capital gains, pay 15%. Costs nothing to figure that out, the hard part is getting the ‘seed’ money in the first place and choosing the right stocks.

      • BanTheFed

        Thanks BHA. 

        I appreciate your input and fact contribution. 

        I guess Lincoln new what he was up against.  How else do you finance wars except with loans from private bankers?

        I’m sure Buffet knows exactly what he is doing and doesn’t need a team.

        I noticed you ignored the crux of my comment, while dissecting the slight inaccuracies stated.

    • Jim

      When we did not pay income tax, we got almost all of our money in tariffs. I guess you are asking for heavy tariffs on imported goods? Or are you asking for the abolition of the enforcement of federal laws?

  • Michiganjf

    Regarding the argument about whether or not spending went down under Clinton, spending ONLY GOES DOWN UNDER DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTS!!!

    Here’s a line-up of the last 5 presidents:Carter (D) – started debt/GDP 35.8% ended debt/GDP 32.5%Reagan (R) – started debt/GDP 32.5% ended debt/GDP 53.1%Bush I (R) – started debt/GDP 51.1% ended debt/GDP 66.1%Clinton (D) – started debt/GDP 66.1% ended debt/GDP 56.4%Bush II (R) – started debt/GDP 56.4% ended debt/GDP 83.4% !!!!Check for yourself:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_debt_by_U.S._presidential_termsLook at the wiki page carefully… Republican presidents have been TERRIBLE for our country’s debt!!!!!I know WIKI data can be faked, but it is correct and reliable over long term periods as it is revised and scrutinized by many, that is what makes WIKI work.

    This data has held up under more than two years of scrutiny.

    This makes clear that DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTS ARE FAR MORE FISCALLY RESPONSBLE THAN REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTS!!!!!! Obama may change the trend, but only because he was handed by Bush the worst economy and job market that perhaps any U.S. President has ever inherited, which SERIOUSLY hurt revenues while requiring stimulative spending.Obama is just one more Dem brought in to make the best of a huge mess left by a Republican predecessor.

    • Worried for the country(MA)

      There are two problems with your analysis.  Obama is running up debt faster than any republican ever did.  And, btw, Obama is a Democrat.

      You (and the guest) kept propping up Clinton’s record.  Of course Clinton deserves some credit for responsible policies but he was the beneficiary of the internet bubble AND the peace dividend created by Reagan and Bush I.

      • TFRX


        Business cycle? Anybody? Bueller? Bueller?

        • ulTRAX

          Are you suggesting the collapse of the economy under Bush was merely a cycle? IT WAS A CHOICE!! It was brought about by those who forgot the lesson of the Great Depression that the private sector often goes insane, self-destructs and needs to be put on a leash.

          • Worried for the country(MA)

            Choice?  Not much.  It was bad policy by both parties.  First, the repeal of Glass-Steagall under Clinton created ‘too big to fail’.  Then the housing bubble was created by a myriad of government policies to encourage highly leveraged home ownership.

          • ulTRAX

            Where have I ever said the corporate Dems like Clinton we NOT to blame. But he was just buying into irresponsible Right wing ideas. And there certainly was more “choice” that you’re pretending. There was the deregulation of banking AND commodities the latter brought us the insane derivative market and $147 a barrel oil. There was Bush’s push for loans to people with bad credit, and the CHOICE to allow  investment banks to leverage up to 40x assets. Arguably free trade is making the recovery more difficult since domestic demand can now be met by overseas manufactures.  

            What destroyed the economy and drove a fiscal stake into the heart of government finances were all those choices made to follow RIGHT WING IDEAS.

          • Worried for the country(MA)

            I have a  lot of problems with Bush but I think the following assertion is revisionist history:

            “Bush’s push for loans to people with bad credit”

            I recall Bush warning about Fanny and Freddie.  I don’t think he was vigorous enough pushing for reform.

          • WastingEnergy

            Look at them. 

            Do you think Bush or Obama could control anything? 

            They probably couldn’t even organize their own sock drawer. 

            People, who do you think is really in charge, anyway… these puppets we call presidents?

            Wake up.  Wise up.  Buck up.

            Quit arguing, whining and moaning over this and that, them and those, who and whom.

            You are being economically and politically raped by both sides.

            You all are doing exactly what they want you to do.

            You are missing the big picture.

            They are both on the same side.

          • ulTRAX

            I’ll find the press conference where Bush talks with pride of new Fannie programs for giving loans for those with bad credit histories. No I don’t buy the Right wing meme that at a time when the GOP controled ALL of the government, that Barney Frank had the power to stop all reforms.  

          • ulTRAX

            Here’s a post I wrote to JonS on 8-26. I’m not going to bother editing it.

            First of all the Dems did virtually NOTHING to reregulate Wall St. Dowd Frank is more window dressing than substance. Second you’re brief summary reads like a Fox News story that blames everyone but Bush who was actually in power. So we should sweep under the carpet everything BUSH did to set the stage with his “ownership society” like in June 2002 when he announced an “aggressive housing agenda” http://georgewbush-whitehouse.archives.gov/news/releases/2002/06/20020617.htmlIn fall 02 Bush made his comments that there’d be a program for people with bad credit histories to get loans http://www.alan.com/2010/10/27/flashback-george-w-bush-praising-fannie-and-freddie-and-home-ownership-for-those-with-bad-credit-histories/

            In fall 02 Bush made his comments that there’d be a program for people with bad credit histories to get loans http://www.alan.com/2010/10/27/flashback-george-w-bush-praising-fannie-and-freddie-and-home-ownership-for-those-with-bad-credit-histories/

            Or in 2003 when he signed the American Dream Downpayment Assistance Act. Here are his remarkshttp://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/index.php?pid=64935Yup, it’s everyone’s fault but Bush. But wait there’s more. I don’t have the book but here’s some Third your evil Jim Johnson certainly sound like a questionable character, BUT HE LEFT FANNIE MAE IN 1998!!!! 

            Yup, it’s everyone’s fault but Bush. But wait there’s more. I don’t have the book but here’s some Third your evil Jim Johnson certainly sound like a questionable character, BUT HE LEFT FANNIE MAE IN 1998!!!! 



            But that’s OK since the right also love to blame some Carter era law. Fourth in the book is also this quote: “Of all the partners in the homeownership push, no industry contributed more to the corruption of the lending process than Wall Street.” http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/05/23/gretchen-morgenson-reckless-endangerment_n_864841.html

        • Dave in CT

          How about you ask where the “business cycle” comes from?


      • ulTRAX

        Yup… Clinton deserves NO credit because all that’s good that happened during his 8 years was because, as the Orwellian Right loves to claim…. he benefited from Reagan’s policies, Newt and the GOP forced him to cut spending, the internet bubble, the small tax cut in 98, etc. NO CREDIT must ever go to Clinton’s first big decision… to cut spending and raise taxes which the GOP claimed would start a recession.  

        • Worried for the country(MA)

          Hey, I gave Clinton credit for responsible policies.  Of course he had help from Newt (as you stated). :)

          Clinton did cut spending and raise taxes but he did it at the correct time – during the froth of a bubble.  As even Obama said last year you don’t raise taxes during a recession.

          • ulTRAX

            Nonsense. Clinton took office in 93 when the economy was still weak. Why do you think Bush1 lost 3 months before?
            There wasn’t an internet bubble starting until 97-98.

            I await your next attempt to rewrite history! 

        • Dave in CT

          If Reagan set up Clinton then Bush set up Obama.
          If Bush set up Obama, then Reagan set up Clinton.

          If one wanted to bicker fairly.

          All indecipherable, unprovable partisan nonsense.

          • PrettyPlease

            These guys couldn’t set up this house of cards.

            They couldn’t even set their own table.

            Yes, quit the bickering and partisan nonsense.

          • ulTRAX

            Partisans… independent or paid propagandists, are always bordering on intellectual psychosis. Principles are always less important than Party.  

  • Michiganjf

    Here’s that chart made a bit more clear (I hate this site’s reformatting):

    Here’s a line-up of the last 5 presidents:

    Carter (D) – started debt/GDP 35.8% ended debt/GDP 32.5%

    Reagan (R) – started debt/GDP 32.5% ended debt/GDP 53.1%

    Bush I (R) – started debt/GDP 51.1% ended debt/GDP 66.1%

    Clinton (D) – started debt/GDP 66.1% ended debt/GDP 56.4%

    Bush II (R) – started debt/GDP 56.4% ended debt/GDP 83.4% !!!!

    Check for yourself:

    Look at the wiki page carefully… Republican presidents have been TERRIBLE for our country’s debt!!!!!

    I know WIKI data can be faked, but it is correct and reliable over long term periods as it is revised and scrutinized by many, that is what makes WIKI work.

    This data has held up under more than two years of scrutiny.This makes clear that DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTS ARE FAR MORE FISCALLY RESPONSBLE THAN REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTS!!!!!!
    This data has held up under more than two years of scrutiny.



    • Worried for the country(MA)

      Please calculate Obama’s record on debt to date.

      • Michiganjf

        I’ll do you one better!!!

        Calculate the record debt to date as though Obama never existed… right from where Bush left the deficit at 1.3 trillion/year!!!!

        … you’ll find Obama added almost nothing to where it is just continuing the Bush deficit!!!!

        In fact, Obama likely will bring the yearly deficit down by the end of his term, from where Bush left it at 1.3 trillion/year!!!!

        • Worried for the country(MA)

          Fuzzy math.

            You are incorrectly including TARP (which has been paid back) in Bush’s final number.

          • Michiganjf


              Bush’s 1.3 trillion/year deficit DID NOT INCLUDE TARP OR ALL THE SUPPLEMENTAL WAR SPENDING HE RAN UP!!!!

          • ulTRAX

            Source please.

          • Michiganjf

            I’ve looked at dozens of sources for this, as it’s easily searchable, but this one is excellent and as good as many:


          • Worried for the country(MA)

            Bush’s final deficit (2008) and it was ~$420B.

          • TFRX

            Yeah, but he left the bases loaded, so to speak, with about 20 baserunners.

          • ulTRAX

            First of all FY08 was NOT Bush’s last busget… FY09 was and since Unified budget numbers don’t count the REAL deficit for FY08 was  -641.848 billion.
            Source Historical Budget Tables Table 1.1—SUMMARY OF RECEIPTS, OUTLAYS, AND SURPLUSES OR DEFICITS ( ) : 1789–2016FY09 was Bush’s last year but it was also a shared budget year with a total deficit of  -1,549,681  Just where the real breakdown is between Bush… with TARP, and Obama with his stimulus… I don’t at this time know.   

    • Dave in CT

      And why do we ignore the basic fact that under all of them Debt is maintained between 32%-85% GDP?

      Why aren’t we all clamoring for it to be 0.

      Why have so many drunk the Debt is Good, Debt is necessary Kool-Aid.

      Debt is good for one group- those who collect the interest.

      People can spout all the “complicated economy, complicated world, debt is necessary to start businesses”, etc etc etc excuses, but  you know in your gut, just as with your individual life, debt is a negative thing.

      The Debt lenders own our society, and our world.  They have lobbied for and installed puppets into a government system that uses its debt to fund war and entitlements that tug at the warrior/plunder and heart strings of people, in order to maintain the debt business, skimming the cream of every drop of sweat of honest work that people put in to keep the hamster wheel spinning. They do NOTHING productive and take EVERYTHING.

      This is the serfdom of The Road to Serfdom.

      But enjoy your ipod!

  • Michiganjf

    The esteemed EZRA KLEIN put up a truly excellent chart from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and Tax Policy Center… it shows once and for all that tax INCREASES help create jobs while tax cuts have a NEGATIVE effect on job creation!!!!

    Here’s Ezra’s excellent article and the related chart:


    Don’t be a mindless drone for the uber wealthy by protecting them from FAIR taxation at the behest of Republican politicians!!!

    • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

      Your link goes to something other than what you want, seemingly.

      • Michiganjf
        • Ellen Dibble

          I am saving that chart.  
          Under 40 percent, bad for growth.  Over that, from 39.6% to 90%+, the growth rate shows 2.0 to 2.5%, “Average annual percent growth, in total payroll employment, by top marginal income tax rate, 1950-2010″ — for five columns over the time between 1950 and 2010, usually close to 2.5%.  The other three columns, it’s about 1% growth in job growth at 28 to 31% tax, and a half a percent at 38.6%; currently at 35% it’s in the red.  Sources are BLS, Bureau of Labor Statistics, and the Tax Policy Center.  Per Ezra Klein.
             Hey, Michiganjf, what’s that about top marginal income tax rate?  Oh, the jobs created are not necessarily those peachy jobs; that means the taxes on the top?

  • Darshan Haward

    When Obama looks at the FBI Files


    He would say : “OMG, we have wasted Trillions in Afghanistan for the wrong

    There comes Immediate Halt of Occupations Dividend in many trillions of
    savings. Not a bad idea, huh.

    • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

      Once again, 9/11 conspiracy theory inserts itself into places where it doesn’t belong.  What does that have to do with the deficit or with the Human Genome Project, for that matter?

      • Darshan Haward

        So, we invade a foreign country accross oceans and airlift 14000 heavy armoured vehicles with peanuts and water molecules, right?

        Are you saying a new investigation of the Events of 9/11 at a cost of $250K is not worth saving a few Trillions?

      • Anonymous

        The government is hiding the gene for gullibility. 

  • Cathy Etheridge

    This shouldn’t be coming from someone who made two typing errors in her previous post, but I am starting to think John Boehner is retarded.  1)  He says the same thing over and over again.  2)  He doesn’t seem to care that what he is saying defies logic and decency.  3) His speech (pronunciation) is so unclear.  4)  He spends too much time at the tanning parlor.  He doesn’t know enough about the responsibilities of government to prioritize those responsibilities over getting a tan. 

    • thegreengrass

      Maybe he’s secretly from New Jersey…

  • BHA in Vermont

    Never fly. It is a job killing idea.

    • NoJokeSoSad

      Tell that to the great people of Minnesota and Sen. Paul Wellstone’s family, friends and constituents.

      Tell that to the great people of Poland and the Polish President Lech Kaczynsk and his entire cabinet’s family and friends.

      Somehow, people end up dying when they don’t want to get on the train.   

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Robert-Bristow-Johnson/575465356 Robert Bristow-Johnson


    The really dumb thing about the Republican position on this is that their cherished preference to reduced taxes on capital gains and on dividends is not even conservative economics.  The truly conservative position is that the government shouldn’t be in the business of the market.  The government should not be picking winners and losers, but should let the market decide.  But our tax code has placed a clear preference on income from investment over income from wages (W-2) or from entrepreneurship (Schedule D).  Dividends are not taxed at all and capital gains are capped at 15%.  A person who makes $150K per year from wages is penalized by the tax code in comparison to another person who makes $150K per year from investments (dividends and capital gains).

    It’s neither fair, nor is it even conservative.  It’s corrupt.  It’s the ultra-rich using the power that they have (by being rich) to divert even more resources toward their direction at the expense of the rest of us.

    Conservative economics and politics does not mean plutocracy.


    • Worried for the country(MA)

      You are forgetting dividends and capital gains are already taxed under corporate tax (unless you are like GE and find loop holes) so any tax on capital gains and dividends are a double tax.  Further, long term capital gains are not inflation adjusted.  Therefore, some capital gains are not real gains at all and are still taxed.

      We need to lower the base and close the loop holes so we have a competitive corporate tax system.

      • TFRX

        That’s not double taxation.

        You are forgetting that corporations are just like people. Actually, better off than individuals. They get a bunch of rights and privileges that I don’t.

        For just one: I kill a person, and corporate neglect kills a person, only one of us is going to be on trial for murder.

        Our corporate tax rates aren’t the crisis that Fox and Rush make them out to be.

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/Robert-Bristow-Johnson/575465356 Robert Bristow-Johnson

          Yeah, Worried is totally wrong about the facts.  Worried is confusing what happens inside a corporation with personal income.

          Just like wages, interest, other payouts, dividends and capital gains are INCOME.  INCOME IS INCOME.

          Two reforms i would advocate for that maybe the Repubs would countenance:

          Income from interest should be adjusted by the CPI.  If you have a bank account bearing interest that is only keeping up with the Consumer Price Index, then the “growth” of that account is gaining no real wealth.  That “growth” isn’t growth at all and the interest should not be taxed unless there is more interest over the devaluation that inflation imposes upon the account balance.

          The other reform I would advocate for is that, we recognize that the Limited Liability Corporation is granted special rights: the “limited liability, if you are Union Carbide and you kill a whole bunch of people in Bhopal India, the worst that can happen to you, as a corporation is that the liabilities against you, the stockholders, only goes as far as your stock, it can go down to zero and your ownership in this corporation is zero.  They cannot go after you personally and take other assets (your house, other holdings) away from you.  Your liability is limited, but the government affords your corporations all sorts of other rights including a legal system that it can use to protect its intellectual property and market share.  Just like the rest of us, Corporations deserve to pay something for the protect they receive from a stable government with laws that protect its interests.

          But corporate income tax should be *flat* and *low*.  While it’s perfectly fair and just that rich individuals pay a higher marginal rate than less-rich individuals (the Progressive tax rate structure), it makes no sense, either in practicality nor in fairness, that a $10 billion corporation with 100,000 stockholders should pay more, per stockholder, than a $10 million corporation with 100 stockholders.  In both cases, each stockholder, on average, is making $10,000 from the corporation.  Why should the fewer stockholders of the smaller corporation get a better deal than those many stockholders of the larger corporation get?

          Also corporate income should be based *only* on real (cash) income.  When you manufacture a widget, the cost of manufacturing (and inventory and transportation of) that widget is a cost that reduces the corporation’s income.  When that widget is sold, the income from that sale adds to the corporation’s income.  A corporation (or any business) should not be made to *assume* an income from sale of the widget before it’s sold, and then account for the cost and loss if that widget is never sold and scrapped, or sold later for a loss.  The necessity for that kind of bookkeeping is just plain stupid.

          The tax code, both for individuals and for corporations *can* and *should* be simplified.  Income is income, no matter what the source.  Income is what is really income, *realized* income, *not* projected income.  Apply the same rules (exemptions, deductions, limits on deductions, etc.) in the same manner for everybody, either high income or low income individuals (or corporations).  For individuals, apply a progressive tax rate schedule with a reasonable marginal limit to the top end (we did okay in the 90s when it was 39.6%).  Close the loopholes and get rid of the AMT (alternative minimum tax).  The AMT is not necessary if the high income earners cannot hide their income behind loopholes and it is exposed to the marginal tax rates on the high end.

          But for billionaires getting a 15% tax rate when professional wage earners are paying 28% to 31%, that is both wrong and stupid.  Our tax code, designed to give welfare to the rich, is both wrong and stupid.

          • LimitedLiability

            A bank account bearing interest!

            Perish the thought, the banks will never go for that.

            That means our money would have value and they would actually have to keep it on hand at your bank.

            How does your plan prevent corporate power from buying off our lawmakers and regulatory agencies and creating phony tax havens, shelters and dummy companies.

            Keep up the good work.


          • http://twitter.com/PrometheeFeu PrometheeFeu

            Worried is not wrong about the facts. Dividends and capital gains are realized on money that has already been taxed a first time as corporate income. If you include the taxes paid by Berkshire Hathaway (pro-rated by his holdings in that firm) Mr. Buffet is paying a rate similar to everyone else’s. Sure, you could say that it isn’t Mr. Buffet who was taxed, but that argument is absurd. Corporations are vehicles which allow people to engage in a common enterprise. Corporations do not enjoy earnings or suffer taxes. The only persons who do so are the corporation’s owners.

            As for making taxes on capital gains progressive, I can’t see why you would think that makes sense. You advocate only taxing realized gains. So let’s say I hold stock for 20 years and then sell. Why should I pay more taxes than the guy who sold and bought again every year in order to realize the gains?

  • TomK in Boston

    Interesting hypocrisy by the voodoo economists:

    Raising taxes is “job killing”, but when taking $ out of the economy by cutting gvt spending and directly laying off public sector workers, no mention of “job killing”.

    Asking the rich to pay a slightly higher but still historically low tax rate is “class warfare”, but when turning medicare into a groupon, no mention of class warfare.

    When it comes to programs that the middle class needs, “we’re broke”, but when asking the rich to contribute a little more, no mention of we’re broke.

    Cutting programs that the middle class needs is “shared sacrifice” or “hard choices”, but when asking the rich to contribute a little more, no mention of shared sacrifice or hard choices.

    The Bush/Obama policies of gvt spending that saved us from Great Depression II, barely, are the “failed stimulus”, but in discussing how the voodoo econ stimulus scheme of steering trillions to the rich and the corporations with tax cuts produced no jobs and growing inequality, no mention of failed stimulus.

    It makes no sense until you realize that the agenda of the TeaOP is to continue redistributing the wealth of the middle class to their paymasters. Then it makes perfect sense.

    • Rethink

      This is first “Great Contraction” of the 21st Century.

      Eliminating the economic and political power of the middle-class has been planned and orchestrated.

      As long as we allow private bankers to create and control our money supply then we will not gain value from any fiat currency.

      Money is debt when a country doesn’t create its own.


      • Dave in CT

        Nobody wants to hear it. Too scary to realize your favorite party is part of a much bigger, long term scam.

        • PartyOnYourPenny

          Yes, let us not take responsibility for our own economic future.

          Yes, let us not exercise our own sovereign right as a republic to print our own money.

          That’s all hearsay and heresy.

          Let the Fed do it.

      • TomK in Boston

        I agree that the class warfare on the middle class has been planned and orchestrated. The battle plan is called “Reaganomics”, and it consists of tax cuts, deregulation, and invoking phony free-market rhetoric to say “Oh, whatever, that’s just the market at work” whenever an “American” corporation offshores American jobs.

        Wanted to add one more variation to my post above:

        Asking the rich to pay a slightly higher but still historically low tax rate is “punishing the rich”, but when turning medicare into a groupon or cutting SS, no mention of punishing the middle class.

        If anyone cares about the real economics, here it is. We’re in the aftermath of a leveraged bubble collapse. It’s nothing new, it’s no different from Tulipmania. It takes a long time to recover from these speculative binges, and you do NOT want to take $ out of the economy when it is at “stall speed” (Bill Gross). Tax hikes and gvt spending cuts both take $ out of the economy. However, if you are obsessed with cutting the deficit, as is the TeaOP, you should find what does the least harm. And, taxing those who already are sitting on piles of unused cash is what does least harm, none at all I would say. Actually, if Unca Scrooge is taxed so his money bin shrinks from 20′ deep to 19.5′ deep, it doesn’t affect his ability to “create jobs” at all, and if the $ are spent on scientific research, the $ in the economy increase.

        • Dave in CT

          I thought Bill Clinton was the big Trade Deal guy…..

          Phony “free-trade” with illiberal (in the liberty sense) countries is not a fair fight, and is just a race to the bottom toward the political-economic models that the cheap labor/low liberty countries have.

          Freedom isn’t free.  Anarchy is free, and Despotism or Autocratic rule may be more effiecient. But until we decide we are ready for that trade off….. the cost of our Rule of Law society, and our education, and the inefficiency of being free to try risky things and fail, or reinvent the wheel without realizing it, need to be taken into account when we talk of globalization and free trade competition.

          Of course our politician of the last 30 years could care less about our liberty our our long term financial health and have sold us out to the short term profit desires of their offshoring corporate cronies.

  • TFRX

    “Medicare is the big problem” and “Soc Sec is not a big problem”.

    More of this guest, please. (D. Osborne?)

    And the last thing Medicare needs is an increase in eligibility age. Like all insurance, Medicare is a pool, and cutting a year or two off the lowest age people who can be in it will get rid of a lot–A LOT–of the healthiest members of that care pool.

    They’d be getting rid of the healthiest, cheapest-to-care people in the pool. That’s a bad, bad idea. And many of them would just do without for a year or so, only to be that much more ill when they become Medicare’s problem.

    • ulTRAX

      One of the reasons health insurance is so expensive in the US is because there are countless public and private health care pools… each has their own regulations and administrative overhead. The ONLY way to fix this is through Single Payer.

      • Anonymous

        A single payer will increase costs – there is no competition

        • Anonymous

          Any chance that this comment is a joke?  Single payer costs in other developed countries, most with better health-care outcomes than ours, are half of what our “competitive” medical system costs us.  That is what we cal “a fact”, if you care to apply them to your analysis.

        • Dave in CT

          What about Single Payer, Competitive providers? Combine the efficiency of reducing health care company overhead with the efficiency of companies trying to outbid each other.

          On the other hand, I fear once the Single Payer locked in a deal with one or two providers, the impetus to stick with them would curb further competition, putting others out of business, and threatening corruption and backroom deals for the business.  That would argue for a more liquid, multiple payer, multiple provider model.

          How about 50 state single payer entities, free to do business with any of the competing providers?

          Maybe, but knowing how state politics are often more backroom than Federal even……


          How about single payer vouchers given to individuals, to be spent with providers or insurance companies as they find best.

          • Anonymous

            I’m not really sure if anyone of your ideas works but I have to say it’s great that you at least have come up with options which is better than most people including our political leaders.

            The major problem will be the next few years as the Baby Boomers age and start to use the health system – the numbers will be overwhelming with 10,000 of them turning 65 a day for the next 20 years.

            Our current system along with any other country’s system is not prepared for what is too come – care will get lowered and prices will skyrocket as demand will easily outpace supply

        • ulTRAX

          And the proof of your claim is….????

          Most of the industrialized world knows better.

          • nj

            I was hoping jeky’s quip was satire.

          • Anonymous

            So Ontario going broke this year, England’s health care in shambles & you need more proof, wow.

            Most of the socialistic world is already living the nightmare that you want to inflict on the US

          • ulTRAX

            ROTF… what Socialists? Where are they? Under my bed like they were in the 50′s?
            It was Wall Street with the help of their allies in the Democratic and Republican parties who let these sociopathic criminals off their choke chains that crashed the world economy.  

          • Anonymous

            Okay moron, explain how money is actually created since as a knuckledragging mouth breather you want to drag Wall St into this.

            After explaining how money is created then please point out how the Multiplier Effect coupled with the Reserve Rate played into the Housing Bubble.

            At least you understand that both parties are to blame & you should be commended for that but hopefully you will see what is really going.

            the socialist that you are looking for are in your pocket, ever notice that it isn’t really a dollar that you carry but a Reserve Note?

            Wake UP

          • TFRX

            You really need to get out more.

          • Anonymous

            coming from you that is rich – nice to see that you have a rebuttal to a fact other than a moronic statement, but what should I expect from some tin foil wearing lib?

        • TFRX

          You may need to broaden your media diet. There is little competition now, and it can’t be compared to any normal marketplace.

          As just one little example: Plenty of “competition” in McAllen, TX. Record profits, record high costs, no improvement in outcomes.

          • Anonymous

            Yes you are correct there are over 2000 Health Care companies in the US & Texas houses about 40. That is competition in the true form to a lib I guess

        • ulTRAX

          Somewhere you got the notion that competition leads to efficiency. OK, sure… it’s what we’re all brought up to believe. But it doesn’t take much to realize competition is incredibly inefficient. It might force competing organizations to be efficient and that’s where we come to that conclusion. But there’s a bigger question… measuring the overall efficiency of an entire economic sector… in this case health care. Nations like Canada can cover EVERYONE with about 60% per capita of what we spend NOT to cover 50 million people. I know, I know the apologists for the status quo will point to a few problems with Canada. So what could they accomplish with 70% of what we spend?

          With other OECD nations spending less and getting better health outcomes… perhaps it’s time YOU looked deeper instead of just believing what you hear on Fox. Here’s a great report…


          • Anonymous

            What more do you need to know than the largest section of Canada is going broke – Ontario.

            How come you liberals can’t comprehend that single payer doesn’t work? It has been tried & it is a failure that destroys, not hurts but DESTROYS the middle class & poor.

            Why are you using tired lib talking points still, when competition when to flourish without government interference works extremely well?

            And to point to a few problems in Canada – come on you have just become a joke – wake up to what you are saying, they are broke

  • ulTRAX

    In the US we have a scandalous situation where BOTH parties have a vest interest in the fiscal IGNORANCE of the American People. The GOP has gone off the fiscal deep end thirty years ago adopting a political strategy of fiscal irresponsibility requiring an Orwellian Right propaganda industry to justify the unjustifiable. The Democrats, always cowardly to take on false accusations of class warfare and tax & spend, refused to take on the insanity of the Right and refused to educate the public on even most simple of fiscal concepts… like how a balanced “unified” budget can still be hundreds of billions a year OUT of balance because it’s still borrowing from Social Security. In 04 Kerry ran on this bogus balanced budget platform. And while in 2000 it was an issue that we had to pay down debt to get ready for the Social Security IOUs to be paid back around 2020, not even the Dems will raise that topic now. And who is making the common sense argument that a balanced annual budget DOES NOT MEAN WE’RE OVERTAXED as the GOP was claiming in 2000. ALL tax cuts made while we’re in debt… with no plan to ever recoup that money IS IRRESPONSIBLE.  

    • DemsOrDohsDoesntMatter

      Irresponsible?  Your being kind.  That was the plan.

      • ulTRAX

        I have no use for the Dems except as the lesser of the evils. But I think their cowardice these past 30 years is in direct proportion to the virulence of the Rabid Right. All the false accusations against the Dems stuck with a large percentage of the public because they never fought back and when like Obama they don’t stand up for any grand principles, the pressure is to move further to the right.    

        • Dave in CT

          …..almost there… not so much further to the right, its further down the Road to Serfdom. The “scary” right just provides cover for the “well-meaning” planners.

          Hayek, Why I am not a Conservative

          • HowVeryApt

            Ah, the “Road to Nowhere”

            “They can tell you what to do
            But they’ll make a fool of you

            And it’s all right, baby, it’s all right

            We’re on a road to nowhere”

            - Talking Heads (The “Little Creatures”)

          • nj
          • ulTRAX

            Libertarians seem to think liberty is a static concept. Why isn’t liberty an expanding concept? FDR said, and I agree, a necessitous man is not a free man. The social safety net can play a role in expanding our freedoms… yet people like you think it’s the road to serfdom. Don’t bother explaining. I already know enough about the distorted, cultish world view of Libertarians.  

  • Anonymous

    That the “owners” of this nation want it this way. That they are afraid of a populace that can think critically. As George Carlin so astutely points out in his bit on the “American Dream”.


  • ElfmanNW

    The first point I would like to make is
    to correct the statement made by a number of people here that the top
    10% in the US pay 70% of federal taxes. While the 70% figure may be
    correct for individual income tax, it is totally off the mark for
    federal taxes. Looking at the real figures for the year 2010 the
    revenue from individual income tax was $899 billion. The revenue
    from payroll taxes was $865 billion. Since the portion of the $865
    billion in payroll tax paid by the top 10% is miniscule (only wages
    are subject to the tax and of those only the first ~$110,000) and
    applying the 70% figure to the income tax number one concludes that
    Mr. Buffet is probably correct, his secretary does pay a higher
    percentage of her income in taxes than does he.

    Now as to class warfare? Right oh. We
    been in class warfare since Reagan was elected and we moved into the
    trickle down economy. No surprise that annual deficits exploded and
    our current huge national debt came about when Reagan and Bush so
    severely cut income taxes, especially for the top rates. If
    Republicans are actually finally serious about deficit reduction then
    it is time to acknowledge that what got us into this mess was income
    tax cuts for high income earners. The only way out is to raise taxes
    back to levels before Reagan. Sure the top 10-20% should be hit
    hardest for two reasons. One is consider it reparations for 30 years
    of class warfare. I know it is usually the victors in a war that get
    to demand reparations, but in this case it is those who started the
    war that should pay since it is they who have benefited so much from
    the war and it is the consequence of this that the debt exists.
    Secondly it is the only practical solution. With 90% of the nations
    wealth in their hands one must look where the money is available.


    • ToBlindToSee

      All the facts in world won’t change how people few their religiously sacred saints.

      I know, I’ve tried on many occasions.

      Addendum: Not to mention how the power brokers gutted the regulatory agencies during said administration.

      Bringing us the ‘revolving door’ syndrome and the beginning of the end.

    • Pete

      Elfman, payroll taxes are specifically for social security accounts, which are supposed to be separate from general spending, in a “lockbox” as Al Gore told us.  The FICA tax is the same rate for everyone.

      The deficit went up under Reagan but that had nothing to do with tax rates, federal receipts actually went UP after his tax cuts were enacted and unemployment dropped from 7.1 % to 5.5 %. The deficit was due to his increased spending mostly on the military.

      • ElfmanNW

        Addressing some of the issues you
        raised. First you did not mention whether or not the rise in federal
        receipts you say occurred under Reagan (could not find a quickly
        source to verify this nor how this increase was broken down) was due
        to increased income tax revenue or whether it was due to increase
        revenue from payroll taxes? Let us not forget that payroll tax rate
        went up by 6.2% (8.1% to 14.3 %) under Reagan. That and of course
        federal revenues are very much driven by the state of the economy.

        Looking historically over the period
        1980 to 2008 it is however clear that when Republicans have cut
        income taxes deficits have gone way up, while when Democrats have
        raised income taxes (Clinton being the only Democrat) deficits have
        gone way down. In terms the effects of tax cuts or increases on
        employment one can make an equal case for income tax cuts increasing
        employment (most of Reagan’s term) as for increased income taxes
        increasing employment (most of Clinton’s term), both in short term
        and long term effects. Unemployment is not driven by income tax
        rates. When demand for goods and services requires employers to hire
        more people unemployment drops. When employment can be cut while
        still still meeting the demand, the situation that we are now in,
        unemployment increases. The long term effect of income tax cuts on
        the deficit is however clear, it is the cause.

        I appreciate you mentioning the “lock
        box” idea and stating that payroll taxes are supposed to be kept
        separate from general spending. I agree. Non of the last 30+ years
        of deficits have been due to insufficient payroll tax collection to
        cover social service benefits. In fact there has always been a
        surplus that has built up a substantial trust fund for the future.
        So why is SS even being mentioned as part of deficit reduction? Well
        Republicans have been spending the trust fund on income tax cuts, but
        soon the piper will have to be paid by increasing income taxes to pay
        this back.

        • Pete

          According to  Wikipedia, federal receipts grew at an average rate of 8.2% with about 2.5% of that attributed to higher Social Security receipts. The top 10 % of income earners also paid an increase share of the total tax revenue, while the bottom 50% paid less.

          It’s a non-sequitor to argue that because deficits rose under Republican administrations that cut taxes, tax cuts = deficits. It’s very easy to measure tax revenue vs spending. In almost all instances when federal taxes have been cut revenues have either held steady or gone up.

          Social Security is a mess, but it’s mostly because there are more people collecting than paying and that will continue to increase over the next ten years. Perry is right that it’s a Ponzi scheme, although I don’t think that type of rhetoric is going to get him elected.

           Tax cuts aren’t spending they are a policy allowing people to keep more of the money they earned. But if you want to use that line of argument, then all deficit spending by democrats has to also also be funded by social security “surpluses,” which means Barack Obama is one of the biggest reasons that your SS taxes are going up.

  • Dave in CT

    Did you guys hear Nader is talking about a need for a primary run vs. Obama?

    • OffTopic

      Your hope springs eternal Dave in CT.  You must be a Democrat.

      Like that’s going to make any difference or change anything we’ve been talking about here.

      Maybe her Royal Highness Hillary will take another shot at it.

      But please, let’s not change the topic at hand. 

      • Dave in CT

        Progressive Values, Libertarian Principles Independent.

        Was a self-defined progressive Democrat. I am separating my desired ends, from the boiler plate central planning and Government-Corporate cooperation means.

        The carelessness with which people put their trust in big government, big institutions, and unaccountable technocrats who have spent us into oblivion AND STILL walked us into financial armageddon, as often demonstrated here, in addition to following the money above the 2 parties to the level of the real string pullers in the banking world, makes it impossible for me to accept the easy notion that we can have a benevolent central planning elite who knows whats best and how to engineer our way to prosperity and justice.

        Believe me, I often thought I knew better and wished a good Democrat would come along and say what  I thought was best and impose it.

        But now I want to leave it up to the collective decisions and judgements of the people.

        I believe the majority of Americans are good enough and have enough common sense and intelligence, to govern themselves, without handing over immense powers of coercion to unaccountable groups like the Fed, the IMF, or any of the corporate/Washington revolving back door clubs who de-regulated finance and built up Fannie Mae, used by both parties.

        And to me, for now, the liberty arguments, backed by a Rule of law, and prosecution of colluders and corruptors and those who damage other’s life or property, and not anarchy, has the most pragmatic message for delivering that.

    • Anonymous

      Let Paul take votes from the right.  Nader already did his spoiler duty when he helped bring us George Bush. 

      • nj

        Still with this Nader-gave-us-Bush nonsense. More Florida Democrats voted for Bush than Nader. Gore ran a lame campaign. Blame him.

        • Anonymous

          I said “helped.”  Gore ran a lame campaign.  The poor ballot design and Nader were factors that made the race close enough for Jim Baker to steal it for Bush via the Court. 

    • nj

      Nader is exactly running himself, but is advocating some sort of odd, rotating panel of candidates to challenge Oby at various debates.

  • Tharen

    From the AP:

    President Barack Obama says he
    wants to make sure millionaires are taxed at higher rates than their
    secretaries. The data say they already are.
    Buffett’s secretary shouldn’t pay a higher tax rate than Warren
    Buffett. There is no justification for it,” Obama said as he announced
    his deficit-reduction plan this week. “It is wrong that in the United
    States of America, a teacher or a nurse or a construction worker who
    earns $50,000 should pay higher tax rates than somebody pulling in $50

    On average, the
    wealthiest people in America pay a lot more taxes than the middle class
    or the poor, according to private and government data. They pay at a
    higher rate, and as a group, they contribute a much larger share of the
    overall taxes collected by the federal government.


    • TaxedToDeath

      Thanks Tharen – But as many on this comment page have been pointing out, we are all paying too much and not getting much in return and are expected to pay for the greed and corruption.

      From the same article above:

      “People who are doing quite well
      and worry about low-income people not paying any taxes bemoan the fact
      that they get so many tax breaks that they are zeroed out,” said
      Roberton Williams, a senior fellow at the Tax Policy Center. “People at
      the bottom of the distribution say, ‘But all of those rich guys are
      getting bigger tax breaks than we’re getting,’ which is also the case.”

      Secretary Timothy Geithner was pressed at a White House briefing on the
      number of millionaires who pay taxes at a lower rate than middle-income
      families. He demurred, saying that people who make most of their money
      in wages pay taxes at a higher rate, while those who get most of their
      income from investments pay at lower rates.

      From the Citizens for Tax Justice:


      “The conservative pundits are wrong. It’s true that many taxpayers don’t pay federal income taxes, but they still pay federal payroll taxes (and some federal excise taxes) and also pay state and local taxes. Most of these other taxes are regressive, meaning they take a larger share of a poor or middle-class family’s income than they take from a rich family. This largely offsets the progressivity of the federal income tax.
      CTJ estimates that the share of total taxes (federal state and local taxes) paid by taxpayers in each income group is quite similar to the
      share of total income received by each income group in 2009.”


      • Pete

        As I pointed out in an earlier post, payroll taxes are for social security and can’t be part of the calculation of tax fairness because
        they’re supposed to be for individual retirement funds not a general spending fund. State and local taxes are set at the local level. The feds cannot set rates to try and equalize the unfairness of local taxes, it’s impossible because states have widely different rates. There are some states with exorbitantly high rates, which I agree should be lowered but that’s what local elections are for.

        • Anonymous

          You will be close to correct only after the trillions taken from Social Security have been fully paid back from the oh-so-onerous income taxes paid by the put-upon wealthy citizens of our country, and everyone acknowledges that Social Security has no funding problems that will appear within the next couple decades.   Until then, you are wrong. 

          • Roy Mac

            Explain about the Social Security lockbox.

          • Anonymous

            There is no lockbox.  The money that was set aside to pay future claimants has been stolen to pay for those things that should be funded by income taxes.  That’s the point.  And the problem.

    • Anonymous

      This is “true” only if you just look at federal income tax.  It is absolutely not true if you include payroll, property, sales, etc., that is, if you look at all the taxes people pay to all levels of government. 

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=658033938 John Graff

      “The necessaries of life occasion the great expense of the poor. They find it difficult to get food, and the greater part of their little revenue is spent in getting it. The luxuries and vanities of life occasion the principal expense of the rich, and a magnificent house embellishes and sets off to the best advantage all the other luxuries and vanities which they possess. A tax upon house-rents, therefore, would in general fall heaviest upon the rich; and in this sort of inequality there would not, perhaps, be anything very unreasonable. It is not very unreasonable that the rich should contribute to the public expense, not only in proportion to their revenue, but something more than in that proportion.” –Adam Smith (The Wealth of Nations)

    • ulTRAX

      I suspect this logic will escape you… but if there are repeated tax cuts designed to benefit the rich, and they end up paying more it’s because they’ve grabbed a bigger piece of the income pie.

  • Dave in CT

    “Conservatism proper is a legitimate, probably necessary, and certainly widespread attitude of opposition to drastic change. It has, since the French Revolution, for a century and a half played an important role in European politics. Until the rise of socialism its opposite was liberalism [Liberty-style]. There is nothing corresponding to this conflict in the history of the United States, because what in Europe was called “liberalism” was here the common tradition on which the American polity had been built: thus the defender of the American tradition was a liberal in the European sense.[2] This already existing confusion was made worse by the recent attempt to transplant to America the European type of conservatism, which, being alien to the American tradition, has acquired a somewhat odd character. And some time before this, American radicals and socialists began calling themselves “liberals.” I will nevertheless continue for the moment to describe as liberal the position which I hold and which I believe differs as much from true conservatism as from socialism. Let me say at once, however, that I do so with increasing misgivings, and I shall later have to consider what would be the appropriate name for the party of liberty. The reason for this is not only that the term “liberal” in the United States is the cause of constant misunderstandings today, but also that in Europe the predominant type of rationalistic liberalism has long been one of the pacemakers of socialism.”

  • http://www.dogoodgauge.org The Do Good Gauge

    There is social class warfare in America and the middle class must defense against the GOPs use of WMDs.   

    We have weapons of mass destruction we have to
    address here at home. Poverty is a weapon of mass destruction. Homelessness is a weapon of mass destruction. Unemployment is a weapon of mass destruction.
    - Dennis Kucinich

    • Cory

      Love Kucinich!

      • nj

        Loved him, too, until he punted on health care reform and capitulated to Obamacare.

  • AC

    I’m convinced this is a matter of too many people and not enough jobs. It’s too easy to label it ‘class-war’, tho it is partially true.
    People are becoming unnecessary for future jobs, and there are many jobs disappearing NOW too. When was the last time you rented a VHS tape? or used a milkman? Or used a 1hr photo? All those ‘small’ business are gone, and more are to going to go – as for ‘labor’ ::
    scroll down to the bottom and see the ad to replace hospital workers.
    What makes ‘class’ a possible variable here is that access and education WAS not & likely WILL NOT be put in place to combat this problem.
    I’m not saying call out the death squads and mow them down, but we have to somehow deal with this interim period of too many people without a function or purpose, the worst place in the world for a human to be…..

  • AC

    i guess my point is, people seem to talk, talk, talk – but if you look at the real problem, you will see they are not willing to face it

    • http://www.dogoodgauge.org The Do Good Gauge

      Action will start when you change the word “they” to “we” in your post.    The people must learn to articulate a better argument.    There is a better way for political discourse.    The formula requires a larger citizenry participating in the discussion.

      • AC

        you may be right – my point is it has absolutely nothing to do with politics and somehow you think it does…?? i have no idea where i went wrong in my statement…

        • http://www.dogoodgauge.org The Do Good Gauge

          You misunderstand.   I like the direction you are heading.   I believe there is something important to be said in your original post worthy of higher demographics .    I would much rather hear your polished thought than talking points from a bias corporate media.

          I’ll let you in on a little secret.    There are few new arguments politicians are willing to discuss.   Politicians win arguments by rehashing talking points they have rehearsed and perfected.   The corporate media feeds into this political model.  

          AC, do you want to know how win at this game?    Take the argument you started and perfect it.   This requires feedback, coaching, and refinement.    The day will be repeated when your perfected argument is pertinent to the discussion.      Don’t play on the politician’s turf, create a home field based on your own articulate solution.

          • AC

            the only problem is that i, too, am a coward…..

          • http://www.dogoodgauge.org The Do Good Gauge

            The only thing we have to fear is fear itself. — Franklin Roosevelt.     Henry Ford said, The fear of loosing what you have blocks all avenues of innovation and advancement.     Au contraire Upton Sinclair said, It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.

            AC, I respect your fear and will leave it to imagination to understand what drives it.

          • AC

            I don’t want to be the person who has to say ‘hey you, you’re pointless, please go over there and disappear’. + who wants to be the one who decides who can have kids and who can’t?? Not me!!! I think we need more gay people in the world, they’re nature’s built-in population control…

          • http://www.dogoodgauge.org The Do Good Gauge

            There is something that festers which you wish to say.  I too fear open dialog on such a topic.   There are 6.8 billion people on this planet and who knows the diminishing point of no return which this petri-dish of life can support.   There is no need for solitude in your thoughts, the subject you speech of has been researched by others with respect and search for a common truth.   Though truth acquired may not be absolute, there may be many resources to build your case.

            I would suggest finding others with similar desire for understanding to refine your thought in secrecy until it is worthy of public measurement.     Scrutiny will be less damaging to your point of view given a better argument.

            I have yet to argue the angle of population control you describe, here is a tangent thought with an optimistic view of the human population:

            The Humanity of Problem Solving.

  • Dave in CT

    With all the GOP talk of repealing Dodd-Frank, we should discuss what exactly Dodd-Frank is.

    Not what do you hope it should be, not an assumption that is a silver bullet to prevent future problems.

    Is it really a Rule of Law, level, transparent playing field, protecting fair, free markets and healthy competition, and prevents corporatism?

    Is it a logrolled jumble of picking winners and losers, rewarding big finance lobby interests, and leaving enough loopholes for them to still make ill-gotten billions, maintaining too big to fail potential?

    What really is it?

    I honestly don’t know yet.

  • Gregg

    Is anyone bothered by Obama parroting Buffet’s secretary lie? The AP fact checker shredded it as we did here last week.

    • FeelsLikeTheFirstTime

      Gregg –

      Who has the money to ‘go green’?
      Hey, give the guy a break. 
      He was told he had to run for re-election.
      You think he want’s to be on board this train wreck?
      He’s going to say (read) anything he has to.
      Just like the first time.
      Enjoy the media complicity.



  • Cime

    Profit over all else! Profit over people’s livelyhoods! Whatta shame!!!

  • Gregg

    Anyone notice Obama didn’t offer up another $38.6 billion for “green jobs”? Even he recognizes the failure.

    • http://twitter.com/PersnicketyRph Jonathan Lloyd

      Anyone notice that China is leading the world in “green jobs”? If we give that up we give up our future. Not a smart move.

      • Dave in CT

        Must be nice to make and sell stuff, and have cash.

        • Dave in CT

          Autocratic rule not too shabby either!

          • Hidan

            The Chamber of Commence didn’t seem to mind. Since they outsourced Jobs there and are still doing such.

      • Gregg

        Anyone notice China’s air is unbreathable?

    • ulTRAX

      STILL waiting for you to prove that ALL that $38.6 billion was wasted and the taxpayers got NOTHING. But I won’t hold my breath.

      • Gregg

        No, please do.

    • Cory

      I’m impressed that you managed to get out the “failed Obama Presidency” mantra by re-arranging the words!

  • Anonymous

    Income disparity is the problem how rich??

    The same idiots who say that will religiously turn on the tv every Sunday to watch Millionaires run into each other for their own enjoyment.

    The hypocrisy is overwhelming

    • UnionForMillionaires

      Funny how those millionaires require a union and need to go out on strike every so often so they won’t be exploited by their franchise owners.

      Somehow, it makes sense for millionaires and not the rest of us.

      When people talk about unions, just bring that up and see what their response is. 

      • Cory

        UnionForMillionaires, I’d like to buy you an ale or lager of your choosing for your wonderful response…  Pretzels will not be provided, however. 

      • Terry Tree Tree

        Amen!   Some even change church schedules, to support THOSE union $Millionaires.  See if they support their local Emergency Services, especially Volunteer Fire Fighters, Volunteer Rescue Squad Members, Volunteer Medical First Responders, Ski Rescue, and ALL the others?

      • Anonymous

        Funny how these union members still have others who die broke riddled with disease, why has no union delegate stepped up to save them?

        There is no money to line the pockets of the Union or the Union heads

        • NotFunny

          Sure union management are often corrupt and of course many play footsie with the company management and the politicians rather than the people they should represent.

          But that’s not the members’ fault.

          It’s about a choice concerning the lesser of two evils.

          • Anonymous

            Members don’t have a choice in the Northeast – you are either a Union employee in the trades or you don’t work.

            You are condoning destroying a worker for the sake of the situation, we used to stand for better

  • nj


    Ratio by which polled citizens favor increasing taxes as part of a deficit-reduction program compared to the right’s no-tax position.


    • Cory

      Too bad the interests of the wealthy have disproportionate influence in our government.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=658033938 John Graff

    It’s not “class warfare” until the poor and middle-class start fighting back; right now it looks much more like a massacre!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=658033938 John Graff

    Why do so many folks believe we we are wasting their tax dollar?

    Where do our federal income tax dollars actually go?


    According to some estimates we are currently spending more than a trillion dollars per year on our defense related budget nearly as much as the rest of the world combined, not to defend the American people but to enrich war profiteers/military contractors and to protect the interests of multinational corporations. 



    If we really want to reduce the size of government why not start with the ridicuously large and powerful military-industrial-security complex?

    • Dave in CT

      Because you’d have to vote for Ron Paul to truly go against it, and/or get a Hayekian libertarian economy/society, and people just can’t seem to be able to handle liberty, because it’s really all a conspiracy run by the Koch brothers.

  • Cory

    Just been listening to the local conservative radio personality explain why it is a bad idea to tax the wealthy more than they already are.  He has ownership in a race horse, a box at a race track, and season tickets to all the local pro sports teams.

    Ever notice the advocates of low or no taxation for the wealthy always seem to be pretty wealthy themselves?

    • Hidan

      “I am not a destroyer of companies. I am a liberator of them! The point
      is, ladies and gentleman, that greed, for lack of a better word, is
      good. Greed is right, greed works. Greed clarifies, cuts through, and
      captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit. Greed, in all of its
      forms; greed for life, for money, for love, knowledge has marked the
      upward surge of mankind. And greed, you mark my words, will not only
      save Teldar Paper, but that other malfunctioning corporation called the
      USA. Thank you very much.”

      Gordon Gekko

    • Gary2

      belling is a tool

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=658033938 John Graff

    “There is no reason why, in a society which has reached the general level of wealth ours has, (a minimal level of) security should not be guaranteed to all without endangering general freedom; that is: some minimum of food, shelter and clothing, sufficient to preserve health. Nor is there any reason why the state should not help to organize a comprehensive system of social insurance in providing for those common hazards of life against which few can make adequate provision.” — F.A. Hayek

    • Dave in CT

      Careful John,

      Mentioning Smith and Hayek around here is likely to get the baby thrown out with the bathwater…….

  • http://www.facebook.com/jeffrey.w.hotson Jeffrey Wayne Hotson

    It’s disingenuous for the Republicans to say it’s “class warfare” regarding Obamas’ plan when it’s THEM who are promoting differences in treatment favoring the ultra rich. THEY see the best defense of their positon as a good offense.

  • Hidan

    Worth pointing out what came for Fair.org

    AP’s Mangled Tax Factcheck

    Yesterday Barack Obama made a speech outlining his deficit reduction
    plan–focusing attention on a variety of spending cuts and tax

    increases. The Associated Press, as is their habit, issued a “factcheck” piece by Stephen Ohlemacher that managed to bungle the issues involved, making it sound as if Obama was wrong about the taxes that wealthy people pay.

    “If that’s what you get from “the data,”  AP doesn’t do a good job of showing it.
    The piece points out early on that about 1,400 millionaires paid no
    income tax at all–that’s a small number of tax avoiders, they explain,
    though clearly this would be part of what Obama is talking about.”


  • ComicBook

    I wonder if the “Super Committee” get special shirts with a big “S” on them.

  • ACE

    After listening to all these shows about taxing the rich, I’ve figured it out. If the rich don’t want to be taxed, it is because they want to spend their “extra” money on lobbyists, special interest groups, and getting their parties re-elected. The rest of us don’t have “play” money because we are paying the wealthy’s share of the taxes.

  • Fredlinskip

    Picture this analogy: a big fat guy with a crown on his head is perched on a gargantuan money bag of gold and cash- this represents top 1% in America today.       GOP best solution for propelling economy forward is giving this same king more tax breaks.    Anything wrong with this picture?    During GOP debate it was proposed to lower rates for wealthiest Americans to 25%.    This would be the rate that we had before Great Depression- and the same arguments for the same selfish interests were being made.        Small and new start up businesses are what produce jobs, not mega -wealthy corps.   Mega wealthy do not propel the economy- the spending habits of average consumer does.   As reflected in some comments below- our current economic system is not class warfare- it’s massive slaughter.

  • Gary2

    The United States has lived under the Bush Tax Cuts since 2001. 10
    years later, the Poverty Rate has reached its highest level since it
    started being recorded in 1959

    But an increase in the number of Americans living in Poverty is not all
    now we can to the “LOSS” of quality of living in the USA due to the Bush
    Tax Cuts:

    - Your Bush Tax Cuts At Work = Crumbling/Closed Interstate Bridges

    - Your Bush Tax Cuts At Work = Crumbling Interstate Roads

    - Your Bush Tax Cuts At Work = Closed Police and Fire Departments

    - Your Bush Tax Cuts At Work = Hospitals Shutting Down

    - Your Bush Tax Cuts At Work = Air Pollution Rising

    - Your Bush Tax Cuts At Work = Schools Shutting Down

    - Your Bush Tax Cuts At Work = Uninsured in USA INCREASES

    - Your Bush Tax Cuts At Work = Unemployment INCREASE

    - Your Bush Tax Cuts At Work = Income Gap Between Rich and Poor Increases

    - Your Bush Tax Cuts At Work = Stagnant US Economic Growth

    Could these be Bumper Sticker ideas for the 2012 Election.

  • No1oscar

    I find it disheartening that a boast that the rich pay 38% of the taxes and the poor pay 2% goes unchallenged from anyone who can figure out that the rich control 80% of the country’s wealth, the poor control none,  that leaves the middle class to pay 60% of the taxes from 20% of the country’s wealth. 

    • TomK in Boston

      This is typical smoke. The amount of taxes the rich pay is irrelevant without reference to how much of the income they have, and they’re increasingly getting it all! It is the RATE that matters.

      There is no evidence that tax cuts are good for anyone but the elite. As tax rates have declined, the middle class has declined. IMO that is causation, not correlation. Tax cuts are the road to oligarchy.

    • Pete

      You realize that the term “controlling 80% of the wealth” is a meaningless term. A left-wing talking point. There isn’t some big static pot of money that is distributed up among people, with the wealthy somehow unfairly “controlling” a large portion of it, keeping others from getting at it. In a free society, money is earned by trading time, skills, and ideas, as well as risking and investing that earned capital in other ideas or companies. People move in and out of various income brackets over a lifetime. It isn’t governments job to equalize incomes or results, it’s governments job to make sure that laws are written and applied fairly, according to the Constitution, and to provide as much service as is agreed upon by the majority of its citizens (as long as it’s constitutional).

      The amount of services government provides and at what cost, is what this whole argument is ultimately about. That debate will be answered, at least for a brief period of time, by the next election.

      • Mateo Jose

        Good point Pete. But I’ll warn you, seems like “Constitution” is a bad word these days.
        A lot of people don’t like that word. :-)

      • Fredlinskip

        Think there is a flaw or two to your well thought out and reasoned response.       The whole argument is not about the amount of services the government is ultimately about. This is how the GOP would like to frame the argument, and largely through varying level of control of various media outlets they have done so quite effectively.    The argument is about do we want our government to do work for majority of Americans or do we wish for our government to work only to the benefit of a privileged few. The nature of our democracy is what the argument is about.    Growing the economy is not the answer. This should be obvious. Why? The economy grew by leaps and bounds for 30 years before recent downturn. Yet middle class wages remained stagnant while earnings of privileged few grew exponentially. That has to change.     Either that or we have to stop kidding ourselves that we have a government “for and by the people” and rename it something other than a Democracy.

        • Pete

          Fredlinskip, I would suggest to you that saying that the argument is about whether  we want to have the “government work for the majority of the people or the privileged few” is how democrats want to frame things, allowing them to think they are the only ones with good motivations  and villifying those nasty republican who are just out to help their rich friends. 

          I don’t think you can argue that the Keynesian democrat spending strategy implemented under Obama, which has more Amerians in poverty, a higher unemployment rate 1.5 points higher than when he took office (with no signs of improving) and a deficit that he quadlupled in less than two years is an example of a government working for the majority of he people.

          • Fredlinskip

            Pete,    I believe that when Obama was elected the steam roller of 30 year of generally rather absurd economic policy had created a hole and momentum that if God was elected he couldn’t stop inevitable unemployment largely influenced by the huge income disparity in this country.   I need reenter real world now – I appreciate your views and the civil way you present them. Your views are probably in the majority. I feel that is truly unfortunate.Later

          • Pete

            Fredlinskip, there was nothing irreversible about the state of the economy when Obama entered office. The depression was a far worse moment, and the unemployment and inflation rates during the Carter administration created an equally challenging situation.

            I think the slack you’re cutting Obama is intellectually dishonest. Presidents are judged by the results they bring. Obama’s results, by all standards, which are clearly measurable, have been a disaster. He had two years of house majorities and he was able to pass almost everything that he wanted. Those early policies have had an enormously negative impact on the economy, and that was highly predictable, as Keynesian economics, despite their popularity in certain circles, have no historic record of working well.

            Judging by Obama’s own narcissistic evaluation of himself and the blind worship of many of his followers, God was elected. But even God can’t defy his own laws, including those of economics.

            I also enjoyed your civil give and take. See you in the real world, hopefully with a Republican at the helm.

          • Fredlinskip

            Pete,    Essentially 30 years of “trickle- up” (or voodoo economics, Reaganomics if you prefer) and deregulation have worked astounding well. Now, a fantastically disproportionate amount of wealth is concentrated into a tiny fraction of the population. The beneficiaries of these policies are doing great. Congratulations- perhaps you are one of them. What is “intellectually dishonest “ is to believe that those policies and the deficits that coincided with them, benefited America populace as a whole.     Reagan administration lowered interest rates from historic highs under Carter. That, IMO, had most to do with any economic success his administration may have enjoyed.      As far as Obama being able to pass “anything he wanted” I seem to recall unprecedented use of the filibuster rule by the minority, and an unbelievable amount of compromise being made with GOP, to the point that many of the policies passed were not anywhere near as effective as they could have been.

          • Pete


            For the sake of argument, even if we assume that your critiques of Reagan economics were true or relevant to our discussion (I don’t believe they are), how in the world can you point to what’s happened under Obama so far and call it a better path, since all the economic measures, including the one that you seem to feel is the bell weather of economic failure; the concentration of wealth, has gotten worse? You point to the specks in the tax cutters eyes, but ignore the redwood sized logs, of deficits, unemployment, mortgage defaults and record levels of poverty, coming out of the eyes of the chosen one. Quite a myopic hiccup there.

            The claim that Obama has somehow faced unprecedented problems, or resistance from the opposing political party is utter nonsense, belied by history. If Obama wants to adopt the Harry Truman strategy in next year’s campaign, he better start by getting Harry’s most famous phrase right. It isn’t, “Pass the Buck and Blame Bush!”

            For your reading pleasure, I would point you one of the country’s most beloved democrats, who was also a supply-sider well before Reagan; John F. Kennedy. He also enacted historic tax cuts, which cut the top rate on the rich dramatically, and had the similar result of growing the economy, lowering unemployment and raising government receipts. This excellent speech that he gave to the Economic Club of New York in 1962 explains the thinking behind what you refer to as “voodoo economics.”


            If nothing else, you will at least understand the logic and theory for supply side taxation, given to you from someone on your side of the aisle. If you’re looking for more than theory, history gives you some testable examples with the tax cuts enacted under, Coolidge, JFK, Reagan, Bush. There are some consistent and measurable results that happened in each instance, which argue for their positive effect on the economy.

          • TomK in Boston

            Please. JFK cut tax rates from a very high level to a level that is sky-high by current standards. All that proves is that the economy works great with high taxes, a complete empirical disproof of voodoo economics. We now have historically low tax rates, reached by years of tax cutting and the corresponding decline of the middle class. It’s absurd to equate cutting taxes when they are high to cutting taxes when they are low. Diets are not equally good for fat and skinny people. Our actions should depend on where we are at the time, not on some mindless, one-size-fits-all prescription.

          • Pete

            You should read the speech.

          • Fredlinskip

            Pete, I think your portrayal of the economic crisis we were in when Obama was elected is a bit underated. Consumer spending under W was rampant during the Credit/mortgage/ financial bubble. Consumer spending drives the economy. Obama has had none of that “stimulus”.   Tax cuts under Reagan most immediately brought about a recession. Reagan had sense enough to raise taxes later in his presidency. If your speaking about W, what history shows is contrary to your view. How bout Eisenhower- economy/jobs plugged along pretty well with a 95% tax rate. Depression occurred when tax rate was 25%.      Your right though, I do tend ignore some of Obama’s faults. I guess that’s because IMO his is stratospherically better than previous administration. I don’t believe he’s a saint or has made all the correct choices.   Will check out the Kennedy speech when I get the chance.    Believe TomK makes a good point below as well.

          • Pete

            The tax “increases” passed under Reagan in 1982, were actually an increase on the rate of tax reductions that were passed the year before. Those tax reductions had not yet gone into effect, so the actual result for taxpayers and the economy was still a huge tax cut. Think of it this way: If your tax rate in 2011 is 70%  and I offer to lower it to 40% starting in 2012 but next month I raise my offer to 45%, in 2012 you are still getting a substantial cutback in your taxes.

            If Tom makes a good point, then you are both conceding that there are some circumstances where reducing tax rates, particularly on the upper brackets, has a beneficial result on the economy. If that is true, then you are also admitting that the principles involved with tax reductions have some merit, and are not just a shout out to the “few” or someone’s “rich friends.” That means the argument is really over how low the tax rates can go before losing their salutary effects. Supply-siders would argue that there is still room for reduction, particularly with the corporate and capital gain rates, which are some of the highest in the industrialized world and that raising rates, particularly during a recession, would be a lethal blow to the recovery.

            We all tend to cut the guys we favor more slack, but I’m baffled as to what measure you could possibly be using to conclude that Obama’s economy is “stratospherically better than previous administration.”

    • Gregg

      Who, exactly, determines your income? Don’t you remember those nerds in the sixth grade that excelled? I do. They stuck out. Who made you not try as hard? Who makes you have children before you have a job? Who makes you drink or do drugs? Who determines your work ethic? Your integrity? Who stops you from becoming a brain surgeon? Who?

  • David

    What evidence is there to support the Republican claim that low taxes on the wealthy create jobs? Note that the low capital gains tax also applies to investments outside the U.S. Romney has proposed eliminating all taxes on profits made abroad.

    • ulTRAX

      Of course there’s no direct evidence. The Right is forced to use this lie because it’s the only way to sell irresponsible tax cuts it to pretend they benefit us all.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jessie-Darrett/1552956821 Jessie Darrett

    This discuss provoked me, greatly.  A government worker, I know that the Republican loyalist have contracts within the government that proof to be less cost effective.  The workers within these organizations both governmental and contractual are all the same.  Fifty Percent of those that hold the positions are moved from one group to another dependant on the political group holding the power withing the legislation. 
    I ask why not support a flat tax for all personal regardless of how funds are recieved.  10% on all members of the US population, regardless of nationality.  Visitors and local nationals should all have the 10 percent tax on income imposed.  There should be no benefits given to those that contribe to any cause.  This should be out of good well, not to recieve a tax break.  If this Flat Tax was imposed there would be no need to have the private sector handle charities. 
    This said, Charities are very segratory in nature.  Charities have the right to determine who can and can’t recieve assistance.  But, when the Government handles the saftey nets for the residence that fall on hard times.  The Federal Government should be the holder and maker of the rules that protect the fallen. 
    Private Sector fans of a less robust government and fewer agencies that secure the rights of Americans are in my opinion attempting to retard the progress of the our social improvements.
    Thanks for creating a forum for such debates.
    I hope that voters listen and make a decision, and take action.

  • 12MillionPerDay

    What a shame, Tom Ashbrook or his guests aren’t stepping up to the plate. 

    I am frustrated and perplexed why no one is challenged when saying mantras like, ‘there’s going to be a lot of hurt…’ and ‘in this economy…’

    When are these jingoistic, robber barons going to pay for, be held accountable for and clean up the financial mess they made.

    And when is NPR going to be on the side of the people and condemn these criminals instead of allowing their guest to say, “Oh frankly, Greece was having a party for too long”, (Rehman on 9/19 show about ‘Union Endangered”) and let them get away with it or ask them to support their opinions.

    What about it Tom and NPR?

    12 Million a day sounds like a corrupt party over here to me. 

    “A nonpartisan panel reporting to Congress says the United States is
    wasting $12 million a day among contracts issued in support of American
    efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan.”


  • http://banicki.biz steve banicki

    Paul D. Ryan, chairman of the House Budget Committee said on Fox News Sunday the President’s proposal to cut the deficit would add “further instability to our system, more uncertainty, and it punishes job creation.”“Class warfare,” he said, “may make for really good politics, but it makes for rotten economics.”
    Paul Ryan says that class warfare does not make for good economics.Class Warfare started over 25 years ago by allowing oligopolies to be created by looking the other way and not enforcing anti-trust laws. The divide of the classes increased as these oligopolies bribed our politicians with “contributions> Therefore, Paul Ryan must be in favor of busting up oligopolies and outlawing campaign contributions by unions and corporations.Mr. Ryan is part of the ruling class and likes it.Class warfare started 25-years ago when the government adopted a Don’t Ask! Don’t Tell Economic Plan. (http://bit.ly/rqMXPD) Class warfare started when Wall Street, banks and other oligopolies used their concentrated power to buy off politicians, take control of key industries and cause the melt down of the economy by the creation of the sub-prime mortgage market. All of this caused the huge disparity of family income that has overtaken this country in the last 25-years. Class warfare became more obvious when over 9% of Americans became unemployed because of this greed and inaction by government.This is going to change only when campaign bribes in the form of corporate and union contributions are banned and when large multinational companies and oligopolies are prevented from controlling major markets. It will take a constitutional amendment to get rid of the bribes and enforcement of anti trust laws to get rid of the oligopolies.http://bit.ly/pgBo0n

  • Mateo Jose

    I’m not economist, so I have a couple simple questions if someone could please help me:
    1. I hear the guest speaker say we are in debt largely because of Reagan & Bush Jr. How? I was always told President Obama multiplied our national debt with HIS stimulus packages
    2. HOW is it that if I ran my checkbook like the government runs theirs I would end up in prison, but they are able to continue spending? What will be the consequences?
    Thank you….

    • Gregg

      You may not be an economist Jose but you know more than Paul Krugman.

      • Hidan

        “Unless you are prepared to say what the “fair share” is then it’s meaningless.”

        Today 08:58 AM

        Than you made this comment

        “No, they should pay their fair share.”

        Today 09:09 AM in reply to Rational Using your previous rational “Unless you are prepared to say what the “fair share” is then it’s meaningless.”
        Since you did not state or say what “their fair share” i.e. the rich was  by your own rules making the second comment meaningless and is no better than what you decried Obama for.

        • Gregg

          Illustrating absurdity with absurdity.

    • Fredlinskip

      Mateo,Without an informed electorate there is no democracy.    You need not be an economist- you do need to be able to study the facts, not believe everything you hear and think for yourself.     Majority of Americans are not willing to actually study the facts and think for themselves, so you will be ahead of the curve.     But let me ask a couple of questions in response to yours. How did the stimulus package Bush provided as tax cuts to the wealthy, at a time when we had a budget surplus, work out? Like the results?    Reagan often said that economics was at least 50% psychological. Under his administration the deficit quadrupled. Reagan asked us to believe that if the government takes in less revenue the government takes in more revenue. Close your eyes for a second, use your common sense and ask yourself if you honestly believe this is true.    But don’t let anyone tell you what to think- study the facts and think for yourself- you owe it to your country.

      • Pete

        The tax cuts worked quite well, unemployment dropped and government revenues increased. The deficit went up because of spending, which Bush can be rightly criticized for.

        The question for you is how did Obama’s spending stimulus work out? The answer to this is particularly ironic if you are trying to criticize Bush and Reagan on deficit spending.

        • Fredlinskip

          Many if not most, economists seem to believe that Obama stimulus package may have staved off what could have been much worse- perhaps a depression.    It is similar to the argument made that just because 98% of scientists qualified to make such a judgment believe recent climate changes we are experiencing are man- influenced activities, does not make it true. Facts don’t matter.    If you truly believe W’s fiscal policies worked, judging by the results 10 years later, I believe you are deluding yourself.     Any short-lived success of economy during W administration, is largely attributable to a huge financial/credit/mortgage bubble. A large proportion of our populace was borrowing and spending and living off credit. That party had to end. Anyone who believes otherwise I don’t believe has taken time to review the facts or to actually think.     Also, during W, massive amount of federal borrowing was taking place by a “deficits don’t matter” administration and used to fund the like of no-bid contracts and war profiteering, for example, which also represented a short-term “stimulus”- And a funneling of resources to a privileged ew. 

          • Gregg

            “Many if not most, economists seem to believe that Obama stimulus package may have staved off what could have been much worse- perhaps a depression.”

            There’s that claim again, at least you used qualifiers this time (seems to, may have). Please cite just one economist. Please.

          • Fredlinskip

            Believe you named one yourself directly below this response.

          • Gregg

            Sorry, crackpot Krugman claims the stimulus never happened because it was too small. Either give me a quote or cite another one of your other “most” economist. Try again.

          • Fredlinskip

             There are plenty of economists who take the position that without the stimulus our economy would have been worse off. You won’t be seeing them on Fox “news”. You have time to do the research. If Krugman believes stimulus was too small, than I expect that he would believe a small stimulus did have a positive effect. I really don’t have the time to look into it further at this time.
            I will when time permits if it makes your day.

          • Gregg

            You said there were plenty, most in fact. It should be easy.

          • Gregg
    • TFRX

      “You were always told” what? By whom?

      Maybe there’s too much junk food in you media diet.

      Either that, or stop couching your “JAQing off” with subtler dogwhistles.

  • ReadItandWeep

    The New American Century:

    Over the last decade, the share of U.S. national income taken home by workers has plummeted to a record low.


  • TypicalUSCorp

    When are the banks and corporations going to pay their share?

    “General Electric, the nation’s largest corporation, had a very good year in 2010.

    The company reported worldwide profits of $14.2 billion, and said $5.1
    billion of the total came from its operations in the United States. Its American tax bill? None. In fact, G.E. claimed a tax benefit of $3.2 billion…

    Its extraordinary success is based on an aggressive strategy that mixes
    fierce lobbying for tax breaks and innovative accounting that enables
    it to concentrate its profits offshore.”

  • LuvTheLoophole

    Oh, to be on the insider-big-boy’s-club. 

    The info below proves that it doesn’t matter what puppet’s administration is in power.

    Either/or, the multi-national corps deal and hold the cards.

    Gotta luv the loophole. (See below)

    As a result, GE has joined major banks collectively saving billions
    of dollars by raising money for their operations at lower interest
    rates. Public records show that GE Capital, the company’s massive
    financing arm, has issued nearly a quarter of the $340 billion in debt
    backed by the program, which is known as the Temporary Liquidity
    Guarantee Program, or TLGP. The government’s actions have been
    “powerful and helpful” to the company, GE chief executive Jeffrey
    Immelt acknowledged in December.

    GE’s finance arm is not
    classified as a bank. Rather, it worked its way into the rescue program
    by owning two relatively small Utah banking institutions, illustrating
    how the loopholes in the U.S. regulatory system are manifest in the
    government’s historic intervention in the financial crisis…

    GE’s ability to live in the best of both worlds — capitalizing on
    the federal safety net while avoiding more rigorous regulation –
    existed well before last year’s crisis, because of its unusual
    corporate structure.

    Banking companies are regulated by the
    Federal Reserve and not allowed to engage in commerce, but federal law
    has allowed a small number of commercial companies to engage in banking
    under the lighter hand of the Office of Thrift Supervision. GE falls in
    the latter group because of its ownership of a Utah savings and loan…


    There is much more on how they get the funds without the strings of
    most real banks. Missing from the lead is how GE though its NBC and
    MSNBC news divisions have been major suck ups and supporters of the
    Obama administration…

    GE was included into the Temporary
    Liquidity Guarantee Program, or TLGP , in November 2008 under the Bush
    administration, not Obama’s.

    It was the
    Obama administration that later sought to close the loophole that
    allowed GE into the program.


  • Grant_cook

    Its a hollow plan that won’t solve our upcoming entitlement crisis, just kick the can far enough down the road so that Obama has some populist talking points to run on.  We are going to fix Medicare by taxing corporate jet flights?  Can we even fix it with the 40-50 billion a year pulled from wealthier Americans?  Not even close.. but as the Administration is saying, time for legislating is over – its campaign season/

    Russ Douthat in the NY Times says it best – “is that for all his brave rhetoric about shared sacrifice and grand
    bargains and hard choices, when it comes to make actual, specific,
    detailed policy proposals, President Obama has always shied
    away from putting his name on anything that 1) acknowledges the actual
    scale of our deficit problem and 2) takes on his party’s interest groups
    in any meaningful way. So why should we expect his election-year
    proposals to be any different?”

    • ulTRAX

      If not Obama then eventually the nation will learn that health care spending by definition is a black hole because in a culture that denies death is an inevitable part of life, there will always be some new way to keep some premie or dying senior alive. Of course ALL of us want this. But it’s all made worst by the grotesque inefficiencies of our private health care system.

      Medicare could be propped up by incorporating it into a Single Payer system with ONE health care pool of cash. But there have to be deeper reforms such as cutting the waste out of pharmaceutical research, using market forces to reduce overall health care costs, eliminating fraud, and adjusting benefits to prevent overuse/abuse. 

    • Fredlinskip

      No, asking those who can most afford it most to contribute more will not solve all our problems.         But GOP policy of “tough luck America, the top 1% rule all and the rest of you can ‘eat cake’” is not a credible answer.        It took 30 years of tax breaks for the wealthy and deregulation to put us in the hole we are in. We are not getting out tomorrow.     Repeating all the same fiscal policy mistakes that got us here in the first place, as GOP wishes to do, isn’t going to work.

    • Anonymous

      Here’s an idea. Lets do nothing. Oh wait… lets cut all the social programs, education, EPA, FDA and everything else while we are it.
      That’s the GOP’s plan. To me it’s picking to lesser of two evils.
      The Democrats are that. The GOP is beyond crazy.

      • Dave in CT

        “To me it’s picking to lesser of two evils. The Democrats are that.”

        Wow. We are STILL going to do that to ourselves?

        I’d do the cliche insanity definition but……

        • Anonymous

          Well Dave there are no other choices except not to vote.
          I can’t vote for the GOP as they seem pretty off the rail to me.
          If you could vote of the likes of a Rick Perry, who makes George Bush look like a brilliant man, I just do not know what to say.

          Perry would be the worst thing to happen to this nation.
          If you don’t know enough about him you should read up.
          This is an interesting article from his neck of the woods:

          • Dave in CT

            Perry looks like a chameleonic snake oil salesman, with great crony instincts.  Good thing I don’t support and defend him.

            If out of expediency and co-opting some messages of rage out there, he says some things that I agree with in principle, I will not throw out those principles because of the man. I also won’t vote for the man.

          • Gregg

            “Well Dave there are no other choices except not to vote.”

            That is the path I recommend. If you do vote remember it’s on a Wednesday this cycle.

    • TFRX

      Yeah, you lost many of us when you said “Russ Douthat”, and when you lumped in SocSec, Medicare and everything. That’s the talk of someone who wants to confuse people and whip up fear.

  • ArnoldWalker

    Unfair tax increases on the productive will not help the unproductive in any sustainable way but it does help a hapless Obama regain some cred with his political base. 

    • ulTRAX

      Obama needs all the help he can get… but then it’s his own fault. He had a chance to drive a stake into the heart of the parasitic Wall Street banks that brought down the economy and reinstitute the common sense New Deal reforms that kept these sociopaths on a choke chain… and he punted… and he made so many other unwise compromises he made me want to vomit.  Maybe he’s FINALLY learned the lesson that in the dysfunctional and braindead US two party system, the party without principles and without a 50 year strategy to enact those principles will ALWAYS be at the disadvantage to the party that does. Given this reality, heaven help us if that more aggressive Party is utterly insane.

    • Fredlinskip

      I see you watch Fox “news”.
      Do you REALLY believe it is “fair and balanced”.

      • Gregg

        You guys are funny with the Fox stuff!

        • Fredlinskip

          A bit funny “us guys”?
          Whom are you referring to?

          Do you personally then think Fox is “fair and balanced”-
          or perhaps is it simply a wing of a political organization –
          or perhaps you think “those guys” at Fox are just a bit “funny”?

          • Gregg

            I am referring to the group think that invokes Fox out of the blue. Yes, I absolutely think Fox is fair and balanced. I’ve actually watched.

          • Fredlinskip

            So you actually watch Fox and conclude that it is “fair and balanced”??? Ever seen Brit Hume? Ever watch Hannity??Ailes was a political operative in Bush 1 campaign. Worked for Ronnie’s campaign and Guilianni. Ever seen O’Reilly? Come on Gregg. Reality check. I know there’s a grain of honesty in there somewhere. It’s okay to watch Fox “news”- But please don’t pretend it’s “fair and balanced”.    You “guys” are more than funny- you’re a bit scary.

          • Gregg

             O please, you have no idea.

          • Dave in CT

            What does fair and balanced mean to you? (Can’t believe I’m taking this bait…..)

            Are the primetime Fox show blatant Republican/Conservative opinion/philosophy programs? Obviously, and self-admittedly.

            They take current happenings and discuss them through conservative perspective, and invite a few liberals to get a few words in edgewise.

            Are you mature enough to absorb that and think what you want?

            You have MSNBC if you prefer a different take (spoonfeeding).

            Do we prefer a nice, mechanically assimilated viewpoint that blurs the logic and philosophies of limited government and personal responsibility with central planning and government management of our affairs?

            Isn’t that non-sensical and unprincipled gruel what we have in fact had for decades in the name of “bipartisanship” or the 2-party scam?   Meaningless drivel that achieves nothing of substance and just spends us into oblivion with war and social planning, serving nobody but the political parties that play ping pong with our mind/heart?

            A half-dose of antibiotics will not kill your infection and risks development of resistant forms of bacteria, which make things worse in the long run.

            Throwing mechanistically distinct political philosophies in the blender of bipartisanship and believing something functional and rational to come out the other end, seems crazy.

            That is why a deep exploration and re-examination of our core principles and core political-econmic models, based on  empirical facts, not academic philosophy (Austrian economic view of not being able to predict individual choices, but rather let them lead us, VS. Keynesian and mainstream view that arrogantly, and more importantly, MISTAKENLY, think they can foresee all economic actions and thus directly manage our economy) are so important.

            Because we need to share a rational, pragmatic and mechanistically COHERENT vision, that we want to put into living action, and not think that somehow voting for an “average” of different models is going to be some magic, moderate way forward.

            As Ron Paul in his discussion with Nader,  all the “bipartisnship” of recent times has given us is Corporatism, not progress. 


          • Dave in CT

            “Standard treatments of economics begin by attempting to model human decision making and then apply techniques inherited from classical mechanics to aggregate these individual decision functions into economic relationships.  As Graeber is no doubt aware, the conventional approach relies on the Von Neumann-Morgenstern utility theorem and its normative description of rational behavior.  (More recent approaches use cumulative prospect theory, but the differences need not concern us here.)Austrians have long contended that this approach is untenable and unscientific.  First, any non-trivial economy is too highly dimensional and too non-linear to be analytically tractable.  Conventional economic theories rely on various idealizing simplifications.  Austrians contend that these idealizations render the results meaningless.  At a minimum, they assume away the very questions economics ought to focus on answering.  More importantly, the analogous physical theories rely on the studied system being linear time-invariant.  (Thus a physicist can model motion in the absence of friction because his answer will merely need a simple correction).  Real economies do not have this property; consequently, the standard idealizations do not produce approximately correct claims, they produce nonsense.”


          • Fredlinskip


          • Gregg

            I get my news from a variety of sources. I don’t know where you get your characterization of Fox, certainly not firsthand. I am able to discern between opinion and issues.  Please don’t lecture me.

          • Fredlinskip

            Any of those sources not owned by Rupert?

          • Dave in CT

            I wasn’t talking about you Gregg, I though you already admitted Fox primetime was political and conservative?  What did I mischaracterize?

          • Dave in CT

            I wasn’t talking about you Gregg, I though you already admitted Fox primetime was political and conservative?  What did I mischaracterize?

          • Fredlinskip

            Fox news skews all info processed in a GOP direction. That’s not “fair and balanced”. They do so as to support a political agenda.
            News organizations are supposed to inform the public, not promote an agenda.  I am not so confident all Americans are able to ddiseminate fact from political agenda. Without unbiased reporting democracy is threatened. Our Democracy is seriously threatened by not having enough respected credible news outlets who put truth first.

          • Dave in CT

            “You “guys””.

            That attitude is what’s scary.

          • Steve T

            I can’t watch FOX I’m allergic to BS

    • TFRX

      If you’re gonna use someone else’s talking points, go whole hog: You shoulda said “job creators”.

      Otherwise when you say “the productive” we may think of all those cubicle prarie dogs who are now classified as “management” and exempt from overtime laws. Or those WalMart and other big box workers who get to work extra hours which are scrubbed from their timesheets, somehow.

      • GretchenMo

        Except if two of those cubicle prarie dogs are married to eachother, now they qualify as uberwealthy Buffett-types, and the govs gonna make ‘em pay for being so successful! 

  • Docdeedub

    I think David Osborne should be — NOW — the secretary of Treasury!!  He’s amazingly smart!

  • TheBigPicturePart3

    I think the untold reason behind all of this ‘deficit reduction’ and ‘austerity now’ hoopla is that the international bankers aren’t really out of hot water, yet.

    Sure, they have paid off the Trillions loaned to them by the Fed and the TLGP (Temporary Liquidity Guarantee Program).

    But the Sword of Damocles still hangs over their heads in the form of all those CDOs (Collateralized Debt Obligations) and CDSs (Credit Default Swaps) they issued, packaged up, marketed and sold all over the world.

    No one actually knows how much financial liability is still at large in dollars, because it’s impossible to figure it out and there were no regulations or even a clearing house for the transactions.

    We are talking about bets on bets about debts so sophisticated and complex the rating agencies (think Moody’s) couldn’t understand them and in collusion with the insurers (think AIG) just rubber-stamped them and gave them a high investment grade rating.

    These derivatives are like the fine hair that holds the Sword above. 

    Imagine, hundreds or thousands of debt securities based on prime and sub-prime mortgages wrapped together like pick-up sticks – how many mortgage foreclosures does it take before the bundle unravels and the loser has to pay up – one, two ten, a hundred?

    So, as long as foreclosure rates keep continuing to rise or accelerate…

    That’s just it.  You don’t know when there is a failure on one of these derivatives until the wager reaches some kind of “critical-mass-less-ness” (made that economic term up myself) and the bundle of sticks (mortgages) splays out flat on the ground and all of the individual sticks start rolling away.

    I think this situation is what the Central Banks and the Fed fear over the long-term.

    This is why all the issuing banks of these derivatives (CDOs and CDSs) have been sitting on all of these originating lenders (from Country Wide to Chase) and have been making it very difficult, if almost impossible, for the borrowers to resolve, refinance, short-sell or almost do anything about their obligations from 2008 to late-2010.

    They were stalling, pulling out one stick at a time, trying to hold off as many foreclosures, as long as possible, until they were more than recapitalized and fully prepared to take the next hit.

    Like I said, no one knows how much money we are talking about.

    I’ve seen estimates in the past ranging from $170 to $500 Trillion.

    This is why the economies of Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Spain and Portugal are in shambles.  Their banks, governments and sovereign funds bought into this huge, risky gamble and some played the game themselves.

    Since they don’t have enough money in the kitty and their economic engines aren’t that robust to begin with – they are shown the IMF hand.

    Now the Central Bankers know this ‘Great Contraction’ is going to last 10, or maybe even 20, years and guess who is being prepared and primed to ante up and pay for their greed, corruption, ignorance and stupidity.

    Guess who they want to travel down the long, hard road to ‘austerity-ville’?

    The Me(s) and You(s) from all over the world.


  • GretchenMo

    Solyndra executives are taking the 5th!  Wonder why.  Perhaps Obama can shed some light on this! (‘cuse the pun)

    • Gregg

      It looks like the LightSquared thing is getting worse. Obama had a financial stake in the company. It’s all just the tip of a stinky iceberg.

      • Dave in CT

        Maybe our disdain for crony capitalism will finally really emerge this cycle, and both parties will be rejected.

        • Anonymous

          Ah yes just what we need, a Constitutional crisis. Anyway that wont happen as the Electoral college makes sure someone is elected.
          Failing that the Supreme court will put in some guy from Texas.

          • Dave in CT

            Lets see, people with ideas well out of the DR establishment crony capitalism…….  Ron Paul, Ralph Nader, etc etc, anyone a populous not too sheeplike and lazy to help bring to the fore, and have the courage to elect, instead of swallowing more of the same.

            How is that a Constitutional Crisis?  Maybe we should go ask Justice Breyer if voting for Paul or Nader is a Constitutional Crisis….

          • Dave in CT
          • Anonymous

            Ron Paul? I doubt this guy would even get on the ballot. He’s and extremist and I do not agree with his ideology.
            Nader is not running. 

            A Constitutional crisis is what you described. Bush V Gore was pretty close.

            Maybe you should try to understand how we elect Presidents.
            Again, Nader is not running and Paul is way to out there and his ideas are absurd and would lead to our nation going backwards.

          • Dave in CT

            Could you give me a summary of Ron Paul’s views, and why he thinks they are mechanistically important or right, even if you don’t agree with him?

          • Dave in CT

            Didn’t think so.

          • Joe

            What do you mean that Ron Paul wouldn’t get on the ballot?  The latest Gallup poll shows him in third place behind Perry and Romney, with all the other candidates behind by a mile.  Please don’t buy into the mainstream media’s bashing of Ron Paul.  No doubt many of his views are outside the mainstream (and I don’t agree with all of them), but look where the mainstream has gotten us!  He’s the only candidate on either side who talks seriously about bringing our troops home – not just from Iraq and Afghanistan, but from all around the globe.  This is the 21st century, yet we are still operating in this post-cold-war ‘world police’ mentality.  He’s the only candidate who talks about ending the drug war, which has caused untold suffering and drained our resources, with absolutely no progress in lowering drug use.  He’s the only candidate who talks about corporatism, ‘crony capitalism’, and the fact that the government and federal reserve are in bed with the big banks.  Just these three things alone should be enough to spark interest in the man.  It is nearly impossible to find a politician you will agree with on every issue – but if you look at the major issues, and consider honesty and integrity important, Ron Paul is right on the mark.

          • Dave in CT

            Sadly, no one can/will refute that with factual examples or records, yet they will clamor all day for one version of more of the same.

  • Pingback: Taxes, Spending, and the President’s plan

  • Dave in CT
  • Gregg
    • BrokenRecord

      Gregg –

      Obama this and Obama that.  It get’s pretty tiring.

      As the picture shows, he’s probably our first cardboard cut-out
      president.  Our first totally manufactured resident of the white house.  

      So what?  We get it.  The guy is a dolt and people were fooled.

      Do you think Bush in a jump suit on a flight deck with a ‘mission accomplished’ banner behind him portrays anything differently? 

      I never liked either guy.  But, the individuals are not the problem.

      You are a smart person, why don’t you add something to the discussion here by using your critical thinking skills to create some incisive commentary instead of just sniping and trolling.

      You know, the best way to handle a narcissist is to completely ignore them and then they go away when they don’t get enough attention.

      • Gregg

        It’s funny, that’s all. Lighten up.

  • Anonymous

    Robert Reich is making some great points in how the GOP is bent on keeping the nation’s economy in the dumps as an election year ploy.
    This shows their true colors, they are not for the good of the nation, only being in power. They have become an extremist party that in my view is now dangerous to the future of our nation.


    • TrueColors

      Our current administration was bombing Afghanistan with predator drones 8 days after coming into power.

      I’d say that’s kind of extreme too.

      The problem is both parties are dangerous to the future of our nation because it really is only a one party system masquerading as two. 

      Don’t be fooled by the hyperbole. They only want us to take sides and fight amongst ourselves – that’s why there are only two choices.

    • GretchenMo

      That’s crazy!  A)  Control over the economy is a myth; too complicated, too many players and B) even if they could, they risk another “throw the bums out” election next year that could very well result in a bunch of them getting thrown out. 

      • ulTRAX

        Yours is an odd observation given that it was government intervention with right wing ideas to deregulate the banking and commodity markets, to initiate free trade, and raise the limits on for banks to speculate with that arguably brought the economy down. But government intervention can’t fix some of these problems?
        Of course if the private sector were more responsible they would NOT have jumped at the chance to be irresponsible even when given the chance.
        So what’s the REAL lesson here?

        • GretchenMo

          You have to have one of the least complex belief systems in existence.  It wasn’t solely deregulation of financial institutions that created the housing bubble.  You ignore the role of individuals, legislators at all levels of government, the Fed, pension funds, non-bank financial entities, global interest rates …

          I’m sure there is a lesson here, but clearly it has escaped you.

  • David Arose

    It is so SAD that all we seem to be able to focus on IS “math”. what about the fact that the solution to ALL of this is to encourage the AMERICAN PEOPLE to innovate, invent, and implement all of the good things that research, education, and imagination can provide. if we can do these things by spending money then let’s do it, PERIOD. if we can do some of it through volunteerism or other means that do not incur a monetary issue, that’s fine also. but it is PAINFULLY CLEAR that (1)large companies that have a (very) large amount of unspent cash as well as (2)wealthy persons who are probably getting really bored waiting for a good investment opportunity here in the USA (and therefore are either trying to build their already enormous nest egg (more unused cash) or simply trying to preserve the interest on their investments) are not ready to make the first move. WE THE PEOPLE by popular edict must shake this “money tree” and finance our journey into the future of our civilization, our culture, giving our day-to-day existence some meaning.
    i can’t imagine people with children not fighting, DEMANDING, that opportunities NOT be limited simply to “getting a good paying job”. even that is not enough anymore. that’s okay for emerging nations, but we’re READY for much, much more than that. 
        as much as i like the president, this stimulus plan looks like table scraps for the dog, not the money and effort it takes (in microcosm) for a football team to win the Superbowl. BUT I want to shout myself hoarse for America in 2011, not just the Packers and the Patriots. 

  • Tom from Vancouver, Canada


    You might not agree with what his says….  right away, but if you listen for a while he makes a powerful argument. He is a well studied libertarian, with a perspective that is backed by reason not religion… logic not partisanship.  What he says IS RADICAL… but IT MAKES SENSE.  I would like to see him on your show as a regular commentator such as Jack Beaty.  I think they Jack and Russ would make excellent jousting buddies.

  • Dave in CT

    The Rational Optimist   Matt Ridley

    The Rational Optimist

  • Cime

    They call it class warfare! Yes! From the top down!!

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