HOME



Digby's Hullabaloo
2801 Ocean Park Blvd.
Box 157
Santa Monica, Ca 90405



Facebook: Digby Parton

Twitter:
@digby56
@Gaius_Publius
@BloggersRUs (Tom Sullivan)
@spockosbrain



emails:
Digby:
thedigbyblog at gmail
Dennis:
satniteflix at gmail
Gaius:
publius.gaius at gmail
Tom:
tpostsully at gmail
Spocko:
Spockosbrain at gmail
tristero:
Richardein at me.com








Infomania

Salon
Buzzflash
Mother Jones
Raw Story
Huffington Post
Slate
Crooks and Liars
American Prospect
New Republic


Denofcinema.com: Saturday Night at the Movies by Dennis Hartley review archive

January 2003 February 2003 March 2003 April 2003 May 2003 June 2003 July 2003 August 2003 September 2003 October 2003 November 2003 December 2003 January 2004 February 2004 March 2004 April 2004 May 2004 June 2004 July 2004 August 2004 September 2004 October 2004 November 2004 December 2004 January 2005 February 2005 March 2005 April 2005 May 2005 June 2005 July 2005 August 2005 September 2005 October 2005 November 2005 December 2005 January 2006 February 2006 March 2006 April 2006 May 2006 June 2006 July 2006 August 2006 September 2006 October 2006 November 2006 December 2006 January 2007 February 2007 March 2007 April 2007 May 2007 June 2007 July 2007 August 2007 September 2007 October 2007 November 2007 December 2007 January 2008 February 2008 March 2008 April 2008 May 2008 June 2008 July 2008 August 2008 September 2008 October 2008 November 2008 December 2008 January 2009 February 2009 March 2009 April 2009 May 2009 June 2009 July 2009 August 2009 September 2009 October 2009 November 2009 December 2009 January 2010 February 2010 March 2010 April 2010 May 2010 June 2010 July 2010 August 2010 September 2010 October 2010 November 2010 December 2010 January 2011 February 2011 March 2011 April 2011 May 2011 June 2011 July 2011 August 2011 September 2011 October 2011 November 2011 December 2011 January 2012 February 2012 March 2012 April 2012 May 2012 June 2012 July 2012 August 2012 September 2012 October 2012 November 2012 December 2012 January 2013 February 2013 March 2013 April 2013 May 2013 June 2013 July 2013 August 2013 September 2013 October 2013 November 2013 December 2013 January 2014 February 2014 March 2014 April 2014 May 2014 June 2014 July 2014 August 2014 September 2014 October 2014 November 2014 December 2014 January 2015 February 2015 March 2015 April 2015 May 2015 June 2015 July 2015 August 2015 September 2015 October 2015 November 2015 December 2015 January 2016 February 2016 March 2016 April 2016 May 2016 June 2016 July 2016 August 2016 September 2016 October 2016 November 2016 December 2016 January 2017 February 2017 March 2017 April 2017 May 2017 June 2017 July 2017 August 2017 September 2017 October 2017 November 2017 December 2017 January 2018 February 2018 March 2018 April 2018 May 2018 June 2018 July 2018 August 2018 September 2018 October 2018 November 2018 December 2018 January 2019 February 2019 March 2019 April 2019 May 2019


 

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Hullabaloo


Monday, February 23, 2009

 
Giving Away The Tax Argument

by dday

One result of the budget mess being resolved here in California was a variety of tax increases (which were mostly flat or regressive and not all that good). The spending cuts were actually larger. However, in two of the weekend editions of the Los Angeles Times, right on page A1 above the fold, there was a graphic of a "tax calculator," which projected the additional taxes an individual would pay based on certain factors like income, number of dependents and values of vehicles. They have a corresponding tax calculator on their website where users can type in the data and get the precise tax hit coming to them. The Sacramento Bee has the same thing. Talk radio was having a field day with these calculators over the past few days, getting people to call in and disclose their statistics and telling them how much money they will owe. I heard a lady making $126,000 a year ranting about an $800 tax increase, and nobody seemed to find that absurd.

In my life, I have never seen a "spending cut calculator," where someone could plug in, say, how many school-age children they have, or how many roads they take to work, or how many police officers and firefighters serve their community, or what social services they or their families rely on, and discover how much they stand to lose in THAT equation. Tax calculators show bias toward the gated community screamers on the right who see their money being "taken away" for nothing. A spending cut calculator would actually show the impact to a much larger cross-section of society, putting far more people at risk than a below 1% hit to their bottom line.

But of course, people who are perceived to depend on state services probably don't log on to the LA Times and the Sacramento Bee websites very often to calculate their tax burden. In reality, we all depend on the state for roads and law enforcement and libraries and schools and county hospitals and on and on. And in Los Angeles County, one in five residents - almost 2.2 million people - receive some form of public aid. So wouldn't it make sense to portray the real cost of spending cuts in the same way that tax increases are portrayed?

And we're seeing this on the national level as well. During the Presidential race the Obama campaign kept putting out "tax calculators" and emphasizing their tax cut plans for 95% of Americans. Now the DCCC, the Democratic campaign arm in the House, is specifically targeting House Republicans for opposing the stimulus package, foregrounding that they voted against "the largest tax cut in American history". Here's a sample robocall they are putting into these districts:

Hello, I’m calling on behalf of House Democrats with an important message about the economy.

Did you know Congressman Thad McCotter voted against President Obama’s economic recovery plan, endorsed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce? McCotter’s empty rhetoric can’t hide that he voted to raise the AMT tax on 22 million middle class Americans and against the largest tax cut in history.

Call McCotter at 734-632-0314 to ask why he voted to raise taxes on middle class families.

Check out www.recoveryforamerica.org to learn more.

Paid for by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, 202-741-1350, not authorized by any candidate or candidate’s committee.


It's great that they're engaging in some off-cycle organizing and campaigning. But the message is stupid, short-sighted and reinforcing to conservative frames. First of all, 65% of the stimulus consisted of spending and investment, much of which is wildly popular, and also the only way it will work, through fiscal spending filling in the gaps for decreased private investment and consumer spending and creating more jobs and more demand. Tax cuts aren't only a minor part of the bill, they have less stimulative value. If this works, it won't be because of tax cuts, it will be in spite of them. And, as Brian Beutler notes:

We'll all be better off if as many Americans as possible swap out their tax cut mania for a sense that government can, in fact, meliorate the country's biggest problems. I, personally, would like to keep the number of people who think tax cuts saved the economy to a minimum. The fewer the better--both for progressives and progressivism.

The government's eventually going to have to raise taxes to pay for all this, after all. Democrats will almost certainly be the ones to do this and there's no reason they should be sabotaging public support for those increases years in advance.


The media already highlights the tax side of the equation over spending, dramatically portraying tax increases while relegating spending cuts to paragraph 27. It feeds the tax revolt and distorts the debate. And it's completely irresponsible. And the DCCC is simply enabling this.

Taxes are the price we pay for a functioning society, and America is worth paying for. Joe Biden tried to run with this message once during the campaign and got his head cut off, so now Democrats are turning back. They are trying to take tax cuts "off the table" with rhetoric that accepts the right's frame. When both parties are running on who will cut your taxes the most, it cheapens the value of federal investment in providing for the future, and the ability for government to prove its value as a guarantor of those most basic rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, as well as promoting the general welfare.

If we're embarking on a new effort to convince the public that government can work, you don't start by bragging about starving it of resources. You can't win a fight with Republicans about cutting taxes. It's a race to the bottom and the losers are the least of society.


.