Report from Ronnie's woodshed: David Stockman on Paul Ryan

Report from Ronnie's woodshed

by digby

I disagree with many specifics in this thoroughly enjoyable critique of the Paul Ryan dystopian hellscape budget by Reagan budget czar David Stockman, but this, I think, is a very important point for all progressives to understand:

The Ryan Plan boils down to a fetish for cutting the top marginal income-tax rate for “job creators” — i.e. the superwealthy — to 25 percent and paying for it with an as-yet-undisclosed plan to broaden the tax base. Of the $1 trillion in so-called tax expenditures that the plan would attack, the vast majority would come from slashing popular tax breaks for employer-provided health insurance, mortgage interest, 401(k) accounts, state and local taxes, charitable giving and the like, not to mention low rates on capital gains and dividends. The crony capitalists of K Street already own more than enough Republican votes to stop that train before it leaves the station.

That's right. As Dana Carvey doing George Bush Sr used to say, "nah guh happen." Any benefit for which there is a wealthy constituency will not be touched. Until we fix our corrupt political system, any assumptions of "shared sacrifice" are fairy tales.

Beyond that, it's true that many "tax expenditures" benefit the well-off more than the middle and working class. But for the past several decades of conservative dominance, that has also been the only vehicle by which the government could get any sort of help to the rest of the American people via wealth redistribution. It's not my first choice, by a long shot. In a perfect world liberals would be free to create decent government support for working families that didn't have to be defined as a "tax incentive." I'd rather have straight up cash and government services delivery. But before we dismantle what little we do have, it would be really nice to ensure that our system is capable of replacing these clunky programs with something else for the average citizens and their families who need them.

Once again, there are many miles of reform to go before this kind of "tax reform" can possibly benefit average citizens. Let's just raise the rates on the wealthy for now and try to get money out of politics. Once we do something about those problems, maybe then we can have a serious debate about reforming the labyrinthine tax code so that the entire burden doesn't fall on middle and working class Americans. Right now, it's the Kochheads' world and we just live in it.