June 3, 2010

Conservative opposition to tax increases is nonsensical

And, as Chait observes, denies some previous success by conservatives to achieve some conservative goals. In 1990, HW Bush made a deal with Democrats to cut spending and raise taxes. It was hardly a big tax increase, but it caused the right wing to freak and most likely lost Bush reelection. And the lesson learned?
"Since Bush's budget deal, not a single Republican member of Congress has agreed to raise taxes. It has been a stunning triumph of ideological discipline.

The funny thing is, Bush's deal worked. So did Bill Clinton's deficit reduction package three years later, which was structured along similar lines and overcame even more hysterical opposition from the right. It not only worked as intended, it represented possibly the single greatest triumph of domestic conservative policymaking of the postwar era."
Conservatives are still opposing any tax increase in the face of looming deficits, while the political will to cut the most expensive items simply doesn't exist. And further, even the Tea Party doesn't really want to cut those programs. They just want them to paid for with magic beans. Or, as Bruce Bartlett suggests, they really just want those government programs for themselves, and not for non-white people. Not that the Tea Party is racist or anything. No, not at all.

We are going to have to raise taxes. I am terrible at math and did poorly in the one accounting class I took in college, but even I know that. Republicans, however, will punish any Republican who dares suggest it. Because the Republican party has lost its freaking mind.


Gino said...

The Democrats have control of the White House and Congress; any time you liberals want to raise taxes, have at it.

Streak said...

Gino, you are a moron. I don't even know you and even I know you are a moron. What do you think those close to you think?

Gino said...

O.K., prove it to me; what did I say that was wrong?

Streak said...

Actually, Gino, you simply ignored the central issue. Which, by the way, is why you are an idiot.

Come back when you are willing to talk. Otherwise, go find a Tea Party site where your anti-intellectual talk is welcomed.

Gino said...

Since they are not in control, it hardly matters whether the Republicans want to raise taxes. Your central issue is irrelevant. As are you.

Streak said...

Then why are you here bothering me? If I am irrelevant?

Fuck off.

LB said...

Streak, I want to try out an idea on you here. I'm mostly thinking out loud, I haven't really thought this out myself thoroughly:

I think its not so much a conservative opposition to tax increases, but a general American opposition to tax increases. Just as you argue that Tea Partiers want programs only for themselves, I think that Americans in general, not conservatives exclusively don't want to pay taxes. The difference between liberals and conservatives is that conservatives don't want anyone to pay taxes, but liberals want other people's taxes to go up, just not theirs.

Streak said...

Actually, LB, not a bad question, but my argument would be that this is a relatively new phenomenon. If you look at the conservative and american approach to taxation during the 50s and 60s, we funded a lot of programs, and conservatives may have tried to cut some of those programs, but they didn't automatically cut taxes. Eisenhower refused to cut taxes (even with the high New Deal taxes still in place) until some of the deficit was reduced.

The anti-tax has been encouraged by Republicans because it is incredibly easy. Nothing easier to promise to reduce government (for those you don't like), do nothing about it, and then further promise that it won't cost you (the voter) anything.

It isn't good governance, and unfortunately, democrats have played the game too much as well. We should be talking about the differences between good taxes that are investments in policies and programs that we all benefit from, and those negative and wasteful taxes and programs. That is a grownup way to talk about things. The republican way, I would argue, is to say that we as citizens don't have to pay anything, and somehow wars and tax cuts and, yes, healthcare and medicare prescriptions will magically be paid for.

Time for us to growup and recognize that bills come due. At least some people recognize we will have to raise some taxes. Surely that is not such a radical argument?

Good to see you, LB. How did your exams go?

LB said...

It is my sincere hope we don't have to raise taxes, though I accept that it is more than likely an inevitability. If that is the case, then you are right, there needs to be an honest discussion of what taxes are good an what are not. For instance, the VAT I think is a very bad idea. I think it hides taxes too much from consumer view. A straight up consumption tax would be more acceptable I think on targeted items possibly. I've read some conservatives who advocate for a gasoline tax, which I'm not sure I'd like, but the logic is interesting and makes me think it merits more attention. Their argument is that in the short term it would raise revenue, while in the long term it would finally convince America to make real strides toward alternative fuels.

It would be a huge tax, which is what concerns me. Basically the argument is that when gas finally hit $4/gallon, that was when the country really started to want alternative fuel sources. So basically set the tax rate on gas to keep it a little above $4.

My exams went very well. I passed with distinction. Thanks for asking. Now I "just" have to write a dissertation.

Streak said...

I don't quite understand the conservative response to taxation. I really don't. Why push toward regressive taxation? Why tax the poor guy who is struggling to get by with the same tax that the comfortable middle manager pays?

I can afford to pay that gas tax, but know people who that might change their very ability to work. What is the big problem with raising everyone's income tax a bit, and especially raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans, or the ones who made out like bandits under the false economic boom of the early 2000s?

Why not close the corporate loopholes to force companies like Exxon to actually pay taxes? Conservatives are opposed to all of those things, yet they are exactly how we built the infrastructure of the 1950s and got ourselves out of the depression era debt.

Seriously, the problem is that conservatives now see any taxation as bad. That is not reasonable and is inherently destructive. I understand concerns about government over-reach, etc., but there was a time when conservatives at least stood for good governance. Tax cuts as economic policy is not good governance.

leighton said...

I want more taxes like I would want chemo if I had cancer: I don't like either one, and I wouldn't say I wanted them, but they sure as heck beat the alternatives. Although my taxes have gone down under Obama, and I have appreciated that, I wouldn't mind a tax hike if I knew it was going toward social safety nets.

While I think raising taxes in some form is a necessity at this point, I would also want to look at cutting down expenses, particularly in the realm of military spending.

steves said...

There certainly are times when taxes have to go up to pay for needed programs and emergencies. As someone who works in the disability field, I am grateful that Obama has pushed for more funding for RSDI and SSI. These are things that I don't (and probably most Americans) have a problem with. Unfortunately, for every valuable program like this, there seems to be some kind of wasteful use of funds.

It isn't fair that useful programs have to suffer because of waste, but that is probably where some of the angst is coming from. In addition, to some people, taxes are high. I understand that federal income taxes are relatively low, but add to that state income taxes, sales taxes, property taxes, social security, gas taxes, city income taxes, and various other fees, it does seem to add up.

Streak said...

I simply think we need to look at taxes as we would any other kind of cost and investment. Some costs are wasteful and easily consumed. When we purchase expensive food that rots, that is a waste. When we go into debt to improve our house, that is a good use of that money.

Further, Steves point is a good one, but one that some of us have been saying for a long, long time. The biggest lie for Republicans has been the idea of the "tax cut." There are such things, mind you, but the tax cuts from the Bush administration didn't actually cut taxes as much as they redistributed them--what Krugman calls a "tax shift." That puts more pressure on local taxes, which tend to be more regressive.

Which is why, I would like to see more attention to "progressive" taxes that ask the wealthy to pay for their amazing opportunity. If you look at the numbers, the wealthy have steadily gotten much wealthier since Reagan, while the rest of us have risen slowly or stagnated. Enough with the regressive taxes on consumables. Time to tax income and wealth. If that makes me a socialist, then so be it. (And of course, it does not. But in the contemporary Republican world, any support for taxes makes you a socialist.)