Patterico's Pontifications

1/19/2015

How Does GOP Fight Obama’s “Populist” Tax Hike Proposals? Attack Crony Capitalism

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 4:13 pm

At Hot Air, Jazz Shaw asks: How does the GOP fight a populist, tax the rich proposal?

I think the answer to the question is easy, but the implementation is hard. The answer, as the headline implies, is to attack crony capitalism.

True free market conservatives should reject corporate welfare as surely as they reject standard welfare. And corporate welfare abounds.

The problem is, that’s how politicians get paid, and thereby get re-elected. But if they’re willing to actually act in the public good (ha!) that’s what they should do.

And they should point out all the instances where Obama has pushed crony capitalism and corporate welfare. His administration is packed to the gills with Wall Street fat cats, and he has certainly done nothing to put the brakes on special deals for favored businesses.

So point that out and put an end to it.

Or don’t. I figure they’ll go with “don’t.”

Thiessen on Those Wonderful GOP Solutions for Poverty

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 1:17 pm

Marc Thiessen has a piece attacking Obama’s new tax proposals. So far, so good. But then he runs off the rails talking about GOP solutions to poverty. All involve more government:

There are plenty of innovative proposals to choose from. Last July, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) — now the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee — laid out serious anti-poverty initiatives, including “opportunity grants” that would allow states to test different ways of fighting poverty and an expansion of the earned-income tax credit for childless workers, paid for by eliminating ineffective programs and corporate welfare. Other good ideas include my American Enterprise Institute colleague Michael Strain’s proposals to create relocation vouchers for the long-term unemployed, which would help those in high-unemployment areas move to states where jobs are abundant, as well as a lower minimum wage that would encourage firms to hire the long-term unemployed while supplementing their income with an EITC-like payment. In the Senate, Mike Lee (R-Utah) has put forward proposals of his own that include criminal justice reform, education reform and policies to strengthen families. For his part, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) is out with a new book brimming with ideas for a conservative effort to restore the American Dream.

I have an idea. Start repealing the laws and regulations that hamper the free market economy — since the free market economy is the best thing that ever happened to the poor.

I recently mentioned that among the books I have read recently are Ron Paul’s “The Revolution: A Manifesto” and Tom Woods’s “Real Dissent”. Although less persuasive on issues of foreign policy, dealing with terrorism, and criminal justice, these books make an excellent case on economic issues. Paul and Woods repeatedly argue that Republicans and Democrats are little different when it comes to their views of big government. While I think it would be an exaggeration to say there is no difference, there is frequently so little room between the two as to make political observers very frustrated.

Whatever you might say about aspects of Ron Paul’s positions, on issues like this he wasn’t proposing ways to use government to fix societal problems. He was proposing downsizing government and allowing the market and society to address (not “fix” as there is no “fixing” them) societal problems.

Where is the GOP candidate for President of today making such arguments? Ted Cruz would. I think Scott Walker probably would. The rest of them? Nope. They’re looking for more ways to use the government. That’s the wrong approach.

But, it seems to be the approach the American people want. Those who believe in the market have to keep talking about it and trying to persuade people. It seems like a futile effort, but what else can we do?

Hollywood Liberals: We Are Sooo Not Polarizing Like Those Right-Wingers!

Filed under: General — Dana @ 10:25 am

[guest post by Dana]

Hollywood: That self-touting bastion of open-minded inclusiveness, anti-bigotry, and a haven where individuality and bucking the system is ardently revered. Except when it’s not. And when it’s not, of course, is when it’s conservatives we’re talking about. Then the calculus changes and all bets are off.

The Caucus for Producers, Writers and Directors, founded by Norman Lear and Aaron Spelling, annually honors one member from each major political party with the American Spirit Award. This year’s honorees are Gov. Jerry Brown and Sen. Ted Cruz.

However, in what is certainly not representative of the American spirit, there is a call to reconsider the selection of Cruz. Do you even need to ask why? In a display of self-parody, fear and ignorance, the more liberal members of the group are threatening to take their ball and go home because Cruz:

Some Caucus members said they consider Cruz to be overly “polarizing” and too much a “right-winger,” so he should therefore be excluded from consideration for a Spirit award.

Of course, they cannot see how narrow-minded and small they are.

Fortunately, there are individuals who choose to think for themselves:

“Censorship is very much in the news today, and there’s a great debate in this country about our future. Why would anyone want to listen to only one side?” asked one insider who spoke on the condition of anonymity. “Would someone please explain what the senator from Texas has done that merits his exclusion in Hollywood?”

Also:

Countered another member: “He’s the kind of person Hollywood should admire. Princeton graduate. Harvard law degree. Supreme Court clerk. Legitimate candidate for president. What’s this town scared of?”

And while we’re discussing Hollywood, reaction to Clint Eastwood’s film about Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, American Sniper is causing a massive case of the vapors as well. Obviously, though, Hollywood is not representative of the population at large given that the film is breaking records and topping U.S. box office numbers since opening in limited release in December.

–Dana

Obama’s Plan to Tax the Rich: Totally Worthless, Sophomoric, and Cynical

Filed under: Budget,General — Patterico @ 12:03 am

John Nichols in The Nation:

Warren Buffett explained the secret to addressing the challenges facing the United States during President Obama’s first term. In a short commentary written for The New York Times—headline: “Stop Coddling the Super-Rich”—Buffett explained, “My friends and I have been coddled long enough by a billionaire-friendly Congress. It’s time for our government to get serious about shared sacrifice.”

President Obama was relatively cautious about taking Buffett’s advice.

Until now.

With an eye toward addressing income inequality, the president will use his State of the Union Address to propose new taxes and fees on very rich people and very big banks. In any historical context, the tax hikes and fees are “modest,” but after a period of absurd austerity and slow-growth economics, Obama’s move is as important as it is necessary.

At a point when there is broadening recognition of the social and economic perils posed by income inequaliy, the president is talking about taking simple steps in the right direction. Congress is unlikely go along with him, but the American people will—Gallup polling finds that 67 percent of likely voters are dissatified with income and wealth distrution in the United States. And as this country prepares for the critical presidential and congressional elections of 2016, the president’s clarifying of the terms of debate on taxes becomes vital.

What utter nonsense. You can’t get out of our deficit problems by taxing the rich. As I said in 2011:

[O]ne of the points I have been making lately is that higher taxes on the rich cannot possibly balance the budget no matter how confiscatory they are. You could return to 2000 levels for incomes over $200,000, raise the top rate to 50% for those making $500,000, 60% for those making over $5 million, and a sky-high 70% for those making over $10 million, and you know what you would raise? An extra $133 billion per year, in a budget whose deficits are more than 10 times that amount.

I have also made the point that increases in taxes, even giant ones, don’t do much to increase revenue:

[W]hether the top tax rate is 90% as it was in 1960, or 30-40% as it’s been since 1990, federal revenue is always 15-20% of GDP:

Source

The whole “income inequality” canard has been addressed here before. Our Savior Mitt Romney thinks its a problem, as I noted here. But it’s not. The free market is the best thing that ever happened to poor people, which is in large part a testament to the consumer surplus. Interfere with the workings of the free market, and you approach communism: that wonderful state where everyone is the same, namely, equally poor. (In actuality, not everyone is the same; party members get special treatment and black markets flourish. But never mind all that!) As Margaret Thatcher said (and I noted in this post): “What the honorable member is saying, is that he would rather the poor were poorer, provided the rich were less rich. . . . Yes, he would rather have the poor poorer, provided the rich were less rich.”

That’s what Obama wants. Never mind that the free market is the best thing in the world for poor people. He wants to end it, and he’ll bend the rules to do so.

P.S. I’ve been reading lately about the fall of the Roman Republic, and it seems eerily reminiscent of Obama’s actions lately. But that’s another post.

We can’t get rid of this guy quick enough.

UPDATE: Since some people don’t get it yet, let me quote this post of mine from 2013 (already linked above):

First, even confiscating all millionaires’ taxable income would not close the gap. It’s difficult to find recent statistics for these numbers, but in posts I wrote in April 2011 I quoted people who had examined IRS statistics and found that in 2008, “Taxable income over $100,000 was $1,582 billion, over $200,000 was $1,185 billion, over $500,000 was $820 billion, over $1 million was $616 billion, over $2 million was $460 billion, over $5 million was $302 billion, and over $10 million was $212 billion.” To get that $1.3 trillion you can’t close the gap by taxing rich people. You could confiscate all the income of people with taxable income over $1 million and it would not close the gap by half.

Of course, that assumes that people with a 100% tax rate would happily continue to work just as hard as they had when they got to keep some of their money. If you believe that, you’re an idiot.


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