Cross posted at my own blog.
I skim the Washington Monthly blog as a window on the thinking of the far left. They are more civil (except in comments) than the DailyKos but the mentality is the same. Today is a reasonable example. The topic is taxes.
Roll Call noted this morning that the Senate is moving towards “an epic election-year battle over Bush-era tax cuts.” That sounds about right.
The dispute helps capture exactly what the two parties prioritize right now — Dems want to keep lower rates for the middle class, while reducing the deficit by letting the rich go back to the rates they paid when the economy was healthy. Republicans want to hold the Dem proposal hostage, fighting tooth and nail for breaks for millionaires and billionaires, and adding $680 billion to the deficit the GOP pretended to care about for a while.
The “middle class” is a very elastic concept for them with the top income range going all the way down to $150,000 per year. Secondly, the group with incomes of $250,000 or more, the target class, consists of mainly small business people who are not incorporated and who file all income with a personal return.
There is also no concept here of who pays the taxes. Shouldn’t “tax cuts” be distributed to those who pay taxes ? Otherwise, it is just one more government handout to those who are nonproductive. Here is a look. The top 1% of income pays 40% of the income taxes. Hmmm That’s also about $410,000 per year, not $2 million.
The top 5% pays 60.63% of the income taxes. The threshold for the top 5% is $160,000. Well, what do you know ?
Billionaires need little help from Republicans but they do invest and are the source of most new jobs. The concern for “the deficit” on the part of Democrats may be translated as the left side of the entire argument about spending versus taxing. Republicans want to talk about cutting spending, especially tea party Republicans. I even have a compromise: Let the tax rates go back to the Clinton administration rates but let’s also go back to the number of government employees of the Clinton period.
[W]here would this $680 billion go? Nearly all of it would go to the richest 1 percent of Americans, people with incomes of more than $500,000 a year. But that’s the least of it: the policy center’s estimates say that the majority of the tax cuts would go to the richest one-tenth of 1 percent. Take a group of 1,000 randomly selected Americans, and pick the one with the highest income; he’s going to get the majority of that group’s tax break. And the average tax break for those lucky few — the poorest members of the group have annual incomes of more than $2 million, and the average member makes more than $7 million a year — would be $3 million over the course of the next decade. […]
Notice how the “richest” become those with incomes over $2 million when we are talking about one aspect of the issue but, when it is time to actually impose the taxes, the incomes shrink back down to $250,000 or, in some cases, it shriveles all the way down to $150,000 per year.
Midwestern centrists such as Sens. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) and Evan Bayh (D-Ind.) have called for an extension of all of Bush’s tax cuts, including those benefiting individuals earning more than $200,000 and families earning over $250,000 annually.
Other Democrats say they would consider raising taxes on individuals and families earning below those thresholds, despite President Obama’s promise that middle-class families would not see their taxes increase.
Some liberals balk at the notion that families earning $250,000 or more belong in the middle class.
“Two hundred and fifty thousand dollars? Is that the top 1 percent of Americans, or half a percent? Come on!” said Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa).
Harkin said he would be willing to extend the tax cuts for families earning $150,000 or less annually.
See how elastic that number is ? Families with a combined income of $150,000 are “rich.” We went from $2 million per year to $150,000 per year just like that!
Or we’re told that it’s about helping the economy recover. But it’s hard to think of a less cost-effective way to help the economy than giving money to people who already have plenty, and aren’t likely to spend a windfall.
Did you notice that one ? Tax cuts “give” money to people who have “plenty.” Just keep repeating to yourself; it’s not your money. It’s the government’s money and they are “giving you some of it.” They used to call that “To each according to his needs.”
No, this has nothing to do with sound economic policy. Instead, as I said, it’s about a dysfunctional and corrupt political culture, in which Congress won’t take action to revive the economy, pleads poverty when it comes to protecting the jobs of schoolteachers and firefighters, but declares cost no object when it comes to sparing the already wealthy even the slightest financial inconvenience.
Once again, a translation. Schoolteachers “need” the money. Firefighters is just a cover. The “wealthy” (Those with over $150,000 per year income) don’t “need” the money.
Note, there is no concept of a private economy here. Nobody invests; nobody starts a business. The story of the 2001 tax cuts that Democrats want to repeal is here in more detail.
This is what socialism looks like in practice.