Thursday, October 17, 2013

Does Eric Cantor Lie? Bears. Woods. He Wrote This In WaPo.

   When you write an OpEd in the Washington Post it is generally a good idea to remember that people with a couple live brain cells might read it, especially since it's liable to show up in other sources.  Well, Eric Cantor decided he'd write something and now that some of the heat has gone out of the Shutdown Showdown I thought maybe I'd go ahead and work over his "bi-partisan" nonsense.

   The opening paragraph talks about how this has been building up for three years (I'd quibble a bit about the duration) and then tosses this out:
President Obama has led us here by continually thwarting the will of Congress and dismissing its role in our constitutional republic.
   There are a couple problems with this statement.  You'd think a Representative could figure out that the Congress is composed of two Chambers - the House and the Senate.  Eric Cantor's GOP dominated House is not Congress, it is one half of it.  The Senate has thought the House has sucked since the GOP won it.  Maybe Eric would like to point at the Presidential?  You know, since the President has "dissed" the Congress.

President Obama refuses to even sit at the same table as Republicans and work to solve the “debt problem”
   A person could point at the GOP refusal on twenty some occasions since March to meet with the Senate in Conference over the Senate passed Budget... It is passingly odd for one of the architects of refusal to point at someone else and it isn't the President's job to meet with the House to iron out the difference between the House and Senate while it is Eric Cantor's job as House Majority Whip to get the votes for that Conference with the Senate from his Party.  Somebody wasn't doing their job.

     Eric would like to talk about recess appointments, while he manages to ignore blanket blocks by the GOP, hamstringing government in a manner never before practiced.  He talks about waivers to circumvent "No Child Left Behind" while the truth is that they are allowed for exactly the purpose they were granted.  He goes in to some blather about violating the LAW around religious liberty after the Supreme Court certified ACA and work requirements for welfare waivers that allowed the States to actually implement the law within their budgets and economic conditions - exacerbated, I'd say, by the GOP.
Mr. President, let’s sit down and talk. Let’s reach consensus and end the “my way or the highway” attitude once and for all.
   I'm sorry, but when you've taken the Federal Government and the Full Faith and Credit of the USA hostage you really don't get to talk about "my way or the highway," without choking.  Well, or your keyboard exploding...

   Just so we're clear here, this is the number two guy in the GOP House Caucus leadership, he voted against staying out of default.  He is the guy who spent two years sharpening the knife to slip into Boehner's ribs.  The knife got stuck in and now they've got their results and oddly, Boehner is in better position in his Caucus - as though anybody else would want that job now.

   It would be too bad if something nasty happened to Cantor's re-election in Virginia's 7th like a personal responsibility price being exacted.  Don't hold your breath on that one; these people are real big on saying those words right up until they might get involved in it - especially the voters since the pols know better.


What Is Tax Policy All About?

   I don't think there's much disagreement that one aspect of tax policy is to fund government.  There are all sorts of arguments about how to do that and how much to do that but that funding is one aspect isn't really argued.  There is another aspect that is frequently forgotten, that is to encourage or discourage various things economically.

   If you're going to fund the government you have to decide how to get the income needed.  One element that has been in operation for a long time is progressive taxation.  That name has nothing to do with political labels, it refers to the concept that the tax burden increases as income climbs.  Two ideas underpin this concept, one is that some can better afford the funding process than those poorer and the second is the recognition that a system like capitalism vastly better benefits capital (a nice way of saying wealth) and those most benefitted ought to pay for that.  (despite moocher/taker propaganda, high income levels get much more usage of the governmental system than lower)  What is discussed right here has nothing to do with encouraging/discouraging behaviors, it is simply about funding government.

  There are various proposals for tax structures with some of the most prevalent ones being flat tax, VAT tax, and some variations of sales tax.  The difficulty with these is that they shift the tax burden down onto those least able to afford them and least benefitting from what they pay for.  The claims that these systems are more fair totally ignores what capitalism is and how it works.  It also ignores what progressive means in taxation of actual dollars.  Each segment of income is taxed exactly the same whether you make a little or billions, you only pay a higher rate on the dollars above the preceding bracket.  You can argue about what a government ought to do, but you cannot argue that it must be paid for.

   Things start to get sticky where taxation is used as the blunt instrument of behavior modification.  This is also where abuse starts to factor in, particularly the abuse of access to political power.  The government would like to discourage cigarette smoking by taxing the product at a high rate to increase its cost and purportedly cover increased health costs.  As a cigarette smoker (Camel straights) I don't much like paying that, but I find it hard to oppose, other than the inequality of such taxation in regard to more favored provably harmful products like alcohol.  That inequality is an example of access, not that tobacco didn't once have it.  Corporations  are handed behavioral tax treatments that can result in them not only not paying taxes, but actually being paid.  The idea that investment must be especially encourage results in a tax rate on capital gains that is less than one half the top rate for wage/salary. 

   Now I'm going to propose something that hasn't a snowball's chance in hell, thanks to who owns government, but isn't real complicated.  First the tax brackets should be tied to the national median income and be set at multiples of that number in each year.  Those multiples would start as fractions and move in to whole numbers with ALL income forms treated under the same regimen and remove a top on tax brackets.  It makes no sense to treat a couple hundred thousand dollar income the same as multi-million dollar income in a tax bracket.  The final part is that a top bracket should be in the 90% range to discourage the taking of every last bit out of the economic system.  The lowering of the top bracket has resulted, understandably, in large income groups taking everything they can extract.  There was a simple reason CEO pay used to be single digit multiples of a company's average wage rather than double and triple digit multiples - the high tax rate discouraged it and that money stayed in the company system, meaning wages and re-investment.  It is simple enough to understand that if you tell people they can take anything they have the power to take, those without that power will lose it to those with it.

  It would take a lot of pages to cover what income is and this isn't a good forum to do it, I'd like it not to be so long nobody will read it.  If you have something to add other than insults and stupid name calling, use the comments here and I'll engage.  

Then and Now In This Blog

   This blog started its life as a campaign site intended to put out my campaign stands in an open forum, one where supporters, prospective supporters, and even opponents could have a say - a tacit acknowledgement that I didn't have all the answers or that my answers could be improved.  After I managed to not win the Primary (in retrospect - thankfully) this blog shifted gears to commenting on public affairs and supporting various policies and some politicians.  During 2009 readership declined until it was clear that I was preaching to a pretty small choir and my output declined. 

   Over the next couple years it became clearer to me that the political process was owned by plutocratic enablers and a handful of anarchistic clowns.  The 2010 elections began to seal the deal for me.  It was obvious to me that way too many people were entirely willing to be lied to and mislead into voting against their own clear interests in favor of hate and fear and that the less irresponsible Party couldn't campaign its way out of a closet.  I could continue to do the research and tolerate the aggravation to my sanity by participating or I could just... check out.

  I don't know exactly why I'm back here after a rather petulant "see ya!"  Maybe some of it has to do with the GOP tantrum over the past several weeks.  That tantrum has been on going since that black guy with the nasty (D) after his name got elected but got to nearly historic proportions lately.

   Anyhow, maybe I'll take another shot at this and maybe give folks some ammunition to spend with their friends and neighbors of deluded persuasion.  Yes, I said friends and neighbors - first leave your family alone, no sense in ruining dinners - and second, politicians that would listen already know this or need to be elected which takes your friends and neighbors voting for them.  If you're dissatisfied and share what you see here you have to remember that a Primary election is where you get to put somebody you like in rather than vote against the other guy in the General.

   I'll talk about things and I'd appreciate readers telling me things - in other words using the comments.