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  1. #361
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    Thank goodness. I'll never tell.

    ...assuming you didn't get the mean and the meaning.

  2. #362
    Senior Member lowtech redneck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jonnyboy View Post
    I think that tax increases on the wealthy, investment in science/technology/energy independence through renewable sources will all lead to the current debt being a non-issue; these will lead to increases in GDP.

    Edit: To those who believe that the government cannot create wealth... you're idiots. Define "creating wealth" and I'll show you why the government can do it as well.
    Why? How much GDP growth do you expect, and based on what evidence, from such policies?

    And monopolies 'can' promote technological innovation and low prices, at least for a time....its just that structural factors that come from a lack of competition as well as insulation from the consequences of poor decisions, tend to lead to the opposite in the long-term. The same is true for government-centric development efforts (for an extreme example, see North and South Korea, for a better example, check out the history of the 'Big Push' effort to promote economic development in what was then known as the Third World). Even in the short-term, I'm afraid I'm going to be rather skeptical about an administration's capacity to create wealth when they can't even make decent predictions about the short-term economic effects of their own stimulus policies.

  3. #363
    Senior Member Lateralus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jonnyboy View Post
    I didn't know what it sounded like...
    I don't know what she's talking about either.
    "We grow up thinking that beliefs are something to be proud of, but they're really nothing but opinions one refuses to reconsider. Beliefs are easy. The stronger your beliefs are, the less open you are to growth and wisdom, because "strength of belief" is only the intensity with which you resist questioning yourself. As soon as you are proud of a belief, as soon as you think it adds something to who you are, then you've made it a part of your ego."

  4. #364

  5. #365
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    This is an article from The National Interest that I read today.

    Norquist's Demise Exaggerated

    The late Senator Eugene McCarthy once famously said political reporters are like blackbirds on a telephone wire: Whenever one flies off to alight upon another wire, all the others follow. The Washington press corps was in full McCarthy flight the past week after Grover Norquist, founder and leader of the anti-tax group Americans for Tax Reform and custodian of the “Taxpayer Protection Pledge” signed by hundreds of congressional members, appeared for lunch at the Center for the National Interest. The press corps promptly pounced upon Norquist with glee.

    The central point hailed by the Washington Post, the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times on the day after Norquist’s luncheon remarks was that this month’s presidential election and today’s politics of fiscal desperation have combined to send a potentially crushing force toward Norquist’s famous Pledge and hence his political standing. The reasoning goes like this: With Congress grappling with the “fiscal cliff” wrought by its earlier abdication of duty in creating the “sequestration” showdown in the closing days of this year, a compromise will be necessary to avert disaster; any compromise inevitably will have to include tax increases as part of the mix; that will mean many signers of Norquist’s Pledge will be forced to repudiate same; and that will cut the legs out from under Norquist and his entire organization.

    In full disclosure, it should be noted that Norquist is a member of the Board of Directors of the Center for the National Interest, publisher of The National Interest, and an occasional TNI contributor. But his political predicament, and the media’s response to it, offers an intriguing case study in the dynamics of Washington politics in these times of governmental deadlock. The nature of the coverage following Norquist’s luncheon remarks is particularly noteworthy in this regard.

    The L.A. Times piece, by columnist Doyle McManus, for example, carried the headline, “Grover Norquist the has-been” and proclaimed that “even he can’t ignore the signs that his hold is slipping.” The Post’s Dana Milbank, after quoting Norquist’s insistence that congressional Republicans will adhere to their anti-tax heritage even in the face of today’s fiscal crisis, writes with a smirk, “Also, the dog ate Norquist’s homework.” He adds that Norquist’s confidence on the matter suggests he has “been on a long trip in a remote location.” The New York Times piece, a front-page news feature rather than a column, took a more dispassionate approach but suggested that Norquist “finds himself in a tricky spot.”

    It’s true: Norquist is in a tricky spot. But only the New York Times bothered to note that, as the paper put it, his “long record of success is a rarity in Washington.” The others didn’t add any such perspective on the man’s remarkable political history. Perhaps that’s because they agree with Arianna Huffington’s characterization of him as “the dark wizard of the Right’s anti-tax cult.”

    Further explication can be found in an interview heard recently on American Public Media’s “Marketplace,” in which host Kai Ryssdal sought insights on America’s presumed anti-tax sensibilities from Jill Lepore, the New Yorker writer who also teaches history at Harvard. Listening to them over the airwaves, you could almost see them scratching their collective head in utter bafflement over Americans’ incomprehensible aversion to taxes and their inexplicable inability to understand why they are so important to any functioning society. There must be some explanation for this, Ryssdal pleaded. Well, yes, there is, replied Lepore; it’s because the anti-tax people have been so good at marketing their nefarious point of view in the political arena whereas their opponents—her people and, apparently, Ryssdal’s—simply defaulted on the task of selling the American people on the civic necessity of taxation.

    There was no hint of any curiosity over what might be the optimal tax rate in any given polity at any given time; no hint of an understanding of the impact of tax rates on business activity or productivity growth (and certainly no perceived connection between productivity growth and GDP growth); no hint of an awareness that within the taxation debate was a more fundamental debate over the size and scope of the federal government—a debate, incidentally, that has swirled through American political history since the country’s inception.

    It’s as if Lepore and Ryssdal wanted listeners to understand the issue as one between those who simply oppose taxation in absolute terms because they don’t understand how society works and those who understand that, as Lepore puts it (quoting Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.), “Taxes are what we pay for civilized society.” It’s probably believable that such a view of the debate could be sincerely held by someone who divides her time between the New Yorker and Harvard. But considering the interview was conducted by a man who has gained national attention as the host of a heralded radio show on business, Ryssdal’s questioning was remarkably fatuous.

    For further insight into all this, one can go to Lepore’s article in the current New Yorker. It purports to be a history of taxation in America, and like nearly all New Yorker pieces, it contains an abundance of serious information. But, also characteristically, the information is presented and ordered in ways to finesse elements of the story and present what is ultimate a distorted picture.
    The article contains an underlying theme that ribbons its way through much of the magazine’s journalism—a conviction that, if political events aren’t unfolding according to the rarefied sensibilities of New Yorker writers and editors, the explanation must involve people who habitate the political environment wearing black hats—bad guys who manipulate public opinion in a nation of people who are basically dupes.

    In Lepore’s telling, Americans accepted passage of the Sixteenth Amendment in good grace a century ago and supported the subsequently-enacted income tax. But with America’s entry into World War I, the top income-tax rate went up—from 7 percent to 70 percent. Still, few Americans paid any income taxes at the time, and this seems to be what Lepore considers just about ideal—rich people paying 70 percent while most taxpayers are exempt. But this level of taxation couldn’t hold, as Lepore acknowledges. She writes, “Wilson’s tax policies were one reason that his party lost Congress in 1918, and the Presidency in 1920.”

    This sentence seems to say that the issue of taxation in itself generated a backlash against an optimal tax regimen. She views the backlash as stirred primarily by rich autocrats protective of their net wealth. She neglects to mention that Wilson’s tax policies contributed to a devastating recession, with no economic growth in 1919, a 2.24 percent decline in 1920, and a further 4.16 percent decline in Wilson’s final budget year of 1921. The question she ignores is what a top income-tax rate of 70 percent does to the economy—and what that does, in turn, to political attitudes toward an incumbent or incumbent party that fosters such an economic cataclysm.

    Then came the Republican presidential administrations of the 1920s and that premier black hat of Lepore’s narrative, Treasury Secretary Andrew W. Mellon. He was rich, so he must have been a black-hat type, and on top of that he fostered a severe reduction in marginal tax rates, adding to his bad-guy persona (and to Lepore’s characterization of him as a man simply out to aggrandize his own wealth). But, again, Lepore neglects to mention some pertinent facts. For example, amid Mellon’s early tax-reduction policies (not very dramatic, down to 46 percent in 1922), gross domestic product shot up to $85 billion in 1923 from $69.1 billion in 1921. The turnaround from the Wilson recession was amazing (including a GDP growth rate in 1922 of nearly 14 percent).

    Then came the Great Depression and the New Deal—and tax rates more in keeping with Lepore’s philosophy, up to a top rate of 79 percent (and later, during World War II, to 91 percent). Now this gets closer to Lepore’s sweet spot. But it also created another huge backlash, which Lepore characterizes as an assault on American civilization by rich autocrats who somehow managed to hoodwink the American people on the issue. She is particularly disdainful of New Deal and Great Society Democrats who drew a distinction between federal transfer-payment programs (welfare, farm subsidies, Food Stamps and Medicaid) that were paid for with income taxes, on the one hand, and so-called safety net programs such as Social Security, on the other. The latter were funded by payroll taxes that were intended to be tied directly to the benefits received.

    That rankles Lepore because, in her view, these programs, too, should have been based on income-tax collection, transfer payments and concepts of redistribution. She writes, “The architects of the War on Poverty, like the New Dealers before them, never defended a broad-based progressive income tax as a public good, in everyone’s interest.”

    This is a remarkable statement given that it refers to a time when America’s top income-tax rate hovered between 70 percent and 91 percent. It also ignores the political reality, fully understood by Franklin Roosevelt, that Social Security would never have passed as an income-tax-based transfer program.

    Then things really began to fall apart, from Lepore’s perspective, when Ronald Reagan arrived with a political scythe directed at tax rates he believed had thwarted economic growth in America. Of course, Lepore makes no mention of the “stagflation” and economic malaise that contributed to Reagan’s election and his success in reshaping the country’s fiscal policy. Nor does she mention Reagan’s impressive economic record (including restoration of strong GDP growth rates). Such mentions would have implied that there was some logic in Americans’ affirmative response to Reagan’s fiscal advocacy.

    Lepore ends her article by listing in dramatic fashion all the things we get from taxes, including “civilized society, modernity, prosperity…roads and schools and bridges and police and teachers…doctors and nursing homes and medicine…rescue workers, shelters, and services” and much more.

    Of course we do. But we also get bloated governments with huge unfunded liabilities in government-employee-benefit programs; unchecked bureaucracies; a tax code that favors those who know how to game the system over ordinary citizens; mammoth corporate-welfare programs for huge companies and particularly big banks; and the kind of corruption seen in President Obama’s subsidies to Solyndra and other “clean energy” enterprises (which, among other things, helped former Democratic Vice President Al Gore increase his net worth from $2 million to $100 million since leaving public service).
    This issue isn’t, as Lepore would have it, about whether we should have a tax system so we can have a civilized society or whether we should do away with taxation as a menace. It is about what kind of tax system we should have; how much it should extract from the toil of Americans at any given time based on a careful assessment of the needs of society balanced against the impact of taxation on individual enterprise; what kind government we want and how big and intrusive it should be; and whether we wish to become a social-democratic society in the mold of Western Europe or adhere generally to our heritage of rugged individualism and entrepreneurial ferment.

    These questions rise up into the country’s consciousness and its direction-setting every day. It’s called politics, and it is firmly and appropriately in the hands of the American people, who set the country’s azimuth on an ongoing basis by responding to the political stimuli brought forth by the political system.

    Which brings us back to Grover Norquist. Unlike Jill Lepore, he understands how this system works, and he’s been plying these turbulent waters with remarkable success for a long time. One can only imagine, reading Lepore’s New Yorker article, just how nettlesome and irritating and enraging he is to such people—and why they may be a bit gleeful as they see the forces of fiscal failure bearing down on his famous Pledge.

    But this game isn’t over—or, as Norquist puts it, this isn’t his first rodeo. And, however it ends, the profound societal questions raised by tax policy aren’t going to be settled in any definitive way. That’s because they are embedded in the American political system as thoroughly as the separation of powers or the tenure of Supreme Court justices. And Grover Norquist’s political philosophy will continue to be a significant part of the debate, as will the man himself.

    Robert W. Merry is editor of The National Interest and the author of books on American history and foreign policy. His most recent book is Where They Stand: The American Presidents in the Eyes of Voters and Historians.

  6. #366
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jonnyboy View Post
    Not according to the Congressional Budget Office:

    The alternative fiscal scenario described in the article is in effect the assumption that the US will not allow sequestration to occur.

    CBO's 2011 Long-Term Budget Outlook

    Abstract

    This Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report presents the agency's projections of federal spending and revenues over the coming decades. Under current law, an aging population and rapidly rising health care costs will sharply increase federal spending for health care programs and Social Security. If revenues remained at their historical average share of gross domestic product (GDP), such spending growth would cause federal debt to grow to unsustainable levels. If policymakers are to put the federal government on a sustainable budgetary path, they will need to increase revenues substantially as a percentage of GDP, decrease spending significantly from projected levels, or adopt some combination of those two approaches. In keeping with CBO's mandate to provide objective, impartial analysis, this report makes no recommendations
    The Alternative Fiscal Scenario

    The budget outlook is much bleaker under the alternative fiscal scenario, which incorporates several changes to current law that are widely expected to occur or that would modify some provisions of law that might be difficult to sustain for a long period. Most important are the assumptions about revenues: that the tax cuts enacted since 2001 and extended most recently in 2010 will be extended; that the reach of the alternative minimum tax will be restrained to stay close to its historical extent; and that over the longer run, tax law will evolve further so that revenues remain near their historical average of 18 percent of GDP. This scenario also incorporates assumptions that Medicare's payment rates for physicians will remain at current levels (rather than declining by about a third, as under current law) and that some policies enacted in the March 2010 health care legislation to restrain growth in federal health care spending will not continue in effect after 2021. In addition, the alternative scenario includes an assumption that spending on activities other than the major mandatory health care programs, Social Security, and interest on the debt will not fall quite as low as under the extended-baseline scenario, although it will still fall to its lowest level (relative to GDP) since before World War II.

    Under those policies, federal debt would grow much more rapidly than under the extended-baseline scenario. With significantly lower revenues and higher outlays, debt held by the public would exceed 100 percent of GDP by 2021. After that, the growing imbalance between revenues and spending, combined with spiraling interest payments, would swiftly push debt to higher and higher levels. Debt as a share of GDP would exceed its historical peak of 109 percent by 2023 and would approach 190 percent in 2035.

    Many budget analysts believe that the alternative fiscal scenario presents a more realistic picture of the nation's underlying fiscal policies than the extended-baseline scenario does. The explosive path of federal debt under the alternative fiscal scenario underscores the need for large and rapid policy changes to put the nation on a sustainable fiscal course.
    The Impact of Growing Deficits and Debt

    CBO's projections in most of this report understate the severity of the long-term budget problem because they do not incorporate the negative effects that additional federal debt would have on the economy, nor do they include the impact of higher tax rates on people's incentives to work and save. In particular, large budget deficits and growing debt would reduce national saving, leading to higher interest rates, more borrowing from abroad, and less domestic investment—which in turn would lower income growth in the United States. Taking those effects into account, CBO estimates that under the extended-baseline scenario, real (inflation-adjusted) gross national product (GNP) would be reduced slightly by 2025 and by as much as 2 percent by 2035, compared with what it would be under the stable economic environment that underlies most of the projections in this report. Under the alternative fiscal scenario, real GNP would be 2 percent to 6 percent lower in 2025, and 7 percent to 18 percent lower in 2035, than under a stable economic environment.

    Rising levels of debt also would have other negative consequences that are not incorporated in those estimated effects on output:

    - Higher levels of debt imply higher interest payments on that debt, which would eventually require either higher taxes or a reduction in government benefits and services.

    - Rising debt would increasingly restrict policymakers' ability to use tax and spending policies to respond to unexpected challenges, such as economic downturns or financial crises. As a result, the effects of such developments on the economy and people's well-being could be worse.

    - Growing debt also would increase the probability of a sudden fiscal crisis, during which investors would lose confidence in the government's ability to manage its budget and the government would thereby lose its ability to borrow at affordable rates. Such a crisis would confront policymakers with extremely difficult choices. To restore investors' confidence, policymakers would probably need to enact spending cuts or tax increases more drastic and painful than those that would have been necessary had the adjustments come sooner.
    To keep deficits and debt from climbing to unsustainable levels, policymakers will need to increase revenues substantially as a percentage of GDP, decrease spending significantly from projected levels, or adopt some combination of those two approaches. Making such changes while economic activity and employment remain well below their potential levels would probably slow the economic recovery. However, the sooner that medium- and long-term changes to tax and spending policies are agreed on, and the sooner they are carried out once the economy recovers, the smaller will be the damage to the economy from growing federal debt. Earlier action would permit smaller or more gradual changes and would give people more time to adjust to them, but it would require more sacrifices sooner from current older workers and retirees for the benefit of younger workers and future generations.

  7. #367
    Senior Member Lateralus's Avatar
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    Baby boomers are like a mass of food caught in America's throat. America will never be functional until that mass is expelled.
    "We grow up thinking that beliefs are something to be proud of, but they're really nothing but opinions one refuses to reconsider. Beliefs are easy. The stronger your beliefs are, the less open you are to growth and wisdom, because "strength of belief" is only the intensity with which you resist questioning yourself. As soon as you are proud of a belief, as soon as you think it adds something to who you are, then you've made it a part of your ego."

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    john huntsman was The best candidate out of the gop, yet they went with romney. its like the intentionally blew it. even i would have had issues choosing between obama and huntsman...

  9. #369
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    Quote Originally Posted by gasoline View Post
    john huntsman was The best candidate out of the gop, yet they went with romney. its like the intentionally blew it. even i would have had issues choosing between obama and huntsman...
    Wait, I thought Huntsman was too "liberal" for them.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rail Tracer View Post
    Wait, I thought Huntsman was too "liberal" for them.
    secular. he is center leaning right.

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