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  1. #141
    ^He pronks, too! Magic Poriferan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DiscoBiscuit View Post
    It may be important to those who pay 70% of all taxes (also known as the wealthy), as opposed to those whose tax burdens are much less onerous.
    Talk about no capability of understanding. How many times have we gone over this? Take 70% of all the taxes, and then the % of all the income going to the people who pay that 70%, and compare the amount of money in total dollars. Between how unequal our distribution of income is and how little we take in tax revenue, it's just not burdensome. And as we've gone over in the past, the rich spent most of the 20th century paying a lot more in taxes than they do now. The phrase 70% of all taxes always makes it sound like a bigger financial burden than it is. And the other thing you never seem to understand is why taking away the same percentage of money from poor and rich people wouldn't actually be fair or equal. A, say, 20% loss to a minimum wage worker is devestating while it essentially irrelevant to a multi-millionaire. You never seem to see why this is the case.

    Quote Originally Posted by DiscoBiscuit View Post
    It's like you have no capability of understanding a differing point of view. You frequently argue that I don't know any poor folks. I do and went to public high school with most of them.

    They tend to be more stridently conservative than I am.

    The rest of the country (ie the vast swath of centrists) align much more closely with my moderate conservative views than they do your decidedly more outer wing views.

    Your views are farther to the left among Democrats than mine are to the right among Republicans.
    And this here is just bravado involving hypocrisy, undemonstratable assertions, and appeals to things I don't give a crap about.

    Quote Originally Posted by DiscoBiscuit View Post
    If those taxes were coming out of your bank account you might actually care.
    I've never been in a particularly high bracket, but I have paid federal, state, and local taxes and I've never once resented it. I've also, by my own will, been living very minimalistically to save money for years. If I were in the top tax bracket, I'd be living far more comfortably than I am now even after taxes, so why would I care about the higher taxes?

    Quote Originally Posted by DiscoBiscuit View Post
    Politics is the art of the possible, and last time I checked capitalism turned the US into the most dominant force this world has seen since the Roman Empire.

    You can't argue with success.
    But we can argue about the cause of success. Maybe it wasn't the capitalism. Or maybe what we had wasn't capitalism.

    At any rate, can I take this to be an endorsement of the policies of FDR and Truman?
    Go to sleep, iguana.


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  2. #142
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    Quote Originally Posted by Magic Poriferan View Post
    Talk about no capability of understanding. How many times have we gone over this? Take 70% of all the taxes, and then the % of all the income going to the people who pay that 70%, and compare the amount of money in total dollars. Between how unequal our distribution of income is and how little we take in tax revenue, it's just not burdensome. And as we've gone over in the past, the rich spent most of the 20th century paying a lot more in taxes than they do now. The phrase 70% of all taxes always makes it sound like a bigger financial burden than it is. And the other thing you never seem to understand is why taking away the same percentage of money from poor and rich people wouldn't actually be fair or equal. A, say, 20% loss to a minimum wage worker is devestating while it essentially irrelevant to a multi-millionaire. You never seem to see why this is the case.
    And you never seem to understand that taking an extra 20% from someone making 100k is much different from taking that extra from someone making 10 mill.

    Where have I argued that taxes shouldn't be progressive.

    Yes we did have a much more skewed tax scheme at different points in the 20th century, and as the 70's and 80's showed those taxes did nothing to sustain our growth.

    If you are going to trot out the higher tax rates earlier in the 20th century, you clearly don't understand what a marginal effective rate is. This will explain:

    The 90% Tax Rate Myth
    There is a "myth" that the economy of the United States chugged along at least in part due to higher taxes on the wealthy in the past. First, this myth, like so many about creating prosperity, ignores that U.S. growth came after two world wars wiped out most of our competitors. Second, the implication is that "the rich" were actually paying 90 percent taxes at some point in history. That's never been the case.

    The U.S. tax system uses an "Effective Marginal Tax Rate" model. The EMTR is applied on ranges of earned taxable income. Each taxpayer pays roughly the same amount on his or her income within these ranges. According to the IRS, the EMTR schedule for 2011 is:
    Tax Rate Income Range Taxed
    10% $0 – $8,500 $8,500
    15% $8,501 – $34,500 $25,999
    25% $34,501 – $83,600 $49,099
    28% $83,601 – $174,400 $90,799
    33% $174,401 – $379,150 $204,749
    35% Over $379,150 N/A
    Everyone paying income taxes pays the same 10% on his or her first $8,500. So, to calculate a person's "Composite Real Rate" you must average (in a manner of speaking) what he or she pays in overall taxes on earned taxable income. For example, if you earn $80,000 in taxable income in 2011, your taxes are $16,125.10. That's a Real Rate of 20 percent. Yes, the marginal rate is 25%, but the Real Rate of tax is weighted towards the 15% bracket.

    An income of $150,000 a year? The Real Rate is 24 percent. And that's not the "real rate" as most of us would think of a "real" tax rate. Why is that? Because taxable income is not even close to what most people actual earn. Earned income and taxable income are two different things in government speak.

    So, let's get more complicated. When there was a 94% top rate in 1944-45, there were so many deductions and exclusions that the taxable income was not comparable to someone's entire income. First, the top rate started at $200,000, which today is equal to $2,413,059.90 — so the maximum EMTR would apply only to incomes of $2.5 million. But, that's still taxable income, not earned income.

    In 1944, you could deduct business meals, all business travel, all forms of interest payments, and much more. You could even deduct spousal travel expenses on a business trip! (Why travel alone?) Companies could also "loan" or "provide" almost anything to an employee, from an apartment to standard benefits. It was possible to shelter tens of thousands of dollars from taxable income. Three-martini lunches and expense accounts were important realities, skewing tax calculations.

    As a result of deductions and exclusions, even the theoretical maximum Real Rate of taxation at 60% in 1944 overstates taxation dramatically. The reality? On earned income, the richest U.S. taxpayers paid close to 40 percent of their earned incomes in taxes in 1944. We simply didn't count much of the compensation as taxable income.

    Allow me to introduce you to Hauser's Law. Published in 1993 by William Kurt Hauser, a San Francisco investment economist, Hauser's Law suggests, "No matter what the tax rates have been, in postwar America tax revenues have remained at about 19.5% of GDP." This theory was published in The Wall Street Journal, March 25, 1993. For a variety of reasons, we seem to balance tax collections within a narrow range.

    Since 1945, U.S. federal tax receipts have been fairly constant in terms of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), with taxes ranging from 15 to 20 percent of GDP. The graph is as follows:



    When people demand higher taxes on the rich, usually phrased as paying a "fair share," they are ignoring how our tax system has functioned historically. We could create more brackets, to tax the top 1% at a higher rate once again, but the net increase in tax revenues wouldn't be dramatic. Why not? Because government spending is near historical highs: we are spending at near-WWII levels. It would be nearly impossible to tax enough to pay the federal bills, and doing so would likely crush the economy.

    So, how could we address income inequality if not through increasing taxes? That's really what people are asking when they demand fairness. The real complaint is the gap between rich and poor. I'll address that issue in an upcoming blog entry.
    And this here is just bravado involving hypocrisy, undemonstratable assertions, and appeals to things I don't give a crap about.
    So you have no substantive response.

    I'm much more centrist than you.

  3. #143
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    In those European Social Democracies so many here like to crow about, the middle class pays substantially higher taxes than they do here.

    Once we've dealt with deductions we will need to raise taxes on the rest of the income distribution if you want to have such a lavish safety net.

  4. #144
    ^He pronks, too! Magic Poriferan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DiscoBiscuit View Post
    And you never seem to understand that taking an extra 20% from someone making 100k is much different from taking that extra from someone making 10 mill.
    If I didn't understand that, I would never have proposed replacing tax brackets with a progressive taxation curve (which I've done repeatedly).

    Quote Originally Posted by DiscoBiscuit View Post
    Where have I argued that taxes shouldn't be progressive.
    At one point I seem to recall you advocating a flat tax. But regardless, at the very laest you seem to assert that our current tax system is A) too progressive and B) as high or very close to as high as it should ever be.

    Quote Originally Posted by DiscoBiscuit View Post
    Yes we did have a much more skewed tax scheme at different points in the 20th century, and as the 70's and 80's showed those taxes did nothing to sustain our growth.
    Do you have examples of skewed taxes actually be detrimental to growth? I recall a study showing no historical correlation between the tax rates and the growth of the country's economy either way.

    Quote Originally Posted by DiscoBiscuit View Post
    If you are going to trot out the higher tax rates earlier in the 20th century, you clearly don't understand what a marginal effective rate is. This will explain:
    I'm not going to bother with something this elaborate right now, but I'm slightly confused about this quote and the one above. You seem to be saying that tax revenues have stayed the same, but you are also acknowledging that the degree to which they have been progressive has changed. Is that correct?


    Quote Originally Posted by DiscoBiscuit View Post
    So you have no substantive response.
    What would have been a substantive response to that fluff? You barfed out a bunch of fluff, and when I called it fluff, you accused me of posting fluff. That is my interpretation of this particular exchange.

    Quote Originally Posted by DiscoBiscuit View Post
    I'm much more centrist than you.
    I'm not exactly sure how you know that, but what if it were true. It wouldn't make you right.
    Go to sleep, iguana.


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  5. #145
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    I'll get to the rest, but work calls...

    Quote Originally Posted by Magic Poriferan View Post
    I'm not exactly sure how you know that, but what if it were true. It wouldn't make you right.
    I know that because I know the platforms of both parties and follow politics intimately everyday.

    I bet you're pretty out of step with many Democrats on taxation, foreign policy, environmental concerns and maybe even civil liberties (given the Democratic condemnation of Snowden).

    Of course it wouldn't make me right (no more than it makes you right). It would however mean that my opinions are more inline with the voting public than yours, and consequently that they will have much more sway with the electorate generally.

    Right and wrong is a mute point in politics. Find the center and make the best argument to win nationally.

    Play to local concerns to win locally.

    Once you're elected you can worry about right and wrong.

  6. #146
    Senior Member cafe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DiscoBiscuit View Post

    Certainly we can increase the access to benefits for the truly needy, while curtailing enrollment in the program at higher ends of the scale. Under the current system I believe a couple making $43k a year would still qualify for benefits.

    That's nuts.
    In order for a family with an income of $43k to receive food stamps, they would have to be a household of seven people. And then it would go on a sliding scale. A family of seven earning $43K/year would not receive the full maximum monthly allotment of $1052/month. (http://www.fns.usda.gov/snap/applica...ligibility.htm)
    “There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old’s life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs.”
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  7. #147
    Emperor/Dictator kyuuei's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DiscoBiscuit View Post
    I'm talking about tailoring the qualification requirements for the benefits in such a way that benefits go to those that actually need them, which currently not everyone in the systems does.
    I know that's what you're talking about. But that is not the OP, nor the point of this thread. The thread is specifically about food stamps. And, in summary, slashing the budget for it helps the government exactly zero because it's such a small aspect of the budget, and it hurts the people it is designed to help a ton. The budget should be increased because 1. It's fucking food. and 2. They need the personnel they should have been allocated long ago to handle back logs and paperwork. The system they set up is FINE. It is the government that does not want to employ the people to make it work. They don't enforce the laws in place already. How can we fix something that isn't broken? We don't even know if it is broken yet because we haven't given it a change to flourish at 100% capacity. The program itself could be efficient enough.

    What I take issue with is the expansion of the program requirements that has allowed many in the middle class to receive benefits. This should anger any who want a more efficient system that channels resources to those that truly need it.
    The expansions are allowed because people need to eat, and there isn't enough personnel to investigate applicants in a timely and efficient manner. If they did something as simple as set a re-filing date in a systematic way so that in-coming applications as well as re-filed applications could be investigated by the laws without a break in service until proven to be falsified with the proper people, there would be so fewer issues. A lot of this can be resolved just by punching in social security numbers and analyzing the data to ensure the person is who they say they are. But no one has time for that.

    The fraud is really irritating, yes. But it is such a small part of the budget, and it is so much cheaper to let the fraud go on than it is to employ those people, that the government just waits until everyone thinks that people on food stamps are lazy workers so that they have the social graces to just cut it back altogether. A convenient, temporary solution, that has nothing to do with money or the programs at stake.

    And none of this is addressing the fact that some fraud is actual illegal aliens that really need to eat actual food. Say what you want about illegals, they're still people in the US, and I'm pretty sure that still counts as us sucking at the humanitarian aspects of our country.

    Quote Originally Posted by Lark View Post
    The thing is that if that's spoiling, the very, very barest necessities, it says something either about how greedy the fiscal conservatives constituency is or how desperate things really are.
    Very well said. People are not spoiled because they get entitlements. They are designed for a really good reason despite the fraction of it that's actual fraud and the other fraction that's legit but way over paid.

    We still say in this country that Life is a human right. Food counts. So I really don't see much of an argument beyond that. The rest is just semantics--do we care if people get REAL food or can we give them bullshit? Do we give citizens food or anyone that's hungry? Do we care if people are stealing food from those who need it, and if so how much?
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  8. #148
    Analytical Dreamer Coriolis's Avatar
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    I've been called a criminal, a terrorist, and a threat to the known universe. But everything you were told is a lie. The truth is, they've taken our freedom, our home, and our future. The time has come for all humanity to take a stand...

  9. #149
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    If you want to know why workfare is important, and how it has proven to be effective in the past (specifically in the welfare reform of 1996) take a look at this excellent excerpt from National AffairsThe Unfinished Work of Welfare Reform

    HOW AND WHY REFORM HAS WORKED

    In the four decades preceding the 1996 welfare reform, the number of Americans on welfare had never significantly decreased. By 1995, nearly one in seven children was on AFDC. The typical AFDC beneficiary was on welfare for an estimated average of 13 years. And such welfare dependency gets passed from one generation to the next: For example, in a 2002 study, researcher Marianne Page of the University of California, Davis, found that if a woman's family had received welfare during that woman's childhood — be it AFDC, General Assistance, food stamps, or Supplemental Security Income — that woman was roughly three times as likely to receive welfare as an adult. The '96 reform sought to disrupt this cycle of inter-generational dependence by moving families with children off the welfare rolls through increased work and marriage.

    The success of that reform tells an extraordinary story. Within five years of the enactment of TANF, caseloads dropped by approximately 50%. As caseloads plummeted, employment and earnings among low-income single parents surged upward. Employment of never-married mothers increased by 50%, employment of single mothers with less than a high-school education increased by two-thirds, and employment of young single mothers between the ages of 18 and 24 approximately doubled. Child poverty among the demographic groups most affected by the new policy also fell dramatically. For a quarter-century before the reform, poverty among single mothers and among black children had remained stubbornly high. Immediately after the reform, poverty among both groups experienced a dramatic and unprecedented decline, reaching all-time lows.

    Against conventional wisdom, the effects of welfare reform have been the greatest among the most disadvantaged single parents facing the greatest barriers to self-sufficiency. Both decreases in dependency and increases in employment were largest among those most inclined to long-term dependence — that is, among younger, never-married mothers with little education.

    How did this happen? The welfare reform enacted in 1996 had three main elements, of varying degrees of effectiveness. First, the reform placed a five-year time limit on the receipt of TANF benefits. But the time-limit policy contained large loopholes; in the 15 years since welfare reform's enactment, only about 2% of TANF recipients have been removed for reaching the five-year limit. Overall, the requirement has had little or no impact on caseload reduction.

    The second main component of the reform, which changed the funding structure of cash welfare, had a greater effect. The old AFDC program was an open-ended entitlement: If caseloads went up, state governments received more federal funds. The new TANF program, by contrast, used a fixed, block-granted funding system. If caseloads increased, state governments were forced to bear the extra cost. If caseloads fell, however, state governments had to receive their fixed amounts of federal funding and could use the surplus for other state projects. This policy created enormous financial incentives for states to reduce lifelong welfare dependency among their populations.

    But it was the third element — mandatory work requirements — that had the greatest impact. The 1996 law required that roughly a third of people on the TANF rolls in each state work or prepare for work as a condition of receiving aid. The TANF work requirements were the real motor behind welfare reform — the main reason that caseloads fell rapidly during the five years following the law's enactment.

    These core "workfare" requirements were spelled out in Section 407 of the 1996 law. Section 407 established a three-part mandatory work system, defining who was required to work, how much they were required to work, and what constituted qualifying work-related activities. Under Section 407, around 30% to 40% of the "work eligible" adult TANF case-load (defined as non-disabled adults receiving TANF benefits) is required to engage in "work activities." (The law nominally requires that 50% of this caseload be engaged, but provides a variety of exemptions and deductions that substantially reduce the effective participation rates.)

    "Work activities" are defined very broadly to include unsubsidized employment, government-subsidized employment, on-the-job training, up to 12 months of vocational education, community-service work, job searches (for up to six weeks) and job-readiness training, high-school or GED education for recipients under age 20, and high-school or GED education for those 20 or over if combined with other listed work activities. Eligible individuals are required to engage in such activities for 20 hours per week if they have children under age six in the home and for 30 hours per week if they do not. Subject to the overall participation rate, states are free to determine which recipients will be required to engage in work activities.

    This TANF workfare system is simple and flexible, allowing states a wide range of choices in meeting their participation standards. And the "workfare" approach also yields a number of important benefits for welfare recipients and society at large. The public overwhelmingly believes that able-bodied adult welfare recipients should be required to work, prepare for work, or at least seriously look for work as a condition of receiving aid. In requiring some TANF recipients to engage in constructive activity in exchange for benefits, workfare thus transforms welfare from a one-way handout into a system of reciprocal obligation. Moreover, demanding work as a condition of receiving benefits reduces the relative economic utility and attractiveness of remaining idle on welfare: If a recipient has to work anyway, he might as well hold a job that likely provides more compensation than welfare and allows for self-sufficiency. These improved incentives have resulted in fewer welfare enrollments, shorter spells of welfare dependency, and smaller caseloads across the country.

    The implementation of workfare had the added effect of helping people avoid slipping into welfare dependency in the first place. By definition, an able-bodied applicant for welfare claims that he cannot find employment and therefore needs aid from the taxpayers. In many cases these claims are true, but it is also true that large numbers of people will take free handouts if the government is offering them, regardless of whether they really need them. A work test applied at the point of entry into the welfare system helps separate these two groups. If workfare requires recipients to begin serious efforts toward achieving self-reliance at the outset, many people who do not really need the aid will simply choose not to join the welfare rolls. The sharp drop in the TANF welfare caseload after 1996 was caused as much by a decline in new enrollments as it was by the increase in departures from welfare.

    By deterring unnecessary entries into the welfare system, and by steering recipients toward paying jobs to help them get out of that system, workfare has also increased long-term earning potential among the affected population. Time spent on welfare never looks good on a résumé, and welfare dependence erodes important work habits and job skills and reduces the sorts of contacts with other employed people that can lead to future job opportunities. To the extent that welfare enrollment can be avoided, then, it boosts earning prospects. And for those already in the system, workfare programs provide skills training, job-readiness preparation, and employment-search services that help connect recipients to jobs, speeding the transition from welfare to work.

    By reducing unnecessary welfare enrollments and shortening the time spent on welfare, the '96 workfare requirement significantly reduced caseloads, generating substantial savings for taxpayers. It also offered those who did require government assistance the support and training they needed to achieve self-sufficiency — and to become productive contributors to the broader economy. This was the heart and soul of welfare reform, and this is why it has been deemed a success.
    These workfare requirements were subsequently undone by Obama.

    The article concludes:

    THE UNFINISHED WORK

    The '96 reform was only a first step toward reducing the needless dependency fostered by the structure of our welfare state. But it was a successful step, and the gains it has produced should be consolidated, not undone.

    In the coming years, reformers have their work cut out for them. They must begin by resolutely opposing the Obama administration's efforts to dismantle the work requirements in TANF, which are the heart of the program and the key to the effectiveness of the 1996 reform. The administration's changes to the program are not only counterproductive, but unlawful. They must not be allowed to stand.

    And to build on the successes of welfare reform and regain the initiative, reformers should pursue a three-part agenda. First, workfare must be expanded to other means-tested programs like food stamps and public housing. Second, the overall costs of all our ballooning welfare programs must be controlled through a cap on aggregate spending. Third, serious attention must be paid to the crisis of unwed parenting that drives so much of today's poverty.

    The 1996 welfare reform was enacted even under a Democratic president because the public was clearly behind its basic goals. It was clear that America's welfare system was terribly dysfunctional and that addressing poverty and dependency would require making welfare beneficiaries work. These same truths are just as evident today; we are just as much in need of a robust reform effort with the strong support of the public. It is time to turn ending "welfare as we know it" from an old slogan into a reality.
    When we say we want welfare reform, we are arguing to make the programs more efficient and effective in their stated purpose of lifting folks out of poverty. These programs were never intended to provide indefinite support.

  10. #150
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    Im tired of getting dragged into arguments about how greedy this or that group of people are and other such ad hominem attacks.

    I haven't heard one cogent argument explaining why the country is better of with the broken status quo than it would be with reform.

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