Liberté,Egalité, Fraternité: French Court Strikes Down 75 Percent Tax on Rich

libertyFor months, I have criticized the tax policies of France’s Socialist President Francois Hollande, particularly the confiscatory 75 percent tax rate for the wealthiest French. In addition to being in my view unfair, it is extremely bad economic policy. France’s Constitutional Council now appears to agree — at least on the equitable side. On Saturday, the Council rejected a 75 percent upper income tax rate on annual income above 1 million euros ($1.32 million) as an unfair treatment of different households. Popular figures like French actor Gerard Depardieu have opposed the tax and even left the country. The French experience should get some in the United States to dial down on our own over-heated rhetoric on economic policy. (Yes, I will now vent a bit on economic policy).

The court appears to have taken the second guarantee of Liberté, égalité, fraternité as extending to taxes.

Undeterred, Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said the government would redraft the upper tax rate proposal to address some of the equitable issues. It is not clear how these changes would suffice to answer the Council if the rate remained at 75 percent.

French officials have said that the loss of the controversial tax would not materially impact their deficit reduction plan. The tax rate was in my view a uniquely bad policy. In the end, it only applied to a few thousand people and could be circumvented, but the tax sent a hostile message to the top earners in the country. England has recently reduced its tax rate after top earners began to flee the country.

This “eat the rich” hostility is unfair and often ignores the substantial contributions of many wealthy family not just to the vast majority of tax revenue but to charitable and philanthropic enterprises. Some cities like New York continue to raise their taxes despite evidence that wealthy citizens are responding to the taxes by leaving the city. The same rhetoric is evident on the corporate tax rate which is too high in the U.S. The Canadians have lowered their tax rate because they are not idiots. With the rate so high in the U.S., Canada is draining our economy of businesses which respond as rational actors to one of the lowest rates in the world (and leave one of the highest). While Obama admitted during the campaign that our rate was too high, his administration has done little to rectify it in past years. However, it is the rhetoric that amazes me as smart people like John Stewart slam the proposals to lower the rate. Once again there is this rage that is blind to basic economic realities. Once again, I am not against increasing taxes. Yet, this is just stupid. Why do we think these businesses will stay in the U.S.? We are running our economic policies on soundbites and emotive appeals. As with the French tax rate, we think that these businesses are somehow a captive audience. We sit between Mexico and Canada and we are doing everything that we could do to increase that “giant sucking sound” to the South and the North as businesses leave the U.S. We are already a consumer economy and that trend will only worsen until we stop treating economics as part of a class war against the wealthy.

I am also critical of President Obama’s long campaign to raise taxes on people earning $250,000 and more as “the wealthiest” members of our economy. While I support increasing taxes, the rhetoric against top earners in this country has often outstripped reality. Those making $250,000 a year and more pay for the vast majority of tax revenues in this country and their demonization by many commentators is unfair and counterproductive. Nancy Pelosi has proposed a tax for those making $1 million and more in a compromise. In the end, I believe we have to raise taxes and can do it without negative economic consequences. However, Obama and Congress continues to spend wildly, including sending billions abroad to Iraq, Afghanistan, Israel, and other countries. My concern is that increasing revenues will take pressure off politicians to cut back on such expenditures as well as pork barrel projects.

Recently, in our return from Chicago on the holiday, my family was caught on the latest toll road off of I-66 in Washington. This thing is unbelievable. Not only does this road entrap drivers but you cannot get off of it for miles. While we have an EZ Pass, friends and family members have been nailed with an automatic ticket even if they have multiple passengers in the HOV lane (you also must have an EZ Pass). I cannot imagine why state and federal officials are not being tarred and feathered over this absurd project (I may have been particularly on edge after sitting for an hour at that vortex of hell known as Breezewood maintained by our politicians and government officials) It is also the latest example of handing over a core government function to a private contractor. We are sending billions to Iraq and Israel but we cannot simply pay for a highway outside of our Capital. Instead, average citizens are clipped for tolls and tickets.

Likewise, in Chicago, a contractor was given a 75 year exclusive contract for parking meters in a corrupt deal under the Daley Administration. The result is that Chicagoans are now in the gripes of a company that has made parking the most expensive in the nation: soon to be $6.50 an hour. These are regressive hidden taxes that are rarely discussed as our country burns hundreds of billions on foreign wars and military loans as well as other inviolate expenditures. It is doubtful that any of that will change as we increase revenues this year.

I find both the Republican and Democratic parties to be equally mindless on economic policy. We are unlikely, however, to have our courts play much of a role as they have in France. While no one is talking about a ridiculous tax like the 75 percent rate, tax policy in the United States is viewed as a political question to be left to Congress and the White House.

Source: Reuters

80 thoughts on “Liberté,Egalité, Fraternité: French Court Strikes Down 75 Percent Tax on Rich

  1. I make a habit of going out of my way to avoid toll roads and toll bridges. They show up on my map searches, and I always look for alternate routes. That also has a great side benefit. Rather than the sameness of a controlled access 4+ lane road, we see great old barns, livestock, quaint churches, interesting communities and farms. Ever try to look at an historical marker while driving on an Interstate?

    My dad had a great observation about driving fast. He could do some quick mental arithmetic and show me that by driving fast, I would only save a few minutes on my trip. He asked me what I was going to do with the time I saved…..then he would answer the rhetorical question. “Stand around scratching your butt, wondering what you are going to do with that extra half hour you saved.”

  2. Wow, Mr. Turley. I would vote for you for prez. The Chicago parking meter travesty is classic Chicago corruption. It’s amazing some here refuse to believe it is the most corrupt in the country. This “eat the rich” feeding frenzy is more than a bit disturbing. I appreciate your rant. The folks here who adamantly disagree will be civil toward you.

  3. OS, I drive to San Diego from Wi. every winter. Like yourself, I love the Charles Kuralt routes. That’s the best way to eat local food and meet local folks. The website Roadfood is a good resource in that regard. Those “rugged individualist” out West are not monsters, unlike what some believe. They’re great folks who will help you find a place or help you change your tire. Unlike many city folk who will just walk past w/ a smirk.

  4. I guess the Professor Turley likes the way the wealthy get wealthier and the middle class is disappearing. Part of the reason is that the effective tax rate on most of the wealthy is actually closer to the 14% paid by Mitt Romney due to all the loopholes and the fact that making money from money is treated much more favorably than making money from actual labor. Considering that many of the most wealthy got there and continue to thrive due to favorable government laws and hand outs that most of us don’t get, paying extra taxes on that money only seems fair.

    While the top US corporate tax rate is at 35%, it is graduated from 0%. And then we have many corporations that pay absolutely nothing and even get money back without paying anything in. A few years ago GE owed millions in back taxes. They got a rider on a bill that wiped it out. Wish I could do that.

    How many houses and cars do people really need? John McCain doesn’t know how many houses he owns. Mitt Romney has an elevator for his cars. How many cars can one drive at one time?

  5. 1. To use NY as an example of a city that abuses its really rich residents is rather “rich”. The billionaire mayor hands out tax gifts and grants to billionaire developer friends like lollipops. Billionaires are able to buy apartments, and I use that term broadly, for $100 million and pay less real estate tax than the average coop owner.
    2. “Eat the rich” is hardly the theme of the Obama economic plan. The mega wealthy have done very well under Obama, very well.
    3. The Republicans are masters at class warfare and unfortunately for most of us they have been very successful.
    So successful that banks, whose loses were covered by the taxpayers, now get free money while depositors must virtually pay banks for the privilege of putting money in the banks while being scolded by the very rich including well taken care of Congessmembers for not saving enough for retirement.
    So successful that Romeny had to have his accountant fiddle his taxes so that he could show a 14%tax rate on his last years taxes. A tax rate most of us see only in our dreams.
    So successful that government contractors still get billions in government contracts while avoiding taxes.
    The list goes on and on.
    There is a need to act responsibly, of course, and $250,000 may not be the place to start to raise taxes. However, the reality is the very very wealthy have done everything they can to create a crisis in which even rational people think teachers, seniors, police officers and unions are the problem and the causes of our economic collapse. If we are going to solve our problems, I don’t think putting the blame where it belongs is either uncivil or warlike. It is the truth.

  6. I too am upset by the constant flow of our tax dollars being sent over seas for no other reason than to help increase the hatred the rest of the world has for our nation. We here in the US really need to get our house back in order instead of trying to tell the rest of the world how to live.

  7. I think $500,000 might be a better place to raise taxes but Boehner failed, and the Bush tax cuts will expire soon. The middle class tax cut is possibly the only one that will be voted on before the end of the year.

  8. Oh, yes, toll roads. I avoid them. I’ve had occasion to go to Albany. The most direct route is the thruway. So is route 20. I go route 20. Going west there are toll roads in, I think, Ohio, maybe Illinois. Always found another route. Paid a toll a year or so ago in Va, near DC. It was late, I’m not familiar with the area, the traffic was miserable, no place to stop and check for an alternative.

    And the bridges going into NYC. Don’t go there anymore except maybe by train. Apart from the tolls, the guys who go around with their computers to check license plate stole my car twice. It cost me hundreds of dollars each time to get it back. It’s a racket. They take out of town cars figuring people will pay to get their cars back. The impound guys get to keep all that money.

    I spent a year in a motor home traveling around the country. Never went on a toll road. Spent very little time on the free interstates, mostly traveling on back roads. I checked the map for the interstates that ran parallel to the direction I was traveling and just stayed between them. Except for San Francisco, I stayed out of the cities, too.

  9. JT,

    US empire building will not end until the currency collapses or we suffer a massive attack as blowback from our continuous wars in the Middle East. It’s simply not in the interest of those in the US government oligopoly limit their global power, though it clearly is in the economic and security interest of citizens. Most simply do not understand the economic realities we are facing.

    I have predicted here before that:

    1) we will see wealth taxes directly on taxes as income taxes get tapped out for their ability to raise higher revenues

    2) government will mandate that 401(k)’s / IRA’s hold a substantial portion of US treasuries to increase government borrowing power

    3) entitlements will be heavily means-tested in the future so that those who have saved responsibly will be further subsidizing those who have not

    4) money printing will continue to accelerate, driving the most regressive tax of all: inflation

    5) once the government believes that large numbers of people may begin to seek flight from the US dollar or confiscatory taxes, we will quickly see capital controls that restrict the ability of US citizens to send money abroad and into alternate currencies

    On the toll road question, the best execution of that I have seen is in Texas, where is it nearly invisible and car owners are simply sent a bill depending on their use. No passes, collectors, or anything required. Ultimately these types of systems will become much more commonplace and be used for time-of-day pricing for roads. The argument will be that it will ease congestion, but like traffic cameras will primarily be for revenue.

  10. I don’t believe in confiscatory taxes either and it is true that some of our nation’s wealthy families make substantial donations to charity — usually for tax rather than social reasons. There is a certain arrogance that comes with being rich which anyone honest will admit.

    I suggest you watch the documentary “The One Percent” and then we can debate how sorry to feel for those who regard us as mere balls in their world of croquet. Let ’em eat cake, indeed.

    Here’s a primer:

  11. ” However, Obama and Congress continues to spend wildly, including sending billions abroad to Iraq, Afghanistan, Israel, and other countries. My concern is that increasing revenues will take pressure off politicians to cut back on such expenditures as well as pork barrel projects.” (JT)

    And the evidence that squeezing Congressional spending will result in reduced defense spending, irrational wars, and fewer giveaways to Israel and the like is . . . ????

    I agree on the proliferation of back door taxes. The trend toward increased privitazation, I fear, is funneling more money directly into the pockets of the wealthy, not creating greater efficiency and reducing overall cost of services.

    And what Justice Holmes said , particularly about NY and Bloomberg’s massive giveaways to his wealthy friends.

    The rich will continue to find workarounds and avoidances to keep skimming the wealth. So we should just sit by, beg them to be nice citizens and see if they’ll agree to kick in a couple of percent more?

    see chart in income inequality growth:

  12. * 1) we will see wealth taxes directly on ASSETS as income taxes get tapped out for their ability to raise higher revenues

  13. JT points out the beginning place for any discussion of economy, which is first determine the structure of government that controls it:

    We are already a consumer economy and that trend will only worsen until we stop treating economics as part of a class war against the wealthy.

    So, just what kind of “economy” do we have?

    Is it as JT argues, a “consumer economy”, or is it as others point out, a plutonomy?:

    Before we view some quotes from the memos, let’s remember that the street name for the U.S. Plutocracy is “1% vs. 99%“, made into a household name by the Occupy Movement, but originally made infamous by CitiGroup:

    Well, here goes. Little of this note should tally with conventional thinking. Indeed, traditional thinking is likely to have issues with most of it. We will posit that: 1) the world is dividing into two blocs – the plutonomies, where economic growth is powered by and largely consumed by the wealthy few, and the rest. Plutonomies have occurred before in sixteenth century Spain, in seventeenth century Holland, the Gilded Age and the Roaring Twenties in the U.S. What are the common drivers of Plutonomy?

    Disruptive technology-driven productivity gains, creative financial innovation, capitalist-friendly cooperative governments, an international dimension of immigrants and overseas conquests invigorating wealth creation, the rule of law, and patenting inventions. Often these wealth waves involve great complexity, exploited best by the rich and educated of the time.

    2) We project that the plutonomies (the U.S., UK, and Canada) will likely see even more income inequality, disproportionately feeding off a further rise in the profit share in their economies, capitalist-friendly governments, more technology-driven productivity, and globalization.

    3) Most “Global Imbalances” (high current account deficits and low savings rates, high consumer debt levels in the Anglo-Saxon world, etc) that continue to (unprofitably) pre-occupy the world’s intelligentsia look a lot less threatening when examined through the prism of plutonomy. The risk premium on equities that might derive from the dyspeptic “global imbalance” school is unwarranted – the earth is not going to be shaken off its axis, and sucked into the cosmos by these “imbalances”. The earth is being held up by the muscular arms of its entrepreneur-plutocrats, like it, or not.

    4) In a plutonomy there is no such animal as “the U.S. consumer” or “the UK consumer”, or indeed the “Russian consumer”. There are rich consumers, few in number, but disproportionate in the gigantic slice of income and consumption they take. There are the rest, the “non-rich”, the multitudinous many, but only accounting for surprisingly small bites of the national pie.

    (The Plutonomy Memos, part 1, pages 1-2, emphasis added). Those four points are not all of the points set forth in that memo …

    (The Homeland: Big Brother Plutonomy – 7). In substantial degree, the financial folk at CitiGroup and others of the financial world, which I will quote during this thread as need be, declare that the is now a plutocracy with a plutonomy, not a consumer economy anymore.

    It would seem that this fundamental issue must be resolved before any remedy can be appropriately fashioned:

    The reality becomes at once obvious when one considers the many different forms of government that exist, or have existed, over time:

    Androcracy, Aristocracy, Autocracy, Communist state, Confederation, Consociationalism, Corporatocracy, Corporatism, Demarchy, Democracy, Despotism, Empire, Ethnocracy, Fascist state, Federation, Feudalism, Garrison state, Gerontocracy, Green state, Hierocracy, Isocracy, Interregnum, Kakistocracy, Kratocracy, Kleptocracy, Kritarchy, Kritocracy, Kyriarchy, Logocracy, Matriarchy, Mediocracy, Meritocracy, Minarchism, Monarchy, Nanny state, Nation-state, Nomocracy, Noocracy, Ochlocracy, Oligarchy, Panarchism, Pantisocracy, Parliamentary state, Patriarchy, Provisional government, Plantocracy, Plutocracy, Police state, Polyarchy, Presidential, Puppet state, Republic, Socialist state, Sociocracy, Squirearchy, Stratocracy, Sultanism, Superpower, Supranational union, Synarchy, Technocracy, Thalassocracy, Theocracy, Timocracy, Tribe, Tyranny, Unitary state, Welfare state

    (Forms of Government). The creation of jobs in an Autocracy does not take place in the same manner as it does in a Communist state, for example.

    (Who Are The Job Creators?). Is there one size that fits all the types of governments, one policy?

    If not, then the nature of the current financial dynamics and structure of the country should be addressed before “the cure” is applied.

  14. SWM, Elaine and I have had this debate and came to substantial agreement on the 500k level. I would like to see it a bit higher but that’s what compromise is about. The 250k is something too many resentful people believe is correct. I’m sure some here would want it @ 100k. They want to eat the borderline middle class!

  15. The largest retail corporation in the US by earnings is Walmart. All of the others come in sorry seconds, thirds… I am pretty sure the rich consumers who allegedly drive the consumer economy are not shopping at Walmart.

    Most plutocrats in the US are held up on the muscular arms of the taxpayers who don’t get to enjoy the comfort, security and benefits of the “privatize profits socialize loses” system that passes for capitalism in the US.

    There are rarely black and whites in situations like this but I must disagree when the claim is made that we should be eternally grateful and eternally generous to profit mad “plutocrats” who act like sociopaths and have convinced our government to do the same while insisting that taxpayers must support their every need. With all due respect, Entrepreneurship has become the new religion in the US and its fanatical adherents have become as dangerous any other fanatics.

    There once was a time, short lived I agree, when corporate leaders like George Romney no less, recognized the importance of treating workers with dignity and respect because their contribution was just important to the county’s success as his. Of corse, that was long ago in a land that no longer exists called. America.

  16. mespo, I watched this doc awhile back, it is enlightening in many aspects. As I’ve said previously, my blue collar old man taught me to judge people on their character, not anything Italian MLK as it were. Somewhat serendipitously, I got to know the patriarch of one of these families, ironically from the same state of Wi.. Herb Kohler owns the family biz. He’s a Choate and Yale grad. My sister got to know him when she worked for Yale development and convinced him to be the Chairman of the Board @ Choate when she went to work there. There was a board meeting @ Kohler, Wi.[he owns his own town] back in 2004 and myself and my wife were welcomed to a night there. Kohler’s grandfather came to the US fron Europe w/ nothing. He built a plumbing empire. All the Kohler kids worked summer jobs, not cushy ones, in the factory making plumbing fixtures. The Kohler family treat their employees w/ respect and dignity.

    Herb Kohler is a man’s man. We spent an evening w/ him. As you might expect, I can spot a phoney and smell bullshit a mile away. I saw this guy was the real deal. He is the type of conversationalist that is intersested in you. He engaged both my wife and myself in a wide range of topics from, food to art to plays[he was a theatre major] to politics[pro choice Rep] and many other topics. He had just finished sponsoring the PGA Championship @ Whistling Straits so we spoke a lot about that. We had just returned from Banff and Lake Louise. Herb had filmed a movie w/ Keving Costner, Open Range, up there. He had many funny stories about that.

    Two years later a young woman who is like a daughter to me had a baby in need of state of the art heart surgery. She lives in KC. She had spent several months @ the Lucile Packard Hospital @ Stanford. Her baby was on oxygen when released. Going commercial was a huge hassle w/ incredible stress involved. I called a man I had dinner w/ two years prior. Without a question he sent a plane to pick up the baby and parents. He wanted no credit or kudos. There are always two sides, I was taught to see both.

  17. There are ways to fix the economy to make it more fair. But fair is not what the rich want. They want more, like any greedy individual. And of course they are probably afraid that change is coming so they resist more. If there is class warfare, or perhaps more accurately a divergence of class interests, it is not because the 99% have allowed themselves to fall behind. And it is in large part because the likes of Goldman Sachs unfairly gamed the system to create artificial wealth which has now been converted into actual wealth via being underwritten by the US Government. The Congress will assure the rich remain rich, the defense industries remains slush funds, etc. And the cry will continue to rectify the situation on the backs of the 99%, because this seems to comport with the “center right” nation that the compliant media assures us we are (helpful to have permanent enemies to keep the dissenters in their place).. The rich are not excoriated, except as a foil.

    Whether the tax on incomes should be 250 or 500K doesn’t matter that much. The folks at 250K are convenient, useful idiots, for everyone whose income vastly exceeds that, not to mention the moguls whose fortunes are already assured anonymity and shielded from taxation here or abroad.

    Playing the “unfair to the rich” game is easy because it relies on shaming us into agreeing that our calsl for fairness are based on unseemly emotions. While a wonderfully logical, morally highly perch, it amounts to feeding into the incredibly skewed narratives that maintain the status quo.

    How very convenient that the PTB are stoking a skirmish between the modestly well off and the true middle class.

  18. It is interesting how many British performers took up French residences to avoid British taxation on their new found wealth. I’m sure if the law had been upheld they would have moved to the Cayman’s, Monaco, Dubai or some other clime catering to the super wealthy. As F.Scott Fitzgerald wrote in “The Great Gatsby” “The rich are different from the rest of us….” and he had it right. They much prefer the unwashed masses suffer ad they remain to live unfettered by any responsibility to anyone, but for themselves the pursuit of their own personal pleasures.

  19. MikeS, It must be tough for you to eat the rich since they’re so fatty. Do you cook them low and slow in a smoker? And, is there any sense of humor on Pompous Mountain? At least you can look forward to the end of the Jet’s season today. That’s gotta help. The world loves a strong and happy warrior, like the great Chief Lonewolf.

  20. Justice Holmes 1, December 30, 2012 at 11:34 am

    The largest retail corporation in the US by earnings is Walmart.
    That is a good example:

    Let’s revisit some numbers before we get into the dynamics of how this plunder of America has taken place:

    Upon closer inspection, the Forbes list reveals that six Waltons — all children (one daughter-in-law) of Sam or James “Bud” Walton the founders of Wal-Mart — were on the list. The combined worth of the Walton six was $69.7 billion in 2007 — which equated to the total wealth of the entire bottom thirty percent!

    (The Few, the Proud, the Very Rich). This “30% of Americans” equates to about 100,000,000 American people, who have collectively as much “wealth” as those 6 Wal-Mart children.

    We pointed out that those ~100,000,000 Americans are in poverty or on the edge of poverty, one paycheck or less away from falling through to financial ruin, something those six of the 1% won’t worry about.

    Is this concentration of power a result of equal opportunity and fair play, the supposed ethic of the Amercian Dream, or is it the result of a nightmare war on America that functions as Social Kuru, the social disease of financial cannibalism?

    (The Homeland: Big Brother Plutonomy). Again, whether we are talking taxes or good rich guy or bad rich guy, the nature of the structure is paramount for coherence (economy or plutonomy?).

    Equal opportunity does not exist in a plutonomy is the reason I advance this notion of defining the context first.

    Like doctors, one should diagnose the patient before prescribing the treatment.

  21. A book review from Daily Kos today:

    “The Betrayal of the American Dream
    By Donald L. Barlett and James B. Steele
    PublicAffairs: New York
    289 pages
    Before beginning Donald Barlett and James Steele’s The Betrayal of the American Dream, put away any implements with which you might be tempted to harm yourself. This is grim, grim stuff. Some of the grimmest stuff possible: an unvarnished picture of the place of middle- and working-class people in our economy, with a glimpse of the political and economic forces putting the squeeze on that place.

    Much of the material in the book will be familiar if you follow progressive media—if you’re a regular reader of Daily Kos or Paul Krugman or a watcher of Chris Hayes or any number of others—but having so much of that information compiled in one relentless, compulsively readable volume is … a lot. Imagine reading a year’s worth of class war-themed blog posts or magazine articles or newspaper columns—the big-picture ones filled with numbers and facts and the history of tax and regulatory policy, mostly, seeded with a few affecting individual stories bringing home how brutally the numbers and facts and policies hit actual people. Only whereas you get a break between the short pieces, time to catch your breath and decide when to go back for more, The Betrayal of the American Dream just keeps gathering steam.

    Really, there’s nothing for the book to do but keep gathering steam, though, since while the problems come through loud and clear, the solutions are not nearly as well developed. That’s a common problem for a book like this, and with good reason: if it was obvious how to fix things, we’d probably be making more progress toward doing so. But The Betrayal of the American Dream suffers from the lack of solutions more than most, because it actively undermines the hope that solutions are possible. Barlett and Steele are correct to emphasize the degree to which the rich and powerful (corporations and people) operate by a different set of rules than the rest of us, writing, for instance, that:

    Because they conduct business around the world and move money in and out of tax havens and other countries to secure the lowest possible rate, many [U.S. multinational corporations] stash their cash offshore rather than bring it home, where they would be obliged to pay taxes on it.
    They will bring it back only if Washington will agree to a tax holiday. […] If you want to understand the differences between you and the ruling class, try that ploy with the IRS someday. Just tell them if they don’t lower your tax rate you are going to move your money to another country.

    It’s important to be clear that the existence of two sets of rules is part of the problem. And it’s important to be clear, as Barlett and Steele are, that Republicans are not the only problem, that Democratic politicians are complicit in many of the policies that perpetuate and solidify this system. (Even if at times it feels a bit unfair that they emphasize the participation of Democrats while taking for granted that Republicans are acting to the detriment of the working and middle classes.) But the grim tone, the lack of proposed solutions, the lack of any indication that there are forces fighting the expansion of this system, make you feel as hopeless as you feel angry after reading it. The Betrayal of the American Dream would benefit from providing even a little more perspective on ways to fight, on people and movements that are fighting, on leverage points. The final chapter offers some policy ideas, but it would be helpful to hear more about those throughout.
    Nonetheless, the book is packed with important information and examples of the damage wrought by policies that allow companies to, for instance, avoid taxes, profit from sending jobs overseas, and strip workers of their pensions. And it does the important work of making clear just how badly the deck is stacked against the 99 percent. In the final analysis, if you’re the sort of person who responds to an overwhelming dose of that knowledge by becoming too depressed to fight, avoid The Betrayal of the American Dream. But if getting mad primes you to fight, by all means, read this.”

  22. (Toll Roads etc.) Ohio has a marvelous toll road historically maintained by an independent arm of the government … The Ohio Turnpike Commission. So Kasich wanted to “leverage” the turnpike’s value by leasing the toll road to a private operator in exchange for up-front cash but wiser heads decided not to give his corporate buddies such a lovely prize and the plan now is to restructure a bit with a bond package that would provide money for other infrastructure improvements but keep the turnpike as is.

    (Taxes) I support 500K as opposed to 250k and a small increase to taxes above the 500k mark (though I would prefer 750K) … it is how those taxes are spent that most concerns me.

    To that end I would propose that the funds gained be limited to spending at home and that we take a serious look at the compensation paid to lawmakers.

    By that last I mean … politics is the art of compromise … failure to produce good art should result in less compensation. All this drama queen stuff has to stop. This fiscal cliff nonsense adversely impacted retail sales this year and negatively affected other areas of business. This loss was across the board and touched every wage/profit earner in one way or another. Those losses were completely unnecessary and can be blamed entirely on the lawmakers in D.C.

    I’m not in favor of eating the wealthy or politicians as I am wholeheartedly against food poisoning. The French, however, have spent centuries developing lovely sauces to disguise the awful taste of spoiled food.

  23. Blouise 1, December 30, 2012 at 12:42 pm

    I’m not in favor of eating the wealthy or politicians as I am wholeheartedly against food poisoning. The French, however, have spent centuries developing lovely sauces to disguise the awful taste of spoiled food.
    By “pig out” I think you would mean “out with the pigs!” 😉

  24. “Those making $250,000 a year and more pay for the vast majority of tax revenues in this country”

    Well, Duh! They make most of the money – why shouldn’t they pay most of the tax. What, exactly, kind of tax system do you propose. Does it really make any sense to have a tax system in which those who make most of the money pay less than most of the tax?

    “and their demonization by many commentators is unfair and counterproductive.”

    What demonization is that?

    In some quarters I hear much criticism of those who claim to want to reduce deficits, but who seem more intent on reducing the size of government and removing the social safety net that has developed over the past 100 years.

    But demonization of the wealthy simply because they are smart enough, creative enough, and lucky enough to make money???? References please.

  25. The only thing I can say with certainty in the economic situation here in the U.S. is that the current elected federal politicians will fail to take the necessary steps to put the country on the right path to long term economic prosperity. The situation is for reasons our professor indicates.

    There are too many corrupt influences in the federal government, on one side there are those who had made backroom deals for buisinesses/individuals as some commenters have mentioned but it is also that politicians believe there are many citizens who want bread and circuses provided by the government and that this has to be allocated to secure re-elections.

    Essentially the US Government needs to behave more like state legislatures in states that have a constitutional mandate to balance the budget yearly. The best that fed pols have offered is a situation where the public debt is lessened as measured as a percentage against the GDP of the nation. It is rare that one hears they are going to talk about eliminating the debt. No wonder, when you hear so often “debts don’t matter” often said by those who want more spending programs for their particular constituencies.

    I have said it before. The greatest threat to the freedom and liberty of the American citizen is congress and the presidency. It is not a foreign enemy, criminals, or anyone else. They have the power to strip us of our freedom and they are currently doing so in small steps. I now believe that they are also the greatest economic threat as well.

  26. Blouise, You are a happy and funny warrior. I am greatly encouraged by the women here having the lady balls to come up w/ income levels for taxes instead of just spouting blind ideaology.

  27. And what Blouise said. Senator a l’Orange is particularly delicious even though the meat by itself is generally inedible.

  28. nick,

    I think 750K is more realistic than 500K … I know several people who would be approaching the 500K mark within the next year or two and these folk are comfortable but certainly not rich or anywhere close to wealthy. If we want a long range solution that x’s out those drama queens in D.C. from dressing up in their phony lawmaker costumes and further screwing our economy with their stage presence for a few years … then 750K is the base line I’d set.

  29. “And what Blouise said. Senator a l’Orange is particularly delicious even though the meat by itself is generally inedible.” (Gene)

    Here in Ohio we have been referring to him as jerky for years.

    Never forget his roots were stabilized by the tobacco industry for decades (he was the guy who passed out tobacco money to the congressional boys in the band).

  30. But … just in case my friends on the left think I have gone over to the dark side … I continue to adamantly support strict gun legislation and organized labor of any sort.

  31. re Blousie: “I think 750K is more realistic than 500K … I know several people who would be approaching the 500K mark within the next year or two and these folk are comfortable but certainly not rich or anywhere close to wealthy. ”

    Are you referring to income or net worth?

    If income, I think they need to downsize to where their income is more ‘comfortable’, and they can sock away some😉

    If net worth, you’ve got a point.

  32. People making 250k per year are comfortable. Those making 500k per year are probably just a bit more comfortable. I don’t object to people EARNING lots of money through their labor. I have lots of objections to people earning lots of money thru fraudulent banking practices, vulture capitalism and the like. I have no problem with the highest tax rates not starting until 1M on wages and salaries. Capital gains should be treated as ordinary income at the least. I’d like to see capital gains taxed at the highest rates, and don’t tell me all those rich folks won’t invest if they have to pay higher taxes on their profits. The biggest tax loophole for the wealthy, previously called coupon clippers before it all became electronic, is the lack of tax on financial transactions, e.g. stock and bond purchases.

  33. Blouise,

    I don’t think you’ve gone dark side, but rather realize the value loading of language as applied to numbers. “Millionaire” has a cultural relevance that is belied by the modern economic relevance of the word. Using that number as a “cutoff” between rich and poor is economically inaccurate. Today a millionaire is mostly likely well off, but hardly wealthy. This does nothing in common parlance to negate that perceived value of the word. Psychologically too there is a predisposition to find base-10 round numbers most satisfying. The difference between 750k and 1m is not the difference between starvation and bounty, but 1m is going to be perceived as a much more significant number. Such a threshold set at 750k is probably an easier sell because of this.

  34. When banks & corporations are sitting on over $3 Trillion, I say, Drain the Swamp and Tax the Rich (CEOs, Stockholders, Board of Directors & the Corporations they sit on). It’s time to Unclog the Plumbing. Their access into our Democracy doesn’t make me feel any Pity on how Unfair Taxes would be. My disgust of the Capitalist class is very Justified.

    During the Eisenhower administration, the upper tax rate was over 70%. The economy was growing and the Rich were still Rich. The Middle Class grew, salaries increased, and communities thrived.

    Tolls are like Usury, it’s a Tax on the Economy. I would outlaw all tolls, tax the Suckers who can afford it. You know, the 2nd & 3rd House Crowd near the Ocean in Sunny States.

    Tax the Rich or we all become Serfs. Capitalism without restraints (Taxes & Regulations) plunges our society into Neo-Feudalism.

  35. Very good point Gene.

    My gripe, or one of them, is that even the “comfortable”, who wish to remain fiscally conservative but realistic, don’t have access to investments that will fill that bill over time. Not with interest rates running the way they are. Unless you just want to maintain current level of assets in an essentially non-producing vehicle you must take risks that are not particularly wise for those in or approaching retirement.

    And yet ‘they’ want to peck away at benefits which pushes one towards risk from another angle.

  36. Wow, Blouise, Gene and I form a very unholy trinity. Certainly not a menage a’ trois. Blouise, I said the same a day or two ago to SWM vis a’ vis 500k being ok, but 750k being preferrable.

  37. “MikeS, It must be tough for you to eat the rich since they’re so fatty.”


    Some of my closest friends are and have been very rich, especially when compared to me and that’s always been true. And yes I would let them marry my daughters. The difference is they are people of compassion, who understand their good fortune, rather than despise those without it.

    On the other hand this is quite typical of your repartee. You seem incapable and/or unwilling to respond directly to any issue, rather you use specious anecdotes, unfunny jokes and lofty derision. The funniest part of your game is how often you accuse others of pomposity and fatuousness, which are the same qualities you constantly exhibit. I’m not saying you are a bad person, you’re probably a good one. Nevertheless, you widely over estimate your own capabilities while denigrating others through leaden sarcasm.

  38. Of the 1%, by the 1%, for the 1%
    Americans have been watching protests against oppressive regimes that concentrate massive wealth in the hands of an elite few. Yet in our own democracy, 1 percent of the people take nearly a quarter of the nation’s income—an inequality even the wealthy will come to regret.
    By Joseph E. Stiglitz
    May 2011

    It’s no use pretending that what has obviously happened has not in fact happened. The upper 1 percent of Americans are now taking in nearly a quarter of the nation’s income every year. In terms of wealth rather than income, the top 1 percent control 40 percent. Their lot in life has improved considerably. Twenty-five years ago, the corresponding figures were 12 percent and 33 percent. One response might be to celebrate the ingenuity and drive that brought good fortune to these people, and to contend that a rising tide lifts all boats. That response would be misguided. While the top 1 percent have seen their incomes rise 18 percent over the past decade, those in the middle have actually seen their incomes fall. For men with only high-school degrees, the decline has been precipitous—12 percent in the last quarter-century alone. All the growth in recent decades—and more—has gone to those at the top. In terms of income equality, America lags behind any country in the old, ossified Europe that President George W. Bush used to deride. Among our closest counterparts are Russia with its oligarchs and Iran. While many of the old centers of inequality in Latin America, such as Brazil, have been striving in recent years, rather successfully, to improve the plight of the poor and reduce gaps in income, America has allowed inequality to grow.

    Economists long ago tried to justify the vast inequalities that seemed so troubling in the mid-19th century—inequalities that are but a pale shadow of what we are seeing in America today. The justification they came up with was called “marginal-productivity theory.” In a nutshell, this theory associated higher incomes with higher productivity and a greater contribution to society. It is a theory that has always been cherished by the rich. Evidence for its validity, however, remains thin. The corporate executives who helped bring on the recession of the past three years—whose contribution to our society, and to their own companies, has been massively negative—went on to receive large bonuses. In some cases, companies were so embarrassed about calling such rewards “performance bonuses” that they felt compelled to change the name to “retention bonuses” (even if the only thing being retained was bad performance). Those who have contributed great positive innovations to our society, from the pioneers of genetic understanding to the pioneers of the Information Age, have received a pittance compared with those responsible for the financial innovations that brought our global economy to the brink of ruin.

    Some people look at income inequality and shrug their shoulders. So what if this person gains and that person loses? What matters, they argue, is not how the pie is divided but the size of the pie. That argument is fundamentally wrong. An economy in which most citizens are doing worse year after year—an economy like America’s—is not likely to do well over the long haul. There are several reasons for this.

    First, growing inequality is the flip side of something else: shrinking opportunity. Whenever we diminish equality of opportunity, it means that we are not using some of our most valuable assets—our people—in the most productive way possible. Second, many of the distortions that lead to inequality—such as those associated with monopoly power and preferential tax treatment for special interests—undermine the efficiency of the economy. This new inequality goes on to create new distortions, undermining efficiency even further. To give just one example, far too many of our most talented young people, seeing the astronomical rewards, have gone into finance rather than into fields that would lead to a more productive and healthy economy.

    Third, and perhaps most important, a modern economy requires “collective action”—it needs government to invest in infrastructure, education, and technology. The United States and the world have benefited greatly from government-sponsored research that led to the Internet, to advances in public health, and so on. But America has long suffered from an under-investment in infrastructure (look at the condition of our highways and bridges, our railroads and airports), in basic research, and in education at all levels. Further cutbacks in these areas lie ahead.

    None of this should come as a surprise—it is simply what happens when a society’s wealth distribution becomes lopsided. The more divided a society becomes in terms of wealth, the more reluctant the wealthy become to spend money on common needs. The rich don’t need to rely on government for parks or education or medical care or personal security—they can buy all these things for themselves. In the process, they become more distant from ordinary people, losing whatever empathy they may once have had. They also worry about strong government—one that could use its powers to adjust the balance, take some of their wealth, and invest it for the common good. The top 1 percent may complain about the kind of government we have in America, but in truth they like it just fine: too gridlocked to re-distribute, too divided to do anything but lower taxes.

    Economists are not sure how to fully explain the growing inequality in America. The ordinary dynamics of supply and demand have certainly played a role: laborsaving technologies have reduced the demand for many “good” middle-class, blue-collar jobs. Globalization has created a worldwide marketplace, pitting expensive unskilled workers in America against cheap unskilled workers overseas. Social changes have also played a role—for instance, the decline of unions, which once represented a third of American workers and now represent about 12 percent.

    But one big part of the reason we have so much inequality is that the top 1 percent want it that way. The most obvious example involves tax policy. Lowering tax rates on capital gains, which is how the rich receive a large portion of their income, has given the wealthiest Americans close to a free ride. Monopolies and near monopolies have always been a source of economic power—from John D. Rockefeller at the beginning of the last century to Bill Gates at the end. Lax enforcement of anti-trust laws, especially during Republican administrations, has been a godsend to the top 1 percent. Much of today’s inequality is due to manipulation of the financial system, enabled by changes in the rules that have been bought and paid for by the financial industry itself—one of its best investments ever. The government lent money to financial institutions at close to 0 percent interest and provided generous bailouts on favorable terms when all else failed. Regulators turned a blind eye to a lack of transparency and to conflicts of interest.

  39. All jokes are unfunny to people who take themselves sooo seriously. Maybe we lock horns so much because we both have some arrogance in us. Ever think of that? However, I am ALWAYS able to laugh and my humor includes self deprecation.

  40. I am late to this discussion, but I cannot imagine that earning $500,000 a year only makes you “more comfortable”! The French example of a 75% tax rate for the very wealthy is not equivalent to our situation here. We are talking about a increase in the tax rate from 35% to 39%! The idea that it is the middle class at war with the wealthy is laughable. The wealthy have enjoyed a huge increase in benefits ever since the Reagan administration. When you have the discrepancy between the wealthy and the middle class and poor that we have now, it is no surprise that people are not happy with the wealthy buying elections and politicians.
    While I agree with Prof. Turley’s aversion to privatizing the roadways, it is not politicians that are causing that problem. The wealthy and corporations buy their politicians to obtain the rights to privatize the commons. Without the money in politics, the politicians would not be voting to privatize anything.
    Great link Elaine.

  41. “Capital gains should be treated as ordinary income at the least. I’d like to see capital gains taxed at the highest rates, and don’t tell me all those rich folks won’t invest if they have to pay higher taxes on their profits. The biggest tax loophole for the wealthy, previously called coupon clippers before it all became electronic, is the lack of tax on financial transactions, e.g. stock and bond purchases.”


    I totally agree with you on this. In my opinion the higher taxes could be cut off at even $1,000,000 providing they get rid of Capital Gains and also tax financial transactions. I would add that S.S. would be forever solvent if they got rid of the income cut off limit.

  42. Mike,
    I agree with the capitals gains should be taxed like any other income. While we are at it, why is the Social Security tax capped at around $113,000? Why shouldn’t all income be subject to this tax? If it was, there would be even less reason to make any changes in SS.

  43. How Income Inequality Is Damaging the U.S.
    By Frederick E. Allen

    New research indicates that growing income inequality isn’t just unpleasant; it is seriously hurting the U.S. economy. And economists are figuring out just how the damage is done, according to a fascinating new article by the journalist Jonathan Rauch in National Journal. This challenges a long-standing consensus that, as Rauch puts it, “inequality is the price America pays for a dynamic, efficient economy. . . . As long as the bottom and the middle are moving up, there is no reason to mind if the top is moving up faster.”

    He begins by pointing out that we have learned in recent years that a rising tide does not necessarily lift all ships. The Congressional Budget Office recently reported that between 1979 and 2007 the top 1% of households doubled their share of pretax income while the share of the bottom 80% fell. Then came the great recession. Economists including David Moss of the Harvard Business School noticed that “the last time inequality rose to its current heights was in the late 1920s, just before a financial meltdown. . . . In 2010, Moss plotted inequality and bank failures since 1864 on the same graph; he found an eerily close fit.”

    But does that imply a cause-and-effect relationship? It looks that way, Rauch writes. Economists have been tracing the following chain of causality. Those who make the least consume the most of their income; those who make the most tend to save a great deal, and for that reason, according to the economist Christopher Brown, at Arkansas State, “income inequality can exert a significant drag on effective demand.” Rauch writes that

    “In a democracy, politicians and the public are unlikely to accept depressed spending power if they can help it. They can try to compensate by easing credit standards, effectively encouraging the non-rich to sustain purchasing power by borrowing. They might, for example, create policies allowing banks to write flimsy home mortgages and encouraging consumers to seek them. Call this the “let them eat credit” strategy.”

    Then “the economy, propped up on shaky credit, becomes more vulnerable to shocks. When a recession comes, the economy takes a double hit as banks fail and credit-fueled consumer spending collapses.” The instability this time was worsened by the fact that the ever-richer richest Americans “needed liquid investments into which to put their additional wealth. Their appetite for new investment vehicles fueled a surge in what Arkansas State’s Brown calls ‘financial engineering’—the concoction of exotic financial instruments, which acted on the financial sector like steroids.”

    So as income inequality grew, the government propped up spending by promoting easy credit for less wealthy Americans, and much of the profit from that easy credit fed the wealth of the richest, widening the gap between rich and poor yet further. “Alas, when the recession struck, the financial sector’s gigantism and complexity helped turn what might have been a brush fire into a meltdown.”


    Inequality and Its Perils
    Emerging research suggests that the growing gap between rich and poor harms the U.S. economy by creating instability and suppressing growth.
    Share on facebookShare on twitterShare on emailMore Sharing Services
    By Jonathan Rauch
    Updated: September 28, 2012
    September 27, 2012

    At a salon dinner in Washington recently, the subject was inequality. An economist took the floor. Economic inequality, he said, is not a problem. Poverty is a problem, certainly. Unemployment, yes. Slow growth, yes. But he had never yet seen a good reason to believe that inequality, as such—the widening gap between top and bottom, as distinct from poverty or stagnation—is harmful to the economy.

    Perhaps he spoke too soon.

    Once in a while, a new economic narrative gives renewed strength to an old political ideology. Two generations ago, supply-side economics transformed conservatism’s case against big government from a merely ideological claim to an economic one. After decades in which Keynesians had dismissed conservatism as an economic dead end (“Hooverism”), supply-siders turned the tables. The Right could argue that reducing spending and (especially) tax rates was a matter not merely of political preference but of economic urgency.

    Something potentially analogous is stirring among the Left. An emerging view holds that inequality has reached levels that are damaging not only to liberals’ sense of justice but to the economy’s stability and growth. If this narrative catches on, it could give the egalitarian Left new purchase in the national economic debate.

    “Widely unequal societies do not function efficiently, and their economies are neither stable nor sustainable in the long term,” Joseph E. Stiglitz, a Nobel Prize-winning economist, writes in his new book, The Price of Inequality. “Taken to its extreme—and this is where we are now—this trend distorts a country and its economy as much as the quick and easy revenues of the extractive industry distort oil- or mineral-rich countries.”
    Stiglitz’s formulation is a good two-sentence summary of the emerging macroeconomic indictment of inequality, and the two key words in his second sentence, “extreme” and “distort,” make good handles for grasping the arguments. Let’s consider them in turn.


    Equality and Efficiency: The Big Trade-off was a 1975 book written by the late Arthur Okun, a Harvard University economist and pillar of the economic establishment. Okun’s title encapsulated an economic consensus: Inequality is the price America pays for a dynamic, efficient economy; we may not like it, but the alternatives are worse. As long as the bottom and the middle are moving up, there is no reason to mind if the top is moving up faster, except perhaps for an ideological grudge against the rich—what conservatives call the politics of envy.

    For years, the idea that inequality, per se, is economically neutral has been the mainstream view not just among conservatives but among most Americans outside the further reaches of the political Left. There might be ideological or ethical reasons to object to a growing gap between the rich and the rest. But economic reasons? No.

    “The debate for many years looked settled,” said Robert Shapiro, an economist with Sonecon, a Washington consulting firm. “Changes in the economy and changes in the data have reopened the debate.”

    Economists know more today than they did in Okun’s day about the distribution of income. “There’s been enormous progress in measuring inequality—Nobel Prize-level progress,” said David Moss, an economist at Harvard Business School. As the data came in and the view got clearer, the picture that emerged was unsettling.

    “In the 1990s,” Moss said, “it began to appear that income was being concentrated among the very highest earners and that stagnation was occurring not just at the low end but across most income levels.” It wasn’t just that the top was doing better than the rest, but that the very top was absorbing most of the economy’s growth. This was a more extreme and dynamic kind of inequality than the country was accustomed to.

    According to a recent Congressional Budget Office report, those in the top 1 percent of households doubled their share of pretax income from 1979 to 2007; the bottom 80 percent saw their share fall. Worse, while the average income for the top 1 percent more than tripled (after inflation), the bottom 80 percent saw only feeble income growth, on the order of just 20 percent over nearly 30 years. The rising tide was raising a few boats hugely and most other boats not very much.

  44. “All jokes are unfunny to people who take themselves sooo seriously. Maybe we lock horns so much because we both have some arrogance in us. Ever think of that?”

    I take myself less seriously the you could ever understand, but yes I do have a certain arrogance. As I’ve tried to make clear to you Nick it isn’t your arrogance that bothers me, it is the fact that you never seem to respond to what is being discussed, but to what you wrongly perceive is being discussed. That is of course if you actually address/refute the points being made in even a semi-logical fashion. Plus I find your jokes unfunny, but maybe that’s just me. I bet you’re a laugh riot around your friends.

  45. Plutocracy Rising
    October 19, 2012

    The One Percent is not only increasing their share of wealth — they’re using it to spread millions among political candidates who serve their interests. Example: Goldman Sachs, which gave more money than any other major American corporation to Barack Obama in 2008, is switching alliances this year; their employees have given $900,000 both to Mitt Romney’s campaign and to the pro-Romney super PAC Restore Our Future. Why? Because, says the Wall Street Journal, the Goldman Sachs gang felt betrayed by President Obama’s modest attempts at financial reform.

    To discuss how the super-rich have willfully confused their self-interest with America’s interest, Bill is joined by Rolling Stone magazine’s Matt Taibbi, who regularly shines his spotlight on scandals involving big business and government, and journalist Chrystia Freeland, author of the new book Plutocrats: The Rise of the New Global Super-Rich and the Fall of Everyone Else.

    Following the conversation, Bill shares his thoughts on corporate executives who — enabled by the Citizens United ruling — are strong-arming their employees to vote as they say, from the Murray Energy CEO who reportedly made his workers spend unpaid time at a pro-Romney rally; to David and Charles Koch, who sent anti-Obama and pro-Romney materials to the 45,000 employees of their subsidiary Georgia Pacific; to ASG Solutions boss Arthur Allen, who sent an intimidating email to his employees.

  46. To me there is a disconnect between saying income tax rate could be modified over 500k, or 750, or even 1mil and that all capital gains should be taxed as ordinary income. There are widely varying circumstances of people with high incomes, and low or retirement incomes who may receive capital gains. For example, someone in retirement might get SS, and even a pension, have a net worth of 500k and get a few thousand in capital gains, or even a loss. Apples and oranges between such a critter and someone with a 1mil income and any capital gains income — name your figure. So perhaps it would be equally more fair to have a progressive rate on capital gain based on relationship to some other measure, say, percentage of net worth.

    I’m not for complicating the tax code any more than it is, but I am definitely not for grinding up the minimal “unearned income” of the conscientious retiree or truly middle class worker who has acted prudently and has a small nest egg, like that which would be chump change to the more ‘well off’.

    But raise the payroll tax cap, most definitely . . .

  47. “The major problem right now: Republicans want chained-CPI without lifting the debt ceiling. Dem aide calls that a “poison pill.” Sam Stein. The talks fell apart again.

  48. “The major problem right now: Republicans want chained-CPI without lifting the debt ceiling.” (SWM)

    The chained CPI alone represent a major abandonment of the middle class. The debt ceiling charade is unconscionable.

  49. MikeS, Man up..what was a “specious anecdote?” And, in what way was it “specious”?

    Regarding my alleged not responding to the subject, maybe it’s just that we fundamentally disagree on some subjects and I reject your suppositions on them. You reject mine. That’s when I suggest we just tap it out and go to our corners and have a laugh. Life’s too short. I would expect you to be able to understand that on a more profound level than I. But sometimes I wonder. With you and some others these discussions are SOOOO f@cking serious. These blog is a piece of sand on the Pacific beaches. What we say here doesn’t mean shit in the scheme of things. However, I’m come to realize for some this is a really big deal. Or maybe, as you and one or two others incessantly claim..I’m just of of my league. You should have a good idea on my response to that.

  50. Swarthmore,
    in the long run, it may be better for the country to go over the cliff.. It will be hard for most, but it will produce a Congress more willing to actually do things in the best interests of the vast majority of the people. IMO

  51. It really is unfair to point out that (some) rich people pay a lot in taxes, as though they shouldn’t – at least that’s how JT’s statement strikes me. Oh well, i guess if you want rich clients, you should shill for their class interests.

  52. 1. Obama is spending a lot less ‘wildly’ than previous presidents and has put measures into place to try and cut waste in the Administration. He apparently is watching the government wallet much better than the Republicans who are more talk than action in that regard.

    2. As long as you have hawks like Graham and McCain in government – the supporting of other countries while screwing ours will continue. They’d rather our elderly starve than tell Israel or some other country to pay their own way.

    3. I think the rich need to “PAY” more. If you look at what they actually pay in taxes compared to what the rate states – there is a difference.

    4. The tax code needs to be fixed once again. This time they need to put something in the fix that states that future governments can’t add more loopholes. All the subsidies need to go away, farmers need to be able to grow what they want and sell it where they want to. Corporations should not be able to get tax rebates/credits for sending jobs anywhere or be able to play bookkeeping games to get around paying taxes. If they are going to keep the mortgage tax refund, then it needs to be fixed so it is only available for the primary residence and not vacation homes and yachts.

  53. “But by retracting the Social Security ask, Republicans bought themselves a few more hours to cut a deal.

    “I was really gratified to hear the Republicans have taken their demand for Social Security benefit cuts off the table,” Reid said. “The truth is they should never have been on the table to begin with.”

    If the negotiations fall apart overnight, Reid will introduce a measure on Monday to lock in Bush tax rates on income up to $250,000 per family, and extend emergency unemployment benefits. Republicans would then have to choose whether or not to filibuster that fallback plan. However Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) — a member of GOP leadership — told reporters Sunday night that the GOP’s decision would depend on whether or not Reid allowed votes on Republican amendments. ” TPM

  54. This crap bores me to death. They already know what they’re going to do and this is theater. Congress is like a bunch of typists in the pool who hear footsteps around the corner and start tapping the keys like crazy to look busy for the boss and if you were to look at their screens two seconds later you’d see:

    l;kjweriou soigjlwerjh so8ugp ao;ksdklrj as8o ug;o asdkl;fj asdpo einv as rlntg iapw’qwe9p[fu ve,mtoiu d gkwe a; sj jopisdu j

  55. If Congress does nothing, taxes will rise in 2013 by an average of $3,446 for U.S. households, according to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center in Washington.

  56. “Such a threshold set at 750k is probably an easier sell because of this.” (Gene)

    Stop throwing light on my tactics right now!! (You may know I’m all about the easy sell but that is privileged info.)

  57. “Congress is like a bunch of typists in the pool who hear footsteps around the corner and start tapping the keys like crazy to look busy for the boss …” (Malisha)

    That would make a great political cartoon

  58. Rafflaw Contributed:
    in the long run, it may be better for the country to go over the cliff.. It will be hard for most, but it will produce a Congress more willing to actually do things in the best interests of the vast majority of the people. IMO

    In reading the mandatory issues (cuts / Tax increases) that will automagicaly occur if congress and the president do nothing, I think it would be probably the best course of inaction.

    TIme to head over the fiscal cliff like Thelma & Louise.

  59. Justice Holmes,

    “The mega wealthy have done very well under Obama, very well.” Yeah, and they’ve done very well under ever other President too, because it isn’t only about who’s President. The Executive and Legislative compromise on this issue, by the tare of budget. Currently, however, the $250,000 concept of “wealthy” represents two cops working overtime in most major cities, maybe two firemen. The concept of $250 K as a class distinction has issues.

    “the Republicans are masters at class warfare and unfortunately for most of us they have been very successful.” That’s an inversion. One, because the Republicans must be really poor at it as they are still saddled with the “Party of the Rich” stereotype. Two, the Democratic Party is as much the party of the rich as the Republicans today, which Republicans haven’t been able to sell; in this post-industrial nation, entertainment and software, or hardware by way of net and infrastructure, contribute more and support more the Democrats than the Republicans (I can’t think of a group that represents the “filthy” rich more than entertainment; 2 to 10 times more than the median year for a week’s work, and that’s just the “workers”, not the people who draw money from every level of production. Really, you think industrialists are robber barons?) The Democrats have done a better job of selling themselves by class warfare, socio-economic class, through promising people money than have the Republicans, and by playing the difference.

    All of this about both parties is one long, too long, moment of cognitive dissonance as the cake with confirmation bias as frosting.

  60. The ultimate issue though is funny regarding “tax the rich”, because it’s like pissing into the ocean to make it rise. If you want to make a difference at this point in taxing people to help our debt and budget, you have to tax wealth not income. Good luck with that, and be prepared to work to pay for your parents longevity, it would go that deep.

    We need a strong economy combined with caps on entitlements and defense. And Europe and Asia spending their wealth on their own defense (by example, our Navy is about 5 times that of Britain at it’s heyday, as they had a 3:1 versus our 17:1). And, no, you won’t solve it by just cutting our military, even if you cut out our military and send them all home.

  61. Cheryl,

    I’ll start with this: ” This time they need to put something in the fix that states that future governments can’t add more loopholes.” You just demonstrated that you don’t understand how any government, let alone ours, works. No legislation extends beyond the next legislature, as any law can be changed. If you want a fix in our system then get working on an Amendment to the Constitution. That is the fix, not anything done by Congress. No law holds past the next year a legislative body meets. Work hard and good luck on an Amendment for a balanced budget which takes debt into account.

    Next: “I think the rich need to “PAY” more. If you look at what they actually pay in taxes compared to what the rate states – there is a difference.”. Again, tax the rich (whatever the hell that means, you mean the two cops making $250 K while married, so every dollar they make over that is cut in half or more?) to solve our problems is like pissing into the ocean to make it rise. It may give you emotional satisfaction, but the tides will still be what they are.

    You would have to tax wealth to make any, meaningful would be a stretch, difference. I’m sure that you believe you should have the right to live anywhere you please, the USA, Mexico, hell NZ, but to confiscate wealth you would have to abrogate that right to those you wish to confiscate their wealth. If you want to take something from me in a way I see as wrong, or harmful, I should bend to your will and stay for your need? Geez, I went Randian there. Extremes call for extreme. Think it through for the sake of G*d, Christ, or the Spaghetti Monster, as to where do your ideas go. You tax income more, people with more income move when they see it as too much; tax wealth, and I’d move just in fear of how far you’d go. I’m not wealthy, but you may think I am. BTW, Britain did this in the Sixties and we got a lot of rock stars and others here because our 90% rate had soooo many loopholes; you could even claim credit card interest as to tax is to promote or destroy.

    You see all this is fraught with issues you aren’t looking at. If I can’t leave because my government wants my income or wealth, why should you be able to leave if your government wants your labor? Some European countries are seeing an exodus of wealthy by their latest need to shore up government spending.

  62. rafflaw,

    If by this “in the long run, it may be better for the country to go over the cliff.. It will be hard for most, but it will produce a Congress more willing to actually do things in the best interests of the vast majority of the people. IMO.”

    If you mean we have to make do with beans and chicken for awhile in order to have aspargus and ribeye later. OK. If it’s like Soviet apartments forever…

  63. Elaine M.,

    “But America has long suffered from an under-investment in infrastructure (look at the condition of our highways and bridges, our railroads and airports), in basic research, and in education at all levels.” Our infrastructure is old, the major building being done in 20-30 years ago but starting in the 50s. If it weren’t for the destruction of Europe in the 40s, I could claim our much longer Depression in the 30s as a factorOTOH, Sky Harbor in Phoenix is being modernized year after year, as are other airports. It’s piecemeal, with all the dissatisfaction when you look at the bad piece.

    We are the third most populace nation and 3rd in land area so infrastructure is a problem by land area compared to most industrialized countries. We also suffer the most destructive weather of any country which every season destroys infrastructure. The USA is Tornado Alley and Hurricane Coast, with only the Carribbean Islands being hurt worse by hurricanes. We are also Pacific Rim earthquake territory, though we’ve been lucky overall. All of this is a cost on us that many industrialized nations don’t see except rarely (yeah, Japan pays like us). We accept this as normal, but Europe never experiences what we do every year, nor Asia. All of Europe gets 1/4 the tornadoes, with fewer F3-5. The cost of NA weather is actually very high (the US records about 1000 tornadoes per year, and the next is Canada at 100, goes way down from there). We accept it as normal and rebuild every year. Weather isn’t the sole cause of degrading infrastructure, but we forget our cost to maintain infrastructure because of weather.

    Education, we fall in the low middle to low of industrialized nations, but some of those nations that score higher use techniques we deplore and won’t adopt by justification of critical thinking and creativity. Others use a tiered system we don’t, where children are separated into Tech, Vocational, and Academic much earlier than we would accept. We can muddle on with our system or start looking to those that do better. Get me buy in with the NEA. I’ve had teachers in the last 5 years tell me “look-say” is the only way to teach reading, rather than “look-say” with phonetics, as if one is exclusive of the other.

    In basic research? There you are wrong. Fifty of the top one hundred Universities in the world are American, and much of that ranking is because of basic, middle, and high level research reflected into what is taught. If you’re a graduate student in technology or science, you’re better off in America than Europe or Asia. We are still predominate in that and Naval tonnage.

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