Ted Frier

Ted Frier
April 02
Ted Frier is an author and former political reporter turned speechwriter who at one time served as communications director for the Massachusetts Republican Party, helping Bill Weld become the first Bay State Republican in a generation to be elected Governor. He was Chief Speechwriter for Republican Governor Paul Cellucci and Lt. Governor Jane Swift. Ted is also the author of the hardly-read 1992 history "Time for a Change: The Return of the Republican Party in Massachusetts." So, why the current hostility to the Republican Party and what passes for conservatism today? The Republican Party was once a national governing party that looked out for the interests of the nation as a whole. Now it is the wholly-owned subsidiary of self interest. Conservatism once sought national unity to promote social peace and harmony. Now conservatism has devolved into a right wing mutation that uses divide and conquer tactics to promote the solidarity of certain social sub-groups united against the larger society while preserving the privileges of a few.


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APRIL 27, 2012 2:49PM

Romney, GOP Offer Only Empty Slogans

Rate: 12 Flag

What would you call an outraged critic of the House Republican budget whose one-sided distribution of costs and benefits cleaves precisely along class lines, with 37% of all tax benefits going to those at the very top while 60% of the budget's burdens are borne by those at the bottom? Well, if you were today's Republicans you'd call such a scold: "Divisive."

What would you call a critic who thinks it immoral that the way to help the poor climb out of poverty is to raise their taxes by as much as $4,000 a year, as House Majority Leader Eric Cantor thinks we should do, so that wealthy "job creators" can have even more to perhaps spend and invest on employment opportunities for those 70 million Americans the Wall Street Journal calls "lucky duckies" too poor to pay income taxes? Well, if you were a Republican you'd call such a skeptic: "Negative."

And what do you call President Obama when he shines a light on the Romney/Ryan Republican budget, exposing truths about the plan's specifics that its architects would rather keep vague? Well, as Paul Krugman of the New York Times says, if you are Obama's Republican critics the word of choice would be: "Partisan."

Since divisive, negative and partisan are bad things that don't poll well with independents, you can bet Republicans will accuse the President of one, if not all three, of these moral imperfections whenever he attacks Republican proposals as "radical" or "outside the American mainstream," no matter how right the President might be on the merits.

The 2012 election is shaping up to be a contest about "Big Ideas," which means that it will turn on the competing visions that have always animated American politics in the past: Whether we are a single country or a bickering confederation of separate states and regions; whether Americans collectively pulling together is a sign of a healthy democracy or of an enervating "Socialism!;" whether E Pluribus Unum is a motto we can all be proud of or whether it's a menace to our racial, religious and cultural identities.

Because 2012 will be about Big Things that also means it will be a contest in which much of the specificity on real issues will get siphoned out as we dig in for the long, hard slog of a campaign over competing slogans, catch phrases and buzz words.

It's like what Thomas Frank said in his mostly sympathetic Harper's obituary on the late right wing bomb-thrower Andrew Breitbart -- that Breitbart's worldview was both a wholly politicized one that saw "every stray comment" as a work "of fiendish propaganda" but also one that was completely superficial. "He was an ardent collector of grievances, of the stupid things public figures say about one another," says Frank. "But the actual substance of controversy mattered very little."

In a similar way, when President Obama talks about the wealthy "paying their fair share" to support health and educational programs that give others a chance to get ahead, Romney ridiculously talks about funding for these valuable programs being the way Democrats "punish success."

Thus, when Obama talks about investing in alternative energy to end our dependence on fossil fuels, Romney says what we need to do instead is stop "the unfairness of politicians giving taxpayer money to their friends' businesses."

Thus, when the President talks about respecting labor and the right of workers to bargain for better wages and working conditions, Romney says the real issue is stopping "the unfairness of requiring union workers to contribute to politicians not of their choosing."

Thus, when the President talks about the need for government to keep teachers in the classroom and cops on the beat Romney says he will "stop the unfairness of government workers getting better pay and benefits than the taxpayers they serve."

Thus, when the President talks about having to pull himself up by his own bootstraps because he wasn't born with a silver spoon in his mouth Mitt Romney thinks Obama is talking about him and boo-hoos that the President is waging "class warfare" against his kind.

Romney trotted all these ideas out in a victory speech following his five-state sweep earlier this week that has conservatives everywhere swooning that the presumptive Republican nominee has finally found his voice with an economic message he can ride to the White House.  

Less worshipful observers are wondering, however: Where's the beef?

"Romney delivered a 15-minute address that was heavy on rhetoric and light on policy proposals," reports Reid Epstein in Politico. "He offered familiar criticisms of President Barack Obama with signature syrupy paeans to Americana while offering the quadrennial challenger's question: Are you better off now than you were four years ago?"

Yet, when Obama offered far more meat in his own kick-off speech to the Associated Press earlier this year - charging, for example, that the Ryan Budget which Mitt Romney has embraced would cause more than 10 million college students to see their financial aid cut by $1,000; would mean Alzheimer's research would be slashed; would mean 200,000 children would lose their chance to enter Head Start - Republicans heard only atmospherics.

The Washington Post's resident Romney apologist, Jennifer Rubin, accused the President of engaging in a "hyper-partisan jag" during an "overly political address" that she says was at odds with Obama's optimistic message of hope and change - an ideological "throwback to the Democratic rhetoric of decades past."

Tellingly, not once in Rubin's Frank Luntz-inspired takedown did Rubin engage the specifics of Obama's complaint or consider whether that complaint might be justified. The mere fact of the President being critical of her guy was all it took to earn the President the content-free opprobrium: "Negative."

Not to be out done, New York Times conservative David Brooks accused the President of taking "the low road" in that same speech -- of leveling an "embarrassing avalanche of distortion," of unleashing "every 1980s liberal cliché in the book," and of resorting "to hoary, brain-dead clichés" to make Republicans look heartless and mean.

This, after Brooks conceded the Romney-endorsed blueprint "has some disturbing weaknesses," such as: It would "cut too deeply" into discretionary spending; produce "self-destructive cuts" in scientific research, health care for poor kids and programs that boost social mobility;" openly promote "regressive" tax cuts for the wealthy; and dishonestly fail to identify those closed tax loopholes "that might hurt Republican donors."

Thus, after essentially corroborating the President's damning case against the Romney/Ryan budget, Brooks then accuses the President of falsifying evidence.

Brooks is right, up to a point, says Ezra Klein of the Washington Post. Obama did attack cuts that appear nowhere in the Romney/Ryan budget. But that's only because "Ryan refused to provide the specifics himself."

Budgets like Paul Ryan's matter, say Klein, because they are one of the few times in a campaign when the parties can't hide behind their vague abstractions and poll tested platitudes but must instead put real numbers on the table we can see and dissect. And in those numbers, says Klein, "we can see the decisions the parties make when they're forced to choose between competing priorities and constituencies."

Numbers matter, says Klein, because they show what the fights in American politics "are ultimately about."  But that can only happen if we force those numbers "off the page and into the world voters actually inhabit."

And like the unnamed federal agencies Mitt Romney says he intends to eliminate, or the loopholes Paul Ryan says he'll close but refuses to identify, Republicans want to take credit for being sharp-knifed budget cutters but without paying the political price that goes with it by telling us what those cuts would be.

And whenever Obama does try to flesh out the details so that the national debate over budget priorities gets "the rigor and clarity" it deserves, Republicans cry "foul,"  as Romney did in his victory speech this week, accusing the President of waging a "campaign of diversions, distractions, and distortions." 

But the truth is, says Klein, that under the Romney/Ryan budget, cuts to education, food stamps, transportation infrastructure "and to pretty much everything else besides defense," are draconian while a Medicaid program that covers more than 25 million children would be hit "with particular force."

Ryan wants none of this out in the open, says Klein. But if the only way to defend the Romney/Ryan budget is to beat back any attempt to make their cuts specific, then the budget itself "is an empty, useless document."

If ever there was a case of Democrats being from Venus and Republicans from Mars it's the debate over putting the nation's finances in order.

President Obama says there are only two ways to deal with the deficit. We can either adopt a balanced package of spending cuts and tax hikes. Or, those "who've done extraordinarily well" by America can get another free ride while the "entire burden gets placed on the middle class and the poor."

Stunningly, Paul Ryan calls this "a stunning assertion from the President."

Spending cuts plus tax hikes do not equal deficit reduction, says Ryan. Indeed, tax hikes don't figure into the equation at all. The real winning formula, says Ryan, is "reasonable, responsible spending restraint" combined with "economic growth" fueled by tax cuts for the wealthy. Of course. To suggest any different, says Ryan, is to succumb to the President's feeble and faulty "zero-sum logic."

We're entering brand new political territory here.

Remember the old economist's joke -- "assume full employment...?" Paul Ryan's fuzzy budget math is no less phantasmagorical. Assume tax cuts pay for themselves, says Ryan. Assume further that massive cuts to the health, education, income and food assistance programs relied on by the poor don't hurt the poor at all but instead give them jobs that wouldn't exist otherwise.

Conservatives are like medieval alchemists who believe they can turn lead into gold, so no amount of historical or empirical evidence that supply-side economics doesn't deliver what it promises will persuade them to relax their white-knuckled death grip on the superstition that every economic trouble can be solved with another tax cut for the rich. Because conservatives don't want to be persuaded. And they have powerful incentives to remain so.

Ryan's dispute with Obama over the budget, like his presumptuous lecturing of the Catholic bishops over the true meaning of the Church's social justice doctrines, are not based on real facts or arguments but rather on ideologically plausible ones. And like Arizona Republican John Kyl when he said his attacks against Planned Parenthood on the Senate floor "were not intended to be a factual statement," Ryan's arguments on the budget are not meant to be true. They are only intended to be plausible so that right wing militants like him can screw the poor on behalf of privilege and do so with a clear conscience.

How is this possible, asks David Frum, one of the few conservatives still left in existence who cares about facts and intellectual integrity, that Paul Ryan could give a major speech about the nation's looming debt crisis and completely "walk past" the single most important fact of federal budgeting -- which is the drop in federal revenues and the demand for federal spending caused by the economic collapse of 2008-2009?

How can Republicans make credible plans for the future, wonders Frum, "if they blind themselves to what is happening all around them in the present?"

The ancients warned us there would be times like these. Remember Plato's Allegory of the Cave from The Republic? Prisoners were shackled in such a way they could only see the shadows projected on the wall in front of them by the fire that burned behind them. Over time, these cave dwellers would mistake the shadows on the wall for the objects they refused to believe were real whenever they were freed from their confinement.

The lessons of Plato's Cave became the inspiration for Walter Lippmann's own concept of "stereotypes," a word he coined and developed in his 1922 classic, Public Opinion.

As Lippmann described it, stereotypes are "the core of our personal tradition, the defenses of our position in society." However unreal these imagined ideas might be, stereotypes do provide "a more or less consistent picture of the world, to which our habits, our tastes, our capacities, our comforts and our hopes have adjusted themselves."

Stereotypes may not provide a complete or accurate picture of the world, Lippmann conceded, but they do offer a picture "of a possible world to which we are adapted."  And in this world, he says, "people and things have their well-known places, and do certain expected things. We feel at home there. We fit in. We are members."

Stereotypes are, in short, "the fortress of our traditions," behind whose defenses "we can continue to feel ourselves safe in the position we occupy."

Of course, Lippmann's stereotypes are not "fortresses" at all, but prisons - prisons just like Plato's Cave where, if Republicans get their way, people will never get to see the world as it really is but only the manipulative representations of it, visible in the Republican's flickering falsehoods where the reality of our common existence is transformed into the "divisions," the "negativities," the "partisanship" and the "class warfare" that become the projected shadows on the wall of our own sunless caves.

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We've been here before -- the divide between the elitists and the rest of us first reared its ugly head in the election between John Quincy Adams and Andy Jackson. It surfaced again with the first Republican President, Abraham Lincoln, who despite his good works saving the Union and ending slavery, paved the way for the Robber Barons and the Railroads, with a business-friendly policy that culminated in the Teapot Dome Scandal under Grant.

The divide continued with the contest between progressive Republican Teddy Roosevelt and business stooge Republican William Taft, throwing that election to the Democrat Wilson. For all practical purposes, that put an end to progressism in the Republican Party and gave us the era of Coolidge and Hoover, an era when no one dared speak ill of "what's good for business is good for America.

The stake was driven thru the Republican Progressive corpse with Goldwater and the rise of the Reactionary wing of the GOP. That was aided and abetted by the wholesale mutiny of Dixicrat DINOs who fled to the Republican Party, where their racist rhetoric and ways found a welcome home.

Obvious, the country was terribly divided during the Sixties and by the Vietnam War and Nixon. And just as obviously, despite a few advances made toward fulfilling America's promise of "all men (and women) are created equal during that period, Conservatives won the war -- as evidenced by their triumphal march on Washington led by the Great Prevaricator, Ronald Reagan.

One would think the following disastrous three decades would have ended once and for all the absurd notion of leaving everything to The Market. One would be wrong.

Alas, Voodoo Economics remains as politically viable as ever. And that means those who want to double down on that godawful bet have at least an even chance of running the show again. God help us.
Since divisive, negative and partisan are bad things that don't poll well with independents, you can bet Republicans will accuse the President of one, if not all three, of these moral imperfections whenever he attacks Republican proposals as "radical" or "outside the American mainstream," no matter how right the President might be on the merits.

Unfortunately, Ted, if Barack Obama is done in by this kind of nonsense, it will not be solely at the hands of Republicans and conservatives…in fact, a case can be made that it will not be done primarily by Republicans and conservatives.

The disaffected left will probably do more damage to Obama’s chances of re-election with this kind of crap than the right. Their fury that Obama did not meet their unrealistic expectations seems to have turned them into a opposing force more formidable by far than Obama’s natural enemies.

The charges you mentioned are bullshit (for want a more cultured word)…but they are seen as bullshit by independents when tossed out by the right; politicians do that sort of thing to politicians in the other party. When the left delivers them, however, they are seen by independents in another, much more damaging light.
impressive for working plato's cave into a treatise on current politics. hey, dude, how about something a little more cutting edge... like the Matrix =)
well written as usual. re stereotypes... very similar to the concept of "framing" in psychology which deserves a lot of attention in politics. hint: even using the words of your adversary is counterproductive. words like "job creators" etcetera. have to build your own vocabulary. also, the recent research into how people are basically emotionally, not rationally swayed, something that wonky democrats have misunderstood for ages. & even obama has tended to succumb to at times.
I doubt I'll ever hear serious issues discussed seriously. The Repubs use all manner of focus groups to see which slogans get the best rise and then it's off to the races. The Dems do the same but at least they have a passing regard for the truth. I'm afraid this campaign will be awfully vicious.
10% pay 50% of taxes, 47% pay $0.

That is wrong.
Until Americans graduate beyond bumper sticker rhetoric, the 30 second mud-sling and emotive abstract terminology to genuine debate and policy discussion....big money will continue to corner the hearts and minds of the mindless.
Tom -- You are right that there have always been conflicts in our history that divided along class lines but at least the upper crust elites once upon a time honored the original democratic compact in which property would be protected so long as the system itself was still rooted in popular sovereignty and consent of the governed. I am not sure that is any longer the case. Going back to Lewis Powell's famous memo to the plutocracy on their need to take back the country for laissez faire and running through to today's unprecedented levels of GOP obstruction, in the eyes of the rich today democracy has been tried and found wanting because it has produced two governing regimes -- the New Deal and the Great Society -- they consider to be illegitimate. And so in their view, anything goes to prevent a recurrence. Hence the attacks on unions, the barriers to voting, the filibuster as the new normal among other things. It is no coincidence that between the last two Democratic presidents we have had the right tried to impeach one and has done everything in its power to prevent the other from governing.

Frank -- I hope you are wrong about the self-destructive nature of the left. Occupy Wall Street and like expressions of popular discontent were a needed breath of fresh air because they helped to remind everyone of the egalitarian nature of our society in which equality a value in our system that ranks right up there with freedom, liberty, individualism and other beliefs conservatives have done so much to distort for their own purposes.

And Harrison Price -- today 1% of the population earns 25% of all income; in the last 30 years incomes for the top 1% have increased 300% while those at the bottom and middle have risen hardly at all and for some groups have actually declined; and in just the past four years since the economic collapse began in 2007, 93% of all profits earned during the recovery have found their way into the pockets of the top 1% while the rest of us have had to fight over the remaining 7%. That too is "wrong."
Tom -- To elaborate on my point about the changed nature of the conservative party, below is an excerpt from an essay that congressional scholars Thomas Mann and Norm Ornstein have in today's Washington Post that reflects my own alarm at developments in the Republican Party as someone who once worked for it. And I am not alone. Recently, in fact, I ran into an old friend at an event at the Massachusetts State House who worked with me back during Bill Weld's and Paul Cellucci's Republican administrations. He later ran unsuccessfully for Congress. When talk turned to politics (about three seconds after we shook hands!) he shook his head at the state of the GOP and said: "I don't hate government. I just want it to work better." That is the dividing line: Today's GOP does not believe in government or the democratic nation-state that goes with it.

Here is Mann and Ornstein:

....We have been studying Washington politics dayand Congress for more than 40 years, and never have we seen them this dysfunctional. In our past writings, we have criticized both parties when we believed it was warranted. Today, however, we have no choice but to acknowledge that the core of the problem lies with the Republican Party.

The GOP has become an insurgent outlier in American politics. It is ideologically extreme; scornful of compromise; unmoved by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition.
When one party moves this far from the mainstream, it makes it nearly impossible for the political system to deal constructively with the country’s challenges.

“Both sides do it” or “There is plenty of blame to go around” are the traditional refuges for an American news media intent on proving its lack of bias, while political scientists prefer generality and neutrality when discussing partisan polarization. Many self-styled bipartisan groups, in their search for common ground, propose solutions that move both sides to the center, a strategy that is simply untenable when one side is so far out of reach.

It is clear that the center of gravity in the Republican Party has shifted sharply to the right. Its once-legendary moderate and center-right legislators in the House and the Senate — think Bob Michel, Mickey Edwards, John Danforth, Chuck Hagel — are virtually extinct.

The post-McGovern Democratic Party, by contrast, while losing the bulk of its conservative Dixiecrat contingent in the decades after the civil rights revolution, has retained a more diverse base. Since the Clinton presidency, it has hewed to the center-left on issues from welfare reform to fiscal policy. While the Democrats may have moved from their 40-yard line to their 25, the Republicans have gone from their 40 to somewhere behind their goal post.......
I intended to include the New Deal in my summation, but embarrassed at waxing so long in my comment, I must have subconsciously failed to do so. Truly a grievous oversight, since it is in reaction (as in reactionary) to the New Deal (not to mention the Great Society) that Republicans have gone off the deep-end.

I maintain that they would no longer be a major Party save for the defection of the Dixiecrats. But when economic reactionaries teamed with social reactionaries, we got the worst of all possible worlds. Sad to say that since so many Americans haven't awakened to this political reality, we will soon be living in the worst of all possible worlds -- if we aren't already.

I'll trump your sports metaphor, and go astronomical. We are wobbling at the edge of an event horizon; if we don't reverse direction, and very, very soon -- we will be sucked into the black hole of revolution -- and we cannot know what waits (lurks) on the other side of such an event. Indeed, the Teapartians and the Occupiers are evidence that we may have entered that black hole already.
Ted your numbers may be true but the presentation is misleading.

The top 1% saw their income rise 11.6%. I read the study however it does not reveal how much their incomes fell before 2010.

Also, you assume the 1% is some static club. It is not. Comparing 1996 with 2005 40-43% of those who were 1% were still there 9 years later. There are people leaving and joining the 1% which shows upward and downward income mobility.

Also, investors should be taxed at lower rates because they risk their money to invest it. And they've already paid a high tax rate on the money they earn at work which is different from investment income.

You miss these key points.
As for this "10% pay 50% of taxes, 47% pay $0.' that is from the "Drill, baby, drill" school of political "thought". Frankly, I am sick to death of the simplistic idiocy of sloganeering and Fux News "facts".

The FACT is that while that 47% may not pay Federal income tax, they pay a far larger percentage of their income in other taxes, most especially the Medicare tax, which is capped for the wealthy. Check property taxes, as I did when I was in real estate, and in general you'll find that the 47% pay a far larger percentage their, too. That is, IF they can afford to buy a home; and when they can't, they pay property taxes in the form of rent.

But let's cut to the chase with the aptly named Mr Price -- in essence, taxes are a form of insurance. SS is a form of insurance against living too long; Medicare is a form of health insurance. The billions of tax dollars that go to the DoD and now into Homeland Security are insurance against foreign attackers. Taxes that go to the FDA and the EPA are insurance that the food you eat is safe and the air you breath and the water you drink are safe, Taxes that go to the SEC are insurance against the predations of bankers and corporatists -- too bad that money isn't so well spent thanks to industry insiders and lobbyists infiltrating that dept.

Ironically, most of those who have the most to lose howl the loudest about paying for these protections. The wealthy who are slightly wiser understand how much they have to lose, but most of them will only acknowledge taxes as at best a protection racket. But the truth of the matter was summed up long ago by Napoleon, who observed that "religion keeps the poor from murdering the rich".

Whether that religion be theocratic or aristocratic or autocratic, when the rich lose sight of that fact and trample on institutions that provide them protection, heads will roll.
Strike a nerve there Tommy?

One could say sales tax is too big a burden on the poor because it hits them so much harder.

I don't know what Fux News is but the data comes from the Feds.

I like how you used vitriol instead of facts to make your point.

Any 8th grade debate teacher would have nullified your response.
Nice try but your arguments with history, not me. Good luck winning that one.
Sorry Tommy, with no facts to back you up there's nothing more to say.

@HP (interesting the initials you share)
You and I swap "facts" till the cows come home, and neither of us will have moved an inch. Why? Because we both know there are "lies, damned lies and statistics".

Here's a fact for you: During the Fifties, America's Golden Age, the top tax bracket was 92%; so it follows that if we want to return to that kind of prosperity for all, we need to raise tax rates, not lower them.
Obama will be defeated not by "partisan," "divisive," and "negative," but rather by "inept," "lax," and "corrupt."

I am guessing that you hurled three slogans at President Obama (inept, lax and corrupt) without elaboration or explanation so as to prove my point about the empty and substance-free way Republicans and conservatives intend to run against the President in 2012. Thanks!
Tommy, it was easy for America to be #1 in the 50s... we were still the only economy in the world not destroyed by WW2.

There's no going back to that, even if Obama starts a few more wars.

Sorry, facts still aren't on your side.


Stop it, just stop it. Of all the corrupt arguments I've heard from my old Republican pals over the years, by far the worst has got to be this idea that the way to protect the fortunes of the rich is to tax the poor more. I know that for the most part conservatives aren't being serious, which is no excuse. They are just trying to score a few cheap political points in their class warfare against the rest of us they pretend not to be waging. And they think that by creating anti-tax sentiment at the bottom they have leverage they can use to protect those at the top.

But the fact is that political democracy is not sustainable with the sort of income disparities we see today. 25% of all income earned by just 1% of the population? 95% of all profits since the collapse of 2007-08 pocketed by the same lucky duckies at the top? A 300% increase in wealth by a few while the vast majority have seen wages remain flat, costs increase and debt burdens mount? And worst of all, the ability of the rich to exchange their financial fortunes for the coin of political power -- which is then used to rewrite the rules of the game to further enhance their earnings. These are not pressures a republic can sustain and still remain democratic.

The trends we are seeing in America today has been a very familiar path all throughout history. And it almost always ends up in tragedy for the society that does nothing to stop it. And that is why even conservatives have stepped in from time to time in the name of social peace and harmony and domestic tranquility to say "enough is enough."

There is more than enough material here to argue that what is going on in America today is wrong on moral and ethical grounds -- as the Catholic bishops have done, among others. There are also reasons to open our history books to read what the Founding Fathers had to say about the dangers to their new republic of an emerging new American Aristocracy -- what Jefferson called the "Anglomen" that was at the core of his lifelong dispute with Alexander Hamilton.

But most important, so much wealth in so few hands is inviting an economic catastrophe as capital that could be put to more productive use gets frittered away in the no-limit, high-stakes speculative risk-taking that brought the world to the brink once before.
The 50% don't pay taxes is a longer form of an empty slogan. Many of those (slightly less than) 50% *of households--not individuals* are because of retired Americans living on a fixed income and/or taking tax advantages we give retired people who worked and paid taxes before they retired.

Filling out the near total of that >50% are the working poor who have enough deductions to zero-out their tax liability. If you removed those deductions, it would hit the 50% who do pay taxes much harder, as their higher incomes and home ownership would expose them to higher tax rates and a larger loss in deductions.

Every working American pays payroll taxes and out of that there's a 2.5 trillion surplus in Soc Sec that has been spent to subsidize the wealthier tax payers.

Anyone who is compelled to comment on this issue should be able to understand why many retired and working poor people generally are exempt from income taxes. However, this type of knowledge is unavailable to the Slogan Slingers because they aren't in the habit of offering informed opinions, or even their own opinions. To those types an issue like this exists independent of those factors and considerations that make the exception logical, and the other foundational cause--dysfunctional income disparity--disappear.

Retired and working poor people pay little in the way of income taxes. That explains almost all of the "don't pay taxes" canard. Many people are ignorant due to cerebral deficits, laziness or ideological identity. That explains why we see the aggressively ignorant become sucker bait for the idea we should tax the poor more and the rich less, or that the upper 50% are carrying the entire load.

The true solution to the income tax disparity is to quit following the conservative ideology that has resulted in a disappearing middle class and more poor people.
We'll always have poor people and ignorant conservative dogmatists. The idea should be to reduce, as much as is possible, the numbers of both groups.
I give you a fact, and you dodge, just as I said you would. And no matter how many facts I present, you'll dodge again and again because the facts in toto are clearly NOT on your side. So let's just skip the statistics, shall we?

To my point: Yes, America succeeded in the Fifties for other reasons, but it also succeeded despite confiscatory tax rates on the rich. Since as you would allege, they didn't have the money to invest, who was it that created all those jobs back then?

And eighth-grade debater could tell you who -- consumers. That's who creates ALL the jobs in a consumer economy, and those who deny that are indeed unfit for an eighth-grade debate class.

Depsite wingnut rhetoric, coupon-clippers are not job-creators. And that's all the more the case now that investment has given way to speculation and immediate gratification in financial circles.

I assume you know all this -- which may be a grievous error on my part. But since you're dodging the obvious, I must also assume you're defending the gutting of the middle class because you're profiting handsomely from that gutting .

If not, I have no explanation for your defending the all-too-obviously failed policies a real conservative, George HW Bush, rightly labeled Voodoo Economics. Only a fool would want to double-down on that bad bet. Enter Bush the Least.

And now, those who haven't learned a damned thing about their own faulty judgment -- despite having twice voted for the worst President in US history -- now they want to double-down yet again on that bad bet. Talk about failure to learn from history --- seems the Casino is always open in the Consumative "mind".

You can deny all this till you're blue -- or in your case red -- in the face, but the wholesale destruction of the middle-class -- and with it the consumers that make a consumer economy possible -- says otherwise. Yes, the reasons for the disappearing middle-class are complicated; but to deny that it has nothing to do with deregulation, union-busting, job deportation and tax banditry -- all propagated by your side since 1980 -- is a ludicrous and transparent canard.
Tommy, saying "America succeeded" isn't quite a hard fact is it?

My telling you that of course America succeeded in the 50s the rest of the world had no industrial output isn't a dodge it's totally true. There really was no other place to go but America. Europe was in ruins and Japan was, too. We owned the world until they rebuilt and moved in on our market share.

You ignore this crucial fact.

Once Europe began to rebound and investors had options for moving their money the economy slowed.

Why do you think JFK made a major speech calling for taxes to be slashed so as to create a jobs boom?

JFK was a Democrat by the way.

Facts are still not on your side!
JFK advocated cutting the top marginal rate from 91% to 65%, citing WW2 tax levels designed to curb excessive growth were, absent the war, stifling Demand purchasing power from individuals and businesses. I capitalize Demand because these were Keynesian, not the laughable "supply side" concept.

JFK was not an ideological idiot. His was a response to a specific set of factors, not some brain-dead "conservative" concept of eternal growth coming from eternal tax cuts. Besides, all we've gotten from eternal conservative tax cuts are eternal deficits and debt.

Harri has hit several lines from the Conservative Common-tater script here. The irony is he's proving Ted's point, even though any rational political observer has known this for a long time. Harri has slogan tidbits applied with no idea of context, delivered with an absurdly high level of belief in his argumentative ability.

However, his script-babble might not be best described as Empty. It's more notable for what it's full of.
Even the aptly named Arthur Laffer wasn't fool enough to suggest what wingnut "conservatives" are suggesting these days. His theory - I repeat theory -- was that there was an optimal tax rate, and that by reducing taxes to that rate, revenues would actually increase due to increased productivity. The sole evidence for his theory was the JFK tax cuts. Brain-dead idiots are still pointing to the JFK tax cuts as proof Laffer's theory "works" despite thirty years of tragic proof we went well past that mythical optimal point long, long ago.

The JFK cuts were an anomaly, the exception that proves the rule, a rule violated with horrendous consequences by Bush the Least, the dimwit most of these same "conservatives" voted for twice -- tho these days none of them have the guts to even utter his name.

In utter disregard for history and accounting, Bush the Least cut taxes during a war. Much of the debt present-day "conservatives" are suddenly so concerned about is a direct result of that idiocy -- debt they helped create with their greed and rush to war.

By some estimates, the bill for their folly stands at $2 trillion directly attributable to tax cuts and $4 trillion dollars blown in Iraq and Afghanistan. Say, conservatives, do you remember when you promised the Iraq War would cost $72 billion and would be paid for out of Iraqi oil revenues? Creative accounting, indeed.

In emulation of his good buddy "conservative" Ken Lay, Bush took the cost of both wars "off-book" by BushCo, and now the rest of us are paying for that instance of Enronian accounting. And what do we have to show for all that blood and treasure pissed down a rathole in the Mideast? Nothing, absolutely nothing, but a few dead terrorists and a lot more replacements in the making.

After all that, they dare to call themselves conservative, and they dare to question the judgment of those on the Left. How pathetic can you get?
Tommy, thanks for being ideologically consistent with this excellent example:

"The JFK cuts were an anomaly, the exception that proves the rule"

Good one! Seriously.

You can watch JFK lay it all out in a very Republican way right for the camera:


JFK was a Neocon on defense and a Conservative on taxation. He was part not of the 1% but of the 0.01%. He would not have been accepted by Democrats today.

Here's what he said on December 14, 1962:

Profits, personal income, living standards — all are setting new records. Most of the economic indicators for this quarter are up and the prospects are for further expansion in the next quarter. But we must look beyond the next quarter, or the last quarter, or even the last two years. For we can and must do better, much better than we've been doing for the last five-and-a-half years.

But the most direct and significant kind of federal action aiding economic growth is to make possible an increase in private consumption and investment demand — to cut the fetters which hold back private spending.

The final and best means of strengthening demand among consumers and business is to reduce the burden on private income and the deterrents to private initiative which are imposed by our present tax system — and this administration pledged itself last summer to an across-the-board, top-to-bottom cut in personal and corporate income taxes to be enacted and become effective in 1963.

First, it should reduce the net taxes by a sufficiently early date and a sufficiently large amount to do the job required.

Second, the new tax bill must increase private consumption, as well as investment. When consumers purchase more goods, plants use more of their capacity, men are hired instead of laid-off, investment increases, and profits are high.

Corporate tax rates must also be cut to increase incentives and the availability of investment capital.

For all these reasons, next year's tax bill should reduce personal as well as corporate income taxes: for those in the lower brackets, who are certain to spend their additional take-home pay, and for those in the middle and upper brackets, who can thereby be encouraged to undertake additional efforts and enabled to invest more capital.


As usual, the intellectual dishonesty present in Liberals is ever present here. Good to know some things don't changes.

As I've said each time here... the facts are NOT on your side!

Thanks for confirming my original assumption that you will twist numbers to suit your purpose, and now you stoop to quotations to make a false case. Sorry, but despite your lengthy quotation from JFK, the consequences of those tax cuts were an anomaly. Now, having utterly disregarded the rest of my comment, would you care to point to a shred of reputable evidence that shows how "effective" the Bush tax cuts were? I didn't think so.

But since you changed the game, and switched from statistics to quotations -- and thereby opened the door to an argument from authority, I'll momentarily give you a quotation to make my case that the horrific financial consequences and non-existent benefits of Bush/Cheney's Execrable Adventure in Mideast nation-building were foreseeable. Indeed, they were laid out by someone far wiser than any of us.

If they had, we might have been saved that $4 trillion dollars you and so many other so-called conservatives don't have the guts to talk about. Indeed, you only mention debt in a sophomoric attempt to blame the debt on "entitlements" which are in actuality prepaid insurance funds, funds "financial conservatives" time and again to pay for tax cuts and other dubious expenditures.

No surprise, of course, that's what happens when fools think themselves wise. Here's a warning from George F. Kennan in 1948. Read it and weep:

PPS23, FRUS, 1948, volume 1, part II, pages 510-529

VII. Far East

My main impression with regard to the position of this Government with regard to the Far East is that we are greatly over-extended in our whole thinking about what we can accomplish, and should try to accomplish, in that area. This applies, unfortunately, to the people in our country as well as to the Government.

It is urgently necessary that we recognize our own limitations as a moral and ideological force among the Asiatic peoples.

Our political philosophy and our patterns for living have very little applicability to masses of people in Asia. They may be all right for us, with our highly developed political traditions running back into the centuries and with our peculiarly favorable geographic position; but they are simply not practical or helpful, today, for most of the people in Asia.

This being the case, we must be very careful when we speak of exercising "leadership" in Asia. We are deceiving ourselves and others when we pretend to have the answers to the problems which agitate many of these Asiatic peoples.

Furthermore, we have about 50% of the world's wealth but only 6.3% of its population. This disparity is particularly great as between ourselves and the peoples of Asia. In this situation, we cannot fail to be the object of envy and resentment. Our real task in the coming period is to devise a pattern of relationships which will permit us to maintain this position of disparity without positive detriment to our national security. To do so, we will have to dispense with all sentimentality and day-dreaming; and our attention will have to be concentrated everywhere on our immediate national objectives. We need not deceive ourselves that we can afford today the luxury of altruism and world-benefaction.

For these reasons, we must observe great restraint in our attitude toward the Far Eastern areas. The peoples of Asia and of the Pacific area are going to go ahead, whatever we do, with the development of their political forms and mutual interrelationships in their own way. This process cannot be a liberal or peaceful one. The greatest of the Asiatic peoples - the Chinese and the Indians - have not yet even made a beginning at the solution of the basic demographic problem involved in the relationship between their food supply and their birth rate. Until they find some solution to this problem, further hunger, distress, and violence are inevitable. All of the Asiatic peoples are faced with the necessity for evolving new forms of life to conform to the impact of modern technology. This process of adaptation will also be long and violent. It is not only possible, but probable, that in the course of this process many peoples will fall, for varying periods, under the influence of Moscow, whose ideology has a greater lure for such peoples, and probably greater reality, than anything we could oppose to it. All this, too, is probably unavoidable; and we could not hope to combat it without the diversion of a far greater portion of our national effort than our people would ever willingly concede to such a purpose.

In the face of this situation we would be better off to dispense now with a number of the concepts which have underlined our thinking with regard to the Far East. We should dispense with the aspiration to "be liked" or to be regarded as the repository of a high-minded international altruism. We should stop putting ourselves in the position of being our brothers' keeper and refrain from offering moral and ideological advice. We should cease to talk about vague and -- for the Far East -- unreal objectives such as human rights, the raising of the living standards, and democratization. The day is not far off when we are going to have to deal in straight power concepts. The less we are then hampered by idealistic slogans, the better.
In short, how's that nation-building thingy working out for you and the NeoCons? Or are you still looking for the WMD?
Is it possible that hp could really be johnny the fever under a pseudonym?
"No surprise, of course, that's what happens when fools think themselves wise. "

Indeed Tommy, indeed.

Fine you reject history by saying it's an "anomaly" or the "exception that proves the rule."

Time for some cold, hard facts.

Firstly, the Bush tax cuts actually resulted in the "rich" (like John Kerry and Al Gore) paying a higher share of the tax burden than had there been no tax cut. Source is the U.S. Treasury:


Why? Just as JFK said... the "rich" earned more money thus they paid more in taxes. Under Obama's plan economic activity would be decreased resulting in the "rich" paying less in taxes:


Such has been learned in Illinois, New York, and Maryland.

I really do not have time to "discuss" things with people who are intellectually dishonest and when shown an example that refutes their examples (from their own party no less) they simply term it an "anomaly."

Americans have wised up to the tactics of the Left. And a new report out today shows that Government is the biggest drag on the economy right now:


"Friday's gross domestic product report confirmed what a drag government can be: While consumer spending grew at a 2.9 percent clip, state and local governments cut back spending by 1.2 percent on an annualized basis and the federal government pulled back by 5.6 percent."

And in fact Barack Obama’s first Chair of his Council of Economic Advisers, Christina Romer wrote:

In short, tax increases appear to have a very large, sustained, and highly significant negative impact on output.

In all cases, the effect of tax changes on output remains large and highly statistically significant. Thus the finding that tax changes have substantial impacts on output appears to be very durable. That including controls for known output shocks has little effect on the estimated impact of tax changes is important indirect evidence that our new measure of fiscal shocks is not correlated with other factors affecting output.


Her report was published after she quit.

You people really just are too much. I find it fascinating and terrifying. Hopefully it will end in November.

Cheers and once again the facts are NOT on your side.

Have fun.
This is excellent, the very kind of examination that we must consider, no matter what your politcal leaning, moral compass. The people that we put into office, in whom we trust to hammer home bills that benefit us, are too busy creating exuses, apologies and one endless mirage of what they want us to believe. Is it time yet to be mad as hell for them assuming that we are a superficial lot that is about a sharp as an underinflated beach ball.

The Repubs are determined to cut programs that do benefit many; the Democrats do have a penchant for overspending on things that often do not work as planned. If we changed the process of the endless beauy contests, cut the innane time line in campaigning to six weeks, then we might have a chance to glean a clearer picture, without the throbbing waste that this circus is. We are that air craft carrier that takes too damn long to change directions -- an awful long time in turning around, if at all. Do these Congressman actually believe what they are doing? If they knew what they were doing, we'd have a balanced budget, with quality health care and the biggest arsenal in history. All paid for and ready to go ...
Welcome to Republican "reality" programming, where the latest offering is The Price is Wrong.
You're not delivering Cold Hard Facts, but rather garbage ideological articles. The funniest part is a drivel-minded hack complaining about intellectual dishonesty. It's as if you think you have a concept of "intellectual."

Anyone who trusts anything coming from "Freedom Works," a known ideological hack organization, is already operating on few active neurons. IBD is yet another hack rag, purely Republican and purely ideological. The Bush tax cuts were followed by 3 years of lowered revenues, the rebounding to the previous revenues coming as the housing bubble gathered steam. The same thing that leads to the dishonest idea of the tax cuts causing the top end to pay a higher percentage is the same thing that was plunging consumers into off-gov-books debt. Neither are due to actual growth, but bubble growth--a false growth of value, but a real growth in price. The fact is there was no growth in jobs or median income over the 8 year Bush span--also known as The Lost Decade.

The CNBC article points out that government cut-backs were reducing the growth number--the "drag on the economy" is due to reductions in spending, not "government" in general or "government" preventing growth. It's that government was not contributing to growth because of spending cuts.
This effect is well known and is why federal stimulus is needed to restore state government employment, as the article suggests. In fact, many sane economists know that that form of stimulus--helping states retain teachers, firefighters, police and other government employees -- is the first line of Keynesian stimulus. In other words, and because you obviously need other words--the article doesn't say what you imply, but the opposite.

Romer's opinion is one of many, some agreeing, some not. What Romer says and what you appropriately blissfully ignore is that spending cuts probably have an even worse effect than tax increases. In other words, taxing to preserve some government spending without increasing debt is better for the economy than the smaller gain of cutting, or not increasing, taxes.
However, the study was on post WW2 tax policy changes through 2007. It might be better to compare tax policy after the beginning of the Depression, as the collapse of the financial system brings a different set of problems and realities than normal recessions. Anyone comparing this mess to a normal recession is pushing an ideological dishonesty.

We know that most -- almost all--of the Bush neo-Depression income has gone to the top percent. We also know they aren't investing in job creation, and rightfully so as there's not enough demand to justify it.
Will you be a good little ideologue and explain why a upper end tax increase will prevent those who have to pay it from not investing then as they aren't now? Will this be a greater degree of not investing? Will we know the not-investors have decided to not invest after a tax increase because they will tell us it's the new reason they're not investing?

Harrison, you're not up to talking issues with adults. You seek out confirmation bias and repeat whatever you're told that fits the dogma you like. The funny part is you think the crap you dig up or any snippet from a reasonable source is a Rosetta Stone that translates a Great Conservative Truth. It's fun -- but only in a seen-it-a-million-times way -- watching you act like you're delivering a slam dunk when, in fact, you have zero grounding in any general knowledge of the issues. You're just another Rwing clucking aparatchicken.

We can tolerate the Rwing poultry act, but the "cheers" thing is an excessively dainty way to end your simplistic rebuttals. However, because your rebuttals are weak, perhaps it's appropriate.

To know whose side the facts are on you would have to be able to distinguish a fact from fantasy or a relevant fact from an irrelevant fact. Clucking loudly does nothing to accomplish either. However, you did lay an egg, so it's not a total loss.
We have about five months before America loses the ADD and ADHD and begins to take the deep dives. This is why we hate election years.

The past three years have exhausted our tolerance and respect for Republicans and anything that they stand for. Has anyone seen so much silliness, psychopathy and hypocrisy?

Do they think that the mythical national average IQ of 91 is an excuse to treat us as if we are stupid?

The national election will not be decided because of one damn word that is uttered during the next five months.

Events will determine the national mood and resolve when we arrive at the polls.

My concern is that one more Trayvon Martin of any race or creed; one more major scandal; or another terrorist attack will set the herd on a great national stampede toward the most convincing, charismatic local creep.

It is the house and senate that matters. Those are local propositions.

We need a true Democratic majority in the House and Senate or let's just kiss this nation goodbye, no matter who wins the executive seat.
"without elaboration or explanation"

My God, there's enough of that on this thread to sink the Titanic a second time. Where do you all find the time? I guess occupying rather than producing creates a lot of free time.

Let's see: inept--it takes real talent at that to convert a potentially positive resume item into an exercise in self-glorification that is repellant to thinking persons on all ends of the political spectrum. When Huffington turns against you, you know you've really reverse engineered the lemonade back to lemons.

lax--GSA, SS, anyone? Read up on it if you have to.

corrupt--Holder will suffrice for the nonce.
The endless idiocy of the Right, it's belief in the infallibility of markets and the inadequacy of government, boggles the mind. Yes, tax cuts can provide a temporary stimulus to the economy, which is why Obama offered targeted tax cuts. But the long-term consequences are clearly not beneficial, as we have seen with the Bush tax cuts. And in any case, ten-years is not a temporary solution.

Only a wingnut would want to exacerbate the problems the Bush tax cuts created by making them permanent -- or god forbid, further reducing tax rates while gutting the social safety net. Why that would be as idiotic as cutting taxes and going to war.

Of course, wingnuts won't acknowledge these facts, because their slogan-based "thinking" insists "tax cuts good, stimulus bad". Thus a tax cut enabling consumers to buy more Lady Gaga CDs and more Tiffany jewelry is good, while a stimulus to repair bridges, dams and highways is bad.

In the same idiotic way, they argue that a tax cut to make hedge-fund executives even more obscenely wealthy is good, but a tax increase to keep old people from starving is bad. Well, the "job-creators" have extracted their pound -- tons -- of flesh, so where are the jobs?