This summer, I read George Orwell’s paranoid dystopia novel, 1984. I have no idea how I managed to graduate from high school, let along college, without reading it, but, there you go. (And, all literary genius aside, I’m so glad I wasn’t friends with Orwell. Somehow I doubt he was ever the life of a party.)
Now that I’m done with it, I can safely say that I will never read it again. Not because it’s a bad book (it’s brilliant), or because Orwell’s prophetic powers were off (in so many ways he’s so dead-on-balls-accurate it’s frightening). No. I will not reread it, because I can go anywhere there’s a “Don’t Tread On Me” flag flying, and relive it, kind of like a Renaissance Faire or a Civil War Reenactment. Between the idea of perpetual war and the permanent underclass, the celebration of enforced ignorance, the rewriting of history, and “Newspeak” (Orwell was channeling Sarah Palin’s Twitter account, wasn’t he?!), I am certain most of the novel is actually set in a TEA Party rally.
Want an example of Orwell’s
Let’s remember a few things: we’re in a recession. The worst one since the Great Depression. We all, no matter our political leanings, want to end the recession as soon as possible. And, while progressives and Democrats have suggested investing in economic stimulus projects to create jobs, services and infrastructure (like Grove St and Boardman Rd), Republicans have been screaming since, oh, November 6th 2008, that we Must! Lower! The! Deficit!
Thankfully, our 43rd president showed us the way to do just that. The huge tax breaks to the biggest earners are set to expire. This will return tax levels to
So. Chris Murphy calmly explains how these expiring tax cuts will be good for everyone, and Sam Caligiuri repeats the same double-think talking points that every Republican across the country has repeated since Obama won the presidency.
Murphy: “If you are serious about deficit reduction, then I can’t see how you can support adding $700 billion over the next 10 years to the federal budget deficit by extending the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy when a millionaire is getting an extra $100,000 in tax reductions and a middle-class person in
Caligiuri: “Small business owners I talk to in the district have said that they are concerned that those tax cuts might be there in January, and it can have an effect in them hiring again.”
According to Caligiuri, “If you tax the upper class more, then you’re going to have fewer jobs and less revenue.”
Because, in his world, you must be of the “upper class” to own a small business. And a marginal increase in the tax rate causes otherwise prosperous businesses to go belly up. (I’m guessing he also will tell us that a million bucks just isn’t worth what it used to be too.)
Murphy, dwelling in reality, reminds us, “People expand their businesses because they have more customers.” If you sell widgets, and people start buying your widgets faster than you can make them, you hire someone to help you make widgets. You may even bump up the price of your widgets. Regardless if your personal income tax rate is 28% or 31%. Because, dude, you’re selling more widgets! (And if that’s not how you do business,
It’s like watching a college senior debate Scooby Doo. Except not as funny.
Caligiuri is selling that old song, that asking top earners to bear a greater portion of the tax base than their mini – er, employees, is “wealth redistribution.” Which is communist, or at least French and gay, and could lead to dancing. Or a terrorist attack (I get lost after the “redistribution of wealth” part). Of course, this is pure bunk. The thing is, the Bush tax cuts of the last decade were a “redistribution of wealth” back into the hands of the very, very, rich, at the expense of the other 98% of earners.
But, don’t take my word for it.
There’s some nifty charts, some fancy economist words, and a well-supported argument that we are not in danger of sending our million- and billionaires to
Here’s a more plain-spoken explanation of the blatant hypocrisy of the “tax cuts save jobs” double-think:
“Those who want to extend the Bush tax cuts make the following argument, among others. This is not their only argument: 1) The rich include many small business owners. 2) Small businesses are the primary engine of job growth. 3) If we raise taxes on the rich, they will not hire people or will hire fewer people than they would have under the lower tax rates. 4) Therefore, raising taxes on the rich will hinder job growth.”
But … we’ve been doing tax cuts for much of the last decade. How did they work out for jobs, growth, and small businesses?
They sucked at it. Why? Because:
“If there is no increase in business, no profitable reason to add to the payroll, no small business is going to hire people no matter what their tax rate is.”
Now, why did Bush enact those tax cuts in the first place? Because, in his world, Bill Clinton (remember when Bill Clinton was a socialist? Neither do I.) had imposed an unfair tax burden on the rich (those poor business owners, again). So, maybe if the Bush tax cuts hadn’t been enacted, the uber wealthy would have done even worse?
I dunno. I look at these numbers, from the oppressive
“In 1990, the marginal rate was raised from 28 percent to 31 percent and the higher rate bracket was changed to include income over $82,150 (previously it was $162,770). That year job growth slowed dramatically from about 2 million in 1989 to 321,000 in 1990. In 1991 there was a net loss of 857,000 jobs.”
This was under Bush Senior. (Remember his “No New Taxes” pledge? Yeah. Me too. But, hey, the guy was trying to pay for a war in a tiny, far away, oil-rich country. Because he apparently forgot that wars pay for themselves.) Here’s what happened under Bill Clinton:
“In 1993, two new high income brackets were created: For income over $140,000 the rate went from 31 percent to 36 percent; for income over $250,000 the rate went from 31 percent to 39.6 percent. In 1993, 2,791,000 new jobs were created on a base of 109,415,000. In 1994, 3,851,000 new jobs were created.”
I know, I know, I mentioned the C-word! And even though he shepherded America through a fantastic economic boom (and recovery from the Bush-41-era Recession), created millions of jobs, balanced the budget, and left us with a huge surplus, by taxing the super-rich at slightly higher rates than his predecessor, America did not crumble, nor did super-rich people find themselves homeless, penniless, or too scared to hire people and make more money.
“ Not only was the entire national deficit eliminated after raising taxes on the wealthy in 1993, but the economy grew so fast for the remainder of the decade that many conservative economists thought that the Fed should raise the prime interest rate in order to slow it down.
“This is another of conservatives’ hidden agendas: they keep promising workers that if we cut taxes on the wealthy and the economy grows, their wages will go up. But when wages even start to go up—for whatever reason—conservatives do everything they can to slow down the economy.”
How’s that for double-think?
Of course, in true Orwellian fashion, many citizens on the Right have decided that the Bush-41-Recession was really Clinton’s recession, and the Clinton-era good times was Bush 43’s boom. Sigh. Or, if they can remember the reality everyone else experienced, they assume the
Too bad history doesn’t support that idea:
“In Greek mythology, Atlas was a giant who carried the world on his shoulders. In Ayn Rand's 1957 novel Atlas Shrugged, Atlas represents the "prime movers"--the talented few who bear the weight of the world's economy. In the novel, the prime movers go on strike against the oppressive burden of excessive regulation and taxation, leaving the world in disarray and demonstrating how indispensable they are to the rest of us (the "second handers").
“The reduction of marginal tax rates in the Reagan years was driven by a new policy consensus that still persists today. That consensus is that high marginal tax rates on the rich come with an unaffordably high price for the
Not that I want to eat the rich. I don’t want to punish them (well, except for the knuckleheads who melted down the economy, then walked away with millions while regular people watched their homes fall into foreclosure. Those guys … I want to punish. With plagues of boils or some other Biblically poetic means. But, failing plagues of boils …) I understand that returning to Eisenhower-style tax brackets is probably inefficient. There is only so far the super-rich can be taxed.
It’s just, right now, the super-rich aren’t being taxed at a reasonable rate. There is a “vast redistribution of wealth” happening in this country. Wealth Trickles out of the pockets of the average tax-payer, up to the super-rich, where it apparently dissipates into off-shore accounts or gets spent on diamond-studded doggie collars.
This is probably best explained in a play:
Thank goodness we don’t live in George Orwell’s
I’d love to sit Sam Caligiuri down to a performance of Bush Tax Cut, and then ask him to repeat his talking points. I’d like to see how deep his double-think programming goes.
Actually, I’d prefer it if the voting public viewed it. Over Halloween Weekend.