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Sunday, December 5, 2010

Dumb and dumber

"Extend the Bush tax cuts, or we'll cut off unemployment. We're a minority but we can filibuster."

"OK, you got us there, we give in. You don't have to filibuster -- we cave in."

The people of the United States would be a lot better off without most of the people in the United States Senate.

Comments (33)

Sort of makes you wonder why a certain party didn't take care of this with the bullet-proof majority they had not too long ago.

We do need a remake of "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington".

Classic party warfare. Should we decrease taxes for those who already have, or give more money to those without. Seems like doing both may get expensive.

That's a fact, Jack!

Unfortunately, they don't have to even filibuster anymore due to the current rules in place, established by the Senate leadership, and voted into place by the Senate - to even begin debate on a bill, there is a straight up-and-down vote that requires 60 to pass.

You don't get 60 votes, it never even gets to debate, and never gets a vote on the bill itself. The filibuster is effectively built into the process.

The Republicans arrogantly act like they have a mandate (cue Newt Gingrich and the Contract with America) and the Democrats need to grow a pair. A friend and I were just discussing this tonight; I support Obama but I think he might be a little too pristine for the rough and tumble of the game - of which the Republicans have controlled the field even when they were in the minority. The difference between JFK, Clinton and Obama? The former two knew just how dirty the game is - and were ready willing and able to get down to the level at which it is played. Obama is trying to elevate the game. Sadly, that isn't going to happen. It is too entrenched.

Obama wasted a really major opportunity to reverse some of the damage done by his predecessor. Now things are going to go even further in the wrong direction.

I have a hard time why so many continue using the tax rates that have been enforced for ten years and then regarding their extension as a "tax cut". If it was the reverse, demos advocating a tax rate continuation, would it be regarded by the demos as a "tax cut"? No.

During Clinton's reign the tax rates were:
1991-1992 15% to 31%(low bracket to top)
1993-2000 15% to 39.6%
Clinton raised taxes

During Bush's reign the rates were:
2001 15% to 30.1%
2002 10% to 38.6%
2003-2008 10% to 35%

During Obama's reign so far:
2009-2010 10% to 35%

Under Bush, the lower tax bracket was even lowered below Clintons. And the top tax bracket isn't much lower than Clinton's top bracket in 1993 to 2000.

So what's the argument? I could understand an increase in the top bracket to 38%. But with inflation in the past 15 to 20 years the top bracket threshold should be increased to $500,000 and the others remaining.

To understand this debate you need to understand that the issue of extending current tax rates is part of a larger debate over the role and size of the Federal government in U. S. society. The Radical Conservative position is that the Federal Government should be 14-15% of the U. S. GDP, and consist primarily of Defense, Justice, Treasury and government operations. The Moderate/Progressive position is that the Federal Government should be 20-22% of GDP.

Because of the recession and the Bush tax cuts, Revenues are now at the target range of GDP for Radical Conservatives, and extending current tax rates will tend to keep them in that range. This then allows the argument to shift to bringing expenditures down to that level in order to balance the budget. So the current argument is whether or not to keep revenues at 14% of GDP and bring down spending to balance the budget, or keep spending at 20-22% of GDP and raise taxes to balance the budget.

Once you understand this, the fact that lower tax rates increase the deficit is not an inconsistent argument. It supports the Radical Conservative position of lowering Federal spending to the 14-15% range.

So as Radical Conservatives take on some power in the current Congress, and take on much more power after 2012, you can expect their future to be (1) no Agriculture, Energy, Education or Health and Human Services departments, no SEC or EPA or any regulatory agencies (2) Private Social Security Accounts, (3) Medicare replaced by Insurance Vouchers (Can't wait for the reaction of a 75 year old tea party enthusiast with heart disease and a cancer history when he or she presents that voucher to try and get private health insurance)and (4) Medicaid replaced by block grants to states (Death Panels here we come, see Arizona right now) and much higher state and local taxes, because few people realize that much of the Fedeal spending is transfer of funds to state and local governments.

This is their future, and when we get there you are not going to like it.

Why aren't the Democrats just letting them all expire with a promise to pass middle class tax cuts in the new congress?

Nancy - Regarding the Republicans acting like they have a mandate: In November, the election produced the biggest Democratic midterm defeat in several generations. Regardless of what the pundits say, it isn't that unreasonable for a party to claim that when the other side suffers such a defeat - it happens all the time in politics.

Are the Republicans going to overreach? Probably, because Obama and the Democrats did it in 2008 (then again, that is politics).

Sid - Your analysis is interesting. I especially like the labels. It is Radical Conservatives v. Moderate/Progressive. Are the Moderates and Progressives really on the same page? I'd bet that Progressives want a larger role for government than the Moderates.

I appreciate and understand the comment on labels. Labels are difficult, and Republicans and Democrats have such highly diverse groups inside them that those labels are not effective in this type of discussion. I agree there is a wide range of opinion on the role of the Federal Government in the Moderate/Progressive group, just as there is in the Conservative side. I use the term Radical Conservatives not in a perjorative way but because I think the Conservative positions of the Jim DeMint and his followers are a radical departure from what has been the mainstream type of Conservative.

I think that as this evolves, the Conservatives will consolidate around the position of the Radical Conservatives and the other side will consolidate around the position of the Moderates, so that is why I used those labels. It may be that by 2016, and likely sooner the two parties will be Republicans supporting the idea of 14% of GDP for the Federal Government and a balanced budget and Democrats supporting 21% of GDP for the Federal Government and a balanced budget, with both Liberals and Moderate Conservatives being so marginalized as to be inconsequential.

The difference between these two positions is huge. A 21% share of GDP by the Feds is 50% more government and taxes than a 14% share. If the country divides 50-50 on this issue the chaos, disruption and lack of an effective and efficient government at all levels could be a disaster for the country.

Personally I think a large marjority of Americans want the 21% spending level and the 14% tax level, a position as we have seen that is just not sustainable. Until this is resolved one way or the other the political stability and economic status of the country will continue to decline.

I have a hard time why so many continue using the tax rates that have been enforced for ten years and then regarding their extension as a "tax cut".

Whatever you want to call it, we can't afford it. And you and I don't need it.

Semi-Cynic, please don't include me in your claim that you and I "don't need it".

If you look at all the fed income taxes, fees and other fed government taxes that we pay in comparison to other decades, we far exceed those decades. Without doing the math, we are beyond your 20%-22% GDP level.

Being a demo I find "Radical Liberals"(excuse me) wanting 22% GDP taxation are a small minority, except around these parts.

Are the Republicans going to overreach? Probably, because Obama and the Democrats did it in 2008 (then again, that is politics).

It's interesting that in this debate, everyone seems to agree that Obama screwed up. But pchuck thinks he overreached, whereas as our host thinks he didn't do enough.

This is why Obama is going to coast to reelection. First, it's easy for the Tea Party and GOP to team up when you're looking at dozens of candidates throughout the country -- you can find many who agree with your particular brand of conservatism. But try to get all those brands into one presidential nominee, and you're going to have problems. The right is going to fracture during the nominating process.

The left, on the other hand, will come home. All the disappointment they have about not getting single payer, not getting rid of the Bush tax cuts, not getting rid of "don't ask", no energy reform, etc., will dissolve when faced with an actual Republican opponent (or maybe one Republican and one Tea Party candidate).

Obama won't win quite as handily as he did against McCain, but his reelection will never seriously be in doubt.

Miles - I agree that Obama will probably win re-election. It is very difficult to lose a re-election; however, Carter and Bush lost it. Then again, they were Carter and Bush; however, they were challenged by two pretty formidable politicians. I guess we shall see if Obama is as skillful a politician as Bill Clinton and it does depend on the challenger.

Obama's complete lack of executive experience is painfully obvious. As an aside, this proves that being the president of the Harvard Law Review is completely overrated.

In addition, the Obama cult of personality is a killing him because it was wrapped in expectations that were so ridiculously unrealistic. And many of the realistic ones failed to materialize (Gitmo is still open).

And Obama and the Democrats did overreach. The election was not about the Dems doing too little - if anyone thinks that then they must be dipping into their reserves of Four Loko.

Gitmo, the Bush tax cuts -- he just isn't getting it done. He's not even worth my stamp in 2012, much less campaign support. I'm not that stupid.

"Coasting to reelection?" I seriously doubt it.

Jack and Sid are right. All we got from DC is a dubious compromise- extend the tax cuts (less revenue) and extend the unemployment benefits (more spending). This really only serves to extend the political careers of those in power, or the economic interests of their wealthy supporters, while continuing a course of governance that does a tragic disservice to the people, as well as the long term strength and vitality of the country. Regardless of where you come out on either remedy - increase revenues or reduce spending- the current model is broken in very fundamental ways. In reality, given the national debt AND the annual deficit, we actually need a painful dose of both remedies. A hard sell for the American people, even if a bare majority of our elected officials were willing to admit to this reality.

Wether Obama coasts to reelection or not depends on two things. Does the conservative party run a nationally electable canidate and do they badly bloody themselves fighting it out in the primary?

Lets abolish the Senate. This American "House of Lords" is archaic and the Senators have no real reason to be there but obstruction. Lets not be afraid of Democracy. Let the will of the people decide policy not the Senate or Supreme Court.

With darn-near insurmountable majorities in both chambers of Congress, Obama should have gotten anything he wanted. The fact is, he really didn't know what he was doing and he didn't have the executive experience required to manage the leaders in the House and Senate. Electing an empty vessel has its drawbacks.

The "we are the ones we've been waiting for" rhetoric was nothing but high fructose corn syrup.

George wrote: Lets abolish the Senate.

Sid - You used the label "radical" in an earlier post. That label certainly works to describe George's idea.

Anyone who thinks Obama will coast to re-election had better look at the electoral math. Reapportionment will add substantial electoral votes to states that are either certain Republican wins or likely to be Republican wins. No Presidential candidate can win without strong support of the party's base, and after the tax cut surrender Obama's base is going to be very disillusioned. Jack's point is right on.

Furthermore, a number of states that Obama won in 2008 are likely to turn Republican, and if Marco Rubio is the VP nominee Florida is almost certainly gone, along with a large portion of the Hispanic vote.

If you add up the electoral votes I think you will find any Repubican except Palin starts with more than 200, and since the Republican candidate will have unlimited funds, unlike McCain who had to take public funding I believe the only conclusion is that Obama's re-election will be very difficult. Adding to the problem is that Obama and his people apparently do not know any of this.

Adding to the problem is that Obama and his people apparently do not know any of this.

One might legitimately posit that, rather than "Adding to the problem...", this IS the problem.

At least for BO & the D's...

...for me, of course, not so much.

Sid wrote: ...and since the Republican candidate will have unlimited funds...

I heard something on NPR last night that Obama and the Democrats have a significant money advantage going into the 2012 Presidential Election and the Republicans are even more disadvantaged because they have to spend a lot of their money in the primaries just to get the nomination. Sitting presidents have the ability to raise enormous sums of money. I'm not so sure the Republicans have unlimited funds and they probably will have less than Obama.

Well, I am glad to see George is a strong proponent of Oregon's initiative and referendum system.

I have also laughed repeatedly at the debate over the Bush tax cuts - the Democrats claimed at the time they were passed they "only benefited the rich." Now, apparently, there's a whole bunch of "middle class" tax cuts in there as well. I wonder if the Democrats were lying then, or are lying now.

I, for one, cannot afford an increase of my federal taxes right now. Every dollar coming in is already allocated for food, rent, heat, lights, etc.

"Coasting to reelection?" I seriously doubt it.

Twenty-three months from today, we'll find out.

There are two possibilities on the Republican side: Palin, who would serve capably as the GOP's Mondale; or a Romney-type nominee who might run strong but would ultimately lose.

It's very easy for liberal Dems to be angry at the president in 2010. It's much harder to stay angry at him when faced with a real live (pro-life, anti-gay rights, tax-cut-for the wealthy) Republican.

Not angry -- just don't care. Might vote for Romney.

Jack is right, Obama supporters in 2008 may just not care in 2012. A large portion of Obama's vote in 2008 was not for him but was in opposition to Bush/McCain, and that factor will not be present in 2012.

As far as money is concerned, it is not a stretch to think that idependent expenditures will reach $1 billion or more against the Democrats. Republicans have now learned how to use the Internet; look at the money raised in Nevada and Delaware.

However, the real enemy of Obama and the Democrats is the Electoral Collge. Once reapportionment is completed, do the math and see if you can get a path to victory. It will be very difficult.

Sid wrote: A large portion of Obama's vote in 2008 was not for him but was in opposition to Bush/McCain, and that factor will not be present in 2012.

Huh? Regardin the 2008 vote for Obama, I really think you are way off. Most Obama voters bought the "Hope & Change" and the Shepard Fairey posters lock, stock, and barrel. They drank bathtubs full of Kool-Aid and now they are pretty disillusioned with Obama's ineptitude.

I think you might be on to something with those people being so disillusioned that they will check out of politics (I suppose that's what happens when you dramatically fall out of love). I think that is possible but not probable.

According to Open Secrets, in 2008 Obama raised a whopping $745 million and he spent $730 million. According to the NYT, Obama was the first major-party nominee to bypass public financing since the system began in the 1970s. He was swimming in cash.

Incumbent president can raise tons of money and Obama is going to do that.

In addition, unions are going to cough up money like they coughed up in 2008 and 2010. In the 2010 elections, the AFL-CIO spent $53 million, the Service Employees International Union spent $44 million, and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees spent $50 million. See http://www.cnbc.com/id/38490876/Unions_Flex_Muscle_and_Money_In_Midterms_Hoping_To_Build_On_Momentum.

In the 2008 election, McCain only raised $368 million and spent $333 million.

At a time when the country desperately needs fiscal stimulus to address unemployment, Obama has — somewhat cleverly — extracted a rather substantial amount from a Congress that wouldn't have given him a nickel so labeled. $56 Bbn of additional unemployment compensation will be effective, along with the payroll tax "holiday" next year, to promote spending. The preservation of the tax cuts is less directly helpful, but it avoids the risk that tax increases would tip the economy back into recession. Yes, it feeds the conservative agenda by increasing the deficit so as to raise the pressure on spending. But all in all, it looks like a pretty decent outcome. Really, with idle productive capacity and massive unemployment, deficits not only don't not matter, they are vital.

The tax b.s. is a major, major sellout. Just as Bush never recovered from "read my lips," this guy is done.

Is it almost like Obama is a President Kulongoski?

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