Income redistribution the GOP way: continue Bush tax cuts, abolish Medicare

[S]imply letting the Bush tax cuts expire on schedule (or paying for any portions that policymakers decide to extend) would stabilize the debt-to-GDP ratio for the next decade.   While we’d have to do much more to keep the debt stable over the longer run, that would be a huge accomplishment. [OffTheCharts]

Jack Cluth — Lest any of us forget how we got to where we are:

It’s become almost an article of faith among the cognoscenti on the Right that Barack Obama’s policies are largely responsible for the mess we’re in. I suppose this only goes to prove two things:

  1. Americans have a disturbingly short and selective memory, and
  2. Americans are a highly suggestible, malleable, and an easily propagandized collection of barely lucid sheeple.

Follow the money: who’s benefited from Bush’s tax cuts for the wealthy? Who’s benefited from the Afghanistan / Iraq wars? Certainly not working- and middle-class Americans. Isn’t it strange that the working- and middle-class GOP base continues to support those who rob from them to give to the rich?

While we’re busy throwing more of our tax dollars at rich people, oil companies and corporate CEOs (instead of into our own treasury), the GOP is trying to convince us that ending Medicare is the only option available to patriotic Americans who want to manage our deficit.

The truth of the matter is that in order to continue diverting trillions in potential federal revenue to America’s millionaires, we probably will need to abolish Medicare.

More tax cuts for the wealthy! Cut spending on everything else to pay for it!

You guys, if the top 1% could only reach the 500%-of-after-tax-income mark, surely they’d create some jobs then! It’s difficult to exist with only a 281% increase in after-tax income. Goooooooooo, teabaggers!


Elites vs. unions: mapping the demise of the American middle-class

Josh Marshall created a map of collective bargaining rights by state:

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Dennis G. at Balloon Juice offers a map of Right to Work States (in red) and Right to Unionize States (in blue), and adds something I completely agree with:

When all the States turn from Blue to Red, then the Middle Class in America will be gone. It will be over. The Government will be organized to promote and support the theft of Labor by the elites just as the government of the Confederate States of America was organized.

150 years ago we fought a Civil War over the question of the theft of labor. Now the Republican Confederate Party and their shock troops of TeaBagger simpletons seek a new battle over the theft of labor. I say we give it to them.

Pro-Union vs Free Labor States

Just so we’re clear on what’s been happening since Ronald Reagan was president, let’s take another look at a chart that perfectly illustrates what Robert Reich calls The Republican Strategy,” which is – in part:

The Republican strategy is to split the vast middle and working class – pitting unionized workers against non-unionized, public-sector workers against non-public, older workers within sight of Medicare and Social Security against younger workers who don’t believe these programs will be there for them, and the poor against the working middle class.

By splitting working America along these lines, Republicans hope to deflect attention from the big story. That’s the increasing share of total income and wealth going to the richest 1 percent while the jobs and wages of everyone else languish.

Here’s exactly what Robert Reich is talking about.

Finally, consider what’s been happening in Wisconsin this past week and try (I dare you!) to explain how the “teabagger simpletons” aren’t constantly protesting, arguing and voting against their own economic self-interests. Worse, they’re taking everyone else down with them.

Want to attend a solidarity action this week? See the list of participating events across the country. Everyone is welcome to attend.

Graph: GOP economics for top 1% vs. bottom 90%: 1946 – 2008

Ezra Klein:


“You occasionally hear people say that the average American’s consumption has continued growing over this period (though a lot of that was due to an unsustainable, and ultimately catastrophic, credit bubble), or that the way we measure inflation understates the improvement in the average American’s living standard. But none of that explains away this graph.”


But if we elect more GOP-Teaparty-Republicans, certainly the benevolent hand of the free market will fix things, like this graph.  If corporations and millionaires (the top 1%) were fully in charge of America — as they will be someday with people like the tea party supporters — we wouldn’t even be subjected to information like this terrible graph.

Conned on Social Security

We’re Being Conned on Social Security — How We Could Easily Raise Benefits or Allow People to Retire Earlier

… According to the 2010 Social Security Trustees’ report, the 75-year gap is estimated to be $5.4 trillion — still a big number. But there’s another way to express it: it equals just 0.7 percent of our projected economic output over that same period. That’s less than one penny on the dollar.

So if we, as members of a nominal democracy, want to live in a society where older people aren’t mired in poverty — it’s estimated that four in 10 would be without Social Security benefits — then all we have to do to close the gap is increase overall taxes by less than a single percentage point. Problem solved! And we didn’t even require an august commission.

But, we are told, that’s not the case. Fixing it isn’t that simple — and increasing benefits or dropping the age of eligibility are just crazy ideas — because we can’t afford any of it. Raising taxes, no matter how modestly, supposedly kills jobs and destroys economies. But ask yourself: where would those jobs go? To Somalia or Papua New Guinea? Our firms compete with companies from other advanced economies, and the United States has one of the lowest tax burdens in the developed world. In 2007, our overall tax burden ranked 26th out of the 30 countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, dubbed the “rich countries club.”

As I write in my forthcoming book, The 15 Biggest Lies About the Economy, budgeting comes down to a simple question of priorities. Do we want to live in an America where the elderly are forced to eat cat food? If not, we can pay a bit more in taxes, or bring defense spending in line with other advanced countries or eliminate the cap on payroll taxes so higher earners kick in the same share of their paychecks as everyone else.

According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, the 75-year “Social Security gap” represents the same dollar figure as those Bush tax cuts that were targeted at the top 2 percent of American earners projected over the same period of time. For much of Washington’s cognoscenti, one is an imminent crisis, and the other is something we simply must keep in place in order to retain our economic edge. That should tell you all you need to know about the nature of our Social Security “crisis.”

Joshua Holland

Ezra Klein: How to fix Social Security in one graph:

“The revenue loss over the next 75 years just from extending the tax cuts for people making over $250,000 — the top 2 percent of Americans — would be about as large as the entire Social Security shortfall over this period,” write Kathy Ruffing and Paul N. Van de Water at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. “Members of Congress cannot simultaneously claim that the tax cuts for people at the top are affordable while the Social Security shortfall constitutes a dire fiscal threat.”

Tax cuts and deregulation

The richest 1% took $7 of every $100 of America’s income in 1980. They have increased that to $20 of every $100 today. In just one generation they’ve TRIPLED their cut of the pie. Most of the gains by the rich were not ‘earned’ in the sense of production, innovation, inventiveness. They didn’t work 3 times harder than everyone else as they tripled their share. They benefited from tax cuts and deregulation.”

- Top 10 Reasons for Higher Taxes on the Top 1% |


100% Of Zero Growth Is Zero: Why Progressive Taxes Work


Cenk Uygur: God bless ‘em. It’s America, we all wanna earn one billion dollars. The question is, does it make sense for society if they get to keep a disproportionate amount of that or if we can create more opportunities for more people to earn a billion dollars, if we redistribute it for education, etc.

Robert Reich: Cenk, you’re exactly right. My position is, even the rich will stand to to do better if they have a smaller share of an economy that is growing very fast, than if they have a big share of an economy that is basically static.

The point was also made that one fund manager’s $1 billion income per year could finance 20,000 teachers. We are a society that will go out of it’s way to create and maintain wealth for the uber-rich, yet bring an entire economy to its knees when taxation on the same uber-rich might rise 3%.

You need an entire society to grow, not just the top 1%. You need customers. You need orders. You need investors. You need capital to develop new ideas. You need growth. Shrinking everything Federal and decreasing the flow of capital, while increasing income disparity, in a expanding population is just crushing any domestic growth for the future.

Bill Gates and Warren Buffett get this idea. While no one likes taxes, paying your share is good for the whole economy. Nothing trickles down. That is a fact.