Monday, April 25, 2011

Will Dems Finally Heed Americans' Call to Tax the Wealthy?

Polls and angry crowds at town hall meetings show the American people are fed up with thirty years of the GOP's supply-side, trickle-down sci-fi nonsense. That the raucous crowds are at Republican town hall meetings reveals Americans are really, really angry.

As one constituent told Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) recently, taxes should be hiked on the wealthy as "nothing trickles down." Thirty years of experience has amply demonstrated that slashing taxes for corporations and the very rich hasn't created jobs, or improved ordinary Americans' wages. This is not theory. This is cold hard fact. Wages for everyone who isn't on The Donald's Christmas card list have been stagnant since the Reagan Administration. The Donald's A-list pals, however, have raked it in.

Paul Ryan and his GOP legion would like to see the tippy-top money moguls gobble up more money, too. His 2012 Budget proposal, which sailed through the House without a single Democrat's vote, aimed to slash another 10% off the top tax tier, so those folks would enjoy the lowest taxes since the Hoover Administration. Everyone ought to know how well that worked out.

For younger folks, the term "Hooverville" is sort of like "favela," as in where you'll be living if Ryan and his ilk get their way.

And handing all the Medicare money to the GOP's insurance company cronies, then pawning off future seniors with coupons that won't even cover a third of the cost of premiums, co-pays, deductibles, and other expenses might seem like a good idea to anyone who'd like watching millions of elderly die horribly and painfully, but hasn't caught on along Main Street. Ryan's Path to Further Plutocrat Prosperity was sinisterly schemed to impoverish everyone before they'd be thrown into the gutter by forcing them to empty their savings first. Republican pols discovered a notable lack of parades greeting their proposals.

Which brings us to the first timid, tenuous intimations that Democrats might, ohmygawd, think of raising taxes on the rich by a couple of dollars. President Barack Obama proposed doing away with the Bush era tax cuts for folks making over $250,000 a year. Everyone ducked in case someone threw something.

Paul Krugman, the Princeton economist, figures that if everyone is so worried about government debt choking the halls, it should be time to raise taxes a bit. Krugman famously snagged a Nobel Prize for Economics, so he knows his way around a calculator. If you want a pitcher for the World Series, it's handy to go with someone like Tim Lincecum, who's won a couple of Cy Youngs, the award for the league's best hurler. Likewise, if you want to figure out how to balance a checkbook, Krugman might be your guy.

In his New York Times column, Krugman liked the People's Budget proposal, which was put out by the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party. The queasily 60's-ish titled tome balanced federal budgets in ten years by bumping taxes on millionaires and billionaires and boosting some payroll taxes while hacking off a chunk of the defense bill. At the same time everyone was oohing and ahhing the Ryan path-to-elder-genocide plot, the People's Budget quietly went down to defeat 77-347. The tie-dye crowd might want to go with something like "Blazing Fast 4G Hyper-Debt Blaster Three Dot Oh" next time. At any rate, the guy with the Economics version of the Cy Young liked it.

Oh, and last World Series, Lincecum's San Francisco beat Texas in five games. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) jumped up and down while Bush 41 and Bush 43 looked on glumly.

Sure, the Republican wing of the Republican Party will still tell you that cutting their plutocratic pals' taxes will create jobs. They didn't mention those jobs are in India and China. Well, The Donald and his pals must get confused sometimes, as all those jetways look the same from your private plane. The Donald got so confused, he registered his plane in Bermuda. Meanwhile, Sarah Palin made a stump speech before an enthusiastic crowd in India, proving what bringing millions of jobs to a region does for your party's popularity.

In fact, what we've seen in America is that lower taxes just incentivizes scamming for more paper profits. We've seen corporate America go gaga over leveraged buyouts, mergers, asset liquidations, slashed payrolls, dumped benefits, outsourcing and offshoring to pump up the bottom line so they can stuff their pockets with as much tax-free profit as possible. When all the plants and factories and offices were closed and all the workers laid off, the money gobblers turned to all sorts of voodoo bookkeeping scams to pile up even bigger pyramids of paper profits.

And, it's not as though the big corporations needs any more tax cuts. General Electric just posted $14 billion in profits while giving Uncle Sam's tax man a great big Bronx cheer. GE was able to manipulate its books to pay no taxes at all.

Corporations are awash in cash, and nobody's making any serious move to hire Americans. The GOP will tell you companies are afraid to hire because of "uncertainty."

Well, how's this for certainty: If you don't start hiring and training Americans, we'll tax every penny you have until your ears bleed. Invest in plants, equipment, non-executive salaries, training, and company logo tsotkies, and you can keep the money. Let it sit in proprietary portfolios, or take it out in profits, and prepare for a very long sit-down with your local IRS auditor, microscopes and cavity probes provided at no additional cost.

Oh, the GOP will say raising taxes will stifle creativity and entrepreneurship, and business will falter because there'll be no incentive to compete. Hogwash. If there's an extra dollar to be had, entrepreneurs'll go get it, even if they have to share 70% of it with the rest of the society that made it all possible for them. Otherwise, they're just not entrepreneurs. They're more like fat-sucking leeches gorging themselves on Enronomic accounting scams.

Or, didn't anyone notice that America took over the world while the top tax rate was up around 70%?

Paul Ryan and his we-got-ours-and-everyone-else-can-suck-eggs-and-die crowd don't really look like they actually care about budget shortfalls and debt. The charging two wars on the nation's credit card while giving billionaires enormous tax subsidies was one hint, but the whole handing Medicare to insurers is pretty suspicious too, as it doesn't balance any budgets any time soon. If one were a skeptic - and we'd certainly be hard pressed to find one around here - one might think Ryan and his Republican cohort just wanted to find any pots of taxpayer money left in America, and hand them over to their rich contributors.

OK, maybe there are a couple of skeptics hanging around. They seem to comprise 72% of the American people, and they seem to hang around Republican town hall meetings.

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