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Attack of the Neocon Obstructionists

September 20th, 2010 · 2 Comments · Media, Politics, Taxes

In Professor Paul Krugman’s blog on the Internet, “Conscience of a Liberal” there are usually a number of very imaginative and often very enlightening comments from very knowledgeable people. It is a learning experience for both those who believe, and those of us who do not believe, in the serious value of economics. Or, as the small businessman calls it: fortune telling.

The blog is said to be at the pinnacle of the top non-marketing blogs in the country. As it has a definite Progressive and Liberal bias, the GOP has decided to obviously pay someone to attack it. Virtually any time you click on it, you will see the name like, say, “Sean” supposedly from Florida, and the comments are always the same Right Wing talking-point drivel. The tone is always the same and it is somewhat comical in that it is an obviously unlettered scam artist lecturing and hectoring a Nobel Laureate merely because he (or she) can.

These comments are only significant in that they are so obviously always taken directly from the GOP talking points. The GOP Right Wingers grab on to very predictable talking points and whenever their messages run out of logical explanation, they simply lie and hope that no one will connect the dots. Their political philosophy is basically a series of mantras that they repeat endlessly, hoping that they will indoctrinate the unsuspecting. For example, that tax increases will doom and tax cuts will enhance economic activity…both false.

So, let’s examine some of these statements, keeping in mind that they are endlessly repetitive so that the same falsehoods are spread each and every time this person’s comment appears. Here goes. (Blogger’s comments in quotes.) This was about the Obama decision and Krugman’s support for retiring the Bush tax cuts for those over $250,000 in income.

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“This is not “tax cuts for the rich”. On January 1, 2011, “progressives” are planning to INCREASE taxes. More precisely, “progressives” have (over the past 4 years) transferred a trillion dollars from the efficiency and dynamism of markets to the cronyism and inefficiency of government, through “stimuli”, Obamacare, “reform”, clunkers, and the like. These “progressive” policies have now created 20% real unemployment and the highest poverty in years, And ideologues like Krugman wants to do MORE. (Note, just one word in all caps).”

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By the way, the point of the comment about “all caps” was that bloggers were asked not to write comments in all caps. Anyway, let’s take this typical Right Wing tissue of lies and examine each one. Let’s hope that you will be able to use this when some Tea Party member (about 90% identify as Republican) or some Neocon nutcase starts spouting off in a group somewhere. They are all the same…they all come directly down from Neocon headquarters of the Republican Party and from memos sent out by Roger Ailes to the propagandist television commentators on the Fox political channel.

The blogger says that these are not tax cuts for the rich. Are they? You decide. We had two tax cuts. One was in 2001 and one was in 2003. Because they were unsustainable, Paul O’Neill, Bush’s Treasury Secretary resigned. Those tax cuts were to be phased out over ten years…which is now. Bush and Cheney gave each household with a household income or a personal income of over $1,000,000 a tax cut of about $120,000 or, in other words, $1,200,000 over ten years. During that time, the top 1% of taxpayers–and these people are in the top fraction of that–earned 20% of all income. At the same time, the average working family’s annual income actually went down by $2,000.

Are “Progressives” going to have a tax increase in 2011? Well, if, by not renewing the taxes mentioned above, they call it a tax increase, then the answer is yes. It is “yes” to the proposition that people who got a $1.2 million tax break over the last ten years should not necessarily have it renewed while our government is borrowing the money to pay for it from China and Saudi Arabia.

Have Progressives transferred a trillion dollars from markets to government over the past 4 years? Do you notice how he uses 4 years as the time frame? He is calculating from the 2006 elections of a Democratic House and a Senate. That was when the Progressive agenda, under Nancy Pelosi’s leadership finally started to get the country moving towards the people again. That is why the Neocons fear and hate Pelosi. She got things done.

The answer is: since 2006, our employment rate has grown from a very poor 7% under Bush, to 9.5% under Obama as a result of 8 million more jobs lost as a result of the Bush economic collapse. In 2008, mostly in the second half, the country lost 2,590,000 jobs, the most in one year since 1945, when the troops were coming home. The Bush Recession was actually growing and heading towards a Depression, where many people think that the Neocons want it.

In the first 3 months of 2009 it continued and another 2 million jobs were lost. In the first three months of the new Administration. The Republicans continued to block a stimulus plan that President Obama had begun to develop even before taking office.

So was “a trillion dollars” transferred to government from private industry? If it was, it was because private industry lost 8 million jobs, closed down plants, bankrupted financial institutions, even countries (Iceland) and basically…and totally irresponsibly…caused an economic collapse. That is what caused the transfer of spending from the private sector to the government sector.

Here’s an example. What do four million jobs lost in addition to Bush’s already high 7% unemployment figure mean to the budget? It cost the country $660 billion dollars in lost income tax revenues and it cost the country a similar amount in unemployment and other benefits.

Did the Progressives transfer $1 trillion to government? No…actually Bush did when he allowed the markets to collapse, allowed two wars that were not paid for and allowed tax cuts that cost the economy $120 billion dollars a year more than we had in the bank…each year for ten years! But did it happen? Did the government, including Bush’s $700 billion TARP program to save Wall Street spend money to save us from a huge Depression? Absolutely. Thank God.

Including the debt that came with the budget that President Obama inherited, the budget deficit in 2009 alone was $1.4 trillion. It came as a result of the lost revenues already mentioned. So if a trillion out of the private economy was suddenly spent by the government, it doesn’t seem entirely unreasonable, does it? Actually, it sounds as if it should be more.

The Progressive “policies” have not created a 20% unemployment rate. First of all, the rate is 9.5%, and holding it to only 2.5% more than the dismal record of the Bush administration is an accomplishment. One thing that might account for unemployment are the recorded 655,000 jobs that were sent overseas during the 2003-2007 period of Bush-Cheney. And those are just the ones that are recorded. It is probably triple that amount. Those jobs won’t come back until the Progressives legislate different trade policies so that corporations cannot lay off Americans at will ship jobs wholesale to China to increase CEO and top executive salaries.

The $800 billion Obama stimulus included a totally non-productive one-third, or about $300 billion in wasteful Republican tax cuts. Not one job has been recorded from those tax cuts and the CBO, under then director and Bush supporter, Neocon Douglass Holtz-Eakin, has stated repeatedly that the economy is not stimulated by tax cuts anyway. But the Neocons never let facts get in the way of propaganda.

Even with the Republican tax cuts dragging down the efficiency, it is clear that the number of jobs saved or started by the Obama stimulus amounts now to 3 million from March of 2009 through July of 2010. That’s much better record than Bush’s loss of 5 million jobs in less than a year and a half.

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“Economic science, from the Romers, Rogoff, heck, even Ricardo, explains why Krugman’s policies have destroyed, and why more of Krugman’s policies will destroy more. Even real economic systems, despite their complexity of variables, give a clear signal: Tax cuts and limited government benefits everyone, from rich to poor. This was seen in the early 1920’s, the early 1960′, the 1980’s, and in 2001-2003. Conversely, the Hoover-Roosevelt, Nixon-Carter, and Bush-Obama “progressive Keynesian” periods saw collapse.”

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Of course, Professor Krugman has no working policies in government, nor is government taking his advice, which would be to jump-start the economy so that revenues can begin to fill the hole made by the unemployed who pay no taxes. Economic “science” as the Neo-con man describes it is hardly any science at all. For example, we were told under Reagan that tax cuts would save us all.

The 50% reduction in tax rates, with no spending cuts did only one thing, and most economists now agree to that…because the “scientific” evidence is so clear. They added over $2 trillion to the deficit and a structural imbalance to the budget that would add another $3 billion in the four years after Reagan. Only when Bill Clinton raised taxes again did we stop the bleeding of dollars from our federal coffers. What Reagan did, simply put, was to cut the income tax on very rich people and corporations and let the rest of us pay for it.

Tax cuts and limited benefits do not help everyone, from rich to poor. The poor pay no taxes and they do need more than the miserable benefits we now provide, which the Neocons want to cut. Paul Ryan and the Neocon Republicans want to eliminate Medicare and eliminate Social Security.

If you eliminate Medicare, you throw millions onto the private health care market, which, in this country—unless we keep the Obamacare provisions—means being cheated, literally, abandoned, which has happened regularly, or canceled for minor technicalities.

The strange thing is that the rich shouldn’t particularly care whether health care for the masses is enacted. They don’t health savings accounts or even insurance. But the reason they keep paying off the Neocon Republicans to fight against taxes is that many of them simply don’t want to pay taxes. If health care costs are lowered through a public option, it can only help those, like the very wealthy, who pay everything out of pocket.

The comment about the economy in the early 1920s is dead wrong. What generated activity in the early 1920s was an economy that was allowed to run rampant with no regulation, resulting in an ever-increasing amount of speculation that ended in the Wall Street Collapse of 1929, and a ten-year Depression. The Bush collapse was because of a return to 1920s style stock gambling.

And defining periods as “Hoover-Roosevelt,” “Nixon-Carter,” and “Bush-Obama” is like saying, the “Mouse-Microwave,” “Shark-Totem pole,” and “Locomotive-Cornstalk” periods. One has absolutely nothing in common with the other. The Neocons do this all the time. They like to set up their own premises and then work from their distorted view of reality forward to an even more distorted conclusion of how things work.

Hoover crashed the economy. Roosevelt resurrected it. Nixon had a war he couldn’t stop and a mess in the Middle East. Carter (and Gerry Ford) paid the bill for it. Bush spent $7 trillion more than federal revenues, started two wars, deliberately allowed Wall Street to run wild by cutting SEC staff to the bone and not bringing any lawsuits and putting an anti-regulation nut as head of SEC. Obama inherited the crash that resulted, the $7 trillion debt plus several more to come, and 15 million people unemployed….and a Senate that has filibustered to obstruct every single stimulus effort and a total of 400 progressive pieces of legislation passed by the House.

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”At no point is Oxdlblue’s (#8) faith vindicated. Raising top rates has NEVER raised revenues (just one word in caps). Geoff (#7) is just not listening; the rationales are based on SCIENCE and FACT (just two words in caps). wwd (#4) seems to think it is moral to punish the “evil rich”; no, because “progressivism” destroys jobs, savings, and lives, “progressivism” is evil.”

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The response by this blogger to other bloggers’ comments was generally one of arguing against the predominant mood which was for retiring the tax cuts, at least for those earning over $250,000. Their arguments are clear and simple. The Federal government needs the $700 billion to pay down some of the Bush era’s trillions of gigantic debt.

His argument is simply that raising top rates has never raised revenues. Of course that is not true. Revenues increased when top rates were raised during World War I from 25% to over 90%. That worked very well. The same was true during World War II and after, when the top rates brought down the huge budget deficit (much higher than today’s national debt as a % of GDP) and in the post-WWII era, which was one of continued increases in revenues, employment, new technology, and a world-leading manufacturing sector.

“Science and fact” are, in fact, not the things that our GOP blogger’s comments are based on. They are based on his simple, incorrect assertions…frankly, his lies. His point of view is seen very clearly in his last sentence when he condemns “progressivism” as “evil.”

Progressivism created the two greatest periods of economic growth in this country…from 1946 through 1979, and from 1993 through 2000. Conservatism, by the way, is not any more inherently evil than Progressivism.

Of course, Conservatism has only been involved in government in its current manifestation since 1980. During that period we have had several recessions, unemployment exceeding 2 million in one year on two different occasions, and a grand total of $13 trillion in debt as a result of Conservative and Neoconservative policies.

The only time we did not have an annual deficit was when the Progressive Clinton Administration raised taxes…with not one single Republican vote…and not only balanced the budget but created 22 million jobs and the longest period of continuous economic growth in the country’s history.

This blogger seems to think that cutting taxes is the be-all and end-all of economics. But it is very simple. It does not require a degree in economics. You can turn to fiction, and not even contemporary fiction.

If you follow Mr. Micawber’s advice in David Copperfield, you will find that happiness is when you earn more than you spend, not the other way around. This Neocon blogger, we can be quite certain, is paid by the GOP. So he may say that he supports a strong fiscal policy, but his Party, when in power cut taxes and spent like drunken sailors.

Why would legislators do such a thing? It is totally irresponsible. They would do so only if they were interested in bankrupting government and making it pay for them by looting it and transferring contracts from government to the private sector. But what does that make them, then—theorists or outright crooks?

Grover Norquist of the group, Americans for Tax Reform, would applaud all this tax cutting at the sacrifice of government, at the sacrifice of government services for the people. He, like so many Neoconservatives, doesn’t give a damn about the people. He has been famously quoted as saying that he wanted to reduce government to the size where he could “drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub.”

This is the objective of people like this blogger and every single Neoconservative like him. It is not about science. It is not about fact. It is about a group of people, sponsored by hugely wealthy families, by the Chamber of Commerce, by lobbyists for thousands of corporations and associations of corporations who have an agenda. And that agenda has as its principal focus: greed.

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