Gridlock Is Our Greatest Hope

The case for divided government

Get ready for the most productive and decent political condition known to man: sweet gridlock. You get nothing. And after what you've been through these past few years, you deserve it.

Hey, things are tough. A new Rasmussen poll says 48 percent of voters regard President Barack Obama's political views as "extreme." Not surprising, seeing as—how can I put this without being hyperbolic?—Washington has been doing to the economy what Piranha 3D has done to cinematic excellence.

So with Democrats in deep trouble, it's time to start pondering this creepy and amorphous "anti-incumbent" wave.

Weird, isn't it, that few (if any) fiscally conservative Republicans seem to be troubled by this indiscriminate rage of voters? Perhaps—and this is a stretch, I realize—these voters are disturbed or enraged specifically by the policy choices of Democrats? After all, there are polling experts who suggest that Republicans might take back the House. Some assert that even the Senate may be in play.

Don't worry. Unlike recent momentous, history-altering elections that saw Democrats sweep into power—The Thumpin'!—this midterm is nothing more than a reflection of some misguided fears about the economy ginned up, presumably, by Fox News.

Whatever the why, Republicans will have enough votes to prevent any more great leaps forward. Nothing of consequence will happen. And nothing could be better.

This week, House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio)—emboldened by the prospect of an unearned return to power—asked the president for the resignations of his economic team of Tim Geithner and Larry Summers. (As if it makes a difference which technocrat is meddling with your life.)

Republicans would, unlike the last time out, make significant cuts in spending and taxes, ease the overbearing regulatory system, and repeal nationalized health care.

Maybe. But in the near term, the president certainly would veto any ideologically unpalatable legislation. Just as certainly, he never would allow Republicans to undo his major legislative "accomplishments." If Republicans do take over the Senate, Democrats can filibuster legislation just as easily.

There is no greater check on power in Washington than two strong political parties.

Safe to say there will be enough secure Democrats and secure Republicans that legislative activity will be winnowed down to the bare necessities—namely, politics without policy results. And that's fine by me.

What we need now is to stop the implementation of any more bright ideas and give everyone a break.

I recently read a Newsweek piece ("On Our Own") examining the nation's economic troubles. Government, the story explained with a straight face, "seems to have run out of ideas for rebuilding the economy, but businesses and consumers are figuring it out for themselves."

Out of ideas? Hardly. And that's the problem. But what I particularly liked about the piece was that it neatly summed up the prevailing "idea" of the Washington establishment: Without government's help, you're on your own (a condition, incidentally, that is supposed to be scary).

Washington is stocked with folks who possess the extraordinary gift of believing that they have the ability to manage and organize complex economic systems—and our behavior in them.

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  • Jeffersonian||

    Oh, I don't know. I think we've earned ourselves a year or two where Congress does nothing but repeal laws.

  • ||

    What is this 'repeal' you speak of? Is it like 'Reform'? We can do that! See - We reformed healthcare!

  • Mike the Grouch||

    No. What we deserve is laws that repeal themselves automatically every so often.

  • ||

    We just need to figure out how to write laws that repeal themselves in less time than it takes to write them.

  • Wind Rider||

    And tell us themselves what's in them, since reading has become an option for those voting on them.

  • DLM||

    No law should be in effect in perpetuity. Every law should have some kind of sunset provision that peridocally requires it to be voted on and re-approved.

  • ||

    There is no greater check on power in Washington than two strong political parties.

    Yet, oddly, with two parties that are over any recent time frame almost perfectly matched, we see almost no check on Washington's power.

    Funny, that. Perhaps we should focus less on whether the Behemoth State is carrying out one agenda or another, and focus more on the inexorable growth of the Behemoth State. That's the "power in Washington" I care about; not whether the Behemoth is wearing a blue tie or a red tie this year.

  • ||

    But with a Red tie AND a Blue tie, maybe we can strangle it. (to stretch a metaphor).

  • ||

    Or you just put a stake through each tie, to either side of the beast, and pound them into the ground. Maybe sink em with concrete like fence posts.

  • ||

    Or tie the ties to concrete and throw them in the river.

    Oh, so many possibilities...

  • Drosz||

    Or convince one tie that the other is damn commie who loves terrorists and convince that one that the other is a corporate-lovin fascist who puts puppies in blenders. Step back and watch them go crazy while the wearer just stands there lookin' stupid.

    Good times.

  • Bill||

    I think that 9-11 actually has really hurt our country. When Clinton was president and the cold war ended we had surpluses and were starting to cut the military, possibly try to put S.S. on sounder footing, and one of Bush's big agenda items was to have closer relations and freer trade with Mexico.

  • Mike M.||

    I agree that gridlock is the best recourse we have at present, but I still believe America should pass a constitutional amendment term limiting members of Congress the same way we did with the presidency. Why not give ourselves every potential tool we can use to reign in the criminal class?

  • Anarchist||

    0 days, done.

  • Mike the Grouch||

    Exactly. Barring that we may as well elect people to office for life. This, at least, would do away with the influence of money in campaigning since a lifelong office holder would be immune from the need to continuously campaign and therefore raise funds. Elections are a major drag on the economy and politicians spend way too much time pandering for votes instead of studying our problems seriously.

  • Wind Rider||

    Combine term limits and automatic legislative sunset clauses requiring re-passage of things every five years or so. . .hmmm. Interesting. Constantly new crop of pols kept busy rehashing the same old crap - just might keep them too distracted from getting up to much mischief. Aw, who the fuck am I kidding?

  • BakedPenguin||

    Agreed. The worst offenders are inevitable the ancients who have infested the Halls of Congress in near-perpituity (Kennedy, Stevens, Byrd, et. al.)

  • ||

    And now we've lost Murkowski and Specter.

    I think I feel a song coming on...

  • kinnath||

    I'd settle for a law that imposes random drug testing on members of Congress with and additional requirement to pass a breathelyzer before a member can vote on legislation.

  • ||

    I think you mean they should have to FAIL a breathalyser to vote. Or test positive for weed. It's all good.

  • DLM||

    I agree that gridlock is the best recourse we have at present, but I still believe America should pass a constitutional amendment term limiting members of Congress the same way we did with the presidency.

    I disagree on flat term limits, although it *is* simple. A better way would be to raise the bar each election to get voted in an additionial term, though I can't see how that can be done. Or, just to throw out an idea, maybe have two votes. 1) yes or no vote on current incumbent where he must get 55% (or whatever) of the vote to retain office. 2) If 'no', have the usual election.

  • ||

    Interesting idea. I see two big difficulties that might prevent its implementation:

    1) Money. It costs a LOT of money to hold an election. Not just from the parties, but from the government itself to pay the vast numbers of people they have to hire to work the polls/count ballots.

    2) Organization: Maintaining voter enthusiasm over the long-haul is tough enough already. Getting people to turn up to vote twice would be difficult. Getting people to volunteer time to be a part of the process twice in a single cycle would be nearly impossible.

    These problems could both be solved with a slight modification to the system: Vote on them both in the same election. First, vote either up/down on the incumbent. Second, vote on what candidate you would like to replace them if the incumbent loses.

    With all incumbents facing the prospect of attack from both sides each and every election, the incumbents will have to make sure they do not stray too far from the party platform.

    On the other hand, it might lead them to bribe/cajole enough local party officials to be able to get somebody who is more or less an identical twin to run in their place.

  • Mr. FIFY||

    Two *weak* parties would be better.

    Two DEAD parties would be best.

    On that note, may the Team Red/Team Blue pie-fight escalate into real violence. I'd give a years' pay to see a gunfight on C-SPAN.

  • ||

    The FiliBuster: capable of decimating the bunker under the bunker. This thing will reduce the population of Capitol Hill to Zero, in less than 0.23 seconds.

  • Shoeless Chris||

    Blunderbusses at ten paces.. or maybe a Running man Redux.

  • Wind Rider||

    I'd almost settle for a good caning on the floor now and again at this point. Ah, the old days. . .

  • Mr. FIFY||

    A live ass-whippin' on C-SPAN. I'd pay good money to see that, but it wouldn't be nearly as satisfying as watching a Team Red/Team Blue steel-cage match.

    To the death.

    Yeah, liberals, I said it. But I really don't care which Team wins, long as one of 'em gets carried out in a body bag.

  • ||

    The folks at Reason must think people forget that they were almost cheering out loud for Obama as recently as a year ago. Well now we need gridlock. Whatever, Reason mag tops the list of publications that takes cash for coverage.

  • ||

    That's funny, I could swear that a year ago the articles were talking about "Obama makes campaign promise X, while his senate career would suggest his stance is the exact opposite."

  • BakedPenguin||

    You don't need facts when you're angry! Cosmotarians! Orange line mafia! ARRGH!

  • Wind Rider||

    The Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?

    Not now, he's on a roll.

  • ||

    Cosmotarians! That's it, that's what these retards are. Over-educated, gentile, LensCrafters addicted Cosmotarians. The pictures of the editors and "senior editors" and "senior writers" on the front page look like the Maryland sex offender registry.

  • Attorney||

    It is ON.

  • DesigNate||

    Damn you Harsanyi for the two lines on page two!

  • ||

    Yea, what's with that crap? This seems to be the work of an overzealous copy editing czar who has applied a one rule fits all scenario to page length.

  • Shoeless Chris||

    More clicky = more ad money.

  • Birds and rocks and things||

    I'd bet money that it's just how their content management system was written. If an article gets over X lines, then you start a new page.

  • ||

    Well sure you'd bet dollars, but would you bet gold?

  • Retarded Poll Respondent||

    But... but... we need the government to DO SOMETHING!! The economy is like a car in a ditch! We need them to pull it out of the ditch! We need the government to CREATE JOBS?

    If there is gridlock, how can the government CREATE JOBS????

  • Ray||

    When there's gridlock, the parties are forced to work together in a bipartisan way on things they agree on, like taking away our civil liberties.

  • ||

    And giving our dough to people who support them.

  • ||

    +1

  • ||

    or better funding for the military industrial complex!

  • ||

    maybe we could bomb Bosnia or aspirin factories in the 3rd world.

  • ||

    Here's the kind of gridlock I prefer: When the streets are full of people driving into town to see all the politicians hanged.

  • ||

    +1

  • ||

    This doesn't matter. The professional polls know when they should "work together". See McCain, Collins, Snowe and "Blue Dog" Democrats.

    They're going to keep growing and bothering Americans one way or another.

  • ||

    Wow, that's an original thing to see in Reason. I've never seen you pull out the "counterintuitive" pro-gridlock story. That's not an evergreen piece at all. Republicrats, Demolicans, such refreshing insight!

  • Wind Rider||

    Can we hear some Air Supply next?

  • ||

    Uh, I think you can go fuck yourself

  • DesigNate||

    Such hostility. Would you prefer if we asked for some Rush?

  • ||

    Dude, no way man that is just WAY too cool!

    Lou
    www.isp-logs.es.tc

  • St. V||

    Swing and a miss!

  • ||

    Problem is that a lot of bad policies are set to automatically change to even worse policies in the next couple years if Congress does nothing (income taxes, AMT, estate tax, health reform). Gridlock increases the chances it will do nothing.

  • Progressives||

    That's what we're counting on!

  • Max||

    I'd like to see Harsanyi divide his cheeks by shoving his stupid right-wing drivel up his fat right-wing ass.

  • Valkor||

    Arguing that a Republican Party that is ineffective and paralyzed after a midterm power shift is a good thing is now right wing drivel? Yeah, way to pump up the base. "Let's be inconsequential!"

    I think you need to elaborate further, but perhaps with more vulgarity to get your point across better.

  • Tony||

    That's exactly what it is. They know they won't be able to pass any sort of agenda with a Dem president. Their only game has been trying to make him a one-termer. So that's what we get to look forward to in the event of a GOP takeover. The Clinton investigations on steroids. Because they're even crazier and stupider than they were in the 90s.

  • Max||

    On the other hand, would government gridlock stop the fucking Israeli settlements in the West Bank? I doubt Harsanyi would be for that gridlock.

  • Psychic Octopus||

    Obama supermajorities haven't done anything about that either, so what difference?

  • Wind Rider||

    Would gridlock stop Joe Pile from allegedy molesting sheep? I think not.

  • Unfashenomic||

    Good article. The people who got all personal and angry about it (e.g. Max) just prove the point -- the last thing we need is more policy hysteria on the economy. Gridlock is a signal to back up and try it again, and do it better next time.

  • Fatty Bolger||

    Do it better? JUST DO NOTHING!

  • Tony||

    Because the status quo is the best possible world!

    Libertarians add so much to political discourse.

  • CJ||

    Not best possible, but maybe best plausible. Not best conceivable, but maybe best likely. I want many laws repealed and at least one or two added, but for any one policy I support that a major party is likely to enact, they have four or five I don't.

  • Tony||

    And to think some people call you guys utopians.

  • Max||

    Harsanyi makes me want to puke.

  • Fatty Bolger||

    Gridlock doesn't get health care "reform" repealed.

    On the other hand, I'm not sure a Republican government does, either.

    Shorter version: we're screwed

  • Tony||

    So everything's perfect as it is? Nothing needs fixing? Or is David Harsanyi a braindead right-wing hack?

    How you government nihilists can bitch about ANYTHING is completely beyond me. You want a do-nothing government that can be bought and sold by whoever has the most money and then you want to complain that it's dysfunctional. Fucking stupidity. Yeah I'd say the status quo is still a pretty sweet deal for reason's corporate puppetmasters. Why change?

  • Joe R.||

    But if it doesn't do anything, it doesn't matter who owns it, which would certainly be an improvement over the current situation in which it does everything for whomever owns it.

  • Tony||

    Right now there are majorities in both houses that, if not for the dysfunctional minority-rule senate, would be passing the least big-money friendly agenda in a generation. I know that libertarians like to pretend that they believe in a coherent philosophy, but really all that favoring gridlock means is favoring more seats for Republicans, corporate whores par excellence, and the status quo--which means a lot of corporate welfare staying in place.

    I don't see a coherent political philosophy here, I see blind hatred of government, the inability to tolerate it doing anything, and thus not even trusting it to repeal all the laws you hate. It's throwing up your hands and saying the fucked-up status quo is the best possible world. I guess it's appealing because it doesn't require a lot of thought? I dunno.

  • ||

    Dude, chill.

  • DesigNate||

    I love how you assume that Democrats aren't also "corporate whores par excellence".

    You do realize that the stuff they've done has helped their biggest contributors, just like the Republicans did.

  • Chad||

    Oh, some surely are, because they need to be in order to win in their screwed up districts.

  • Tncm||

    I see, it's perfectly okay for the Democrats to pander to corporations in order to win, but when Republicans do it, they're EEEEEEEEVIL!

  • Chad||

    No, it is not ok. I just prefer pandering Dems to the pandering Reps they are running against.

  • Eric||

    Right... and you don't see how that is endemic to the system, inextricable, and not a separate issue from general government incompetence?

  • Tony||

    Eric I see some evils endemic to capitalism too. And you don't get to vote in capitalism. Well you sort of do, but the votes aren't cast on an equal basis.

  • Tony||

    Oh what is this the false equivalence (at best) you guys make with teachers and firefighters and those ragged downtrodden CEOs of megacorporations? I'm going out on a limb here and saying you're referring at least in part to unions--the anticorporate force, not that it's much of a force anymore.

    And sure there's some bleedover of corporate whoredom from the Republicans who invented it to Democrats. On the right. So why would you want to empower the right more?

  • Tncm||

    I think the main difference is that CEO's only get our money if (1) the government steals it from us via taxes and then gives it to them in the form of "stimulus packages" or (2) we buy the products their company is selling. However, teachers and firemen get our money regardless if we use their services, or if we even want to use their services in the future. How many times must I explain this to you?

    And the Union was never an anti-corporate force, so much as an anti-competition force; unions look out for their members, and their members alone. Any worker outside of their union, even in the same industry, is meaningless to them.

  • ||

    You wouldn't know a coherent political philosophy if six of them threw a sack over your head and took turns assraping you, using sand and ground glass for lube.

  • Soonerliberty||

    It's the fixing that messes everything up. "The curious task of economics is to demonstrate to men how little they really know about what they imagine they can design."

  • ||

    I would not go on a cruise with these guys!

  • Captain WTF||

    Tony, the government has a consistent track record of failure in its endeavors. That's the reason why many people oppose its expansion.

    Even you could list dozens of laws and government programs you find stupid. Why then, do you advocate for more government? If the government does more wrong than right, more government means a greater likelihood that it will do something you don't like.

  • Tony||

    Besides if Congress stopped doing things the Bush tax cuts would automatically expire. Let's see who the first one bitching about that is.

  • Tncm||

    Oh cut the crap, Tony. David Harsanyi is calling for gridlock because it would make it more difficult for Obama to pass his most heinously left-wing pieces of legislation. While I don't necessarily agree with him that gridlock is the best thing to hope for, please don't twist his words.

    But, regardless, nice strawman.

  • Tony||

    So you'd be okay with people paying higher taxes because at least the government isn't doing things?

    The law says they sunset in 2011. The Republicans who passed the law passed that part of it too (because they had to because of the massive amount the tax cuts would add to the deficit). You aren't gonna bitch about taxes raising? Will Mr. Harsanyi? I hope not. That would be obnoxious.

  • Tncm||

    Did you read my post? I said I don't necessarily support gridlock. I'll make it even clearer for you; I don't. So no, I wouldn't be okay with people paying higher taxes.

    And I may be mistaken, but sunset clauses are usually put in a piece of legislation to make it an easier sell in Congress.

    For the record, I'm not defending the Republicans for keeping the level of spending the same and still cutting taxes. They should have cut both.

  • Anthony||

    Raising taxes in a fragile economic recovery is simply a bad idea, regardless of whatever party you jerk off to. Sure, it will raise the deficit but economic growth in the short term is of greater importance right now. All other deficit-cutting rhetoric is just going to be window dressing to instill a little investor confidence that this congress and administration have destroyed

  • Tony||

    I agree with you--what the Republicans have been peddling, namely cutting the deficit at all costs, even at the cost of the jobs of teachers and firefighters, but don't dare make rich people pay Reagan-era level taxes, is just ludicrous. But it's what you get from pure ideology (taxes = bad, no exceptions) and a lot of libertarians hang onto it.

  • Tncm||

    Are you really this stupid, Tony? Libertarians have been calling for dramatic cuts in both taxes and spending for literally decades. And public employees, who are a drain on the economy to begin with, losing their jobs isn't really something to lose sleep over.

    So, I'll say it again; nice strawman.

  • Tony||

    What fucking strawman? For someone even using the word "fascist" in a serious way you sure like to throw that accusation around. Do Republicans believe that cutting the deficit is the most important economic policy to focus on, but refuse to even consider letting the unpaid-for Bush tax cuts expire, all the while being against things like unemployment insurance and stimulus spending because "we can't afford it," or don't they? It's pretty much their stated policy, so I don't think it's a strawman.

    And teachers and firefighters a drain on the economy? How do you mean, exactly? What kind of economy do you suppose we'd have if fires were allowed to burn down neighborhoods and we had a 5% literacy rate?

  • DesigNate||

    I would say something about how you don't "pay" for tax-cuts, but that has been talked about ad-nauseam. As shown in multiple articles just over the last month, firefighters, teachers, and police officers (not to mention all the other public sector employees) have pretty generous salaries and retirement which is putting an immense strain on local and state budgets.

    If I have less money to spend, because I pay more taxes, I'm cutting back somewhere else thus screwing the economy. Unlike the government, I can't just make more money magically appear.

  • ||

    What kind of economy do you suppose we'd have if asswipes like Tony stopped assuming that cutting public funding to fire departments and teachers would result in the United States turning into Somalia?

  • Anthony||

    So wait, which part is ludicrous? my point was that allowing the tax cuts to expire soon, even for the top bracket (wealthy, rotten bastards!), is a bad idea as it is a de facto tax increase. Again, this will no doubt ADD to the deficit. They should address the deficit in a more stable time of econ growth. unfortunately this is unlikely because both sides are full of complete fucking retards

  • Tony||

    Anthony,

    The Republicans are ludicrous. You make sense. Worry about the deficit later--I agree. However, I don't think changing the top tax rates will affect the economy all that much either way, but they sure do affect the deficit, and if you care about that (as Republicans do above all else) then you have to be in favor of letting the Bush cuts expire at the very least. Unless you're a cynical hack, which they all are.

  • Anthony||

    Cynical hacks they are indeed. I disagree to an extent that changing the top rates won't affect the economy much. Its a nice political move to stick it to the wealthy as the talking point goes, but like it or not these people spend a great deal of money in our economy, and in my opinion it comes down to who spends money more efficiently to push economic growth, individuals or the federal gov't?

  • Tony||

    Anthony,

    If cutting taxes on the rich helped the economy then the Bush years wouldn't have been the lost decade that they were but rather the greatest era of growth in history. The numbers simply don't back up the claim. Cutting taxes for people likely to spend that extra money would have a positive economic effect, but that doesn't include the richest 2%.

  • DesigNate||

    The Bush years were only a lost decade because the Republicans didn't do anything close to cutting spending and the economic cycle turned back down at the end of his term.

  • Anthony||

    I didn't say CUTTING taxes for the rich helped the economy, but rather RAISING taxes right now is a bad idea. You could debate whether the 2001 tax cuts (for everyone i might add, not just the rich) were a good idea, but I'm just commenting on the current situation.

  • Chad||

    Raising taxes on the rich may be bad for the economy, but running even more insane deficits in order to fund extended tax cuts would be far, far worse.

    It's a no-brainer. Let the tax cuts die.

    And btw, there is no statistically significant correlation between which party holds the White House and/or Congress and either GDP growth or the stock markets. To claim otherwise is to put your faith in the reading of tea leaves.

  • Mr. FIFY||

    There goes Tony again, blaming the rich for every problem known to mankind.

  • Chad||

    Tony, there is simply no solid evidence that changes in tax rates, within the bounds of anything resembling political sanity, have any substantial effect on the economy. All conservatives can do is babble about how 99% tax rates are bad, which is clearly a strawman argument.

  • Tncm||

    That's right, Chad, I'm sure taxing everyone at an income tax rate of 99% percent will have absolutely no effect on the economy. I mean, that's why the Soviet Union failed, right? It's taxes were too low.

    I mean, that's the logical extension of your political beliefs. Or is there some magic percentage that income can be taxed to without hurting production, and if so, how did you come to discover this number, Chad? Please share.

  • Chad||

    Tncm: are you TRYING to make my point?

    You start off by babbling about communism, and then extrapolate, without providing ONE BLEEPING DROP OF EVIDENCE that the extrapolation is valid.

    Show me some solid statistical evidence that tax rates a few percentage points higher than our current rates will kill the economy (or even have a measurable effect). Good luck.

  • Tncm||

    Here's why taxes hurt employment: http://jasonkelly.com/2010/08/.....te-hiring/

    Here's why cutting taxes help's everybody: http://taxesandgrowth.ncpa.org.....mic-growth

    With special emphasis on:
    "The 1960s and 1980s were periods of record sustained high growth, mainly due to the tax cuts and reforms enacted at the beginning of each decade by Kennedy and Reagan, respectively.

    The JFK administration, against the advice of many economic advisers, began cutting taxes in 1962, starting with businesses. An investment tax credit encouraged investment and changes in depreciation costs lowered the cost of capital for businesses. The top corporate rate fell from 52 to 48 percent, and the top individual marginal tax rate fell from 90 to 70 percent. The empirical evidence shows that these tax cuts stimulated growth:2

    * Between 1962 and 1969, investment grew at an annual rate of 6.1 percent, far higher than the 3 percent annual rate for 1959-1962 and the 2.3 percent rate for 1969-1972, after the JFK tax reforms had been repealed.
    * Real GNP grew 4.5 percent during the 1960s, higher than the 2.4 percent growth rate seen from 1952-1960.

    The JFK tax cuts also provided proof of a counter-intuitive idea, that cutting taxes will not raise deficits:3

    * From 1962-1969, government revenue increased 6.4 percent a year, compared with 1.2 percent a year between 1952-1959.
    * Indeed, after the '62 and '64 tax cuts, the deficit actually fell from $7.1 billion to $1.4 billion.
    The 1980s was another decade marked by sustained economic growth, which was especially remarkable given the stagflation that was strangling the economy by the end of President Carter's term. From the trough of the recession in 1982 to the peak in 1990, it was the longest peacetime expansion in history.

    Reagan's tax cuts spurred an investment boom, just like in the 1960s after the JFK tax cuts. The Economic Recovery Tax Act of 1981 featured a 25 percent across-the-board tax cut. The tax reforms increased incentives to save, work and invest, which increased the productive output of the economy to match the increase in demand:4

    * Real economic growth averaged 3.2 percent during the Reagan years, compared with 2.8 percent during the Fort-Carter years and 2.1 percent during the Bush-Clinton years.
    * Real median family income grew by $4,000 during the Reagan period after experiencing no growth in the pre-Reagan years; it experienced a loss of almost $1,500 in the post-Reagan years.
    * The amount of time the median worker stayed unemployed fell drastically.

    The first law of government policy should be "first do no harm." The government should encourage long-term economic growth through low taxes, stable currency, and enforcing contracts. High taxes drain resources that would be most productive in the private sector. The experiences of the JFK and Reagan tax cuts show that a hands-off fiscal policy works best to stimulate economic growth. "

    Let me taste your tears, Chad.

  • Chad||

    Umm, how about you let me taste some real data, not cherry-picked anecdotes from a right-wing think tank? I doubt you are even intelligent enough to know what I mean by "real data". It is the opposite of post hoc ergo propter hoc, for starters.

    Just to point out how full of shit your citation is, I pop one of your cherries.

    The JFK administration, against the advice of many economic advisers, began cutting taxes in 1962, starting with businesses. An investment tax credit encouraged investment and changes in depreciation costs lowered the cost of capital for businesses. The top corporate rate fell from 52 to 48 percent, and the top individual marginal tax rate fell from 90 to 70 percent. The empirical evidence shows that these tax cuts stimulated growth:2

    •Between 1962 and 1969, investment grew at an annual rate of 6.1 percent, far higher than the 3 percent annual rate for 1959-1962 and the 2.3 percent rate for 1969-1972, after the JFK tax reforms had been repealed.
    •Real GNP grew 4.5 percent during the 1960s, higher than the 2.4 percent growth rate seen from 1952-1960.

    Ok, so your cherry-pick is "JFK cut taxes, and GDP grew afterwards. Post hoc ergo propter hoc, causation!"

    I'll start by noting that there wasn't any actual evidence presented that taxes actually went down...only the "top rates". But if loopholes and exemptions were cut at the same time (and they were!), net taxes may have gone up. Maybe we should go check...

    http://www.taxpolicycenter.org.....?Docid=205

    Hmmm....1962, personal income taxes, 8.0% of GDP, corporate taxes 3.6% of GDP. 1969, personal income taxes, 9.2% of GDP, corporate taxes 3.9% of GDP. Oh, and social insurance taxes grew from 3.0% to 4.1% of GDP as well, though excise taxes dropped a bit from 2.2% to 1.6%.

    Clearly, the imaginary tax cuts from 1962-1969 caused the boom. Errr, do you realize that the time period you are trying to cite as proof that tax cuts cause economic booms actually HAS THE EXACT OPPOSITE TREND?

    *facepalm*

    Thanks for making it real easy to smack you silly.

    Btw, a help hint: our tax rates really haven't varied much since WWII. All we have done is tweak things, and the tweaks never rise to the level to create a signal that could stand out from the noise.

  • Chad||

    Btw, go here

    http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/budget/Historicals

    and download table 1.2, an excel file. Calculate GDP growth from the GDP figures they give you, then plot it vs the Total Receipts column. Note how the slope is POSITIVE, implying higher gpd growth with higher taxes. This is true both post-WWII and during the Depression/WWII era.

    The same thing happens if you plot total state taxes vs state gpd as well....states with high taxes have high GDPs.

    http://retirementliving.com/RLtaxes.html

    Clearly, your ideology has a conflict with reality.

  • Chad||

    Btw, go here

    http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/budget/Historicals

    and download table 1.2, an excel file. Calculate GDP growth from the GDP figures they give you, then plot it vs the Total Receipts column. Note how the slope is POSITIVE, implying higher gpd growth with higher taxes. This is true both post-WWII and during the Depression/WWII era.

    The same thing happens if you plot total state taxes vs state gpd as well....states with high taxes have high GDPs.

    http://retirementliving.com/RLtaxes.html

    Clearly, your ideology has a conflict with reality.

  • Mr. FIFY||

    JFK cut taxes. Now you're saying it's wrong. Make up your fucking mind, Chad.

    Or, should I say... have it made up for you.

  • Chad||

    No, JFK cut top marginal rates while eliminating a lot of loopholes and deductions. Taxes clearly did not go down on net, as the government gained in its share in revenue (by about the same amount that Reagan cut taxes, actually).

    You are basing your entire ideology on one data point (Reagan) and ignoring all the others that run in the opposite direction, or show no trend.

    That is the essense of cherry picking.

  • Chad||

    I am not sure which is worse:

    That you cons never bothered to actually CHECK if JFK implemented net tax cuts (which took me all of five minutes), or that some of you KEEP INSISTING HE DID when I proved that he didn't.

    Both pretty much show that you don't give a shit about facts.

  • Mr. FIFY||

    No, what really shows is your hatred of accumulated wealth.

  • Tncm||

    It's called the Laffer Curve, Chad; fucking learn it. When taxes go down, people spend more, so the revenue brought in by other taxes increases.

  • Valkor||

    Please clarify for me: What is the change in tax *rates* compared with tax revenues? A cut in tax rates resulting in an increase in tax revenues is a description of the uphill side of the Laffer Curve.

  • Drosz||

    Actually, Chad has a lot of it right. And the Laffer Curve is only applicable past a certian point. Yes a 99% tax rate will hurt revenues, but at 25% vs 30%?

    Quite frankly, I'd love for the theory that decreased tax rates would provide the best of all worlds, but there just hasn't been much evidence of that being the case.

    In my opinion, we should look for a proper equillibrium, it seemed that the 90s and beginning of the Naughts were creating such an equillibrium...but then those fuckos attacked us and it all went to shit. Government has grown exponentially and we're on the verge of losing quite a bit of wealth.

    So, it's my opinion that the gridlock argument is a good one. It creates an equillibrium and a perception of stability.

  • ||

    What an original idea.

  • Tony||

    I think libertarians are more interested in watching the world go to shit and then patting themselves on the back for being right than contributing to positive change.

  • Tncm||

    Like economic fascism and the nanny sate, right Tony?

    You keep on making those strawman arguments, my progressive compadre.

  • Tony||

    Before I ridicule you mercilessly, were you trying to be funny with the juxtaposition of a strawman accusation with the phrases "economic fascism" and "nanny state"?

  • Tncm||

    Economic fascism, or it's modern-day term, corporatism, is an economic system which involves organizing society into “corporations” subordinate to the state. Obama's regulatory policies have concentrated individual markets into the hands of only the most powerful corporations which can afford to carry the weight of the regulatory burden. In addition, he supports legislation that would give federal bureaucracy more and more power over the U.S. market economy, with special emphasis on the EPA (energy happens to be 7% of the U.S. GDP), and of course healthcare (16% of the GDP).

    The nanny state is a term used to describe any action by the State that involves economic protectionism, economic interventionism, or economic regulation. The stimulus package falls under all three.

  • ||

    I'd say that 'nanny state' is used more to describe government interference, through imposing costs or regulation, on the minutiae of economic or daily life, rather than simply intervention per se.

    This would still apply to the stimulus, cash for clunkers, and, of course, Obamacare, all of which nannied and prodded all kinds of tiny decisions in spades.

  • Tony||

    The term "nanny state" of course refers to things you're against--it's not a positive term. I think government forcing people to be vegetarians would be nannyish, but enacting a civil right like healthcare enjoyed by every other advanced citizen on earth besides Americans--not just because it's good and right but because it's also cheaper and more efficient? Nah.

  • DesigNate||

    Are you fucking serious? The last time I checked you don't have the right to someone else's brain and talent.

    And please, show me one country with a population as big as ours that has a "cheaper and more efficient" form of healthcare.

  • Mr. FIFY||

    That is NOT a civil right, Tony. Quit lying.

  • Tony||

    It is a civil right if we make it one. Just like all the others.

  • Tncm||

    How can people have a right to (1) something they haven't payed for through voluntary trade, (2) something they haven't produced themselves, and (3) something they haven't received as a gift.

    Why, by your logic I can claim that I have a right to a Ferrari, the biggest house I want, and sexual intercourse with any women on the face of the earth.

  • Tony||

    Tncm your questions apply equally to police. So I don't know. Maybe it's all a big moral travesty and every human on planet earth is a slave and only you have salvation for them in anarchy. Rights are things people have found ways to grant themselves. If they include the right to be protected by their government by police and armies then there is no reason it can't include the right to healthcare.

  • Tncm||

    Well, it's clear that the definition of being an economic fascist and a nanny-stater fits you like a glove. Or do you happen to disagree with Obama's regulatory policies and/or the stimulus package?

  • Tony||

    Tncm,

    I believe in making the United States somewhat less of a banana republic with nukes and somewhat more of a modern, more equitable society. What do you believe in exactly? Anarchy for the rich...

  • Tncm||

    Actually, I believe in anarchy for everybody. I'm one of those nutty anarcho-capitalists in the libertarian movement who believes that not only is the government bad at a lot of things, it's bad at everything.

  • Mike the Grouch||

    If only those damn libertarians would do as they are told the world would be wonderful!

  • Mr. FIFY||

    Tony, the world is going to go to shit with Team Red/Team Blue at the controls. The same old shit isn't going to solve our problems.

  • Tony||

    So what's your solution? I really hope it's not vote for Republicans, er I mean gridlock.

  • Mr. FIFY||

    Hell, no. I don't vote for Team Red OR Team Blue, Tony, because neither of them are worthy of my vote or my trust.

  • Captain WTF||

    I think liberals are more interested in watching the economy go to shit so they have an excuse to play Robin Hood than letting the market work.

  • Some Guy||

    Gridlock Is Our Greatest Only Hope

  • Chad||

    Yes, the status quo is as close to perfection as we could possibly imagine. The US will be the shining beacon of planet earth for all time, just as long as we never change any of our policies in a substantial manner.

  • Some Guy||

    Yes, the status quo is as close to perfection as we could possibly imagine.

    So you're saying that you think that one party rule did an awesome job from 2000-2006? I would certainly have to disagree.

  • Chad||

    Actually, Democrats had veto power in the Senate and for practical purposes at SCOTUS, so it wasn't one party rule.

    We are generally better off with gridlock than most Republican policies, however. I'd much rather have laws swinging back and forth every once in a while than stuck wherever they happen to be for decades.

  • Mr. FIFY||

    Long as it's one-party* rule, lots of new and exciting government programs, and shitloads of taxes... right?

    *Team Blue rule. Easier to get the proles on the dole that way.

  • Tony||

    Ignorant curmudgeons such as yourself would probably not be happy, as long as you're gainfully employed and enjoy all your government loot without defecting to Somalia (gulp), but are ignorant curmudgeons ever happy about anything? Name one good thing ever to come from gridlock. Or American conservatism/libertarianism for that matter.

  • Some Guy||

    Name one good thing ever to come from gridlock.

    The surplus of the late 90's.

    Now name one good thing that's ever come out of one party rule.

  • Mr. FIFY||

    Notice the wealth-envy disease side-effect of bringing up Somalia in arguments where it does not belong...

    When are liberals ever happy?

  • bags||

    We just need to figure out how to write laws that repeal themselves in less time than it takes to write them.

  • jemo||

    This would still apply to the stimulus, cash for clunkers, and, of course, Obamacare, all of which nannied and prodded all kinds of tiny decisions in spades.

  • scarf||

    If only those damn libertarians would do as they are told the world would be wonderful!

  • Mr. FIFY||

    If Tony and Chad could find a way to tax the evil rich at 99%, they'd fuckin'-A well advocate for it.

  • Kitty Antonik Wakfer||

    David Harsanyi writes:
    "Washington is stocked with folks who possess the extraordinary gift of believing that they have the ability to manage and organize complex economic systems—and our behavior in them.

    "The one thing that they won't accept is that businesses, consumers and citizens can "figure it out for themselves."

    "We need gridlock to help them. And us."
    -------------

    "Gridlock" could provide many individuals with the opportunity to examine their long-held ideas that government is a necessity, even if undesirable in many aspects. Without such an extreme situation, it appears that large numbers will keep on crying for more government "help" - aid, stimulus, direction, regulation, law, etc. But "gridlock" to help "them"?! Only if politicians and bureaucrats during such time come to abandon their fundamental ideas that ruling is a necessity, and that someone needs to do it so why not them.

    The nature of human beings does not automatically lead to the conclusion that individuals must be ruled by others in order that there be orderly interactions between them. Society, just like any other natural system can be naturally self-regulating by means of interactions between its members, if only humans seek to discover and are allowed to implement the methods by which such self-regulation can be effective, rather than continuing to embrace social systems that need to be constantly held in an unnatural (and very unoptimal) state of balance by the operations of their rulers and other influencers. Individual self-order without rule by others is the social system whose members are fully adult (particularly meaning self-responsible) humans. Just as people can become physical adults, so can they become psychological and social adults - if only they are allowed (and even required in the sense that they will not achieve their desires unless they do) to socially mature sufficiently.

    Understanding the social interaction methodology by which more individuals would progress to become fully socially mature adults requires a paradigm shift in thinking about human interactions. http://selfsip.org/fundamental.....needs.html

  • ||

    Great article and to think parents spent all of their hard earned money to send these clowns to elite schools to have their heads filled with all of this socialists garbage.

  • ||

    Gridlock only means maintaining the horrors enacted. What needs to be effected is a reduction of the unconstitutional governance that is in place.

  • Kevin||

    Gridlock, as such, is never good. Its only inefficient.

    It is true that government can and should be restrained in many different ways, and in particular from passing whimsical laws of all descriptions, but especially ones that serious threaten freedom (ie. impose prison for an offence).

    I would suggest a much different political structure. Without writing out an entire manifesto, it looks something like this:

    1)Get rid of gridlock and improve accountability by scrapping the Senate (3 votes on any bill should be plenty, yay or nay).

    2)Make the new house term 3 years, I like this number as its frequent enough to keep pols. feet to the fire, but long enough that there's no excuse for not getting something done.

    3)For any bill which requires make prison even an option as a penalty, make passage require 60% of all electoral votes (meaning if a house has 100 seats, then a bill needs 60 to pass, not 60% of those who show up)

    Similarly if a bill imposes a minimum prison term or a lengthy maximum (say 10 years or great), the threshold for passage should rise to 70% or even 80%. Surely if we want someone go go to jail for 10 years, its not too much to ask that a clear majority agree!

    4)Restrict the criminal law power generally by stating that no consensual activity performed by adults may be criminalized! (it may still be regulated)

    5)On taxation: The Constitution should clearly state that all forms of income are equal, and your expenses are irrelevant to government. Meaning gov't can set a given rate of taxation, but no special favours for anyone, we all pay the same deal. The same logic should apply to any sales taxes (all goods taxed at an identical rate, no exceptions) and to any other tax.

    6)On spending. No other country has this bizarre system where every member of a legislature can amend a budget. This should be the one and only kind of law where a bill is 'blocked' and the vote is straight up or down. Meaning no amendments unless proposed by the executive. (the check is the bill can still be defeated)

    5)Also balanced budgets should be a requirement, and similarly, no spending without an identified and adequate funding source.

    That wouldn't fix everything, but it beats the hell out of gridlock!

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