Economics

"Right now, taxes are at unsustainably low levels."

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"Right now, taxes are at unsustainably low levels."

That's the message from the Washington Post's Ezra Klein, who adds:

Reform will have to get them somewhat higher. But if we end up asking Congress to choose between the current tax code with the Bush tax cuts and a reformed tax code without them, the latter will look like a huge tax hike. That'll make reform more difficult to pass, or it'll force us to pass a reform that doesn't raise any more money than the tax code with the Bush tax cuts. As you can see from the Center for Budget and Policy Priority's debt graph above, that's not a good situation.

More here.

What passes for wisdom in DC is beyond me.

Here's a thought experiment: Let's retitle the piece "Right now, government expenditures are at unsustainably high levels."

Which they are. Since the 1950s, federal revenue as a percentage of GDP has clustered around 18 percent, despite endless attempts to squeeze more money out of the economy and into government coffers. The great variable in the federal balance sheet has been spending, not revenue. Debt comes from spending more than you have, not from having too little. Does anyone really believe that the feds (or the states, who have similarly overspent for years) have been frugal or wise or cheap in their spending decisions since the Truman administration?

Another thought experiment: Pretend you live in a world where the government raises taxes by 100 percent and that hike has no effect on economic activity (yes, a dream world inhabited by all too many people). So the government gets oodles and oodles more money. How many years do you think it would be before the government was once again broke? One or two? Three or four? Five?

Spending is the problem, not revenue. And cutting spending is the solution, not raising revenue.

HT: Nicki Kurokawa's Twitter feed.

NEXT: Gulf Oil Disappears

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  1. I’m almost speechless at the sheer stupidity of that remark.

    1. Is there anything that Klein says that does not leave you speechless at the sheer stupidity of it? Him and Yglasias are two of the dumbest human beings ever put to print. And to think they both went to elite schools. This is what passes for “intellectually elite” in 21st Century America. It makes me fear for the future.

      1. Indeed. If Klein had any brains at all he would have known ahead of time that documented “private” conversations taking place amongst 400 people aren’t going to remain “private” for very long.

        The fact that he seriously believed he could keep his stupid Journolist a secret is proof that he’s even more stupid than he looks.

      2. How did this little twerp get to be so all knowing? At least blowhard Krugman has a few years under his belt (albeit spent in ivory tower).

        1. He has done nothing. Nothing but pontificate. Krugman for all his faults does have a PHD and once was a working economist. It boggles the mind to think that anyone would give Klein any kind of platform. Seriously, who is he? Why do I even know who he is?

          The news media is no different than entertainment media. It used to be that I knew who someone was because they had done something. I knew who Eddie Murphy or Paul McCartney or some other celbrity was because they had done something like sold records or made movies. Now I know who people like Kim Kardasian or Paris Hilton are, but I have no idea why.

          The news media is the same way now. We have these people like Klein and Yglesias who are well known but for absolutely no apparent reason.

          1. What, you don’t think being the slutty daughter of a wealthy person is reason to be famous?

            1. Not unless they release tapes of themselves having sex. That used to be called pornography; now it’s called marketing.

              1. Being a porn star is a perfectly acceptable reason to be a celebrity.

                1. Well, now you know why you know who Paris Hilton is.

                2. Like PJ O’Rourke said, today when you call a celebrity a pervert, a drug addict and an adulterer, all it means is you’ve read his autobiography.

                  1. That is one of his best lines…

          2. I am equally baffled as to what makes his “expert opinion” worth reading, by anyone.

            Every single one of his posts use such elementary logic & arguments and that I can’t help but to yell at the computer screen “why is anyone paying attention to you!?!?”

    2. Can we expect anything better? Liberal leftists, given a bottomless pot of gold, would still find a way to spend it all, and more. But the difference between them and the contemporary right “wing” is only a matter of scale.

  2. But tax cuts are just too damned expensive. They cost too much money. They are terribly over-priced, and Congress is irresponsible going into debt purchasing them. Period.

        1. No, no. Just the right mix of insight and sarcasm. And brevity!

        2. Long-winded serial commentators, please take notice.

  3. And this is libertarian wisdom? Can someone explain to me what justified the Bush tax cuts? Did they create economic growth? Did they reduce the deficit? Did they do a single fucking thing except make the budget problem worse, while making the political steps necessary to fix the budget problem all the more difficult?

    Let’s say hypothetically we cut all taxes to zero, since that’s the kind of philosophical musing that apparently goes on around here. Is it still wrong to raise them again? Will Grover Norquist cry tyranny if anyone proposes raising them a single cent?

    Why can’t both spending and revenue be part of the problem? Could it be because libertarians have simply become anti-tax zealots who can’t tolerate any raise, ever, no matter what?

    1. In 2003, the economy was worth 10 trillion dollars in 200 money. In 2008 it was worth 13 trillion dollars.

      That is what it got us dumb ass. It let people keep the money they earned. And it kept people like you from stealing it.

      1. That’s not exactly an air-tight causal explanation. Perhaps you forgot the 2nd great depression we almost entered at the end of Bush’s wise stewardship of the economy.

        1. YEah, definitely, the financial collaspe was caused by Bush’s tax cuts. It had nothing to do with the fed or nitwits like you pushing banks to make loans to people who could never pay them back. Nope. If Bush just would have stole more, everything would be great.

          1. Didn’t say the cuts were responsible for the collapse, they’re just largely responsible for the massive deficit.

            I see you’ve bought into GOP propaganda about how poor black people caused the global financial crisis. I don’t suppose I’ll persuade you out of that one. Do you at least agree that we should, say, pay for wars we start?

            1. “Didn’t say the cuts were responsible for the collapse, they’re just largely responsible for the massive deficit.”

              Yeah. The $700 billion stimulus, the 50% raise in baseline spending, or the trillion and a half dollars in bailouts have nothing to do with it. It is all the fault of those tax cuts.

              Jesus Tony.

              1. I said largely you illiterate turd. A lot of the bailout money has been paid back. And it’s is very arguable that stimulus spending prevented much higher future deficits as a result of the depression we’d be in. The main causes of the deficit are the recession, the wars, and the Bush tax cuts.

                1. Tony,

                  There is no evidence whatsoever that the stimulus did anything. And further most of the TARP money has not been paid back. If the US spent at 2005 levels today, we would have a surplus. We currently collect one out of every five dollars made in this country in taxes. That is just staggering. And you think that is not enough. And it is somehow the fault of the tax payer who already gives up 1/5th of every thing they own to the government that we have a deficit.

                  1. that one in five dollars is just the feds… if you include local and state, the recent historic range is about 30-34 percent.

                    1. and even if you remove the TARP and other temporary measures, the total underlying government spending currently is about 38-40 percent of GDP and growing.

                  2. most of the TARP money has been paid back, it is the democrats’ $1T stimulus money which is gone forever

                  3. There is no evidence whatsoever that the stimulus did anything.

                    You are forgetting that there is ample evidence that the stimulus did nothing.

                    http://www.economics.harvard.e…..r_2009.pdf

                    The argument is not that we have to prove a negative to prove Tony wrong.

                    We have proof that the stimulus did not work and the real argument is that Tony is an idiot and refuses to accept facts.

                    1. There is no evidence whatsoever that the stimulus did anything.

                      I should also point out there is ample evidence that the deficit spending that the stimulus caused is actually slowing the recovery

                      http://www.economics.harvard.e…..e_Debt.pdf

                      As much as Tony wants to fixate on Bush the fact is this is Obama’s recession now.

                2. How about *spending* being the main cause of the deficit? Is that too radical for you Tony?

            2. Funny those “massive deficits” didn’t start showing up until Comrade Nancy got a gavel in her sweaty little hand.

            3. Didn’t say the cuts were responsible for the collapse, they’re just largely responsible for the massive deficit.

              Right, the deficit went from about 350 billion dollars in FY 2008 to about 1.4 trillion in FY09 because of the Bush tax cuts, even though the tax rates were exactly the same in FY08 and FY09. You’re a fucking genius, dude.

            4. Ugh, more nonsense from Tony. Yes, federal revenues took a dip in the early 2000s after the dot-com bubble popped (can we blame Clinton for that?) and the tax cuts, but then recovered sharply. See also this.

            5. Hey, Tony… poor WHITE people bought houses they couldn’t afford, too.

              Don’t make this a racial issue when it clearly is not.

              1. And don’t forget that large numbers of people of every color refinanced their existing homes or other property and then spent the equity difference on comparative trifles and speculation, expecting the value of their real estate to keep going up. A great many of those ReFi mortgages are now under water. It wasn’t just poorer people who were suckered into buying houses that they couldn’t afford.

          2. John – Actually, the economic downfall didn’t have anything to do with the CRA, or banks being pushed into making loans to the neegras. Use the fucking google, don’t just regurgitate what you hear on Fox, Rush, or Boortz. When you do, you’ll find that private mortgage lenders like Country Wide were the high risk loan culprits, not the banks who were subject to the CRA (which by the way has been around since the late ’70s). CRA doesn’t apply to private mortgage lenders you dumbass. And don’t try blaming Fannie and Freddie either. They were scaling shit back in the mid oughts while everyone else jumped on the high risk loan bandwagon, and their charter and the regs that dictate their lending standards prohibit the type of NINA garbage that sank so many folks. Did they wind up in the hole? Yes – because they were investing in the same kind of poorly understood real estate securitized financial instruments that were bringing in big returns and that everyone else was betting on too. The argument that the mean old libruls and poor, filthy neegras (Glenn Beck’s “parasite class” – are you a 9/12’r by chance?) are the ones who caused the financial collapse has to rank right up there with death panels and creationism when it comes to wingtard stupidity. Oh, fuck it. What’s the point – you’re a fucking retard. If you had a brain you would’ve already done the minimal research required to dispel this line of thinking.
            I guess this is why a site like Reason uses Klein to showcase opposition to letting the tax cuts on the wealthy slide – maybe they know their readership is just too stupid to process the argument when it’s made by someone like Barry Ritholtz, Paul Krugman, or Martin Wolf from the Financial Times. Better to let someone like Klein make the argument poorly and hold that up than to show what the real deal looks like, otherwise your faith in magical thinking might be shaken.

            1. Lots of vitriol there, but it’s mostly just hot air. Anyone who thinks decades of (bipartisan) federal policy to make mortgage loans to people too poor to buy houses otherwise didn’t have anything to do with the housing bubble needs to take Econ 101.

            2. As others have been told, you could save yourself time by just saying “U R ALL RACIST AND STUPID”.

              Your Fanny and Freddie defense is amusing though, as you concede the critique of them as short-sighted one sentence after you condemn all critics as racists.

        2. Let’s not forget who had the majority of congress in 2006. To say that “Bush” ruined the economy is only half right. And considering how exponentially worse Obama has made the recession play out, Bush ultimately has done the least amount of damage between the three of them.

          1. And how many times did the Democratic majority override Bush’s veto power to get their way on fiscal matters during 2006-2008?

            1. You tell me Tony. Is this your excuse for the failure of the Dems in running the economy?

            2. I had veto power?

            3. they passed budgets that bush eventually signed. If they wanted to cut spenidng in those years, they could have.

              regardless, neither what Bush or the dems did on fiscal issues in recent years caused the housing bubble and finacial collapse. To the extent that public policy played a roll in this, its been a gradual building by both dems and repubs for years now.

              Stop playing into this retarded notion that the president has this magical lever in the white house that controls the economy.

            4. here are some from 2008 alone

              10.May 21, 2008: Vetoed H.R. 2419, 2007 U.S. Farm Bill.[29][30] Overridden by House, 316-108 (283 votes needed). Overridden by Senate, 82-13 (64 votes needed). Enacted as Pub.L. 110-234 over the President’s veto. Due to a clerical error, this act was repealed by Pub.L. 110-246.
              11.18 June 2008: Vetoed H.R. 6124, 2007 U.S. Farm Bill, re-passed by Congress to correct a clerical error in HR 2419.[31] Overridden by House, 317-109 (284 votes required). Overridden by Senate, 80-14 (63 votes needed). Enacted as Pub.L. 110-246 over the President’s veto.
              12.July 15, 2008: Vetoed H.R. 6331, Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act.[32] Overridden by House, 383-41 (283 votes required.) Overridden by Senate, 70-26 (64 votes required). Enacted as Pub.L. 110-275 over the President’s veto.

          2. I’m not sure anybody here is saying that Bush wasn’t a huge spender. In fact, there are 8 years of articles on Reason dedicated to Bush era spending.

            However, Bush did reduce tax levels from 40% to 35%. Not much, but in my opinion, it put money back into the economy and reduced the amount of hard-earned income the government takes every year.

            1. people have to stop fixating about tax rates meaning lower or higher taxes. What also matters is how much of your income fits into each braket. This is why despite huge variations in tax percentags over the past 80 years, the percent of GDP going to taxes has been about the same.

              And even if the rate stays the same, wages grow fatser than inflation, so you get “braket creep” leadning to higher effective rates. The number one reason why we had a ballanced budget int he late 90s? The bubble economy caused more people in to higher brackets and federal tax revenues where the highest they had ever been as a percent of the economy.

              http://perotcharts.com/categor…..ts/page/5/

              Leading into this recession, federal tax revenues where just as high as a percent of GDP as they were in the mid nintees with higher rates.

        3. I thought the left had successfully placed the blame for that on massive deregulation.

          1. Not blaming the tax cuts, I’m just saying they were utterly useless at best.

            1. I get it. The magic of Keynesian stimulus spending only works when a Democrat is the present. Or it only work when the stimulus money goes to the “right people”.

              Can’t have your cake and eat it too Tony. And remember, a large chunk of the Obama stimulus package was a tax cut. Amazing how that tax cut floated down the memory hole and the only tax cut left is from GWB.

              1. Tax cuts for people who spend most of their income are more stimulative than tax cuts for people who would just save the extra money. Not that tax cuts in general are all that stimulative. They were put in the bill to get conservative votes.

                Speaking of magic, exactly when are the Republican tax cuts over the past 30 years going to start paying for themselves, which is the single justification made for them?

                1. Tax cuts for people who spend most of their income are more stimulative than tax cuts for people who would just save invest the extra money.

                  See, where I come from, real economic growth comes from investment, which drives productivity and employment, which drives spending.

                2. “tax cuts for people who would just save the extra money”
                  ——–

                  Come on Tony, why say “save” when you can say “roll around in it like Scrooge McDuck”? That’s what you really think “rich” people do, right?

                  1. We could have a ten-trillion dollar surplus, right this minute, and Democrats would STILL want that fucking nickel on the dollar more.

            2. You have the argument backwards.

              You are asking that people justify keeping their own money, instead of asking the government to justify taking it from them.

              The former needs no justification, the latter can’t be justified by “So we can spend more”

            3. Here, in a nutshell, is the left/liberal view of economics: letting people keep more of their own money is “utterly useless at best.” Because we all know that the average taxpayer just wastes money left and right on all sorts of unimportant things, whereas only the solons and bureaucrats in Washington really know how to get real value for a dollar.

            4. The people who kept more of their income wouldn’t call it useless.

        4. Perhaps you forgot the 2nd great depression we almost entered at the end of Bush’s wise stewardship of the economy.

          No, I’m sitting here wondering why you think that the problem with Bush’s “stewardship of the economy” is that he didn’t do enough of it. I didn’t like what Bush did, why would I want to do the same thing that Bush did only more of it?

          1. So you don’t like that he pushed through massive tax cuts that weren’t offset by spending cuts? I agree. We should pay for things or else drop the pretense of being fiscally responsible.

            1. We should pay for things. But we shouldn’t pay more taxes to pay for more things. What we should do is stop doing things.

            2. Who here is offering a pretense that Bush was fiscally responsible? What Gillespie has argued and I think everyone here but you agrees is that tax cuts are acceptable because we should get to keep as much of our money as possible and spending cuts are damn near required at this point so we can not be taxed so much since we want to keep as much of our money as possible.

            3. Tony, your party helped get us into the wars, by being fucking stupid enough to go along with them. AND your party spends money just as irresponsibly as Republicans did, and still do.

              And stop saying “we prevented a depression”. No one can predict with absolute certainty, that a depression WOULD happen. Your side is just trying to lull the gullible into viewing you all as saints and saviors, just to get elected/re-elected. And that is the ONLY reason you fuckers do what you do… to gain and/or maintain and increase power in government. “Helping people” is just a ruse to further those power-grabbing goals.

    2. Drastically reduce spending, and you won’t need to tax the street.

    3. Can someone explain to me what justified the Bush tax cuts?

      Tax cuts never require explanation. Taxes require explanation with the implication, of course, that spending requires explanation.

      And, allowing that some spending is justified, some taxes will be justified.

      But is is always the taking of private property that requires explanation, and never the not taking.

    4. And this is libertarian wisdom? Can someone explain to me what justified the Bush tax cuts?

      Unlike the Obama stimulus plan they were based on sound economics that actually work.

      http://www.econ.berkeley.edu/~cromer/RomerDraft307.pdf

      http://elsa.berkeley.edu/~drom…..ne2010.pdf

      But this is not the libertarian defense, which is that those who labor own the fruits of it.

  4. Ezra Klein — that wretched little journopimp?

    Is there some reason we should care what the pimp is saying now?

    1. I think he’s more of a journoclump.

  5. Wow thats totally amazing.

    Lou
    http://www.remain-anonymous.at.tc

    1. Even the anon-bot gets one right now and then, like a million monkeys at a million typewriters.

    2. Sorry, anony-bot, couldn’t hear you. Too busy shitting on your mother’s face.

  6. Good to know that even with the demise of JournoList, Ezra is still able to coordinate his talking points with Paul Krugman, who if you missed the link yesterday was repeatedly owned by commentators on his own blog to the point that he decided to take his ball and run home.

    1. That actually made me smile.

    2. That is awesome. That is the link of the week.

    3. I’m going to start referring to Krugman as “Weimar Willie.”

    4. Nothing longer than three inches? Obviously he does fear competition…

  7. Tony, you fall into the all-or-nothing trap that most anti-Libertarians I talk to fall into. Most Libertarians I know are OK with a certain level of taxes. The problem isn’t taxes, it that the government WASTES so much of our taxes.

    Seriously, liberals talk about how the TEA party would gut the government and do away with taxes. They wouldn’t, they’re just sick of the lack of accountability.

    1. I’m fine with spending cuts where necessary. I’m not fine with pretending that tax hikes on the wealthy are going to kill the economy while cuts to the social safety net are imperative for budget reasons. This is voodoo hogwash based entirely on a foundation of dishonesty. It’s Norquistian fiscal terrorism meant to impose a radical free market state on us by making any revenue raising politically impossible and social programs thus unsustainable. I’m all for debating both taxes and spending, but I’m disgusted by people who lie about their motives.

      1. So when was the last time congress ever reduced net spending?

      2. I am proud to be paying taxes in the United States. The only thing is I could be just as proud for half of the money.

        — Arthur Godfrey

      3. “impose a radical free market”

        Dammit, I hate having freedom imposed on me.

      4. Tony, your side has been lusting after the Holy Grail of raising the tax rates back by a nickel on the dollar, which is like a hobo chasing you down for five more cents because the four quarters you tossed in his hat weren’t enough to feed his Thunderbird habit.

        Yes, I stand by that analogy: Government is like a hobo chugging down cheap wine. But hobos generally don’t have armies at their command.

    2. But it’s worse than that. We started two wars while we were cutting taxes on the rich. Trillions of dollars of spending that wasn’t paid for. How can anyone claiming to be fiscally responsible tolerate that?

      I agree that government wastes money. The vast majority of what it wastes money on currently are pointless wars and tax cuts for the rich.

      1. The rich, the rich. Why do the PRODUCERS always have to pay the bill?

      2. You can’t waste money that you never take.

        1. they can and did

      3. Very few Reason followers “tolerate” war.

        Wars have becomes something of a Keynesian mechanism for pumping stimulus money into the economy.

        We need to reduce our imperialist forces around the globe and end our status as the world’s police force.

        Once that happens, we’ll have quite a bit of money left over to commit to more useful things.

        That money would be better spent in the hands of those who earned the money.

      4. I’ll forgive you for not knowing this, because it is counter-intuitive, but the wars were actually less expensive than the bailouts, stimulus, TARP, etc.

        Peace is what’s screwing us.

      5. And what’s this “We started two wars” bullshit. I was in now way involved so please don’t lump me and all the other dissenters with the warmongers just so you can build a pretty straw man. I have never consented to any war, or anything else the government has done. We’re not in this together.

        1. I’m against the wars too of course, but let’s pretend they were justifiable wars. Should we raise revenues to fund them or not?

          1. Are you now building hypothetical strawmen?

            1. No. I’m asking if libertarians believe in paying for things they buy.

              1. And you’re falsely assuming we’re buying what you’re selling.

              2. I’m asking if libertarians believe in paying for things they buy.

                Absolutely. If I think a war is justifiable I’ll gladly chip in for it. But I won’t force you to chip in as well if I’ve failed to persuade you that it’s justifiable. And if too few people believe in it to contribute? Then I have to let it go. Would you be willing to do the same? It doesn’t sound like it.

              3. I’m asking if libertarians believe in paying for things they buy.

                You know the answer to that.

                How about you ask that question of Obama and the Democrat controlled congress?

                1. Much, much more so than Republicans.

                  1. Bullshit. Your party spends money we don’t have, and can’t afford, just as well as Republicans do when they hold the purse strings.

          2. I’m going radical as hell and saying

            HELL NO. GOVERNMENTS SHOULD NEVER KILL PEOPLE. WE’RE FUCKING LIBERTARIANS, WE FUCKING HATE FORCE! STOP KILLING PEOPLE ROOSEVELT, TRUMAN, EISENHOWER, KENNEDY, JOHNSON, NIXON, FORD, CARTER, REAGAN, BUSH, CLINTON, BUSH, AND OBAMA. STOP USING MY MONEY TO FUND YOUR FUCKING WAR!

            1. The last “justified war” was the Revolutionary War. All (and I mean ALL!) the rest have been efforts to force people out of their land, regain control of renegade, but independent states, and to exterminate people whole populations of innocent people. If we can reduce our forces to securing the borders against the threat of invasion (and not this phoney-boloney Mexican worker invasion shit, I mean fucking Brits coming to take back their long lost colonies), then I think the government can take money for that effort. But that’s gotta to cost a fraction of what the defense budget is now.

              1. The last “justified war” was the Revolutionary War.

                The confederates attacked first and they enforced slavery.

                The Civil War has better justification then the revolutionary war.

                1. Fort Sumter was a Union occupation of Confederate territory, so they way I see it, the Confederates were justified in their decision to attack it.

                  Slavery was still legal in North during the way. The Emancipation Proclamation only affected the states in rebellion.

                  If the slavery motive for the invasion of the Union forces is justified, then was a Bush invasion of Iraq to end the Iraqi slavery under Saddam Hussein was justified, and baby that’s just NOT acceptable in my reality. You dig?

                  Caleb – 1
                  JC – 0

                  1. Fort Sumter was a Union occupation of Confederate territory, so they way I see it, the Confederates were justified in their decision to attack it.

                    Soooo….you do think the Civil war was justified…only you think the proslavary side that lost are the justified party. And they are justified because of trespassing claim that had no legal due process outside of “Open Fire”

                    Wow.

          3. I’m against the wars too of course, but let’s pretend they were justifiable wars. Should we raise revenues to fund them or not?

            Not through taxes the government shouldn’t. If the people who believe in a cause don’t believe in it enough to voluntarily donate to it, then the cause should die. For as much as I don’t like him, someone like Michael Moore shouldn’t have had to help fund the wars. That onus should be on the people who wanted them to happen.

        2. And what’s this “We started two wars” bullshit.

          Well, actually, the US didn’t start either war.

          AQ, which was being given safe harbor in Afghanistan, committed an act of aggression against us. When Afghanistan elected to protect AQ, it made itself a party to that aggression.

          Its a bit more of a stretch, but remember that the Gulf War, which was started by Hussein when he invaded Kuwait, never ended. There was a cease-fire, which he violated.

          Sure, we elected to prosecute those wars. But we didn’t start them.

          1. So if North Korea invades the South, they’re not starting a war, since the Korean War technically never ended.

            1. if North Korea invades the South, they’re not starting a war, since the Korean War technically never ended.

              No and Yes.

              From WikiBullshit: The situation escalated into open warfare when North Korean forces invaded South Korea on 25 June 1950.

              Since they already started the war in 1950, NK could not be described as a non-agressor.

              They would be resuming the old conflict.

      6. Just wondering: do you really think the “rich” can possibly pay for all of the government spending currently planned? I don’t see how that’s even possible.

        And then, when additional revenue does start coming in, the Congress critters in a bipartisan fashion will declare that there’s “room in the budget” for JUST ONE MORE new spending program.

      7. I doubt anyone here disagrees with you on the wars. I also doubt anyone is hiding from the fact we don’t want federal government “social safety nets.” No one is lying, so stop assuming that.

        1. Well I guess it’s not the worst kind of dishonesty if everyone knows what your game is (and the GOP’s). “Starve the beast” is basically your (and their) stated position, right?

          I do think it’s dishonest to deprive people of the services they want by working to make raising revenue to pay for them politically impossible.

          1. Thats a cute way to twist the argument: “I do think it’s dishonest to deprive people of the services they want by working to make raising revenue to pay for them politically impossible.”

            Our point is that these services wont work the way everyone seems to think they will. Bureaucrats running things is not the way to go. Forcing people into most of these “services” is morally wrong. These are the basic Libertarian arguments. There is no deceit. Its not dishonest just because we disagree with you; arguing Republican talking points with Libertarians is dishonest.

            1. You are assuming that Tony cares more for results than for salving his conscience.

            2. So wait, because people want to buy stuff with stolen property, its bad to make it harder to steal said property?

      8. it wastes money takes less money from people on because of […] tax cuts

        There we go.

      9. Taxes were cut for everyone who paid federal income taxes. Apparently to Tony and many other lefties, all people who pay such taxes are the “rich”.

  8. Worried about an IRS audit? Avoid what’s called a red flag. That’s something the IRS always looks for. For example, say you have some money left in your bank account after paying taxes. That’s a red flag.

    — Jay Leno

    1. Those fuckers have way too much power as it is. And Obama will give them more.

      We are sooooo fucked.

  9. “Right now, taxes people punching me repeatedly in the face are at unsustainably low levels.”

  10. I had to put my head down on my desk for a few minutes thanks to that quote alone.

  11. The difference between death and taxes is death doesn’t get worse every time Congress meets.

    — Will Rogers

  12. “Right now, taxes are at unsustainably low levels.”

    Are you trying to make me go on a strangling spree, Nick?

    Could it be because libertarians have simply become anti-tax zealots

    Congratulations, Tony, for packing such an impressive amount of misunderstanding into those few words.

    1. His interpretation module is set on “Left”.

      1. Repairman: [pointing to a Good/Evil switch on the back of the doll] Yup, here’s your problem. Someone set this thing to “Evil”.

    2. You tell me when you’d tolerate a tax hike. You obviously don’t even to pay for two simultaneous wars, so excuse me if I interpret that as anti-tax zealotry.

      1. I’ll tolerate a tax hike when the government cuts it’s current spending to a level equal to total inflation + population growth since 1982 (to pick a random year in the far past).

      2. Dude, be careful about trying to pack any more cluelessness into your posts. You’re currently at 2.3 Kleins: well beyond safe readings.

        1. How many Kleins are there in a Krugman?

          And careful with the Klein registrations. Naomi’s have a dishonesty value 10x of the Ezra’s. His only look to be the same value from his monstrously craven stupidity.

          1. 2 Weigels to an Yglesias, 2 Yglesiases to a Klein, 8 Kleins to a Krugman.

            1. I believe that 1 Ackerman = 12 Massengills + 4 Milhouses.

              1. I hope you’re talking Imperial units of measurement, yes? I never bothered to learn those Euro Commie metric units of cluelessness they tried to teach me in public school.

      3. After the federal government quits spending money it doesn’t have on shit it shouldn’t be doing, I’ll consider a tax hike. Cut the state back to it’s constitutional bounds and then see how much money we’d need. I’m pretty sure we won’t need a tax hike. But as long as the fed insists on doing things it shouldn’t and spending money it doesn’t have, fuck them. They can figure out how to pay for the jackassery without taking it from me.

      4. As a compromise, I’ll tolerate a tax hike when the entire budget is spent on activities that are constitutional. And I don’t mean the “the governement can do whatever it wants” reading of the constitution. I mean the enumerated powers reading. Actually, I might have to insist on the repeal of the 17th ammendment too …… But those two things would probably be enough.

      5. You obviously don’t even to pay for two simultaneous wars, so excuse me if I interpret that as anti-tax zealotry.

        Will the Democrats get around to paying for WW2 before or after the stimulus spending for the 2135 recession?

  13. Spending more than I can afford to is a problem because I don’t get paid nearly enough. That’s it.

  14. Really? These dipshits are going to jack up my taxes, then they’re going to bitch that I’m not “consuming” enough?

    But if we end up asking Congress to choose between the current tax code with the Bush tax cuts and a reformed tax code without them, the latter will look like a huge tax hike.

    “Look like a huge tax hike”? It won’t look like a huge tax, it will be a huge tax hike. Trying to hide it by bringing up taxes a little now isn’t going to change that.

    1. That’s fine as long as more than 45% of adults pay that amount and not just payroll tax.

  15. In a way taxes are too low. Not as a percentage, but relative to spending. The public has been getting too much shit for free and have been accustomed to government services for a lower than necessary tax level. A quick way to make people want to cut spending is to associate taxes with them. Want Obama-care? Well you’ll have to pay an extra $1,000 a year for it. Want to invade Iraq for no good reason? That’ll be $3,000 a year*. This would go a long way to making people think about what they support.

    * Note actual dollar amounts made up.

    1. Prior to World War 2 we had something like that. We didn’t have income tax withholding, so people paying income taxes had to cut a check. During WW2 the government wanted to jack up taxes without sparking a revolt, so they introduced tax withholding as a “temporary” war measure. As in most tax matters, “temporary” doesn’t mean what ordinary people think it means.

      1. I don’t necessarily mean get rid of withholding, but cost everything out. When a spending bill is proposed, force taxes to go up accordingly and have the per person amount reported.

        1. I’m with you but my point is that the politicians absolutely won’t go for it, for the obvious reason: if people understood what this shit really cost they’d never agree to even half of it.

          1. This is truth. Tax withholding is evil for the pure obfuscation (“Take home pay”) and irresponsibility (“These tax revenues are burning a hole in our congressional pockets”) it enables.

      2. Thanks, Uncle Milty!

  16. Everyone who thinks Klein is right should just send the IRS the amount of tax they think ought to be collected. The IRS will accept it.

    Oh, right. Their money wouldn’t make a dent so it would just be a futile example.

    I’m fine with the tax cuts expiring, but if the US can’t achieve all of its duties for $2T, I don’t think bringing $2.2T is the optimum fix.

    I heard on NPR that the price of wheat has doubled. Are we going to halve the Ag subsidy?

  17. True story: last winter I was at a cocktail party of mostly government bureaucrats (its all there is in DC suburbs) when I said something about how the snowpocalypse at least allowed the productive class to get to work.

    “I like to think of myself as the productive class,” some state department bureaucrat snooted.

    Her husband almost choked on his wine.

    1. “I like to think of myself as the productive class,” some state department bureaucrat snooted.

      I hope you had the presence of mind to reply “I’m sure you do,” and move on.

  18. Ezra Klein is a fucking idiot.

    Does uttering the phrase “spending cuts” make their socialist bloodsucker skin catch fire, or something?

  19. It’s bad enought that Klein has a blog. But my sunday morning paper comes and he’s got a column in either the business or outlook section.

    1. It’s worse than that. He has a regular column in the frickin’ food section. “Gut Check”

      http://voices.washingtonpost.c…..mn_th.html

  20. Still waiting for those tax cuts to pay for themselves. Wasn’t that the stated justification for them? Now that Reaganomics has been proven beyond a shadow of a doubt to be the farce and the lie that it is, can we start paying for the things we buy now?

    1. Or politicians could stop buying stuff.

      1. Okay but until we achieve the libertarian fantasy of depriving the American people of all their social safety nets and we live in your plutocratic utopia, do you think we should pay for the things we buy or not?

        1. Your very notion of a safety net is others paying for what you want to buy.

    2. Who’s ‘we’ Kemosabe?

    3. You mean the Reagan years when the defense budget exploded like a motherfucker?

      1. Uh-huh and the largest deficits the country had ever seen until Bush II came along. I’m just tired of the same people bitching about the deficit and then in the same breath refusing to entertain the notion of paying it down, except through weasly fantasies about dismantling vast areas of government administration.

        1. But you act like Libertarian thinkers don’t have alternatives of the “social safety-nets” the government now provides.

          You may think the ideas are silly and won’t work, but don’t act like we’re heartless asshole Scrooges.

        2. And I’m tired of people who don’t even pay lip service to the rate of spending increase.

          1. Depends on what it’s for. A trillion dollars for a war base don lies? Yeah, I’m against that spending.

            1. But that’s not the spending that’s driving the current record levels of deficit.

        3. except through weasly fantasies about dismantling vast areas of government administration.

          Well, yes we do kind of have that Paine-esque streak where we believe that the government that governs most governs worst.

    4. Cut the crap. Supply-side economists do not believe that tax cuts will be 100% offset by subsequent growth.

      1. exactly… it just states that there is a deminishing rate of return on the rate of taxation. In the case that a tax rate is high enough, cutting it will indeed generate more revenue. But in most cases, when it is not that high, SOME of the cut will be made up for. Not all. And that is what happened with the bush rate cuts. SOME of it was made up for by greater econmic output and higher levels of income reporting.

      2. They don’t need to believe it – history prooves it. The Bush cuts were made in 2000 and 2001. By 2004 total revenue from federal taxation surpassed 2000 levels and grew steeply from there on:
        http://www.usgovernmentrevenue.com/charts.html
        Never heard of Hauser’s Law?

    5. Speaking of lies, can we also stop with the bullshit of claiming that a government program has been “cut” when it’s budget simply hasn’t risen as fast as it’s supporters would like? If they wanted it go up 20% and it went up 15%, that’s not a fucking “cut”.

      1. Baseline budgeting. It’s completely legit.

        In FY 2009, I budgeted a new 56″ flatscreen TV. When I didn’t get that 40% raise I expected, I bitched to my boss that he “cut my salary”.

        1. People like Tony would call a 15% budget increase “a cut”, if the budget increase were originally 20%.

          Fuck, you’re STILL spending more than the previous budget. Therefore, it can’t *be* a cut.

    6. i don’t think that there is any question that at some point there are diminishing returns when tax rates are increased

      but the goal is to grow the economy as a whole, and the government is less economically efficient in spending your money than you are, astoundingly enough

    7. I know you’ll never believe this, but total revenues to the Fed Gov’t went up after “my” tax cuts. Unemployment went from 12% to 3.5%. Longest peacetime expansion of the economy.

    8. Now that Reaganomics has been proven beyond a shadow of a doubt to be the farce and the lie that it is, can we start paying for the things we buy now?

      There is no monolithic “we.” Individuals absolutely should have to pay for the things they buy. What they shouldn’t be subject to is having to pay for the things that others vote for them to buy. i.e. you don’t support the war on terrorism or the war on drugs, therefore you shouldn’t have to pay for them, no matter how many millions vote otherwise.

      Two ways to make sure you don’t pay for them: 1: cut taxes so that when people vote to take your money and spend it on things you would never choose to spend it on yourself, they at least can’t take as much of it. 2: end the physical wars and culture wars.

      Option 2 probably isn’t happening on its own any time soon, but might be made possible if Option 1 could become reality. And Option 1 is already a huge positive on its own.

  21. Plus, the exact philosophy of Libertarians is very hard to pin down.

    You might find some Libertarians who want to privatize all kinds of government programs.

    But you will also find some Libertarians who can find peace living in a world of public education, public utilities, and public transportation, but who also think that Americans should have a greater variety of choices that include privately owned alternatives.

    The one thing that ties us all together is the belief that society works best with a small, limited government.

    1. That, and our love of ‘shrooms.

      1. You’re not supposed to tell outsiders, CN. They’ll start claiming they’re libertarians just to score some.

        1. Isn’t that how everyone gets here? You come for the drugs and stay for the freedom?

  22. Notice how leftie politicians don?t use the word spending anymore? It?s “investing”, we need to invest in this and that. Sounds like you?re watching fking Bloomberg, other than these guys have never held a real job.

  23. Don’t tell Tony, but only Congress can lay and collect taxes, or declare wars. Shhhh.

  24. Tony, where is my birthday card? Tell you what, don’t get me a present, just list my greatest accomplishments.

  25. Still waiting for those tax cuts to pay for themselves.

    Tell you what, when the Dems in Congress start complying with “pay-go”, we’ll get back to you on the tax cuts paying for themselves.

  26. I don’t have a spending problem, I have an earnings problem.

  27. Pretty much every tax revenue projection put out is bunk because it assumes the alternative minimum tax is going to stay unchanged and unindexed. As bracket creep happens, it is swamping the regular income tax system.

  28. I confess I haven’t had a chance to RTFA yet, but did Klein come out and say what he considers “sustainable” tax rates? With an explanation of where he got the number?

    I suspect not; that’s another thing that irritates me about people like him. They say I’m not paying enough taxes but I can’t get them to actually say what “enough” is; it seems they’ll know it when they see it, and maybe let me know when it happens. Or not.

    Also, those dipshits need to understand: if the feds take, say, 20% of my income, the other 80% is not “available” for them to take. Remember state and county and municipal taxes? It all comes out of my same limited pool of funds. It still counts even if it isn’t the feds who took it. That property tax hike I got hit with this summer? The feds can’t have that money; it’s fucking gone you idiots.

  29. I want to understand – what is with the Reason man-crush on the boy half-wit?

  30. Lets talk about what caused the recession.

    Bush spending. Deficits hurt the economy

    Fannie May and Freddie mac. These to government entities created a market for risky loans and destabilized the financial sector.

    Housing bubble. Regional land use planning inflated housing prices through artificial restrictions that were unsustainable.

    No where in there did Bush’s tax cuts cause these problems. One could argue that tax cuts lowered revenues and caused deficits but this first off is not true:

    http://www.econ.berkeley.edu/~cromer/RomerDraft307.pdf

    http://elsa.berkeley.edu/~drom…..ne2010.pdf

    But even if it were true it has been pointed out that if we had capped spending at 2005 levels we would be in surplus right now.

    Now let us look at Obama’s record in helping the recovery.

    For the housing bubble he has done nothing. Well ok there was the tax credit but that has been shown to have no effect beyond making people who would have bought homes buy them a few months sooner. He did nothing to fix the underlying problems with land use regulations

    For the financial collapse he had the government takeover Fannie May and Freddie Mac and has spent 100s of billions in bailing out crappy banks that followed Fannie and Freddie to bankruptcy and almost all home mortgages right now are guaranteed by Fannie may and Freddie mac. Not only has he done nothing to fix the underlying flaws that caused the collapse he has double downed and triple downed on policies that caused the problem in the first place. Oh yeah he also had the government take over GM. A bloated rust belt company that makes shitty cars and has refused to simply move away from idiotic unions and has given pention plans and benifits which it never no matter how many cars they made could ever pay for. In fact they lost money on every car they sold. One other fun fact after the US government fired the CEO and hired a new one the new one claimed to have paid off its debt….of course he failed to mention that he payed off that debt with a new loan from the US government.

    Spending. Not much to say here. Only that Obama has spent more in the last 2 years then Bush had spent on two wars his own bail outs and his own stimulus plans over an 8 year period. Again Obama has done nothing to fix the underlying problem and in fact doubled down on doing exactly what caused the problem.

  31. it’ll force us to pass a reform that doesn’t raise any more money than the tax code with the Bush tax cuts.

    For all he screwed up, this is still one of Bush’s few genuine achievements.

    It’s at least slowing the bastards down.

  32. I say we start getting more revenue by sacking Klein’s place.

    Just scream “it’s for the children” as you batter down his door.

  33. Revenue does seem to be sitting below historic levels as a percentage of GDP. Whether or not this is due to the current rate of taxation is up for debate, but its not inconceivable to me that Bush’s (and Obama’s) tax cuts are not at least partially to blame.

    Clearly spending is the main issue, but (IMO) any deficit elimination plan should also include restoring revenue to historically normative levels.

  34. I don’t know which I’d prefer since things could be good either way you look at it. It just depends on your point of view.

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