UPDATE/MONDAY, AUGUST 1: Assuming Congress keeps the rail lines open, we will be returning to full service on Tuesday, August 2.
Its not a bad time to be pooling resources: Were off on a mission of national import. Actually, were attending a wedding tomorrow. Its not a bad time to be pooling resources! If the highways are still open, well be back at the start of the week.
A DISCUSSION YOUVE NEVER HEARD: How foolish is your national discourse?
The Washington Post is one of our most important newspapers. Yesterday, on its op-ed page, this ludicrous statement appeared:
PHILLIPS (7/28/11): As the founder of Tea Party Nation, I feel confident in saying that the Tea Party understands what so many in Washington seem to have forgotten: We do not have a debt crisis. We have a spending crisis. There is only one way you get to a debt crisisyou spend too much money.
That highlighted statement is dumb-beyond-stupid. The statement is utterly stupid. If you have tapioca in place of a brain, you can see that it makes no damn sense.
That statement is lame-beyond-gong show. And yet, it lies in the sweet spot of your nations clown-inspired political culture. Weve been a low-IQ culture for decades now, with the career liberal world playing an active, well-compensated role in the process.
The sheer stupidity of that statement makes it familiar within our culture. But its point of view is also iconic: Our political culture is all about the denigration of taxes. The conservative and corporate worlds have built a multiverse of anti-tax theoretics, much of which is aggressively stupid. By way of contrast, the liberal world calls people racists and occasionally says its pro-choice.
After that, we nap.
The drumbeat of anti-tax dogmatics is familiar to every American ear. The liberal world has been loo lazy, too feckless, not quite poor enough to create an alternate story. But in the past week, we have seen two major players express views on taxation we found quite surprising. Their views are part of a discussion you have never heard.
The first such person is Paul Krugman. Last Friday, he appeared on the Charlie Rose show. As we noted a few days ago, he made the following statement:
KRUGMAN (7/22/11): What the long-run solution to the U.S. budget problem is, is controlling health-care costs. It means more of the kinds of things that were already in the Affordable Care Act. A lot of serious, serious efforts to bring the rate of growth of health-care costs down, bending the curvehorrible metaphor, but bending the curve, which we know can be done because other countries do it. And then we need revenue. In the end, were going to need three, four percent of GDP in additional revenue. You can get some of that by allowing the Bush tax cuts to expire, but were going to need more than that.
Krugman said we should dump the Bush tax cutsand he said that we will need even more revenue after that! Regarding the need to dump all the Bush tax rates, weve seen that view expressed on-lineby Jonathan Chait, for instance. But we dont think weve ever seen it discussed in a major news org. Weve never seen that view debated or analyzed by a major newspaper or on a major news program.
Does Krugmans prescription make sense? We dont know. Weve never seen it discussed! By way of contrast, weve heard every fool thing a mammal can say about the need to lower taxes. Judson Phillips stepped up in that column to remind us of this fact: There is no anti-tax statement so balls-out stupid that it wont be afforded a prominent spot in our nations discourse.
Krugman says we need lots more revenue. But then, someone made a similar statement on Thursday evenings Hardball. Chris Matthews was faking away as he always doesusually, with Joan doing cartwheels, splits and flips to tell us how great he is. On this occasion, Matthews guest was Bruce Bartlett, former deputy assistant treasury secretary under the first George Bush and a policy adviser to Ronald Reagan. Before long, Bartlett also endorsed a return to the Clinton tax rates:
MATTHEWS (7/27/11): It gets back to the numbers. A $14 trillion debt, half of it is from Bush, and almost half of that is from the tax cut. Another portion is from the prescription drug bill. And the whole rest of that really is from a lousy economy under Bush and these two wars he came up with.
BARTLETT: Well, thats right. Wethe Republicans keep saying that tax cuts are the key to prosperity. Well, the 2000s is evidence that thats not true. And also we raised taxes in 1982. They said it would be a recession. We raised taxes again in 1993. They said it would be a recession. We had booming economies in the 1980s and 1990s. I think if we went back to the taxes we had the 80s and 90s, wed be a lot better off.
MATTHEWS: What is the argument against the kind of tax policy Well, lets just say it again. It seems to me we had a heck of a great economy in the 90s, with a tax rate for people in the higher brackets of about 39.6, as opposed to 35, right?
MATTHEWS: And that is the one that the rich bitch about, to use a crude term. And yet that didnt hurt the economy and it helped balance the budget.
BARTLETT: Well, thats right. And dont forget also that Ronald Reagan raised the capital gains tax rate to 28 percent in 1986 and now its only 15 percent. And of course, the wealthier you are, the more of your income comes from capital gains.
MATTHEWS: Yes. Last night, we showed the 400 richest people in the country, whose average income is $270 million a year, pay about the same as a poor person pays. They pay about 18 percent.
BARTLETT: Thats right, of income taxes, thats right.
MATTHEWS: Whereas the middle class and the upper middle class, who think they are the majority of the country, and they actually are, theyre paying a higher rate.
BARTLETT: Thats right. I dont think there is any question that we would have positive economic effects if we went back to the Clinton-era tax rates.
Six days after Krugman endorsed the Clinton tax rates, Bartlett did the same. To watch the whole segment, click here.
(In fact, Matthews discussion the previous night seemed to concern all federal taxes, not just federal income tax. On each programno surprise here!he was too clueless to say.)
Is Bartlett right? Would it make sense to return to the Clinton tax rates? Well say it again: We dont know. Weve never seen it debated! You currently live in a country where every damn-fool statement about lowering taxes is rushed into our greatest newspaperswhere the very idea of raising taxes is treated like Ross Perots crazy aunt, the one he keeps down in the basement.
Two more points, then were off:
In what way was Matthews faking (as always)? This is what this massive phony said as he continued:
MATTHEWS (continuing directly): Why dont economists say this that youre just saying? How come I need to drag you on the show?
Matthews has hosted Hardball for thirteen years. Until this week, he has never discussed such topics, as of course he knows. Neatly repurposed by MSNBC, he now pretends that hes puzzled by this issues very low visibility.
This man is a consummate fraud. He knows why this general outlook has enjoyed a low visibility. He and his corporate owners helped keep it out of view for yearsthe corporate owners who made him rich as he worked to send George Bush to the White House. In 1999 and 2000, no broadcaster came close to Matthews as a criminally aggressive Bush hack.
One final note:
Joan will be out there doing back-flips about the greatness of Chris. Gimme a C, shell convincingly cry. Gimme an H! Gimme an R-I-S!
People like Walsh have also agreed to keep such naughty views smothered. And by the way, please recall what happened this week when Teresa Tritch made that long-overdue statement.
In Sundays New York Times, Teresa Tritch came out and said it! We will post her statement again. Her statement is very important, unless you want to live in a world defined by the worlds dumbest claims:
TRITCH (7/24/11): A few lessons can be drawn from the numbers. First, the Bush tax cuts have had a huge damaging effect. If all of them expired as scheduled at the end of 2012, future deficits would be cut by about half, to sustainable levels.
Say what? If the Bush tax cuts expire on schedule, future deficits would be cut by about half, to sustainable levels? If Tritch is right, our current crisis would end on the very day the Bush tax cuts expired!
Thanks to the work of the career liberal world, no one in this sprawling country has ever heard anyone say this.
As Andrew Leonard noted this week, a string of liberals jumped Tritchs bones on Monday, pimping a slightly ill-advised graphic all around town. We liberals made her queen for a day. After that, things went quiet.
We liberals love it quiet.
But even when we were having our fun, what did none of our tribunes do? As far as we saw, none of them bothered to ask if Tritch was right in what she said! Just two weeks ago, after all, David Leonhardt published a claim that seemed to be quite different. But in the low-IQ world of the career liberal, shit like this dont count:
LEONHARDT (7/13/11): So what kind of tax increases do Americans support? The old-fashioned kind. Seventy-two percent support raising taxes on income above $250,000, according to a recent New York Times/CBS poll, and a large majority likewise favor raising Social Security taxes on the affluent.
In the end, the most likely tax increase may be the one that's already on the books. On Jan. 1, 2013, all the Bush tax cutson the affluent and nonaffluent alikeare set to expire, which would solve roughly one-quarter of our long-term deficit problem. If Republicans have their way, all the tax cuts will be extended. If the Democrats have their way, most of them will be.
Who has it right, Leonhardt or Tritch? We cant tell you, for obvious reasons. Instead, we offer this point:
You live in a defiantly low-IQ world. You live in a very dumb political culture; you have for many years. This world features aggressive players like Phillips, for whom no statement is too goddamned stupid. It also features fiery career liberals; theyre generally cast as the Washington Generals. Theyre too lazy and feckless to care about much. Attention spans wont be impressive.
People like Phillips push hard every day. The same is true of reviled Grover Norquist.
People like Phillips push hard every day. On your side?
Not so much.