It’s Not That Complicated

By James Kwak

Of course the tax bill couldn’t have passed today, even if the two sides reached a compromise. Today it would have been a tax “increase.” Tomorrow it will be a tax “cut.” As my daughter would say, “Duh.”

Grover Norquist’s Taxpayer Protection Pledge will remain technically inviolate, which was not terribly hard to predict. And it will have done its most important work: making a small and obvious policy change—allowing moderately higher taxes for the rich—seem like an enormous, gut-wrenching concession by Republicans.

See you next year!

14 thoughts on “It’s Not That Complicated

  1. Happy 2013 to all, and to all, a happy new year.

    This link, ,will appear with Alabama’s first post, and Alabama’s last. Make of it what you will, many a past Baseline commentators, respected his work beyond all others, and I remember when we both teamed up to take the initial chill, out of chill towns pinnacle moment.

    Alabama will post scarcely from time to time, he WANTS to take things to the street, make people accountable for wrong doings.
    No one ever gave Alabama a job, and no one ever gave Alabama money. Everything he has so far, he has he had to earn. Sometimes your eyes may not believe what Alabama shows, or accomplishes. For Alabama prepares to live in a future place, a world not known about to the everyday citizen, yet one in which they temporarily and happily, still contribute, although Alabama knows everything they do is in vain.

    Alabama will gladly expose the upper classes underside, you know the ones, they refuse to talk in the heat of the moment, but have no problem going behind your back to conspire and bring any non like minded individuals to their knees at any cost. The rocks, and Trumps of the world.

    Alabama won’t have much time to pick fights,or justify his decisions in today’s wacky world. He knows in the end that both the weak and strong, the rich and the poor, will be adversely affected with little notice or recourse. And that people will believe what THEY want to believe, knowing they will be wrong, more times than they are right.

    Alabama’s intentions are only to enlighten you, if he fails to do so, he only fails you, for Alabama is happy everyday with his inner self, and loves to keep the upper class living on the edge at all times, where they belong. And don’t think you can buy Alabama, or his vote, all you will be buying is trouble.

  2. Happy New Year Baseline Scenario.

    A question to ponder for the new year:

    Is a network of incompetent individuals collectively more competent than any one of the individual incompetent individuals in the network?

    Sadly, I’ve been apart of such a network (when I worked in middle management for a large corporation), and I have to admit, increasing the number of incompetent individuals didn’t seem to help much, if at all. Neither did loosing a few individuals. Incompetence is just one of those things that ‘slightly more of’ or ‘slightly less of’ doesn’t seem to help much.

    Perhaps in the next election cycle… (my new mantra.)


  3. You just refuse to accept less spending. Won’t even mention it other than to say how reduced spending could never fix the entire problem. However interesting that you tone changes from an extreme, must fix everything to a nice soft tone of “making a small and obvious policy change—allowing moderately higher taxes for the rich.” How about you make the case for moderate cuts to defense, medicare, medicaid, unemployment benefits, social security benefits etc.? I love how folks think their solution is the ‘obvious’ one. That is a very persuasive argument.

  4. Increased taxes solve less than 10% of the immediate problem (i.e., the annual deficit – leaving the national debt alone here). I would be very interested to hear how the main part of the problem, spending that is, could be solved? What cuts would you prefer? What programs are most ineffective or inefficient that should be eliminated? Finally, how do you think we should restructure or re-engineer the entitlement programs? Again, tax increases solve very little. Now let’s focus on the big problem, the spending. I look forward.

  5. Kwak forgot to mention that Grover Norquist is just another dog in the latest bipartisan dog and pony show, i.e., the fiscal cliff narrative. Grovers are a dime a dozen, but only when they’re in demand, and at the moment, Grover happens to be a useful show dog.

    Kwak doesn’t even attempt to frame the fiscal cliff in a factual context so I’ll provide the basic facts. Simpson Bowles and the Super Committee failed to address exploding deficits and debt resulting from the financial crisis and Great Recession. These failures led to the Budget Control Act which allows Bush tax cuts to expire and implements large spending cuts on Jan. 1, 2013.

    In the following links, Neil Barofsky says fraud by the nine largest banks caused the financial crisis and William Black lays out specific evidence of Wall Street fraud, which has not been prosecuted by Obama’s Department of Injustice. Just listen to the first five minutes of Black’s radio interview.

    In a nutshell, Wall Street fraud caused the Great Recession and massive drop in government revenue which is driving Federal deficits and debt. But Wall Street CEO’s and their bipartisan criminal co-conspirators are forcing taxpayers to cough up 8.6 TRILLION to prop up failing banks. Senator Brown points this out in this link:

    Even Grover Nutquist, a nut among nuts, admits that “corporations don’t pay taxes, they collect them from you and me…” Grover says multi-nationals have the ability to pass tax and regulatory costs onto consumers by raising the price of their products. But he fails to mention that small businesses, which may be corporations, bear the full cost of tax and regulation because they have limited ability to pass costs onto consumers. This highlights the fiscal cliff problem, i.e., multi-nationals which by definition are loyal to no country, recieve huge gov’t subsidies while evading tax and regulatory responsibilities. This link is Grover’s comments:

    For the rest of the fiscal cliff story go to:

  6. Can we please always remind people that the Norquist to whom the Republicans pledge allegiance is Lobbyist Grover Norquist?

  7. Again, James, you call it wrong. In the legislative world, a change in taxation is assessed against the baseline of what is legally obliged — in this case the required cessation of the “Bush tax cuts” at the end of calendar 2012. Thus, no matter what the date of the change in the tax rates — Dec. 31 or January 1 — the tax rate schedule approved represents a tax “cut”. I am sure that your daughter is very precocious. But in this case, her common sense is not consistent with “Congress-speak”. (OMG!)
    It is tiresome to have to keep correcting you on these matters. Perhaps Simon could review your comments before they are posted.

  8. The fact that the Norquist pledge remains inviolate because it specifically focuses on income tax yet both parties agreed on letting the payroll tax holiday expire is amusing to me. It’s not taxes they have a problem with, it’s progressive taxes.

    Why don’t we just abolish the income tax and make the payroll tax progressive without a cap. The top rate could be, oh say 45.8% (39.6 + 6.2 conveniently).

    It solves the Social Security funding problem, releases all Republicans from the Grover Norquist pledge since the income tax doesn’t exist anymore. Side bonus, now all other appropriations are technically unfunded and need to request money from the incredibly over funded social security fund.

  9. Interesting option, Mr. Long. Actually, the “payroll tax” refers to FICA (Federal Insurance Contributions Act), which is currently levied on the employee at 6.2 % of income (up to about $111,000) and also levied on the employer at the same 6.2% rate. I assume that your proposal of raising the tax rate would only apply to the employee payments — otherwise the cost to the employer of hiring labor would be humungous!
    The side bonus you mention is indeed interesting. The Social Security Fund could become a second Congress, vetting what parts of the annual Congressional appropriations budget which could be covered by loans from FICA. But would the securities purchased by the FICA from the government be of the marketable nature? Currently most U.S. debt issued by the Treasury is marketable, and thus is a vehicle for Federal Reserve Open Market operations. The Treasury debt securities currently purchased by the FICA funds are not marketable but are redeemable from the U.S. Treasury (presumably when the cash inflow from FICA collections is not sufficient to cover its cash outflow obligations)..

  10. Republicans have many pledges they need to sign if they want to play ball. Or sometimes, even get paid their salary…..

    Apparently Bachmann’s been ripping pages from the NYT bestselling book “How To Be a Lying C*nt AND Spout Platitudes On ‘Family Values’ ” by the Alaskan “Christian” who hunts animals from helicopters.

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