...the laying of taxes is the power, and the general welfare the purpose for which the power is to be exercised."
Thomas Jefferson.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Record Highs And Lows

Here is a compilation of Bush economists who state that his tax cuts did not increase revenue but reduced it. I don't know why we need to be told that but there it is.

Here you read that "If there's one thing that economists agree on, it's that these claims are false. We're not talking just ivory-tower lefties. Virtually every economics Ph.D. who has worked in a prominent role in the Bush Administration acknowledges that the tax cuts enacted during the past six years have not paid for themselves--and were never intended to. Harvard professor Greg Mankiw, chairman of Bush's Council of Economic Advisers from 2003 to 2005, even devotes a section of his best-selling economics textbook to debunking the claim that tax cuts increase revenues.
The yawning chasm between Republican rhetoric on taxes and even informed conservative opinion is maddening to those of wonkish bent. Pointing it out has become an opinion-column staple. But none of these screeds seem to have altered the political debate. So rather than write yet another, I decided to find out what Arthur Laffer thought.
Laffer is a bona fide economist with a doctorate from Stanford. He's also largely responsible for the Republican belief that tax cuts pay for themselves. Now 67, Laffer runs economic-consulting and money-management firms in Nashville. About the best I could get out of him on the question of whether the Bush tax cuts have paid for themselves was "I don't know." But that's only part of the story.

...In other words, the Bush tax cuts were meant to create big deficits. But Laffer's O.K. with that. "The Laffer Curve should not be the reason you raise or lower taxes," he says. Perhaps not, but it does make for great campaign promises.

Here's a look at the Laffer curve's effect in real life and guess what? in all three categories central to the claim of supply-side proponents, the economy performed significantly better in the wake of tax increases than it did in the wake of major tax cuts.
(Note: All data below have been adjusted to account for inflation.)
Private investment:
After the ‘81 Reagan tax cuts, private nonresidential investment over the next seven years grew at an annual rate of 2.8 percent.
After the ‘93 Clinton tax hike, private investment over the next seven years grew annually at 10.2 percent.
After the 2001 Bush tax cut, private investment grew annually at 2.7 percent.
(Data source: CAP/EPI study, Sept. 2008,, based on Bureau of Economic Analysis data.)
Federal revenue:
From 1981-1993, federal revenue increased by 20.7 percent over 12 years.
From 1993-2001, federal revenue grew by 46.6 percent over 8 years.
From 2001-2009, federal revenue decreased by 13.9 percent. (Even if you don’t include the deep recession year of 2009 — you might say we’re invoking the mercy rule — revenue increased just 3.3 percent over the eight years of Bush’s presidency.
GDP growth
From 1981-1993, real GDP grew by an annual average of 2.97 percent.
From 1993-2001, real GDP grew by an annual average of 3.56 percent.
From 2001-2009, real GDP grew by an annual average of 1.56 percent.
(Source: U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis)
Here we are at a point in our history where we have record shattering deficits, record low rates of taxation and the largest income AND wealth gap in our history, arguably tied with the Great Depression, with ever-rising health care costs that drag the economy down and we have approximately 30% of the population that will not pay heed to any of this. Not Any! Resentment and defense of an old culture is amazingly good at getting people to ignore what's in front of their face. Maybe I'm going to go get the history of job growth for the three presidential terms and add it here later. But you know he didn't hardly create any. 

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Obama’s Uncanny Gift For Mimicry.

This is so interesting, and it's great writing. There is more to the article but it's premium content at The New Republic. I have been steadfast in my determination to NOT pay for site access but I'm beginning to think the day is coming when...
The article is here if you have access or are willing to sign up for a two week free preview.

Nicholas Lemann

It’s worth listening to the audiobook version of Barack Obama’s Dreams From My Fatherbecause not so long ago Obama had both the time and the inclination to spend many hours voicing the recording himself. His regular speaking voice is by now in all our heads, but in the spoken version of the book we also get something that has had to be put away from public display: Obama’s uncanny gift for mimicry. Again and again he will encounter a character and deliver the material that appears within quotation marks on the printed page in the character’s voice. He can do men and women, old and young, foreign accents and street slang.
To pull this off requires not just vocal ability but an intensity of observation of other people—a quality of attention, of absorption—so fierce it’s as if one’s life depended on it. And there is a sense, in the case of Obama, in which his life did depend on it, sociologically and psychologically. He had to imagine his way into the center of American society from a very unusual point on the periphery, to invent an identity for himself that felt comfortable, to find a way to love parents whom one would more naturally resent for having been so often absent. There is no more vivid imitation in the book than the one of his father, whom he barely knew—big, lilting, funny, dominating, elusive. How hard Obama must have strained to drink in every drop of his father’s presence during the rare moments when he had it—but how little effort was required for him to figure out where his father ended and he began.
One of the zillions of differences between Obama and George W. Bush is that it is impossible to imagine Bush inhabiting another person in the way that Obama can. Yes, he prides himself, like many politicians, on his ability to “read people,” as he puts it in his memoir. Yes, he comes up with reasonably apt nicknames. But these are aspects of the exercise of power, not of empathetic understanding. Bush finds ways to extend his force field to encompass other people—but he doesn’t go to them, as Obama, at least when he was young, did. In his second book, The Audacity of Hope, Obama spends a page or two tossing off a perfect little drypoint sketch of Bush, on the basis of a brief encounter at a White House event; whereas in Decision Points, everybody but Bush exists, characterologically, as a figure in the drama of Bush, not as an independent figure under observation. Here’s a brief Bush-Obama encounter (just after the November 2008 election), as rendered by Bush, the opposite of vivid and more about Bush than Obama: “Barack was gracious and confident. It seemed he felt the same sense of wonderment I had eight years earlier when Bill Clinton welcomed me to the Oval Office as president-elect. I could also see the sense of responsibility start to envelop him.”

Sunday, February 6, 2011

“Poor Dear, There’s Nothing Between His Ears.”

“Poor dear, there’s nothing between his ears.”
British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher
“President Reagan doesn’t always check the facts before he makes statements, and the press accepts this as kind of amusing.”
former president Jimmy Carter, March 6, 1984
“His errors glide past unchallenged. At one point…he alleged that almost half the population gets a free meal from the government each day. No one told him he was crazy. The general message of the American press is that, yes, while it is perfectly true that the emperor has no clothes, nudity is actually very acceptable this year.”
Simon Hoggart, in The Observer (London), 1986
“The task of watering the arid desert between Reagan’s ears is a challenging one for his aides.”
Columnist David Broder
“He has the ability to make statements that are so far outside the parameters of logic that they leave you speechless”
Patti Davis (formerly Patricia Ann Reagan) talking about her father, The Way I See It
“If he gets even more sedate, we will have to water him twice a week. ” Molly Ivins, on Reagan
“It’s such a fun admininistration–half of it is under average, and the other half is under indictment”
It’s been said for months now that when we got to the bottom of the Iran-contra mess, we’d find out the president was either a fool or a liar. According to Admiral John Poindexter, he’s both…He could just wear a button that said THE BUCK STOPPED BEFORE IT GOT HERE.”
“If the man had a brain, he’d play with it.”
“The charm of Ronald Reagan is not just that he kept telling us screwy things, it was that he believed them all. No wonder we trusted him, he never lied to us. That patented Reagan ability to believe what he wants to–damn the facts, full speed ahead–gave the entire decade its Alice in Wonderland quality. You just never knew what the president would take into his head next–or what odd things were already lurking in there.”

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Saint Ronnie

10 Things Conservatives Don’t Want You To Know About Ronald Reagan

Tomorrow will mark the 100th anniversary of President Reagan’s birth, and all week, conservatives have been trying to outdo each others’ remembrances of the great conservative icon. Senate Republicans spent much of Thursday singing Reagan’s praise from the Senate floor, while conservative publications have been running non-stop commemorations. Meanwhile the Republican National Committee and former GOP House Speaker Newt Gingrich are hoping to make few bucks off the Gipper’s centennial.
But Reagan was not the man conservatives claim he was. This image of Reagan as a conservative superhero is myth, created to untie the various factions of the right behind a common leader. In reality, Reagan was no conservative ideologue or flawless commander-in-chief. Reagan regularly strayed from conservative dogma — he raised taxes eleven times as president while tripling the deficit — and he often ended up on the wrong side of history, like when he vetoed an Anti-Apartheid bill.
ThinkProgress has compiled a list of the top 10 things conservatives rarely mention when talking about President Reagan:
1. Reagan was a serial tax raiser. As governor of California, Reagan “signed into law the largest tax increase in the history of any state up till then.” Meanwhile, state spending nearly doubled. As president, Reagan “raised taxes in seven of his eight years in office,” including four times in just two years. As former GOP Senator Alan Simpson, who called Reagan “a dear friend,” told NPR, “Ronald Reagan raised taxes 11 times in his administration — I was there.” “Reagan was never afraid to raise taxes,” said historian Douglas Brinkley, who edited Reagan’s memoir. Reagan the anti-tax zealot is “false mythology,” Brinkley said.
2. Reagan nearly tripled the federal budget deficit. During the Reagan years, the debt increased to nearly $3 trillion, “roughly three times as much as the first 80 years of the century had done altogether.” Reagan enacted a major tax cut his first year in office and government revenue dropped off precipitously. Despite the conservative myth that tax cuts somehow increase revenue, the government went deeper into debt and Reagan had to raise taxes just a year after he enacted his tax cut. Despite ten more tax hikes on everything from gasoline to corporate income, Reagan was never able to get the deficit under control.
3. Unemployment soared after Reagan’s 1981 tax cuts. Unemploymentjumped to 10.8 percent after Reagan enacted his much-touted tax cut, and it took years for the rate to get back down to its previous level. Meanwhile,income inequality exploded. Despite the myth that Reagan presided over an era of unmatched economic boom for all Americans, Reagandisproportionately taxed the poor and middle class, but the economic growth of the 1980′s did little help them. “Since 1980, median household income has risen only 30 percent, adjusted for inflation, while average incomes at the top have tripled or quadrupled,” the New York Times’ David Leonhardt noted.
4. Reagan grew the size of the federal government tremendously.Reagan promised “to move boldly, decisively, and quickly to control therunaway growth of federal spending,” but federal spending “ballooned” under Reagan. He bailed out Social Security in 1983 after attempting to privatize it, and set up a progressive taxation system to keep it funded into the future. He promised to cut government agencies like the Department of Energy and Education but ended up adding one of the largest — the Department of Veterans’ Affairs, which today has a budget of nearly $90 billion and close to300,000 employees. He also hiked defense spending by over $100 billion a year to a level not seen since the height of the Vietnam war.
The other 6 things are here at Think Progress  

Conservatives seem to be in such denial about the less flattering aspects of Reagan; it sometimes appears as if they genuinely don’t know the truth of his legacy. Yesterday, when liberal activist Mike Stark challenged hate radio host Rush Limbaugh on why Reagan remains a conservative hero despite raising taxes so many times, Limbaugh flew into a tirade and demanded, “Where did you get this silly notion that Reagan raised taxes?

Civil Wars - Barton Hollow

This is some great music!! Really, really good.