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Bloggingheads 09-20-2011 05:27 PM

Double Couch Edition (Timothy Noah & Rich Lowry)
 

Sulla the Dictator 09-20-2011 05:51 PM

Re: Double Couch Edition (Timothy Noah & Rich Lowry)
 
I admire Tim's enduring optimism......

http://bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/276...8:33&out=34:20

Don Zeko 09-20-2011 06:48 PM

Re: Double Couch Edition (Timothy Noah & Rich Lowry)
 
Rich, Rich, Rich, come on. For one, you admit here that Warren Buffet can afford any tax rate. That's true, but it's also true of the other 400 or so richest Americans that this proposal targets. More seriously, if Warren Buffet does as you suggest, gives away all of his wealth, moves to an expensive place to live and picks up some more family expenses, then gets a job that pays $249,999 a year, Obama increasing the top bracket won't increase Buffet's taxes at all. Not one more red cent will go to Uncle Sam. We're talking about the top marginal rate, meaning it only applies to income above that threshold. So if somebody makes $300,000 (6 times the median income), then the last $50,000 gets taxed at a 3% higher rate, for a total increased tax bill of $1,500. If somebody makes $400,000 (8 times the median income), the additional tax bill will be $4,500.

The editor of a nationally syndicated political news magazine should know the basic mechanics of a progressive income tax, so this argument either displays an embarrassing ignorance of what he gets paid to talk about or some pretty serious mendacity.

graz 09-20-2011 06:55 PM

Re: Double Couch Edition (Timothy Noah & Rich Lowry)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Don Zeko (Post 226323)
The editor of a nationally syndicated political news magazine should know the basic mechanics of a progressive income tax, so this argument either displays an embarrassing ignorance of what he gets paid to talk about or some pretty serious mendacity.

The third option is that it's a feature not a bug. Lies in service of political ends are welcomed by some and ignored by even more. Do you think he'll respond?

Sulla the Dictator 09-20-2011 07:12 PM

Re: Double Couch Edition (Timothy Noah & Rich Lowry)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Don Zeko (Post 226323)
Rich, Rich, Rich, come on. For one, you admit here that Warren Buffet can afford any tax rate. That's true, but it's also true of the other 400 or so richest Americans that this proposal targets. More seriously, if Warren Buffet does as you suggest, gives away all of his wealth, moves to an expensive place to live and picks up some more family expenses, then gets a job that pays $249,999 a year, Obama increasing the top bracket won't increase Buffet's taxes at all. Not one more red cent will go to Uncle Sam. We're talking about the top marginal rate, meaning it only applies to income above that threshold. So if somebody makes $300,000 (6 times the median income), then the last $50,000 gets taxed at a 3% higher rate, for a total increased tax bill of $1,500. If somebody makes $400,000 (8 times the median income), the additional tax bill will be $4,500.

Rich's point was that Buffet would qualify for the top tax bracket as defined by Obama previously, and then have to factor in the cost of living in a manner which reflects his income in a major metropolitan area. Rich is suggesting Buffet wouldn't be so casual with figures at that point, and would hardly consider himself in the same league with "millionaires and billionaires".

I don't see what error you think he made here.

Don Zeko 09-20-2011 07:20 PM

Re: Double Couch Edition (Timothy Noah & Rich Lowry)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Sulla the Dictator (Post 226326)
Rich's point was that Buffet would qualify for the top tax bracket as defined by Obama previously, and then have to factor in the cost of living in a manner which reflects his income in a major metropolitan area. Rich is suggesting Buffet wouldn't be so casual with figures at that point, and would hardly consider himself in the same league with "millionaires and billionaires".

I don't see what error you think he made here.

Here's a quick and dirty transcript of what Rich said. Please correct me if I got any of it down wrong:

Quote:

He should give all his wealth away to a charity. do it now, just get rid of it all. move to Westchester county, move to McClean, Virginia, move to the suburbs of san Fransisco, with his wife, adopt a couple of young kids so he has a young family again, and just make arrangements so he only makes $250,000 every year. letís see how he likes being lumped in with millionaires and billionaires and see how he likes his taxes being increased when he actually has to worry about expenses.
Increasing the top marginal rate means higher taxes on income above $250,000, meaning that someone making $250,000 would not have his taxes increased at all. Zero, zip, nada. Absolutely no increase in taxes whatsoever. If Lowry understands, at a very basic level, how our tax system works he shouldn't make an error like that.

Don Zeko 09-20-2011 07:26 PM

Re: Double Couch Edition (Timothy Noah & Rich Lowry)
 
A weaker version of my complaint would still apply if Lowry had picked $300,000 instead. Again, the top rate applies to income over $250,000, so someone making $300,000 only sees a $1500 increase (.5% of income). Whereas someone making $1,000,000 sees an increase of $22,500 (2.25% of income), and someone making $1,000,000,000 sees an increase of $29,992,500 (2.999% of income). It's a much bigger tax increase, proportionally and in real terms, for those millionaires and billionaires than it is for people that just barely clear the threshold.

Don Zeko 09-20-2011 07:30 PM

Re: Double Couch Edition (Timothy Noah & Rich Lowry)
 
And of course I would go farther than that and say that, while it's obviously a whole different can of worms than a million or a billion, $250,000 a year is still a whole lot of money. In fact, it's five times median income and more money than what 98.5% of American households bring in. One doesn't have to be Kublai Khan in his pleasure dome to count as rich.

miceelf 09-20-2011 07:31 PM

Re: Double Couch Edition (Timothy Noah & Rich Lowry)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Don Zeko (Post 226329)
A weaker version of my complaint would still apply if Lowry had picked $300,000 instead. Again, the top rate applies to income over $250,000, so someone making $300,000 only sees a $1500 increase (.5% of income). Whereas someone making $1,000,000 sees an increase of $22,500 (2.25% of income), and someone making $1,000,000,000 sees an increase of $29,992,500 (2.999% of income). It's a much bigger tax increase, proportionally and in real terms, for those millionaires and billionaires than it is for people that just barely clear the threshold.

Why are so many republican arguments based on the assumption that the listener is bad at math?

Don Zeko 09-20-2011 07:34 PM

Re: Double Couch Edition (Timothy Noah & Rich Lowry)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by miceelf (Post 226331)
Why are so many republican arguments based on the assumption that the listener is bad at math?

Because innumeracy is a pretty common condition, and because honest arguments would account for the reverse class warfare that's been quietly reshaping the economic nature of our country for the past four decades. That, or maybe it's just that Lowry is better at parroting talking points than he is at multiplication.

Starwatcher162536 09-20-2011 07:52 PM

Re: Double Couch Edition (Timothy Noah & Rich Lowry)
 
Ouch! I'm sorry to say that one slipped right by me.

bkjazfan 09-20-2011 08:37 PM

Re: Double Couch Edition (Timothy Noah & Rich Lowry)
 
I think a lot of people have stopped listening to President Obama on his ability to get people back to work. In fact, it's my impression that his administration and the people who want to replace him are equally clueless on how to do it. It appears that economic gimmicks, talking points, and the rest of it are not slowing the national malaise that is occurring due to the fracturing of the middle class, downward mobility, and the massive loss of productive work that has left the country.

chamblee54 09-20-2011 08:48 PM

Re: Double Couch Edition (Timothy Noah & Rich Lowry)
 
An abomination for the Obama nation.
chamblee54

Sulla the Dictator 09-20-2011 08:49 PM

Re: Double Couch Edition (Timothy Noah & Rich Lowry)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Don Zeko (Post 226328)
Here's a quick and dirty transcript of what Rich said. Please correct me if I got any of it down wrong:

Increasing the top marginal rate means higher taxes on income above $250,000, meaning that someone making $250,000 would not have his taxes increased at all. Zero, zip, nada. Absolutely no increase in taxes whatsoever. If Lowry understands, at a very basic level, how our tax system works he shouldn't make an error like that.

Well I think the actual error though is that he cited the bare minimum of the President's preferred top bracket. If he had said $300,000, or $275,000, his point would be taken. I'm certain he wasn't trying to be 'deceptive', he was speaking in the political short hand of the rate's beginning.

Sulla the Dictator 09-20-2011 08:50 PM

Re: Double Couch Edition (Timothy Noah & Rich Lowry)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by miceelf (Post 226331)
Why are so many republican arguments based on the assumption that the listener is bad at math?

You mean like the suggestion that you can make a substantial dent in the deficit with tax increases on the top 2% to Clinton era rates? Oh, that isn't a Republican argument that assumes the reader is bad at math.

Don Zeko 09-20-2011 09:03 PM

Re: Double Couch Edition (Timothy Noah & Rich Lowry)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Sulla the Dictator (Post 226340)
Well I think the actual error though is that he cited the bare minimum of the President's preferred top bracket. If he had said $300,000, or $275,000, his point would be taken. I'm certain he wasn't trying to be 'deceptive', he was speaking in the political short hand of the rate's beginning.

He didn't say $300,000. He said $250,000. And I have no idea why you're so certain of what was going through Lowry's head. Now you might think that he was speaking in some accepted shorthand, but if so that shorthand isn't just some value neutral simplification. It's a misstatement of fact that implies the tax hits farther down the income ladder than it actually does.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Don Zeko (Post 226329)
A weaker version of my complaint would still apply if Lowry had picked $300,000 instead. Again, the top rate applies to income over $250,000, so someone making $300,000 only sees a $1500 increase (.5% of income). Whereas someone making $1,000,000 sees an increase of $22,500 (2.25% of income), and someone making $1,000,000,000 sees an increase of $29,992,500 (2.999% of income). It's a much bigger tax increase, proportionally and in real terms, for those millionaires and billionaires than it is for people that just barely clear the threshold.

If Buffett was making $300,000 he would only be "lumped in with" millionaires in Obama's rhetoric. I think that being publicly labelled rich is a burden that someone making more than 99% of Americans can stomach. The actual change in his tax bill would pale in comparison (both in absolute and relative terms) to the tax increase suffered by the super-rich.

Don Zeko 09-20-2011 09:07 PM

Re: Double Couch Edition (Timothy Noah & Rich Lowry)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Sulla the Dictator (Post 226341)
You mean like the suggestion that you can make a substantial dent in the deficit with tax increases on the top 2% to Clinton era rates? Oh, that isn't a Republican argument that assumes the reader is bad at math.

What do you mean by "substantial?" If you think the deficit is a problem, how is the fact that a policy only partially resolves this important intractable issue a reason not to do it?

chiwhisoxx 09-20-2011 09:21 PM

Re: Double Couch Edition (Timothy Noah & Rich Lowry)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Don Zeko (Post 226344)
What do you mean by "substantial?" If you think the deficit is a problem, how is the fact that a policy only partially resolves this important intractable issue a reason not to do it?

because we have both a limited amount of time and political will to accomplish certain things. you know as well as I do that packages like this tend to entail broad based reform, and not including structural changes to entitlements now wastes precious time and resources. Intransigence will only increase over time, and given that this is a medium term problem, not a long term one, that's a problem. Deals brokered at the nadir of a crisis tend to be bad legislation. (here, i'll throw you a bi-partisan bone as an example: the patriot act) You might be thinking "none of this would be a problem if our stupid political system could walk and chew gum at the same time!" And you'd be right. But it can't. anyway, there are arguments independent of the deficit to make against the tax increase that I may or may not agree with (still reading and thinking!) but I won't make them here.

Sulla the Dictator 09-20-2011 09:25 PM

Re: Double Couch Edition (Timothy Noah & Rich Lowry)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Don Zeko (Post 226343)
He didn't say $300,000. He said $250,000. And I have no idea why you're so certain of what was going through Lowry's head. Now you might think that he was speaking in some accepted shorthand, but if so that shorthand isn't just some value neutral simplification. It's a misstatement of fact that implies the tax hits farther down the income ladder than it actually does.

I'm certain because I read Lowry in National Review, where these issues are regularly discussed. If the President doesn't intend for $250,000 to mean anything, he shouldn't use the figure. Lowry's error is using the shorthand of the debate; we all know we're talking about progressive tax rates above $250,000. Indeed, Lowry might not even be mis-stating the case if the wife Buffet would have in this example didn't have a job.

Quote:

If Buffett was making $300,000 he would only be "lumped in with" millionaires in Obama's rhetoric. I think that being publicly labelled rich is a burden that someone making more than 99% of Americans can stomach. The actual change in his tax bill would pale in comparison (both in absolute and relative terms) to the tax increase suffered by the super-rich.
You'll note that Lowry was making a specific point about where you live, and how many dependents you have. Manhattan is an expensive place to live, with a median income of $90,000, or San Francisco with a similar median income, or the Washington-Arlington area with almost $100,000. Those incomes are meant to reflect the costs of housing, goods and services. Then add your child care and work expenses. Out of what is left, there are current state, local, and federal taxes. I happen to know for a fact that property taxes in San Francisco, for example are incredibly high. People can pay their mortgage in Las Vegas for what San Francisco exacts from its citizens every year. So no, if you live in places like that, $300,000 isn't the same kind of money as it is elsewhere. Not even close. I would say that making $300,000 a year in New York is probably more like making $100,000 here in Vegas.

Sulla the Dictator 09-20-2011 09:27 PM

Re: Double Couch Edition (Timothy Noah & Rich Lowry)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Don Zeko (Post 226344)
What do you mean by "substantial?" If you think the deficit is a problem, how is the fact that a policy only partially resolves this important intractable issue a reason not to do it?

By substantial, I mean more than the foreign aid budget. If you recall cutting that budget was painted by the left as a sign of unseriousness because of the paucity of the program.

Don Zeko 09-20-2011 09:46 PM

Re: Double Couch Edition (Timothy Noah & Rich Lowry)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Sulla the Dictator (Post 226347)
If the President doesn't intend for $250,000 to mean anything, he shouldn't use the figure.

Of course he intends for it to mean something. He almost always uses it in the context of promising not to raise taxes for people making $250,000 or less. But even if Obama had been playing fast and loose with his terminology to imply that he's going to raise more people's taxes than he actually is (By the way, why on earth would a politician do that?), it doesn't change whether or not Lowry correctly describes the impact of Obama's proposed policies.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Sulla the Dictator (Post 226347)
Lowry's error is using the shorthand of the debate; we all know we're talking about progressive tax rates above $250,000. Indeed, Lowry might not even be mis-stating the case if the wife Buffet would have in this example didn't have a job.

We all know this? Then why did Lowry pick $250,000 in his example? if we all knew this, then we would all know that someone making $250,000 wouldn't pay higher taxes. And if we wanted to make accurate arguments, we wouldn't use "the shorthand of the debate" to talk about people making $250,000 paying more, we'd talk about people making more than $250,000 paying more. And please, don't throw that weak shit about Buffet's wife into the equation. Did it sound to you like he was trying to make a point about a couple who files jointly with $500,000 in income?

Quote:

Originally Posted by Sulla the Dictator (Post 226347)
You'll note that Lowry was making a specific point about where you live, and how many dependents you have. Manhattan is an expensive place to live, with a median income of $90,000, or San Francisco with a similar median income, or the Washington-Arlington area with almost $100,000. Those incomes are meant to reflect the costs of housing, goods and services. Then add your child care and work expenses. Out of what is left, there are current state, local, and federal taxes. I happen to know for a fact that property taxes in San Francisco, for example are incredibly high. People can pay their mortgage in Las Vegas for what San Francisco exacts from its citizens every year. So no, if you live in places like that, $300,000 isn't the same kind of money as it is elsewhere. Not even close. I would say that making $300,000 a year in New York is probably more like making $100,000 here in Vegas.

There's a lot of wrong stuff going on here. I'll start with point A)

Quote:

Originally Posted by Sulla the Dictator (Post 226347)
I would say that making $300,000 a year in New York is probably more like making $100,000 here in Vegas.

You would say that, but would an economist agree with you? Cost of living is higher in these places, but I doubt that everything is double or triple what it costs in the rest of country.

B)You know why rent is high in Manhattan, McClean, and the San Fransisco suburbs? Because people want to live there! It is, in fact, a big positive good to live in these places, which is why people are willing to pay so much to do so. The fact that somebody lives in a nice place with lots of options for food and entertainment, good schools, and good job prospects isn't just something that happens, it's something extremely valuable that they are paying for. You can't just wave a magic wand and pretend that that money wasn't earned and spent.

C)Even if I grant your first two points, you are now complaining about raising the top marginal tax rate because it would increase the tax bill of a person making triple the median income in an affluent community by half of a percentage point.

Don Zeko 09-20-2011 10:01 PM

Re: Double Couch Edition (Timothy Noah & Rich Lowry)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Sulla the Dictator (Post 226348)
By substantial, I mean more than the foreign aid budget. If you recall cutting that budget was painted by the left as a sign of unseriousness because of the paucity of the program.

Repealing the Bush tax cuts for incomes over $250,000 gets you about $40 billion a year. Because it's broken up among a few different budgetary line items, finding the total foreign aid budget number is actually a bit of a pain, but it's approximately .5% of the budget in a source referring to the 2010 budget, which comes out to $10.4 billion.

Don Zeko 09-20-2011 10:02 PM

Re: Double Couch Edition (Timothy Noah & Rich Lowry)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by chiwhisoxx (Post 226346)
because we have both a limited amount of time and political will to accomplish certain things. you know as well as I do that packages like this tend to entail broad based reform, and not including structural changes to entitlements now wastes precious time and resources. Intransigence will only increase over time, and given that this is a medium term problem, not a long term one, that's a problem. Deals brokered at the nadir of a crisis tend to be bad legislation. (here, i'll throw you a bi-partisan bone as an example: the patriot act) You might be thinking "none of this would be a problem if our stupid political system could walk and chew gum at the same time!" And you'd be right. But it can't. anyway, there are arguments independent of the deficit to make against the tax increase that I may or may not agree with (still reading and thinking!) but I won't make them here.

Doesn't Obama just have to use a veto threat to get these taxes raised?

Don Zeko 09-20-2011 10:07 PM

Re: Double Couch Edition (Timothy Noah & Rich Lowry)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Sulla the Dictator (Post 226348)
By substantial, I mean more than the foreign aid budget. If you recall cutting that budget was painted by the left as a sign of unseriousness because of the paucity of the program.

While you're wrong on this one, I don't dispute that raising taxes to Clinton levels for incomes above $250,000 isn't enough. That's why I think we should repeal all of the Bush tax cuts. But this has nothing to do with whether or not Lowry ought to have known better, whether he was accurately describing Obama's policy, whether or not it would be reasonable to expect the rich to pay slightly higher income tax rates, and basically everything else we've been talking about. The fact that raising the taxes oft he super-rich doesn't completely eliminate the deficit certainly isn't a reason not to do it.

As far as I can tell the only real argument going around for that is the unspoken one: that people, most of them themselves rich, don't want to raise taxes on the rich because then they would have less money, and they like having money. In fact, they like having tons of money even more than they like having a balanced federal budget or adequate social programs.

Don Zeko 09-20-2011 10:15 PM

Re: Double Couch Edition (Timothy Noah & Rich Lowry)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Sulla the Dictator (Post 226340)
Well I think the actual error though is that he cited the bare minimum of the President's preferred top bracket. If he had said $300,000, or $275,000, his point would be taken. I'm certain he wasn't trying to be 'deceptive', he was speaking in the political short hand of the rate's beginning.

Shoot, I went and overlooked the most important part. Of course he cited the bare minimum. That was the whole point. He was trying to argue that raising the top tax bracket would cause real economic pain to people that aren't the super-rich. If you have to stipulate $400,000 in income instead of $250,000 in income to make the tax numbers work, then that argument is much, much weaker. After all, that $150,000 gap is triple the median income. People making almost half a million dollars every year are rich, and the average listener is well aware of that.

whburgess 09-20-2011 10:23 PM

Re: Double Couch Edition (Timothy Noah & Rich Lowry)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Don Zeko (Post 226353)

As far as I can tell the only real argument going around for that is the unspoken one: that people, most of them themselves rich, don't want to raise taxes on the rich because then they would have less money, and they like having money. In fact, they like having tons of money even more than they like having a balanced federal budget or adequate social programs.

I think the more important argument is the ideological one that there is an inverse correlation between economic growth and government expenditures as a percentage of GDP. This seems to be born out by the actual data of countries around the world. Government expenditures here. and growth rates here.

This, oddly enough, is exactly what Republicans say their motives are; they think more government expenditure equal less economic growth.

Sulla the Dictator 09-20-2011 10:24 PM

Re: Double Couch Edition (Timothy Noah & Rich Lowry)
 
[QUOTE=Don Zeko;226350
We all know this? Then why did Lowry pick $250,000 in his example?
[/quote]

Because he mistakenly used the shorthand with which this tax issue is discussed with a proper income to apply it.

Quote:

if we all knew this, then we would all know that someone making $250,000 wouldn't pay higher taxes. And if we wanted to make accurate arguments, we wouldn't use "the shorthand of the debate" to talk about people making $250,000 paying more, we'd talk about people making more than $250,000 paying more. And please, don't throw that weak shit about Buffet's wife into the equation. Did it sound to you like he was trying to make a point about a couple who files jointly with $500,000 in income?
His wife wouldn't need to make $250,000. She could make $40,000, and the household would pay the higher rate.


Quote:

There's a lot of wrong stuff going on here. I'll start with point A)



You would say that, but would an economist agree with you? Cost of living is higher in these places, but I doubt that everything is double or triple what it costs in the rest of country.
Well you might be surprised. There are plenty of places with tools to calculate this, but for the sake of shared sources, I used CNN, and used the last median income I remembered for Las Vegas, which was $48,000

Comparable salary in
New York (Manhattan), NY
$102,035

If you move from Las Vegas, NV to New York (Manhattan), NY....

Groceries will cost:
44% more

Housing will cost:
311% more

Utilities will cost:
74% more

Transportation will cost:
15% more

Healthcare will cost:
19% more



http://cgi.money.cnn.com/tools/costo...tofliving.html

Now, throw in local and state taxes (Which we don't have here, just a sales tax), and you see my point.

Quote:

B)You know why rent is high in Manhattan, McClean, and the San Fransisco suburbs? Because people want to live there!
Sort of. Its because the very wealthy want to live there, along with their hangers on. Also, in the case of San Francisco, there are actual physical limitations to building in the actual city, so space is at a premium. Status drives these prices.

Quote:

It is, in fact, a big positive good to live in these places, which is why people are willing to pay so much to do so. The fact that somebody lives in a nice place with lots of options for food and entertainment, good schools, and good job prospects isn't just something that happens, it's something extremely valuable that they are paying for. You can't just wave a magic wand and pretend that that money wasn't earned and spent.
Don't really see what you're trying to say here. No one denies people want to live in New York or San Francisco; they're fun towns. The point is that there is a high density of this bracket we're talking about living there, and for the incomes we're specifically discussing, these people aren't "rich" in the way the figure is meant to convey to people living in more affordable locales.

Quote:

C)Even if I grant your first two points, you are now complaining about raising the top marginal tax rate because it would increase the tax bill of a person making triple the median income in an affluent community by half of a percentage point.
Actually I object because I doubt it would stop there. He's making triple the median income but also paying a higher federal tax, a higher state income tax, and probably a draconian property tax. And to give you an idea of draconian, Westchester County, New York charges a median $8,300 in property taxes. My aunt lives in San Francisco proper, and pays about $7,500.

Don Zeko 09-20-2011 10:29 PM

Re: Double Couch Edition (Timothy Noah & Rich Lowry)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by whburgess (Post 226355)
I think the more important argument is the ideological one that there is an inverse correlation between economic growth and government expenditures as a percentage of GDP. This seems to be born out by the actual data of countries around the world. Government expenditures here. and growth rates here.

Correlation =/= causation, particularly with a problem like this, where you have all sorts of countries like China that don't have welfare states and are experiencing rapid catch-up growth as they industrialize. I don't think that the evidence is strong at all for the contention that slight increases in taxes will have significant negative effects on economic growth. There are all sorts of ways to support this, but I'm feeling lazy so I'll go with the easy one. What about the 90's? How is it that we had a prosperous decade under these slightly higher tax rates, but the Bush economy sucked even before the recession hit?

Quote:

Originally Posted by whburgess (Post 226355)
This, oddly enough, is exactly what Republicans say their motives are; they think more government expenditure equal less economic growth.

Of course that's what they say their motives are. I'm sure that in many cases that's an accurate account. But you're being seriously naive if you don't think selfishness is a huge part of how our political system manages not to take the incredibly popular step of raising taxes on the rich over and over and over again.

Don Zeko 09-20-2011 10:37 PM

Re: Double Couch Edition (Timothy Noah & Rich Lowry)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Sulla the Dictator (Post 226356)
Because he mistakenly used the shorthand with which this tax issue is discussed with a proper income to apply it.
His wife wouldn't need to make $250,000. She could make $40,000, and the household would pay the higher rate.

That's true, she would pay the higher rate...on the $40,000. A whopping 3% higher. So we're talking about a tax increase of $1200. And again, I don't see any basis in what Lowry said to think that he had this in mind. You're arguing that he wouldn't have been wrong if he had said something different, but he didn't, and he was wrong.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Sulla the Dictator (Post 226356)
Don't really see what you're trying to say here. No one denies people want to live in New York or San Francisco; they're fun towns. The point is that there is a high density of this bracket we're talking about living there, and for the incomes we're specifically discussing, these people aren't "rich" in the way the figure is meant to convey to people living in more affordable locales.

What I'm saying is that living in a highly desirable place like that is something that you can do with your money if you make a lot. So in essence you're saying that people making a ton of money aren't rich, because they spend it on something valuable and therefore can't spend it on other valuable things. If you can't afford to live in some fabulously expensive place, then do what the other 99% of the country does and live somewhere cheaper! The existence of high rents in Manhattan doesn't make people in the top 1% of the income ladder non-rich, nor does it entitle them to pay lower taxes than they otherwise would. This is like saying that $400,000 really isn't that much because the car payment on your Bentley is so high.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Sulla the Dictator (Post 226356)
Actually I object because I doubt it would stop there. He's making triple the median income but also paying a higher federal tax, a higher state income tax, and probably a draconian property tax. And to give you an idea of draconian, Westchester County, New York charges a median $8,300 in property taxes. My aunt lives in San Francisco proper, and pays about $7,500.

What does this have to do with anything that we're talking about? Anyway, I feel like this has gone on for a while and that we're wandering pretty far afield from the initial disagreement. I'm going to call it quits and let you have the last word. Ta ta for now.

whburgess 09-20-2011 11:02 PM

Re: Double Couch Edition (Timothy Noah & Rich Lowry)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Don Zeko (Post 226357)
Correlation =/= causation, particularly with a problem like this, where you have all sorts of countries like China that don't have welfare states and are experiencing rapid catch-up growth as they industrialize. I don't think that the evidence is strong at all for the contention that slight increases in taxes will have significant negative effects on economic growth. There are all sorts of ways to support this, but I'm feeling lazy so I'll go with the easy one. What about the 90's? How is it that we had a prosperous decade under these slightly higher tax rates, but the Bush economy sucked even before the recession hit?

Government spending as a percentage of GDP trended inversely with the booming 90's economy.

I don't think Republican seriously believe that a small tax hike on income effects the economy either way. What they believe is that government expenditures does this and that tax increases lead to more government spending. I don't think its so much that they're afraid the Obama proposal, taken alone, will do that much damage as they believe that its a step in the wrong direction, which makes the next step, and following steps increasingly easier.

As with alcoholics and other addicts, that first little hit wouldn't be a problem if it didn't always make the next one so damn easy.

This disagreement represents just one battle in a longer ideological war. The Republicans, at this point, feel that however little ground is gained or lost in this battle, it is worth fighting. Team Obama has decided its better to pick a fight then give ground on this as well. Neither side thinks a win or loss here effects anything other then political position. That's my opinion.


Quote:

Of course that's what they say their motives are. I'm sure that in many cases that's an accurate account. But you're being seriously naive if you don't think selfishness is a huge part of how our political system manages not to take the incredibly popular step of raising taxes on the rich over and over and over again.
Call me naive. I think if most Americans in the higher tax brackets who truly understand how Obama's proposal affected them, if they thought the tax increases would actually improve things rather then make them worse, would be for it.

eeeeeeeli 09-20-2011 11:17 PM

Re: Double Couch Edition (Timothy Noah & Rich Lowry)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Don Zeko (Post 226357)
Of course that's what they say their motives are. I'm sure that in many cases that's an accurate account. But you're being seriously naive if you don't think selfishness is a huge part of how our political system manages not to take the incredibly popular step of raising taxes on the rich over and over and over again.

I think its hard to separate though. To conservatives, "selfishness" is a feature not a bug. That is, wasting money on government spending doesn't feel selfish. In fact, by not spending the money, you're allowing it to be put to more productive uses.

To a liberal, this seems crazy. Not only does government do plenty of good, but it's a dangerous game to play - finding excuses not to pay your dues.

Bottom line is there is a fundamental disagreement over what government should spend on. As a redistributive institution, small-government arguments will always look selfish, big-government arguments will look wasteful.

It makes sense that rhetoric from the right will be about waste and spending, while the left will talk about selfishness and greed.

Don Zeko 09-20-2011 11:21 PM

Re: Double Couch Edition (Timothy Noah & Rich Lowry)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by whburgess (Post 226359)
Government spending as a percentage of GDP trended inversely with the booming 90's economy.

Of course it does, but the causation runs the other way. Good economy = more jobs and less poverty, so Medicaid, Welfare, and so forth all spend less.

Quote:

Originally Posted by whburgess (Post 226359)
I don't think Republican seriously believe that a small tax hike on income effects the economy either way.

If that's true, I wish you could get them to stop claiming that they it does.

Quote:

Originally Posted by whburgess (Post 226359)
What they believe is that government expenditures does this and that tax increases lead to more government spending. I don't think its so much that they're afraid the Obama proposal, taken alone, will do that much damage as they believe that its a step in the wrong direction, which makes the next step, and following steps increasingly easier.

As with alcoholics and other addicts, that first little hit wouldn't be a problem if it didn't always make the next one so damn easy.

This disagreement represents just one battle in a longer ideological war. The Republicans, at this point, feel that however little ground is gained or lost in this battle, it is worth fighting. Team Obama has decided its better to pick a fight then give ground on this as well. Neither side thinks a win or loss here effects anything other then political position. That's my opinion.

There's a lot of truth to this as an account of conservative thinking. But then, I think this reflects quite poorly on Conservatives. You admit that their larger ideological project of low services and low taxes is more important than public policy problems like the deficit that they profess to care about. Beyond that, you're suggesting that spending money on things like Medicare or Social Security is a harmful addiction, akin to drug or alcohol abuse. Thinking that is your right, of course, but I think that reflects a pretty twisted moral calculus that isn't shared by the vast majority of the country.

Quote:

Originally Posted by whburgess (Post 226359)
Call me naive. I think if most Americans in the higher tax brackets who truly understand how Obama's proposal affected them, if they thought the tax increases would actually improve things rather then make them worse, would be for it.

Upton Sinclair had this one to rights. It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it. The attractiveness of conservative anti-tax ideology to the wealthy and privileged is no coincidence. That isn't to say that selfishness is the only, or even the most important reason to be drawn to such beliefs. But it's absolutely a part of it, just as the smug sense of moral superiority is part of the appeal of Liberalism ;)

rcocean 09-20-2011 11:26 PM

Rove is the Defacto Leader of the Republican party?!
 
Good Grief Tim, I'm surprised Rich didn't burst out laughing. I always wonder how liberals - who think they're political experts - get these odd ideas.

Here's a clue. Rove was a key player is Bush's disastrous 2nd Term, pushing Amnesty, SS 'reform', and our endless war policies. After Bush left with historically low ratings, Rove's spent the last 3 years, sniping at Palin and every other Republican POTUS candidate.

Most Republicans were tired of him in 2006 and wish he'd go away and shut up. Even those who like him, know he's a Bush partisan & working behind the scenes to put another Bush in the White House.

Rove is like Tom Ridge, except for a few elite Republicans and liberal reporters, no one gives a damn about them.

Don Zeko 09-20-2011 11:28 PM

Re: Rove is the Defacto Leader of the Republican party?!
 
So he's your Mark Penn, only more so?

bramble 09-20-2011 11:52 PM

Re: Double Couch Edition (Timothy Noah & Rich Lowry)
 
Quote:

One doesn't have to be Kublai Khan in his pleasure dome to count as rich.
That's basically what I was thinking. Having to economize a bit whilst earning $250,000+ a year and whilst living a leafy Bay Area suburb is not exactly a champagne problem, but neither is it an episode of the Waltons.

rcocean 09-21-2011 12:07 AM

Re: Double Couch Edition (Timothy Noah & Rich Lowry)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by whburgess (Post 226359)
Government spending as a percentage of GDP trended inversely with the booming 90's economy.

Correct, because the spending stayed the same while GDP increased. It not direct cause and effect, unless you believe the increase in Govt spending from 20% of GDP in 1940 to 35% in the mid 80s was responsible for the greatest boom in American history.

Bottom line: we're can't keep running deficits. We borrowing huge sums and getting away with it because we're have negative real interest rates. If the T-Bill rate 10 year goes back to 3-4 percent our interest payments will double!

bjkeefe 09-21-2011 12:14 AM

Re: Double Couch Edition (Timothy Noah & Rich Lowry)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Don Zeko (Post 226323)
Rich, Rich, Rich, come on. For one, you admit ... [...]

The editor of a nationally syndicated political news magazine should know the basic mechanics of a progressive income tax, so this argument either displays an embarrassing ignorance of what he gets paid to talk about or some pretty serious mendacity.

It's rather more embarrassing that someone of your intellectual caliber is still unable to recognize Rich Lowry for what he is.

Oh, wait You were being sardonic? My bad.

In my own defense: yet another invitation to Lowry = the death of irony.

whburgess 09-21-2011 12:15 AM

Re: Double Couch Edition (Timothy Noah & Rich Lowry)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Don Zeko (Post 226362)
Of course it does, but the causation runs the other way. Good economy = more jobs and less poverty, so Medicaid, Welfare, and so forth all spend less.

I think a likelier explanation is that more money in the market rather then the Government creates economic growth. This is based on a belief that a lot of people each directing their money according to their own demands are better at directing money to where it is most economical rather then bureaucrats in DC.

Quote:

If that's true, I wish you could get them to stop claiming that they it does.
As soon as you stop the Obama and the Democrats from claiming that the tax hikes will be significant in reducing the deficit. Of course, you can't do that because politics isn't, and never will be, about telling the whole truth. No one can win telling the truth in politics.

Quote:

There's a lot of truth to this as an account of conservative thinking. But then, I think this reflects quite poorly on Conservatives. You admit that their larger ideological project of low services and low taxes is more important than public policy problems like the deficit that they profess to care about.
I think that is the case, yes. But, in politics, as with any sales job, you sell the people the features they like most. Dems do it too, of course. You know that.

Quote:

Beyond that, you're suggesting that spending money on things like Medicare or Social Security is a harmful addiction, akin to drug or alcohol abuse. Thinking that is your right, of course, but I think that reflects a pretty twisted moral calculus that isn't shared by the vast majority of the country.
Is the morality of a calculus determined by the percentage of people who share it?

bjkeefe 09-21-2011 12:19 AM

Re: Double Couch Edition (Timothy Noah & Rich Lowry)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by miceelf (Post 226331)
Why are so many republican arguments based on the assumption that the listener is bad at math?

Know any better way to characterize the base conservative in these United States?

(Well, okay ... anti-science, racist, xenophobic, homophobic, and drooly would all work equally well, But you take my point.)

Don Zeko 09-21-2011 12:40 AM

Re: Double Couch Edition (Timothy Noah & Rich Lowry)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by bjkeefe (Post 226369)
It's rather more embarrassing that someone of your intellectual caliber is still unable to recognize Rich Lowry for what he is.

Oh, wait You were being sardonic? My bad.

In my own defense: yet another invitation to Lowry = the death of irony.

Yeah, I'm trying to internalize TNC's Grant approach, although not particularly successfully. You don't have to say that he's a hack to show that he's a hack.


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