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February 26, 2009

The Audacity of Trope

Tax the rich, feed the poor
Till there are no rich no more

Id love to change the world
But I don't know what to do
So Ill leave it up to you

- Ten Years After

In the wee hours of the morning, the blog princess sprang from betwixt the Marital Sheets filled with audacious hope and a steely eyed determination to win the war on cynicism. What a relief! After nearly eight years of fear-mongering, we can be comforted by the knowledge that our true enemy isn't Islamic extremists who have sworn to convert us to a medieval religion at the point of a sword, but those who dare to question the wisdom of our new President. Sadly, however, the Princesses' admirable optimism was far from universal:

Team Obama was winging it when it declared the stimulus would "save or create" 2.5 million, then three million, then 3.7 million, and then four million new jobs. These were arbitrary and erratic numbers, and they knew there's no way to count "saved" jobs. Americans, being commonsensical, will focus on Mr. Obama's promise to "create" jobs. It's highly unlikely that more than 180,000 jobs will be created each month by the end of next year. The precise, state-by-state job numbers the administration used to sell the stimulus are likely to come back to haunt them as well.

How much sharper than a serpent's tooth is the bone chilling cynicism of rank partisans! Who (but a bitter, gun-clinging racist) would dare to subject Obama's soaring rhetoric to the soul crushing scrutiny of logic? Don't these people understand the President's eerily confident audacity of trope? Even an idiot ought to be able to see that Mr. Obama uses numbers in the figurative sense. miracle-cartoon.gif They aren't supposed to actually make sense:

President Obama has laid out the most ambitious and expensive domestic agenda since LBJ, and now all he has to do is figure out how to pay for it. On Tuesday, he left the impression that we need merely end "tax breaks for the wealthiest 2% of Americans," and he promised that households earning less than $250,000 won't see their taxes increased by "one single dime." This is going to be some trick. Even the most basic inspection of the IRS income tax statistics shows that raising taxes on the salaries, dividends and capital gains of those making more than $250,000 can't possibly raise enough revenue to fund Mr. Obama's new spending ambitions.

...A tax policy that confiscated 100% of the taxable income of everyone in America earning over $500,000 in 2006 would only have given Congress an extra $1.3 trillion in revenue. That's less than half the 2006 federal budget of $2.7 trillion and looks tiny compared to the more than $4 trillion Congress will spend in fiscal 2010. Even taking every taxable "dime" of everyone earning more than $75,000 in 2006 would have barely yielded enough to cover that $4 trillion.

Fast forward to this year (and 2010) when the Wall Street meltdown and recession are going to mean far few taxpayers earning more than $500,000.... Raising taxes now will thus yield far less revenue than it would have in 2006.

When even the New York Times starts drinking the corporate water, it's not a good sign:

“To the extent that Mr. Obama has talked about raising taxes, he has focused on households that make at least $250,000 a year. . .But the problem can’t be solved just by taxing the rich. That top 1 percent pays only about one-quarter of federal taxes. Once the recession ends, taxes on the not-so-rich will need to rise, too.”

What cynics like the Times fail to understand is that the President is trying as hard as he can! Doesn't effort count for anything anymore?

...a senior administration official acknowledged yesterday that the budget does not contain $2 trillion in spending cuts over the next decade. Instead, the figure represents Obama's total efforts at deficit reduction, including tax hikes on families making over $250,000 a year. It also includes hundreds of billions of dollars "saved" by not continuing to spend $170 billion a year in Iraq.

...several budget analysts criticized the speech as misleading.

"It's a hollow number," said Sen. Judd Gregg ... "You're not getting savings if you're assuming spending that isn't actually going to occur."

The important thing is not to get caught up in unproductive attempts to make sense of the President's budget numbers. We need to keep our eyes on the ball, the real goal: preventing the criminal transfer of wealth to the already wealthy that occurred under the previous administration:

... households in the lowest quintile of income received roughly $8.21 in federal, state and local government spending for every dollar of taxes paid in 2004, while households in the middle quintile received $1.30, and households in the top quintile received $0.41. Overall, tax payments exceeded government spending received for the top two quintiles of income, resulting in a net fiscal transfer of between $1.031 trillion and $1.527 trillion between quintiles. ...these effects have grown since 1991.


I must say, I'm truly inspired to see this president putting aside the stale, divisive rhetoric of the past and replacing it with a unifying dose of class resentment. If I didn't know how to add, I'd feel better already.

Posted by Cassandra at February 26, 2009 08:07 AM

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Miss Cassandra,

While Ten Years Afters' words are fitting, I think Steppenwolfs' "Power Play" hits it squarely:

What gives you the right - hey you -
To stand there and tell me what to do?
Tell me who gave you the power
To stop me from livin' like I do.
Remember if you plan to stay
Those who give can take away
Don't bite the hand that feeds you

Just one time I'd like to be somewhere where
None of your clever lies fill the air
I'm tired of your frozen smile and your voice of tin
Just might all gang up on you
Turn the knob and do you in

Remember if you plan to stay
Those who give can take away.
Don't bite the hand that feeds you

This never ending power play
'Tween Jealous greed and vicious hate
Is grinding us like giant millstones
But it can't be our only fate
It's time we got our heads together
And let'em know that we're awake

Those in the dark, you know they're no longer blind
They're breakin' from your stranglehold on their minds
Those that can see don't need no one to cross the street
Be careful who you're pushin' round
They just might find you obsolete

Remember if you plan to stay
Those who give can take away.
Don't bite the hand that feeds you

Yep. That says it pretty well for me.....


Posted by: CW4 at February 26, 2009 11:08 PM

American Power tracked-back with, "Class Warfare Denialism."

Posted by: Americaneocon at February 27, 2009 12:07 PM