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Tilting at Windmills

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December 7, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

THE GREAT AMT DEBATE....Over at The Corner, David Freddoso writes:

The Senate voted last night, 88-5 , to pass a clean one-year Alternative Minimum Tax patch without a tax increase. I am not going to hold my breath until Kevin Drum and Matthew Yglesias admit that they were completely wrong about the AMT debate, but this proves it. The fact that 88 senators (and all Republicans present) just voted for a "clean" patch, the very second it was offered, is more proof that Democrats have been bottling it up all along with demands that it include tax increase.

This is a very peculiar claim of vindication. The backstory here is that in late November Democrats learned that unless an AMT patch was passed quickly, the IRS wouldn't have time to reprogram its computers and lots of people would miss getting their refunds on time. So they fast tracked the patch, but Republicans in the Senate held it up unless they were allowed floor votes on some amendments that would have added additional tax cuts to the AMT tax cut. This, of course, was crazy, and the fast tracked bill failed because of it.

Now, more generally, the issue has always been that Democrats want to keep the whole bill revenue neutral: patching AMT will cost revenue, and Democrats want to raise taxes somewhere else to make up for it. Republicans have flatly refused. Not only will the GOP not support tax increases under any circumstances these days, but the AMT debate has made it clear that they won't even support revenue neutral tax legislation any more. It's a tax cut or nothing.

So what happened? Answer: Republicans held their breath until their faces turned blue and ended up getting their way. Dems couldn't find 60 votes to pass a revenue neutral AMT patch, so left with no other choice Harry Reid gave in and agreed to introduce a clean bill. When he did so, naturally it passed. What else would you expect to happen? The only alternative was not passing an AMT patch at all.

How this makes me "completely wrong" is a bit of a mystery, but I guess I'll let David explain further over at his place. It looks to me like Democrats tried to do the fiscally responsible thing, but Republicans blocked it first with a cynical hold and later with a filibuster threat, and it worked. This doesn't seem like a great day for the Republic to me, but I guess others will disagree. And they had the votes to make it stick.

Kevin Drum 11:39 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (53)

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Comments

Ah yes, PayGo out the window, 'cause the Republicans played the spin game better. Huzzah for more debt!

Posted by: Gore/Edwards 08 on December 7, 2007 at 11:42 AM | PERMALINK

But as tax rates asymptotically approach zero, government revenues will asymptotically approach infinity, which will enable us to retire the entire national debt!

Here, look at this napkin.....

Posted by: Davis X. Machina on December 7, 2007 at 11:50 AM | PERMALINK

Does no one on the Republican side care about the fiscal irresponsibility? Do they ever worry about paying debts as they go? Because "just put it on my tab" hasn't worked at my household.

More adults please.

Posted by: ckelly on December 7, 2007 at 12:00 PM | PERMALINK

Ah, Kevin.

I think you owe David an aplogy.

The fact of the matter is that the Dems were trying to use scare tactics to push through their tax and spend agenda, just like globle warming is a scare tactiv. It was Republicans who were being the economically competent ones here as the defenders of our capitalist way of like.

Posted by: egbert on December 7, 2007 at 12:00 PM | PERMALINK

egbert demonstrates to us how kevin is "completely wrong." all you have to do is be an idiot, and you can be convinced of anything, like up is down.

Posted by: howard on December 7, 2007 at 12:03 PM | PERMALINK

What howard and Davis X said.

Posted by: Gore/Edwards 08 on December 7, 2007 at 12:03 PM | PERMALINK

Too bad the Democrats didn't do something like...we'll let the Musakey nomination come to the floor if the Repubs agree to a revenue-neutral AMT fix. But that would take, well, an actual spine or something. Not in the Democrats' DNA.

Posted by: Larry on December 7, 2007 at 12:06 PM | PERMALINK

How this makes me "completely wrong" is a bit of a mystery

Maybe you should read David Freddoso more carefully? As Freddoso explains, he exposed your faulty liberal logic that in order for the AMT to be patched, we needed to increase taxes also. You and Ygleisias were wrong, and now you refuse to admit it.

"The Senate-passed bill did not include the $80 billion tax increase (over ten years) that House Democrats had earlier insisted was absolutely necessary in order to patch the AMT . According to Rangel's logic, it is impossible to give tax relief to overcharged AMT taxpayers, unless we overcharge them with a different tax to make up for it."

Posted by: Al on December 7, 2007 at 12:09 PM | PERMALINK

Remind me to never go out to lunch with a Republican. The good will order two drinks and a dessert and then split the check in half, the average ones ones will say they're a little short but they'll "get the next one", and the bad ones will steal the waitress' tip.

Posted by: Jim 7 on December 7, 2007 at 12:11 PM | PERMALINK

Al,

I think you're wrong. I think the issue is that patching the AMT reduced revenue and thus increased the national debt?

The Democrats favor a balanced budget; while the Republicans don't care about the budget, they just refuse to raise taxes, no matter what the consquence.

I say this as someone who is registered Republican.

Posted by: Justin on December 7, 2007 at 12:15 PM | PERMALINK

It looks like the Democrats have just decided that they will wait until they get the presidency and larger majorities to fix everything. What a bunch of spineless wimps. Stand up for once!! If the public knew the story here, they would for sure back the Democratic position.

Posted by: Cols714 on December 7, 2007 at 12:20 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin calls the proposed tax increase (to offset the AMT decrease) "fiscally responsible." It's like the old joke about the merchant who advertised "popular prices." When a customer complained that these so-called "popular prices" were actually very high, the merchant responded, "Well, we like them."

The Democratic proposal was fiscally responsible from the POV of the tax collector, but not from the POV of the tax-payer. The Dems wanted to increase taxes on millions of citizens. They had no idea of whether these people could afford the increase.

Posted by: ex-liberal on December 7, 2007 at 12:23 PM | PERMALINK

http://www.treasurydirect.gov/NP/BPDLogin?application=np

Total Public Debt Outstanding:
1/20/2001: 5,727,776,738,304.64
Today: 9,163,376,546,475.03

Replicans are good stewards of tax payer money? Bwaa Ha ha ha ha ha.

Posted by: RobertSeattle on December 7, 2007 at 12:25 PM | PERMALINK

Here should have been the Democratic spin:

By cutting revenues, the GOP won't support the troops.

Al, stuff that in your pipe, or your cornhole, and smoke it.

Posted by: SocraticGadfly on December 7, 2007 at 12:32 PM | PERMALINK

I'm waiting for someone to start earnestly explaining to Davis X. Machina why reduced taxes really don't produce increased revenues.

egbert: our capitalist way of like.

One of your best malapropisms yet.

ex-liberal: Good work from you, too! Not a word on how you're planning on paying for this or anything else your guys charged over the past seven years! Spoken like the albatross around your grandchildren's necks that you are, friend!

Posted by: shortstop on December 7, 2007 at 12:32 PM | PERMALINK

Wouldn't a fiscally responsible, revenue-neutral approach have been to leave the AMT alone, if the Republicans would not agree to a different way to offset the lost revenue?

Posted by: Longtime Listener on December 7, 2007 at 12:32 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, so the responsible thing was to collect the same revenue as would result from the AMT being applied to the middle classes? When the intent of Congress was that the AMT would prevent very high income people from avoiding all taxes?

Do you also favor applying the death penalty to people who haven't committed capital crimes, if definitional inflation had pushed misdemeanors into the felony category and felonies into capital crimes?

Yes, by all means, let's do the responsible thing and execute an equivalent number of people!

Posted by: Dan on December 7, 2007 at 12:35 PM | PERMALINK

Show me one issue on which the Senate Dems have not caved.
I don 't understand what there is to blog about when the outcome of every legislative issue is always the same.
One may paraphrase what was said about soccer (11 players play vs 11 other players and at the end Germany wins): The Senate debate and debate and
at the end the Republicans win no matter what.

Posted by: Yoni on December 7, 2007 at 12:36 PM | PERMALINK

It's been pointed out above, but Democrats are idiots on this issue (that includes you Drum). The reason people hate the AMT is because it is including far more people that it was intended too. More and more people are being denied deductions they would otherwise rightfully receive. The idea that this "lost" revenue should somehow be made up for with revenue from other sources is ridiculous. When you return an item to the store that you were overcharged for, does the person behind the counter say, "You can have your money back but only if you buy something else of equal value"?

Posted by: Homer on December 7, 2007 at 12:57 PM | PERMALINK

So, Dan, you're saying that death and taxes are not just equally inevitable, but equally equal?

You wacky Republicans.

Posted by: Bob on December 7, 2007 at 12:59 PM | PERMALINK

Dems couldn't find 60 votes to pass a revenue neutral AMT patch, so left with no other choice Harry Reid gave in and agreed to introduce a clean bill.

I believe that should read, "no other choice but to force the GOP to filibuster." But I guess that would be a tremendous breach of Senate etiquette.

Posted by: low-tech cyclist on December 7, 2007 at 1:08 PM | PERMALINK

To focus on the ATM in isolation and argue that since it wasn't intended to impact the middle class, we don't need to worry about offsetting the revenue loss is to be deliberately obtuse. Regardless of the purpose of the ATM back in 1969, today we have large budget deficits and "fixing" the ATM will be very costly. Long-term budget projections from the Administration have conveniently excluded any fix for the ATM even while assuming the Bush tax cuts are made permanent, implicitly using the revenue from the ATM to make themselves look fiscally responsible.

The offsetting tax increases the Dems wanted were on hedge fund managers and the like. I'm sure those folks can afford it.

Posted by: tmt on December 7, 2007 at 1:12 PM | PERMALINK

So the Republicans go to the mat to defend the right of billionaire hedge fund owners to pay a tax rate half of what you and I pay. Why do the Republicans hate the middle class?

Posted by: fafner1 on December 7, 2007 at 1:38 PM | PERMALINK

The AMT was originally intended to apply to high-income individuals. When its effect spread to middle-income, it is reasonable to fix it by coming up with alternatives (offsets) that apply to high-income individuals, as originally intended. These are not new taxes. They constitute a restructuring of an existing tax, keeping its original intent.

The House has indicated that it will not go with an AMT that has no offsets. This is not the end of the story.

Posted by: JS on December 7, 2007 at 1:39 PM | PERMALINK

"but the AMT debate has made it clear that they won't even support revenue neutral tax legislation any more. It's a tax cut or nothing."

Or, of course, the government could reduce spending, in this case a simple reduction of less than 2% of the overall budget. Easily obtainable - especially in light of the Dems apparent willingness to cut spending via the omnibus bill.

For the Dems it's a tax increase or nothing - never a spending reduction.

Posted by: sbj on December 7, 2007 at 1:59 PM | PERMALINK

Spoken like the albatross around your grandchildren's necks that you are, friend!

Holy crap! You mean ex-lib has propagated!!

Posted by: ckelly on December 7, 2007 at 1:59 PM | PERMALINK

For the Dems it's a tax increase or nothing - never a spending reduction.

sbj, remind me how much the Iraq war is costing and how it's supposed to be paid for.

Posted by: JS on December 7, 2007 at 2:03 PM | PERMALINK

The idea that this "lost" revenue should somehow be made up for with revenue from other sources is ridiculous

Please tell me why lost is in quotes. It is lost revenue which will contribute to deficits unless the Chinese are going to forgive our debts. And yet Homer claims Dems are the idiots...

Posted by: ckelly on December 7, 2007 at 2:11 PM | PERMALINK

For the Dems it's a tax increase or nothing - never a spending reduction.

What part of revenue neutral tax legislation is your tiny, child-like, pea-brain having trouble with?

Posted by: ckelly on December 7, 2007 at 2:13 PM | PERMALINK

Serious, but naive question.

IIRC, the House version was 'unclean' as Mr Freddosso would put it, or better stated, contained the offsets to make the AMT modifications revenue neutral. If the constitution specifically states that all revenue bills must begin in the House, how can the Senate come up with a completely different type of tax bill? Why don't they only have the authority to approve or deny whatever comes up out of the House?

Posted by: Kenny on December 7, 2007 at 2:23 PM | PERMALINK

ckelly: Thanks for your very polite words.

I'm having trouble understanding why the decrease in tax revenue needs to be matched with an increase in other taxes. Why not simply a reduction in spending elsewhere?

Posted by: sbj on December 7, 2007 at 2:26 PM | PERMALINK

Why not simply a reduction in spending elsewhere?

sbj, you ignored the question -- but what about spending on the war? That's an additional expenditure nobody was expecting, and current estimates are that it will cost close to $2 trillion.

How can you be asking for "reductions in spending" given this? Can you not see the elephant in the room? Are the Republicans trying to add insult to injury?

Posted by: JS on December 7, 2007 at 2:39 PM | PERMALINK

Kenny, the Senate bill does not stand by itself. It will have to be approved by the House. Reid said he expected the House to pass it, but news stories in the past few hours (like this one) indicate that this may not be easy. Popcorn time.

Posted by: JS on December 7, 2007 at 2:43 PM | PERMALINK

The fiscally responsible thing would have been to do nothing. Those who are hit by the AMT (myself included) are in the upper half of the income scale.

Posted by: Yancey Ward on December 7, 2007 at 3:15 PM | PERMALINK

"When you return an item to the store that you were overcharged for, does the person behind the counter say, "You can have your money back but only if you buy something else of equal value"? "

Um, that's exactly what happens in a lot of places.

Posted by: Ginger Yellow on December 7, 2007 at 3:58 PM | PERMALINK

Homer, it's not that complicated, so pay attention:

Yes, the AMT is hitting many more people than originally intended. The problem is that those tax revenues are being SPENT; they're not just sitting in the cashbox behind Uncle Sam's counter.

If you get rid of that extra tax revenue, where are you going to get the money next year?

Posted by: Quicksand on December 7, 2007 at 5:05 PM | PERMALINK

"Spoken like the albatross around your grandchildren's necks that you are, friend!"

Holy crap! You mean ex-lib has propagated!!

You have a point--maybe the original comment ought to be cahnged to, "Spoken like the albatross around rea's grandchildren's necks that you are, friend!"

Posted by: rea on December 7, 2007 at 5:25 PM | PERMALINK

JS: Thanks for the polite response.

"sbj, you ignored the question -- but what about spending on the war?"

The question about war spending is silly, though. Congress approved this war - one has to assume that they also agreed to fund it. Take it further, those who voted for the Iraq war felt that it was necessary to defend and protect the US - ask Hillary. They may be right or wrong, but that's entirely beside the point. To argue that those folks who supported the war should now cut spending for something they voted for whose intent was to defend our country from harm is asinine.

To bomb the shit out of a country and then leave it in pieces, to insurgencies, to civil war, etc. is heartless, and it's a stab in the back, and it send the message that you can't trust the US Congress (which is, unfortunately, true.)

If Congress had the cojones (and any political strategic ability at all) they could rescind the authorization for the use of force.

Further, the war spending bills are supplemental - outside of the regular budget - so a decrease in these supplemental bills would not help to offset the repeal of the AMT, per the Dems' own paygo rules.

"what about spending on the war? That's an additional expenditure nobody was expecting"

Nobody except you maybe! These supplemental requests are planned months, years in advance. The amounts change but everyone in Congress knows that they are coming.

"Current estimates are that it will cost close to $2 trillion."

My suggestion to you is to stop supporting Dems who promised to do something but now appear impotent. It won't work to support Dems for Repub seats because you end up with a bunch of right-leaning Dems who kinda sort of agree with the Repubs.

"How can you be asking for "reductions in spending" given this?"

Here's one for you: How can you be asking to repeal the AMT (or asking to increase stem cell research funding, or asking to build a border wall, or asking for more tax breaks for farmers, or etc ad nauseum) when we need that money for S-Chip, to help pay for universal health care, and for pre-pre-school programs? It's a matter of priorities, JS.

Most Repubs feel that funding our soldiers during war - a war entered into by a bipartisan coalition of Dems and Repubs - would be the ultimate responsibility of our government. Repealing the AMT or seeking other taxes to offset its loss would be well below that priority.

Do you not think that there are fair ways to reduce government spending? We have different priorities, JS, that's all.

"Can you not see the elephant in the room? Are the Republicans trying to add insult to injury?"

The 49 elephants in the Senate appear to be playing a very effective game - holding the line on taxes and supporting our troops in the field. They're doing the job their constituents asked them to do.

Posted by: sbj on December 7, 2007 at 5:37 PM | PERMALINK

To argue that those folks who supported the war should now cut spending for something they voted for whose intent was to defend our country from harm is asinine.

Right, because once a war's on, it's on for perpetuity, world without end, amen, and can never be amended or ceased.

I realize that's the actual goal of the right, but pssssst! You're not supposed to be so freaking obvious about it.

Further, the war spending bills are supplemental - outside of the regular budget

Indeed. You may have noticed that there's a good deal of criticism floating around re this and other unfunded off-budget expenditures under this administration. That you are busily racking up the charge card off-balance sheet as well as on it is not a point that supports your argument, dear.

The 49 elephants in the Senate appear to be playing a very effective game - holding the line on taxes and supporting our troops in the field. They're doing the job their constituents asked them to do.

Really? The whole job? Ask 10 Republican voters whether they're happy with your 49 guys'--until recently, your majority's--and Bush's complete abdication of responsibility for reducing spending in any meaningful way. What kind of answer do you think you'll get?

Now ask the same people whether they support unfunded war expenditures ad infinitum. Gosh, what do you think you'll hear there?

People are always happy to have their taxes reduced. Actual grownups understand that infinite borrowing does not equal reductions in spending. You, apparently, have a bottomless capacity for looking the other way and pretending that bills don't have to be paid. The U.S.--including former supporters of Bush and of many GOP members of Congress--no longer does. See you in 2008.

Posted by: shortstop on December 7, 2007 at 5:56 PM | PERMALINK

And also:

Congress approved this war - one has to assume that they also agreed to fund it.

That's exactly what the Democrats in Congress are trying to do. The Republicans, however, seem to think that the way to fund it is through tax cuts.

But if your point is (as I *think* it is) that we should cut other spending so we can pay for the war while also cutting taxes -- then I'm speechless.

Posted by: JS on December 7, 2007 at 6:21 PM | PERMALINK

Shortstop: Thanks for the response - can you read?

Posted by: sbj on December 7, 2007 at 6:24 PM | PERMALINK

Remind me, did the Dems, when they were in the minority, ever get anything they wanted by holding their breaths and turning blue?

Why are we such weenies? And why do republican'ts hate America so much?

Posted by: craigie on December 7, 2007 at 6:30 PM | PERMALINK

Remind me, did the Dems, when they were in the minority, ever get anything they wanted by holding their breaths and turning blue? Why are we such weenies?

It's the LA smog. If it weren't for that, we could hold our breath like Larry Craig holds...well, that would be unkind.

Posted by: shortstop on December 7, 2007 at 6:37 PM | PERMALINK

Thanks for replying, JS.

"That's exactly what the Democrats in Congress are trying to do [fund the war]. The Republicans, however, seem to think that the way to fund it is through tax cuts."

Left field is that way Thanks for replying, JS.

"That's exactly what the Democrats in Congress are trying to do [fund the war]. The Republicans, however, seem to think that the way to fund it is through tax cuts."

Left field is that way ...

What on earth are you talking about? Please show me a quote from some prominent Republican where he suggests that the way to fund this war is tax cuts ...

"But if your point is ... that we should cut other spending so we can pay for the war while also cutting taxes -- then I'm speechless."

Well then, we have nothing else to talk about!

You've got to understand that Paygo has nothing to do with the war. If the war was ended tomorrow, Paygo rules STILL require that the revenue loss be offset. So even without this war we would still be talking about raising other taxes or reducing spending. The war has nothing to do with it.

I think we should fund the war, this war and any other war we commit to, until it is ended by Congress. To do otherwise is irresponsible. That's just my opinion but I can see where some people would feel that if things start going badly you should make a political issue out of it and then make our troops the victims. After all, per some commenters here, the most important thing is to win in 2008.

I think we should cut the AMT because it will be a hardship to many who are not really 'wealthy'. I think this AMT repeal could be offset by a less-than-2% reduction in spending off every program across the board. I think the war should be paid for - period. If we have to go into deficit (further) then so be it, if Congress can raise taxes to do it, then so be it. It's up to Congress, it's their job, and they are doing a terrible job. Did you blame the Dems for Congress' stupidity when the Repubs controlled it? This albatross gets hung around the Dem's necks.

I would further offer that Congress should have figured all of this out PRIOR to authorizing the war (including putting a limit on this thing up front.) To come back now and say, "Hmm, it's a bit expensive and we forgot we need to repeal the AMT ... Let's call the whole thing off!" seems quite, uhmm, typical (of Congress).

But to answer, No, I never suggested we should cut other spending to pay for the war. I suggested we should cut other spending to compensate for the AMT loss in revenue. If you are really worried about revenue - then simply leave the AMT in place.

That's not what you're worried about, though, is it?

Posted by: sbj on December 7, 2007 at 6:53 PM | PERMALINK

Sansabelt Jerry: Shortstop: Thanks for the response - can you read?

Indeed I can, Jer, and I can't say I'm impressed by your impassioned plea for spending cuts unaccompanied by any criticism of the former GOP majority and Bush administration in this regard. Nor does your complete refusal to address the inefficacy of cutting taxes while borrowing--both on and off the books--like a drunken sailor do you credit. ("Hey!" says the latest Republican, waddling by. "Did somebody say credit? Has my card limit been raised? Credit is like free money!")

I might have ignored all that as the ramblings of a selective fact picker who came to (the fiscally responsible) Jesus in November 2006, had you not pissed me off with your portrayal of the GOP Congressional caucus as noble public servants who are only trying to keep taxes down for the working stiffs and show our kids in the field how much they love them.

Give us a break, Sansy. You guys had six completely unfettered-by-real-opposition years to cut spending and you never lifted a fucking finger to do so--you continue to think the piper never has to be paid. As for supporting the troops, you're lucky no vets are here right now to talk about military pay, veterans' benefits, and the shameful lack of boots and basic equipment in the field.

Posted by: shortstop on December 7, 2007 at 6:58 PM | PERMALINK

You've got to understand that Paygo has nothing to do with the war. If the war was ended tomorrow, Paygo rules STILL require that the revenue loss be offset. So even without this war we would still be talking about raising other taxes or reducing spending. The war has nothing to do with it.

JS understands this and so does everyone else here. It's quite obvious that he/she brought up unfunded war expenditures (for an ongoing occupation with no clear mission, no actual strategy and constantly shifting goalposts) as an example of out-of-control spending with which you have no problem whatsoever. And you have confirmed this.

Why don't you understand that whether part of the budget or supplemental, unfunded spending has to be paid down the line?

Do you really think this can go on forever? Is this your idea of fiscal restraint?

Just how much self-delusion are you guys capable of?

Posted by: shortstop on December 7, 2007 at 7:03 PM | PERMALINK

sbj: First, saying that the Republicans are trying to fund the war through tax cuts was a joke -- evidently not very successful. But for a party that has caused so much extra spending to be so preoccupied with tax cuts does seem incongruous, no?

If I understand you correctly, you are suggesting that the war is paid for through borrowing, so we can go ahead and cut other spending as if it wasn't happening.

But funding through borrowing does create long-term debt service obligations, does it not? How do you propose paying for these? Doesn't that increase long-term liabilities?

And I will remind you that Bush has warned that the "War on Terror" will last a very long time.

Finally: The AMT was intended to plug tax loopholes the very wealthy were using. Congress has tried to create offsets that do the same (fix hedge fund tax loopholes, for example). If you are concerned about the effect of the AMT on the middle class -- so is Congress. And note that since 1969 the wealthy have become quite a bite wealthier, in relative terms, with respect to the rest of the population.

Posted by: JS on December 7, 2007 at 7:10 PM | PERMALINK

I wasn't going to comment until I saw shortstop's 6:58 post.
You, sbj, are either an idiot or a troll; possibly both as they are not mutually exclusive. Irrespective of either, your arguments concerning either cuts in the budget or a tax increase are disingenous. It is obvious by the article that the "elephants" will not permit any increase in taxes, therefore the only option is a budget cut; surprise, surprise! I've got news for you, there isn't a bath-tub big enough...
Furthermore, I AM a veteran and I'm disgusted by the Republican party's continual shafting of military personnel; pay, benefits, equipment, you name it and this mal-administration has screwed it up.
Standards for personnel entering the Army have been lowered AGAIN; 17-20% of those entering this year wouldn't have been allowed to four years ago. Question, class - what happened four years ago? It was in the Middle East...?
The squalid attempts by the Veteran's Administration to deny treatment for war-related injuries; demands to repay bonuses after a member has been discharged because of war-related injuries. Injuries in Iraq caused by improperly armored vehicles when the company installing the armor admits that it could easily armor 2-3 times as many vehicles as it was doing. Why hasn't it? Because there is, acording to the Pentagon, "no money" for that.
Continual deployments of personnel; not just of the Regular Army, but also the National Guard. Extension of service time; not just to the end of your contractual obligation, but until determined by the Pentagon. Inactive reservists called back to duty and sent to Iraq.
Hiring mercenaries instead of asking for an increase in military forces (can't make money off of regular enlistees; donations from Blackwater, now...). Mercenaries that are paid five times what soldiers are paid. Mercenaries who aren't held responsible for their actions. Mercenaries whose actions turn Iraqi civilians against U.S. military members.
Where was the National Guard during Katrina? During the fires in California? During any other disaster durng the last four years?
And when it comes to financing a war how do these "elephants" do that? Why, by borrowing it, of course! No new taxes. No sir! No increase in taxes already in place! No sir! This is the greatest, most decisive moment since WWII, but we're not going to ask for sacrifices! No sir! It might piss of the corporations who bankroll the "elephants" and the voters who elected them. No sir, we'll just pass it on to the NEXT generation. That way we can say WE didn't raise taxes, it was those damned "tax and spend" liberals!
About as subtle as a baseball bat to the back of the head!
Did I say idiot yet?

Posted by: Doug on December 7, 2007 at 8:04 PM | PERMALINK

"This doesn't seem like a great day for the Republic to me, but I guess others will disagree. And they had the votes to make it stick."

Yup -- with a minority of the votes, thanks to the filibuster. Until the Dems decide to get rid of that thing through the Nuclear Option, they will be totally helpless. And the fact that Harry Reid doesn't realize it yet is proof by itself that Harry Reid should be instantly canned as Majority Leader.

By the way, John Boehner is now denouncing "the Democrats' pay-as-you-go obsession". As with the increasingly open defenses of torture, the wraps are coming off as to what our government really is like -- and what it will remain like until disaster once again falls on our heads.

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw on December 7, 2007 at 8:05 PM | PERMALINK

Shorter sbj: Mastercard's at its limit? No prob, put it on the Visa.

Posted by: Mnemosyne on December 8, 2007 at 2:53 AM | PERMALINK

ex: The Democratic proposal was fiscally responsible from the POV of the tax collector, but not from the POV of the tax-payer.

gop: paying bills is for suckers...

got it..

Posted by: mr. irony on December 8, 2007 at 9:26 AM | PERMALINK

Maybe we're looking at this puzzle from the wrong perspective.

Maybe we should apply the tax formula for AMT across ALL income classes!!! If everyone is paying the same rate then we won't have anything to argue about and congress wouldn't have 75% of their reason for existing and we would have the money to fix infrastructure, fund healthcare for everyone, wage war on three continents at once, etc.

What's not to like?

Posted by: Bigsky in Iowa on December 8, 2007 at 10:33 AM | PERMALINK

Lately it seems like all the good legislation actually passes by a majority--until this 60-vote crap kicks in. I guess it's asking too much for the Senate Dems to actually do something about it.

Posted by: demgirl on December 8, 2007 at 12:19 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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