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Tilting at Windmills

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April 10, 2009

WHAT TEA BAGGERS WANT.... As we get closer to Wednesday's "Tea Parties," the far-right events continue to draw more attention. I'm still not quite sure what the Tea Baggers want, exactly, though it appears to have something to do with taxes.

To that end, DougJ helpfully posted this Tea Party-related message sent out by Human Events, a right-wing magazine:

In 1773, a handful of men dumped tea into the Boston Harbor. That one act set in motion a chain of events that birthed the greatest nation on earth. But today, many Americans feel helpless as they watch an imperialistic government destroy our Constitution and 237 years of liberty.

The first American Tea Party birthed a nation. The second American Tea Party could help save it!

Just like our Founding Fathers, we're tired of the way our government is behaving. And lawmakers are refusing to listen. It's time to exercise our first amendment right and make a statement. The Patriot Depot is helping our friends at Reagan.org raise funds to take 1,000,000 tea bags to the nation's capital.

We're also offering FREE T.E.A. Bumper sticker (87 cents shipping and handling). Check out our yard signs, picket signs, T-shirts, and more for a local Tax Day Tea Party near you!

The stickers, signs, and shirts have a simple enough message: "T.E.A. Taxed Enough Already."

And that's where I start to get confused about why these events are occurring. Obama already passed the largest middle-class tax cut in history. Yes, he's proposing increasing the top rate back to where it was when our economy was healthy, but that only means that folks with household income below a quarter-mil aren't really in a position to whine about the administration's agenda.

For that matter, given the last several decades, 39.6% is hardly the stuff of revolution*. Indeed, Obama's rates will be lower than most modern Republican presidents' rates -- and have I mentioned lately that Reagan raised taxes, too?

Which brings us back to where we started: what are these people whining about again? They don't like economic recovery efforts, but the stimulus has already passed and it's a little late to rally opposition to it. They don't like budget deficits, unless they're run by Republican presidents. They don't want their taxes to go up, but Obama has already passed a significant tax cut.

Andrew Sullivan summarized this nicely: "These are not tea-parties. They are tea-tantrums. And the adolescent, unserious hysteria is a function not of a movement regrouping and refinding itself. It's a function of a movement's intellectual collapse and a party's fast-accelerating nervous breakdown."

Post Script: By the way, I dare you to watch Rachel Maddow's segment on this from last night and not laugh. It was the first time I can recall seeing Rachel blush on the air.

* corrected

Steve Benen 12:40 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (72)

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Comments

"36.9%"
39.6%, obviously. Darn that Spooner!

Posted by: Warren Terra on April 10, 2009 at 12:41 PM | PERMALINK

TEA PARTY CAUTION! DO NOT SIGN ANYTHING - FROM ANYONE - AT ANY TEA PARTY ANYWHERE IN THE USA - NO EXCEPTIONS!Federally-funded ACORN operators will be at all Tea Parties to get signatures which they will give to Obama stating that the signatures are in support of his policies or to get the names of people who oppose his policies and report dissention.

NO MATTER WHAT, DO NOT SIGN ANYTHING! IF YOU HAVE FRIENDS WHO PLAN TO ATTEND, WHO DO NOT HAVE EMAIL, GET ON THE PHONE TO WARN THEM. TRY TO CALL OR EMAIL RADIO TALK SHOWS AND LET THE CAT OUT OF THE BAG.

PASS IT ON!

Posted by: Wilson46201 on April 10, 2009 at 12:43 PM | PERMALINK

LOUD NOISES!

Posted by: Jor-El Six-Pack on April 10, 2009 at 12:47 PM | PERMALINK

LOL at Wilson46201: Oh, by all means, pass that on.

Posted by: rea on April 10, 2009 at 12:48 PM | PERMALINK

I think its time to rename the GOP the know nothing party.

Posted by: Jamie on April 10, 2009 at 12:49 PM | PERMALINK

The organizers are trying to get some non-right wing support by claiming opposition to the bailouts as well as the deficits, although as you say they weren't having tea parties when Bush was letting the budgets explode.

Posted by: qwerty on April 10, 2009 at 12:49 PM | PERMALINK

I think it might be fun to stop-by an event and get my bag tea'd. Let's say I'm starting to get a little tea-bag curious.

I mean, do they even have a clue?

Posted by: rusrus on April 10, 2009 at 12:57 PM | PERMALINK

I hope they do this on South Park next Wed.

Posted by: chaifive on April 10, 2009 at 1:02 PM | PERMALINK

On top of everything else, the original Boston Tea Party wasn't about taxes being too high, but the new Know-Nothings are incapable of imagining any other complaint involving taxes, so they're sure their selfishness is "just like our Founding Fathers."

As for what the point is, I think a fair summary would be "How dare the government not do exactly what we want, even though our party and our ideology lost badly in the democratic process that we claim to hold sacred!"

Posted by: Redshift on April 10, 2009 at 1:03 PM | PERMALINK

WARNING!!

PAY NO ATTENTION TO POSTERS WARNING ABOUT ACORN. THEY'RE SECRET ACORN OPERATATIVES THEMSELVES!

PASS THIS MESSAGE ALONG TO TEN PEOPLE RIGHT NOW, OR OBAMA WILL TAKE YOUR GUNS AWAY!!!!

Posted by: 2Manchu on April 10, 2009 at 1:03 PM | PERMALINK

Anne Marie Cox, on Rachel Maddow:

Who wouldn't want to tea bag John McCain?

Posted by: Robert Earle on April 10, 2009 at 1:04 PM | PERMALINK

Any early complaining from wingers about the "tea bags" tasting a little salty?

Posted by: berttheclock on April 10, 2009 at 1:05 PM | PERMALINK

Steve Benen wrote: "... he's proposing increasing the top rate back to where it was when our economy was healthy ..."

Actually, Obama is merely proposing that the top rate return to its 2000 level in 2010, exactly as Bush and the Republicans proposed when they enacted the Bush tax cuts for the rich in 2001.

As far as the top rate goes, Obama is simply continuing the tax policy that Bush and the Republicans enacted into law eight years ago.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on April 10, 2009 at 1:09 PM | PERMALINK

Any football on this weekend?

Not even Malkin wearing her cheerleader skirt and waving pom-poms while talking about "tea-bagging" over a pot of coffee can bring any sizzle to this thing.

It's DOA.
Flip the channel please...


Posted by: koreyel on April 10, 2009 at 1:10 PM | PERMALINK

I wonder if the "patriots" on the right realize that the Founding Fathers of this country were the progressives of their era? The conservatives of that time were called "Loyalists" and they disapproved of the Boston Tea Party -- and the revolution -- and mostly fled to Canada.

What we have here is a bunch of low-information "brain"-washed righties who think Obama is going to RAISE their taxes. Why? Because that's what they've been told, that's why. Obama cut taxes? The hell he did! That's just a ploy, you wait & see! Etc etc. Black is white, up is down.

Posted by: zhak on April 10, 2009 at 1:15 PM | PERMALINK

The original Tea Party was a protest against the monopoly of the East India Tea Co., a mercantile firm under the Crown. Are today's "teabaggers" ;) saying they are against monopolistic practices of our financial sector? Against corporate practices that leave the little guy behind? Against monarchy?

As is the usual case, our brethren on the far right don't fully know their own history, and merely rely on what was a bumper-sticker call to arms in the late 18th century.

No taxation without representation was a catch phrase used by our founding framers who needed the support of the less educated among them. Ben and Thomas and Adam and even George knew that representation in Parliament was not the solution they were seeking, but it easily explained the urgency they needed to seek their end of revolution and independence. Even with such a propaganda campaign, our founders were only able to get about 38% of their fellow colonists at any one time during the Revolution.

Somehow I don't think the organizers of this April 15th teabag event are entertaining any meaningful historical aspects of what is in essence their folly! -Kevo

Posted by: kevo on April 10, 2009 at 1:15 PM | PERMALINK

Watch the video about the Teabagging party:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F26vC_1_8xw

Warning - NSFW

Posted by: Okie on April 10, 2009 at 1:19 PM | PERMALINK

Put this tea in your pipe and smoke it

The Wilson46201 post is either the greatest parody ever,
Or...
We should send BigGov over to his house right now to take away his guns.

Posted by: koreyel on April 10, 2009 at 1:23 PM | PERMALINK

I made most $12,000 last year, until i losed my job because of the mexicans. I was real mad when i lerned that Obama is raising my taxes. I was going to go to Tea party.

When I lerned that Acorn and other socialists are going to take over raly, i learned from glen beck what to do. Now, i am goin to take my AK-47s and lots ammo and go to Tea party and help my country by kiling acorns and socialists.

Good white god feared patriots like me can still save our country.

Posted by: MadWhiteMail on April 10, 2009 at 1:25 PM | PERMALINK

Hey guys, all my gay male friends are going to have tea bagging parties of their own. Look for videos on U-tube coming soon! This is going to be so much fun!

Posted by: borg on April 10, 2009 at 1:27 PM | PERMALINK

So, I have to ask. Did these people dub themselves 'teabaggers' or is that a title that we've bestowed upon them? Cause, well, wow.

Posted by: VT Idealist on April 10, 2009 at 1:28 PM | PERMALINK

I saw a comment at Wizbang (one of the marginally more rational-sounding dextroblogs, versus say LGF), that the protest was over projected deficits being 2-3 times more than they were under Bush. So all of a sudden, deficits do matter. (Was it Cheney who said, "Deficits don't matter"?)

In any case, far better IMHO for us to make our own counter protest against anti-progressive tax policy like capital gains rates lower than for earned income, the cap on FICA income, child deductions and credits going up to 100k or so of income (singles making 25k subsidize kids of those making 75k etc., and not just for public education which I'll grant as worthy for all), loopholes, etc.

Yes, there *is* something (and still) wrong with tax policy! Don't laugh or ignore the 'baggers, turn it back in their faces!

Posted by: Neil B ☺ on April 10, 2009 at 1:33 PM | PERMALINK

Re: Rachel last night.

Steve, the only reason she wasn't able to hold it together was the fact that a member of the production staff kept breaking up. Without that she was doing fine (as usual).

"So, I have to ask. Did these people dub themselves 'teabaggers' or is that a title that we've bestowed upon them?" - VT I

I think they actually did this to themselves.

You'd think at least one of them would be aware.

Posted by: Lance on April 10, 2009 at 1:34 PM | PERMALINK

Why is everybody so critical here?

The people attending don't believe in big governement. They don't believe in wasting money. They believe in low taxes. That is what they think is right. More power to them. This is America.

Same with global warming protests. People believe the earth is warming, therefore, they are starting a movement to prevent this. It is understandable guys. They believe in that. Why wouldn't they try to protest in order to solve the problem.

The problem is when sides don't put forth logical arguments, very similar to the commenters on this website.

Everybody needs to take their crazy emotions out of their criticisms. Come up with a good argument as to why somebody should pay .396 of every dollar they earn if they are affluent. I'm sure there are good arguments. Lets hear them. Show those brains off...

Posted by: Boiler on April 10, 2009 at 1:35 PM | PERMALINK

What tea baggers want? ...A WHITE PRESIDENT, DAMN IT!!

Posted by: Saint Zak on April 10, 2009 at 1:36 PM | PERMALINK

I can't come up with a logical argument why people should be paying 39.6% of their incomes over $250,000 in taxes. It just doesn't make any sense to me why it's so low.

So you've got me there.

Posted by: Tree on April 10, 2009 at 1:39 PM | PERMALINK

Koryel, MadWhiteMail is the greatest parody I've seen in ages, too bad you jumped the gun heh. He's like, the low-class flip side of the oft' loquacious, transcendent, long-running metaparody "Al". MWM is the skin-cut, iron-cross tattooed audience for Glenn Beck and Mike Savage. "Al" is the crusty, ex-Young-Republican-at-Dartmouth aging prick who reads National Review and who's dad knew and smoked cigars with GHWB or Buckley (and weed?) back in the day, etc.

BTW I just can't get out of my head, recurring visions of elephants doing "teabagging" - er, maybe I shouldn't tell ...

Posted by: Neil B. ♪ ♪♪ on April 10, 2009 at 1:44 PM | PERMALINK

And for full disclosure, I am a conservative.

I'm not sure what to think of the new tax bracket. There are no logical debates taking place. If you tax 100% of the next dollar I earn, I will stop working altogether. So there is a point where it turns counter-productive to tax more. What is that point? Nobody ever debates that. They just yell that the rich are greedy and don't pay enough or the gov't is stealing from the rich and killing innovation.

Also, when the gov't collects .396 of my one dollar, are they doing more with it than I could do? The answer for me is probably. I'll save more than the gov't will, thus helping less people. But this needs to be considered.

There is an optimized point where taxes should be. Both sides should be working towards that goal. Republicans realizing it will maybe be higher than they are comfortable with. Democrats realizing that there is a certain amount of innovation and motivation to work based on the tax rate set, and that every social program they wish probably cannot be funded.

I also am confusesd why conservatives are againsts global warming. When you are conservative, aren't you less willing to risk a gigantic thing like the earth warming? Seems logical to me. But there is no good debate on this either.

I thought Obama would bring everybody together. That is no easy task. So far he has not (but I don't fully blame him, tough task).

Anyway, please, everybody commenting, put together some great arguments/thoughts instead of making fun of everybody.

Posted by: Boiler on April 10, 2009 at 1:46 PM | PERMALINK

Tree --> Why, what is your argument? You have to have some reasons, right?

Posted by: Boiler on April 10, 2009 at 1:49 PM | PERMALINK

Boiler says it all:

"They believe in low taxes." "People believe the earth is warming"

To understand Boiler & the reich-wing, you must understand that BELIEF is everything. Science does NOT count. Economic history does NOT count. Facts do NOT count. If they believe it, it MUST be the TRUTH.

For the reich-wing, the ONLY thing that counts is what you believe! If you believe it, it must be real! It does not matter if what you believe is because Pat Robertson or Rushbo or Glen Beck said it, if you believe you believe.

Facts be damned. Science be damned. Economics be damned. Truth be damned. After all, the world was created 5000 (or was it 8000) years ago!

Posted by: SadOldVet on April 10, 2009 at 1:50 PM | PERMALINK

I meant they believe meaning the facts they have gathered for themselves thus far in life point to lower taxes and lower deficits being the correct direction for the U.S. Not believing as in praying to God about taxes.

Same with global warming. Given the facts the person has gathered, they either believe or do not believe global warming is an issue.

I am an engineer. I try to deal with no emotion and facts, and evaluate a situation. Am I always right? No idea. These topics are too complicated to say for sure. Anybody who is 100% confident in taxes or global warming scares me a bit.

Posted by: Boiler on April 10, 2009 at 1:55 PM | PERMALINK

I found it interesting that Michael Steele was refused an opportunity to speak at a teabagging event. Apparently they want him to be only on the receiving end. Same old right wingers. Steele is unacceptable. He's blackballed.

Posted by: Peter G on April 10, 2009 at 1:55 PM | PERMALINK

Boiler, much of our criticism is over the hypocrisy of the teabaggers not caring much about very similar tax rates in the recent past, or deficits, etc. But sure it is "game" to question whether the rate should be this instead of that, indeed I think a top rate of about 32-36% is about the fair highest at the top (but I'd remove CG differential and the FICA cap.) But, why act like it's worth some special *event* for the rates to simply go up to what was originally agreed upon years ago? The Republicans signed on to an expiration of the now-cuts because the cuts wouldn't pass, unless "temporary" - Temporary to avoid exploding deficits.

Part of the reason we've got such trouble now is all that spending on a bungled war, I'm sure you were out protesting that war to save us fellow taxpayers money, right? And deficits kept building over eight years of Bush, so now we have less wiggle room to maneuver to deal with the financial crisis that was sure to come after the low capital gains taxes and deregulation championed by Republicans and DINOs. So now we need to "raise" taxes after all, back to what we already agreed to years ago - wow, what an oppression. But someday, a more rational way of governance can hopefully be more efficient and reduce it's monetary footprint.

Thanks for keeping my brain exercised, and IMHO you came to the right (left) place to find it. I've looked all over and WaMo has the best combo of real analytical talent, snark, and parody in the business - I mean just the commenters! Carry on homies ...

Posted by: Neil B ☺ on April 10, 2009 at 1:56 PM | PERMALINK

It's all about making a buck- Fox News keeps its ratings up and sells ads, and goofball wingnut welfare foundations sell merch or send out wildly distorted fund-raising "surveys". Next month, the survey questions are going to be about whether or not YOU think the media should be ignoring public opinion and suppressing stories to support a tyranical executive office.

Posted by: Numberwang on April 10, 2009 at 1:57 PM | PERMALINK

Boiler, .396 of every dollar earned by those among us who make over $250,000 annually is a better way to support peaceful co-existence than having to spend .625 of every dollar earned to hire and maintanence one's own militia should we not have enough state resources to provide fire protection and law enforcement.

Redistribution of income is important to us all! If I earned 1/2 million dollars annually, a 50% taxation rate would not be too much for me, but then again, I haven't grown flaccid or selfish due to wealth even once during my lifetime.

The public square is a stronger, more peaceful place for democratic ideas and ideals to be shared when it is supported above the need to hoard wealth. Just saying! Oh, and by the way, I count myself as you, conservative! -Kevo

Posted by: kevo on April 10, 2009 at 2:02 PM | PERMALINK

Neil B --> There are conservatives that were against the spending during Bush. To lump everybody together is a bit unfair. But I can see where you are coming from. It just does not apply to every single conservative. I think you will find the conservatives who where upset with the Iraq war and also the excessive spending to be a bit grumpy when lumped together with others.

We do have less wiggle room it seems. But are you not at all scared about the 'out years' of that budget? You okay with those estimates?

I'd rather keep the top rate where it will be but not remove the cap on FICA (both impact me). That turns it into a welfare type operation. Right now, what I pay in is somewhat what I will get out in retirement. I'll probably get quite a bit less, but right now, I am okay with that Once you remove that cap, it is no longer true (and hurts even more b/c I pay in double being self-employed). Question --> If you were 30 and had the option, would you opt out of social security if possible?

Posted by: Boiler on April 10, 2009 at 2:04 PM | PERMALINK

"Redistribution of income is important to us all! If I earned 1/2 million dollars annually, a 50% taxation rate would not be too much for me, but then again, I haven't grown flaccid or selfish due to wealth even once during my lifetime."

Yeah, paying taxes is not the issue. It is when that line is crossed and it is no longer productive to tax anymore. A lot of people are afraid of that. I do not think we are there, but, am a bit afriad we may go there.

I wish democrats would come up with a phrase like 'optimized spending' I do this with my personal finances. I am under complete control, and try to minimize waste. If they came up with that phrase, and implemented it, I'd pay in .42 of every dollar I earn after a certain point. But when I see waste, it is tough to swallow. I think the Republicans would get killed with a phrase like that that is properly implemented.


Posted by: Boiler on April 10, 2009 at 2:09 PM | PERMALINK

I agree with Boiler that we need to have a respectful, intelligent discussion about our government's priorities. Each side should make it's case that if we spend X billion dollars on assistance to the poor or Y billion dollars on anti-missile defenses then we will need to pay Z amount of extra taxes.

We also need to debate how much it will cost if we don't increase assistance to the poor -- in the form of increased incarceration, increased Medicaid and increased Welfare costs. We also need to debate whether the anti-missile defenses actually can work well enough to be worth the money.

Unfortunately, while one side in Washington is trying to hold an intelligent debate, the other side is shrieking "SOCIALISM!!!" and "FASCISM!!!"

But at least the Tea Baggers haven't decided reach out to younger voters at the rallies by having booths advertising "Tossed salad available here".

Posted by: SteveT on April 10, 2009 at 2:10 PM | PERMALINK
I'm not sure what to think of the new tax bracket. There are no logical debates taking place. If you tax 100% of the next dollar I earn, I will stop working altogether. So there is a point where it turns counter-productive to tax more. What is that point? Nobody ever debates that.

You want to have a debate about whether a top marginal tax rate that was in effect during the entire Clinton administration is counterproductive? I believe that debate took place back when Republicans claimed that Clinton's 1993 tax increase would not "grow the economy .. or reduce the deficit" and was, in fact, "a one-way ticket to a recession."

Posted by: nonc on April 10, 2009 at 2:12 PM | PERMALINK

"SOCIALISM!!!" and "FASCISM!!!"

Yeah, that part of our party hurts us. We are working on weeding them out. I have confidence it will someday happen. Tough with the 24 hour media though.

Democrats have their crew of these guys too. As do the financial advisors, etc etc.

I guess this is life. We can work towards telling those people to calm down and give us a good debate.

Posted by: Boiler on April 10, 2009 at 2:13 PM | PERMALINK

You want to have a debate about whether a top marginal tax rate that was in effect during the entire Clinton administration is counterproductive? I believe that debate took place back when Republicans claimed that Clinton's 1993 tax increase would not "grow the economy .. or reduce the deficit" and was, in fact, "a one-way ticket to a recession."

Both sides have their issues with exaggeration. And you are correct that both sides have been right and wrong. I'm just saying that both parties can sit down and figure out the most optimized taxing and spending point.

Posted by: Boiler on April 10, 2009 at 2:15 PM | PERMALINK

Boiler:

I am not 30 & do not have the option, so I cannot provide that perspective on social security.

What I am is 60 & have seen my retirement savings decrease by more than $200,000 during the last 14 months. What I do know is that since the Raygun 'reform' of social security, the social security 'trust fund' has accumulated more than $2.5 Trillion in overpayments from workers. That money was replaced by government bonds and the money spent (with the exception of a few years of the Billy Bob Clinton presidency) largely on tax cuts for the wealthiest of the wealthy. When I hear Republicans or DLC/DINO/Rethug-Lites like Evan Bayh talk about reducing social security payments and raising retirement ages and questioning whether the United States should write off the $2.5 Trillion of bonds as being too expensive for the country to redeem, I get really upset.

It is time for the wealthiest of the wealthy to partially redeem the tranfer of wealth from the working class to them over the last 30 years.

Posted by: SadOldVet on April 10, 2009 at 2:19 PM | PERMALINK

Boiler said:
I guess this is life. We can work towards telling those people to calm down and give us a good debate.

Yeah, but Come on! When someone in their delusional self-importance ends up making a parody out of themselves, we are almost obligated to laugh at them.

The Tea Bagger's own Twitter site is "Tea Bag Obama". They've brought this ridicule upon themselves.

Sadly, in order to "weed out" the nuts on your side, you will need to lose about 90 percent of your national figures. The number of hysterical national Democrats is only about 10 percent. The corrupt and/or hopelessly self-important brings the number of Democrats needing to be weeded out up to around 75 percent.

Posted by: SteveT on April 10, 2009 at 2:26 PM | PERMALINK

Boiler, can you see though that e.g. a lower capital gains rate is a fraud? Only initial start-up capital or real investment deserves a break. (Do most voters even realize, that me buying IBM stock gives money to the previous holder, who bought in turn ... It's a long way back to the initial capitalization!) That's what bothers me about the Republicans, they want to cheat for their base (GWB said of the haves and the have-mores, "I call 'em my base" - the jerk.)

So I'm happy to entertain a smaller (not less capable at regulation, but literally smaller) central government as many centrist groups like Concord Coalition and liberal/Democrat/progressives - like oft' neglected Jerry Brown - are happy to dialog about. But I don't want to accommodate Republican base-pleasing tricks.

BTW check out this site:
http://www.voicesofreason.info/
It's a good center-left outfit that will accommodate outsiders with questions.

PS: I suspect from handle you are a thermodynamic engineer, so did you know: it is hard to make, but since the black-body radiation law applies separately to each band of the spectrum, we could have a "purple body" that would glow green when hot from the radiation in the green-absorbing band.

Posted by: Neil B ♣ on April 10, 2009 at 2:28 PM | PERMALINK

First, sorry about the $200,000. That is miserable. Take a look at covered calls. I've used them to dig out of my terrible hole.

To me, that is kind of an answer. Had you been managing your social security your entire life, would that have happened? I don't trusts Democrats or Republicans with my retirement money. They are politicians (bums). I want to pay my fair share to keep the gov't running, help those that cannot help themselves, protect the environment, and keep a military that can keep me safe (not excessively safe, so don't everybody freak out).

You were forced into trusting them with your money, and now may get burned....

Also, I think you need to lay a little blame on the gov't spending too much. Don't be too angry at the rich? They still pay in a large part of their incomes even with the tax cuts. Maybe they should pay more, maybe they should not. Not like they were receiving refundable tax credits while making 2 mil a year. We need to tax people fairly and cut back on spending more than we can afford.

Again, sorry about your position. Your age is taking the brunt of this disaster.

Posted by: Boiler on April 10, 2009 at 2:31 PM | PERMALINK

BTW I would not opt out of SS at age 30 if could. There is too much uncertainly, I don't trust individual institutions, and who knows how long they will live. SocSec is a good idea, it pools resources and risk so there is some pay for everyone throughout varying, unpredictable life spans after retirement. As for raising cap, well - just pull down the base top rate to comp, and lift the cap for no net increase in tax payments at the top. (No net increase should mean no complaints.) Then we fund SS forever.

tyrannogenius

PS guys, here's footage of Bush bowing to Abdullah albeit to receive a medal:
http://littlegreenfootballs.com/article/33289_Bush_Bowed_Too/comments/#ctop.

Heh, even LGF are ragging on Bush there!

Posted by: Neil B ♪ on April 10, 2009 at 2:32 PM | PERMALINK

Chemical, boilermaker (purdue).

Thanks for the website, I'll check it out.

Posted by: Boiler on April 10, 2009 at 2:42 PM | PERMALINK

A couple of things to keep in mind at the dastardly prospect of higher tax rates for the rich:

-- put it in perspective, why don't you? I think the Eisenhower (the last decent Repub president) admin taxed the richest to the tune of 90 percent or more; plenty of people still made plenty of money *AND* our national infrastructure of highways was built and cared for with those tax dollars.

-- since 1980, the rich have gotten much much MUCH richer, while the middle class and below have gotten much poorer all while the tax burden shifted from the rich to the poor; I believe that's similar to the "redistribution of wealth" teabaggers are complaining about (only backwards, you know ...)

The Iraq war will soon pass the 1 trillion dollar mark when it was supposed to "pay for itself" via the oil revenue we'd be stealing from them; Bush inherited a sizable surplus from Clinton (200 billion was it?) and turned it into a gargantuan deficit without actually doing the country any good in any way; for me, it's really hard to conduct a back & forth in good faith with conservatives who supported Bush and the Republicans for 8 long years. Your credibility is shattered, you know.

If you can't travel from point A to point B over crumbling bridges and decayed roadways and not see the value of increased taxation to the only sector of American society that can afford it these days, there's really nothing much that can be said.

Posted by: zhak on April 10, 2009 at 2:46 PM | PERMALINK

"If you can't travel from point A to point B over crumbling bridges and decayed roadways and not see the value of increased taxation to the only sector of American society that can afford it these days, there's really nothing much that can be said. "

That is a bit dramatic.

Posted by: Boiler on April 10, 2009 at 3:03 PM | PERMALINK

But today, many Americans feel helpless as they watch an imperialistic government

Imperialist government? Seriously? they're upset about this NOW?

Posted by: g on April 10, 2009 at 3:26 PM | PERMALINK

Boiler,
Others have already made much of the case for letting the top marginal rates return to where they were before the Bush tax cuts. I just want to comment on a couple of misconceptions that are so fundamental and so widespread that I find it galling.
First, raising the top marginal tax rate to .396 will NEVER result in the tacpayer paying 39.6% of theri income in federal income taxes. Only the dollars OVER $250,000 will be taxed at that rate. Each of the lower brackets applies to those dollars for EVERY taxpayer. If you don't understand how tax brackets work, google "wiki tax brackets" and read it.
Second, I don't belive there are enough idiots in this country earning $250K+ to justify any discussion of the notion that if the top marginal tax rate goes up to 39.6% for people over $250K, then they will stop working! What kind of fool gives up $250K+ in income just because he only gets 60 cents of each "next" dollar?
The "right" is guilty of hugely misrepresenting the facts on this topic.
Respectfully yours...

Posted by: WaryTale on April 10, 2009 at 3:31 PM | PERMALINK

WaryTale

I understand tax brackets quite well, thank you (although a lot of people do not understand, which is too bad. It adds a lot of fear to our system). I do my own taxes for my small business.

Not working fits exactly in with the bracket thinking. Once you reach the highest bracket (maybe around Sept or so), you take a nice long vacation. Not possible for some, but very possible for others. For me, quite possible.

It'd have to be real high for me to do that. I'm not threatening that at all at this point. But if it did get high enough, I would not be afraid to take time off.

Posted by: Boiler on April 10, 2009 at 3:38 PM | PERMALINK

"That is a bit dramatic."

Tell that to the folks in the Twin Cities, Boiler.

Posted by: azportsider on April 10, 2009 at 3:43 PM | PERMALINK

Hi Boiler,
Thanks for the response.
But you did say in an earlier post that letting the Bush tax cuts would result in people with over $250,000 paying .396 of their income in taxes. I'm not surprised that you understand how tax brackets work. But I do have an issue with anyone, including a reasonable person like yourself, making statements like that. Please try to avoid contributing to the widespread misinformation! (Thanks)
If you choose to take a long vacation for part of the year because $250,000 is more than enough for you to live on, and you decide that only making 60 cents on the dollar of any additional money you earn is enough reason to do that, then what is the problem? You described that as a "disincentive to work". That seems like a misrepresentation to me! That's a choice you make, and where's the harm in it? More power to ya, and I don't see a negative impact to the economy either.

Posted by: WaryTale on April 10, 2009 at 3:46 PM | PERMALINK

"That is a bit dramatic."

Tell that to the folks in the Twin Cities, Boiler. "

Was that caused by human error or by lack of funding? Check it out, let me know.

Posted by: Boiler on April 10, 2009 at 3:49 PM | PERMALINK

WaryTale

Engineer, not an English major;) I did not mean in any way to say all 250k is at the high rate and was not trying to misrepresent. I'll be more careful.

40% is not close to me not wanting to work. But my point is that line is there and hopefully will not be crossed. Remove that cap and I'm at 55% for next dollar earned (self-employed). Throw state in there, and I'm starting to think about it. I don't think that is a good thing.

I also think not working does negatively impact the economy in quite a few ways...

Posted by: Boiler on April 10, 2009 at 3:53 PM | PERMALINK

And I don't think that line will be crossed. But be careful, and understand we are quite worried about it.

Posted by: Boiler on April 10, 2009 at 4:01 PM | PERMALINK

Boiler,
(Software engineer here, and English major / philosophy minor)
Thanks for the rational discussion. And your initial post on this whole thread did have a positive effect on the discussion.
Can you explain the negative effect on the economy you think will occur if you decide to work fewer weeks out of the year, which is different from just quitting? I think that some other part of the economy will simply respond to the demand that you will not be responding to.

Posted by: WaryTale on April 10, 2009 at 4:01 PM | PERMALINK

Me personally? I work in a profession where if I do not work overseas picks up my work. Sending our money straight to another country.

Overall, people not working gives us less time to innovate IMO. Less Googles and Apples. Who picks that up? Maybe nobody. Maybe the ipod is never invented. The ipod created jobs. Maybe the founders of google go into gov't jobs and take 5 weeks off a year fishing with a great pension. Maybe our great search engine is then Chinese. I don't think the economy is a zero sum game (although no economist am I).

Maybe things get high enough for talent not to want to move to America. Stay in their own country and innovate. Why come here and not make as much as you would make back home? Krauthammer once had a very good point (although not directly to this conversation). The U.S. has the equivalent of the first 100 picks of the NFL draft due to our success. Lets not waste them. We don't want to pick first, India picks second, China third, etc.

We aren't there yet. We are a competitive crew. I'm just saying watch it. Lets not go overboard. And to bring it back to the tea parties, if I went to one, that would be my purpose.

Posted by: Boiler on April 10, 2009 at 4:10 PM | PERMALINK

Boiler: Here are some reasons for the progressive income tax.

1. The very wealthy have the largest share of the property and wealth (top 1% has over 20%, IIRC) and therefore the cost of the military, police and courts is going top protect their property disproportionately (or proportional to their wealth). They should pay the largest share. Contrary to popuilar opinbion, the rich m,ake more use of government services than the less well off.

2. Unless wealth is taxed fairly heavily, it leads to a rigging of the game, as we have seen over the last 8 years. The rich got much, much richer due to the Bush tax cuts and the rest of the population (lower 80%) saw their incomes flatline. The rich then used their wealth to influence puplic polciy to benefit themselves (runaway defense contractors, deregulation and lax enforcement in the financial sector, cutting corners on occupational safety, food safety etc). This will only get worse unless the balance is redressed.

3. It is anti-democratic to have great fortunes that are passed from generation to generation. That's why we have had inheritance taxes since the founding. One of thge Bush tax cuts causes the estate tax to expire in 2011. Having a fairly steep estate tax levels the playing field a little bit.

4. Those who have the most have the ability to pay. The first ~$9,000 is tax free for everyone(standard deduction plus personal exemption). Everyone pays the same rates on the next $8000 (10%). And the next $24,000 (15%), to a gross income of over $42,000 and taxable income of $32,550. At that point, dividend and capital gains stay at 15% but tax on salaries, pensions and other earned income goes up in increments to 25-28-33-35%, with 35% as the marginal tax rate on taxable income over 357,700. I don't think that is enough to make people "stop working" and there is no evidence to show that it is, or that 39% would be, or even a 45% rate for taxable incomes over $1 million. Part of it is the money, part is the bragging rights, which are always on the pre-tax compensation figures.

The result is really unequal. As Warren Buffet said, his secretary pays payroll taxes and income taxes for a combined tax rate that is actually higher than what he pays, since most of his income is dividends and capital gains that is taxed at 15% and he pays payroll taxes on a fraction of his total compensation, unlike his secretary. At least he has the compassion to advocate for a reasonably high estate tax and progressive income tax rates.

Posted by: Mimikatz on April 10, 2009 at 4:22 PM | PERMALINK

1. The very wealthy have the largest share of the property and wealth (top 1% has over 20%, IIRC) and therefore the cost of the military, police and courts is going top protect their property disproportionately (or proportional to their wealth). They should pay the largest share. Contrary to popuilar opinbion, the rich m,ake more use of government services than the less well off.

Not bad. Never heard that thinking before. I'd like to see it put into numbers though. Overall cost of programs like welfare, refundable tax credits etc vs. the money the gov't uses to protect the rich in your example.

I would also argue the military is not really to protect our million dollar homes vs. our $75,000 homes.

2. Unless wealth is taxed fairly heavily, it leads to a rigging of the game, as we have seen over the last 8 years. The rich got much, much richer due to the Bush tax cuts and the rest of the population (lower 80%) saw their incomes flatline. The rich then used their wealth to influence puplic polciy to benefit themselves (runaway defense contractors, deregulation and lax enforcement in the financial sector, cutting corners on occupational safety, food safety etc). This will only get worse unless the balance is redressed.

Do you think the non-rich salaries flat-lined directly because of the lack of tax on the rich? If so, why? Think any of it had to do with increased global competition? Can we prevent that? (I'm asking here, not trying to lecture).


3. It is anti-democratic to have great fortunes that are passed from generation to generation. That's why we have had inheritance taxes since the founding. One of thge Bush tax cuts causes the estate tax to expire in 2011. Having a fairly steep estate tax levels the playing field a little bit.

If I've earned a lot of money, and it has been taxed, why can I not pass this on tax free? Why tax it again? I made the field unlevel due to my wild success (at potentially a lot of risk). Why should I have to pay again? I worked hard for my kids (and there is no way in hell this tax will hit me. If it does, I'll be one happy man!).

I actually don't like what Buffet has said. He is such an exception it is hard to understand that point. I use post-tax money and risk it in the stock market. At some point, that risk is not worth it either, right? If my gains get taxed too much?

Posted by: Boiler on April 10, 2009 at 4:31 PM | PERMALINK

I think Repubs are going through the first 2 stages of the 5 stages of grief.

Stage 1: Denial. America is a center-right nation. Conversatives lost because they weren't conservative enough. It was all the media's fault.

Stage 2: Anger. How dare Obama bail out the banks? How dare Obama tell AIG how to spend their bailout money (bonuses)? Gun ban, re-education camps, socialism, revolution, take back our country, tea bagging!!

I don't expect Stage 3: Bargaining to last very long, and Stage 4: Depression should be just fun to watch. But eventually they'll get to Stage 5: Acceptance.

The Repubs lost and they know why they lost - they just can't admit it yet. So until then, they are projecting their anger & frustration in the only direction they know: to the left. I think that once you realize that they're actually mad & embarrassed by their own performance over the past 8 years, it's much easier to dismiss them.

Posted by: Alex on April 10, 2009 at 4:56 PM | PERMALINK

well, yes, its true that we could have a high-minded discussion about whether there is, in fact, a Pareto optimal level of taxation, about the moral philosophy behind regressive, neutral, and progressive tax regimes (and how those moral arguments may or may not be reflected in an economic Pareto optimal level), and whether the difference between 36% and 39.6% is even worth the effort such a high-minded discussion would require.

but until a good half of Congress and the MSM and the American public can pass a basic Econ 101 test that includes defining the concept of Pareto efficiency, that discussion is pretty pointless. the masses don't seem to care, the Republicans would much rather demagogue.

and i have to admit, on this particular issue it is just a lot more fun to enjoy the self-parody they've created with their TEA parties and to, um, enjoy and wonder aloud about Anna Marix Cox's apparently extraordinary knowledge of teabagging.

Posted by: zeitgeist on April 10, 2009 at 5:22 PM | PERMALINK

saw an interesting essay on the top marginal rates today. the author pointed out that it was kinda unfair that the first dollar over $357K was taxed at the same rate as the first dollar over $35.7 million....

in other words, the 250 threshold mixes up the mearly well to do with the folks who rake in the really big bucks..

whole thing here

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/12/magazine/12wwln-lede-t.html?nl=pol&emc=polb1

Posted by: dj spellchecka on April 10, 2009 at 5:25 PM | PERMALINK

Don't know about the Tea Party shirts and stickers, but checkout these great tee shirts sporting conservative messages from Rad Right Tees at http://www.RadRight.com

Posted by: Joe Hafferty on April 10, 2009 at 5:26 PM | PERMALINK

You're a funny guy Boiler.

Me personally? I work in a profession where if I do not work overseas picks up my work.

Seriously? Your'e the only person in the US that does what you do? (Yah, I got it, not an English major. It just strikes me as an odd thing to say. Having to compete with overseas workers I get.)

And then there's this nice combo:

Sending our money straight to another country.

with

Maybe the ipod is never invented. The ipod created jobs.

Right. Where did they make iPods again? Starts with a C...C...C something? Good paying jobs I hear.

Posted by: OneirosDreaming on April 10, 2009 at 5:28 PM | PERMALINK

Tebagging means something I would never do given my sexual preference (I'm straight).

Posted by: Peter Monger on April 10, 2009 at 5:44 PM | PERMALINK

Boiler,
I'm with Oneiros on the question of whether work suddenly goes overseas if you take a two month vacation.
I'll focus instead on the innovation thing. One of the "memes" of the anti-taxation folks is that capital gains deserve to be taxed at 15%, and two reasons are given: 1) It encourages investment in innovation, and 2) why should dollars be taxed "twice".
The first part: I'd venture to say that most capital gains reported on IRS income tax filings are from sales of stocks (and to a much lesser extent, sales of physical property, like investment real estate). Neither of those two 'investments', I would assert, have anything to do with fostering innovation. In the case of capital gains on stock holdings (or even worse, derivatives) result from me buying a security from a previous owner, who receives a capital gain (or loss). Then I sell it to a "greater fool" and make a capital gain. The money involved, at no point was "invested in innovation". To look at the economics of innovation, you have to look to the world of venture capital. Venture capital investments, may, in fact, be treated more favorably by the tax code, but that is entirely separate from the standard 15% rate for capital gains. If it is done right, the tax on capital gains could be increased much closer to the normal income rate, without detrimentally affecting venture capital.
Second: "Taxing dollars twice." It is a misconception to think that dollars themselves are taxed. Instead it is transactions that are taxed. Any time dollars are transferred from one party to another, it is a transaction, and we may choose to tax it or not. But the notion that somehow it is a violation of some principle of taxation to "tax the same dollar twice" is nonsense. When I earn a dollar at my place of employment, it is income that is taxed. When I pay my dentist for dental care services, the profit is income to my dentist and it is taxed. the same dollars may go from my dentist to his accountant, and later to the accountant's doctor, and so on and so forth. As a society, I would love to see us get beyond the foolish "double taxation" discussion by dimission it for once and forever.

Posted by: WaryTale on April 10, 2009 at 5:56 PM | PERMALINK

Posted by: Wilson46201 on April 10, 2009 at 12:43 PM

THIS MAN IS INSANE. HE IS TRYING TO DEMONIZE ACORN AND THINKS THEY ARE FROM ANOTHER PLANET AND WANT TO STEAL YOUR PRECIOUS BODILY FLUIDS.

When ACORN's director was called he didn't even know what these tea parties were or what they were about. See the insanity of the people Hannity and Beck etc. are cultivating.

Posted by: bjobotts on April 10, 2009 at 6:10 PM | PERMALINK

btw...by comparison to the "Boston Tea Party" it fits this situation better if the king would have had his own troops throw the tea overboard.

The tea parties are to try to build up the republican party and to keep the wealthy from paying higher taxes. It originated by a wall streeter (Santelli) who only wanted wall street bailed out not home owners. No money for the poor etc and protect the holdings of the wealthy is the tea party hypocrisy...the very people the government is trying to protect us from are sponsoring these events. Sold a bunch of tea bags and got lots of donations...the ignorant poor are so easily manipulated by the wealthy.

Posted by: bjobotts on April 10, 2009 at 6:16 PM | PERMALINK

botts: If Wilson is smart enough to turn on his computer and connect to the internet, then he's smart enough not to tell the alleged conspiracy that he's on to them. The fact that he posted that to a left-wing blog anyway makes me suspect that he was being satirical.

Posted by: Shade Tail on April 10, 2009 at 6:55 PM | PERMALINK

A bit off the current discussion but still talking about tea parties, does anyone know if texas university in Austin is going to have a tea party? I was under the impression that they drink tea as a habit.

(You have to be a Texan to understand the full meaning of that.)

Posted by: texas Aggie on April 10, 2009 at 8:01 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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