Support for Tax Increase on Highest Earners

A new Pew Poll shows that 44% believe that raising taxes on those earning more than $250,000 would help the economy, compared to 22% who believe it would hurt, with  24% saying it wouldn’t make a difference, and 11% saying they don’t know.

As you’d expect, Democrats more strongly favored the tax increase, with 64% saying it would help, only 11% saying it would hurt, 15% saying it wouldn’t make a difference, and 9% saying they don’t know.

Only 27% of Republicans say the tax increase would help, 41% say it would hurt, 24% say it wouldn’t make a difference, and 9% say they don’t know.

Independents fall in between, with 41% saying it would help, 18% saying it would hurt, 30% saying it wouldn’t make a difference, and 10% saying they don’t know.


Quote of the Day

“The Republicans and Democrats the modern system produces literally come from different worlds and see no middle ground on the biggest issues of the day. They see elections — not the legislative process — as the place to settle their differences. ”  Charles Mahtesian and Jim VanderHei, “Congress:  It’s going to get worse,” Politico

The Public and Private Faces of the Ryan Budget

From “Paul Ryan’s Budget Plan:  At Least It’s a Start,”  James R. Stewart, NYT:

“The Ryan plan is clearly an opening move. … It’s easy to tweak the Ryan tax rates to generate more tax revenue while still lowering rates and broadening the tax base….

“In return, Republicans would get lower rates and curbs on entitlement spending.  Democrats would get more tax revenue and preserve the essential elements and long-term solvency of Medicare and Social Security.  The nation would get a fairer tax code, long-term deficit reduction, a secure credit rating, stronger economic growth and a social safety net.

“‘The overwhelming majority of Congress would agree to this on a secret ballot,’ [Jim] Cooper [D-TN] told me.  ‘But they wont do it publicly.  Each side considers it unilateral disarmament.  The Democrats want to bash the Republicans on Medicare and the Republicans want to bash the Democrats on taxes.'”  Emphasis added.

The GOP’s Hypocritical War on “War”

Ok, so here comes some spokesman for the RNC, some Sean Spicer, absolutely outraged about Democrats accusing Republicans of a “war on women.”  He says it’s an insult to our veterans:

“I find it offensive….  It’s not only bad, but it’s downright pathetic they would use a term like ‘war’ when there are millions of Americans who actually have engaged in a real war.  To use a term like that borders on unpatriotic.”

Um, Sean, maybe you haven’t noticed, but the Republican presidential candidates have been accusing President Obama and the Dems of waging a “war on religion.”  Are your candidates unpatriotic?

And every year, we have to hear the folks at Fox News whine about the “war on Christmas.”  Are all those GOP cheerleaders at your propaganda arm unpatriotic?

And does anybody recall the RNC calling Nancy Reagan unpatriotic for her “war on drugs?”  Anybody?

The Poisonous Atmosphere Is Poisoning Our Future

The GOP keeps saying, wrongly, that this country is going the way of Greece.  Unfortunately, there are no good solutions for Greece, just pain and decline and a vicious circle of economic contraction as far as the eye can see.  By contrast, we have solutions easily available, we just aren’t putting them in place.

From the question-and-answer part of President Obama’s speech to the Associated Press yesterday:

“These are solvable problems if people of good faith came together and were willing to compromise.  The challenge we have right now is that we have on one side, a party that will brook no compromise.  And this is not just my assertion.  We had presidential candidates who stood on a stage and were asked, ‘Would you accept a budget package, a deficit reduction plan, that involved $10 of cuts for every dollar in revenue increases?’  Ten-to-one ratio of spending cuts to revenue.  Not one of them raised their hand.

“I think that there is oftentimes the impulse to suggest that if the two parties are disagreeing, then they’re equally at fault and the truth lies somewhere in the middle, and an equivalence is presented — which reinforces I think people’s cynicism about Washington generally.  This is not one of those situations where there’s an equivalence.  I’ve got some of the most liberal Democrats in Congress who were prepared to make significant changes to entitlements that go against their political interests, and who said they were willing to do it.  And we couldn’t get a Republican to stand up and say, we’ll raise some revenue, or even to suggest that we won’t give more tax cuts to people who don’t need them.”

The GOP, especially its Tea Party wing, will hold its breath until it turns blue.  Unfortunately, all of us are getting asphyxiated.

Mitt’s Already Lost

In 2010, the gender gap that had plagued the GOP for about 30 years disappeared.  Women and men voted about the same.  But I believe that in 2012, the gender gap will be back, and with a vengeance.

In a presidential election, voters who are not part of either party’s base, look not just at the candidates themselves, but at whether the far left or the far right looks scarier for that particular cycle.  It’s about where the pendulum has swung since the last election and moving it back toward the middle.

For women, the far right will look scarier.  Even if they don’t mind Mitt personally, he will lose votes because of the baggage his base brings on birth control and abortion rights.  They have stirred the pot too much since 2010 both at the state and national level, and the atavistic rhetoric during the presidential primary has only exacerbated the outrage and sense of backsliding, the visceral sense that the GOP is bad for women.

The far left won’t look very scary because we’ve already had one term of President Obama, and we don’t have a hammer and sickle on our flag.  The mansions on the Upper East Side haven’t been broken up into apartments for “the people,” and the estates in the Hamptons haven’t been turned into summer camps for workers.

There are five segments in the electorate.  There are the two segments who always vote R or D.  For them, campaigns are more about entertainment than edification, since their minds are made up.  There are the two segments who “lean” R or D, some of whom register in that party and some of whom register as Independents.  Then there are the people who truly are Independents, who don’t lean consistently and who pretty much start at square one for each presidential race.

Mitt is going to lose many women who lean R and  many women who are true Independents, and therefore he will lose the election.

It’s seven months till the voting, but for me, the election was over at the debate when George Stephanopoulus asked Mitt if he thought states could ban birth control.  From the look on Mitt’s face, I think he knew it too.

Politicians and Religion

A new Pew poll finds that 38% of those surveyed said that politicians talk too much about religious faith, while 30% said they should talk about it more.  There was a strong divide along party lines, with 52% of Democrats saying there was too much talk, but only 27% of Republicans.

This in an interesting contrast to 2010, when only 29% said there was too much religious talk and 37% said there was too little.

In the current survey, 54% said that religious institutions should stay out of politics, while 40% said they should not.



A Self-Sustaining Recovery

Editorial in The Economist, “Can it be…the recovery?”

“For the year as a whole America’s economy will probably grow around its trend rate of around 2.5%.  That’s a lot lower than might be expected after a normal recession; but after financial crises, when consumers are weighed down by debt, recoveries tend to be anaemic.  That level of growth…could be the first step towards a self-sustaining recovery, thanks to the virtuous circle of stronger job growth leading to higher consumer spending, which in turn should generate more jobs.

“America’s priority should be to craft a medium-term plan which puts the budget deficit on a downward path without snuffing out the recovery.  There is, unfortunately, not a chance that it will do that before November’s presidential election.

“The reasons for optimism are real.  But if policymakers get it wrong again, the recovery could yet turn to dust.”  Emphasis added.

That phrase “self-sustaining recovery” captures my problem with both parties.  For me, the Democrats don’t know when to stop the government spending, while the Republicans don’t know when it’s necessary.  I believe in stimulus to get a recovery going, when consumer spending isn’t there, but when that recovery become “self-sustaining,” I want less government.  I believe that “expansionary austerity” isn’t just an oxymoron, it’s a dangerous and delusional myth.

The Dems Are As Bad As the GOP

I’ve been criticizing the GOP for making birth control an issue, for taking women back to when they lacked equal rights and opportunities, for appearing determined to run on a “barefoot and pregnant” platform in 2012.

But I’m not real thrilled with the Dems either.  They are just as stuck in the past when it comes to Social Security, employer-based health care, and Medicare.

We all recognize that this country became great and powerful from innovation and embracing the future, from moving west to the Pacific and out into space.

Then why stay stuck on Social Security that dates to 1932, on health insurance that originated in 1943 as a way to evade wartime wage-and-price controls, on Medicare that passed in 1965?

America and the world are different than they were in the 1930’s, 1940’s, and 1960’s.  Why cling so stubbornly and rigidly to models that worked for a time, but now threaten our prosperity and our future?

When we got employer-based health care, factories were desperate to replace workers because millions of men were fighting overseas.  We’re not exactly desperate to replace workers today.  And as for factories — what factories?

The GOP is sliding backwards, the Dems are stuck in the New Deal and the Great Society.  Who will get America out of the mud and back on the road?