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The Self-Marginalization of Barack Obama

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With each passing challenge, Barack Obama gets smaller and smaller. The limited role he’s defined for himself over the past three and one-half years has turned him into the incredible shrinking president. The latest example may be the one that finally makes him disappear altogether. Will history mark John Boehner’s departure from the debt ceiling negotiation table on Friday night as the effective end of the Obama presidency? Historians aren’t always an agreeable bunch, of course, but, in the full context of his performance as commander in chief, that verdict isn’t unrealistic.

We’re not talking about Obama’s failures to keep his 2008 campaign promises, although there have been a whole passel of them. Political promises go unfulfilled so often that only the most naïve among us give them much credence. When we do, shame on us. About the most promises can do is set the tenor of things to come especially when, as in Obama’s case, there’s no record to examine.

We’re talking about Obama’s persistent refusal to lead. When times get tough, he fades into the background, preferring to let anyone else take point even if it means leaving an authority vacuum. If he does appear, it’s most often to chastise and harangue, usually Republicans, but, occasionally, his own party members.

If not steeped in leadership, how does Obama occupy his time? He’s been busy elevating himself above the process of government, demanding that those beneath him offer up solutions that meet with his approval. By now he’s so far above everyone else, he’s practically invisible. Just look at three examples: Obamacare, the Gulf oil spill and the Libyan war.

In the case of his healthcare gem, the President hung back so long during negotiations that they turned into a special interest nightmare for Democrats. The Gulf oil spill earned Obama the lowest approval rating of his presidency to that point in time.  The knock was, yes, the inability to handle a crisis.

The Libyan war, problematic for the president from the outset, has degenerated into a protracted morass. But, we can always blame our allies since we’ve conveniently taken one step backward in that conflict. If a bad guy refuses to fall, a fall guy isn’t bad.

What motivates Obama’s non-leadership style? He can’t possibly think, after 30 months in the White House, that self-righteous tongue lashings are effective. Most people believe he’s just bowing to his base on the left. But, if that’s it, it’s not working. Last week, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt) announced his preference for Obama to run opposed in next year’s presidential primaries. According to Sanders, the president has betrayed his supporters and they deserve an option.

So, why doesn’t Obama lead? There aren’t a lot of choices. Perhaps he doesn’t know how. Or maybe he thinks leadership carries too much political risk. Or, possibly, he sees it as a clever way to throw mud without being hit by any. In a tally sheet somewhere, the answer probably matters, but for those of us on terra firma it doesn’t really. Ignorance and cowardice in this context yield the same result.

Take, for example, his refusal to deal with the walloping national debt in a meaningful way. Since the report issued in December 2010, Obama has failed to endorse any of his own debt commission’s recommendations on how to reduce it.

In February of this year, the President proposed trimming the $14 trillion red monster by a miniscule $400 billion over ten years. The offering was so ridiculous that the Democrat-controlled Senate rejected it by a vote of 97 – 0. His much-ballyhooed budget framework speech in April was so lacking in specifics that the independent Congressional Budget Office couldn’t rate it. Perched precariously on the eve of destruction, his latest plan is to attack those put forth by Republicans.

When the bombastic, self-serving rhetoric is stripped away, only the blinding arrogance of Obama’s dogmatic ideology remains. And that’s just not enough to keep him visible, let alone viable. He’s put himself out of sight, out of mind and, hopefully, out of a job.

See you in the mirror.

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About Sidney and Riley

  • John Lake

    I often wonder where conservative followers get the courage to speak such inanity. If you need a quick refresher course in Obama leadership, read through his recent speech on the Asian Spring. I also might make reference to the locating and subsequent destruction of Osama bin Laden. More recently, to the talks regarding the ASEAN group, and China’s increasing aggression in the South China Sea.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/dr-dreadful/ Dr Dreadful

    I thought Republicans wanted Limited Government.

    …Wouldn’t that include a self-effacing, minimally active President?

    Just wonderin’.

  • Clavos

    How ’bout no presdet at all?

    Now, THAT would be minimal gummint…

    Especially if we got rid of all the congresshits too.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/dr-dreadful/ Dr Dreadful

    Cindy and Roger would be happy with your utopia, I think, Clav.

    Where d’you want to set up the guillotine? Not right there, though: it’ll spoil a great view of the Potomac.

  • http://cinemasentries.com/ El Bicho

    reads more like the self-marginalization of an Internet writer

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Up is down, inside is out, left is right…and Sidney and Riley think they have a clue concerning Obama, government, democracy, history, economy, and foreign affairs.

  • Arch Conservative

    Some people will just never get the joke that is Barack Obama Sidney.

    It’s your fault.

  • zingzing

    barack obama sidney.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    OH! Ya…GOT me, Archie! Just have them…bury my heart…at Wounded Knee….

  • Baronius

    Anyone feel like trying to resolve this? How about if we come up with a list of the five most prominent issues/crises of his presidency, then rate whether he’s taken an active or passive role in them. This is something we could probably come to an agreement on.

  • Baronius

    Great! I’m feeling that groundswell! How about these:

    economy / budget
    Arab Spring
    War on Terror
    health care
    oil spill

    Now, if that list is acceptable, you guys can rate the President as very active / somewhat active / somewhat passive / very passive on each of them. Anyone up for it?

  • Glenn Contrarian

    To what end? It doesn’t matter what he has done or not done, because those on the Right will vilify him for it anyway.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/dr-dreadful/ Dr Dreadful

    I’ll bite:

    1. Very active (“it’s the economy, stupid”)
    2. Somewhat passive (sent forces to Libya at behest of NATO, but doesn’t subsequently seem to have expressed much in the way of interest in the region’s goings-on)
    3. Somewhat active (but only because of the whacking of OBL; the “War” in general seems to have been proceeding at a fairly low level during his presidency)
    4. Very active (it is his baby, after all)
    5. Somewhat passive (don’t remember him doing much other than that photo of him standing on a Texas beach staring out to sea with a sort of now-what-the-hell-did-I-do-with-my-car-keys expression on his face)

  • Cannonshop

    I’ll bite as well…

    1. “What did Bush do? Okay, We’ll do that, but BIGGER…and with a push to raise taxes.”

    2. “um, yah, we’ll bomb someone then ask the French to figure out how we’re going to get out…”

    3. “What would Bush Do? do that!”

    4. So active, in his speech at the signing, he asserted it would do things it explicitly didn’t do. Also actively making sure big contributors get their waivers so they don’t have to participate in this turkey.

    5. actually did a credible job here-of dealing with BP and getting the right entity to pay for the mess. actions after were knee-jerk ideology, but he at least got the Oil Company to foot the bill.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Cannonshop –

    1. Except that we have a LOWER tax burden now than we had under Bush 43, Bush 41, Reagan, Nixon, or Eisenhower, as I’ve pointed out a dozen or so times. Do I really need to provide the reference from USA Today again?

    2. And how many ground troops do we have involved?

    3. Except for torture…and except that OBL was killed under Obama’s watch – and was NOT found using any information acquired through torture as even Donald Rumsfeld has admitted.

    4. Three years from now, my oldest son will be able to get health care that he can’t get now. That’s a big difference to me.

    5. BP was apologized to by a Republican congressman for how they were being treated by big bad Obama.

    And my view?

    He SHOULD point out that our tax burden is lower now than it has been for a half century…and then raise taxes on the wealthy and on the corporations

    He’s doing just fine on Libya – we don’t have to be the one in front all the time. It’s about time that Europe took the lead on something like this!

    Hopefully he’ll be able to get us out of where Bush took us – but he won’t do it fast enough. The military-industrial complex that Eisenhower warned us against is too strong.

    We SHOULD be doing single-payer health care. It would work quite well for the vast majority of the population as it does in the REST of the first-world nations on Earth, and if someone wanted something extra they could bloody well pay for it!

    He let BP get away with far too much, just as he let the banksters get away with bringing us to the edge of a Depression. “Let’s just put it behind us” is NOT a good way to keep people from doing it all over again.

  • Baronius

    Dread, you rated President Obama “very active” on the economy/budget and health care. Sure, he made a lot of press appearances on both issues, but I thought he was weirdly passive in terms of setting the agenda, laying out a schedule, leading negotiations, et cetera. The stimulus, the health care reform bill, and the past year’s budget deals have come out of Congress with very little apparent White House involvement.

  • Clavos

    …and then raise taxes on the wealthy…

    because paying more taxes than ALL of the bottom 95% is not enough?

    Because ALL of the bottom 40% pay no taxes at all?

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Clavos –

    Has it ever occurred to you that the bottom 40% ALL not only pay taxes, but they pay a greater percentage of their income in taxes than do the top 1%?

    They do so through every other tax – sales tax, property tax, airline tax, telephone tax, hotel tax…need I go on? And they can’t afford to hire high-powered tax accountants to help them take advantage of every tax dodge conceived by mankind!

    And you’re NOT going to get me to feel sorry for the top 1%, since their incomes have skyrocketed since the advent of Reaganomics while the incomes of the rest of us saw our incomes stagnate or even drop (after adjusting for inflation, of course).

    So what sense does it make, Clavos, to insist that those very, very few who are doing so incredibly well should not face increased taxes (to the tune of four cents on the dollar) while the vast majority of Americans who saw their fortunes stagnate or fall over that period of time should be forced to shoulder yet MORE of the tax burden?

    What sense does that make, Clavos? NONE! None, that is, unless you’re a billionaire with dollar signs where pupils should be! Be that as it may, what you’re voting for is to let Paris Hilton keep a few more dollars while she lays on the beach collecting dividends!

    That makes NO sense, sir!

  • http://cinemasentries.com/ El Bicho

    “ALL of the bottom 40% pay no taxes at all?”

    wow, who are these people that pay no payroll taxes, no investment taxes, no state taxes, no local taxes, no gasoline taxes, etc…

  • zingzing

    el b, that would be the unemployed, homeless corner bums with no investments. shockingly, right wing research apparently suggests that upwards of 40% of americans fit this description.

  • zingzing

    but even they would have to pay sales taxes… so they must live in montana, alaska, oregon, vermont or delaware.

  • zingzing

    apparently, right wing research also suggests 50% of americans will believe silly things if you stick 40% in front of it.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    I should think there is something categorically wrong with a nation in which 40 percent of the population are too poor to pay any taxes at all. It’s a recipe for disaster.

  • Clavos

    wow, who are these people that pay no payroll taxes, no investment taxes, no state taxes, no local taxes, no gasoline taxes, etc…

    You play dumb very well, EB; must come naturally.

    You of course know I was speaking of income tax, which in fact the bottom 40% not only don’t pay, but of whom many are actually PAID a “rebate” (talk about misnomers — how can you have a rebate when you haven’t paid?)by the government.

    As Peter Ferrara notes in The American Spectator:

    “…before Obama was even elected, official IRS data showed that for 2007 the top 1% of income earners paid more in federal income taxes than the bottom 95% combined. The top 1% paid 40.4% of all federal income taxes that year, almost twice their share of income. The middle fifth of income earners (the actual middle class) paid 4.7% of federal income taxes. The bottom 40% of income earners as a group paid no federal income taxes that year. They instead received net payments from the IRS equal to 4% of total federal tax revenues — the result of nearly 30 years of Reaganomics.” (emphasis added)

    And further:

    “In California, the top 1% pay 48% of all state income taxes. In New York, the top 1% pay 41% of all state income taxes. In New Jersey, until recently the top 1% paid 46% of state income taxes…Moreover, America’s corporate income tax rate is virtually the highest in the industrialized world at nearly 40% on average, counting state corporate rates. As I have noted previously, even Communist China has a 25% corporate rate, with the average in the mostly-socialist European Union below that. In left-wing Canada, the corporate rate today is 16.5%, scheduled to fall to 15% next year.”

    But Obama, who was elected to lead, is instead dividing the nation, sowing hatred of the successful among the middle class. One wonders, since the old aphorism of “divide and conquer” has historically been such a successful tactic, why he wants to conquer the people whom he’s supposed to lead.

  • Clavos

    I should think there is something categorically wrong with a nation in which 40 percent of the population are too poor to pay any taxes at all. It’s a recipe for disaster.

    There’s something categorically wrong with a country that sets its tax threshold so high that 40% of the people escape paying any.

  • zingzing

    take that thinking to corporations, clavos.

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com/ handyguy

    The right wingers on BC are following the Tea Party off a cliff. Their rhetoric just gets more extreme and shrill every week. The discussions continually become too ugly to be meaningful or to be worth participating in.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/dr-dreadful/ Dr Dreadful

    You of course know I was speaking of income tax, which in fact the bottom 40% not only don’t pay, but of whom many are actually PAID a “rebate” (talk about misnomers — how can you have a rebate when you haven’t paid?)by the government.

    [annoying kid at back of class raises hand]

    Um… how exactly does one get a tax rebate when one hasn’t paid any taxes? In order to get a refund (which was your money to begin with anyway – you’re basically giving an interest-free loan to the government), you must first – all together now…

    …file a tax return.

  • Clavos

    Exactly, Doc. yet the government does pay these people (according to ferrara’s article nearly as much as the middle class pays).

    Go figure.

  • Clavos

    Their rhetoric just gets more extreme and shrill every week.

    As does obama’s as he foments inter-class hatred and envy.

    The big difference, of course, is he has the bully pulpit, and as the putative leader, should be trying to unite, rather than divide.

  • http://cinemasentries.com/ El Bicho

    So you want people to presume what you mean as opposed to responding to what you write. Duly noted

  • Clavos

    I don’t want people to do anything they’re not comfortable with, Bicho.

    Read ‘em any way you like.

    Pixels.

  • zingzing

    no, clavos, the right wing is creating “inter-class hatred and envy.”

    no one gives a shit about the rich, they’ll be alright. stop fucking the poor. the poor will fuck you up if you don’t quit it.

  • Cannonshop

    #33 Zing, do we really have to quote back to you your own rhetoric? It could fill PAGES.

  • Clavos

    @#33:

    Obama:

    “most Americans don’t understand how we can ask a senior citizen to pay more for her Medicare benefits before we ask corporate jet owners and oil companies to give up tax breaks that other companies don’t get.”

    This is an outright lie; no one but Obama has even mentioned “asking a senior citizen to pay more for her Medicare benefits.”

    And, piling up his hypocrisy, the tax break for corporate jet owners was adopted in the Obama stimulus to create jobs in corporate jet manufacturing.

    In his speech last Monday, he said, “we would not have enough money to pay the bills — bills that include monthly Social Security checks.”

    Which is also an outright lie, as he well knows; the money to pay SS checks is reserved by law, it’s there and available; not even he can touch it without risking impeachment. But he says it, and freaks out all the little old ladies (male and female) drawing SS, and pitting them against the younger generation.

    And it goes on and on.

    In one speech, he said the USA is a country “with a system in which the deck seems stacked against middle-class Americans in favor of the wealthiest few.” If that isn’t an attempt to set one group of citizens against another, I don’t know what is.

    Divide and conquer.

    In 2009, he declared, on national television, no less, that there was no way the Obamacare individual mandate that would force citizens to buy the health insurance the government dictates, could be classed as a tax.Then, after the damn Obamacare bill was enacted into law, this bum sent government lawyers into court to argue that the individual mandate is constitutional because it is a tax!.

    He is scum. He’s a sleaze.

    No one, not even GWB, has ever dishonored the office of President of the United States as much as Obama.

  • zingzing

    cannonshop: “#33 Zing, do we really have to quote back to you your own rhetoric? It could fill PAGES.”

    yours too, cannonshop. but it does sound silly, doesn’t it? think about how it sounds coming the other directions. (it sounds silly.)

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    A good ole heated-up debate. Let me put my two cents’ worth in.

    Everyone knows I’m no great fan of Obama. The disparity between his campaign promises, the kind of hope he instilled, the kind of things he ran on, and his actual performance in office is so staggering in fact that most of the radical Left is no longer supportive of the president. And the laundry list of disappointments is long and variegated, ranging from our military disengagements worldwide, to becoming more “humane” in our treatment of “enemy combatants,” to curing our economic woes.

    It’s also ridiculous to argue that the president is not supportive of Wall Street, as Clavos aptly points out. Just look at the stimulus package and who really benefits, the American people or the investment firms. Our economy and stock market are up, if that’s what you want to call it, only on account of our finance industry. They’re the only ones who are making huge profits. And thus far, none of that had invigorated Main Street, in spite of all assurances to the contrary. Indeed, look at Obama’s cabinet – all ex-Wall Street guys almost without exception. I’m convinced that the future, historical significance of this presidency will be mostly symbolic, that a person of color had been elected to the highest office. It’s not going to be judged in terms of this president’s accomplishments or lack thereof.

    Which brings me to Glenn’s opening remark that one can’t expect very much any longer a single person, from the office of the presidency, from any one party. Indeed, except I would add that we can’t expect anything anymore from our defunct political, social and economic system. What we see under Obama has become the norm, not the exception, and it wouldn’t make any difference which person occupies the Oval office or which political party is in power. We have reached as stage in our history that the political-economic system which, some may argue, may have worked well enough for a stretch, is no longer workable. It cannot deliver. So it’s not just Obama’s fault. The problems are systemic and chronic, and nothing but radical revamping of our entire political and economic structure can produce anything but cosmetic result. It’s for that reason that focusing on any one person, be it Obama or anyone else, misses the point. It’s no longer about personalities or political parties and their respective platforms. All such discussions are sterile, irrelevant and a certain dead end. We must raise the level of political dialog to concern itself first and foremost with the needed structural changes which need to be implemented in order for our politics to begin to make a difference. Of course, given the present political climate in America, no politician can possibly run on any radical platform. Consequently, expect more of the same in the foreseeable future – empty campaign promises unrealized.

    There are promising developments, however, from parts of Europe, Germany in particular – and mind you, from the conservative head of state. The very idea of capitalism as a necessary system has become a subject of a national debate, is it really working, the people are encouraged to ask, what else can we have in its stead. I refer you here to a link I posted on another thread, an interview of Richard D. Wolff on the Democracy Now! show, see comment #186.

    It’s about time to radically alter the contours of our political dialog in this country as well. All the indications are, the people are ready.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Clavos –

    1 – on asking a senior citizen to pay more for his or her Medicare benefits – ever heard of Medicare “Advantage”? Yes, you certainly have. And then there’s the Ryan Plan – you know, the voucher plan that y’all swear somehow ain’t a voucher plan – where our elderly would get to shop using a voucher check…and THEN if the elderly person wanted better service (like they have access to now), then they get to pay extra for it.

    2 – Social Security isn’t included in our monthly bills? Oh, I get it – since it’s ALREADY taken out of our paychecks, it’s somehow not a bill.

    3 – On the tax breaks for corporate jets, Clavos, are you really so naive that you don’t know how Congress inserts earmarks for their own districts or friends? If YOU will go back and check to see who it was that inserted that particular line, I’d be willing to bet a lot of money that it was a REPUBLICAN. And was Obama supposed to veto the ENTIRE stimulus because someone (almost certainly a Republican) inserted the bit about tax breaks for jets? No. He did what he had to do to get the votes to get the stimulus passed.

    But I get it – Thou Shalt Blame Obama for giving a Republican what the Republican wanted in order to get a crucial bill passed…and Thou Shalt Call Obama a vile hypocrite for it, too!

    4 – You said, In one speech, he said the USA is a country “with a system in which the deck seems stacked against middle-class Americans in favor of the wealthiest few.” If that isn’t an attempt to set one group of citizens against another, I don’t know what is.

    Here’s some MORE education for you, on the growth of family incomes before and after Reaganomics took effect:

    1947-1979:

    Bottom 20 percent of the income distribution: 118 percent increase
    Second-to-bottom 20 percent: 100 percent increase
    Middle 20 percent: 111 percent increase
    Second-to-highest 20 percent: 114 percent increase
    Highest 20 percent: 99 percent increase
    Highest 5 percent: 86 percent increase

    1979-2008:

    Bottom 20 percent of the income distribution: 7 percent decrease
    Second-to-bottom 20 percent: 6 percent increase
    Middle 20 percent: 11 percent increase
    Second-to-highest 20 percent: 23 percent increase
    Highest 20 percent: 49 percent increase
    Highest 5 percent: 73 percent increase
    Highest 1 percent: 224 percent increase

    The above numbers were rated “mostly true” by Politifact.com.

    So in YOUR view, it doesn’t matter that the income of the top 1% INCREASED 224% while the income of the bottom 20% DECREASED 7% since Reaganomics, because the poor rich people are already paying too much!

    Clavos, do you not see how utterly insane it is to protect the rich? THEY DON’T NEED YOUR PROTECTION! The poor do. The disabled and elderly do. The middle class does. But the rich DO NOT need your protection!

  • Clavos

    Glenn, you Presented nothing but strawmen and didn’t answer my points, especially the one about social security. Obama is scaring the bejesus out of the old farts, making them believe the Republican refusal to raise the ceiling will result in there being no money for SS checks. That’s a flat lie; the SS MONEY IS THERE, and has nothing to do with the debt ceiling; Obama cannot touch it, nor can he reduce SS payments unilaterally, that’s grounds for impeachment. Your point about the corporate jet money is pure speculation, you have no idea and don’t merit a response on that one.

    You can spout relative figures until you’re blue in the face, but the bottom line is the top 1% are already paying the majority of the income taxes, while nearly half the country gets a free ride from the Feds.

  • zingzing

    clavos, what percentage of federal revenue comes from income taxes? you seem to think it the be-all end-all. since it’s less than 50%, who really pays the taxes around here?

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    It’s a double whammy, zing. As argued for in the video of an interview with Richard D. Wolff, by not taxing the corporations and the rich at older rates, not only doesn’t the government is deprived of much needed revenue. It’s also the case that it has to borrow from those very sources to finance its rising debt.

  • Clavos

    @#40:

    I have no idea, zing, but it’s got nothing to do with my points about Obama’s mendacity. He’s a liar and provocateur who is trying to turn Americans against each other by lying to them and scaring them .

    Hardly a fitting endeavor for a sitting president.

    What an unscrupulous individual he is!

  • Clavos

    @#40 again:

    The government does not make money; ALL of its revenue comes from confiscation of the citizen’s funds, whether such confiscations are named “income tax,” or “excise tax,” or any one of tens of thousands of “fees” imposed on the citizens by their various levels of government, the bottom line is that ALL money in the possession of the government is taken from the citizens — 100 percent of it.

  • zingzing

    “I have no idea, zing, but it’s got nothing to do with my points about Obama’s mendacity. He’s a liar and provocateur who is trying to turn Americans against each other by lying to them and scaring them .”

    why on earth would he do that? that’s the thing about your night terrors, clavos… there’s no solid reason behind them. they’re just fairy stories you choose to believe.

    as for #43, congratulations on discovering that, but it doesn’t really answer my question. you seem to think that the top 1% pay a majority of the taxes, but that’s just not the case. you can say it all you like, but it’s silly every time you say it.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Political power and holding on to political power is the only game in town. Anyone who thinks otherwise suffers from a delusion.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Clavos –

    Glenn, you Presented nothing but strawmen and didn’t answer my points, especially the one about social security

    I DID answer your points – but you simply refused to accept their validity. But I’m getting used to BC conservatives refusing to acknowledge the validity of ANYTHING that’s contrary to conservative dogma.

    For example, you keep going on about how great a percentage of the nation’s taxes the rich are paying, but you flatly IGNORE the obvious reasons I showed you why. Again, you need to apply your own vaunted sense of cynicism to your conservative dogma. But you won’t. You never will.

    But I tell you what – let’s give ALL the money to the top one percent, and then let’s see how you’re going to continue to defend their paying one hundred percent of all the taxes!

  • Glenn Contrarian

    And Clavos –

    On #43 – if the fact that you have to pay taxes for the myriad services you DO receive – and yes, you DO receive many, many services for those taxes – then you’re either going to have to commit suicide (which is NOT an option), or you’re going to have to find a deserted island that somehow hasn’t already been claimed by a nation.

    Otherwise, you complaining about the government taking money from you (in the form of taxes) isn’t really that much different from crying about the rain or the sun.

    And btw – how ’bout that little fact that our tax burdens are LOWER under Obama than under any other president since Truman? Not that you’ll ever give him any credit for it – he’s Obama, and therefore whatever he does must be wrong and evil and badbadbad….

    “And if you don’t eat your peas, Obama will come to haunt you in your night terrors!” Oooooohhhh!

    Sorry – couldn’t resist.

  • Clavos

    you seem to think that the top 1% pay a majority of the taxes, but that’s just not the case…

    But it is, zing. The data is disseminated by the IRS.

    Of course, the IRS is a government agency, so they’re probably lying.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    zing –

    What Clavos doesn’t get is that the greater the income inequality in favor of the rich, the greater the percentage of the taxes the rich WILL pay…

    …and since the income of the rich has skyrocketed in the past 30 years while the income of the rest of us has stagnated or even fallen, of COURSE the percentage of the taxes paid by the rich will seem to be disproportionate.

    It’s NOT a matter of tax policy, but a matter of income inequality – but he refuses to see that (especially since it’s a liberal that says it).

  • Clavos

    if the fact that you have to pay taxes for the myriad services you DO receive – and yes, you DO receive many, many services for those taxes – then you’re either going to have to commit suicide (which is NOT an option), or you’re going to have to find a deserted island that somehow hasn’t already been claimed by a nation.

    Once again, you’re not even close, Glenn. My point was only to remind all of those who think they are getting something from the government when that check arrives in the mail, they aren’t, the money was theirs in the first place, the government has no money of its own, it’s ours.

    My point was not to complain about the taxes they take from me; they take a far smaller percentage of my income than they take from Warren Buffet.

    And just out of curiosity: why is committing suicide not an option? Plenty of people do, every year; obviously, it was an option to them.

  • zingzing

    “But it is, zing. The data is disseminated by the IRS.”

    yeah, clavos. when you only count one number (if that’s even true, although i haven’t seen anything that would back you up in the slightest), it may look like that, but it’s still not true.

  • zingzing

    i can’t find a bit of information that even gets close to your numbers, clavos. maybe a link is in order.

  • Clavos

    of COURSE the percentage of the taxes paid by the rich will seem to be disproportionate

    Never said it was, Glenn.

    You just don’t get it do you? My point was that YOU (and your boy,Obama) say that they don’t pay enough; mine is that they pay more than everyone else put together (well, the bottom 95% anyway). Nothing else, Glenn.

    It tickles me that people are so enraged that the Bill Gates and Larry Ellisons of the world have accumulated enormous sums of money, as if there’s only so much money in the world, so when Bill Gates makes a buck, it comes out of everyone else’s pocket.

    Not only is that ignorance, it’s one of the seven sins: envy.

    Even Obama talks of “spreading the wealth,” as if that’s a good thing; and he once said, “I do think at a certain point you’ve made enough money,” which is easily one of the most stupid, ignorant things I’ve ever heard a president say.

    He’s clueless. A moron.

  • Clavos

    Here, zing:

    The American Spectator:
    “before President Obama was even elected, official IRS data showed that for 2007 the top 1% of income earners paid more in federal income taxes than the bottom 95% combined. The top 1% paid 40.4% of all federal income taxes that year, almost twice their share of income. The middle fifth of income earners (the actual middle class) paid 4.7% of federal income taxes. The bottom 40% of income earners as a group paid no federal income taxes that year.”

    The New York Times:

    “The top 1 percent of taxpayers paid 40.42 percent of total federal income taxes in 2007, according to the most recent data from the Internal Revenue Service.

    This represents the second year in a row that the richest 1 percent paid more in federal income taxes than the bottom 95 percent (not, however, the bottom 99 percent).”

    (The NYT includes a link to the applicable IRS tables)

  • STM

    America’s going down the gurgler.

    Congress fiddles while American and overseas investors get burnt.

    It’s serious business, this … and threatens to derail the global economy, again. You know what happened last time it went pear-shaped: We all got shafted.

    If you think the GFC was bad, wait for round 2 if America defaults on its debt (not because it can’t pay it but because a couple of loonies in the House have no idea how capital markets work and want to play politics).

    In that scenario, the America we all knew finally changes forever. I’m not sure as a non-American I’d really want to be to be witnessing that, especially when the alternative is the rise of China.

    And if I were American, I’d almost certainly not want to be in America when it happens.

    Sad stuff … especially because, right now, it doesn’t have to happen.

  • zingzing

    well, clavos. those numbers are higher than i expected. (it’s still not exactly “a majority of all taxes,” if one wanted to phrase it that way though.) i do wonder, however, how it is that (even in my poorest days), i’ve been paying income taxes all these years. in my college days, i paid income taxes, yet i’m sure i was in the bottom 40% then.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    I’d still say that Clavos presents only one side of the story. The other side is, the top 1 percent commands/generates (nearly?) 95% percent of the total assets and/or income. Which again brings to fore the earlier raised question:

    Isn’t there something categorically wrong with a country which boasts such a skewed disparity as regards social rewards, a disparity far more acute than the one would expect from any Bell curve as regards intelligence, resourcefulness, or any other individual quality one might think of?

    In short, even in terms of social-Darwinism, the backbone of conservative philosophy, apparently there are other factors at work. One only wonders what they might be.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    It’s only a matter of time, STM, so why postpone the inevitable? These are the consequences of capitalism running amok, all pretenses and disguises having been shed at last. You’re seeing the beast in the raw, in its pure and natural form.

    I hope you’ll never get there, but you will. It’s not just about good or bad people anymore. It’s the system that turns people so. So yes, I see it as a run-away train heading for a certain collision.

    Re-watch Wall Street, the money never sleeps.

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com/ handyguy

    No one is talking about radical, confiscatory taxation — just returning the marginal rates for high earners to the Clinton-era rates. The “roaring 90s” were not, I think, a time of great suffering for the upper classes.

    And zing, it’s primarily families with minor children who get the type of income tax breaks that would allow them to pay very low or no net income tax. Us single and childless folks are not granted this benefit.

    The implicit [yet unstated] argument running through this thread is that poor people are undertaxed. But payroll taxes and sales taxes, etc, can be a pretty big bite out of a smaller income.

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com/ handyguy

    Obama’s alleged ‘divisive class warfare’ rhetoric came in response to GOP refuseniks who will not vote for $1 in additional tax revenue, not no way, not no how.

    This ludicrous “negotiating” posture is also a form of class warfare, protecting the precious shekels of corporations and high-income individuals while insisting on gigantic budget cuts that will mostly affect middle and lower income people.

    Grover Norquist has caused even potentially reasonable Republicans [possibly including John Boehner] to box themselves into this indefensible position: we ain’t gonna raise taxes, so we have to chop entitlements [meaning mostly Medicare and Medicaid].

    It should also be a self-destructive position if there is any justice in the world, but that remains uncertain.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Clavos –

    I was going to go on another long diatribe giving you example after example after example – all of which you’d no doubt dismiss as strawmen or non sequitur no matter how relevant they were to our discussion.

    So let me ask you one set of closely-related questions: look back at the numbers I posted where I showed you how income growth was roughly equal among all income groups before Reagan came along, but since Reaganomics took effect, the wealthy have seen their incomes skyrocket while middle- and lower-class incomes have either stagnated or fallen.

    Why do you think that happened?

    What made the difference before and after the advent of Reaganomics?

    Do you think it is good for the nation that the wealthy continue to see their fortunes grow while the rest of us see ours stagnate or fall?

    And if you don’t think this pattern is good for the nation, how would you go about correcting the disparity?

    And when you answer, remember that our total tax burden are LOWER under Obama than they were under Bush, Bush, Reagan, Nixon, or Eisenhower…which issue you and every other BC conservative have refused to address.

    (and YES, all this is directly related to the discussion about the percentage of our taxes that the rich are paying)

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com/ handyguy

    It would be fine for the top earners to do so well — if middle and low income folks were not slipping so badly at the same time. To pretend that this is “just the market working,” and is therefore not objectionable, is tunnel vision at its worst.

    Actions have consequences. Let’s not pretend otherwise.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    It’s that kind of conciliatory politics, as expressed in #59, that gives liberals and the so-called “progressives” and their apologists a bad name. That’s why the American people remain unconvinced and, quite rightly, hold the Democratic Party in a state of contempt. “A gutless wonder” is a better term.

    If we’re not talking about radical taxation, we definitely ought to be. Here are some facts.

    In the 40s, the rate of corporation’s tax burden compared to that imposed on individuals was 3 to 2. Today, this ratio is reversed to favor corporations. For every dollar paid by individuals in income taxes, corporations pay 25 cents. Likewise in the 50s, 60s and 70s: the corporate income tax rate was nearly 95 percent

    the source.

  • troll

    Clavos – what % of income should the working poor pay in income tax to make the system fair iyo?

    …if each household making the median income or less paid an average of 10% that would raise about $60 billion on a $1.5 trillion federal budget

  • troll

    (actually I said that wrong in #64 as $60 billion is about 10% of the total income of all households making median income or less)

  • troll

    (I give up…$4 trillion budget)

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com/ handyguy

    With Grover Norquist’s blind robots forming a majority in the House, no tax increase, confiscatory, tiny, or in-between, is going anywhere. The Dems could rant and rave about it every day [and some do], but it still won’t happen. [And in fact there are probably not the required 60 votes in the Senate for any major tax increase either.]

    “Conciliatory” is not how I feel right now. But what you describe as conciliatory is just an attempt to get something through the legislature, rather than remain in deadlock. Talk is cheap.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    It’s the right kind of talk by FDR, his fireside chats, that prepared the country for times ahead and paved the way. And it worked. But this president has been conciliatory from day one, and he had set the tone. What we’re reaping are the results.

    Besides, FDR was an aristocrat and a true populist. He could afford to stand on principles and see this country through. This one, contrary to all appearances, is in the pocket of Wall Street and the American people see right through him. In this respect, Clavos is right.

    The Tea Party movement is a populist movement, in spite of it having been misguided by unscrupulous politicians. It’s not a reaction, as some on the Left try to portray it, against a president who happens to be black. It is, rather, a movement, which is populous in its makeup, and yes, by ordinary people like you and me, to fill the void which has been allowed to form by passive presidency, and that’s to put it mildly. In more acute terms, the bulk of the American people, whites, blacks and whatever, and regardless of their political persuasion, feel they’ve been sold by this president down the river. He may still get re-elected, but it won’t be by virtue of his performance in office but only because there aren’t any viable alternatives.

    The best thing Obama could do for the country would be to owe up to his failure (or at least inability to have fixed our problems) and refuse to campaign on the Democratic party ticket. That would be the honorable thing to do. We know of course that such a thing won’t happen.

    So yes, I agree that talk is cheap. And it has been nothing but cheap throughout this presidency.

  • Clavos

    On Friday, The Commerce Department revised downward the GDP figures which had been predicted for Q1 2011 and Q4 2010. This, of course, accounts for the drop in securities markets on Friday, and the anticipation of this bad news contributed to the erosion in the Dow all last week.

    Growth, which has been anemic since the end of 2007 (when it hit its peak) slipped yet again in both Q4 2010 and Q1 2011. Per capita GDP is much lower in real terms than it was in 2007: “In the second quarter of this year, average annual real output per person stood at $42,499, still 3.3% below its peak of $43,956 in the fourth quarter of 2007.”

    Commerce reported that “…first-quarter GDP growth was 0.4%, not 1.9% as first reported. In the second quarter, it grew at a tepid 1.3% pace.”

    The economy is tanking once more. The stimulus and TARP did not accomplish what the Keynesians told us they would, unemployment has not yet stopped rising, and the administration keeps throwing new regulations and conditions into the marketplace, making small and medium business owners/managers uncertain about the future. It is estimated that business is sitting on some $2 trillion in capital, afraid to commit it. These funds, invested for purposes of growth and expansion, would have gone a long way toward creating new jobs and alleviating (or at least helping to reduce) unemployment. Ironically, passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, intended by the administration to help the American citizenry (or so they said), with its attendant new regulations affecting small and medium businesses, and the uncertainty its passage has caused, has had exactly the opposite effect of that intended, as it is chief among the uncertainties making businesses hold their cash back.

    Despite the presence of numerous Ivy League-trained financial/economic experts (at least 70 by some accounts) in the administration, its lack of leadership and effectiveness in solving the nation’s economic woes is, IMO, the primary economic problem we face.

    And, apparently, a growing number of voters agree with that assessment. On Friday, Gallup released the latest results from polls on the president’s job approval numbers. They hit a new all-time low: “Just 40 percent of Americans say they approve of Obama’s performance as president. That is down three percentage points from Thursday. Fifty percent say they do not approve of the job he is doing.”

    This president is a disaster for the nation.

    Even prominent Democrats are beginning to say so. Here’s Robert Reich, writing in The Huffington Post — impeccable progressive credentials on both counts.

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com/ handyguy

    Your “IMO” and Robert Reich’s are diametrically opposed…you would barely agree with him that the sun rises in the east. So don’t be quotin’ him as if you’re on the same side.

    And I’ve asked before, without getting an answer, but I’ll try once more:

    Do you really believe the recovery would have been faster and better under President John McCain, President Hillary Clinton, or President Ron Paul? If so, your sense of cause and effect is out of whack, and the credit/blame you assign to the executive branch of government is vastly disproportionate.

    The same report also showed that the recession was far deeper than previously reported — something that cannot be called the “fault” of this or any administration. And it showed that the weakest part of the economy is not business spending — that’s up — but consumer spending. It’s a demand problem, which has nothing to do with your artificial bugaboo, government regulation.

    Your reaction to the economy is 100% ideological. You don’t make any allowances for any inaccuracy in your one-note “IMO.”

  • Clavos

    More on the [mis]handling of the economy by the White House.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    It’s not a link to Reich. Obviously, Handy didn’t even bother to check, just shooting from the hip.

  • Clavos

    Do you really believe the recovery would have been faster and better under President John McCain, President Hillary Clinton, or President Ron Paul?

    Immaterial and irrelevant. They aren’t in the White House. Obama is.

    But I’m inclined to give the nod to Clinton, yes.

    Your “IMO” and Robert Reich’s are diametrically opposed

    Except that we both agree that Obama isn’t doing his job…

    It’s a demand problem…

    It’s actually both, as my sources pointed out. Demand is down because, among other failures, unemployment is high, creating crippling insecurity, even among those still working, and Obama’s “measures” to improve the economy have done nothing for unemployment; they haven’t even slowed it.

    Your reaction to the economy is 100% ideological. You don’t make any allowances for any inaccuracy in your one-note “IMO.”

    Rrriiiight…

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    And BTW, Robert Reich has long predicted the tanking of the nation even under Clinton, when Secretary of Labor. See The Work of Nations.

    It’s doubtful Clavos would disagree with Reich’s penetrating analysis.

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com/ handyguy

    Roger, please. Clavos referenced Reich, and I objected. That wasn’t aimed at you. Calm down.

  • Clavos

    Roger,

    My apologies, I intended to link to Reich’s piece, but somehow linked to another instead.

    Here’s Reich on Obama.

    And you’re right; I agree with Reich’s book far more than I disagree.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    I’m quite calm, Handy. And if the link he posted to Reich’s article in the HP works at last, do let me know.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Thanks, Clav. Naturally I discredited the first source because it was from a conservative. A little irony here and there won’t hurt.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/dr-dreadful/ Dr Dreadful

    The reason you Americans are in this mess (and dragging the rest of the world down into it with you) is because of the way your government is structured. This sort of impasse simply wouldn’t happen under a parliamentary system.

    The Founding Fathers had very excellent reasons for setting the federal government up the way they did, but I’m sure they never envisaged a time when members of Congress and the Chief Executive would feel it was more important to wave their willies at one another* across Capitol Hill than to come to an agreement – however unpalatable to some of them – that promotes the general welfare of the people, which after all is one of the jobs Congress is specifically mandated to do by the Constitution.

    Many of the FFs had a horror of party politics, and now we can see why. It’s frankly amazing that it’s taken 200 years to slither into this bad of a miasma.

    * Apologies to the ladies, but Congress still is overwhelmingly male, so it’s an appropriate image.

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com/ handyguy

    If Clavos [or Roger] expressed disagreement with the president even a fraction as eloquently and respectfully as Prof Reich does in his excellent article, I’d have far less objection.

    But on here it’s all cheap shots and oversimplification and name-calling. And very, very repetitive and wearisome.

    Robert Reich is also a very fine public speaker, which is somehow unexpected given his quite tiny physical stature [less than 5 feet tall]. I have had the privilege of listening to him make even dry topics fascinating.

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com/ handyguy

    And my point in asking if you think another president would do better is obvious, but still: contemplate the possibility that this crash was big enough to defy any one individual’s policies, no matter how well advised and well thought out.

    You can’t prove that Obama’s “measures” have done nothing for unemployment. It could have been much worse. There is no way to prove a negative. And I have shown you figures about the 1980s recession and how long it took employment to recover, even with the Great God Reagan in charge.

    My own take is that the economy has to heal itself. What the government can do, principally, is fill in temporarily when there is too little private activity.

    A new WPA or infrastructure bank, as Reich and others have suggested? I’m all for trying it — but do you really think the GOP would allow the money to be spent? Fat chance. Things that require expenditure require the president and congress to work together. We see how well that is working out currently.

  • Clavos

    If Clavos [or Roger] expressed disagreement with the president even a fraction as eloquently and respectfully as Prof Reich does in his excellent article, I’d have far less objection.

    Well, I can’t speak for Roger, but the main difference between my tone and Reich’s is that he likes and respects Obama.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Clavos –

    I didn’t think you’d answer my questions in #61. As can be seen also in your exchange with handy, you’re long on gripes and snipes, but real short on solutions and answers.

    Don’t put forth endless gripes if you don’t have the wherewithal to present a workable solution.

  • Clavos

    but real short on solutions and answers.

    I am indeed.

    Gripes and snipes about our governance is my right as a citizen.

    And I’m a used boat salesman (one step below used car salesmen), not the president; I have no obligation to come up with solutions — that’s what we pay him for.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    I’ve spoken of lack of leadership, Handy, on more than countless times. I don’t have to be as polite as Robert Reich has to be. I don’t have national audience. So forgive me for being more blunt than may be offensive to some ears. As far as I’m concerned, it’s a virtue. And, when it comes right down to it, the message is just about the same.

  • zingzing

    how about we end the wars? repeal the tax cuts for the rich. stop subsidies for the health insurance industry. renegotiate trade agreements in our favor. public works–build better transportation systems. invest in tech projects that would fuel private sector manufacturing. dennis kucinich is a god… unfortunately, he’s the left’s unelectable ron paul.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/dr-dreadful/ Dr Dreadful

    But on here it’s all cheap shots and oversimplification and name-calling. And very, very repetitive and wearisome.

    On here and in Congress, Handy.

  • zingzing

    yeah, it’s a pretty good reflection of what we want from our elected representatives, isn’t it?

  • http://cinemasentries.com/ El Bicho

    Reich also thought the surplus wasn’t big enough

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Clavos –

    But that’s the problem – you’re not analyzing the facts beyond what’s sufficient to (in your mind) justify those gripes.

    For instance, you complain about taxes till the cows come home, but you have YET to address the fact that taxes are LOWER under Obama than under any president since Truman. Logic would have it that if low taxes are what you want, then that should be a major reason why you should support Obama’s efforts.

    Why is it that you hate Obama so much despite the fact that our tax burdens are lowest under Obama than under any president since Truman?

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    That’s a rather personal question. Nor is it a professional one, unless you’re a practicing psychologist who is interested in Clavos’ mental health.

  • zingzing

    it’s gotten past the point where we can assume it’s because he’s black, so it must be because he’s blue.

    or because we are a nation of idiots, as clavos would likely say.

    still, that’s a good point. i wonder what clavos has to say about it. probably something snarky. (!bing!–!bing!)

  • Clavos

    you complain about taxes till the cows come home…

    Actually, I don’t; I bitch at you guys who want to tax the rich more.

    I don’t have enough income tax liability to complain about it.

    I do complain when taxes are wasted or misused, however, and I complain that the government itself has become too unwieldy and fiscally wasteful.

    And i think the eligibility thresholds for many entitlement programs are much too low — in particular congressional retirement programs are much too easy to qualify for and far too generous.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    You gripe about wanting to tax the rich more…yet you NEVER take into account our tax burden is LESS than what it has been for the past half century!

    In other words, you want to gripe, but you refuse to admit that the thing that you’re griping about (taxing the rich) is ALREADY in better shape than it’s been in for a half century!

    Besides, you’re griping about taxing the rich, but you’re flatly ignoring the fact that thanks to REAGANOMICS TAX POLICY, the rich have seen their incomes skyrocket over two hundred percent, while the rest of us have seen our incomes stagnate or fall…

    …and that’s somehow okay with you????

    Clavos, do you not see the logical disconnect there?

  • Clavos

    you NEVER take into account our tax burden is LESS than what it has been for the past half century!

    Yet the government is directly supporting more people (via entitlement programs) than ever before in our history.

    Our debt level, as we all know, is unprecedented.

    Do you not see the fiscal disconnect there?

    Of course you do, which is why you want to raise taxes — to pay for all that.

    How about some substantial cuts first?

    Defense?

    Foreign aid?

    The feds currently employ upwards of 3 million people — how about a freeze on federal hiring until, by attrition that number shrinks to no more than 1 million?

    How about doing away with congressional and senate retirement plans for all who retire with a net worth greater than $1 million? (even that’s overly generous)

    Do the same with Social Security, but raise the minimum age to draw it to 70 or 72 first.

    How about cutting by half the bennies former presidents receive?

    Limiting the number of children out of wedlock any one single mother can receive aid for?

    Means testing food stamps and other support payments?

    FDR had a good idea with the WPA; why don’t we put all those unemployed back to work fixing/upgrading the famously crumbling infrastructure?

    And on and on…

    THEN we’ll talk about raising taxes, but not until all the possible cuts have been made!

    Otherwise we’re just enabling those government pricks.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Clavos –

    1 – Our debt level is NOT unprecedented. We had an even higher level of debt (relative to GDP) following WWII.

    2 – We raised taxes (especially on the rich) and nearly paid off that entire debt in less than a decade – even with the Korean War!

    3 – If you’ll check, Obama HAS called for raising the age for Medicare…and as far as Social Security goes, that has absolutely nothing to do with our national debt as you well know.

    4 – Defense – I’m all with you on that one, remember? I called for mothballing our entire carrier fleet – and I spent more than eight years on board carriers! But IIRC, the ONLY side that has called for any cuts whatsoever to defense has been – wait for it – the DEMOCRATS.

    5 – Foreign aid – you’re talking relative peanuts here, except for what we give to Israel (which you also know that I want cut).

    6 – I’ve got zero problem with what former presidents receive, because we’ve got to make sure that they never, ever have any financial problems. Why? Do you really want a president – with everything a president knows – to be susceptible to financial bribery? I don’t think that’s a good idea.

    7 – FDR and the WPA – if you’ll recall, most of Obama’s stimulus package (the two thirds that was not a tax cut) WAS DIRECTLY TARGETING our infrastructure. You can find lists of thousands of projects nationwide that were funded by our stimulus.

    8 – On limiting the amount of aid for having too many children…sounds reasonable at first glance, but this is one of those “slippery slope” things. Do you really want to start down this road? Because it wouldn’t be long before certain libertarians (like *cough* Dave *cough*!) start decrying the fact that they get any aid at all.

    9. Congressional retirement pay – I heartily agree. In the big picture this is minuscule, but it’s a matter of appearances. IMO.

    10 – Means testing food stamps and support payments…I’m not initially opposed to this idea, but are you willing to pay the extra taxes to provide the personnel that will be required in order to make this happen? Like so many other things, you’ve got to invest some money before you can make (or save) money.

    BUT IN ALL YOUR LIST ABOVE, you still haven’t addressed the FACT that we’ve got a lower tax burden under Obama than under any other president in the past fifty years. You just hate, truly hate the very idea of giving him any credit whatsoever, huh?

    But meet me halfway, Clavos – I addressed all of what you posted and even agreed with some of it. Why is it that you’re so adamantly opposed to raising taxes on the rich when their incomes rose just as quickly as everyone else’s prior to Reaganomics, but after Reaganomics their taxes were slashed, their incomes skyrocketed, and the rest of us saw our incomes stagnate or fall?

    Do you not understand that a higher income tax for the top brackets force the rich to make a choice – either pay up to Uncle Sam OR invest more in their own businesses and take a deduction…in which case they make more money anyway and their companies are better off fiscally? This was how it was done in the 1950’s, it worked very well, and there’s nothing wrong with doing it now.

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com/ handyguy

    Most of the items on Clavos’s list amount to pocket change and rounding errors in the budget. Only three things really count: Defense, Medicare, Medicaid.

    And penalizing poor children? How is it their fault? Saving a relatively small amount of money to cause more suffering in the world. Nice.

    By the way, Food Stamps are means tested. Getting a job, even a low paying one, can cost you benefits.

    And as for raising the Social Security retirement age: Ever tried looking for a job at age 60? Or even 50? Again, a formula for more suffering.

    The proposals that have been made in the last six months include tax revenues not in place of spending cuts, but to ameliorate the effects of large cuts. The tax rates of the Clinton years would not exactly be rampant socialism, eh?

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com/ handyguy

    A new WPA: Clavos thinks this is a good idea, but he lists it at the end of a collection of [mostly tiny] ways to save money. Who’s gonna pay for a new WPA? Certainly not Boehner’s House.

    And about federal employment:
    Not sure where you get your figures [my source says less than 2.7 million], but federal employment has not grown significantly since the Nixon administration [250,000 more then than now], so it’s way down as a percentage of the population: 1.3% of the population then, 0.8% now.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/dr-dreadful/ Dr Dreadful

    Limiting the number of children out of wedlock any one single mother can receive aid for?

    For families on TANF this already happens, whether the parents are married or not. Since 1997, if a family who has been receiving cash aid for longer than 10 months has another child, they do not get any additional benefits for that child.

    There’s also a lifetime 60-month time limit for the parents. (Due to the budget mess, this has just been cut to 48 months in California.) Your kids can continue to get aid until they turn 18, but if you yourself have received it for a total of five years (doesn’t have to be consecutive), you’re done.

  • http://jetsgaypride.blogspot.com/ Jet Gardner

    A bill to simply raise the debt limit, no riders, no blackmail, no add-ons… why is that so hard?

  • Clavos

    We had an even higher level of debt (relative to GDP) following WWII.

    What is it with you libs? You’re all so enamored of relative numbers. In absolute terms, we have never been so far in debt, and you can believe our creditors (can you say China) are thinking of what we owe them in absolute, not relative, terms.

    Glenn, you say, Do you not understand that a higher income tax for the top brackets force the rich to make a choice – either pay up to Uncle Sam OR invest more in their own businesses and take a deduction…

    You’re ignoring a third alternative, the one Swedish rock group, Abba took when the Swedish government began to tax their income at the 90% level: move to another country. You may not think that this is a viable alternative, but you would be wrong; many of my very wealthy yacht customers are already thinking (and planning) in those terms, and they make no secret of it. In fact, many businessmen have already offshored substantial operations of their companies; following with their own families is a small step.

    A little further down the thread handy speaks of federal employment in terms of relativity, saying: federal employment has not grown significantly since the Nixon administration [250,000 more then than now], so it’s way down as a percentage of the population: 1.3% of the population then, 0.8% now.

    WTF? Where’s the relevance in the size of federal employment relative to the size of the population? The feds don’t deal with John Q Public on the same basis as your local DMV office. What I proposed was a reduction in federal employment by a factor of 66%, so OK, handy, let’s use your 2.7M figure for current federal employment and cut it 2/3, to 900,000.

    I have worked for the federal government. I know it’s bloated in terms of employment; anyone who has worked a federal job knows this, but most won’t admit it.

    And what’s the relevance handy, between extending the age at which SS kicks in and the difficulty in finding a job after 60? Extending the SS age doesn’t mean there suddenly will be millions of out of work geriatrics looking for jobs, the vast majority of those affected will simply keep their jobs longer. Raising the SS age also makes demographic sense; people are living much longer than they were when SS was brought on line. And need I remind you it already has been raised? There’s even precedent!

    One last point: just because potential savings are small is no reason to simply reject an idea if it makes sense otherwise. As my grandparents taught me, “Take care of the pennies and nickels and the dollars will take care of themselves.” It was good advice 60 years ago and it’s good advice now.

  • zingzing

    clavos, can you say how much of our debt is owed to china? and you know the reason why relative terms are important.

    “As my grandparents taught me, “Take care of the pennies and nickels and the dollars will take care of themselves.” It was good advice 60 years ago and it’s good advice now.”

    60 years ago, those pennies and nickels had significant buying power. now, they do not.

  • http://jetsgaypride.blogspot.com/ Jet Gardner

    Quiz:
    What was the tax rate under the republican administrations of Eisenhower, Nixon, Ford, and Bush I for those making more than $250,000? The one for Eisenhower would be especially quite revealing since it was one of the greatest eras of economic growth this country has ever seen?

    Chew on that Teabaggers

    Hmmmmm?

  • http://jetsgaypride.blogspot.com/ Jet Gardner

    … and job growth too. Union jobs at that!

  • Clavos

    @#99:

    That’s great, Doc! I didn’t know that.

    Does it work? In the sense that people do limit the number of kids they have?

  • http://jetsgaypride.blogspot.com/ Jet Gardner

    Um Clavos-Under Republican Eisenhower’s administration, the rich paid 89-93% in taxes before loopholes and tax dodges.

    Under Republican Nixon, the rich paid 70% in taxes before loopholes and tax dodges.

    Under Republican hero Reagon the rich paid 50% in taxes before loopholes and tax dodges.

    Um… Obama wants the rich to pay… 39.6%in taxes before loopholes and tax dodges.

    Someone please tell the GOP that there’s only so much baloney that I can swallow!

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com/ handyguy

    #102: not sure if this was an actual or a rhetorical question, but China holds $1.2 trillion, and total foreign holdings are $4.5 trillion, out of $14.3 trillion.

  • Clavos

    The one for Eisenhower would be especially quite revealing since it was one of the greatest eras of economic growth this country has ever seen?

    But not due to anything Ike (or anyone else in the government) did. It happened because, after several years of rationing and not being able to buy anything but the bare necessities (and not even all of them), there was enormous pent-up demand for everything from cars (not built and thus unobtainable during the war) to clothing (rationed and not good quality during the war) and even many foods. With all the millions of returning soldiers having help from the new GI Bill, education and housing also boomed. My dad, for example wanted to give my mom a Mercury convertible when he got back from the war. The car factories had not yet gotten fully back into making civilian cars at that point, and demand for new cars vastly outstripped supply. Taking advantage of this, the Lincoln-Mercury dealer told me dad that the only way he could have the convertible was if he also bought a Lincoln sedan. Not wanting to disappoint my mom, and being able to afford it, my dad bought both.

    Between the factories and businesses gearing back up to making things for civilians and everyone wanting to resupply themselves with the things they couldn’t get during wartime, the economy boomed all the way through the fifties and even into the beginning of the sixties — until we got involved in Vietnam.

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com/ handyguy

    #105: “That’s great, Doc!”

    Yes, the thought of hungry kids just makes life feel so much better, doesn’t it? Let’s bring back workhouses and debtors’ prisons too. And maybe some of these annoying poor children will die, and decrease the surplus population!

  • Clavos

    Someone please tell the GOP that there’s only so much baloney that I can swallow!

    I know this will come as a shock, but the GOP doesn’t care.

  • Clavos

    Let’s bring back workhouses and debtors’ prisons too. And maybe some of these annoying poor children will die, and decrease the surplus population!

    Wow! Who would have thought a liberal would advocate such things!

  • zingzing

    “not sure if this was an actual or a rhetorical question…”

    it was neither really. but clavos’ rhetoric would suggest he thinks china has us by the balls by owning a large majority of our debt. of course that’s not the case on either count.

  • http://jetsgaypride.blogspot.com/ Jet Gardner

    Mr. Boehner could you answer a question, if you can, if you dare? In the midst of a national debt crisis, when the entire world was watching you,

    why would you risk your political career by insisting that a rider was inserted into you debt ceiling bill to remove wolves from the endangered species list? What the fuck does that have to do with the national debt??? other than the fact that the damned things don’t pay taxes.

    Sir, mister speaker, exactly which rich teabagger bribed you so much that you’d put that in a bill you stupidly figured no one would read????????????

  • Clavos

    :-)

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/dr-dreadful/ Dr Dreadful

    Does it work? In the sense that people do limit the number of kids they have?

    Hard to tell. A lot of the time we’re not talking about the sharpest tools in the shed here. For some families it seems to take one or two additional children before the penny drops, but I rarely see more than that.

    With some of my client families there are also cultural factors at work, wherein a large family is looked on as a measure of success and/or a blessing. The first-generation immigrant Hmong I work with tend to keep churning kids out relentlessly until menopause, regardless of whether it might benefit them financially. On the other hand, they also tend to expect their oldest kids to leave home the second they turn 18.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Clavos –

    You really think we should slash our federal employment by 66%? You didn’t target any particular area of waste, but just said “let’s cut by two-thirds” and didn’t even begin to address how to take care of the thousands of crucial things those federal workers do.

    But that’s what I’ve seem from conservatives – they get frustrated with one small part that doesn’t work like they think it should…and then they just want to get rid of the whole thing – whatever that “whole thing” may be.

    You’re not interested in fixing a problem, because if you were, you wouldn’t just throw out a number and say “cut it by that many” because you have NO clue where that would lead.

    And lastly, Clavos, the greater the population, the greater the diversity, and the greater the technology, then the greater the regulation (and the government required to enforce that regulation) MUST be. Just the thought of that will make your head explode, but that is a sociological FACT.

    You canNOT run NYC using the set of regulatory functionaries that it takes to run a place one-third the size. You canNOT govern America with a government the size of that in Italy. You’re just blowing smoke, but wishing won’t make your tea-party dreams so…and yes, you’re acting like you’re one of the TPers now.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Oh, Clavos!

    Remember how you said you’d love to see cuts to defense? Well, guess which side wants to derail everything because “modest cuts” might occur to defense?

    And which side was proposing close to $4T in cuts?

    And which side proposed the greatest amount of cuts?

    But don’t bother answering, because the answer might in some wild, unknowable way actually give some credit to those you hate the most, and everybody knows that in Clavos World, Thou Shalt Not Give Obama Or Democrats Credit For Anything.

  • http://jetsgaypride.blogspot.com/ Jet Gardner

    Now Glenn you should know that in the world of corporate thinkers… If it makes sense-it’s against company policy

  • Clavos

    @#117:

    You sound a lot like my twelve year old stepson, Glenn.

    Except he’s more mature.

  • zingzing

    oh, clavos…

  • http://gay-headlines.blogspot.com/ Jet Gardner

    oh…ohhhhh Clavos

  • zingzing

    oh, clavos! oh-oh-oh… clavvvvosssss…

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Of course, Clavos –

    Don’t worry, I’ll bear in mind your insult comes from one who stands tall and firm against raising taxes against the rich, even when it means that we’d have to cut things like teachers, head start, scientific research – but hey! If you had your way, at least you’d make some rich people happy!

  • Glenn Contrarian

    For all –

    The mechanics of the deal.

    Personally, I think the House might well shoot it down. Why? Because of the cuts (and possible extra cuts in the future) to defense.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/dr-dreadful/ Dr Dreadful

    You can’t prove that Obama’s “measures” have done nothing for unemployment. It could have been much worse. There is no way to prove a negative.

    That’s actually not true, as long as one is talking about absolutes. For example, a statement such as “President Obama has not commented publicly on the crisis in Shitstormistan” can easily be verified by checking White House press releases and newswires.

    But you are correct, Handy, in the case of an abstract claim like this one.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Clavos, this one is for you.

    You may not agree with parts of Michael Hudson’s analysis or economic theory, but his indirect assessment of Obama’s leadership qualities is spot on.

  • heloise

    It’s that thousand days thing ala Anne Boulin and JFK. You suggest he has arrived at that watermark and won’t survive. You might be right. I decided to stay out of the fray of political tongue lashing.