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Joe McQuade

Death Of The Modern GOP

174 posts in this topic

Why do you assume that the tax money will be turned over to an unproductive citizen? Aren't taxes used for things like schools, roads, bridges, defense, etc.? You make it sound like hard-working Joe the Plumber (who news sources report in fact owes back state taxes) would have to turn over part of his earnings (his more than a quarter million dollars of earnings) to useless slackers. ????

Because the only way that Obama can meet his claim of giving 95% of Americans a tax cut is to give money back through the tax system to a lot of folks who didn't pay any in.

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Because the only way that Obama can meet his claim of giving 95% of Americans a tax cut is to give money back through the tax system to a lot of folks who didn't pay any in.

MM,

I'm a little confused by this so maybe you can point me to some reference documents to help me understand.

I thought that the O'man said a "tax break" meaning that in the next fed tax cycle, the rate will be lower for those earning (net) under $250K and 3 points higher for those earning (net) $250K and over. I don't recall any mention of rebates.

The tax "incentive" payment issued this year, however, did in fact give some money directly to people who had paid no taxes at all in 2007 and you supported that one, right?

I'm very confused by this claim but am willing to learn more.

aC

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MM,

I'm a little confused by this so maybe you can point me to some reference documents to help me understand.

I thought that the O'man said a "tax break" meaning that in the next fed tax cycle, the rate will be lower for those earning (net) under $250K and 3 points higher for those earning (net) $250K and over. I don't recall any mention of rebates.

The tax "incentive" payment issued this year, however, did in fact give some money directly to people who had paid no taxes at all in 2007 and you supported that one, right?

I'm very confused by this claim but am willing to learn more.

aC

The O'man is at least as confused as you are. He has made the claim that he's going to lower income taxes on 95% of Americans, right? Now, given that the only taxes that he has serious input into cutting are income taxes, how's he gonna do that when about 35-40% end up at the end of the year with NO income tax liability whatsoever? He has proposed various "refundable tax credits" or "tax rebates" to the low and middle income quintiles. But if they didn't have any liability in the first place, when someone receives a check from the IRS, it's NOT a refund or rebate, is it? It's an income transfer, pure and simple. The EIC can be the same sort of thing, as a matter of fact, depending on the outside income of the recipient. When those transfers are described as "tax cuts", that is Orwellian double talk.

And, no, I didn't support the incentive payment this year or last year. I support a straight flat tax, because that comes as close as anything I know to requiring the same amount of commitment from every citizen to our central government. The adoption of it would require some engineering to insure that there were serious safety nets for the impoverished, but I don't believe it is healthy for a large portion of the population to be absolved of all civic responsibilities in this regard, and I think it would go a long way to reducing partisanship if ruling factions were institutionally prohibited from passing out goodies to their favored political constituencies(the most common vehicle through which this is done being through the complexities of the federal tax code). If all of us were watching our own money spent only on "general welfare" items, and not on programs that included direct payments to individuals or favored groups, we'd be a lot more likely to spend wisely and to find ways to balance our budgets.

Edited by Michael Major

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The O'man is at least as confused as you are.

Impossible. Nobody is as confused as I am!

He has made the claim that he's going to lower income taxes on 95% of Americans, right?

Sorta - he said he was going to lower the tax RATE which does lower income taxes from that group of people.

Now, given that the only taxes that he has serious input into cutting are income taxes, how's he gonna do that when about 35-40% end up at the end of the year with NO income tax liability whatsoever?

Be patient with me but this is where I start losing your thread of argument. True the primary tax he will have some influence on is Fed Inc Tax. You are saying that 35-40% of the taxpayer populace end up paying no taxes anyway (due to deductions, etc.) right? [We can argue about what income percentile actually lowers their tax obligations in this way some other time. Right now, I'm trying to follow your reasoning.] I don't see where this is important as, again, what he said (as I understand it) is that he is lowering the RATE - so these people will not be affected at all but others will. Again - the 95% claim for a RATE reduction is still valid.

He has proposed various "refundable tax credits" or "tax rebates" to the low and middle income quintiles. But if they didn't have any liability in the first place, when someone receives a check from the IRS, it's NOT a refund or rebate, is it? It's an income transfer, pure and simple. The EIC can be the same sort of thing, as a matter of fact, depending on the outside income of the recipient. When those transfers are described as "tax cuts", that is Orwellian double talk.

This is where my knowledge is, apparently, lacking. I don't know of rebates being proposed and the only refundable tax credits I remember him talking about were for small business - corporate, not individual income, tax funds.

And, no, I didn't support the incentive payment this year or last year.

My mistake. I thought I remembered CD posts from you where you talked about thinking it was a great thing.

I support a straight flat tax, because that comes as close as anything I know to requiring the same amount of commitment from every citizen to our central government. The adoption of it would require some engineering to insure that there were serious safety nets for the impoverished, but I don't believe it is healthy for a large portion of the population to be absolved of all civic responsibilities in this regard, and I think it would go a long way to reducing partisanship if ruling factions were institutionally prohibited from passing out goodies to their favored political constituencies. If all of us were watching our own money spent only on "general welfare" items, and not on programs that included direct payments to individuals or favored groups, we'd be a lot more likely to spend wisely and to find ways to balance our budgets.

I support a flat tax as well and have written up specific recommendations about this on CD in the past.

Confusedly yours,

aC

Edited by Au Courant

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I also posted a tax proposal (also based on a "flat [i.e., a uniform rate] tax").

Someone has to explain to me why it's "fair" that someone should pay a higher RATE of tax just because he/she earns more money. Paying more dollars makes sense, but paying a greater rate strikes me as unequal, unfair, and possibly even unconstitutional (denies equal protection of the laws).

That said, I think I understand Mr. Major's argument, and, assuming I do, I agree with him. If a large portion of the lower-income people in the US already pay no tax, they will not gain any benefit from Sen. Obama's tax plan, since, even if the rate is reduced, the reduced rate of tax on zero taxable income remains zero. The only beneficiaries of a reduced rate are those who actually pay some tax now, as they might (theoretically) find themselves pushed into the "no tax" group.

In order for the lower-income people (those already paying no tax) to "benefit" from a tax rate reduction (or tax cut) is for them to receive additional payments from the Treasury. These would not be tax refunds (you cannot get a refund if you pay no tax), but would rather be additional transfer payments (income redistributions).

The purpose of taxation should be to raise money to fund government operations. This does not include income redistribution (a socialist scheme deriving from Marx's "from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs") or "sharing the wealth." If government takes more in than it needs to fund itself, the rates should be adjusted to prevent that (we won't reach that happy day for a while due to our debts, but...).

One of the "flaws" (unstated but apparently assumed) in many liberal economic programs is the assumption that people's incomes and assets are, essentially, government's. Government can use these for its purposes (including income redistribution), and what it doesn't want, it leaves to the individual. If one's assets behong to him/her, government has no legitimate claim on them, except to the extent it needs funds to perform its duties. As noted above, that does NOT include income redistribution.

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This is from the Obama website:

"A $1,000 “Making Work Pay” Tax Credit. For 95 percent of workers and their families—150 million

workers overall—the “Making Work Pay” credit will provide a refundable tax cut of $500 for workers or

$1,000 for working couples. This credit will benefit over 15 million self employed workers and for 10

million low-income Americans, will completely eliminate their federal income taxes."

Is this what has been referred to? I didn't see anything else that sounded like 'income redistribution'. It appears that Obama isn't claiming that he'll reduce taxes for 95% of Americans but for 95% of workers, although I admit that would still include workers who don't earn enough to pay taxes. And I can't tell from this whether it would mean that if you didn't pay any taxes, you would get $500. But maybe that is what it means? I can't tell. Anyone understand it?

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There is a reason why they call the graduated tax brackets "progressive". If we have a flat tax on ALL income, including interest and capital gains, then you could be literally taking food out of the mouths of children.

Assuming a 10% flat tax (to keep the math simple only -- a real flat tax would more likely be 18-22%).

Family A, makes $2,000,000 a year, the tax would be $200,000, leaving $1,800,000. No hardships for this family.

Family B, makes $200,000 a year, the tax would be $20,000, leaving $180,000, once again no hardships.

Family C, makes $20,000 a year, the tax would be $2,000, leaving $18,000. You are down to eliminating food clothing and/or shelter.

The median family income in America is somewhere around $45,000 a year, in NJ, that's barely a subsistence income. If you apply a flat tax of 20%, you would be left with $36,000, from which also is deducted SS, State and local taxes.

At some point, it becomes confiscatory to tax families at or below the poverty line. It would make more sense to have a poverty line cut off and/or accept community service in lieu of money.

Just my humble two cents worth

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Carol--

I can't speak for all "flat tax" programs and proposals, but mine exempted from taxation (pretax) Social Security, State and Local income taxes, State-mandated expenses and payments, and certain medical and charitable contributions. It also provided that the first X dollars of income was tax-exempt, and that there were personal exemption allowances as well. Only after deducting these was the remaining income subject to the flat tax rate.

That is the way to acheive the "balance" you're seeking. You don't do it by hitting someone with a punitive (meaning an increased) tax rate just because you feel he can afford it. And you don't give people money by way of credits if they aren't paying into the system in the first place. That's not tax fairness--it's income redistribution, and that's not fair at all.

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Just a note to say that the topic of a flat or uniform income tax has been thoroughly discussed in (at least) these threads - in case you wanted to avoid replications...

Income Taxation--what's Fair, What Isn't, And How To "fix" It, Commentary on the Federal Income Tax

Healthcare and Taxes

Universal Health Care - Does The Constitution Support A Federal Program?

aC

Edited by Au Courant

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Well, the far right will never endorse Senator Obama, nor would any one expect them to, but some on the right have.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2008/10/17/c...h_n_135684.html

First, Philadelphia talk radio host Michael Smerconish, who has been a Registered Republican for 28 years.

"I may have been an appointee in the George H.W. Bush administration, and master of ceremonies for George W. Bush in 2004, but last Saturday I stood amidst the crowd at an Obama event in North Philadelphia," says the Republican.

"Then, the Chicago Tribune, a newspaper that has not endorsed a Democrat for president since it was founded in 1847, followed suit"

~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~

I am so looking forward to intelligence being important in this country, and for someone very intelligent being back in the White House.

Just my two cents worth.

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Replying to post #53 Michael Major:

Hi Michael, hope you are well.

Michael, I find that I must agree with you on redistribution of income. I think that is exactly what the Democrats are suggesting. Surprised? (For those of you who may not know, Michael and I have some differences on taxes)

Yes, I will boldly come out and claim that such things as improving education, ensuring that everyone (particularly children) have a place to sleep, a place to learn, enough to eat, able to see a doctor who will provide necessary care, regardless of ability to pay all will have to come out of the pockets primarily of the wealthiest in our society, and some will have a problem with that.

The problem we have is that the haves have squeezed too hard on the blue collar (and under) worker's wallets during a financial and housing crisis to the point that those workers cannot afford any basic necessity while the rich in our country grow richer every year. That is a problem that causes dissent and even revolution in many countries. It should not happen here.

We find ourselves with a class system that says "we will only pay minimum wage because we can. If you can't live on it, that is your problem. And then claim to not understand why in all likelihood, McCain will get slaughtered in November. This is most definitely a class struggle but if greed were removed from the equation that could be easily solved. And nothing but greed stands in the way of paying someone enough to live on.

A little less in the bottom line, a smaller diamond for honey this year, it is an economic crisis you understand. But the difference in perception between the rich and the poor is that the rich get angry, but the poor worker gets to have nothing at all. No job, no money. Living in his/her car . That is a pretty big difference to the lifestyles of the two.

Obama is suggesting that has to change, and the pay to the average American worker must go up. I would add that we have to become a manufacturing country. Again. We used to be the gold standard of manufacturing and must become it again with jobs at decent pay and health benefits to all, private or government is better than what we have now for too many.

Sorry all you very rich out there, you're going to have to do with a little bit less during these trying times so all of America can live at all---as they should in the worlds most powerful country. You want to call it socialism, have at it. I call it the "eliminate poverty and put people back to work at fair wages plan". Or, how about the "Rebuild America Plan"? hey, RAP for short, pretty cool.

Edited by Larry in Homeland CA

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I'd like for him to explain how his economic theory of redistributing Joe's earnings to others in the form of unearned tax rebates is supposed to create more incentives to work or create wealth. I think Joe's intention to add another job to his operation is a whole lot more economically sound.

I won't try to convince a right-wing ideologue to love our venerable progressive income tax. I won't even try to persuade him that Joe the Plumber's entrepreneurial ambitions would be better nourished under Obama's tax plan than McCain's. But I will challenge the canard that a three-percentage-point tax increase on income over $250k will drain the work ethic from our highest earners. It certainly didn't have that effect when this rate was in effect in the Nineties.

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In a way, the GOP's problems are precisely why McCain got nominated: He was the last man standing in an array of candidates who represented all parts of the GOP ideological spectrum.

The GOP brand may have been tarnished, but McCain's appeal was that he wasn't really a part of that brand. He was the maverick, the guy who took on his own party and the special interests. The appeal went beyond the GOP. Independent voters liked the sound of it, too.

But McCain had to get nominated in the GOP, and the rest is history. And now McCain and Obama are locked in a struggle for those independent voters, and McCain is suffering.

In the end, as Powell pointed out, the choice of Palin -- which did so much to unify the base of the party -- may well be the moment those independent voters decided to look somewhere else.

Powell may have been speaking for those folks when he called the GOP preoccupation with William Ayres as "demagoguery" and a distraction from the serious issues of the day.

John Avlon, an expert on independent voters, points out in Monday's Wall Street Journal that they have grown exponentially in the past couple of decades.

"Now, two out of five Americans can't name anything they like about the Democrats," he wrote, "and 50 percent say the same about Republicans."

They hate pork-barrel projects -- hence, McCain. Yet they're not social conservatives, but Palin is -- big-time.

So in trying to "balance" his ticket for the GOP, McCain may well have thrown away his greatest asset -- this appeal to voters who thrive on unification, not division.

Gloria Borger

http://www.cnn.com/2008/POLITICS/10/20/bor...lumn/index.html

It appears some well read and informed people also find it curious that Palin and the Grim Reaper are never seen together.

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I won't try to convince a right-wing ideologue to love our venerable progressive income tax. I won't even try to persuade him that Joe the Plumber's entrepreneurial ambitions would be better nourished under Obama's tax plan than McCain's. But I will challenge the canard that a three-percentage-point tax increase on income over $250k will drain the work ethic from our highest earners. It certainly didn't have that effect when this rate was in effect in the Nineties.

I'd be interested in finding out what it is about progressivity that is so lovable. I find it just as obnoxious as regressivity. Both treat people unequally. As one who believes that we should all be equal under the law, all the law, I find it a source of constant bafflement that folks who mouth platitudes indicating that they share that belief are so quick to abandon it when it comes to riffling through others' wallets.

In addition to the patent unfairness of different tax rates, allowing them guarantees that the tax code will be used to pay off the favored political constituencies of those who hold power, a recipe for partisan bitterness and hostility.

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I'd be interested in finding out what it is about progressivity that is so lovable. I find it just as obnoxious as regressivity. Both treat people unequally. As one who believes that we should all be equal under the law, all the law, I find it a source of constant bafflement that folks who mouth platitudes indicating that they share that belief are so quick to abandon it when it comes to riffling through others' wallets.

In addition to the patent unfairness of different tax rates, allowing them guarantees that the tax code will be used to pay off the favored political constituencies of those who hold power, a recipe for partisan bitterness and hostility.

As Carol has shown, the flat tax treats people unequally by crushing the working poor. Most Americans object not to the unfairness of progressive taxation, but to the unfairness and corruption that often attends exceptions to it, namely special interest loopholes.

The chief irony in all this is that most of the partisan bitterness and hostility emanates from idiots like Joe the Plumber, who think the Dems and not the GOP want to shift more of the tax burden to the middle class.

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As Carol has shown, the flat tax treats people unequally by crushing the working poor. Most Americans object not to the unfairness of progressive taxation, but to the unfairness and corruption that often attends exceptions to it, namely special interest loopholes.
In the first place, you failed to address the institutional inequality of either progressivity or regressivity. Before we start with the crocodile tears designed to gain unequal treatment for our own favored constituency, we need to address the question that I raised in the beginning, namely: how do we allow inequality before the law? I find the entire notion deeply corrosive to the social contract that we make with one another. If one group is gonna be excused from responsibilities to the whole, why can't others get the same favored treatment?

That being said, there have been several posts in this discussion pointing out ways in which those who would suffer inordinately could be helped. Please take the effort to incorporate those items into your arguments.

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In the first place, you failed to address the institutional inequality of either progressivity or regressivity. Before we start with the crocodile tears designed to gain unequal treatment for our own favored constituency, we need to address the question that I raised in the beginning, namely: how do we allow inequality before the law? I find the entire notion deeply corrosive to the social contract that we make with one another. If one group is gonna be excused from responsibilities to the whole, why can't others get the same favored treatment?

That being said, there have been several posts in this discussion pointing out ways in which those who would suffer inordinately could be helped. Please take the effort to incorporate those items into your arguments.

I'm for helping the working poor and their children not because they're my faves or even my constituency. I'm for it because it's the right thing to do.

We have an ideological disagreement here, which is fine. But if you're saying most Americans oppose the progressive income tax, you're wandering into Factland, and the evidence shall smite thee.

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I'm for helping the working poor and their children not because they're my faves or even my constituency. I'm for it because it's the right thing to do.
Conservatives agree with you, which is why they, especially the religious conservatives, have the highest rates of charitable giving of any group.
We have an ideological disagreement here, which is fine.
Yes, you believe that it's ok to treat people differently under the law, right? I'm trying to figure out how you justify that. If others believe that it's right to help the child predators and bald eagle hunters, does that constitute a justification to treat them differently under the law? My point is when we become a nation of men and not laws, we really are on a slippery slope, because what becomes critical then is who manages to wrest control of the levers of power, because then they get to define which men in particular we're a nation of.

Again, this is what's wrong with the complex tax system that we have in place right now. It is through the tax system that political payoffs are made. To eliminate them, we should simplify the tax code and make everyone play by the exact same rules. If we're gonna take 25% of the fat cat's income (and since time=money, 25% of his time), then we should take 25% of my time and my neighbor's time. If my neighbor and I don't like it, then maybe we ought to be more considerate of the fat cat and everyone else. When it comes to real suffering on the part of the poor, there are other ways to alleviate that with food stamps, housing support and so forth. Using the most invasive and powerfully coercive domestic agency to do that is extremely dangerous. How many of us want to see our enemies at the controls of the IRS? None of us, because we are fearful that it's possible to use the laws unequally against us. Of if some of us are not afraid, it's because we have faith that the law will be used to protect us. If THAT'S the case, then we are counting on equal treatment, not unequal treatment.

Edited by Michael Major

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Conservatives agree with you, which is why they, especially the religious conservatives, have the highest rates of charitable giving of any group.

Yes, you believe that it's ok to treat people differently under the law, right? I'm trying to figure out how you justify that. If others believe that it's right to help the child predators and bald eagle hunters, does that constitute a justification to treat them differently under the law? My point is when we become a nation of men and not laws, we really are on a slippery slope, because what becomes critical then is who manages to wrest control of the levers of power, because then they get to define which men in particular we're a nation of.

Again, this is what's wrong with the complex tax system that we have in place right now. It is through the tax system that political payoffs are made. To eliminate them, we should simplify the tax code and make everyone play by the exact same rules. If we're gonna take 25% of the fat cat's income (and since time=money, 25% of his time), then we should take 25% of my time and my neighbor's time. If my neighbor and I don't like it, then maybe we ought to be more considerate of the fat cat and everyone else. When it comes to real suffering on the part of the poor, there are other ways to alleviate that with food stamps, housing support and so forth. Using the most invasive and powerfully coercive domestic agency to do that is extremely dangerous. How many of us want to see our enemies at the controls of the IRS? None of us, because we are fearful that it's possible to use the laws unequally against us. Of if some of us are not afraid, it's because we have faith that the law will be used to protect us. If THAT'S the case, then we are counting on equal treatment, not unequal treatment.

I find it interesting that you cite food stamps and housing support (government programs funded by tax money) as a means of alleviating the suffering of the poor in the same post that you decry a graduated income tax and also tout the merits of conservative voluntary charitable giving. Which way do you want it? If you want to tax everyone equally, then give out the benefits equally, and let private charity take care of the poor. Wouldn't that be a more consistent position?

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I find it interesting that you cite food stamps and housing support (government programs funded by tax money) as a means of alleviating the suffering of the poor in the same post that you decry a graduated income tax and also tout the merits of conservative voluntary charitable giving. Which way do you want it? If you want to tax everyone equally, then give out the benefits equally, and let private charity take care of the poor. Wouldn't that be a more consistent position?

You're conflating two different issues. First is whether or not we all have a shared responsibility to support our central government as part of our social contract. I believe we do and that it is corrosive to that notion to excuse people from fulfilling that responsibility. IMO, the best and fairest way to do that is to expect the same level of commitment from everyone. Since time does translate into money for all working people, a fixed percentage of income tax would be a rough approximation to the same percentage of an individual's time. Seems eminently fair to me.

On the second issue, what do we do about those who are going through difficulties and can't make ends meet? I prefer private charity solutions, but we've reached a point where more may be required, although from the 90's welfare reform initiatives, it appears that the vast majority of needy people don't require more than brief periods of support before they're able to make it on their own. There may be some limited number of exceptions to the rule, but it appears that when they understand that public welfare isn't a long term alternative, people find ways to support themselves over time.

At any rate, brief interludes of support for some doesn't undermine the case for a requirement that as a matter of heavenly routine, all of us contribute equally to the social contract and to our central government.

That sort of welfare benefit would be much better administered on a state and local level, too. The federal government shouldn't be involved in it in the first place, but that's another topic.

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Getting back to the topic at hand. It appears as if more conservatives are finding that the GOP is not a comfortable fit any more.

http://larrygellman.blogspot.com/2008/10/w...e-and-does.html

It's worth reading the whole opinion piece, as well as the comments, as a teaser I've excerpted some of it here.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Will the Republican Party Survive--And Does Anybody Care Anymore?

by Larry Gellman

In recent weeks, that [Republican Party] tent seems to have gotten much, much smaller as some people have gotten disgusted and left and others have been thrown out. And, as many Republicans and Conservatives have recently pointed out, it's a neighborhood that very few people want to live in any more.

The water carriers of the Right--particularly Fox News, bloggers on townhall.com, and the dozens of talk radio hosts who call themselves Conservative--have always been biased. But as McCain has fallen farther behind in the polls their shows and blogs have become cesspools of hatred, anger, lies, distortion and vitriol which are liberally spewed on Democrats, Obama, and anyone who would vote for either.

In their passionate determination to vilify Obama and the Left, they have ignored the fact that the most devastating critiques of McCain and Palin have come from their own ranks. Conservatives and Republicans such as Charles Krauthammer, David Brooks, Kathleen Parker, George Will, and Christopher Buckley have all expressed their disgust with McCain's selection of Palin, his gutter campaign tactics, and his lack of the temperament, judgment, and ability to be president.

break

Now the mass exodus is underway. Anyone who is fiscally conservative can't call himself a Republican anymore. Anyone who is a religious Christian can't honestly be part of this since Jesus preached about caring for the sick and the poor--not about eliminating reproductive choice or issues related to same-sex marriage. There's nothing Christian about the agenda of the Religious Right--it's a totally political movement focused on issues that Jesus never mentioned and they ignore the issues about which Jesus preached constantly.

Anyone who believes in honesty or competence in government wouldn't call themselves a Republican after Bush. And now, no one who is not a committed soldier in the Holy War against the Left is welcome either.

It would be good for America if those who have been virtually 'thrown out' of the Republican Tent would regroup and form a new party. One that is true to their Conservative ideals. I'm betting that most of my fellow bloggers on the right would be more comforatable there than in what has become of the GOP.

Just my two cents worth.

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Richard Fifield, who is still fighting the constitutional battles of the New Deal Thirties, is now surpassed by Michael Major, who's refighting the battle over the progressive income tax, which has been settled in the minds of most Americans since 1913 (and was settled in the mind of none other than Adam Smith a century and a half before that). I don't want to get into a long diversionary debate on these first principles, but I do have a couple of thoughts on MM's latest.

Yes, you believe that it's ok to treat people differently under the law, right? I'm trying to figure out how you justify that.

Sometimes it is necessary to discriminate in order to be fair. In fact, fairness might well call for more progressivity, as a 33 percent rate affects Bill Gates a lot less than a 15-percent rate affects the working poor.

We should simplify the tax code and make everyone play by the exact same rules. If we're gonna take 25% of the fat cat's income (and since time=money, 25% of his time), then we should take 25% of my time and my neighbor's time. If my neighbor and I don't like it, then maybe we ought to be more considerate of the fat cat and everyone else. When it comes to real suffering on the part of the poor, there are other ways to alleviate that with food stamps, housing support and so forth.
I find it interesting that you cite food stamps and housing support (government programs funded by tax money) as a means of alleviating the suffering of the poor in the same post that you decry a graduated income tax and also tout the merits of conservative voluntary charitable giving. Which way do you want it? If you want to tax everyone equally, then give out the benefits equally, and let private charity take care of the poor. Wouldn't that be a more consistent position?
You're conflating two different issues. First is whether or not we all have a shared responsibility to support our central government as part of our social contract. I believe we do and that it is corrosive to that notion to excuse people from fulfilling that responsibility. IMO, the best and fairest way to do that is to expect the same level of commitment from everyone. Since time does translate into money for all working people, a fixed percentage of income tax would be a rough approximation to the same percentage of an individual's time. Seems eminently fair to me.

I'm not surprised MM sees it that way, but poor folks already are supporting general government operations though their payroll tax, which Congress loots shamelessly, and with fees and in thousands of non-financial ways. I don't think raising taxes on the working poor, which will only further diminish their ability to provide for their kids, will enhance anyone's regard (except MM's) for the social contract.

Second, I'm afraid MM falls far short of answering NJR's point about the redistributive equivalence of food stamps and the tax waivers for the poor.

With that, I'd like to return to the theme of this thread: the death rattle of the GOP. When I initiated the "Slouching Toward McCain" thread in Politics a few years back, one of my main motivations was to smash the phony and cynical partnership between its social and economic conservatives. As I had hoped, McCain's candidacy is well on the way to doing that, and his defeat (which was not favored by me back then) will only heighten the momentum. The recrimination next month will be sweet indeed, and I look forward to the formation of a religious third party that will split the conservative electorate and ensure President Obama's second term.

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Sometimes it is necessary to discriminate in order to be fair.
This is a priceless statement. If we don't recognize the importance of maintaining a nation of laws, what is left for us? Nothing except a life and death struggle over the levers of power, because whoever has them can make the decisions about who are the targets of discrimination.
I'm not surprised MM sees it that way, but poor folks already are supporting general government operations though their payroll tax, which Congress loots shamelessly, and with fees and in thousands of non-financial ways. I don't think raising taxes on the working poor, which will only further diminish their ability to provide for their kids, will enhance anyone's regard (except MM's) for the social contract.
Everyone pays the payroll tax and the fees (I'm not sure what these "thousands of non-financial" ways that you talk about, but I suspect that they're not exclusive to the "poor folks"). And diversions from the discrimination of the progressive tax scheme don't change the fact that a flat tax would cost the wealthy much, much more than the poor.

Out of curiosity, when your buddies take up a collection for order in pizza, does your sense of "fairness" compel you to make an assessment based on income?

Second, I'm afraid MM falls far short of answering NJR's point about the redistributive equivalence of food stamps and the tax waivers for the poor.
We have a difference of opinion about that. I made a sound case for making the funding of the general government a universally shared responsibility. Beyond that, how we deal with struggling citizens is a matter for the public to decide through their representatives. I made a suggestion about how I'd address that issue.

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Man, I so don't want to rehearse the long-settled debate about the progressive income tax. But here are a few quick responses.

This (Sometimes it is necessary to discriminate in order to be fair.) is a priceless statement.

It is also common sense. We charge old people more for life insurance, flood-prone people more for homeowners coverage and so on. Similarly, it's fair to have a tax system that discriminates as a means of distributing the pain more equitably. The flat tax, which crushes poor folks with no disposable income, fails that test. Progressive tax rates, which to the wealthy are painless in comparison, are thus preferable. This has been the consensus view in America for a century.

Out of curiosity, when your buddies take up a collection for order in pizza, does your sense of "fairness" compel you to make an assessment based on income?

No, because the amount in question is a pittance. When my buddies and I fund the defense department, however, we agree that progressive support is fair.

We have a difference of opinion about (whether food stamps and tax waivers for the poor are effectively the same).

We have a disagreement about whether this is a mere difference of opinion. I think it's a factual assertion that can be proved true or false.

I made a sound case for making the funding of the general government a universally shared responsibility.

And I've demonstrated that's already happening.

Beyond that, how we deal with struggling citizens is a matter for the public to decide through their representatives. I made a suggestion about how I'd address that issue.

And most of your fellow citizens are pleased that their representatives maintain the progressive income tax as a way of addressing that issue. Food stamps, EITC, low tax rates for the working poor...it's all the same.

I hope MM will give Al Pacino a break and stop pulling him back in on this one...

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Man, I so don't want to rehash the long-settled debate about the progressive income tax. But here are a few quick responses.

It is also common sense. We charge old people more for life insurance, flood-prone people more for homeowners coverage and so on. Similarly, it's fair to have a tax system that discriminates as a means of distributing the pain more equitably. The flat tax, which crushes poor folks with no disposable income, fails that test. Progressive tax rates, which to the wealthy are painless in comparison, are thus preferable. This has been the consensus view in America for a century.

First of all, indemnification for the elderly and those who have built in flood plains is not the same product as indemnification for the young and healthy and those who built on a caliche hilltop. Does Sears charge Ross Perot more for his refrigerator than they do me for mine? Of course not.

Secondly, it's not the job of our tax system to try and assess the "pain" that tax burdens impose and then find a way to equalize them. My core argument is that when we give that sort of latitude to our taxing authorities, we open the door to the abuses that we see that have been built into the tax code over the years with all sorts of special payoffs to favored political constituencies. For the sake of transparency, we need to eliminate ALL of them and treat everyone exactly the same. If we want to dispense special favors based on income or anything else, we need to make those decisions in deliberate way.

Edited by Michael Major

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