Thursday, June 2, 2011

Taxing Credulity

Here's Bruce Bartlett, Reagan's chief economic advisor, once again speaking truth into the wind of teabaggRism:

Historically, the term “tax rate” has meant the average or effective tax rate — that is, taxes as a share of income. The broadest measure of the tax rate is total federal revenues divided by the gross domestic product.

By this measure, federal taxes are at their lowest level in more than 60 years. TheCongressional Budget Office estimated that federal taxes would consume just 14.8 percent of G.D.P. this year. The last year in which revenues were lower was 1950, according to the Office of Management and Budget.


Yet if one listens to Republicans, one would think that taxes have never been higher, that an excessive tax burden is the most important constraint holding back economic growth and that a big tax cut is exactly what the economy needs to get growing again.

Just last week, House Republicans released a new plan to reduce unemployment. Its principal provision would reduce the top statutory income tax rate on businesses and individuals to 25 percent from 35 percent. No evidence was offered for the Republican argument that cutting taxes for the well-to-do and big corporations would reduce unemployment; it was simply asserted as self-evident.


The G.O.P. says global competitiveness requires the United States to reduce its corporate tax rate. But the United States actually has the lowest corporate tax burden of any of the member nations of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.


The truth of the matter is that federal taxes in the United States are very low. There is no reason to believe that reducing them further will do anything to raise growth or reduce unemployment.

It's actually worse than that: many corporations not only don't pay taxes, they get refunds despite billions in profits. (And that comes from the noted liberal rag, Forbes.)

So we have the Rs selling lower taxes based on the false claim that tax rates are too high; arguing, based on no evidence or historical examples, that lowering them further will create jobs. And, of course, will increase government revenue. Which it never has. Do they actually believe this stuff? If so, how dumb are they? If not, how cynical.

How can one not despair, when a major political party refuses to accept reality, chooses instead to pitch actual lies? How can there be hope for a functional future when so many of the electorate buy it? The only thing serious about Republican policy -- if the word even applies -- it's that it's seriously flawed.

It occurs to me: the apparent rise in belief in a coming apocalypse is of a piece with the credulity of voters when it comes to the false prophets and impossible profits of the right. It's the easy out; it's the belief that to make things all right will take no effort at all, that you can magically get where you want to go by belief alone. Tap your heels three times. Go with those telling you there's nothing difficult you need to do, nothing complex you need to understand.

In a world of such ballooning complexity, who wouldn't want to solve it with hot air?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Ummm exsqueeze me, but wasn't there a Democratic House/Senate/President from January 2009-January 2011???
and if you think taxes are too low, pay more, just like I do with my Landscaping/Pool/Housekeeping Amigos so they'll steal somebody elses stuff instead of mine..
Or send back your SSI so some poor sap more in need can spend it on lottery tickets...


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