Archives for: October 2012, 11
This isn't about tax cuts and the economy. But you have to start somewhere and you don't always start at your destination.
In the 1980s President Reagan engaged in what former Republican Senate Leader Howard Baker called a riverboat gamble and, before his conversion, George H. W. Bush, the elder Bush, called voodoo. Under the tutelage of Professor Arthur Laffer, President Reagan called for a reduction in taxes, most spectacularly for the very wealthy.
The theory had been around for a while. Maynard Keynes, of Keynesian economics fame, believed in it. Under certain conditions, lowering taxes can increase tax revenue. Professor Laffer was pretty sure those conditions existed in the late 1970s. Ronald Reagan bought into it. So taxes were cut and everyone waited for revenues to increase.
They didn't. Deficits-Gone-Wild was proving less than entertaining, so Reagan concluded that taxes had to go up. They did, on working Americans. Revenues went back up.
The Laffer idea became Republican belief. Republican belief became Republican theology. It is no longer that decreasing taxes will increase tax revenues under some conditions. Now Republicans hold rigidly to the dogma that decreasing rates, especially on the wealthy, will always increase tax revenues. Always.
This is carried to such an extreme that, even if it was always, always true, it would require effects that the population itself cannot support. Here's one example:
Mitt Romney wants to lower tax rates on the extremely wealthy. He promises that this will not affect the middle class or the working poor. The working poor, along with combat veterans, retired folks, and those who have been disabled, help make up the 47% that Mitt Romney was deriding when he thought he was speaking in private to wealthy folks. Tax rates paid by those at the very top will go from 35 percent down to 28 percent. And it won't increase deficits.
One reason it won't increase deficits: the very wealthy will be giving up tax deductions. Problem is, there aren't enough tax deductions for the wealthy to get the job done.
Well ... increases to the economy will produce enough of a financial boom to make up the rest. That's how supply side works. Taxes go down, the economy goes up, and taxes revenues go up with it.
Mitt Romney promises to increase the number of jobs during his first four years as President by 12 million. By coincidence, economists project that employment will go up by 12 million in four years if nobody does anything at all. But arithmetic still poses a problem. For the Romney tax cuts to work without exploding deficits, 12 million new jobs will not be enough.
Mitt Romney will have to oversee an increase of 162 million new jobs. That's more than the 12 million new jobs Romney promises. In fact, that's more jobs than there are available workers in the United States to fill them.
Representative Joe Walsh (R-IL) is a true believer. He holds to Laffer economics like it was written in the Biblical Book of Romney. For a while, he was famous for believing the sort of things journalists could easily fact check but don't. Balance, you know. He said things like this:
In the 80s, federal revenues went up. We didn't cut spending. Revenues went up in the 80s. Every time we've cut taxes, revenues have gone up.
It isn't so. It's a matter of record. It's just part of a belief system, conservative economic religion. I believe Jesus is coming. You believe cutting taxes for the wealthy will increase revenues.
But this isn't about tax cuts and the economy. Remember?
It's about Joe Walsh. You see, Joe Walsh is no longer famous for saying things that are aren't true about tax cuts and revenues.
Now he is famous for unorthodox attacks on the record of his Democratic opponent. He's quite creative about it. His opponent is Tammy Duckworth. It isn't her legislative record he attacks. It's her combat record.
To his credit, he doesn't get dishonest about it. It isn't the swiftboat sort of attacks falsely claiming to disprove the military heroism of Presidential candidate John Kerry in 2004.
On the other hand, he'd look a little weird if he did try to disprove her combat experiences. She lost both of her legs while fighting for America in Iraq. Hard to argue with that. She was later hired by the Veterans Administration to help other wounded warriors.
When Joe Walsh shows contempt, it isn't with any pretense that her bravery was, in some way, discredited. He shows contempt for her actual, undisputed, bravery.
Several months ago:
"I have so much respect for what she did in the fact that she sacrificed her body for this country,” said Walsh, simultaneously lowering his voice as he leaned forward before pausing for dramatic effect. “Ehhh. Now let’s move on.”
“What else has she done? Female, wounded veteran … ehhh,” he continued. “She is nothing more than a handpicked Washington bureaucrat. David Axelrod, Rahm Emanuel just picked her up and dropped her into this district.”
Well, now, isn't that refreshing.
A few months later, he talked about whether she should be regarded as a hero. This is from the Chicago Sun-Times.
“Now I’m running against a woman who, my God, that’s all she talks about. Our true heroes, it’s the last thing in the world they talk about. That’s why we’re so indebted and in awe of what they’ve done.”
When Tammy Duckworth spoke this year at the Democratic National Convention, the most emotional part of her speech, at least for me, was actually not part of her speech at all. It was her still somewhat halting gait as she walked on her prosthetic legs, her own having been blown off as she co-piloted a helicopter that was hit by a grenade-missile.
Tommy Christopher covered it better than most. When she spoke, it was only briefly about trying to continue flying until she passed out. Her focus was on how her survival and that of others in that helicopter depended on supporting each other. It was more than teamwork. It was a refusal to leave anyone behind. "Their heroism is why I’m alive today and ultimately — ultimately, that is what this election is about."
As she found a grace in awkward movement, she made her way off stage. I thought I caught a glimpse of metal at the hem of her dress as she walked away from the camera. It would have been a big night for anyone. Demonstrating that degree of recovery must have multiplied the triumphant moment.
In a debate a few days ago, Joe Walsh spoke with derision about how much the moment had to have meant to her. You see, she had bought a special dress just for that speech, the dress just below which I thought I caught that reflected flash. He held up a photograph of Tammy Duckworth shopping for that special dress. He is quoted by TPM:
“I was marching in a parade in Schaumburg (Ill.), Sunday, two days before the Democratic convention,” Walsh said, holding up the photo, “when Tammy Duckworth was on a stage down in Charlotte (N.C.) — if you can look at the picture — picking out a dress for her speech Tuesday night.”
His point was that Tammy Duckworth cared more about her party, and the party bosses that chose her to speak, than she did about her prospective constituents in Illinois. She was picking out a dress while Congressman Joe Walsh was loyally walking in a parade.
Presumably on both legs.
This is how one newspaper in 2005 covered her survival.
The McKinley High School and University of Hawai'i graduate was missing almost all of her right leg up to her hipbone, and her left leg was gone below the knee. The 36-year-old Illinois Army National Guard pilot could feel the bandage over her broken right arm but didn't realize she might lose it if doctors couldn't restore its blood supply.
And Duckworth, who was plucked from her crippled Blackhawk helicopter after a rocket-propelled grenade tore through the cockpit as she flew across Iraq, wouldn't understand until the haze of medication lifted that she was one of the lucky ones.
Or, as Representative Joe Walsh (R-IL) puts it, "Eh"
About that dress, and how shopping for it was what had kept her from marching down the street in front of Joe Walsh's cheering crowds, Tammy Duckworth had this to say during that debate:
"And yes, I do sometimes look at the clothes that I wear. But for most of my adult life, I’ve worn one color — it’s called camouflage."