Tuesday, October 18, 2005

A Myth Exposed

Stan Collender over at the National Journal has a great take on 'why fiscal conservatives are angry.'

Writes Collender,

It's not really that hard to figure out why fiscal conservatives are so angry at President Bush and his administration.

Hurricane Katrina provided an extraordinary opportunity to prove that smaller government could also be more effective. If the Bush administration had not just been cutting programs but had also been taking steps to make sure they worked when needed, the fiscal conservatives' insistence that spending can be cut without sacrificing efficacy would have been proven true....And the name "Katrina" would have been a badge of honor used when the government succeeded at something rather than an emblem of how badly it failed.

What we got, however, was a very different turning point in the history of federal budgeting and budget politics. The federal government's failure to get the job done after Katrina will now be seen as a symbol of the damage indiscriminate spending cuts can cause. Those who want to cut spending will now have to explain why what they propose to do will not result in "another Katrina."

The failure was further compounded by President Bush's response: in the wake of the natural and political disaster, he immediately abandoned the smaller government experiment. Not only did the president instantly ask Congress to appropriate $50 billion -- a more than 10 percent increase in the overall level of domestic appropriations -- he then made a nationally televised address saying that he would spend whatever it took to deal with the situation.

Let's not let them forget that. Because whether it is this year or next that there is an epidemic, a third big disaster (after Iraq and Katrina) is poised to hit the US and the Federal budget, yet (as I blogged on recently on Night Bird's Fountain), the budgets for preventative health (including stockpiling antiviral medication) for the Center for Disease Control, have been slashed over the years of the Bush administration. Adding funding now, as the threat is upon us, is too little, too late to make up for the harm that may have already been caused.


dorsano said...

We'll always do better when we stand together than when we stand seperately.

The notion of shared purpose is what puts the "united" in the United States of America.

Government is what we do together as one people - united - working toward our mutual prosperity.

In the "red" state of Georgia, any child that maintains a B average or better is eligible, regardless of need, for a merit (HOPE) scholarship that pays full tuition and a book allowance to any state university. Georgia has one of the largest public university systems in the nation.

That's some fricken big government - big enough to rival the other "socialist" nations of the world where public education competes side by side with the private sector and guarentees every child that is willing and capable of learning a decent shot at a decent life regardless of where they started out.

The whole small/large government rhetoric is bogus - it's a major distraction.

What's important is whether or not the government we have works - what's important is whether or not the government we have competes favorably with offerings the private sector produces.

Social Security is big government - but it works - better than any product the private sector can deliver. And Americans understand that despite decades of spin and propoganda produced by libertarian think tanks like Cato and Heritage.

Public education is big government but it works. And despite all the vile directed at public school teachers and the public school system, if we were to take a vote today, Americans would say yea to the system of public education built by progressive Republicans like Horace Mann and Seward.

Taxes are the essentially a patriotic act - a statement that I trust the rest of the people I share this space with - trust them enough to contribute part of my pay to our common good.

And it's down right disgusting to see that natural inclination to work together towoard a common goal bullied and ridiculed all to our common disadvantage.

Anonymous said...

"Taxes are patriotic". I would agree with that statement if the taxation system were fair. But, I doubt that anyone who would make that statement today is a person who owns a small business and has employees.

Eli Blake said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Eli Blake said...


I take it you own a small business.

And, if you do, expect your taxes to go up instead of down. I wrote about this on night bird's fountain yesterday. The problem is that the Bush tax cuts were oriented towards big business. It was John Kerry, not George Bush, who pointed out that the effect was to subsidize outsourcing as these large corporations built factories and hired people in Asia, while closing them here. In contrast, he had a plan to cut taxes on small business, recognizing correctly that small businesses won't hire people in Asia.

However, the tax cuts have created a huge deficit. Since we can't expect the Chinese (who are for whatever reason buying up as much of our debt as they can) and others to keep giving us play money forever, sooner or later we will have to raise taxes. And when we do, it will be as it was the last time (see my post from yesterday). Taxes will be raised 'across the board' and most people who got relatively little from the Bush tax cuts will actually see their taxes go up. Since most small business owners are 'middle class,' it is likely they will fall into this category.

shrimplate said...

To the surviving "anonymous," there is a politician out there who really believes that small businesses are the engines that truly drive the economy with innovation and efficiency, and that politician has been consistent with that message throughout his career.

His name is Howard Dean.

His ideas and proposals about supporting small businesses could probably have done you a lot of good.

But since you are probably a "conservative," you will not support any politician who speaks for your own interests, only neocons who rob you blind while spouting nonsense about "family values."

dorsano said...

I doubt that anyone who would make that statement today is a person who owns a small business and has employees.

I was self employed for 5 years and worked for two small start-ups of which I was part owner before that.

Unlike the life insurance company I worked for prior to that, I did pay income tax when I was self employed and once the startups were profitable, they also paid income taxes.

The "unfair" statement is too general when applied to "small business" - are you refering to matching an employee's social security and medicare contributions? Workers compensation and the funding of unemployment insurance varies from state to state.

The biggest struggle I faced was health insurance not taxes. I might likely still be self employed if weren't for the cost of health insurance coverage - it gets steeper the older you get.

dorsano said...

Fairness and simplicity are important for the political acceptance of any tax policy. That's why taxation is the ideal wedge issue. It's unfortunately very easy to make someone think that someone else is not paying his or her fair share.

It's also likely that there are different ideas about what is fair.

As far as income tax goes, some people think a flat rate tax is fair and others think a progressive rate tax is fair. Reasonable people can hold either position it seems to me.

dorsano said...

As important as "what's fair" is "what works"

There are three major players in a market economy: capital, corporations and labor. Since the 16th amendment was ratified in 1919 we've taxed all three in some measure and we've built the largest middle class in the world and biggest job creation engine in the world.

The so called "conservative" movement wants to remove the tax on capital and would ideally like to eliminate the tax on corporations.

That leaves 100% of the tax burden with labor.

That's an untried model - the model we had up until this administration has worked pretty well by and large.