What Fresh Hell Is This?

October 3, 2011

Um...Now That You Brought It Up

Today the editorial page of the Tribune-Review joined the rest of the right-wing media in attacking Elizabeth Warren:
In a single sound bite the Democrat candidate running against Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass., said what President Obama has been fumbling to say for months: the socialist collective trumps individual initiative. According to Ms. Warren, a factory owner who moves goods, hires educated workers and is protected against "marauding bands" is enabled to do so only because "the rest of us paid" for the roads, schools and police.
Good. Now that they brought it up, let's take a look at what Ms Warren actually said.  Here's the youtube clip:

What offended Scaife's braintrust starts at about :52 seconds in From the Washington Monthly:
I hear all this - this is class warfare, whatever.

No. No.

There is nobody in this country that got rich on his own. Nobody.

You built a factory out there? Good for you. But I want to be clear: you moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for; you hired workers the rest of us paid to educate; you were safe in your factory because of police forces and fire forces that the rest of us paid for. You didn’t have to worry that marauding bands would come and seize everything at your factory, and hire someone to protect against this, because of the work the rest of us did.

Now look, you built a factory and it turned into something terrific, or a great idea? God bless. Keep a big hunk of it. But part of the underlying social contract is you take a hunk of that and pay forward for the next kid who comes along.
That's what she said. And she's right.  And what does the braintrust get wrong?  It's in the next paragraph:
Even ignoring, as Warren does, the factory owner's risk and investment, the successful company developer pays both income and corporate taxes when about half the country pays no federal taxes at all.
Really? Half the country pays no federal tax?  First some boundaries.  From the Dailykos:
They get this figure from federal income taxes - 50% of adults are not paying any income tax. But this is because many Americans are retired, unemployed, or so under the poverty line that their income is cancelled out by tax credits. Still, most of these pay many other taxes, including...

State Income Taxes
Sales Taxes
Gasoline Taxes passed on to the consumer
"Sin" Taxes on items like alcohol and tobacco
Property Taxes (Home, Car, ect)
Social Security Deductions
Worker's Compensation Deductions
Mandatory Pension Contributions
Special taxes based on phone and internet use
Tolls, Tickets, and Fares for use of Public Transportation and Public Roads and Bridges
Taxes and Fees for Air Travel such as "9/11 Security Fee" [emphasis added.]
And see that part about tax credits?  I thought the GOP was in favor of tax credits.  I guess just not if they help the unemployed or the retired or the poor.

Krugman has some more info:
As background, it helps to know what has been happening to incomes over the past three decades. Detailed estimates from the Congressional Budget Office — which only go up to 2005, but the basic picture surely hasn’t changed — show that between 1979 and 2005 the inflation-adjusted income of families in the middle of the income distribution rose 21 percent. That’s growth, but it’s slow, especially compared with the 100 percent rise in median income over a generation after World War II.

Meanwhile, over the same period, the income of the very rich, the top 100th of 1 percent of the income distribution, rose by 480 percent. No, that isn’t a misprint. In 2005 dollars, the average annual income of that group rose from $4.2 million to $24.3 million.
The budget office’s numbers show that the federal tax burden has fallen for all income classes, which itself runs counter to the rhetoric you hear from the usual suspects. But that burden has fallen much more, as a percentage of income, for the wealthy. Partly this reflects big cuts in top income tax rates, but, beyond that, there has been a major shift of taxation away from wealth and toward work: tax rates on corporate profits, capital gains and dividends have all fallen, while the payroll tax — the main tax paid by most workers — has gone up.
Republicans claim to be deeply worried by budget deficits. Indeed, Mr. Ryan has called the deficit an “existential threat” to America. Yet they are insisting that the wealthy — who presumably have as much of a stake as everyone else in the nation’s future — should not be called upon to play any role in warding off that existential threat.

Well, that amounts to a demand that a small number of very lucky people be exempted from the social contract that applies to everyone else. And that, in case you’re wondering, is what real class warfare looks like.
So yea, let's talk about class warfare.


EdHeath said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
EdHeath said...

Oops, copied incompletely from Word, here is my complete comment:

You know, to be clear the wealthy pay a disproportionate share of individual income taxes. The top five percent pay about 60% of the total taxes paid, and the upper 50% pay 97% of all income taxes. It is almost totally the bottom 50% who would be among the eligible for the earned income credit, although not all of them are eligible (it helps to have a child or two or three and a job is absolutely required). Some people who qualify the earned income credit probably do pay an effective tax rate of zero. However I would challenge any wealthy person to live for month, let alone a year, on two grand a month with two kids. Let’s be generous and make it $2500. It wouldn’t make a difference; the wealthy would instantly stop calling the poor “lucky duckies”.

Anyway I can not imagine anyone saying that the past sixty years have not been good for the people at the top, as Krugman points out. And while Republicans may scoff at the idea of a social contract, I don’t see how anyone could deny that businesses in particular benefit from an organized system of business laws, which compel businesses to uphold their end of any and all contracts (unless there is proven bad faith activity by the other party or parties to the contract). Additionally business benefits from the generally strong protection given to private property, which protects the assets of business and the commerce they engage in.

The country now is in crisis, and the leaders of the government (those who happen to be Democrats, anyway) are turning to the wealthy and asking “Can you, who have benefited so much in the country, help us out in our time of need?”. Republicans call this class warfare. Meanwhile Republicans are dismissive of a cut to payroll taxes that would benefit everyone who is working (rich and the vast unwashed less wealthy). Republicans say it is not sufficiently helpful to the country as a whole, which I guess means it does not do enough for the rich. So Republicans, who oppose ending Bush tax cuts for the wealthy, are willing to let an Obama tax cut for all working people expire. Who is, um, engaging in class warfare?

Conservative Mountaineer said...


But, Obama is *not* going after just the rich.. unless you consider someone making $200,000/yr rich or a family making $250,000/yr rich. I don't. Let's use the family for this purpose and use $250,000. OK?

At those levels, the family loses the benefits of certain deductions for which they have no control over the amounts (state and local income taxes, real estate taxes) andn certain amounts for which they can control (contributions). Plus, they are already paying marginal tax rates of 28% on taxable income of $137,800-$209,250(that's $20K in Federal taxes just there) and 33% on $209,250-$373,650 (MFJ, 2010 rates).

In addition, you have to factor in the fact that, if they have College-age children, they will get *zip* in financial aid and must either write a big check or go into debt. [The truth of the matter is that you can make $85k-$90K/yr and not qualify for tuition assistance. Cash or loans only.]

Yes, they are (hopefully) living somewhat comfortably and are not over-extended by *having* to have the McMansion, Home Equity loans, matching SUVs and CC bills out the wazoo. But, that's not germane to the argument.

The problem is not that the Federal government, or the States for that matter, are collecting too little taxes. It's that the Federal government is spending too much.

The Obama administration has doubled-down, increasing spending levels to heights that are not sustainable.

Couple that with egregious and voluminous regulations from the alphabet agencies and the uncertainty of future business climate means that economic activity is anemic, at best. That leads to lower tax revenues. Ergo, Obama wants to raise taxes on the productive members of this Country.

I'm not going to address how much 'aid' the lower percentiles really get nor am I going to argue they should not get something. We may discuss degrees of aid, that's all.. not elimination or significant reduction of aid. Everything they receive (food stamps, tuition assistance, housing assistance, assistance based on # of rug rats, free cell phone, $9.99 COMCAST) is essentially 'after-tax $'. A taxpayer would have to earn significantly more to be able to pay for their food, housing, etc.

Again, I'm only setting forth the fact that those at the lower end do receive benefits that cost a taxapayer much more by requiring significantly more pre-tax earnings.

EdHeath said...

CM, um, well, I don't want to be negative but ...

First of all, I thought that the income levels for rolling back the Bush tax cuts were $250,000 single filer and $500,000 married. But why worry about a little thing like the facts. Second, I bet a single mom making thirty grand a year would gladly trade places with a single filer with kids who is making two hundred grand. Apparently you think a single mom who makes two hundred grand would take that trade ... I'll bet you are wrong, but it is a great put down of anyone making under two hundred grand. By the way, a single mom making thirty grand a year does not get college free for her kids. Apparently you think kids from poor families (people who make under two hundred grand are poor, not productive and therefore worthless according to you) do not deserve to go to good (i.e. expensive) colleges. And apparently you think the rich can't get college loans (which the rest of us have to deal with).

And none of that matters, since the Obama jobs bill is not talking about rolling back the Bush tax cuts for people making $250,000 single/$500,000 married. But way to mislead people, spread lies, encourage class warfare.

I gather the Obama jobs bill is talking about a higher effective tax rate on millionaires, although I don't know the details. So I am not going to speculate or even comment on it.

Except to say that the United States is in crisis (which I hope you would agree with) and the President is asking those who can (afford to) help to step up. I guess you think that it is OK to criticize the President in times of crisis, that it is your patriotic duty. But Democrats who criticized Bush during his administration were terrorist scum.

Your claim about the "egregious and voluminous regulations from the alphabet agencies" ... so, you think the banks and other financial institutions should be able to sell us deceptive mortgages and loans again, and bundle them into toxic asset bundles again, so the economy can be crashed again. And Obama himself squashed an update to the clean air act, the effect of which apparently might be to cause 12,000 deaths a year. That should warm the cockles of your heart.

Look, between Republican Senatorial filibusters and now a Republican controlled house, your line about both out of control spending and an uncertain future of new regulations is just so much BS. Again, way to mislead people, spread lies and encourage class warfare.

You really are insulting and condescending to poor people.

Conservative Mountaineer said...

@Ed.. Once again, you attempt to put words into my mouth. Typical liberal approach. Project much?

EdHeath said...

CM, yeah, maybe, but you offer no proof that I am wrong, so I guess my "projections" are accurate.

And you were just trying to mislead the readers of this blog ... once again.