Wonkbook: On taxes, George W. Bush has won
I guess I’ve known this for a long time. If someone asks me Obama’s (and the Democrats) greatest failure, it’s this.
To put it differently, Democrats have, for the most part, admitted that Bush was right, and the Clinton-era tax rates were too high on most Americans. For all that Democrats talk about returning to the Clinton-era tax rates, they only ever mean for the top two percent of taxpayers — the folks who are now in the 35% bracket, but whom they would like to see in a 39.6% bracket.
The reality is that, on tax policy, Democrats are now closer to Bush than to Clinton. But neither side much likes to admit that. For Democrats, it means confessing to how far right they’ve moved on taxes. And for Republicans, it means admitting how far right Democrats have moved on taxes.
10:04 am • 11 April 2012 • 15 notes
“Now his campaign has moved from figuratively writing checks it can’t cash to literally writing checks it can’t cash. It’s piled up nearly $4.5 million in debt. But like a Gingrich marriage, this situation is only temporary. While the Republican Party may have abandoned him, in a fit of poetic justice, for a younger and wealthier man, Gingrich still has his looks. Not a good look, mind you. But a look. For now, he’s charging $50 at campaign events for a picture with him, but think of how much money he’ll make when he travels the country demanding cash for not appearing in your photographs.”
— Deadbeat Space Clown Newt Gingrich Bounces $500 Check for Utah Filing Fee
9:41 am • 11 April 2012 • 8 notes
In 2 minutes, Santorum will likely suspend his bid for the GOP nomination. Watch live here.
Wow. I really thought Gingrich would go down first. Guess he doesn’t want to lose his home state?
In addition to not wanting to lose PA, it could be that he actually wants to spend more time with Bella and the rest of his family and less time with Newt Gingrich, which is admirable.
Nevertheless, unless and until I see a picture of a crying Santorum child clad in colonial-era dress, none of this happened.
2:26 pm • 10 April 2012 • 94 notes
“I could be pretty certain that on Good Friday a member of the Little Sisters of the Poor, which is across the street from where I was parked, had not nicked my bike. Neither had the monks at the Dominican House of Studies on the corner. The students at Catholic University were on Easter break. That left the neighborhoods around the university. Since the time I was an undergrad at Catholic University in the 1980s, most of the crime that has occurred on campus has come from those neighborhoods, which are predominately black. As sure as it took the D.C. cops forever to get to the parking lot to file a report, I knew that the odds were very high that a black person had taken my bike…”
Mark Judge, who is 1) convinced a black guy stole his bike, 2) relieved that this gives him an excuse to throw-off the manacles of his “white guilt.”
It’s the shittiest remake of The Bicycle Thief, ever.
10:08 am • 10 April 2012 • 4 notes
Did you know that the richest 1% of Americans pay 21% of all taxes? That’s a lot! But do you know why they pay 21% of all taxes? It’s because they make 21% of all the income. Suddenly that doesn’t seem all that unfair, does it? In fact, the rich are doing mighty well for themselves if we basically have a flat tax in America. And as it turns out, they are, and we do: the federal tax system is modestly progressive, but state and local taxes are modestly regressive. Add ‘em all up and you end up with a pretty flat tax system.
It’s another reminder that when we debate whether some program should be run at the local, state or federal level, we have to remember that this decision will affect the method by which the initiative is funded (though, sure, it’s possible for a program to be federally financed and locally administered).
The possibility of better accountability and the “laboratories of democracy” theory are arguments for devolving functions to the states. And the fact that Arizona will find a way to screw things up is a reason to maintain financing and control at the federal level.
But the finance question looms just as large. Every dollar expended and therefore taxed at the federal level makes the overall tax system slightly more progressive. Every program financed at the state and local level makes the entire system a bit more regressive.
Debates about federalism are as much about the progressiveness of the tax code as they are about a clash of ideological visions of centralized versus devolved government.
(Table by Citizens for Tax Justice)
8:07 am • 5 April 2012 • 20 notes
Mitt Romney Will Win Nomination Barring Alien Invasion (and there’s still enough divergence between extraterrestrial policy and the GOP platform for most people to notice)
12:09 pm • 4 April 2012 • 23 notes
Obama Official Resigns Over Spending on Clown, Comedian and Mind Reader [Indecision]
A clown, a comedian and a mind reader walk into a Las Vegas bar. The bartender says, “This joke is going to be really funny when theGeneral Services Administration Inspector General’s report is released…”
I’m fine with having a few minutes of hate directed at the General Services Administration for their $823,000 Las Vegas craptacular. Government officials are responsible for spending money that is not their own, so people are right to be angry when public funds are used for a $75,000 bicycle-assembly team building sessions. But this episode brings up the limited way in which we sometimes talk about “waste and fraud.”
Imagine if every single dollar spent on the War in Iraq was spent appropriately. Imagine every contractor fufilled their obligations to the fullest, delivering their products and services on time and on budget. Imagine there wasn’t a penny of fraud. It isn’t that hard to dream up such a scenario. Afterall, despite billions in fraud, the overwhelming portion of the trillion-plus dollars (estimates vary wildly) spent on Iraq was used appropriately, in the narrow sense of that word. Soldiers signed up to serve and they received salary and combat pay in return. Munitions dealers sent ammo and the Pentagon paid the invoices. Contractors built mess halls and the government picked up the check.
But even a dream scenario, in which every appropriation spent on the Iraq War was used as intended, would still count as a collosal waste. Because the War didn’t have to happen. The War was stupid. It was bad policy.
In fact, if we had taken $1 Trillion and spent it on clowns and magicians and team building exercises for GSA workers instead of spending it on completely non-fradulent military spending, we would be better off today.
Basically, the real “waste” comes from misguided policy, not a few idiot managers in the GSA.
1:59 pm • 3 April 2012 • 24 notes
“If any persons, not married to each other, lewdly and lasciviously associate and cohabit together, or, whether married or not, be guilty of open and gross lewdness and lasciviousness, each of them shall be guilty of a Class 3 misdemeanor; and upon a repetition of the offense, and conviction thereof, each of them shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.”
— - § 18.2-345. Lewd and lascivious cohabitation. I did not know Virginia still had an anti-cohabitation law on the books (no longer enforced, presumably after court challenge). H/t Bryan Caplan.
7:57 am • 3 April 2012 • 10 notes
“It’s pretty much the worst nightmare of every immigration restrictionist. They keep agitating for a higher and higher, double-walled, electrified border fence and here comes a son of migrant farm workers who can FLY THROUGH SPACE, fuck you very much. In any case, a state judge has ruled that Hernandez meets even the state’s stringent guidelines for stating one’s vocation on a ballot.”
— Judges Rules Former Astronaut Can Call Himself an Astronaut on the November ballot. A law firm associated with the California GOP had argued that Jose Hernandez, a Democratic candidate for Congress and until January 2011, a NASA astronaut, could not list “astronaut/scientist/engineer” on the ballot as his occupation.
12:02 pm • 2 April 2012 • 96 notes
A great series of graphs from The Monkey Cage, illustrating one of my frequently-made points: the idea that working-class whites are Republican while “elites” are Democratic is mostly bunk. Andrew Gelman:
Within any education category, richer people vote more Republican…There is no plausible way based on these data in which elites can be considered a Democratic voting bloc. To create a group of strongly Democratic-leaning elite whites using these graphs, you would need to consider only postgraduates (no simple college grads included, even if they have achieved social and financial success), and you have to go down to the below-$75,000 level of family income, which hardly seems like the American elites to me.
Gelman bringeth the data, but I bet this makes intuitive sense from anecdotal experiences we’ve all had interacting with different kinds of voters.
The less educated but highly compensated are overwhelmingly Republican. Think about high-performing sales people or successful small businessmen. The owner of the local car dealership.
The highly educated but less compensated are overwhelmingly Democratic. To stereotype again: think assistant sociology professors, grad students, social workers, public interest attorneys.
In the corners of this matrix where education/income are correlated, the under-educated low-earners tend to be Democrats and the higher-educated high earners tend to be Republicans.
Finally, to add to Gelman’s point about postgraduates not constituting a group of Democratic elites, I think it’s important to remember what counts as a postgrad for the purposes of these statistics. I imagine a lot of people have visions of PHds teaching Queer Theory at Vasser in their minds, but the modal American postgrad is probably a middle school teacher who got herself a Masters degree in order to meet licensing requirements. Not the image of an elite.
11:44 am • 2 April 2012 • 22 notes
“It is unlawful for any person, with intent to terrify, intimidate, threaten, harass, annoy or offend, to use ANY ELECTRONIC OR DIGITAL DEVICE and use any obscene, lewd or profane language or suggest any lewd or lascivious act, or threaten to inflict physical harm to the person or property of any person.”
- Arizona Bill Criminalizes Every Internet Comments Section, Ever.
Were it ever found constitutional and enforced to the letter, this language would in essence ban trolling. Half of the things written on the Internet are intended to annoy or offend and many use profane language while doing so.
Only 1 legislator voted no. Bipartisanship gets you these kinds of well-meaning anti-bullying laws. Bipartisanship is the absolute worst.
10:37 am • 2 April 2012 • 54 notes