Friday’s column about Arianna Huffington’s AmeriCorps conversion and David Brock’s new book elicited a fair amount of comment.

Geoff Arthur: ‘Years ago, I used to really enjoy reading you. However, your column has become less and less finance related. You seem to be entirely focused on politics (which I find incredibly boring). So I regret to say that I am removing your site from my ‘favorites’ list. You really ought to change the title of your column. Best of luck.’

☞ Sorry to lose you. You are certainly right that I should change the title of the column, but that’s a part of the web site I have no idea how to manipulate. Readers: Got any suggestions as to what I should call it? If you come up with a good one, maybe I’ll try harder to get it done. But you know, politics and your money can be tightly related. And because democracy requires politics, if everyone were bored by politics and policy it would be profoundly . . . bearish.

John Mahoney: ‘I’m sure you were mistaken when you stated that the reason for the drop in the surplus was the tax cut. Surely you realize that it was the result of the slowing of the economy and the resultant drop in tax revenue.’

☞ The column referred to the LONG-TERM surplus. (‘Don’t for a minute think the long-term surplus disappeared because of the War on Terrorism, which costs little more than $1 billion a month. It disappeared primarily because we enacted a massive tax cut for the top 1% of taxpayers.’)

You will recall that candidate and then President Bush promised us plenty of long-term surplus even allowing for the recession he expected. No need to wait to cut taxes for the top 1% until we knew we could afford it – it was fine, we were told, to enact tax cuts for the next decade right away. We’d still have plenty of money for a prescription drug benefit for seniors, we were told . . . we would certainly not have to dip into the Social Security surplus . . . we would definitely have the resources needed to bolster the military. In short, we were told, we could do it all. Remember? All that was after the dot-com bubble burst, not before.

It didn’t seem to add up during the campaign, it didn’t seem to add up while it was being debated in Congress, and in fact – surprise, surprise – it hasn’t added up.

Robert Johnston: ‘While you are big on intellectual honesty for everyone you seem to give yourself a bye when convenient – you have to know that the effect of the ‘tax cut for the 1%’ has not begun – do try to take a longer view, even when it doesn’t suit your purposes.’

☞ Same point as above.

Mark Gorman: ‘Your analysis of the changes in the political landscape rings true. The Republican party has shifted so far to the right that I (who voted for Reagan, Bush the elder, and Bob Dole) voted for Al Gore in the last election. What is striking is that so many people in the lower and middle classes vote Republican when it is clearly against their own economic self-interest.’

Tomorrow: What Should You Put in Your Roth, Versus Your Traditional, IRA?


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