Answer me this, my billionaire friends: If tax cuts for the best off are so great for the economy, why did we create no new net jobs since enacting them?

We’ve had these wonderfully low rates for a long time now. They don’t seem to have created jobs.

Conversely, if the higher Clinton-era rates on income above $250,000 were such job killers, how did we manage to create 22 million net new jobs after they were enacted?

Give . . .

me . . .

a . . .


And stop talking about the struggling small businesses and family farms that won’t be able to hire new workers.

In the first place, how many small businesses or family famers do you know these days making more than $250,000?

In the second place, if you do know some, please note that the new tax rates will take just a little of their income above $250,000. Most of the excess, quite rightly, they get to keep.

But in the third and main place, why on earth would a small business or family farmer not hire a needed worker to help meet demand? Meeting demand makes you money. Failing to meet demand costs you money.

And what about demand?

The guy making $500,000 a year or $10 million a year is not likely to cut back on consumption if his income taxes taxes go up. And he’s certainly not going to stop investing for fear of having to pay 20% on his capital gain instead of today’s 15% – what, and put his money in a 1% savings account instead? Or in 3% Treasuries that are then taxed at the 39.6% rate?

Should we really keep trying the “trickle down” thing, figuring that if we can just build enough yachts and mansions – rather than give average homeowners a tax-credit for weatherizing their homes – our economy will start to hum again?

In a sense, we are talking butlers versus teachers. And sure, let me stipulate that this is an oversimplification to make the point, but still. One way, you have some more tax revenue to help states keep teachers in the classroom; the other way, you fire the teachers so that the most fortunate among us might have the added funds to hire (or not have to fire) a butler. Either one is a job, but which better serves the broader interest?

And will someone please tell me why Eisenhower is not branded a communist for the 90% top federal tax rate he felt was needed to begin shrinking the National Debt relative to the size of the economy as a whole? Kennedy lowered it to 70%, but were Nixon and Ford communists for keeping it there?

It should never be set that high again. But for the Republicans to make their central idea protecting the top 2% from the eminently successful Clinton/Gore era tax rates – this is the core of their pledge! – is so jaw-droppingly irresponsible and economically wrong-headed one can even hold out hope that the “bottom 98%” might finally say, “enough” and vote Democrat.


I am actually something of a Ben Stein fan. And Steve Schwarzman and I have been friends for 40 years. But when Schwarzman likens Obama’s tax proposal to the Nazis invading Poland, or Ben Stein goes on national TV to say he feels as though he’s being unfairly punished – well, it’s a bit much, don’t you think? Take a minute to watch Linda McGibney call him out on this week’s CBS Sunday Morning. And pass it on.


The main thing is that it pledges to go backwards. Who would want more of the Bush years? Who wants to be trapped in a job for fear of losing his health insurance? (And who cares where the Guantanamo prisoners are imprisoned? It’s all about playing to fears, as if no U.S. prison is secure enough to hold them.)

So I hesitate even to detour through the weeds, because even if it were accurate, the Pledge would be a terrible prescription for America.

Still, it may be worth noting, as factcheck.org has, the Pledge is misleading:

The Republican “Pledge to America,” released Sept. 23 . . .

  • declares that “the only parts of the economy expanding are government and our national debt.” Not true. So far this year government employment has declined slightly, while private sector employment has increased by 763,000 jobs.
  • says that “jobless claims continue to soar,” when in fact they are down eight percent from their worst levels.
  • repeats a bogus assertion that the Internal Revenue Service may need to expand by 16,500 positions, an inflated estimate based on false assumptions and guesswork.
  • says Obama’s tax proposals would raise taxes on “roughly half the small business income in America,” an exaggeration. Much of the income the GOP is counting actually comes from big businesses making over $50 million a year. [Like multi-billion-dollar hedge funds with just a few employees. – A.T.]

For details on these and other examples please read on to the Analysis section. . . .

Coming This Week: We WILL Repeal DA/DT … Kiwifruit … and Something Positively Thrilling!


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