April 16, 2008

Debate tonight. I'll be liveblogging.

Watch this space. It will be elongated — starting at 8 Eastern Time — with quirky observations and peevish intuitions. I'm very interested to see how those two relate to each other after all these (nasty) weeks apart. Strong acting skills will be required.

Obama will, no doubt, take a stance above the fray. Be cool but — be careful! — you'd better not seem aloof — don't look down on that shorter person next to you! — or we will see that image the Hillarists want to project on you. Hillary has the devious power of nothing to lose. She'll be looking for every opportunity to unsettle him, to provoke an error, to rephrase something he's said and make it sound unsavorily San Franciscan.

8:00. Opening statements are thoroughly bland. Oh, good lord, they're already going to commercial. I'll bet they lose a lot of audience. Here in NYC, the debate show is playing in between "Spongebob" and "Family Guy."

8:08. They're asked to pick each other as their running mate. Awkward! Obama says it's "premature." Hillary follows suit.

8:13. The bitter small-town religion clingers quote is thrown at Obama, who says he can see how it offended some people. So can Hillary. Hillary keeps dropping the names of places in Pennsylvania.

8:18. Hillary is challenged over a statement she made that Obama can't win. After some harrumphing, she concedes that Obama can win. Obama then concedes that Hillary can win.

8:24. Obama is asked why didn't he disassociate himself from Jeremiah Wright sooner. He mainly relies on the assertion that he hadn't heard most of the bad statements. At some point he says "someone I've disowned" and has to correct it to "statements I've disowned." Given her chance, Hillary brings up Wright's connections to Farrakhan and Hamas. "These are questions," she says.

8:35. Hillary does a good job of owning up to her Bosnian sniper fire gaffe.

8:41. Obama is asked about his patriotism. First, the easy part: Why not wear a flag pin? That's a "manufactured issue." He reveres the flag, and he does wear the pin sometimes. Then the hard question: Why is he friendly with William Ayres (once a member of the Weather Underground)? This is another "game" in O's view. The man is an English professor who lives in his neighborhood, and Obama was 5 years old when Ayres participated in the Weather Underground. Given her chance, Hillary recites some of Ayres's bad behavior, including his relatively recent statement that he wishes he'd "done more." Obama comes back with the fact that Bill Clinton pardoned 2 members of the Weather Underground.

8:52. Do they really have a plan to bring troops home from Iraq? If the military commanders told you that pulling the troops out will destabilize Iraq, would you still go through with your plan? Hillary: Yes. But her plan is only to "begin" to withdraw troops within 60 days and to proceed with caution from there. The idea is for Iraqis to get the message that they need to take over. Obama follows suit. "The President sets the mission." He'll listen to the commanders on the ground "with respect to tactics," but he provides the "mission." Mission. Tactics. Mission. Tactics. Get it?

9:01. Israel. Iran. Taxes. It's devolved into the usual policy recitation. The candidates sound fine, but you can read the transcript.

9:22: Obama is talking about a drastic rise in Social Security taxes for people making more than $97,000. We have to do something, and raising the retirement age is unacceptable. Could someone explain why? We live much longer than in the days when Social Security began, and many fewer people were expected to live to collect payments. If we live longer, shouldn't we work to an older age?

9:24. It's the anniversary of the Virginia Tech shootings. People are saying a prayer. It takes a fraction of a second for Obama to bow his head. Prayer: Bows head. Great reflexes! That's just an intro to a question about gun control. Hillary keeps talking about Mayor Nutter — love the name. Both Hillary and Obama do exactly what you'd expect them to do: Distinguish between the good guys, who deserve respect as they go their traditional ways, and the bad guys, who deserve regulation. We can be sensible. Balanced. Don't give guns to "the mentally deranged," Obama advises. That's all very nice but do you support the D.C. ban, the one that's before the Supreme Court? Hillary waffles about how she doesn't know the facts. She does a federalism riff: What might work in New York is certainly not going to work in Montana.

9:33. Obama is asked whether affirmative action should be changed so that affluent African Americans like his daughters are not given advantages and maybe poor whites are. He recommends looking at all the factors for each individual. Race is one factor. But look at the whole person. (That's exactly in line with the Supreme Court case law.) Hillary thinks we need "affirmative action generally," by which she seems to mean that we need programs that reach very young kids, kindergarten and so forth. She's suddenly speaking very fast and energetically. This is her area of special expertise. It's quite striking how different she sounds on this subject. She dutifully responds to questions about national security, but she comes alive talking about children. Ah, but now she's talking about gas prices and she's still hypercharged. Maybe she's looking at the clock and knows she needs to cram more into the little time that's left. By contrast, Obama's tone and speed remain utterly consistent.

9:39. Obama laughs "heh heh heh heh heh" when Hillary is asked about how she'd use former Presidents, specifically George W. Bush.

9:47. Make your pitch to the superdelegates. Hillary: I'm a fighter. I'm ready. Obama: I will lift you up. I'm new. I'm different.

9:51. Good night, everybody.

7:16 AM. I sum up the general reaction to the debate and express my opinion here.

146 comments:

Christopher Althouse Cohen said...

I hope they're standing at podiums this time instead of sitting at a table like at the other recent debates. Sitting next to each other makes it harder for them to really go after each other. I'm not really in the mood for another friendly debate.

Simon said...

Making him sound Chicagoan might be unsavory enough for a politician, given that city's, ahem, rich political history.

Chris, what odds do you give on the race at this point?

EnigmatiCore said...

Or, she may take the role of gracefully deferential, if she has seen the poll numbers and decided that the blowout wins she needs won't be forthcoming, and it is time to mend fences and salvage her reputation for the future...

Simon said...

Enigmaticore, what polls do you have in mind? those I've seen (this is representative) show her handing Obama his ass.

Christopher Althouse Cohen said...

Simon: 85% to 15%, maybe. I think she's likely to win all the major remaining states other than NC, and I think there will be some legitimate-sounding argument for her being the rightful nominee when they go to the superdelegates. But I have a feeling they'll go for him in the end for fear of a backlash.

shake-and-bake said...

I assume others have noted the irony of the fact that the Clintons have been in those same San Francisco living rooms on many occasions, sucking up to the same silk-stocking liberals and passing the hat.

Simon said...

Chris, you got your wish about podiums! ;)

ricpic said...

Go for Barak's kidneys, Hillary. Give him the gift that keeps giving. For the rest of his life every time he pisses...blood. A gift worthy of the MAGNIFICENT BITCH you are!

Christopher Althouse Cohen said...

Ugh, not being broadcast in HD or widescreen even though its on an HD channel. I feel like I'm watching an old debate on YouTube. They are at podiums, though. I think this could be good.

Kirby Olson said...

There'll be a backlash either way. A lot of people I know who would vote for Hillary will vote for McCain before they vote for Obama.

And vice versa.

Or so they say. Will they really?

Zachary Paul Sire said...

Too bad the silk-stocking San Franciscans have to watch it tape delayed on the left coast. What's the point of having a debate if you can't watch it live? I read today that ABC is only allowing other media outlets 30 seconds worth of clip coverage until tomorrow morning, so that non-east coast viewers can't see "too much" before it airs in their time zones. Ridiculous! Thank god for Ann.

Christopher Althouse Cohen said...

Chelsea Clinton always looks like she's about to cry.

Obama just referred to himself in the third person. Not a good habit.

Ann Althouse said...

Lectern.

Simon said...

Christopher Althouse Cohen said...
"Simon: 85% to 15%, maybe. I think she's likely to win all the major remaining states other than NC, and I think there will be some legitimate-sounding argument for her being the rightful nominee when they go to the superdelegates. But I have a feeling they'll go for him in the end for fear of a backlash."

Is it your sense that the door - or at least, the cat flap - swings the other way too? That is, suppose (as seems likely) Clinton wins the balance of the primaries, going into the convention with momentum, but not a popular or delegate count majority. She and her supporters can credibly claim that the superdelegates should swing to her in those circumstances. The superdelegates might, as you say, reasonably fear a vote-draining backlash from Obama and his supporters, but is there a possibility of a backlash going the other way if, in the afore-mentioned scenario, the superdelegates give it to Obama? Obama supporters are pretty passionate about their candidate, but so too are many Clinton supporters. I ask because a liberal commenter at SF argued this morning that "[i]f the Hillary voters feel shunted aside, if the superdelegates award the nom to Obama ... then they'll stay home in November...." That seemed exactly opposite to the received wisdom, where Clinton gets the nomination and those invested in Obama stay home, from my outsider's perspective.

"Chelsea Clinton always looks like she's about to cry. "

I went to see her speak the other week, and she sounds that way too!

Christopher Althouse Cohen said...

He's talking about the "bitter" quote and his head is now tilted over in that way. The angle of his head is his lie detector test.

Simon said...

Obama repeated his usual silliness about hot-button issues - the claim that we can't deal with the important issues because we're bamboozled by hot-button issues. It has the elitist ring of a tacit claim that there are some subjects on which it's legitimate to base one's vote, and some which it isn't. But more to the point, he doesn't want to put those issues to one side, or to find some sort of compromise on those issues, he wants the people who disagree with him to drop their issues and concerns. Nothing in his record even hints otherwise. It's legitimate to be a values voter, he seems to say, if you're voting on the "value" of a woman's right to choose, but not so if you're voting on the "value" of being pro-life.

Simon said...

(For example)

madawaskan said...

If you are out on the west coast-it's on tape delay.

You can watch it streaming live on the internet with a reaction from undecided PA voters-the up down graph-at the local ABC affiliate in Philadelphia.

Here is the link-

WPVI Philadelphia

Simon said...

Aha, he says he can't be condescending to people of faith, because he's a person of faith. Even if that had the mileage that he thinks it does for that point, I think Althouse had his number on that point ("my sense of it is that he is not a religious man. The only significant discussion of religion comes when he joins Jeremiah Wright's church, and that is all about his worldly, political concerns with his community organizing in Chicago").

Zachary Paul Sire said...

Thanks Madawaskan.

"Undecided" PA voters!?

Good grief I'm sure they're a bright bunch.

If you haven't chosen between Hillary and Obama at this point you shouldn't be allowed to choose.

madawaskan said...

The dial shooting almost striaght up when Hillary is addressing the sermon of Wright just five days later after 9/11.

An attack on New York City a city that she was/is representing.

Christopher Althouse Cohen said...

Obama on Jeremiah Wright: "I believe that he loves this country." Someone make a youtube clip juxtaposing that and the "God Damn America" speech.

Simon said...

Christopher Althouse Cohen said...
"Obama on Jeremiah Wright: 'I believe that he loves this country.' Someone make a youtube clip juxtaposing that and the 'God Damn America' speech."

We in the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy already have an ad cued up flipping between Wright's comments and the Obama clip "I cannot disown that man" (or whatever it was) - all we have to do is slot that line in at the end.

Trooper York said...

Well so far Randy thinks Hillary was a little pitchy at the bridge and that Obama should take on Stevie Wonders act by being blind to his pastor’s racism. Paula thinks they are superstars and are ready to record right now. And Simon thinks they sound like a cabaret act at a gay Portuguese disco.

Sounds about right.

madawaskan said...

Zachary-

No problem.

Ya -I think it's undecideds-actually I'm not sure how they are describing them...

The "dialers" were really hard on Hillary during the Bosnia response-went more negative than when Obama responded about Wright.

Anthony said...

jesus. Flag pins? That's a major issue now? I've had this thing on for 20 minutes and all I've heard is nonsense about who they know and what those people said.

Is this the state of American politics?

Bissage said...

[T]he debate show is playing in between "Spongebob" and "Family Guy."

Huh?

No freakin’ way!!!

Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha!!!

That means I gotta go!

(But Althouse, you keep watching. That's what Jesus would do.)

P.S. For the religious among us, yes, it’s true . . . I blasphemed last night and today God visited me with a plague . . . which greatly resembles the symptoms of allergy to Maple pollen.)

P.P.S. If this comment makes no sense at all . . . it’s not me . . . it’s the Benadryl talking.

P.P.P.S. whaaatr you Pope .; ]]did;firdv dorje OBAAM . . .a IlY pwfyou s p leeesh pa; aaaaaaa HI L L REE aa amla 3 3l 3l ! 1! 1!11! /……dais?….. . . . 80%/20% EEEEVIIIIL? Waaalthaus AA ? 90 0 ; = *&= == ++ + !1!

P.P.P.P.S. Ga a aaaaa aaaaa-shplisch-aaaaa a aaaaaa-g a a!!!

EnigmatiCore said...

Simon, I was not referring to any particular public polls, but what her campaign polls might be showing.

But I have seen polls that say she's going to win big, and polls saying that she'll win by less than 10. Less than 10 won't net her much, if anything, as far as net delegates are concerned. She's got to have the blowout, and only a precious few polls lately show her getting one, and we don't know what her own (undoubtedly more accurate) polls show.

Simon said...

He hit another of my pet peeves! They just keep coming... He suggested that these are extraordinary times. That's no more true today than it was when Robert Kennedy claimed that those were not ordinary times and that was not an ordinary election. I think history bears out that no election is ever ordinary while it lies before us, and times are never ordinary until they are far behind us. It's in a similar vein to the bone I picked with Judge Posner's position on civil liberties in times of terror - that whereas he is correct to claim that the era of Islamic terrorism "poses a challenge that is unique in American history, one might [also] say the same about the Cold War. Or the Civil War. Or the revolutionary war. Every national crisis poses unique challenges." (Emphasis in original) (footnote and internal quotation marks omitted).

To paraphrase the bad guy from The Incredibles (sorry, Ann), when everything is extraordinary, nothing is. The challenges before us today are no more daunting or significant than the challenges that were before us yesterday. Although it's a natural tendancy to think that we happen to live in exciting, extraordinary times - think of all those Christians who believe that the rapture will happen in their lifetimes - but in truth, the challenges that Clinton or McCain in 2009 will have to grapple with are not more significant than those Reagan faced in 1981, to take only one example.

Trooper York said...

"Obama comes back with the fact that Bill Clinton pardoned 2 members of the Weather Underground."

Yeah but they paid him for that, fair and square, cash money. What's the problem?

vnjagvet said...

How'd the line go on BHO's defense of his G**D****'d Pastor?

Christopher Althouse Cohen said...

Did Clinton just admit the Bosnia thing was a lie rather than a mistake? She goes on and on about the issue and says she's sorry, it wasn't accurate, but never says it was an accident. At the end she says, "I'm very sorry that I said it and I have said that, you know, it just didn't jive with what I had written about and knew to be the truth." Oookay.

Well, let's say that's an admission of guilt. I'll still take that over continuing the same lie with your head tilted off to the side even as you're being called out.

Simon: I know some people will be angry about the results either way, but that always happens in a close election. It's a completely different story if the perception is that the election was stolen. Clinton's chances largely ride on the possibility that either winner will look like they stole it. Let's say she'd have the popular vote if Florida were counted, and a bigger popular lead if Michigan were counted with some or all uncommitteds going to Obama. That's when Obama could still say he led pledged delegates and popular vote and has to be the winner, but there would be significant basis for calling it a stolen election. And that scenario is maybe the only one where she could end up being a good choice for VP. If Florida and Michigan voters plan a backlash against Obama because their vote was taken from them, she could be the only person capable of repairing the damage.

I also agree that Obama is likely not a religious person. Here's what he says in The Audacity of Hope about it: "It was because of these newfound understandings—that religious commitment did not require me to suspend critical thinking, disengage from the battle for economic and social justice, or otherwise retreat from the world that I knew and loved—that I was finally able to walk down the aisle of Trinity United Church of Christ one day and be baptized."

Some epiphany. That's like saying "I realized Christians aren't necessarily morons, so I figured I might as well go ahead and join a Church."

EnigmatiCore said...

"Obama comes back with the fact that Bill Clinton pardoned 2 members of the Weather Underground."

Great. We have both Democrats pointing out the cozy relationship between Democrat politicians and leftist domestic terrorists.

Are they trying to convince me that I must vote? And vote for McCain?

EnigmatiCore said...

Christopher, that was the closest I have heard a politician come to flat out saying, about a campaign exaggeration, that they lied.

It made me want to forgive her.

Seven Machos said...

Althouse Cohen is on fire and should post here more often.

AJ Lynch said...

Christopher:

You noticed that head leaning of Obama's too. I believe it indicates he is pissed too- that and when he tilts his head back and stares down at his intervewier. He did that on the View when Hasselback asked him a tough question.

Simon said...

Obama says he's concerned that we don't have any troops to militarily intervene somewhere else in the world, because they're all tied up in Iraq. Unasked follow-up question by Steph and Charlie: where and under what circumstances would Obama send U.S. troops abroad to deal with a military crisis? Would he have intervened militarily in Sudan, for example? Would he have ordered Grenada? If he wouldn't deploy them elsewhere, it's a moot point whether we have the capacity to do so.

Trooper York said...

I think they are gonna be a lot better at the next debate when Neil Diamond is the mentor.

Simon said...

EnigmatiCore, I disagree - in my view, all she needs is momentum. If she starts beating Obama convincingly and consistently hereon out, that's enough, as I see it. A blow-out would be nice, and would be vindication for her, but I don't think it's necessary. Her path to the nomination requires her only to remain credible enough to give the superdelegates cover to do what they already want to do.

EnigmatiCore said...

Enough of this. They are both confirming my deep desire to vote for neither of them, and probably for no one.

Maybe one of the last general election debates will dispel that feeling and get me to the booth. But I doubt it.

Simon said...

Great question about the capital gains tax - kudos, Charlie. Now if he'd expand it to taxation generally we'd be talking.

Christopher Althouse Cohen said...

Hillary: "I have a lot of baggage." Thanks for the reminder.

Is this just a debate on all the gaffes, mistakes, and negative press? I don't think they've asked a single policy question so far. It's sort of the gutter debate. Next they'll ask Obama why he sucks so much at bowling and Clinton if she'd like another shot of Crown Royal.

Tom Van Dyke said...

Anybody keeping an Obama "distraction" count?

Simon said...

Oh, and great answer from Obama on capital gains! Even though raising the rate lowers revenue and vice-versa, he wants to to raise capital gains tax to punish people who make too much money! Picture perfect!

Simon said...

Christopher Althouse Cohen said...
"Next they'll ask ... Clinton if she'd like another shot of Crown Royal."

After that answer about Bosnia, I think she could use one.

EnigmatiCore said...

"If she starts beating Obama convincingly"

She needs to win Pennsylvania by 20 points to not have the calls for her to withdraw increase. A ten point win will probably net her only a 7-9 delegate gain, which isn't nearly enough.

Simon said...

Christopher Althouse Cohen said...
"If Florida and Michigan voters plan a backlash against Obama because their vote was taken from them, she could be the only person capable of repairing the damage."

That's really a wildcard here, isn't it - how that will play out, particularly in Florida in view of the rhetoric of eight years ago.

Trooper York said...

I haven't seen Simon this excited since Nino put out his swimsuit calendar.

EnigmatiCore said...

I didn't change the channel when I said I would. Is it just me, or is just about every question hitting these two from the right? Respond to GOP points, how will you defend yourself about this, and now will you concede that tax cuts increase government revenue?

Is ABC the new Fox?

madawaskan said...

Well in the interest of cruel neutrality-

Is it fair that George--ex-Clinon- staffer is moderating?

And going non-neutral-

Why is she sounding like she's from Fargo all of a sudden?

Maybe she has a cold.

Simon said...

Trooper York said...
"I haven't seen Simon this excited since Nino put out his swimsuit calendar."

Miss April was my favorite.

EnigmatiCore, I don't think the calls for her to withdraw would cease if she won Pennsylvania unanimously. As I see it, the calls for Sen. Clinton to withdraw have nothing to do with her capacity to win, it seems to me - they come from partisans of Sen. Obama, who want Senator Obama's opponent to quit while she's behind.

titusisback and leaving soon said...

OK, I am back from Madison and have all kinds of stories.

Can we set up a special posting for my trip to Madison, entitled, "Titus does Madison".

There are too many stories to be shared that it needs its own blog post.

I hung out and danced with college chicks, did a really hot guy, stayed at the Inn on the Park and called my mommy at 3:00 to tell her I wasn't coming home, ate out at fabulous restaurants and did much more.

Let's get that special "Titus does Madison" post up.

Thanks doll.

EnigmatiCore said...

Of course they would never stop completely.

What would have been a more artful (hey, I learned from Obama) way of saying it would have been to say that if she does not win Pennsylvania by 20, then the calls for her to drop out will dramatically, not just slightly, increase.

And I would expect her to heed them prior to North Carolina.

madawaskan said...

Wait -

It's only when she talks about investing people's taxes-and hits the vowels in economy that she sounds all Fargo..

Subliminal message-

Cow Futures..

EnigmatiCore said...

However, I will say my comment (the third in this thread) has been proven wrong. She did not come to cut and run. She's cutting away at him with impressive skill, and he seems very rattled and less than impressive.

EnigmatiCore said...

This is really a disaster of a performance by Obama.

I was so busy arguing with Simon about my pre-debate take on things that I wasn't really reflecting on what I had been hearing.

He's awful tonight.

Christopher Althouse Cohen said...

Do I dare switch to American Idol? I'm worried about my Brooke. But I'm frankly more worried the candidate of my choice. I'll stick with this.

Agh, Hillary's plugging her website again! She can't stop saying her URL.

How are they going to cut taxes for the middle class and pay for all these programs? O & C both make the same promise.

Simon said...

EnigmatiCore said...
"He's awful tonight."

With all due respect, some of us don't see how that distinguishes tonight's performance from any other performance he's given. (That recusal's really gone by the wayside tonight, hasn't it. Sorry. I'm only human. And this stuff is important.)

MadisonMan said...

How are they going to cut taxes for the middle class and pay for all these programs? O & C both make the same promise.


And McCain promises to make Bush's tax cuts -- the ones that McCain opposed -- permanent, and McCain also plans on spending spending spending. If only None of the Above were allowed.

I think Brooke is history -- at least going by performance. Carly still might take the bullet and save her -- or Syesha might -- but Li'l Nanny was pretty bleak last night.

John K. said...

"If the military commanders told you that pulling the troops out will destabilize Iraq, would you still go through with your plan?"

"The idea is for Iraqis to get the message that they need to take over."

Damn straight. We did them the favor of removing their tyrant for them, now it's up to them. Give anarchy a chance. It's better than tyranny. My quibble with the sentiment above is the unexamined assumption that somebody or some party or some faction needs to take over. WHICH Iraqis need to "take over" WHOM? Balkanize! We the People could use a little more of it ourselves.

The Drill SGT said...

Simon said..."[i]f the Hillary voters feel shunted aside, if the superdelegates award the nom to Obama ... then they'll stay home in November...." That seemed exactly opposite to the received wisdom, where Clinton gets the nomination and those invested in Obama stay home, from my outsider's perspective.

i see it in reverse. If aything, Obama's young first time koolaid drinkers either vote for Barry o stay home. After all, all of those waves of first time Dem voters have never shown up before.

Hill's voters on the other hand are soccer moms and Reagan democrats that have voted security issues before. And frankly, thee is the wilder/bradley factor there as well. I thik they break stronger for McCain than you predict.

EnigmatiCore said...

"How are they going to cut taxes for the middle class and pay for all these programs?"

They already (or at least Obama did) admitted that cutting taxes has raised revenues in the past.

The problems are that Obama then said that he thinks it would be good to raise taxes (on some) anyway because it would be fair, and Hillary is hurt by Bill's campaigning on a middle class tax cut that became tax increases after he "never worked harder" trying to make the cuts happen but "just couldn't."

The bad news is-- both of these candidates will raise our taxes. The slightly better news is McCain either won't or won't as much. The worse news is that both of these candidates, and McCain, will break the bank with new domestic spending. McCain might do so with less pork, but will do so with a heavier hand towards regulation and restrictions on speech.

A very depressing election with varying degrees of bad.

Christopher Althouse Cohen said...

enigmaticore: They said cutting capital gains taxes raised revenue, not taxes in general. Maybe it's a complicated relationship, and different types of cuts work in different situations. If cutting taxes solved everything, Bush's economy would be doing a little better. But I know almost nothing about the economy, so you can't go by me.

EnigmatiCore said...

Awful answer by Hillary on guns. She favors 'reasonable' restrictions on guns (good so far). Then asked if DC's total ban on guns is reasonable, and she says a court might say no but does not say that she says no.

Leaving it open to the suggestion that she thinks even a total ban can be reasonable, in certain circumstances, such as in the city where Senators conduct their business.

Revenant said...

How are they going to cut taxes for the middle class and pay for all these programs? O & C both make the same promise.

They'll tax the people who Aren't Paying Their Fair Share.

Simon said...

MadisonMan said...
"McCain promises to make Bush's tax cuts -- the ones that McCain opposed -- permanent...."

That's the soundbite that's always trotted out, and it's true, but it's critically incomplete. McCain opposed the tax cuts because they weren't accompanied by spending cuts. That is, he wasn't against cutting taxes, he thought it was important to cut spending too. He was and remains correct, and his campaign today harmonizes with that position.

EnigmatiCore said...

I think the economy is beyond the direct control of our tax policy. I don't think it can be ruined or helped tremendously (in either direction) by raising or cutting taxes slightly (as will certainly be the case regardless of who wins-- I can't foresee any changes as dramatic as the major cuts by Kennedy or Reagan or the dramatic increases we have seen at other times).

Spending, on the other hand, can really hurt us. New programs start big and just get bigger. I would rather the candidates talk about making Social Security solvent than talk about creating new entitlements.

Christopher Althouse Cohen said...

the drill sgt: If Obama's supporters are more liberal than Clinton's (which seems likely), I would think more of the Clinton supporters would be willing to vote Republican in the general, rather than cave and vote for a Dem they don't like.

Freeman Hunt said...

Good. Lord. Does anyone agree with the inane things they're saying? I feel like I'm watching Atlas Strugged on television.

Also, would it kill them to answer the questions? Just answer them! They are so boring, and they talk around everything.

They should have Biden as their nominee. At least he says what he thinks and watching him isn't like watching a piece of balsa wood wave slightly in a gentle wind.

Anthony said...

Why? Because it's ridiculous to expect people to work until they're 70. We get 18 relatively good years at the start and pay out ghastly sums of money to keep this f'ed-up government running - the least they can do is let us enjoy the last 20 years of our lives without having to worry about where our next paycheck is coming from.
They at least owe us that.

EnigmatiCore said...

Anthony, you think everyone deserves 20 years of sitting on their ass before dying?

God forbid. I'd go out of my mind with boredom. I hope I am working right to the end.

AJ Lynch said...

Social security is so broken, abused, bankrupt and corrupted. It should be scrapped and we should start over. Hillary mentioned "the social security trust fund" and I almost choked- I thought that was a mirage only politicians could see right?

Throw out a multitude of alternatives and select the best replacement policies. Start with lettting anyone under 45 or so "opt out" entirely. It's too late for most of us who are over 45. We don't have the time to start from scratch.

titusisback and leaving soon said...

Hello I am back. Can I get some love please?

Simon said...

EnigmatiCore said...
"I think the economy is beyond the direct control of our tax policy."

Yes and no. I think that both tax and monetary policy can very directly and very quickly foul up the economy when they're wrong, and a drastic shift in either has significant potential for havoc whether it ultimately comes to be a good or detrimental change.

"I don't think it can be ruined or helped tremendously (in either direction) by raising or cutting taxes slightly (as will certainly be the case regardless of who wins-- I can't foresee any changes as dramatic as the major cuts by Kennedy or Reagan or the dramatic increases we have seen at other times)."

I had thought that both Clinton and Obama opposed making the Bush tax cuts permanent? That "would impose -- overnight -- the single largest tax increase since the Second World War."

EnigmatiCore said...

"Social security is so broken, abused, bankrupt and corrupted. It should be scrapped and we should start over."

And I should have studied harder, dedicated myself to exercise and eaten more sensibly during my college and early adult years.

Neither is going to happen, although it would be nice, perhaps.

former law student said...

raising the retirement age is unacceptable? Could someone explain why? We live much longer than in the days when Social Security began, and many fewer people were expected to live to collect payments. If we live longer, shouldn't we work to an older age?

1. The retirement ages were already raised 20 years ago.
2. The FICA rate was raised from 4% to 12% 20 years ago to cover the baby boom retirement bulge
3. I'm not convinced life expectancy is going up. Both my parents and my sister died well shy of retirement age. Smoke up, ladies!
4. Jobs for the experience-blessed are not exactly plentiful. Corporations are cutting old farts loose at age 55. Ann should enjoy being tenured. Many of the rest of us will be Wal-Mart greeters, or working the fry baskets at McBurger from 55 till retirement.

reader_iam said...

Freeman (and whoever)--please, wait for it--here's the e-mail I sent at 7:19:34 (Central) to friend/ex-colleague/former co-blogger stuck in a PA newsroom tonight:

Jeez. They're losing my interest already. I can see I'm likely going to be disappointed in Gibson (whom I like and admire), unfortunately, and that it's likely that Obama and Clinton are going to lack fire and be (perhaps too) mindful of superdelegates etc. (at least for a good debate).

Oh well.


And, a few e-mails later, at 7:50:17 (Central):

Ohmigosh. You won't believe the thought that just sprung to me.

I miss Joe Biden.

Thank the Lord I'm not wearing a tie, and that my son is still up and expecting an after-dinner sweet and a kiss good-night.


I will say it got a bit better thereafter. Of course, that depends on the definition of both "bit" and "better."

***

While I'm here, I think someone here--Madawaskan (did I get the persona, and the spelling thereof, right, by memeory?)?--mentioned wondered about having George S. being one of the questioners/moderator.

I had that thought, as well.

EnigmatiCore said...

"I had thought that both Clinton and Obama opposed making the Bush tax cuts permanent? That "would impose -- overnight -- the single largest tax increase since the Second World War."

So you are buying into the Democrat spin that the Bush tax cuts were so overwhelmingly monumentally huge? That surprises me.

They didn't increase my take home pay that much. Reversing them would, therefore, not increase it all that much. I'd rather keep the money, mind you, than give it up to fund a new program that will only get more expensive and make me pay more in the future. But if you try to say that tax cuts that 1) didn't benefit me all that much and 2) didn't turn our economy into the finest humming machine ever assembled-- built for speed and built to last will 3) cripple me and 4) turn our economy into dust if repealed, then I would say that you are spinning me, unsuccessfully.

rcocean said...

Of course we should raise the SS Cap.
Why not? Oh, I hope poor Bill Gates can afford it.

Crazy. Why should someone making $1 million/year pay less SS taxes (in percentage terms) than someone making $30,000?

I know, its tough being a millionaire.

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

Social Security and Medicare are the two bloated pigs threatening this nation's financial health and no one, NO ONE except GW Bush has put forth plan to make real CHANGE.
...and GW got kicked in teeth for his attempt to do something different.

Mr. Change himself is offering nothing but more taxation and shoveling $ the same old tired programs.

Frankly, as much as he may annoy me, Bush has been a radical president on many levels.

Tonight is a return to the status quo and safety of the 60's and the 70's.

MadisonMan said...

Good Bye Kristy Lee Cook! Wow, she wasn't even in my bottom 3 -- but she was 4th.

The debate seems very much same old same old to me. Thanks to the live-bloggers for watching it so I don't have to.

Freeman Hunt said...

LOL, Reader. Who would have thought that Biden would be getting multiple points of Internet love tonight?

reader_iam said...

(I don't dislike Joe B., by the way. Having followed his career, quite literally, since 1972, the thread is part of the tapestry. That cuts more than one way, is all, and the person with whom I was corresponding understands exactly why.)

Simon said...

EnigmatiCore said...
"So you are buying into the Democrat spin that the Bush tax cuts were so overwhelmingly monumentally huge? That surprises me."

I'll stipulate it if it'll grease the wheels of conversation. :) I tend to agree with McCain that the problem with Bush's economic policy (and with the GOP generally 2002-2006) isn't that tax policy was wrong, but that spending policy was horribly, totally wrong. If it was left to me, evil conservative that I am, I'd eliminate 100% of federal entitlement spending, period, and scale back non-defense "discretionary" spending considerably. Yet both increased under Bush.

EnigmatiCore said...

I too, like Biden, although I do think he has a *smidge* of some old fashioned thinking (read- prejudices) and a real problem with running his mouth too much.

EnigmatiCore said...

Well, if they were overwhelmingly huge, then I would say that they did not benefit me enough and did not benefit the economy long enough or substantially enough. Perhaps that is due to all of the increased spending, but I don't see any of the three being worth my vote on spending. All three will increase it substantially, with McCain making token efforts at cutting back pork.

former law student said...

that [Bush] spending policy was horribly, totally wrong.

Agree 100%. I could have created chaos in Iraq for a lot less than half a trillion dollars. BTW: that's where your Social Security Trust Fund money went. Suckers!

bill sherman said...

Obama and Clinton are doing a polite version of Amiri Baraka's play, DUTCHMAN.

AJ Lynch said...

Ann:

People are living longer but when politicans use current life expectancies, they tend to try to mislead us.

For instance, they will say people 60 years old today can expect to live to be 80. But among people 60 today and therfore born in 1948, how many have already died? maybe 20-25%? And those unfortunate souls paid in their money for years and years and got nothing.

You would not let an insurance company change the terms of its policies after you had been paying premiums for 30 years, right? In many ways,social security is an insurance policy - hence Hilary's referring to it as a "trust". We should not accept changes just because they have squandered our premiums or "contributions" as they like to call it. Force them to stop the bleeding first then negotiate via the ballot box.

reader_iam said...

Althouse: I meant to much earlier note your "lectern" comment.

Excellent!

MadisonMan said...

And those unfortunate souls paid in their money for years and years and got nothing.

How unfair! Life should be much fairer than that. But they did get something: the satisfaction of knowing they left the Earth with the Social Security Trust Fund a little bit more solvent!

Pity the poor Republicans who voted in George Bush thinking he's be a fiscal conservative! It's time to pay the piper now for six years of truly reckless Republican spending.

Christopher Althouse Cohen said...

Oh, thank God. Brooke's safe. Close call there.

Sloanasaurus said...

Crazy. Why should someone making $1 million/year pay less SS taxes (in percentage terms) than someone making $30,000?

Why is this crazy? people who only paid in on $30k a year get far more back as a percentage of their income. Besides, a person today making $1 million pays more than 30% in income tax. A person making $30k pays nothing in income tax. The person making the $million will be the one funding the social security fund in the future.

Social Security isn't supposed to be a welfare program, it is supposed to be a government forced/guaranteed savings plan. People that receive it can feel some dignity in that they paid into the system and are getting their fair share back. If Obama gets rid of the cap on SSI, social security will become a welfare system, and people will no longer be getting their fair share. It will be no difference than just an additional 7% income tax increase on Rich people. Rich people will pay that in taxes rather than investing in companies that create jobs. Obama's America is one where tax rates and unemployement are high, just like in Europe. And where our smartest people move away.

EnigmatiCore said...

"It's time to pay the piper now for six years of truly reckless Republican spending."

I think that you both are right and so very, very wrong.

NONE of these candidates are going to do a rat's ass bit about spending. Neither party will. Not until we throw the bums out, on both sides.

Not until Byrd, and Kennedy, and Lott, and all of the entrenched leeches are out of office. Not until politicians bribing us with our own money realize that it won't work.

The endless game of "elect my guy because the other guy's side spends too much" has been playing for way too long. I want real change, change I can believe in.

NONE of these candidates, and neither of these parties (nor any of the fringe ones, from what I have seen) is offering it. And the one claiming to offer it might be the worst in this regard of all.

Simon said...

EnigmatiCore - you think that McCain's lying about cutting spending? As to Lott, Byrd and Kennedy, Lott's already gone, and Republicans aren't responsible for irresponsible spending by Democrats - we've got plenty of our own irresponsible spending to live with responsibility for.

I do wish McCain (and all other Republicans) would drop this idea of a line item veto, though. It isn't helpful, because it distracts from the real debate. A line item veto that is constitutionally valid would necessarily do nothing more than reaffirm the President's discretion not to spend, making it nugatory, while a provision that purported to do more would violate the presentment clause. This question was obvious for a long time, and bit the dust once and for all in Clinton v. New York.

EnigmatiCore said...

"EnigmatiCore - you think that McCain's lying about cutting spending?"

Let me answer that in several ways.

1) Yes, except for 'pork', which while shameful is a drop in the bucket.

2) He will have a very spending happy Congress to work with, who even if he wanted to cut spending will not let him.

3) Regardless of what party controls Congress.

4) And he is very very likely to embrace, while cutting pork, 'compromise' bipartisan programs for health care and other initiatives that will dwarf any spending cuts he pushes.

5) And while I bet he will use his veto pen more than Bush, it will only be because Democrats control Congress for more of his term (should he be elected) than they did with Bush. And it will not be nearly often enough on budget issues.

EnigmatiCore said...

"we've got plenty of our own irresponsible spending to live with responsibility for."

That was my point, so why were you arguing it there? Yes, Lott is going (not gone). Byrd will soon be too, one way or another. Kennedy? Yeah, give me a minute or two to come up with a Republican big spender (Snowe) to balance him out (she's just not as famous). You are playing the partisan, but both sides suck and you make yourself look... like a partisan when you try to claim 'it is the other guys.'

Sorry, the GOP had their chance to show they were different, that they believed what Reagan said. They blew their chance.

Sloanasaurus said...

It's time to pay the piper now for six years of truly reckless Republican spending.

The truth is that Bush did increase spending, but spending was higher under much of Clinton's term. Spending went up from a low of 19% GDP in 2000 to about 20.9% as of 12/31/07. However, at 20.9%, we are where we were at as of 12/31/96. For most of Bush's term spending has hovered around 20.5% GDP, which is pretty standard for the last 40 years. Spending was near an all time high in 1993, just prior to the republican takeover at about 22.5% GDP. (The all time post WWII high was reached in 1983 at 23% GDP). It was the 1994 GOP Congress that put this country in financial order for a while, by reducing spending before they increased it again under Bush. Still the overall GOP record reduced spending from 21.85% in 1/1/1995 to 20.5% on 1/1/2007 (and that includes the Iraq war).

If today's spending reached 22.5%, the government budget would be at $3.2 trillion.

The reality is that if a Democratic president is nominated they will be the ones who will risk breaking the spending record, not Bush. Going into a permanent spending spree of more than 23% for more than a year will be uncharted territory for this country.

Ironically, federal revenues in 1997 were about 19.3%, 6 years after the Bush tax rate cut. In 1996, federal revenues were also about 19.3%, 3 years after Clinton's tax increase. Tax receipts did peak at 21% on 1/1/2000 the height of the NASDAQ boom. It collapseed back to less than 19% 6 months later.

In 1980 prior to Reagan's massive tax rate cuts, revenue was the same about 19% GDP.

AJ Lynch said...

Simon:

Very well said.I'd add it is like a 12.4% tax on the self employed who pay double.

It will be interesting to see how pro athletes view Obama's new tax plan.

Let's take an NBA player who makes $40MM over a ten year career. He will pay about $2.4 Million more in taxes and the team owner will pay $2.4 Million more. The team owner will take it out of the player's salary pool so in effect, the player will pay the whole price which is $4.8 Million more out of his pocket!!

EnigmatiCore said...

"In 1980 prior to Reagan's massive tax rate cuts, revenue was the same about 19% GDP."

I honestly do not know the answer to this question-- what happened to GDP in each case?

To me it would be fine if taxes increased to 30% of GDP if GDP went up enough to make that increase painless. Granted, GDP would have to increase a lot to handle that sort of increase, but you get my point, I am sure.

Sloanasaurus said...

Sorry, the GOP had their chance to show they were different, that they believed what Reagan said. They blew their chance.

Not true. Again, the GOP took congress and cut spending from 21.85% GDP as it stood on 1/1/95 to a low of 19% in 2000. Under Bush, spending has creeped up to 20.5% GDP (about .75% is from Iraq and Afghanistan). Still far lower than where the Democrats stood on 1/1/95.

In reality, most of the cuts made by the GOP congress came from defense spending. In 1993, we spent 6% GDP on defnese. Today we spend 4% GDP, (even including the Iraq war).

AJ Lynch said...

Re reckless spending Madison, how much of this so-called reckless spending was not related to the two wars? Would you say 5% or 15% or more?

And if Bush had not gone into Iraq, what would the Dems be bitching about? I said to a friend of mine that if the Dems have eight talking points regarding the Bush admin, about 5 or 6 are related to Iraq.

I await your response.

EnigmatiCore said...

"Again, the GOP took congress and cut spending from 21.85% GDP as it stood on 1/1/95 to a low of 19% in 2000. "

The GOP Congress I helped vote in in 1994 was long gone by the time I helped vote them out in 2006.

If you are hanging your hat on what the GOP did 10 years ago and telling us to ignore what they have done since then, no sale.

Kansas City said...

I thought it was an uneventful debate as far as their contest. Hillary pulled her bunches. Looking at Obama, I thought he would have become angry if Hillary had provoked him. She had her chance to attack repeatedly, but failed to do so.

I am always surprised that these accomplished and smart people refuse to listen to what the other says and take advantage of it. After Obama's shuffle about his San Francisco comments, it was wide open for Hillary to point out that he has not explained why he called Americans racist, "antipathy to people not like them." She then let him get away with turning the Ayers question about his admittedly "friendly" relationship into an ansnwer about a "flimsy" relationship. They are so focused on what they want to say that they don't listen and exploit opportunities.

Seven Machos said...

I presume that rich people will get even more Social Security money than poor people when they pay more taxes. That will go over well in decades to come. In the eighties, it was welfare queens. In the 20s, it will be the dukes and duchesses of social security.

There have been so many sensible suggestions for fixing social security by making it more option-oriented. It is, after all, merely a forced-savings program. Politicians on both sides of the aisle have been cowards.

I don't understand why they can't start passing incremental changes in the law that won't occur until after the current old people have left this vale of tears.

Cedarford said...

EnigmatiCore - Awful answer by Hillary on guns. She favors 'reasonable' restrictions on guns (good so far). Then asked if DC's total ban on guns is reasonable, and she says a court might say no but does not say that she says no.
Leaving it open to the suggestion that she thinks even a total ban can be reasonable, in certain circumstances, such as in the city where Senators conduct their business.


Both of them were dishonest as hell about their anti-gun rights past. Hillary was lying when her lips moved on this, and Obama lying about wanting a complete ban on handguns except for government employees...(and perhaps bodyguards to the Elites?)

Both say "it could be a right of individuals" but then support the right of municipalities, let alone states, to limit or even ban (presumably) that individual right for all firearms or certain classes.
Presumably, the two of them are not so approving of states or municipalities electing to prohibit certain forms of speech, abortion, or waive the necessity of search warrants based on voters and government concluding search warrants were a pain in the ass to law enforcement.

Clinton approvingly cited NYC's Sullivan Laws enacted at the turn of the 20th Century, meant to keep guns only with police, paid security for wealthy elites, and permits for those elites themselves.

If Constitutional Amendment Rights are to be honored, they must apply to the whole nation in some base minimum level of acceptance. And not be curtailed by harassment like some states have done that only people who have passed a 200 dollar training course in firearms safety and paid 145 dollars for a permit that takes 6 months to 2 years approve, if the functionaries feel like it - may purchase any sort of firearm.

Imagine being a law-abiding citizen and having to pay 345 dollars in mandatory permits, police interviews, training - to be allowed to worship, with a 50 dollar permit renewal fee every 2 years.

Sloanasaurus said...

To me it would be fine if taxes increased to 30% of GDP if GDP went up enough to make that increase painless.

The problem with that however, is that the economy will grow at a slower pace the more it spends because the government gets less of a return on spending than the private sector does. Thus, if we spend at 30% rather than 20% and grow at 2% average vs. 3%, the government would actually have less money to spend in 40+ years than it did if it was only spending 20%.

Sloanasaurus said...

and Obama lying about wanting a complete ban on handguns except for government employees..

Yeah, I enjoyed Obama's answer to Charlie Gibson's question about his own handwriting appearing the 1996 questionaire. Obama should have adopted the Guiliani answer saying that gun control was good for gang ridden Chicago, but not for the rest of America. But, Obama didn't say that. He instead denied that he ever opposed a ban even though his own notes appear on the questionaire.

Sloanasaurus said...

If you are hanging your hat on what the GOP did 10 years ago and telling us to ignore what they have done since then, no sale.

I am just telling you the facts. You can believe what you want otherwise. I agree, the GOP congress in 2002-2005 spent like druken sailors, but that was only relative to their own fiscal discipline from 1996-2000. Relative to the Democrats of 2006 and pre 1995, the 2002-2005 GOP congress was still thrifty.

Sloanasaurus said...

I saw this on the Corner regarding obama's view on Capital Gains taxes:

I don't cry "class warfare!" very often. But the beginning of Obama's capital gains tax question was amazing stuff. He conceded the premise that revenues go up when you cut capital gains taxes. But he said it would be worthwhile to raise them nonetheless as an issue of "fairness" because some people are making too much money. In other words, even if the government loses money to pay for all of the wonderful things Obama wants to do, it'd be worth it because sticking it to rich people is a good in and of itself.

Obama is indeed a socialist. Can someone here defend Obama.... what a complete idiot.

Seven Machos said...

Sloan -- What's the matter with these elitists? Seriously. I read that Obama has made $1.6 million in the last few years. That money must be invested somewhere. The man clearly advocating legislation against his own economic interest because of the cultural issue of fairness.

Thomas Frank needs to have a serious sit-down with Obama.

johncorn said...

When Obama was defending the Rev Wright, he added Wright had been a marine (before he turned radical.) It reminded me of another former marine, John "The hell with the evidence; lynch 'em" Murtha, the most traitorous American since Benedict Arnold, who, before his attempted surrender of the fort at West Point, had served honorably as general in the Continental Army (no marines during the Revolution.)

Cedarford said...

Sloanasaurus:

1. Your dissertation on spending omits the 1 trillion for the Iraq War in present and future liabilities, that Bush has run with IOUs to China. And the hidden cost of spending Bush has deferred to the next Administration on a host of other matters. The man is past defending. He has been more reckless fiscally than LBJ.

2. Crazy. Why should someone making $1 million/year pay less SS taxes (in percentage terms) than someone making $30,000?

"Why is this crazy? people who only paid in on $30k a year get far more back as a percentage of their income. Besides, a person today making $1 million pays more than 30% in income tax. A person making $30k pays nothing in income tax...."

The rich -and toady boys for the rich - always make the argument solely about the income tax and always seek to exclude other taxes from the debate.
The ugly truth is people, including an exemption for "necessities of life" all Americans need, are taxed at wildly different total tax and fe rates by the Government, and the rich in this country clean up by having massively more disposable incom for each dollar earned than anyone else.
That is, money left for savings, investment, free spending on each dollar after necessities, Fed income, FICA, state taxes and fees, local taxes and fees are done. Every tax and fee but the state and Fed income taxes, if they have progressivity to them - are regressive and punish Americans the lower and lower in income they are.

If a middle class citizen now has 50% of his money going to necessities of life and total taxes, while a rich person has 28% of each dollar lost that way - we need to rebalance that favortism towards the rich. You will never get perfect balance, but if the poor lose 60% of what they get to necessities and government regressive taxes, the Middle class loses 50%. But the rich have loopholes, ability to eliminate most of the FICA load from each dollar the richer they are, pay far less for all the regressive taxes and fees AND get to treat income from investment income, hedge fund profits and management fees at a low tax rate.

The tax reform we need is that every American should have about the same total taxes on each dollar they make after necessities of life are covered. Right now, the rich are making out like bandits.

The Federal income tax on the rich should be geared toward making the wealthy pay out so they have the same percent of each disposable dollar left as discretionary income as the poor and middle class. That suggests a substantial Federal income tax increase on the wealthy is in order to boost their total tax rate up, and lower it on the poor and middle class until total tax equity is roughly reached. (allowing that you would have to use an average of state and local taxation on each dollar earned to get a national non-Fed income tax load that the Federal Income tax would then apply to levelize the total tax on each dollar earned)

Everyone gets say, 48-55 cents on each dollar they make to spend as they please, no more huge advantage to the rich....and the rich still make out because they get more dollars..

Ralph said...

(no marines during the Revolution.)
Tell that to the Marines!
Official birthday: Nov 10, 1775.

Did anyone mention term limits in connection with government spending?

Sloanasaurus said...

Sloan -- What's the matter with these elitists? Seriously. I read that Obama has made $1.6 million in the last few years. That money must be invested somewhere.

Actually, he made $4 million this past year.

reader_iam said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sloanasaurus said...

The tax reform we need is that every American should have about the same total taxes on each dollar they make after necessities of life are covered.

So who decides what the necessaties of life are? Does it include cell phones, cable TV, smoking a pack a day, health insurance, eating at McDonalds? You might find that the "necessaties" are actually quite inexpensive. I know because I have lived on penuts and was still able to eat McDonalds and have Cable TV.

Your argument, while utopian, is impossible to reconcile.

Your point about hidden fees and taxes however are a good point. The lower middle class pay tons of taxes via their purchases of things like liquor, cigarettes, fast food, etc. as a percentage of their income. It's ironic that such taxes are supported by nanny state democrats to discourage people from such habits.

To debate tax policy intellectually, you need to drop the idea of equality, because equality is unattainable. The government is bad at creating assets, and therefore jobs. The private sector is much better at it. Therefore, it is far better for society in general to let wealthy people have more money to create more wealth than take it from them and have the government squander the wealth in the name of equality. At the same time however, the gov. should penalize rich people who do not invest their money. For example, a rich guy who buys land in Montana for the purposes of not doing anything with the land because he is an environmentalist should pay a massive property tax.

reader_iam said...
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Ralph said...

land in Montana for the purposes of not doing anything with the land because he is an environmentalist should pay a massive property tax.

Causing him to donate the land to the government--is that what you want?

Sloanasaurus said...

Also Ceder, to be more complete on the comparisons between Rich and poor we need to accrue to each person a value for advancements in technology. For example, a cell phone benefits a rich and a lower income person almost equally. Therefore, the investment that went into inventing the phone and creating the network should also accrue equally. However, because the lower income person has a lower income the cell phone will total a higher benefit to them as a percentage of their income.

Sloanasaurus said...

Causing him to donate the land to the government--is that what you want?

Heh, good point.

Having lower taxes on rich people can accomplish the same goal. If taxes are low, then the smart rich people have the option to take more of their money and create more wealth for society, thus creating more jobs, inventing new products, and eventually making everyone richer. The stupid rich people, who effectively leave their money in their mattress and do nothing, can just loan it to the government. In the end, the government pays a small rate of interest on the moeny which is more than offset by the gains made by the smart rich people investing their own money.

When taxes are high, the government takes money from the smart people as well as the rich people.

reader_iam said...
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reader_iam said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Revenant said...

I had thought that both Clinton and Obama opposed making the Bush tax cuts permanent? That "would impose -- overnight -- the single largest tax increase since the Second World War."

As Megan McArdle is fond of pointing out -- the government's spending of the money IS the tax. It doesn't ultimately make much difference whether they get that money by borrowing or taxing; you pay in the end either way. It doesn't really matter, big-picture-wise, whether the tax cuts are made permanent or not. The government has just GOT to stop spending so much money.

John K. said...

Sloanasaurus said: "So who decides what the necessaties of life are?"

Why not let the people themselves determine what the necessities of life are, by replacing as much of the income tax (and sales tax) as possible with inheritance and gift taxes. If they have it left over when they die, they apparently didn't "need" it, and certainly don't need it now that they're dead. Likewise, if they're able and willing to give it away during their lifetime, they obviously have made the determination that they don't "need" it.

If you absolutely insist on having an income tax, why not key the standard exemption to the mean U.S. income, so that people are taxed -- presumably at a flat rate -- only on income above the mean. Taking a cue from Adam Smith's view that "necessities" encompass more than what is strictly necessary for mere bare subsistence and also includes whatever is generally considered to be a component of a decent and respectable life in the society in which one lives, it's hard to deny that people "need" the income they earn that is below the mean to establish and maintain a measure of financial independence and security. It's much less apparent that income earned over and above the mean is as "necessary" as income below the mean. When the income tax was first instituted, it applied only to the top 1 or 2 percent of income earners, and the Sixteenth Amendment was passed under the assumption and understanding that these are the kinds of incomes to which it would apply. How deranged we've become since then, in applying it to massive confiscations of modest incomes from labor, to which it originally was never intended to apply.

(We can and should also retain the property tax, but it should be shifted away from capital and improvements and on to the unimproved site value of land, per Henry George.)

M. Simon said...

(no marines during the Revolution.)

There were Marines before there was an Army. Semper Fi.

The Marines were a wholly owned subsidiary of the Navy.

John Paul Jones' victory over the Serapis was due in large part to the Marines keeping the British off the decks of the Serapis. This from the top of the masts waving in the breeze and reloading a muzzle loader while hanging on to the rigging.

Yes there were Marines.

Iapetus said...

I tuned in to the debate at the point where Charlie Gibson asked his question about the capital gains tax. Obama gave a completely incoherent answer. In turn, Hillary ignored the question entirely and gave a set speech about a different topic, even after being called back to the question by Gibson. In rebuttal, Obama next gave a rambling dissertation on an unrelated tax topic, having apparently failed in his attempt to locate his lost brain which must have fallen out and rolled somewhere across the stage. Both of these dumbasses have IQs in single digits. The only intelligence I saw belonged to Charlie Gibson, but he isn't running for office. The debate was a disaster for both candidates, proving that neither of them has the wherewithal to be the leader of the free world.

DavoGrande said...

Obama, at least, allowed that tax cuts have increased revenue. Clinton would never say it or let it be said.

Nevertheless they both want tax increases, nominally on the grounds that new programs must be paid for.

It is impossible that sitting senators do not realize that each of the last several years has been an all time record for government revenue, and that the Bush tax cuts are government's contribution to that state of affairs. They know very well that the way to get more money is to cut taxes. But they STILL want to raise them, mostly on the wealthiest (who generally are the business active, and who generally are the ones paying in most of the revenue already).

It is entirely about control of people, and not at all about revenue to pay for programs.

AJ Lynch said...

Sloan/ Cedarford:

If you accept Cedarford's argument for a moment, one way to balance this "necessity thing" is to give everyone a check each month to cover the necessities. Then flatten out the tax brackets entirely.

By everyone, I mean me, you, Althouse, Bill Gates, Ted Turner, the homeless guy, etc.

That would of course lead to the elimination of almost every social welfare program I assume and the overall tax rate would have to be increased. It is a very egalitarian approach IMO.

And it would be an interesting exercise to assess what the "necesity" amount was - cell phones, cigarettes, rent, food, etc.

Nichevo said...

I've held my tongue over the racist diatribes for so long...but it is this latest rant on economic themes that obliges me to warn you, Cedarford, that you have joined the long list of people who need to be shot in the back of the head.

Of course, I am already on yours by an accident of birth, but I have tried for so long to give you the benefit of the doubt. But 48-55% as the government's rightful due? "Necessities?" May you be damned. (As in turn of course are all the coastal-elite Jeeeeeeews and such whose housing costs are doubtless ten times yours.)

I don't know what you think you are, but it ain't a conservative, a Republican or an American.

Good day, sir!

MadisonMan said...

My apologies, AJ, for going to bed and not answering with celerity.

And if Bush had not gone into Iraq, what would the Dems be bitching about?

If President Clinton had resigned, and Gore had been elected, what would Republicans be bitching about after 8+ years of President Gore?

I can ask meaningless hypotheticals as well!

Re: Reckless spending. IF you assume the spending for the war in Iraq is NOT reckless (that discussion is all water under the bridge now) AND you ignore the mismanagement of billions of dollars related to rebuilding Iraq that was gonna be paid for by Iraqi oil dollars, then I'd say not much of the reckless spending is unrelated to Iraq. (Sorry for the tangled syntax). For a party that prides itself on (cough) fiscal prudence, however -- I mean, that was the main selling point, that and a smaller government, right? -- any amount shows a serious derailing of the train of thought.

sloan can compare spending to GDP all he wants, but the plain truth staring him and everyone in the face is that the Republicans had a huge opportunity to cement their reputation as advocates for smaller, efficient governance. The reputation now is just the opposite. Instead of tax and spend, they are the borrow and spend party -- let's let the next administration, the next generation, worry about everything!

Nichevo said...

Mad, I think you threw in an extra not or un. Neh?

MadisonMan said...

Did I? I meant that most of the extra spending is due to Iraq.

Nichevo said...

Granting your 'pro-GWOT/pro-Bush Admin' assumptions, ISTM, it could hardly be so. You forgot for a moment that you were pretending to accept those args - guess you're not much for 'willing suspension of disbelief.' ;>

Nichevo said...

IF you assume the spending for the war in Iraq is NOT reckless

AND you ignore the mismanagement of billions of dollars

then I'd say not much of the reckless spending is related to Iraq.
Fixed? I mean, what's left?

AJ Lynch said...

Thank You Mad Man. I guess you are agreeing with me.

I did not get your Gore 8 year point. My point is what is the beef with GW when IRAQ is removed as a beefable option?

Your answer suggests you have none except vague points like "damaged reputation" for Republicans.

MadisonMan said...

like "damaged reputation" for Republicans.

Destroyed is probably the word you should be using.

For someone who is interested in National Security and fiscal prudence, what party do you go to? I'm thinking that the Democrats will have control of the both House and Senate -- and I think Republicans in DC think that as well, otherwise why would they all be resigned to it? It's not like they're all running for re-election. Having a Democratic legislative branch and a Democratic President would not be good, IMO. I don't think McCain would be a bad President -- I'm waiting to see what kind of red meat he throws to Conservatives when he picks a VP -- and I like the idea of one party not ruling DC. Bush's first 6 years demonstrate very clearly what an unmitigated fiscal disaster that is.

Is that what agreeing with you looks like?

Sloanasaurus said...

The reputation now is just the opposite. Instead of tax and spend, they are the borrow and spend party -- let's let the next administration, the next generation, worry about everything!

There is some truth to this, although there are far more republicans who oppose reckless spending than Democrats. Ironically, John McCain is one of these republicans being only one of a handful of Senators who does not take earmarks.

Regarding Iraq spending, it is implied by dems like Obama, that but for the Iraq war we woul dnot be spending $100 billion per year. This is false. If Saddam was still in power, he would be immensly rich at the moment with $100 bbl oil. At 3 mln barrels a day that is $100 billion gross. This far eclipses the $20-$25 bln saddam had to play with in the 1980s and 1990s. Saddam would be throwing his money around buying arms, funding terrorists in afghanistan and Gaza and all around the world. We would have had to increase spending substantially to meet this threat.

Instead, much of Iraq's oil money is being spent building infrastructure and fighting our enemies.

MadisonMan said...

although there are far more republicans who oppose reckless spending

Too bad they vote for Republicans who looove to spend. The country is much poorer because of it.

former law student said...

but for the Iraq war we woul dnot be spending $100 billion per year. This is false. If Saddam was still in power, he would be immensly rich at the moment with $100 bbl oil.

This is false three ways. Before the US invasion, Iraq was producing only 2.1 million barrels a day. Iraq hasn't been able to pump over 3 million barrels a day since before it invaded Kuwait. Second, the Iraqi war has inflated the price of oil two ways: First, supply and demand. Those 2.1 million barrels a day represented about 7 percent of total OPEC production, which was cut in half by the invasion and is only recently recovered to pre-invasion levels. Second, the price per barrel in dollars went up 4.4 times since W.'s inauguration, whereas the price in euros went up only 2.6 times. The fall of the dollar compared to the euro shows the effect of the war on our economy, notably the vast export of dollars the US made to fund the war that the Europeans didn't have to.

Revenant said...

oo bad they vote for Republicans who looove to spend.

The alternative is Democrats who love to spend even more. If you really want to cut spending the sad truth is that there IS nobody to vote for; all you can do is vote for the people who want to increase it the least.

Revenant said...

Why not let the people themselves determine what the necessities of life are, by replacing as much of the income tax (and sales tax) as possible with inheritance and gift taxes.

Fine, I'll just pay my kids $10 million to come over and clean my kitchen. That way it isn't a gift, nor is it an inheritance. It is a wage.

So then you need a government department in charge of determining what the "real" value of labor is, so they can tax anything you pay in excess of that as a gift. Voila, you've got a brand-new income tax system, only you don't call it that anymore.

memomachine said...

Hmmmmm.

Frankly the debate on this blog was more interesting than the one on TV.

Sloanasaurus said...

whereas the price in euros went up only 2.6 times. The fall of the dollar compared to the euro shows the effect of the war on our economy, notably the vast export of dollars the US made to fund the war that the Europeans didn't have to.

What? Did your nose grow after you tried to argue that the fall of the dollar is because of iraq war spending? I wonder if the $800 billion trade deficit has a little more to do with the falling dollar than spending in Iraq. Besides, most of the Iraq spending goes straight back into the pockets of Americans who manufacture humvees, bullets, guns, bombs, salaries. etc..

John K. said...

"Fine, I'll just pay my kids $10 million to come over and clean my kitchen. That way it isn't a gift, nor is it an inheritance. It is a wage."

That kind of thing obviously goes on today already.

We already have a gift tax, and it seems semi-workable -- that is, no less workable than the income tax, which likewise is infamously subject to loopholes and fraud and inequities. And at least the gift tax seems more philosophically justifiable than the income tax, and more "voluntary," since you only pay it if and when you choose to gift away your property. I suppose there's an element of voluntariness in the income tax too, because you can theoretically choose to work less and therefore pay less in income taxes . . . but generally people need or want to work and will prefer to make more rather than less in order to maintain a higher standard of living, making the income tax rather less voluntary than a gift tax.

I indeed think the gift tax is less justifiable than the inheritance tax, and think if we're going to have it it should be kept quite modest in order to reduce the understandable temptation to evade or avoid it -- maybe a tax of 10% (or 5%) on lifetime gifts and 20% (or 10%) on inheritances. Combine that with a property tax absorbing say 50-80% of the unimproved value of land while eliminating all other taxes (enshrining such limitations with a constitutional amendment) and government might finally pretty much be cut down to its proper size (assuming for the sake of argument that taxation of any sort is "proper"). We can get to that point by raising the standard income tax exemption every year till it's eliminated entirely.

Of course this is all fantasy and assumes a world without politicians and without people who elect and support politicians.

I think culturally and economically we'd be much better off if we didn't instill in parents that they have a duty to leave a substantial inheritance for their children, and if parents in turn saw the dubiousness of the impluse to give their children a leg up in the world over everybody else's children. What I've just said may sound like heresy, but people like Andrew Carnegie and Warren Buffett have expressed very similar sentiments.