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JHB

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Member since: 2001
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Eskow: Have Wall Street's "Third Way" Democrats Ever Been Right About Anything?

Have Wall Street's "Third Way" Democrats Ever Been Right About Anything?
Richard (RJ) Eskow
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rj-eskow/have-wall-streets-third-w_b_3018559.html

Prof. William K. Black Jr. was understandably displeased by The New York Times' description of the Third Way think tank as "center/left." Prof. Black writes that "Some lies will not die ... Third Way is Wall Street on the Potomac. It is funded secretly by Wall Street (it refuses to reveal its donors), it is openly run by Wall Street, and it lobbies endlessly for Wall Street." Black adds that "Third Way, like every Pete Peterson front group, is dedicated to shredding the safety net as its highest priority and throwing the Nation back into a gratuitous recession through self-destructive austerity."

The description of Third Way as a "Pete Peterson front group" might seem to contradict the "Wall Street" label. It doesn't. Peterson's a hedge fund billionaire who has devoted decades of his life, as well as an enormous sum (he spent nearly a half-billion dollars in one five-year period alone) to slashing Social Security and lowering taxes for himself, his ultra-wealthy peers, and large corporations.

***
Third Way's board members include a number of prominent financial types who benefited mightily from bank deregulation, including some (like William M. Daley) who lobbied and fought for deregulation.

***
Third Way argues that their patrons' preferred system of (lower) taxes would increase employment in the United States. The response to that is simple: We've had more than a decade of low taxes for wealthy individuals and corporations. How's that working out for you? But lower taxes lead to economic growth, don't they? Look around you: Wrong.


In an interview on Bill Moyers Journal, Moyers introduced the quoted Prof. William K. Black Jr. like so:

"The former Director of the Institute for Fraud Prevention now teaches Economics and Law at the University of Missouri, Kansas City. During the savings and loan crisis, it was Black who accused then-house speaker Jim Wright and five US Senators, including John Glenn and John McCain, of doing favors for the S&L's in exchange for contributions and other perks. The senators got off with a slap on the wrist, but so enraged was one of those bankers, Charles Keating after whom the senate's so-called "Keating Five" were named he sent a memo that read, in part, 'get Black kill him dead.' Metaphorically, of course. Of course."

On September 6, 2008, Senator Barack Obama told AARP members:




"John McCain's campaign has suggested that the best answer for the growing pressures on Social Security might be to cut cost of living adjustments or raise the retirement age. Let me be clear: I will not do either."


Less "bluffing" and more clarity, please!

Let's look at history: where did income tax brackets fall?

Most discussion of tax history mentions the top marginal rates of the past (91% in the 50s, 70% in the 60s and 70s, 50% through most of Reagan's presidency, etc.)

I like to highlight a different aspect: leaving aside what the rates were, where did they kick in? We live in times where people argue "are couples who make $250K 'rich'?" "Should we raise taxes on people who make over $250K? Over $500K?"

Where did these sorts of things lie in the past?

Using the inflation adjusted historical tax bracket tables from The Tax Foundation for married couples filing jointly, let's break it down a little and find out the equivalents in 2012 dollars:

1945:
Total number of brackets: 24
# of brackets only affecting income over $250K: 14
# of brackets only affecting income over $500K: 9
Top bracket affects income over: $2,551,044

1955:
Total number of brackets: 24
# of brackets only affecting income over $250K: 16
# of brackets only affecting income over $500K: 11
Top bracket affects income over: $3,426,776

1965:
Total number of brackets: 25
# of brackets only affecting income over $250K: 13
# of brackets only affecting income over $500K: 8
Top bracket affects income over: $1,457,740

1975:
Total number of brackets: 25
# of brackets only affecting income over $250K: 9
# of brackets only affecting income over $500K: 5
Top bracket affects income over: $853,509

1985:
Total number of brackets: 15
# of brackets only affecting income over $250K: 1
# of brackets only affecting income over $500K: 0
Top bracket affects income over: $360,650

1995:
Total number of brackets: 5
# of brackets only affecting income over $250K: 1
# of brackets only affecting income over $500K: 0
Top bracket affects income over: $386,423

2005:
Total number of brackets: 6
# of brackets only affecting income over $250K: 1
# of brackets only affecting income over $500K: 0
Top bracket affects income over: $383,773

2013:
Total number of brackets: 7
# of brackets only affecting income over $250K: 2
# of brackets only affecting income over $500K: 0
Top bracket affects income over: $440,876

Special Bonus Gipper edition numbers:
1988:

Total number of brackets: 2 (No, not a typo. Two brackets)
# of brackets only affecting income over $250K: 0
# of brackets only affecting income over $500K: 0
Top bracket affects income over: $57,738
(There was a reason why Poppy Bush had to go back on his 'Read My Lips' line -- this rate was so low it was unsustainable (naturally, they crucified him for it). And every RWNJ wants to go back to this, or lower...)

ALL income tax progressivity for very high incomes was eliminated under Reagan, and has stayed that way ever since.

So what is Bizzaro World saying about Scott Prouty?

Are there any reports from RWNJ-land?

What's the hotline to MIRT?

I just served on a jury for a post by an obvious RW bigot, first-poster, who'd signed up about 15 minutes prior to the jury session. Does MIRT get jury decisions automatically and review them for appropriate persons, or is there a direct reporting system?

Pat Robertson predictions from Jan. 1991: how'd his "special link to God" serve him?

I was cleaning out some old papers and found some notes I'd jotted down while watching Pat Robertson on his 700 Club show (back then I'd occasionally monitor Robertson and other politically active RW religious figures**cough**nuts**cough**)

The date on it is 2 Jan 1991, so just over 22 years ago. At the time it was halfway through Poppy Bush's presidency, 5 months after Saddam Hussein had invaded Kuwait, and a little over 2 weeks before "Operation Desert Storm" (i.e., while military assets were still being moved into place).

Pat "special link" Robertson's predictions and comments:
- Short war with Iraq
-low interest rates, prime rate to 7%, stocks plummet
-by September, vibrant stock market out on a limb
-Bush reelected
-collapse in '93
-God is holding off disaster so that evangelicals can get the job done
-people of God support CBN (Robertson's cable network-JHB), high increase in donations
-if we leave Saddam, we must garrison Saudi Arabia indefinitely. Must attack Saddam or he will ___(must have dropped the word that followed-JHB). We Are Americans and must act like Americans, not back down to some tin pot dictator

Considering the lack of opposition from the then-nearly-collapsing Soviets, the short war wasn't all that tough to predict, though I think he had in mind weeks not the "100 hour war" that resulted (as long as you don't count our presence in Iraq for the next 10 years). I haven't looked up how the interest rates, prime rate, and stock market fared. I think his "special link" glitched on the '92 election, and gee, somehow we didn't collapse in '93. As for the rest, the only rational response is to point at him and laugh one's fool head off.

A question for Republicans from Driftglass:

@Mr_Electrico: Remember 12 hours ago when the technical terms for teachers, firefighters & cops were "overpaid public employees" & "union thugs"?

Wingnut watch, countdown to blaming you-know-who

I really hate that I've become this cynical, or that the nuts in our country have become so predictable, but how long until we start hearing the nutballs turn this most recent horror shooting into yet another anti-Obama conspiracy theory "to take away our guns".

And why do I have the sinking feeling that the appropriate instrument to measure this with is a stopwatch?

Speaking of Fiscal Cliffs...

Don't show fear



TGIF

Today I discovered that Grover Norquist agrees with me about something...

It's a conservative meme that liberals are stuck in 1968. The conservative bomb of a movie "An American Carol" had a whole musical number about it complete with choreographed tie-dyed, sandal-wearing, long-gray-haired university professors.

My counter has been that if you're going to reduce it to something dopey like that, then conservatives are stuck in 1978 (give or take a year): taxes are high, the economy is stagnant, crime is high and going up, looting of stores in the blackout and "the Bronx is burning" are still fresh in everyone's minds, Team B confirmed (for conservatives) that the Soviets were just chomping at the bit for world conquest (invading Afghanistan, overthrowing the legitimately-inherited dictatorship in Nicaragua, yadayadayada), every union is just like the mob-controlled Teamsters (and strict union rules cripple business), regulation is too tight, etc. etc. etc. Everything from views that were reasonable for that time to complete paranoid delusions were set in stone (and embossed with Ronald Reagan's profile).

Back to Norquist: from a 2009 "First Person Singular" column in the Washington Post:
When I became 21, I decided that nobody learned anything about politics after the age of 21. Look at people who grew up in the Great Depression, and their understanding of politics is Hoover and FDR. Fifty years later, everything is Hoover and FDR.


And when was it that Norquist turned 21? Why, in 1977, of course.

Thank you, Grover, for being so intellectually stunted as to prove my point with your own.

And let's not forget to add: by his very words, Norquist is obsolete and should be put out to pasture.
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