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TPL Podcast Ep 120: The JOBS Bill? 10 Conservative Lies about Jobs

The Professional Left podcast, with Driftglass and Blue Gal
(contributors to Crooks and Liars)

Ep 120 The JOBS Bill? 10 Conservative Lies about Jobs (67:16)
Description: Why Blue Gal isn't going to knit a uterus for her congresscritter; and the top ten conservative lies about jobs and the economy.

Also, some discussion on why the manufacturing sector is important so we can't just send it all to China.


Carol Marin on Toni Preckwinkle and loyalty.
Driftglass and the Original, 2010 Etch-a-Sketch post NASDAQ on the Republican (HAND) JOBS Act.
Sara Robinson and the 40 hour work week.
Wonkette on Ron Paul's Libertarian Nepotism. Nepotarianism?

summary from http://driftglass.blogspot.com/2012/03/professional-left-podcast-120.html

TYT: Larry Pratt says Shooter Should Get Off on a Technicality

On The Young Turks show on Current TV:
Cenk interviews Larry Pratt, executive director of the Gun Owners of America, about the shooting of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman. Pratt contends that Zimmerman was attacked by Martin and acted in self-defense.


ON EDIT: Crooks & Liars has a version without the ads and in one piece:

Cenk is a little over the top here for my taste, which lets Pratt almost look like the reasonable one (almost. He's so far gone that nothing can help).

The real zingers that Cenk never hones in on here is pointing out that Pratt is arguing for the very thing his entire movement has used to condemn liberals as "soft on crime": letting the accused go free "on a technicality", and that Pratt's argument also goes against everything ever said about not "second guessing" police in brutality/excessive force cases.

Pratt argues (based on one account. Others differ, but for the sake of argument we'll just go with Pratt's version for now) that once the encounter became physical (a fight), Treyvon should have run once he gained an advantage over Zimmerman instead of punching him. with Zimmerman now on the defensive, he was justified in pulling his gun and shooting Martin. Pratt underscores this point with his "count on it, I'm gonna shoot you" line in Cenk's hypothietical recreation of the incident between him and Pratt.

Now, the entire "liberals are soft on crime" meme comes from efforts to force police to actually follow the rules about due process, collection of evidence, etc. so that people didn't go to jail for crimes they didn't commit. This occasionally resulted in cases being thrown out because improperly-collected evidence could not be admitted, improper interrogations, etc., which outraged a lot of people for "violent criminals getting off on a technicality". It's what gave birth to the entire vigilante-movie genre of the 70's -- Dirty Harry, Death Wish, etc. -- and the RW in general and gun-promotion lobby in particular relies heavily on it.

Further, we're supposed to be very lenient about excessive force cases because we are "not there, making the call in the heat of the moment" where there just isn't time to rationally evaluate things and make sure all boxes on the proper procedure checklist are followed completely. This is for peace officers trained in the use of force in potentially violent confrontations.

So here is Pratt, who has spent his career humping the leg of the "got off on a technicality" meme, arguing for exactly the thing he's supposed to be against. And to do it, his justification is that an untrained teenager going about his normal business and suddenly finding himself in a physical confrontation should dot every "i" and cross every "t" about when he should break off, in an even more extreme version of what gets called "micromanagment" and "Monday morning quarterbacking" when applied to holding trained police officers accountable.

A Century of Tax Bracket Thresholds

In many of the recent debates (and outright propagandizing) about taxes, one of the biggest obstacles to rational discussions on the topic -- other than pure anti-tax ideology – is simple ignorance of how taxation used to work in this country, especially progressive taxation. For instance, the whole debate as to whether a couple with a $250K income was “rich” was just nuts: why act like there was one simple dividing line?

The big reason for that is the “simplification” of the income tax system since the 1980s that has reduced the number of tax brackets drastically: from as few as two (1987-1990) to the current six (2002-present). Through most of the 20th Century, including all but the last few years of the Cold War, many more brackets were in place, making more gradations between income levels and making finer distinctions between who was trying to get ahead and who already was.

It’s fairly easy to find charts showing the history of the top marginal tax rate. It’s harder to find ones that illustrate the rest of the story clearly: what the taxes were for people well away from the top margin, what the people at the top actually paid once they’d made use of the vaunted loopholes, etc. The information is available, but hard to boil down to a bumper sticker.

These two charts are part of my effort to fill in some of those gaps in the bigger picture. They don’t deal with rates at all, just the breakpoints between different rates. Using the CPI inflation adjusted numbers from the Federal Individual Income Tax Rates History of The Tax Foundation (http://www.taxfoundation.org/taxdata/show/151.html). I’ve graphed the thresholds between one tax bracket and the next in 2011 dollars. The first is for the entire history of the income tax (1913-2011), and the second is the past 60 years (1951-2011). To keep it simple, these are for single-filers, but it is representative over the broader theme.

Remember, we’re just talking about bracket thresholds, so “series” just represents the number of brackets in a given year, not that they are the same rate or otherwise related. In 1932 and 1933 there were over 50 brackets, and only 4 of them dealt with incomes below the equivalent of $200K.

Gee, look at those brackets reaching way, way up into the 0.01%: incomes over the equivalent of $10 million, $30 million, even $80 million. Still want to quibble whether $250 thousand is “rich” (or rather, $200K since we’re talking single-filers in this chart)? Without even addressing levels that many more will agree fit that description?

The 1951-2011 chart is clearer, both because the period lacks those tens-of-millions brackets and because this is the period most familiar to most people. Changes in the tax code in the 60s, 80s, 90s and 2000s can be seen clearly.

Note how many brackets affected incomes above $200K before the Reagan era. Also note how there were more at lower levels below that level too.

Also note how it collapsed after Reagan: both at the high end (though inflation took its toll earlier) and by hollowing out gradations at the low end. From 1988-1990 there were only two rates: 15% up to ~$34,000, and 28% on everything above that. Very nearly a flat tax, and the one for which George H. W. Bush paid when it proved unsustainable and he had to go back on his “read my lips, no new taxes” line to add a higher bracket. Even when higher brackets were implemented under Clinton, you can still see the fruits of the conservative’s assault on the very idea of progressive taxation.

On edit (26 March 2012): Welcome to those following the link from Avedon Carol's blog The Sideshow.

Following one of the comments, I've added versions on a log scale. However, in ordinary, everyday terms it is only used in this context when referring to an "x-figure income". The median household income is in the ballpark of $50,000, and the vast majority of working Americans are somewhere in that 5-figure range. While useful for some forms of analysis, I think the way a log scale flattens the distribution visually was not appropriate to the point I was making. With a linear scale, a reader can pick out there their own income lies, see the way it was treated differently in the past, and most importantly can easily pick out how incomes that were double, 5 times, 30 times, etc. their own were treated in the past.

Note: on this graph the "series" legend on the right stops at 23 due to space. Also present but not displayed in the legend are more brackets for years which had more, up to 55 in the early 1930s.

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