Political Scum

A recent story on Yahoo News was somewhat disquieting but not that surprising under the circumstances. It begins as follows:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A U.S. government agency has withdrawn a report that challenged Republican ideas about taxes and economic growth – an action that drew fire from Democrats who accused it on Thursday of bowing to political pressure.

Republican lawmakers blasted the Congressional Research Service (CRS) report when it was issued in September and then went to the agency to complain. The report suggested that lower tax rates on the wealthy are not linked to economic growth, an item of faith among many conservatives.

The attack on the agency was led by Republican Senators Mitch McConnell and Orrin Hatch who released statements replete with political gobbledygook about the unreliability of the study and questioning its methodology. This is standard operating procedure these days: we don’t like what the study concludes, so let’s question the methodology. That is to be expected. What is not to be expected is the pressure these Republicans were able to bring to bear on the agency to force them to withdraw the report. Do I hear cries of “foul!”?

This is the season for dirty politics as we realize — on both sides of the political aisle. But some tricks seem to be dirtier than others and refusing to allow a group to do its job on the grounds that they have uncovered evidence to support a conclusion that is in opposition to party ideology seems to be very low indeed: down there with political scum.

We are all concerned about the economy. For some it has become the only issue that matters in the present election. But the trickle down economic theory that began with Ronald Reagan and was later coupled with tax breaks for the wealthy under George W. Bush are the major reasons our economy is in such dire straights at the present moment. Despite the mountain of evidence to the contrary, the Republicans would still have us believe that reducing taxes on the wealthy in this country will benefit the rest of us and thereby turn the economy around and they don’t want us to believe anything to the contrary. In fact, while they weep crocodile tears about the weak economy, the wealthy are hoarding their wealth and not investing it in economic growth. There is no “trickle down.”

Consider the following: Prior to 1981 when this country was experiencing considerable economic strength, the percentage of their income the very wealthy paid in federal taxes was anywhere from 40% to 70%.  Then under Bill Clinton the wealthy who now pay at most 35% of their acknowledged income in taxes (Mitt Romney pays 14%) were asked to pay 39% and the economy began to recover from its slide that began soon after Ronald Reagan introduced supply-side Reaganomics early in his presidency — the infamous “trickle-down” theory, which George H.W. Bush called “voodoo economics.” When sizable tax breaks for the wealthy were ushered in during “W’s” regime in 2001 and again in 2003 the downward slide began again in earnest. Furthermore, this country as a whole has one of the lowest tax rates among all of the developed countries in the world while the Tea Party screams hysterically about “cutting taxes” and the wealthy insist that they should be taxed even less than they are at present.

One can quibble about probable causes, but the fact remains that when the wealthy paid their fair share of taxes the economy was on much firmer ground. Whether or not there is a causal relationship here one cannot say for certain. Economics is not an exact science. But it is clear that the wealthy in this country do not pay their share of the taxes; and the trickle down theory of economics has been a bad joke. The strength of our economy depends on the buying power of a healthy middle class, not pennies “trickling down” from the overflowing pockets of the fat cats.

Thus we have two conjoined issues here:  first, the wealthy refuse to pay their fair share of the taxes required to get this economy back on its feet, and next there are the foul political shenanigans that have forced a federal agency to withdraw a report that would confirm the fact that lower taxes for the wealthy don’t help the economy one whit.  What’s wrong with this picture?

10 thoughts on “Political Scum

  1. Of course you are dead right about the political influence extending even to those areas we rely on for unbiased reporting. I don’t understand why this organization just didn’t resist the republican push back, and also go public with it, causing an embarassment to Mitch McConnell, et al.

    But on another note, I think Reagan made trickle down and the Laffer curve famous, but in reading Clarence Darrow’s biography about a year ago, he was part of a group that railed against Trickle Down from the wealthy, over 100 years ago! This has been a fallacy for over a century.

    Great post

  2. hey from guayaquil
    “But some tricks seem to be dirtier than others and refusing to allow a group to do its job on the grounds that they have uncovered evidence to support a conclusion that is in opposition to party ideology seems to be very low indeed: down there with political scum”

    have been traveling with friends for two weeks and rarely online. while my friend writes an email here in the business center, i thought the best catch up spot would be right here on your most recent post.
    will be back in pocket at the end of the week.

    “what´s wrong with this picture…” but of course, your ending question is the thought for the day. wonder how many will ponder that question?

  3. Great post. You are dead on accurate in your assessment. Let’s do a visual together. Take one arm and stick it straight out in front of you parallel to the ground. Maybe you could lift in one inch. Then take your other arm and lift it where it is at 45 degree angle to the ground – about halfway between parallel and straight up. The more parallel arm is the growth in wages for the working class since 1981. The highly tilted arm is the income of the more well off. Your arms are very closely mirroring what happened with trickle down. Of course, my favorite line is if were to really work, would it not have a different name? Thanks for writing this, BTG

  4. i’m back on this one again on a totally different tangent, that goes back to “what’s wrong with this picture?’
    i cannot believe the amount of aspartame and msg that is all but blanket sprayed on prepared foods (and sometimes literally is sprayed on crops via auxigrow) and the denial that these excitotoxins are harmful. i am not one to curse often, but when i hear that it’s ‘harmless, i expel an extremely dramatic retort. the msg continues to creep into the food supply – and it’s becoming more widespread in latin america. boo, boo BOO – i have an extreme sensitivity to it, so i know almost instantly when i’ve been served msg-tainted food.

    now that i’m home, i hope to move forward on a post about this soon. i look forward to your feedback on this one.

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