Robert J. Samuelson: Governed from the grave: 'Giveaway' and 'takeaway' politics

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  • ordinaryfolks seattle, WA
    May 22, 2014 5:49 p.m.

    It is certainly correct to notice that our current political situation makes compromise and long term planning impossible. Democrats don't want to reduce benefits to the elderly, the middle class and the needy. Republicans insist on lowering taxes on the already wealthy.

    If I were king, I would both raise taxes on the already comfortable, and cut some of the benefit spending we currently do. Does it make sense that someone as wealthy as Warren Buffet can get Medicare benefits and Social Security? Does it make sense to allow Wall Street financiers pay much lower tax rates on their income than the average salaried employee? Do we really need to subsidize the housing habits of the wealthy by giving mortgage deductions for second homes, boats and RV's? Is it right that folks bankrupt grandma so that she can be put into a home which the Medicaid system pays for? And nobody believes we ought to keep spending ungodly amounts on wars, arms and spying.

    There are lots of ways to change the fiscal picture of the country. However, the partisans of the right will never allow it. And the partisans of the left are not much better.

  • happy2bhere clearfield, UT
    May 22, 2014 3:59 p.m.

    Gary O

    So you are saying that this country in spite of its current 17+ trillion debt should add another one trillion in infrastructure spending? Well as you said, "a trillion here and a trillion there" and pretty soon we are talking bankruptcy. And only 100 billion was for jobs and infrastructure? Was this another of Obamas overselling? Not so many shovel ready jobs from that, was there. And for the record, Republicans like tax cuts for any and all who pay the taxes, especially the ones who are the producers of America. Those are the people who create jobs, and if it takes cutting their taxes short term to get the jobs going in the long term, then go for it. And who paid the money for Obama and the Democrats? Some foreign money for one. Lots of union money for another, which by the way was paid back to them with that wonderful stimilus. And the usual special interest groups like teachers, lawyers, and Hollywood. Sad thing is, with BOs incompetancy, they aren't getting their moneys worth. At least the Republican money got us the House. And more to come soon.

  • GaryO Virginia Beach, VA
    May 22, 2014 3:05 p.m.

    Happy2bhere -

    Of course I remember the stimulus, but only about 100 million of that 800 million was reserved for infrastructure though, and that’s where it went.

    The stimulus went in several directions, and all of them helped the economy. The stimulus also reduced taxes for 95% of working Americans, to help money circulate throughout the economy. But it didn’t reduce taxes for the highest earners or penalize the middle class, so I guess that must be why “Conservatives” feel so much heartburn about it.

    Another trillion in appropriations for building and rebuilding infrastructure would be a good start, but it’s not nearly enough.

    Yes, I know. Many bills “have been passed by the House,” but what they all have in common is they favor the rich at the expense of the Middle Class.

    Face it. The Koch brothers paid good money to buy a controlling share of the US House of Representatives, and they want to get their money’s worth.

  • happy2bhere clearfield, UT
    May 22, 2014 12:20 p.m.

    What first 800 billion? It was called the stimulus. It was the program that was supposed to provide "shovel ready jobs". Are you kidding? You don't remember that?

    As for Republican Obstructionism, you can also count Harry Reid as part of the problems in nothing getting done in Congress. Look at how he deals with Republicans. Won't even put a bill up for vote. Many have been passed by the House, and Harry just tables them. NO VOTE. Why, because he is afraid they might pass. Harry Reid is the number one reason Congress is a do nothing Congress. So they do useless and stupid things like worrying about the name of a football team. Really pathetic the Democrats are in this Senate.

    Koch Brothers. You got Harry Reiditis if you think that the 38th biggest contributor to political causes, the Koch Brothers are any problem. There are so many larger Democrat money people.

  • Kent C. DeForrest Provo, UT
    May 22, 2014 12:18 p.m.

    Duh. We need to cut spending significantly and drastically increase revenues. Think we can get either party to admit this is true? Good luck. Playing to constituencies (or partisan politics, as we usually call it) is what this is all about, as Samuelson points out.

  • GaryO Virginia Beach, VA
    May 22, 2014 11:25 a.m.

    Hey happy2bhere -

    What "first 800 billion?"

    "Conservatives" shot down Obama's 2011 Jobs' Bill that, if implemented, would have had this nation's economy looking pretty good right about now.

    "We've now seen 5 years of how that doesn't work"

    Yeah, Republican Obstructionism has been extremely harmful for this nation. I agree.

    The Solution?

    Vote out those Republican Koch Brothers' employees in Congress, who continuously work AGAINST the best interests of America and Americans.

  • happy2bhere clearfield, UT
    May 22, 2014 10:30 a.m.

    Gary O

    The numbers have been run. Tax the wealthy 100% and it doesn't come close to paying off the debt. As for infrastructure investments, how about a pipeline, or more drilling? That infrastructure stuff by the way was what the first Obama 800 billion was supposed to do. You INVEST in this nation, not by liberal Democrat policies. We've now seen 5 years of how that doesn't work. It takes the conservative approach. Tax cuts to business stimulates growth. As for cutting government? You, a liberal, suggesting that? REALLY? As for the GDP, well, what can I say. Not good. We need a lot more than 1 or 2 percent growth to meet our needs.

  • GaryO Virginia Beach, VA
    May 22, 2014 10:07 a.m.

    Hey happy2bhere -

    "we can't cut or tax our way out of our problems."

    Of course we can, but they have to be the right cuts and the right tax increases, AND we need the right kind of government spending.

    We need to INVEST in this nation.

    We need infrastructure, and people need jobs.

    By making the right investments through appropriate spending, we get infrastructure and we get people employed, and those people with incomes spend and consume. In the course of all that, jobs are outsourced to private sector contractors who in turn invest.

    GDP is the main indicator of economic strength.

    In case you don't know it, Domestic consumption + Government Spending + Private Investment are key components of the GDP.

  • happy2bhere clearfield, UT
    May 22, 2014 8:44 a.m.

    Here is how I'd do it. First dispell with the idea that all economic growth is necessarily going to be needed for government spending. If economic growth is BIG enough, it could meet all current government obligations to everyone without needing to cut anyone off, or reduce benefits. That last is very important, because current Americans have grown to believe that the SS and Medicare will be there for them. To betray that trust would be un-American. So, the question becomes, what policies would most greatly help the private sector to grow our competative/capitalistic economy the most? If we did the right things, our economy could grow by 7%,8% even double digit percentages. Now let's argue over what those right things are. I say that the right targeted tax cuts to American businesses is a good beginning. And getting rid of the baseline budgeting policy of automatic increases to programs that may not really need the added expense. If we could get several years of good growth, we could even begin to reduce the 17 trillion debt. It has got to happen with private sector growth, we can't cut or tax our way out of our problems.

  • GaryO Virginia Beach, VA
    May 22, 2014 6:32 a.m.

    “ . . . the Tax Reform Act of 1986 [that] lowered top individual rates . . . is widely regarded as the best tax legislation since World War II . . . “

    Who regards it that highly? . . . The Koch brothers and their Republican employees in Congress, who pretend to be working for America?

    It was in the 1980’s that income disparity began to really take off on a course that would eventually leave a huge gulf between two extremes.

    “ . . . these premises . . . must be re-examined for an age when government has overcommitted itself. Naturally, this starts with questioning the open-ended retirement subsidies for the elderly . . . “

    Baloney. An examination of the nation’s finances should start with us asking why we dropped the highest tax rate from 77% (when we had vast outlays and still balanced the budget) to just 35% where it is now (and the nation is struggling)? The next question to address should be . . . WHY do we pay more for our military than the next 8 highest-spending nations combined?

    Republicans should just leave the old folks alone, and focus on doing something USEFUL for this nation.