The Most Progressive Initiative In 17 Years: No Tax Cuts For The Wealthy


President Obama on Wednesday will make clear that he opposes any compromise that would extend the Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthy beyond this year, officials said, adding a populist twist to an election-season economic package that is otherwise designed to entice support from big businesses and their Republican allies.

If the President sticks to his guns, it will be the crowning progressive achievement of his tenure to date.

Speaking for me only

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    I can hear (5.00 / 2) (#4)
    by kmblue on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 07:46:54 AM EST
    the "haves" and the "have mores" (W's base) whining.
    However, I'll believe it when I see it.

    It all depends... (5.00 / 2) (#8)
    by kdog on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 08:06:28 AM EST
    what the government buys with the cashish...if it's just paying for more war, more market rigging, more prisons, more spying, more crony-fied pork...then it's robbing the rich to serve the wealthy, nothing progressive about it.

    otoh, if we use it to get the books in some kinda order, widen the safety net, make medical care more available, and put people to work doing something productive...then we're getting somewhere.


    How about cutting taxes for (5.00 / 2) (#10)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 08:13:02 AM EST
    people making less than 50K?

    That's what I would do.


    That's a no-brainer... (5.00 / 1) (#12)
    by kdog on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 08:16:31 AM EST
    and not because I make less than 50K:)

    Because those are the folks getting squeezed something awful by cost of living increases...if the economy needs 'em to buy more sh*t to recover, they need cash in hand.


    Make it 60 k... (none / 0) (#35)
    by jeffinalabama on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 02:42:00 PM EST
    please. I fell into a cesspool when I crushed my ankle, but emerged smelling like strawberries and cream.

    Until the other shoe drops.

    Actually, cutting payroll tax contributions alone (I'm thinking of a payoll tax holiday, targetted, that wouldn't affect me at all) on those making less than 50k per year would generate some serious spending. It wouldn't be necessarily autos and airplanes, but washers and dryers, clothing, televisions, and the like... sounds pretty good to me. Might do some job creation, even if it's just temporary.

    Maybe target Jan. 1 2011, or Dec. 1 2010, so that the usual Christmas layoffs might not be as severe, and temporary hires might last for a quarter or more.

    That's just off the top of my head, but a proposal worth examining.

    I don't know what I think about a payroll tax holiday for employers, unless they could be required to pay the employees that contribution during the holiday... is that even possible to make federal law?


    The dems (5.00 / 3) (#24)
    by Abdul Abulbul Amir on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 09:36:22 AM EST

    rejected a a payroll tax holiday in favor of the $800 billion porkulous bill. The payroll tax holiday would have disproportionally helped lower income workers and small businesses.  

    A family of four (none / 0) (#30)
    by itscookin on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 12:52:36 PM EST
    With two children under 17 already pays no income taxes.

    On $50,000 (none / 0) (#31)
    by itscookin on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 12:54:37 PM EST
    Everyone pays payroll taxes. (none / 0) (#36)
    by jeffinalabama on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 02:44:14 PM EST
    or almost everyone. Many get the money back, but it goes to the fed first. Why not a three month social security moratorium for less than 50k earners, with the employer contribution going to the worker, as well? That's what I was thinking about in my earlier post on payroll taxes.

    He backtracked on this before he even announced it (5.00 / 4) (#13)
    by Pol C on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 08:31:08 AM EST
    The whole story from today's Washington Post (link):

    President Obama will argue personally Wednesday against extending the Bush-era income tax cuts for the nation's wealthiest families even for a year or two, White House officials said Tuesday


    The officials added that Obama would not threaten to veto any compromise which extends the upper-bracket cuts

    This is just empty posturing. So he'll sign the bill extending the upper-income tax cuts with a frown on his face. Big deal.

    Disagree (4.00 / 2) (#17)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 08:37:40 AM EST
    First, you don't threaten to veto something that is not even proposed.

    Second, if he accepts tax cuts for the wealthy, it will be rightly viewed as a capitulation.

    Unlike the public option or other important issues, the President has now taken a public position that is strong.

    If he backs down, he looks weak.


    Nah (5.00 / 5) (#18)
    by MO Blue on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 08:47:42 AM EST
    He will just be pragmatic and doing what is necessary to get "something" passed in this environment. And BTW it is all those "f@cking liberal retards fault. :-)

    He's just giving his apologists room to maneuver (5.00 / 4) (#20)
    by Pol C on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 08:54:43 AM EST
    He'll extend the upper-income tax cuts. And when he's publicly criticized for backing down, Rachel Maddow and the rest of his contingent of apologists will tut-tut us for not paying attention to everything he said. With Obama, you always have to read the fine print.

    Not that he's above 180-ing, anyway. Anyone remember FISA?


    And, the same ole' detractors (5.00 / 1) (#26)
    by christinep on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 11:01:50 AM EST
    (a mirror of apologists) will just be the same ole' detractors, methinks.

    No (none / 0) (#44)
    by Pol C on Thu Sep 09, 2010 at 04:29:17 AM EST
    I'd have given him the benefit of the doubt on the 180-ing until he actually did it.

    He and his people hedged on this before they were even out of the gate. And given Obama's record for backtracking, I don't think I'm being unfair in expecting the worse. I would like nothing more than for this administration to leave me pleasantly surprised.


    If you are referencing (none / 0) (#46)
    by christinep on Thu Sep 09, 2010 at 12:54:03 PM EST
    the President's not wagging his finger and threatening to veto, I say "Good for him." Really, the way I learned it: A smart leader reserves/holds back/does not immediately play the threat-of-veto. It took me some years to figure out why: Because being incautious about such a threat sounds churlish and somewhat immature. That is my understanding (when I did a bit of poking & prodding on the general subject of veto some years ago when I wanted a big veto threat on a particular piece of legislation.) I guess it is the showing-the-sword thing in that it is all about timing and not overplaying the hand from a legislative positioning point of view.
    My wish here is that we are both pleasantly surprised with the outcome of this populist pledge.

    Oh come on... (5.00 / 1) (#33)
    by masslib on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 01:40:46 PM EST
    He said he wouldn't veto an extension if it was part of a compromise for extending the "middle-class" tax cuts.  I frankly think he's stating what should be obvious, probably because Orzag just suggested the compromise position.  It's not a progressive initiative, by the way.  Democrats don't have to lift a finger to allow those cuts to sunrise.

    Allowing (none / 0) (#34)
    by Socraticsilence on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 02:27:38 PM EST
    cuts for the middle class to expire would just be dumb though.

    Are you sure? (none / 0) (#43)
    by Romberry on Thu Sep 09, 2010 at 12:16:31 AM EST
    Are you really, really sure? Before you say that you are, check...and check again.

    Maybe not quite as obvious as you thought?


    I fear that's how it will play out (none / 0) (#15)
    by Demi Moaned on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 08:35:55 AM EST
    ... especially since some Democrats in Congress are already wavering.

    Glad someone else caught that (none / 0) (#42)
    by Romberry on Thu Sep 09, 2010 at 12:11:35 AM EST
    BTW, do you have a copy of that WaPo article in your browser's cache, 'cause they have rewritten it in what looks like an effort to make that bit about White House officials saying that the president would not veto a "compromise" much more subtle and easily missed.

    Don't go look at the article online again if there is a chance you do have it in cache. Open your browser, set it to offline mode, check the history and if the article is there, save it to a file like 'web page complete' or 'web archive (MHT) format'.

    I sure would like a copy if you have it. My user name for this forum at gmail dot com will get me.


    Sorry (none / 0) (#45)
    by Pol C on Thu Sep 09, 2010 at 04:30:13 AM EST
    The page wasn't in my off-line cache.

    Did he say the dreaded "let me be (5.00 / 5) (#19)
    by Anne on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 08:53:11 AM EST
    perfectly clear?"  Because if he did, you can have about as much confidence he will hold to that position as you can the chances that, oh, I don't know, the St. Louis Rams will win the Super Bowl this year.

    He can probably keep up the bamboozle until November, since Congress isn't probably going to do anything but leverage the idea that they really, really ARE looking out for the shrinking middle class.  Come late November, early December, I'm betting it all changes - "tough decisions," you know, that will be delivered with appropriately pained rhetoric, right around the time the Cat Food Commission makes its recommendations.  

    "Hey, what'd you get for Christmas?"

    "A sharp stick in the eye AND a punch to the gut, you?"

    "A really nice bonus - we had a big year on the Street this year - and it looks like I don't have to worry about the Bush tax cuts expiring - score!"

    Oh, who knows, maybe he will hold to his position, and he'll get to tell the country that "the good news is that I'm not allowing the tax rates to increase on those making less than $200,000 a year; more good news: Granny's coming to live with you because we have to cut Social Security to do it!"

    In no world that I live in do I imagine a scenario where this turns out well, but I would be happy to be proved wromg.

    Now is the time to buy a home (5.00 / 2) (#23)
    by MO Blue on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 09:32:19 AM EST
    that will accommodate 3 or 4 generations. Your generation, granny and your grown kids with offspring.

    Not only will seniors have to work longer, they will be competing for those ever shrinking available jobs.  


    Just doing it for spite (none / 0) (#1)
    by NYShooter on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 07:13:30 AM EST
    Take THAT, Oszag!

    When He Can Get This By Just Doing Nothing (none / 0) (#2)
    by msaroff on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 07:20:05 AM EST
    And letting the tax cuts expire, it's pretty weak tea, but the Republicans know that he will blink first for the pitifully small tax cuts for folks under 250K, because Obama learned the lesson of George HW Bush.

    How come this guy only learns lessons from the 'Phants?

    If... (none / 0) (#3)
    by jarober on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 07:45:39 AM EST
    If by "crowning achievement" you mean "sticking it to small business owners", sure.  Otherwise, not so much.

    When companies (like the one I work for, for example) still aren't hiring next year, you can at least bask in the glow of "sticking it to the man".

    See my post yesterday (5.00 / 2) (#5)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 07:52:38 AM EST
    "Demand is the Bottom Line" for my response to your argument.

    Demand (none / 0) (#6)
    by jarober on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 07:56:36 AM EST
    I know the talking point (5.00 / 4) (#7)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 08:04:55 AM EST
    The fact that it has no empirical support has never stopped a Republican from repeating it.

    Common Sense (none / 0) (#9)
    by jarober on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 08:11:27 AM EST
    Well, you can go with the theory that taking more money from people will get them to invest more, or you can actually use common sense.  Or, you could try reading the thing I linked to, which explains it.  

    It's not difficult; small businesses operate on thin margins, but have nominally "rich" revenues.  When you raise the rate of taxation on them, something has to give.

    And before you bring up the glory days of the Clinton era, we aren't about to have a new tech bubble, housing is on life support, and unemployment is really high - so the situations are not the same.  

    What an optimal rate of taxation for high incomes might be is an eminently debatable proposition.  Raising those rates in the midst of a nasty recession is just stupid.


    Revenue are not taxed (5.00 / 4) (#11)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 08:14:33 AM EST
    Profits are.

    And it has been empirically demonstrated that tax rates have little effect on hiring and capital investment by businesses large or small.

    Demand is what effects these decisions.


    Of course it is (none / 0) (#14)
    by Demi Moaned on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 08:34:02 AM EST
    How could it be otherwise. It's just not rational for a business to hire people it doesn't need.

    Comment above replying to BTD (none / 0) (#16)
    by Demi Moaned on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 08:37:16 AM EST
    Somehow it got mislinked.

    On hiring, (none / 0) (#32)
    by coast on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 01:11:48 PM EST
    demand/need certainly is the overriding factor.  However, if taxes (whether it is FIT, SIT, property taxes, whatever) are not included in consideration in making capital investment decisions, especially significant investments, then you are doing your business a disservice.  In addition, states and local municipalities certianly understand the power tax incentives when trying to lure companies to their area.

    See my detailed explanation below, BTD, (none / 0) (#22)
    by jeffinalabama on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 09:01:00 AM EST
    in agreement.

    "Vulgar Keynseian focus on consuption." (5.00 / 1) (#21)
    by jeffinalabama on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 09:00:07 AM EST
    After reading that line, I knew he was an Austrian economics,  Mises-worshipper. I'm well aware of the Austrian approach to economics. It's as close to the Spencerian approach to sociology that the two are siblings, although not twins.

    Here's a statement from wiki on the Mises institute

    The Institute's economic theories depict any government intervention as destructive, whether through welfare, inflation, taxation, regulation, or war.

    Completely libertarian in approach, Mises Institute fellows, Austrian economics, and anarcho-capitalism have been criticized by such divergent economists as Friedman, Krugman, and Samuelson, to name three nobel laureates with divergent views among them, and by methodologists, philosophers of schience, and statisticians as well.

    Straight from wiki again,

    Austrian School principles advocate strict adherence to methodological individualism - analyzing human action exclusively from the perspective of an individual agent.[9] Austrian economists also argue that mathematical models and statistics are an unreliable means of analyzing and testing economic theory, and advocate deriving economic theory logically from basic principles of human action, a method called praxeology. Additionally, whereas experimental research and natural experiments are often used in mainstream economics, Austrian economists contend that testability in economics is virtually impossible since it relies on human actors who cannot be placed in a lab setting without altering their would-be actions. Mainstream economists are generally critical of methodologies used by modern Austrian economists;[10] in particular, a primary Austrian School method of deriving theories has been criticized by mainstream economists as a priori "non-empirical" analysis[5] and differing from the practices of scientific theorizing, as widely conducted in economics.[11][12][10]

    Austrian School economists generally hold that the complexity of human behavior makes mathematical modeling of an evolving market extremely difficult (or undecidable) and advocate a laissez faire approach to the economy. They advocate the strict enforcement of voluntary contractual agreements between economic agents, and hold that commercial transactions should be subject to the smallest possible imposition of coercive forces. In particular, they argue for an extremely limited role for government and the smallest possible amount of government intervention in the economy, especially in the area of money production (advocating instead a commodity money system).

    Plenty more to be read and said about such columnist, and his phiosophical underpinnings.

    considering that Mises-based business cycle theory says consumption increases during downturns. Say what? As a percentage of spending, perhaps, because of declines in other areas. But net consumption falls during downturns, and stimulating consumption is the quickest way to get the other sectors of an economy chugging along.

    Didn't I take on Austrian economics here a year or two ago? It hasn't changed. It now has a Brietbartian, Randian, Libertarian economic 'school,' for lack of a better term.

    The folks who trot out such economists, like Breitbart,  are simply this generation of Jonathan Swift's flappers of Laputa (a link to Chapter 18 of

    Gulliver's Travels)

    The Laputans supposedly had great advancements in knowledge, mathematics, physics, et cetera, but didn't apply science or mathematics to, oh, architecture or engineering inter alia, thinking it vulgar. Sounds like Austrian School economics to me.

    The article by Higgs fails the Wolfgang Pauli test. It's not right. It's not even wrong.


    Another (none / 0) (#25)
    by Abdul Abulbul Amir on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 10:39:28 AM EST

    Progressive victory that has G. W. Boooosh's finger prints on it.

    Every time (none / 0) (#27)
    by CST on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 11:06:17 AM EST
    new technology comes along, old technology is phased out.  That's life.  There aren't too many carriage manufacturing jobs anymore either.  Or for that matter CRT TV manufacturing jobs.  Did you know that there is only one HDTV manufacturer in the U.S.?  Does that mean we should keep buying CRTs?  Preventing scientific progress is the wrong way to go about saving jobs.

    Also from the article:

    "Someday soon, Yan says, he hopes to build a U.S. factory, though he so far has been unable to secure $12.5 million in government funding for the project."

    ""Retailers tell me people ask for 'Made in the USA' " Yan said. "I tell them the product will cost 45 to 50 cents more. They say people will pay for it.""

    Not sure why he hasn't been able to secure funding, but it sounds like a plant is coming one way or another.


    You miss thew point (none / 0) (#28)
    by Abdul Abulbul Amir on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 12:25:49 PM EST

    Better and cheaper phases out not as good and more costly in an open market.  It takes political influence for the costly and not as good to phase out more preferred alternatives.

    Does that mean we should keep buying CRTs?

    No, it means the government should allow consumer choice rather than mandate consumer choice.


    question (5.00 / 1) (#29)
    by CST on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 12:47:14 PM EST
    where do you get "better"/"not as good" from?  Frankly I don't consider a 90% waste of energy "better".

    So do you think the government should stay out of all emission regulations?  How do you feel about emission regulations in cars?  Or for that matter other pollutant regulations?  From wiki:  "Lead is also added to paint to speed drying, increase durability, retain a fresh appearance, and resist moisture that causes corrosion."  Sounds great.  "Better" even than regular paint.  I wonder how many people die every year from lead paint vs. how many people die per year in our neverending quest for more oil/gas/energy.


    Consumer choice. (none / 0) (#37)
    by Abdul Abulbul Amir on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 02:55:44 PM EST

    where do you get "better"/"not as good" from

    Consumer choice.  Consumers by and large choose what is better for them.

    So do you think the government should stay out of all emission regulations?

    No, you but pick a really odd choice as CFL,s have mercury in them and many will not be disposed of properly, as people do make mistakes.

    If mercury were really that dangerous, only a nut case would require it in a breakable household product.


    really? (none / 0) (#38)
    by CST on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 03:24:38 PM EST
    "Consumers by and large choose what is better for them."

    Have you seen the obesity figures lately?

    As for your concern about Mercury, that's a legitimate concern, I'm not sure what it has to do about your original post regarding jobs though.  I do think there needs to be greater public outreach and education about the proper way to dispose of the bulbs, and what to do if they break.  However, no one is requiring it in a household product.  You are free to buy LED lights if you so desire.

    Also from wiki:

    "In areas with coal-fired power stations, the use of CFLs saves on mercury emissions when compared to the use of incandescent bulbs. This is due to the reduced electrical power demand, reducing in turn the amount of mercury released by coal as it is burned.In July 2008 the US EPA published a data sheet stating that the net system emission of mercury for CFL lighting was lower than for incandescent lighting of comparable lumen output. This was based on the average rate of mercury emission for US electricity production and average estimated escape of mercury from a CFL put into a landfill."


    How obtuse (none / 0) (#39)
    by Abdul Abulbul Amir on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 04:09:29 PM EST
    However, no one is requiring it in a household product.  You are free to buy LED lights if you so desire.

    You forgot hired torch bearers along with LED's are still an alternative to CFL's for those rich enough to afford them.

    A de facto requirement is a requirement none the less.


    you are free to use candles (none / 0) (#40)
    by CST on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 04:25:35 PM EST

    And way to ignore the rest of my post.

    But you're right, spending $30 on something that will last over 2 years if it's on 24 hours a day, is just like hiring a torch bearer.

    If you only leave it on for only 8 hours a day it can last 7-10 years.

    Is $3/year the going rate for a torch bearer?  If I'd known that maybe I'd get one.


    He'll cave. (none / 0) (#41)
    by weltec2 on Wed Sep 08, 2010 at 05:46:03 PM EST
    He's done nothing else since even before he was elected when he supported illegal wire-tapping. It is been a pattern that the GOP has been able to count on with regularity while at the same time effectively branding him as far left.