Let’s Review

Columnist Charles M. Blow in today’s NYTimes has it right when he points out how dishonest U.S. Rep. John Boehner’s comments are when talking about taxes and President Obama. In collaboration with the Congress, Republicans and Democrats, the President approved tax cuts for 82 percent of taxpayers at the end of last year. Can federal spending be reduced? Sure. Are special-interest tax deductions and subsidies the same as spending? Sure. The question is How do you make the reductions? For a city like Lowell and an area like Greater Lowell, the federal budget hits home and really matters, whether that means the National Park Service, Community Development Block Grants, or defense contracts for Raytheon. Opting for the Sequester is like outsourcing budget management to robots. Here is an excerpt from today’s column by Charles:

The deadline has passed. The sequester is in effect. And Congress is not in session.

We now know that our political system is broken beyond anything even remotely resembling a functional government.

The ridiculous bill was designed as a poison pill, but Republicans popped it like a Pez. Now the body politic — weak with battle fatigue, jerked from crisis to crisis and struggling to recover from a recession — has to wait to see how severe the damage will be.

(The director of the Congressional Budget Office estimates that the sequester could cost 750,000 jobs in 2013 alone.)

This is all because Republicans have refused to even consider new revenue as part of a deal. That includes revenue from closing tax loopholes, a move they supposedly support.

As Speaker John Boehner said after his Congressional leaders met with President Obama on Friday:

“Let’s make it clear that the president got his tax hikes on Jan. 1. This discussion about revenue, in my view, is over.”

Boehner’s intransigence during the talks drew “cheers,” according to a report in The New York Times, from his chronically intransigent colleagues. But their position is a twist of the truth that is coming dangerously close to becoming accepted wisdom by sheer volume of repetition. It must be battled back every time it is uttered.

Let’s make this clear: it is wrong to characterize the American Taxpayer Relief Act as a “tax hike.” In reality, much of what it did was allow 18 percent of the Bush tax cuts — mostly those affecting the wealthiest Americans — to expire while permanently locking in a whopping 82 percent of them.

But of course, that misrepresentation fit with the tired trope of Democrats as tax-and-spend liberals. It also completely ignores that it was Bush-era spending that dug the ditch we’re in.

One thought on “Let’s Review”

  1. I think the tax law expiration vs tax cut kerfuffle is distracting, as is the question of who originated the concept of “sequestration”.

    For me the problem is with the US Congress, as a body, and our expectations of it.

    From above:  “In collaboration with the Congress, Republicans and Democrats, the President approved tax cuts for 82 percent of taxpayers at the end of last year.”

    That isn’t the way I think our Federal Government should work.  It isn’t Congress in collaboration with the President.  It is the US Congress, with the agreement of the President, or the President overridden.  Those 535 folks in Congress need to work this out.  The blame is on them as a body.

    Well, I do reserve a little blame for Economists, who are not doing a good job of understanding and explaining how economies work.  I believe award of the Nobel Prize in Economics should be suspended until we get a new understanding of how it all works.

    Regards  —  Cliff

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