Obama can win, but can he lead?

Just before Congress finally swerved to avoid the fiscal cliff, President Barack Obama staged a public appearance with supporters where he chided and mocked lawmakers for their long inaction.

“One thing we can count on with respect to this Congress is that if there is even one second left before you have to do what you’re supposed to do, they will use that last second,” he said.

It was a moment of old school politics.  After losing the message war during much of his first term, Obama was sending his conservative opponents a clear signal.

Translation:  I understand that in the new political order that exists in Washington, you have to fight to win, and winning means drawing blood.

Some pundits suggested that Mr. Obama was “spiking the football” and might have gone too far after skilfully out-maneuvering the GOP.

I don’t think so.  I think the president was signalling clearly that the Mr. Nice Guy era — all that stuff about “fixing” Washington DC — is over.

The second term is going to be a brawl and the White House plans to keep Republicans on the ropes as long as possible.

Fair enough.  Politics, after all, isn’t a game of bean-bag or flag football.

But as we’ve learned in recent years, it’s possible to win lots of fights in Washington without actually moving the country forward.

This “fiscal cliff” deal brought important symbolism, raising taxes on the country’s wealthiest citizens and beginning to dismantle the economic legacy of the Bush years.  But it doesn’t address any of the actual problems that the country faces.

Massive deficits, out of control defense spending, entitlements and health care creaking under the weight of an aging population, eroding infrastructure, depression-level unemployment among blacks and Hispanics, a byzantine tax code, climate change.

As the country’s dominant politician — and, really, after this week’s debacle, Republicans hardly even have a leader or standard bearer worthy of the name — it will be up to Mr. Obama to set the direction for addressing all these problems.

Many of them are pressing enough that they can’t wait until 2016.

This is clearly a president at the top of his game, bolstered by the November election and by disarray among conservatives.  But it’s lonely at the top.

To put the country back on track, Mr. Obama will almost certainly have to propose specific cuts and tax increases that will spark a much fiercer debate than we’ve seen this week.

He will likely find himself forced to win over hard-line liberals, who are already distrustful of this White House, while also taking on right-of-center lawmakers who have been his punching bag in recent weeks.

That’s the test that lies ahead for Mr. Obama.

He’s shown that he can deliver a world-class smackdown.  Now he’ll have to prove that he can translate his new authority into actual reform and progress.

 

 

100 Responses to “Obama can win, but can he lead?”

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  1. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    Isn’t it interesting that people who will get up on their high horse about high minded ideals of Freedom and Fighting Tyranny get so in a bunch about dealing with a bit of debt? How many times have I had to listen to some rant about how the Founding Fathers paced their Lives and Fortunes on the line?

    Nobody is asking for you to lay down your life. All we need is for one generation to chip in a few thousand a year for their working life to eliminate the debt. That isn’t even accounting for future generations or the time value of money, or anything. Just straight up ‘if you love your country do the right thing.”

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  2. Rancid Crabtree says:

    Oh, I see. Now I understand. We just spend all we want and the debt will take care of itself. Right. Got it. Your grasp of economics is astounding.

    And people think NPR listeners are more intelligent than the average Joe…

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  3. Walker says:

    “We just spend all we want and the debt will take care of itself.”

    Worked after WW II, Rancid.

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  4. Peter Hahn says:

    We also spend what we collectively think we need to and then we pay for it – even if its world war II. We dont let some minority group decide to not pay our debts simply because they didnt like some of the things we spent the money on and they happen to control a political party that happens to control a branch of government.

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  5. PNElba says:

    Obama might be able to lead if he started using the Dick Cheney imperial presidency
    model of leadership.

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  6. Mervel says:

    I am trying to imagine our ability to cut spending, what would be cut that would make a difference and how would that happen? I am not coming up with any conceivable answers.

    Defense spending cuts sound good; but as pointed out above, defense employs a LOT of people around the country including in the North Country, I see bi-partisan support for keeping defense spending going. Social Security? No don’t even start, Medicare, even worse don’t try, so that leaves Medicaid, maybe some traction there as it is only for the poor, and then we have all of the rest of the diverse spending but you can’t make a dent in the big picture with those cuts. I think what will happen is some reductions in rates of growth for these programs, no cuts. Eventually our debt payments already one of the biggest parts of the budge will grow as a percentage of our budget and will crowd out this other spending. At that point we will unlikely be able to continue to borrow at very low rates so this will accelerate the size of the debt and thus we will indeed have to really cut our government spending. Logically defense spending would be a great place to start and a close second would be a true overhaul of our medical system in this country with the goal of reducing our cost structure from the most expensive system in the world.

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  7. Kathy says:

    Like I said, hang on folks – it’s going to be a rough year.

    Obamacare taxes are in place and the fiscal cliff taxes are in place. If you think for one minute there isn’t going to be a fall-out you are playing ostrich.

    Big companies have been demonized by the media but they’re scrambling to save their butts by laying off and/or reducing employees to part-time. Maybe some on this forum will play the corporate saving their butt card but if you use that measurement, use it on the president and other top government employees, too. There’s enough of the entitlement mentality to go around.

    But the scenario that is most grievous is the small businesses – forced by the federal government to supply government health care and paying new taxes – ultimately resulting in limiting their success for growing their business.

    There will be lay-offs that could increase government assistance to another 11 million. Costs of goods and services will increase.

    Even though the American spirit has weathered any storm, the implications of these changes concern me in terms of the human spirit being beaten down. We are either creating an environment of the freedom to grow and produce – or we’re not.

    Time will tell.

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  8. Paul says:

    “Even though the American spirit has weathered any storm, the implications of these changes concern me in terms of the human spirit being beaten down.”

    If this kind of stuff is beating down the American spirit than we have gone pretty fluffy. The folks who came out of two world wars and especially those that came out of the American civil war would certainly find us to be a bunch of wimps.

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  9. Walker says:

    Mervel, here’s a good place to start on the Defense budget:

    When the Pentagon rolled out its requested budget in February, there were some conspicuous absences. The a version of the Air Force’s high-flying Global Hawk surveillance drone, known as the Block 30, was chopped. So was the C-27J, a propeller-driven cargo plane used for Afghanistan. For its part, the Navy opted to retire nine old ships and reroute the cash it would take to modernize them into other priorities.

    If the Senate Appropriations Committee, one of the two most powerful in Congress, gets its way, that’s all out the door. On Thursday, the committee voted to approve a $604.5 billion defense budget for the next fiscal year. It’s about $100 million less than what the Obama administration asked for. But it still includes money for the Global Hawk Block 30; the C-27J; and those nine old Navy ships.

    All this goes to show how difficult it is to actually cut the defense budget. Even when the military agrees to make what critics would consider modest cuts, legislators keep shoveling cash into the Pentagon’s pockets. That’s nothing new in Washington. What is new — and pretty astonishing — is for a Senate panel to do that while legislators demand to shrink the federal budget overall. (Senate Panel Funds Ships, Drones Military Doesn’t Want)

    I’d say this is a pretty fair equivalent to the guy in front of you at the convenience store buying beer, cigarettes and lotto tickets while paying for his food with food stamps. Only it’s a whole lot more expensive.

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  10. The Original Larry says:

    What beats people down isn’t hard times, adversity or even war. What finally does it is the realization that you’re being used and that you fell for the lies of the users. Nobody minds doing their part but when parasitic politicians turn it into a permanent gravy train that ensures only their own re-election, that’s being used. I’m all used up.

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  11. Paul says:

    I wonder if it was a good signal to the country to jump back in the jet and head to the golf course in Hawaii. I saw this morning that the president used some kind of robo-pen to sign this latest bill into law. I don’t criticize the guy for wanting a vacation but the next two months are crucial. Might want to save the tee times for this summer? Leading by example might be a good idea right now.

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  12. Paul says:

    Also, if folks don’t like the new tax rates they can always move to Russia. They have a 13% flat tax.

    Putin says he doesn’t even care if you live there. You can keep your place in NY and send your income taxes to the Kremlin.

    http://www.northcountrypublicradio.org/news/npr/168534829/putin-grants-french-actor-depardieu-russian-citizenship

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  13. Peter Hahn says:

    I bet that 13% flat tax is on declared income only and doesnt include anything you looted from the government or the company you “work for”. I probably only includes income you voluntarily tell the Russians that you “earned”. What to they care?

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  14. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    In penance for the completely unjustified war in Iraq I want to dedicate all the taxes I pay for the rest of my life to the cost of a bomb that killed innocent civilians, especially if they were women and children.

    I hope that in some small way it allows everyone else’s tax dollars to pay for more worthwhile things like WIC coupons for a hungry child, or the last Unemployment check someone gets before they find a new job.

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  15. Kathy says:

    KHL you’re making my heart bleed.

    C’mon. Do you know anyone who’s been on WIC? Have you looked at the income guidelines? It’s atrocious.

    I want hungry children to be fed. I want the unemployed to get a check.

    What I don’t want is WIC families having so much food they are giving it away. I don’t want people kicking back on unemployment because they would make less working.

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  16. Kathy says:

    The folks who came out of two world wars and especially those that came out of the American civil war would certainly find us to be a bunch of wimps.

    People from those generations were not crushed with what we face today. The country was led with true leaders who did not dictate from the comfort Air Force 1. They were beaten down by war but they had the freedom and opportunity to begin again.

    Today, the powers that be seem to think that controlling everything and creating all things equal is freedom.

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  17. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    Kathy, when my children were very small we got WIC coupons. And we were darned happy to have them because it was really hard to make ends meet. We never gave any away unless there was a neighbor kid over and we gave them a glass of milk.
    I’ve also collected unemployment when I didn’t have a job and I had to pay the rent and feed my kids but I didn’t have a job. And I’ve ridden a bike to work when I couldn’t afford a car or the insurance on it.

    I want to thank the people who paid their taxes at the time to help me because I really needed the help.

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  18. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    I’ve also had a sick child but not enough money to go to the doctor and ended up having to go to the Emergency Room late on Saturday night and didn’t have health insurance to pay for it and I was probably late paying my rent that month or we had beans rice for dinner for a couple weeks.

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  19. Kathy says:

    And so you should have had all that was coming to you KHL.

    I, too, know what it is like to not have enough but I did without other things that most people have in order to feed my kids. I also raised 8 children without govt assistance and paid (and am still paying) monthly – $150 – for medical bills.

    I am not opposed to see people use assistance when needed.

    I am opposed to a system that needs to tighten things up. A family of 4 can make $42, 600 annually and get WIC. I had a family of 10 and out annual income barely made $30,000. And during those years, I knew families who were on WIC giving food away because there was so much.

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  20. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    8 kids, yikes! I couldn’t remember that many names. Two was enough for me.

    I try not to judge what people who are struggling do to try to get by. I don’t know their story and I haven’t lived their life.

    There are, and should be, ways that social services tries to catch abuse of the system. I don’t expect them to be perfect but I expect them to try. But I think it is a better investment of our tax money to go after the people who are abusing the system for much more money than a mother on WIC gets.

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  21. Peter Hahn says:

    Kathy – there are parasites at every level of society. We try to keep it to a minimum, put there are always people out there – thieves, swindlers, con artists, and all kinds of deadbeats who we are stuck with. In earlier times they were put in prison or shipped off to Australia or Siberia, or had their hands cut off etc. But there were always more of them.

    Most of us have also done something wrong at some time in our lives (including gaming the welfare system). The point is, just because some people take advantage of the welfare system doesnt mean we should deny help to other people who really need the help. The vast majority of people on public assistance deserve help.

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  22. Walker says:

    “…just because some people take advantage of the welfare system doesnt mean we should deny help to other people who really need the help.”

    Right! If we took this approach to our military, we’d be ready to shut it down because of past abuses.

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  23. Paul says:

    “Today, the powers that be seem to think that controlling everything and creating all things equal is freedom.”

    Kathy, not sure what you mean. Historically we live in an America with freedoms that far exceed some of the times I describe above. At the end of all those wars black Americans could not even vote.

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  24. Paul says:

    The rules also allow abuse of the system, you don’t have to break them. Many of the guys that belonged to my hunting club always “went” on unemployment when deer season began each fall. Then they went back to work in December.

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  25. Peter Hahn says:

    One of the main reason that conservatives want to dismantle the new deal social safety net and take us back to the 1800′s is that they know someone who abused the system.

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  26. mervel says:

    We need to stop the abuse of our social programs and make a more humane welfare system not because it will save a little money, but because it is not helping someone to help them become dependent.

    I don’t know many people who get public assistance who are enjoying it, who are kicking back and happy and I know a lot of people on public assistance. I think there are some who could work but don’t know how, they don’t understand what it really means to work, no one in their family has ever really worked, we have a multi-generational poverty problem in the North Country. I don’t blame those people they often really don’t know any other way and they don’t have the very basic skills to do anything. Of course there are those who do need a kick in the pants to get out there and work and we do them no favors by not strongly encouraging them to do that.

    It does not help to have one of the highest unemployment rates in NYS. So for me things like being anti- wind farm, anti-oil exploration, being anti- construction being anti almost any business opportunity to come up here is really almost immoral. It is like saying well I got mine; you guys go ahead and get on welfare I feel good and compassionate about that, just don’t build a wind farm to wreck my view.

    But this has nothing to do with our budget on a large scale, poverty programs are not the problem with our budget. Until we cut medicare, defense or social security its all just talking because you can’t make a dent in the budget without cutting those.

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  27. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    I mostly agree with you, Mervel, but you are wrong on Social Security…it is self-funding. Not only that but the funds for SS have been robbed for decades to fund excessive spending in other areas.

    Medicare is certainly a big problem and needs fixing, but hacking away at it just to reduce expenditure isn’t the answer. We spend money on health care to make people healthy; a healthy population is a more productive population. We should be careful not to cut off our nose to spite our face.

    “Defense” spending. Remember when we had a War Department? It was probably much harder to get people to shell out tax dollars for War constantly. But Defense, oh we need Defense! Even when that “defense” is really being used as a jobs program in Senator and Congressmen’s districts without regard for the usefulness of the spending. Certainly we get good scientific and technical research out of some of the weapons programs but lots of it is just pure waste.

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  28. Walker says:

    “It is like saying well I got mine; you guys go ahead and get on welfare I feel good and compassionate about that, just don’t build a wind farm to wreck my view.”

    To the extent that our economy is based on tourism, wrecking the view is wrecking the economy.

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  29. mervel says:

    Our economy is NOT based on tourism. However indeed these things should be balanced I agree. If you are out of work without a college degree, what would you rather do be a maid or a desk clerk at basically minimum wage tourism wages or make 50K-100k working on an oil rig?

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  30. mervel says:

    I thought we all wanted blue collar manufacturing jobs? It always cracks me up that we worry about the loss of these jobs when GM leaves; yet GM would not be welcomed if they decided to make a new plant in the north country today. Oil production, wind power production, shipping, produce good blue collar manufacturing jobs, exactly what the north country needs. I think they are far better for a community than basing our economy on Prisons.

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  31. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    Great story in the Hill Country Observer about Rutland becoming the hub for Solar Power in the northeast.
    I don’t believe there is an on-line edition so most of you wont see it. Sorry.

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  32. Walker says:

    “I thought we all wanted blue collar manufacturing jobs?”

    Those jobs are mostly in China now. Do you really think there is any hope of locating such jobs in the North Country any more? Maybe outside the park, but they certainly aren’t coming to Saranac Lake any time soon.

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  33. Paul says:

    There was a good story on NPR yesterday about a Vermont ski town where a big development has already attracted two new business.

    http://www.npr.org/2013/01/02/168444029/immigrant-investor-program-in-vermont

    Of course most of the good ski hills around Saranac Lake and Lake Placid are off limits to development so I guess the kids will have to move across the lake for a job?

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  34. Rancid Crabtree says:

    “One of the main reason that conservatives want to dismantle the new deal social safety net and take us back to the 1800′s is that they know someone who abused the system.”

    Wow, talk about factually incorrect. Conservatives do not want to dismantle the social safety net and take us back to the 1800′s. That a lie. There is a huge difference between wanting an honest, efficient and fiscally responsible social safety system and no social safety net at all as in the 1800′s. It’s a huge leap from wanting individual responsibility to play a larger part in the system to saying they want the system torn down. The ideal goal would be that we wouldn’t need a social safety net because everyone was employed or had planned for their retirement. Why someone would make such ludicrous charges is beyond me.

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  35. Rancid Crabtree says:

    There are cuts that can be made if we take a log term approach to things. For Social Security- go to means testing and raise the age. It’s pretty simple. The system was designed when the average life expectancy was what? 57 or something like that? Raise it. And means testing is a no brainer. If you’ve got a large nest egg, you don’t need SS. Everything else these days seems to be based on “need”, might as well make it work for SS.

    If understand correctly Medicare could save a lot by going to means testing too and by putting some competition into their drug purchases. That seems to be what some people think anyway, it’s worth looking at. And of course there’s the fraud issue. Same with Medicaid.

    We can draw down defense spending too, no doubt. It would be best to do it slowly though rather than to flood the market with veterans and unemployed defense workers.

    One of the best things we could do is to end the whole practice of riders on bills. That’s where all your pork comes from. Now, getting Congress to go along with that, or any of this, is the big problem.

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  36. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    No means testing. Not necessary. Wealthy people can opt to take their benefits at an older age. And just because many people would have died at 57 in 1938 doesn’t mean we should allow people to die of starvation at 61 in 2012.

    Eliminate the cap on maximum earnings that are taxable. Create a category for people to take higher payments at a greater age, say 80 or so. If wealthy people who don’t need the money die before they can collect nobody is hurt.

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  37. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    “putting some competition into their drug purchases.”

    Don’t make me laugh! Remember who it was who signed a law keeping the government from using its purchasing power to get better pricing on prescription drugs? Oh, right. I’m not supposed to say his name.

    I wonder how much money the government could have saved on prescription drug purchases in the last several years? Probably well over the $7.4 billion we invested in solar power companies.

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  38. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    I agree with you on military spending though. And on the riders on bills, but as I understand it Republicans are balking at proposals to do just that. Nor do they want to reform the filibuster.

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  39. Robin McClellan says:

    I heard people say that we have raised taxes as far as we can. I went back and looked at tax rates since the income tax was instituted in 1913. Until the recent rise in taxes on people earning more than $400,000, this was the lowest marginal tax rate we’ve had since 1931, except for a brief period when the first President Bush presided over a tax cut. But he realized that cut was unsustainable and promoted the raising of taxes again, insuring his single term presidency.

    With the exception of this last 11 years, whenever we have had a war, we have raised taxes. From 1936 – 1941, the highest marginal tax rate was 79%, but it was on income over $5 million dollars (the equivalent of $74 – 78 million in 2010 dollars. There were 32 tax brackets. In 1942, the highest marginal tax rate increased to 88% but it was charged on people making more than $200,000 (the equivalent of about 2.7M 2010 dollars) and the number of brackets was reduced to 22. In 1944 we reached our highest marginal tax rate of 94% (still on incomes of over $200K) and in 1946, it dropped to 91%. It stayed about there (experiencing a 1% increase in 1952 & 1953) until 1955 when the income level it was paid on jumped to $400K. There was a change in 1964 when it dropped to 77%, with the income it was paid on dropping to $200K and 1965, when the highest marginal tax rate dropped to 70%. This remained virtually unchanged until the Reagan tax reform of 1981, which dropped the rates to 50% but also dropped the income it was paid on to $85,600 (for “married filing jointly”).

    At the current rate of taxes and spending, we will get to a point where 100% of tax revenue goes to paying the national debt, social security and medicare in.We can make some changes to SS & medicare–means testing comes to mind–and possibly the largest sacred cow of all, defense (although I don’t see the political will on either side of the aisle for that), but if we are going to meet our commitments to retirees, we are going to have to raise taxes, too.

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  40. Rancid Crabtree says:

    Robin, the marginal rates may have been 90% but what was the effective rate? IOW- how many deductions and shelters did they have? What did they really pay? It’s similar to Warren Buffets “my secretary has a higher income tax rate than I do!”. Well, yeah Warren, that’s because you don’t pay income tax at all! Warren lives of the interest on his trusts and investments. He isn’t taxed on his worth. No one wants to be taxes on their worth. So, while I agree with your point that taxes are going up, the old saw of “They paid 90% in the 40′s and did fine.” doesn’t wash unless you factor in what the effective rates were and I can’t find that info anywhere. I do know that our uber rich aren’t going to pay one penny more, that this “tax the rich” stuff is smoke and mirrors. It won’t be the rich paying more because the rich don’t pay income tax in the sense we think of it. They move the money offshore or hide it in other ways or pull a Buffet and live off the interest. The people that will ay more are the well to do, the business owners and such that aren’t way up there, but that are high enough up that they seem filthy, dirty rich to us peons. No one will ever touch the uber rich, the Buffets and Kennedys and such.

    I’m not arguing with what you say, just filling in the missing parts.

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  41. Walker says:

    “Robin, the marginal rates may have been 90% but what was the effective rate?”

    Asked and answered: The effective top rate was around 45%. That’s as opposed to today’s 17%– not quite triple, but in the ballpark.

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  42. Rancid Crabtree says:

    I’m sorry Walker, where are you seeing that? I’ve missed it entirely it seems.

    So, are you folks saying we can up the top marginal rate to 90% and fix everything? The top 1% starts at $344K, the top 10% starts at $112K. The top 1% is about 1.3 million people, the top 10% about 13.7 mill. The top 10% had 43% of the AGI and paid 70% of the income taxes recv’d using the latest figures I could find. What do you propose? An actual 90% effective tax rate? You still have the same problem in the end- it won’t be enough money unless you cut spending. It’s been figured, you take all the income from the rich and you run the gov’t for 8 days. Take all their wealth and it’s about 2 months. We’re still spending way more than we get in revenue. And remember the uber rich don’t even pay income tax, they use other mechanisms to fund their lives and are well protected by their uber rich political allies in both parties.

    I just don’t see how simply raising taxes on the rich will solve anything. I think that it’s an inescapable conclusion that if we don’t start cutting spending we’re toast. This is not sustainable.

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  43. Mervel says:

    I would agree with your general thesis on that Rancid. Without true spending cuts, raising taxes just on the wealthy is not going to do the job. Its too bad we can’t think rationally when it comes to this sort of planning, instead our leaders only think politically. If we did it slowly, over a 15 year period it could happen without huge problems. But no one wants to give an inch plus over 15 years we keep getting new people new election cycles. If you simply quite giving cost of living increases in the entitlement programs, slowly started re-planning defense spending, cutting maybe 1/2% per year, etc. Slowly raise taxes on the other side.

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  44. Walker says:

    “…it won’t be enough money unless you cut spending.”

    Right, but that’s not a reason not to do it. And the spending cuts don’t have to come primarily from safety net programs– let’s hit up defense and corporate welfare programs.

    “And remember the uber rich don’t even pay income tax…”

    Right, and that has to end (to the extent it is possible to end it). And if they all move to Monaco or Russia, so be it.

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  45. Walker says:

    And finally (yeah, right) now is not the time to cut spending– you do that after the economy gets on its feet again.

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  46. Walker says:

    Warren Buffett, in a recent interview with CNBC, offers one of the best quotes about the debt ceiling:

    “I could end the deficit in 5 minutes,” he told CNBC. “You just
    pass a law that says that anytime there is a deficit of more
    than 3% of GDP, all sitting members of Congress become ineligible
    for re-election.”

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  47. mervel says:

    Yes walker it should come from where it can make the most difference in the budget without causing the most disruption. Things like Medicare need to be less expensive but right now if you cut it substantially you truly would have a crisis as most of seniors would have no health insurance and could not afford care. But things like modest cuts in defense are a great idea. But realize the defense establishment is freaking out about cuts to the rate of growth, not even actual true cuts, but a slowing of how fast their budget is growing.

    I do think a core issue is the extreme extreme rip-off that US health care has become. I am not blaming individual people who work in the industry, but the net outcome is a system which charges close to double what other developed nations pay for the same services at the same or better quality. That has to be changed before we can make progress on a good portion of our federal budget.

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  48. Walker says:

    “But realize the defense establishment is freaking out about cuts to the rate of growth, not even actual true cuts, but a slowing of how fast their budget is growing.”

    So?

    Eisenhower was right! Time to fix the mistakes we made letting the defense industry get its hooks into Congress.

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  49. Walker says:

    Look, whether its the defense industry, the medical establishment, or any other group that gets addicted to easy money from the public trough, any time you try to disrupt the flow they’re going to scream bloody murder, and what’s much worse, they’re going to pump ever more money into their bought and paid for Congressmen. That’s why Citizen’s United was such a disastrous Supreme Court decision. Any hope of fixing anything that needs fixing in this country starts there.

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  50. mervel says:

    Sure I agree, its ALL government. These small government conservatives that think we need a defense establishment that is more expensive than the next 30 countries combined don’t make any sense. Also from a liberty point of view, what arm of government has the most power to infringe on the individual? I am certainly more worried about the Defense establishment (CIA, DIA, NSA, army, navy, marines and so forth) than I am about the department of health and human services. WHO is going to go confiscate all of the guns we are worried about losing? Social workers? No, a job that big would take the military. If we need to drown something in the bathtub as Grover likes to say, well lets start with the Defense system.

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