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December 20, 2002

Party Line

While we’ve all been distracted by the travails of Trent “I am not a racist” Lott, the Administration is pressing on with some astounding revelations about the focus of their economic policy. Fortunately, Slate seems to be on the ball.

First came Tim Noah’s article on the increasing prevalence in Republican circles of the notion that the poor pay too little in taxes.

“The Post reports that economists at the Treasury Department are drafting new ways to calculate the distribution of tax burdens among different income classes,” i.e., looking for ways to rig the numbers, “to highlight what administration officials see as a rising tax burden on the rich and a declining burden on the poor.” The Council of Economic Advisers will offer up some sort of tax-the-poor rationale in its forthcoming “Economic Report to the President,” according to the Post. At the aforementioned Dec. 10 AEI conference, the CEA’s chairman, R. Glenn Hubbard, complained, “The increasing reliance on taxing higher-income households and targeted social preferences at lower incomes stands in the way of moving to a simpler, flatter tax system.”

What’s wonderful about this is that they have — rhetorically speaking — barely begun to warm up. Clearly, the poor receive an “unfairly large” proportion (relative to their income) of government services. And, the logic goes, this largess should be deducted from their “effective” tax burden.

Even simple things, like say the money the government spends educating a poor child, while much less in absolute terms than that spent per child in an affluent school district, constitutes a much larger proportion of the parent’s income — and hence an unfair tax advantage conferred on the poor.

“Time to put a stop to this damn freeloading!” says a chorus both inside and outside the Administration.

And now comes How Reaganomics Became Rubinomics from Michael Kinsley on the Administration’s astonishing embrace of deficit spending.

At least the Republicans are no longer pretending that deficits, if they happen to occur, are detritus left behind by the previous administration like all those McDonald’s wrappers behind the dresser in the Lincoln Bedroom. Instead, Republicans embrace the coming deficits as their own and pooh-pooh any desire for a balanced budget as some kind of liberal Democratic folly. This is breathtakingly dishonest on three levels…

At long last, the silly facade of “compassionate conservatism” has been abandoned, and the Republicans have firmly embraced their role as the Party of Fiscal Irresponsibility.

Posted by distler at December 20, 2002 2:54 PM

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Well I think Republicans have simply learned to apply the principles of quantum mechanics to economics and politics. Are deficits good or bad? Is Shroedinger’s cat alive or dead? Naturally you get a different answer if you use a Republican vs. Democrat basis for your measurements…

Posted by: Richard on December 20, 2002 3:39 PM | Permalink | Reply to this

Is that what Bush meant by “Fuzzy Math”?

Posted by: Jacques Distler on December 22, 2002 1:49 AM | Permalink | Reply to this

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