The tax debate rages

Nice to see some blood sport in the comments recently. As usual, I’m gonna pull out a micadelic quote:

Sheesh. Can I at least get one of you guys to agree that the gov is extremely inefficient in spending taxpayer dollars and if government could run more efficiently, and not waste so much money, it just might help out a little bit and could help offset potential tax increases.

Can I also get one of you to say that maybe, just maybe the answer isn’t always to just raise taxes? Because that’s what you all sound like.

First of all, who says “Sheesh” anymore. The proper phrase would have been “Jesus Fucking Christ”. It is Easter, you know.

Yes, I can agree that there is room for improvement in terms of government waste. I have two problems with it as an argument in this debate, though. One, you can’t improve efficiency indefinitely and; Two, government is not necessarily any worse in regards to efficiency than other big businesses. People sometimes forget how large and complicated — necessarily — it is to run the freaking United States of America. It’s not a small undertaking. I’ll point out again that 1/2 of the budget goes to the military, so we run all the other activities of the federal budget with half or less money than it takes to run the military. If you want to go after inefficiencies, start with the military. Oh wait, that’s one of the many places Republicans throw fiscal discipline out the window.

A friend of mine who works at Best Buy recently told me “Best Buy can’t take a crap without wasting $100k”. Insurance companies, for example, are wildly inefficient and bureaucratic. On the other hand, I’ve heard that federal health care programs such as medicare are more efficient than their private counterparts.

The Right has brainwashed themselves into thinking that any discussion of taxes has to be countered with this government waste argument. Yes, I agree, let’s get rid of government waste, but it is a small part of the solution.

For the second part, all people, everyone, everywhere, would rather pay less in taxes. To me the absolute goal, which has been forsaken by Bush & Co., is to run a balanced budget. Clinton ran a surplus budget. Bush has driven up the debt and the deficit. Why don’t we have a surplus budget if cutting taxes is the key to more revenue? Bush got his way on taxes and spending and, while the economy is pretty good, the deficit and debt have both increased.

And, obviously, there comes a point where cutting taxes does not increase revenue. That’s the whole debate of degree thing I mentioned earlier. It is possible, and in fact it happens all the time around the world, where underinvestment in government undermines your economy. I would venture to say that the countries with the highest standards of living are invariably those with the highest tax rates. Quality government costs money.

It’s not that I want to pay more taxes, it is that I am willing to, unlike, apparently, you.

The tax debate rages

3 thoughts on “The tax debate rages

  1. micadelic says:

    I never said taxes are bad or taxes are evil. I would prefer to pay less than more. I would like the money that I do pay to be spent wisely. I do not mind paying taxes, it’s my duty to do so and I really don’t begrudge it. I think fiscal conservativism includes watching both sides of the balance sheet. Increasing receipts through economic growth is still collecting taxes, but it’s doing it by not actually raising the rates at which we are taxed. There is a huge difference.

    And Michael, since I am basically pro-choice, do I get called a Democrat or a Liberal when we have that debate? I’m a person with certain views on certain things, some are liberal, some are conservative. So please don’t peg me as one or the other. It’s issue by issue.

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  2. First off, when I lapse into generalities about Republicans and the Right Wing its because I’m arguing against the oft-repeated and often completely wrong rhetoric of the righties in general, and not necessarily arguing with you. I know you and I could agree on a lot of stuff. But you often bring up the same ol’ Right Wing arguments.

    For example, it is true that as a percent of GDP the debt is not so bad. The fact is, it’s worse than having no debt. It’s worse than having a balanced budget. I’m a fiscal conservative.

    When you argue that cutting taxes raises revenue, that revenue still comes from taxes. You obviously admit that taxes are necessary. So to characterize taxes as “evil” is contrary to your actual position. Taxes are good! You agree.

    So, yes, I agree, we do need to debate the balance between taxation and spending. We need to figure in, for sure, the benefits of a broader tax base if we can have the tide raise all boats. The less we pay the better.

    But if we agree that a balanced budget is good, paying off the debt is good and taxes, as the fundamental instrument of our power, are good, then the constant rhetoric of demonizing taxes, which the Right constantly does, is bullshit. It’s a campaign strategy that leads to bad government.

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  3. micadelic says:

    First off, you can’t raise taxes indefinitely either.

    Secondly, I don’t buy your premise that the government is just as inefficient as any other large business. Neither of us have any facts or objective measure to quantify either side of the argument. My feeling is that the absence of free market competition inherent in government agencies leads to greater waste and inefficiencies. So you’ll have to at least concede that on this point, we have a draw.

    You apparently believe that the government holds the solution to all problems, I don’t. That is a basic difference between left and right. Carry this to the extreme and on one end you get socialism, and the other end you get a total survival of the fittest/law of the jungle free for all. I believe neither end point is a good or viable system and neither do you, as usual, our argument is where to draw the lines.

    With any issues, there are always the extremes, neither of us are extremists, we’re just normal folks trying to figure out where the lines need to be drawn. We need to see both sides of the argument to come to a reasonable solution. If we didn’t have both sides, we would tilt too far one way or too far the other. Both of our views are legitimate and needed. I will always argue to decrease the size of government and the tax burden. Without my side of the argument, government would balloon out of control and become a monolithic beast that even you would not endorse. Without your side of the argument, government services would probably dry up to the point where folks like myself would even agree that more should be done in the areas of social services and other programs designed to level the playing field.

    Having said that, this does not mean that I am less compassionate than you or that you are a communist. We are the same, we’re just debating where to draw the lines and what is the best solution.

    And please, you guys have alternate called me a “republican,” “not a republican” from post to post. Please let it go, I am not a republican. I am terribly dissatisfied with both parties at this point. On some issues I am very liberal, on others I’m very conservative. I have declared myself an independent. As I said again and again, labels serve no purpose to further debate, can’t we just consider the issues and honestly and respectfully debate where we need to draw the lines?

    One other thing…
    Clinton ran a surplus because of a little thing called the internet boom which drove the stock market up to unreasonably high levels, putting a massive infusion of capital into the economy, resulting in massive increases in tax receipts. A monkey in the presidency could have achieved the same thing (thank God Al Gore invented the internet for him). This was not a result of any brilliant economic or fiscal strategy by Clinton.

    Bush had the collapse of the technology bubble, a huge hit on the economy due to the 9/11 attacks, and a war to contend with and yes, massive deficits were run up. But, despite that, and as a direct result of fiscal policies by Bush and Greenspan, the economy has recovered tremendously and the deficit is being reduced way quicker than even the administration had hoped for or projected.

    Another fact that the left never mentions, the debt as a percentage of GDP is lower now than it was for 7 out of the 8 years of the Clinton administration and on average, it is WAY lower than during the entirety of the Clinton administration. This (debt to GDP) is the only sensible way to measure debt/economic health, you can’t just count raw dollars. You have to look at the debt burden. A person that makes $100k a year can afford to carry more debt than a person that makes $30k per year.

    Clinton ran a budget surplus for 3 out of his 8 years but during that time, the debt to GDP ratio (debt is different than budget surplus/deficit) was way higher than the current debt to GDP ratio. If you want the facts and a nice little chart, click here and go to page 13. This is from the US Dept. of the Treasury, Office of Debt Management. So the nations “debt to income ratio” which is the same ratio that any lender would use in determining whether to lend you more money or not, is actually way, way better now than during the Clinton years. So, in fact, the economy is actually healthier now than it was then.

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