Paul Krugman: Neither candidate is offering a realistic tax plan

Running for office, especially president, has become more about the sport of it, more about the person running, and less about the country. Because of this we get fiscally reckless tax policy from both sides of the isle that panders to an ignorant, self-absorbed public. It’s easy to call for tax cuts. It’s weak to call for tax cuts when you know taxes need to be raised. At least on some level President Obama recognizes this with his call to raise taxes on the top 2%. Mitt Romney however, is completely delusional on tax policy. The idea that you can severely cut taxes and make up for it by closing loopholes and growing the economy is ludicrous. It’s what you say to people when you are more concerned with winning a job and less concerned with serving the country.

Neither candidate is offering a realistic tax plan, because the fact is that the federal government is going to need more revenue than either is currently proposing. But the two men are not equivalent in their unrealism: Obama is proposing to raise revenue by around $80 billion a year compared with current policy, while Romney is proposing to cut revenue by around $450 billion a year compared with current policy. Obama is inadequate; Romney is intensely, screamingly irresponsible.

On top of that, Romney is scamming voters, claiming not only that he can make up the lost revenue by closing unspecified loopholes, but that he can do so in a way that doesn’t shift the tax burden away from the rich onto the middle class. – Paul Krugman

Yes, the economy is still fragile at best, and maybe it’s not a good time to raise taxes on everyone. I would say Obama’s tax proposal is the bare minimum. I think the top tax bracket could easily go higher than 39.6% (currently it’s at 35%) and I think more than 2% of Americans could afford to pay more taxes and it would have no real impact on the economy. The problem is that we not only have political candidates that advocate keeping taxes low during a bad economy, many politicians in Washington (and all Republicans) would argue to keep taxes low forever, good economy or bad economy. The problem is that with a massive federal deficit and long-term debt, we need to pay it down during good economic times. Spending cuts sound great, until you see how it impacts you.

THE BIGGER PICTURE

Let’s take this beyond the economy and taxes and expand on my critique of an ignorant, self-absorbed public. If that’s not accurate then offer me an alternative explanation. Show me how conservative ideology of late isn’t all about personal affliction rather than community affliction. Conservative arguments against things like same-sex marriage and universal health care seem to be grounded in “I” instead of “us.” So it’s: “I” don’t want that – Instead of: What would be good for “us?” Just think about that for a moment and then think about all the conservative opposition to progressive policies. Tell me how it’s not self-absorbed.

Those of us who are for progressive policies are not for them because we personally have something to gain. We are for them because we see these policies as better for the community and the country. To frame it another way: Liberal ideology is grounded in being for something collectively positive for society. I’m a liberal, and I don’t oppose conservatives because I need someone to oppose. Liberals are for freedom, liberty and equality for everyone. If conservatives are going to endorse archaic, intolerant institutions and beliefs, then liberals will oppose them. Again, not because we need someone to oppose, but because we oppose exclusionary beliefs and we oppose intolerance.

You don’t win freedom and equality for David by endorsing Goliath’s intolerance. Therefore, the only acceptable brand of intolerance is the brand that is in opposition to intolerance itself.

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Conscience of a LiberalTax Fairness

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