Tag Archives: Taxes

Doctrine of Mathematical Impossibilities

By J.D. Alt

There’s a joke about a farmer and his pig. The pig is covered with a patchwork of large and small Band-Aids. A puzzled visitor asks the farmer: “Why is your pig covered all over with Band-Aids?” “Well,” says the farmer, “obviously, I can’t butcher him all at once: if I cut out too much he might die—and then I’d soon have nothing to eat.”

Most people who hear this joke chuckle to themselves (in a sickly way) because they intuitively realize the absurdity of the farmer’s misunderstanding the true nature of his resources. It is exceedingly odd, therefore, that most of these same people find it difficult to understand that our political and economic leaders—and the mainstream media that covers them—view the U.S. economy with exactly the same logic as the farmer views his pig. 

Continue reading

Money, Taxes and What We Can Afford

By Dan Kervick

People sometimes seem to suggest that the Western democracies are at the end of the road economically.  They claim that these governments are spent, broke, tapped out.  They insinuate that Western nations can no longer afford to carry out ambitious projects of the kind they organized in the past, and must downsize or dismantle many of the governance systems and public enterprises they currently operate.  They insist that these democracies must hand over yet more of their nations’ destinies to the financial and corporate baronies that dominate the private sector, and give the latter a free hand to arrange whatever kind of future they might deign to mash up for us as a by-product of  their voracious struggles for private gain and glory.

Continue reading

Greg Mankiw Discovers the Math and the Arithmetic on the Same Day

By Dale Pierce

Raising taxes is a good idea after all. In fact, it is now quite necessary, according to former Romney flack and alleged deep thinker Greg Mankiw of Harvard University. (Whose introductory textbook in economics may go down in history as the single greatest disinformational success of all time.)

In this Sunday’s New York Times, Prof. Mankiw bravely challenges what he takes to be the newly prevailing group-think in Washington – namely, the bi-partisan idea that “taxes on the middle class must not rise.” This is “Bad Math”, we are told. This does not accord with the “laws of arithmetic” – at least not as Prof. Mankiw understands them. It is, he concludes, our government’s stubborn reluctance to tax the non-rich which explains why “the political process has become so dysfunctional.”

Continue reading

NEP’s Stephanie Kelton Has Op Ed Piece in LA Times

Look, up in the sky! It’s a “fiscal cliff.” It’s a slope. It’s an obstacle course.

The truth is, it doesn’t really matter what we call it. It only matters what it is: a lamebrained package of economic depressants bearing down on a lame-duck Congress.

Read the entire piece here.

Will We Be The Lamest Generation?

By Dan Kervick

Matt Yglesias is now hawking an initial White House budget proposal that is apparently being negotiated by Tim Geithner.   Predictably, the two-stage proposal involves entitlement “savings” and cuts in both stage one and stage two, and backs off a bit on higher tax rates on the rich.  In exchange, the White House gets some more stimulus spending.  Yglesias advises Republicans to tell Obama:

… he can have his stimulus and he can even have higher tax revenue if he really wants it, but that the price is giving up his obsession with higher rates. Is he more interested in soaking the rich or in creating jobs? I don’t think Obama says no to a deal like that, and if he does lots of sensible liberals (like this guy) will call him out on it. Then we can put this sorry episode behind us, proclaim the Grand Bargaining Era done for, and hopefully move on to other things.

It seems strange to endorse a grand bargain in order to move on and proclaim the Grand Bargaining Era over.  Maybe next week Democrats should propose the elimination of the minimum wage so we can then declare an end to the Era of the Fight Over the Minimum Wage?

Continue reading

William Black on HuffPost Live

NEP’s William Black appeared on Huff Post Live’s Sound Off hosted by Mike Sacks. The topic was tax hikes on the middle class. You can view the clip below or if you want to go to HuffPost Live – click here.

Cutting Off Our Nose to Spite Our Face

By Joel David Palmer

We tie ourselves in knots developing strange moral equations to demonstrate why it’s ok to punish with impoverishment those we think don’t deserve an income. And we do it almost exclusively to rationalize a desire to not pay taxes. Our lives are hard enough, we say, without paying someone else’s way too. We suffer all kinds of anxieties – bad bosses, low wages, fear of layoffs, worry about having enough for retirement – and we are prone to resenting anyone who seems to have gotten even a slight advantage on us without, apparently, working so hard. Continue reading

Romney: The Little People Don’t Pay Taxes

By L. Randall Wray & Pavlina R. Tcherneva
(Cross posted at Huffington Post)

Everyone recalls the quip by Leona Helmsley: “We don’t pay taxes. Only the little people pay taxes…”. By “we”, of course, she meant the likes of Mitt Romney. By little people, she meant Romney’s 47% – those not worth the bother. As President, the Mitt made clear, he will not be serving them.

Continue reading

Michael Hudson on the State and Local Budget Crisis

 
The State and Local Budget Crisis
 
The cost of the 2011 cutbacks in federal spending will fall most directly on consumers and retirees by scaling back Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and social spending programs. The population also will suffer indirectly, by lower federal revenue sharing with U.S. states and cities. The following chart from the National Income and Product Accounts (NIPA, Table 3.3) shows how federal financial aid has helped cities shift the tax burden off real estate, although the main shift has been off property taxes onto income – and onto consumption (sales) taxes.

Time to panic? You Betcha.

By Stephanie Kelton

Earlier this week, President Obama talked about the weakening state of the economy, telling us that he’s not worried about a double-dip recession and that the nation should “not panic.” It’s hard to imagine a more alarming assessment at this juncture.

The recovery is faltering. Our economy is growing at annual rate of just 1.8 percent. Manufacturing just grew at its slowest pace in 20 months. More than 44 million Americans – one in seven – rely on food stamps. Employers hired only 54,000 new workers in May, the lowest number in eight months. Jobless claims increased to 427,000 in the week ended June 4. The unemployment rate rose to 9.1 percent. Nearly half of all unemployed Americans have been without work for more than 6 months. About 25% of all teenagers who are looking for work are unemployed. Eight-and-a-half million Americans are underemployed – i.e. working part-time because their hours have been cut or because they can’t find full-time work. There are, on average, 4.6 unemployed people for every 1 job opening. And even if all the open positions were filled, there would still be 10.7 million people looking for work.

The Case-Shiller index shows that the housing market has already double-dipped.

And, because of the huge shadow inventory of yet-to-be-foreclosed homes, Robert Shiller, a co-creator of the index, thinks home prices could easily fall another 15-25% before bottoming out. If he’s right – and I suspect he is – this spells the end of the recovery. As prices continue to decline they create hidden losses elsewhere in the economy, hurting not just homeowners but the financial institutions that hold their mortgages. The list goes on and on.

These are not, as Obama said, “headwinds” that will slow the pace of our recovery. They are gale force winds that will push millions of families into poverty and thousands of business into bankruptcy.

There is a way out, but it seems unlikely that Congress and the White House will work together to do what’s necessary to turn things around.  Why?  Because a recent poll shows that 59 percent of the public disapproves of the president’s handling of the economy.  And Republicans smell blood.  They know that since WWII no president has been re-elected with unemployment above 7.2 percent, so they see Harry Hard Luck and Sally Sob Story as their best chance at reclaiming the White House in 2012.  It’s a victory the Republicans have been masterfully engineering since February 2009, when they succeeded in restricting the size and scope of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).
Some of us saw this coming.  For example, Jamie Galbraith and Robert Reich warned, on a panel I organized in January 2009, that the stimulus package needed to be at least $1.3 trillion in order to create the conditions for a sustainable recovery.  Anything shy of that, they worried, would fail to sufficiently improve the economy, making Keynesian economics the subject of ridicule and scorn.
But it’s easy to see why the $787 billion package we ended up with didn’t do the trick.  Remember that the stimulus didn’t take effect all at once – it was spread out over a three-year period.  And while the left hand of the federal government was trying to rev up the economy with increased spending, the right hand of the private sector (together with state and local governments) was dutifully stomping on the breaks.  Just consider the fact that bank lending declined by $587 billion in 2009 alone – the biggest one-year drop since the 1940s.  That’s a $587 billion hole that businesses and households created just as the stimulus was rolling out the first $200 billion or so.  ARRA was the right medicine, but it was administered in the wrong dosage, and this became clear within months of its passage.

In July 2009, I wrote a post entitled, “Gift-Wrapping the White House for the GOP.” In it, I said:

“If President Obama wants a second term, he must join the growing chorus of voices calling for another stimulus and press forward with an ambitious program to create jobs and halt the foreclosure crisis.”

Two years later, both crises are still with us, and the election is just around the corner.
Meanwhile, a new Washington Post-ABC News poll shows former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney with a slight edge in a hypothetical race against President Obama, and Howard Dean is warning that without a marked improvement in the economy, even Sarah Palin could clobber Obama in 2012.
To avoid this, President Obama must get his economics right.  Unfortunately, he’s too busy fanning the flames of the phony debt crisis and complaining that the discouraging data is hampering the recovery because it “affects consumer confidence, and it affects business confidence.” But here’s the thing – the recovery isn’t going to be driven by a change in our mentality.  It’s going to be driven by a change in our reality.
So here’s what he needs to do – stop talking about the deficit.  It has always been his Achilles’ heel.  The US is not broke and cannot go bankrupt.  Let go of that myth, and deliver one of those jaw-dropping, awe-inspiring speeches of yesteryear.  Tell the American people that he’s calling on the Republicans to help him enact the most sweeping tax relief since Ronald Reagan was in office — a full payroll tax holiday for every employee and every employer in the nation.  Tell us that you understand that sales create jobs, and income creates sales.  Tell us that families and small businesses don’t have enough income to dig us out of the ditch we’re still in.  Tell us that you will not withhold a dime from our paychecks until cash registers across the nation are chiming and unemployment has fallen below 5 percent.  Tell us before it’s too late.