Democratic Promises

Implement 9/11 Commission recommendations, raise minimum wage, halve interest rates on student loans, roll back subsidies to oil firms, stop any privatization of SS, no new deficit spending, authorize the Feds to negotiate drug prices for Medicare. These are the things the Dems promise to pass in their first 100 hours in power. Let’s consider them and see how they do.

Implement 9/11 Recommendations

Good idea, if they can do it. They cannot. This is a process. It cannot be enacted by the scratch of a pen. I am really surprised they even promised this. I suppose they hope that they will get credit for sound and fury they create and voters will not be watching closely afterwards. They can claim credit for developments already in the pipeline and blame Bush whenever something goes wrong.

Raise Minimum Wage

Wages are already above minimum in most places in the country. It will cause minor dislocations, but not too much harm and almost no good. The more effective program is the earned income and child tax credit, but Dems seem not to like this because it helps the poor help themselves w/o them having to give credit to the legislatures.

Halving Interest Rates on College Loans

Good. There are details to the student loan program that are unpleasant. The program amounts to a give away to financial institutions or an invitation to wasteful government. Like the wages above, this program could be much more effectively handled thorough tax deductions and credits. College tuition should be fully deductible in all cases, with tax credits extended to low income filers, but Dems do not like these things. Smacks too much of self reliance.

Roll Back Subsides on Oil Firms

Great! I love it. It will raise the price of gasoline at the pump. I do not care how this is done. I support it. Dems will not tell the truth about this, however. After the prices go up, they will talk about price gouging and try to lower prices through government coercion, giving us the environmental problems of low prices and the inefficiency of government interference at the same time.

Stop Privatization of SS

Bad and retrograde idea. We need to address entitlement spending. The clever and the well off already have private accounts. All the Dems are doing is keeping the poor from taking part in this. ALL members of Congress and ALL Federal employees have access to personal tax deferred savings accounts. Why is it good enough for them and but too risky for other American citizens?

Commitment to No New Deficit Spending
Come on. These are Dems we are talking about. No way.

Authorizing Feds to Negotiate Drug Prices

This is one they will do. They will create a de-facto price control on drugs. This will be a short term win. By the time the effects hit us, nobody will be able to trace them.

Anyway, let's watch the Dems closely. Remember the energy we saw from Newt. The Dems do not have anybody with his ideas or intelligence, but maybe all of them put together can come up with something.

Posted by Jack at November 12, 2006 12:20 PM
Comments
Comment #194744

Re: Social Security, it is not meant to be a retirement account it is ment to keep the elderly from living in abject poverty. As the dollar gets weeker the elderly have less money every year. To fix the problem we need to do a couple of things, one cap the amount you can collect per mounth. 2. No maximum limit on what is taxed lets end this regressive tax. Tax all earners the same.
As for taxes we need a flat tax and all INCOME is trated the same regardless of sourse. If you make your money from capitol gains you pay the same as I do when I work 50+ hours a week so I can make ends meet. Limit deductions to education, health care expenses and a standard deduction. Tax credits should not be given for children (I actually have 3 so you can not say I am biased against children.) the government should not be involved in the decision making of families (I also include abortion in this one, let the states decide this issue). Government should not legistate good decision makeing.
As a veterian I say eliminate the patriot act. this is the most unpatriotic thing we can do to ourselves. Yes we will be hit again by terrorists let us not live in fear of it. No Warentless Wiretapping, we are a nation of laws the government serves at our whim. Good intelligence will do more for us then tieing up good people listening to a bunch of phone calls that will yeild little or no evidence and what is yeilded will be inadmissable in court so said terrorist will be free to plan and attack later.
People voted for Dems not because they thought they were better but because the R’s couldn’t govern with both eyes open and someone showing them what direction is what.
R’s Successes
1. 8.5 trillion in national debt.
2. Wide open borders 5+ years after 9/11
3. Given up on the war on terror, remember Afghanistan? I do that is where bin laden is
4. Iraq, that is worse the watching 3 monkeys tring to have relations with a football.
5. Energy policy developed in secret with the energy companies.
6. Diminished civil liberties. Yes I buy the thought that warntless wiretapping is illegial and unconstitutional.
7. 12+ million illegial allians with no plan to stop the flow.
8. Outsoursing our military to hide the true cost of this war of ours in Iraq.
We have to remember that we have to pay for what we are doing, by borrowing from our children we are doing them a great disservice. They will have to pay higher taxes so that we can enjoy our SUV’s and plasma TV’s.
Back to my main point, if the R’s had stuck to their smaller government guns and kept their noses out of everybodies buisness they would not have lost. It also didn’t help that they chose to fight an unecessary war in Iraq on the cheap.
The middle of the road people are now willing to give the D’s a run for it again until we have a better option then the R’s and D’s. Both of you keep pointing the finger with out trying to actually solve problems.
So yes I will watch carefully what the D’s do in congress and keep them accountable, just like I did with the R’s. Get the picture you lost not because the other team was better but because you coundn’t do what you said you were going to do.

Posted by: timesend at November 12, 2006 1:16 PM
Comment #194752

Jack,

I’m pretty much with you all the way until you get to here:

“College tuition should be fully deductible in all cases, with tax credits extended to low income filers”

College tuition should never be deductible. All that will to is allow the colleges to raise tuition. If you don’t feel the crunch you don’t feel the pain. The same thing goes with health insurance paid by employers and withholding taxes. If everybody had to actually pay there own taxes every quarter or annually they would not think we were not paying enough in taxes.

The answer is if you cannot get help from loans or grants, find a cheaper college.

Posted by: Keith at November 12, 2006 3:20 PM
Comment #194756

Keith

I see your point, but I think that deductible tuition is the best of the alternatives. When you get a deduction, you still feel the pain of spending the money and have some incentive to shop around (or complain). Financial aid, tied to need, does exactly the opposite. I am a tuition payer. Given my income, the fact that I thought ahead and saved money and that my daughter goes to the (relatively) inexpensive University of Virginia. If she went to an expensive private university or if I did not save since she was born, we would be eligible for financial aid. Financial aid discourages thrift. Tax deductions are more neutral.

Timsend

Re children - Children are the future. Unless people do not plan to live in the future, those who do produce children subsidize those who do not. The tax code can make up for a bit of that.

Posted by: Jack at November 12, 2006 3:55 PM
Comment #194760

The 9/11 Commission Recommendations
The Republicans assembled the PATRIOT Act and the Department of Homeland Security in a rush after 9/11, rather than start things off by learning what kind of changes were needed, and where the critical problem points were. By doing this, the Republicans created grave constitutional problems, in addition to unwieldy and ineffective bureaucracy precisely where we don’t need it.

So, why is it so objectionable to listen to the experts and start reforms accordingly? We know it won’t be instant, but we can at least get going on it, rather than twiddle our thumbs.

minimum wageThe EPI is an employer funded thinktank. As with all such institutions, things are run by the Golden Rule: He who has the gold, makes the rules.

The Employers, in this case. I would trust the conclusions of those institutes where there is a robust debate on these matters.

Another thing to keep in mind is the difference between theoretical economics, and that of the real world. There are many supply siders who insist on the good effects of tax cuts on the market, who relentlessly push tax credits and other thing, but have yet to positively, scientifically demonstrate the value of tax cuts in stimulating the economy.

Alan Greenspan and Paul O’Neill agreed, at least in private, that tax cuts typically took effect on the trailing end of recessions, after the recoveries had already taken place. Unless taxes were onerously high, a problem we don’t actually have, their value to the economy was small.

More to the point, each believed that the deficts that followed would have a worse effect.

Time and time again, those who cut taxes are forced to raise them again, as the economic uncertainty and damage of increased national debt looms over the markets.

In the real world, competition for wages isn’t perfect, and neither is the flow of information. Economies feed back on themselves, so that even if employers lose more money at first, the money flows back to them from other employer’s wages. Best Buy and Krogers might have to pay their workers more, but their workers will frequent both establishments and buy things with their money. Tax credits only give more money to those in lower incomes.

College Loan Rate Cuts Amen. A Big Ten-Four. Yes, Please. As a recent college graduate, this would be of great benefit.

However, let me take issue with your portrayal of us. You say we’re not for self-reliance, yet here we are with you advocating what are basically taxpayer subsidies and Democrats advocating greater pay for work. I’d say Democrats have the more self-reliant solution. Student Loans fit into this- this frees up more money for those entering into the work place. in skilled and college degree-oriented jobs. More on this later.

Oil Subsidies I don’t know whether Subsidies have much to do with the current price. I think when you’re seeing billions in revenue, the tax breaks and everything are just icing on the cake. Besides, Oil companies do not want to tell their investors they’re going to sell less oil. They just won’t be reaping monstrous profits.

I would rather regulators step in and set moderately stricter standards, and then let the market adjust to that.

SS Privatization This and the vouchers argument argue the virtues of private enterprise more ideologically than they do practically. The simple fact is, once everybody can participate with the government’s help, its no longer market driven. Costs for this system are high, and as Bush indicated, those cost do nothing to keep SS solvent. Does SS need reform? Sure. Does it need this kind of reform? No, and we don’t either.

The stock market idea is lousy anways, since the whole point of Social Security is its very low risk. You don’t get much, but you know you’re getting it, and if the choice is between that and destitution, it’s much better than nothing. Those who can invest should, but those who can’t should be able to trust that SS will be there to make sure their retirement years are livable.

Deficit Spending The Democrats of today are a new breed from that of yesteryear. Clinton proved being a deficit hawk was politically advantageous. There may be tensions, but I think Democrats are up to the challenge. If not, we’ll be the first to let them know.

Negotiating Lower Drug prices We already pay truly excessive rates in comparison to the rest of the world. The Veterans Administration already does this, and its saved them money. The Medicare Drug Benefit, with its multibillion dollar deficit contribution could stand to cut a little fat, and this is an obvious place.

The Democrats know that the eyes of the country are on them. Between having to compete with the president for the appearance of being the better fiscal hawk and policy makers, and the quite recent fall of the right’s power, I think we have more than enough incentive to at least make some improvements.

Democrats actually expect their people to run a government well. We don’t accept the excuse that these things are bound to fail. That perhaps is one of the major reasons Democrats will be in majority and Republicans won’t. You’re too pessimistic about running government right to make the effort.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at November 12, 2006 4:55 PM
Comment #194762

If you believe all that ______________, then you probably believe in the tooth fairy.

Posted by: Charlie George at November 12, 2006 5:13 PM
Comment #194765

Stephen

Re taxes. I did not advocate tax cuts. I advocate targeted tax credits, targeted to the poor. The minimum wage (as I wrote) will not hurt much, nor do much good to the poor. We have better means.

Re loans - similar here. You can subside rates or you can use tax credits and deductions to do the same. The advantage of the tax credits and deductions is the simplicity of it. We already have the IRS bureaucracy and everybody already has to fill out taxes. It just makes more sense.

Oil profits - we agree to cut what subsides there are. I think you may find fewer than you think, but by all means cut. It will lead to higher prices, which I also favor. We have come too the same location from different roads. The only difference is that this is where I want to be.

SS - Government employees already get this kind of thing. Do the same for others. The stock market is very consistent over long periods (which is what people will be investing for retirement). Once again, look to the Federal government’s own thrift savings plan (www.tsp.gov). Take a look at the historical rates of return. Remember that this includes the bad times that started in Clinton’s last year and ended in 2002. If you want to look at other years, you can check them out since 1988. Not as bad as you thought, is it? Of course that is only 20 years and it only includes two recessions.

Deficits - who knows? The Dems in Congress have no experience cutting spending. The Republicans Congress did it under Clinton. I hope the Dems are up to it and I will be happy to be proven wrong. Trust but verify.

Drug prices - yes the U.S. subsidizes the rest of the world in this respect. We may pay less while others pay more. I would be for that. I am not sure the price in innovation.

Posted by: Jack at November 12, 2006 5:35 PM
Comment #194766

Stephen

RE stocks. Take a closer look at the stock fund. Since 1988, it has earned 11.96%. It can be volatile, but if you invest $100 in 1988, you now have $726.15. Over those years, you gained and lost, but you NEVER dipped below inflation. Even in the big downturn, you still were ahead.

Let the government give to everyone what it gives to its own employees.

Posted by: Jack at November 12, 2006 5:42 PM
Comment #194779
Jack wrote: Re: Social Security, it is not meant to be a retirement account it is ment to keep the elderly from living in abject poverty.
Agreed.
Jack wrote: Tax all earners the same.
Agreed. No caps on Social Security and Medicare taxation (see Tax Reform link below).
Jack wrote: As for taxes we need a flat tax and all INCOME is trated the same regardless of sourse.
Now you’re singing my song. (see Tax Reform). Also, NO deductions of ANY kind. Make it a flat rate 17% income tax.
Jack wrote: Limit deductions to education, health care expenses and a standard deduction.
No. Instead, don’t tax any income below the poverty level. Welfare is for people that need help. Don’t confuse things by mixing welfare and taxation. It just leads to abuses. There is much TOO much meddling with systems, which results in dysfunction over-all.
Jack wrote: Tax credits should not be given for children.
No. But the poverty level is adjusted for dependents. See Tax Reform link above for details.
Jack wrote: As a veterian I say eliminate the patriot act.
: ) You mean veteran ? Or veternarian ? From the context, I think it must be veteran? Parts of the Patriot Act need to go.
Jack wrote: No Warentless Wiretapping
Agreed.
Jack wrote: Good intelligence will do more for us then tieing up good people listening to a bunch of phone calls that will yeild little or no evidence and what is yeilded will be inadmissable in court so said terrorist will be free to plan and attack later.
Agreed.
Jack wrote: People voted for Dems not because they thought they were better but because the R’s couldn’t govern with both eyes open and someone showing them what direction is what.
That’s very true. Voters are growing tired of BOTH Dems and Repubs.
Jack wrote: R’s Successes 1. 8.5 trillion in national debt. 2. Wide open borders 5+ years after 9/11 3. Given up on the war on terror, remember Afghanistan? I do that is where bin laden is 4. Iraq, that is worse the watching 3 monkeys tring to have relations with a football. 5. Energy policy developed in secret with the energy companies. 6. Diminished civil liberties. Yes I buy the thought that warntless wiretapping is illegial and unconstitutional. 7. 12+ million illegial allians with no plan to stop the flow. 8. Outsoursing our military to hide the true cost of this war of ours in Iraq.
Jack, I commend you on your honesty now, but where were these revelations were before 7-Nov-2006. Your article isn’t too bad, but sounds a little too partisan still.
Jack wrote: We have to remember that we have to pay for what we are doing, by borrowing from our children we are doing them a great disservice.
Agreed. This one thing has the potential for creating an economic meltdown.
Jack wrote: They will have to pay higher taxes so that we can enjoy our SUV’s and plasma TV’s.
Funny. So, you weren’t sincere afterall ?
Jack wrote: Back to my main point, if the R’s had stuck to their smaller government guns and kept their noses out of everybodies buisness they would not have lost.
Yep. Couldn’t agree more.
Jack wrote: It also didn’t help that they chose to fight an unecessary war in Iraq on the cheap.
Agreed. That was a MASSIVE blunder, among others.
Jack wrote: The middle of the road people are now willing to give the D’s a run for it again until we have a better option then the R’s and D’s.
All voters need to do is the one simple, common-sense, non-partisan, and responsible thing they were supposed to be doing all along. But they missed another opportunity. Oh well. The voters’ education is in the pipe-line. They apparently want to learn the hard way.
Jack wrote: Both of you keep pointing the finger with out trying to actually solve problems.
Both … meaning D’s and R’s. Absolutely. And, politicians love to fuel that circular, distracting, petty, partisan warfare.
Jack wrote: So yes I will watch carefully what the D’s do in congress and keep them accountable, just like I did with the R’s. Get the picture you lost not because the other team was better but because you coundn’t do what you said you were going to do.
Well, I certainly hope so, because I’ll be watching too.

Here’s the Score Card

Posted by: d.a.n at November 12, 2006 7:33 PM
Comment #194780

d.a.n.

Alot of the things you have as “jack wrote” were comments others made. Some agree with me; others not. In fact, it should not be hard to find arguments on both sides, but you should not lead with “jack wrote”

Posted by: Jack at November 12, 2006 7:39 PM
Comment #194785

Sorry. My bad.
I apologize for that.

I should have been addressing timesend.

Posted by: d.a.n at November 12, 2006 8:02 PM
Comment #194787

timesend, My apologies.

Posted by: d.a.n at November 12, 2006 8:15 PM
Comment #194790

I should have seen my mistake, since there was something very different about what I thought was what you (Jack) wrote.

Posted by: d.a.n at November 12, 2006 8:23 PM
Comment #194792


I hope that everyone that advocates a 17% flat tax is making 20,000 a year.

Posted by: jlw at November 12, 2006 8:31 PM
Comment #194802
Stop Privatization of SS

Bad and retrograde idea. We need to address entitlement spending. The clever and the well off already have private accounts. All the Dems are doing is keeping the poor from taking part in this. ALL members of Congress and ALL Federal employees have access to personal tax deferred savings accounts. Why is it good enough for them and but too risky for other American citizens?

You too have access to a “personal tax deferred savings account.” It’s called an IRA. You can open one at etrade for nothing and invest the contents of the account to your heart’s content.

This is not a justification for privitizing social security. In fact, the TSP website you reference includes the following nugget of wisdom:

The TSP is one of the three parts of your retirement package, along with your FERS Basic Annuity and Social Security. Participating in the TSP does not affect the amount of your Social Security benefit or your FERS Basic Annuity.

Nor apparently, does it remove you from the responsibility of actually paying your social security taxes.

Why does this matter? Because you dishonestly infer that federal employees get to do something the rest of us don’t. It’s not true and it shows the weakness and intellectual dishonesty of your arguments.

And that’s just one of the points you bring up…

Posted by: Jeff Seltzer at November 12, 2006 10:21 PM
Comment #194805
Implement 9/11 Recommendations

Good idea, if they can do it. They cannot. This is a process. It cannot be enacted by the scratch of a pen. I am really surprised they even promised this. I suppose they hope that they will get credit for sound and fury they create and voters will not be watching closely afterwards. They can claim credit for developments already in the pipeline and blame Bush whenever something goes wrong.

I really need to keep track of this crap just so I remember who said it down the road…

Let’s see if I have your point straight:

You say that the Congress of the United States “cannot” implement the recommendations of the 9/11 commission (report card is here)?

Just as an example, the report card notes that one of its recommendations “Support secular education in Muslim countries” receives a grade of “D” because “An International Youth Opportunity Fund has been authorized, but has received no funding; secular education programs have been initiated across the Arab world, but are not integrated into a broader counterterrorism strategy. The U.S. has no overarching strategy for educational assistance, and the current level of education reform funding is inadequate.”

And you say Congress can’t fund and organize this through legislation (the “scratch of a pen”)?

Do you just make this stuff up as you go along?

Posted by: Jeff Seltzer at November 12, 2006 10:38 PM
Comment #194808

Jack-
I hear two things from Republicans: The first is how awfully complex and convoluted the tax code is, and how it needs to be simplified…

And then their next idea of how to give new tax breaks, credits, and incentives to stimulate the economy and improve the economy!

Are these issues unconnected? hardly.

The information you provide on the minimum wage seems to be from those who have a vested interest in keeping wages down. Real world data from around the country confirms that Minimum wage hikes have had little effect on people’s ability to find employment.

What are we doing with these tax credits, but subsidizing cheap employment? The government should not be messing with the job market like that. Undercutting the wage market is a bad habit, because it limits how much money is spent.

On the subject of social security returns, my response is this: The historic reates of return on stock market investments are not the returns of any one stock or fund. They are an overall picture. If allowed to truly invest like a truly private system would allow them to, the results would be naturally uneven, especially if folks end up exploiting them.

As for the Dems in Congress? Most were present during the spending cuts of the 90’s. Most probably voted for them.

Drug prices: Are Americans subsidizing the rest of the world? I doubt it. They don’t run pharmaceutical companies as charities. I think we’re simply getting screwed because our healthcare system and laws allow it.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at November 12, 2006 11:14 PM
Comment #194810

Jeff

People like us have IRAs because we have the income to support them and the financial sophistication to want them. People like us are going to do okay when SS crashes. Poorer and people are those who would benefit from personal accounts within SS.

I also do not propose doing away with SS. I am in favor of allowing some personal accounts. If you want to make the personal accounts more like the TSP, you could allow everybody to save 5% of his/her income tax deferred and have the government match that with money from SS The G is collecting 15+% now, they would “refund” 5% in order to get the recipient to save 10%. We could talk about specific numbers, but that is the general idea.

Re 9/11 yes, I am saying Congress cannot IMPLEMENT the recommendations. They can pass laws but implementation is harder to do. I will assume you have some executive experience and will understand the difference between giving instructions and seeing the actual results. Those w/o such experience may not understand. I do not make it up, but I have had experience giving orders. If management was only that simple we would not need managers at all.

Congess, BTW, funds lots of things that do not specifically happen and some things happen that Congress does not specifically fund. That is the point.

It is a common liberal problem to equate intention with execution. I look forward to watching their education.

Posted by: Jack at November 12, 2006 11:22 PM
Comment #194811

Stephen

Those are returns for index related funds. Nothing is idiot proof. This is about as close as you can come.

I recognize that some people really cannot handle money. I know some of them. They can be very intelligent in other ways. But they are too greedy and too cautious at the same time. I do not know how to protect them from themselves. What you are really advocating is making sure that NOBODY does very well. The makes everyone equally poor.

SS was meant to provide a basic income. It can still do that. But with just a couple workers for every retiree, it cannot be expected to provide the amount of comfort it did when the baby boom was supporting the small numbers of retirees from the generations of the 20s and the Great Depression. Those with private accounts will be comfortable. I just want to spread the comfort.

We face a demographic crisis. I do not expect to get all the SS promised to me. Fortunately, I doubt I will need it. I want more people to be in my position.

RE drug subsidies, it is the free rider problem. The U.S. market is so vast that firms can develop innovations and make up their investment in the U.S. After that, they can sell cheaper overseas to cover only the variable costs.

The same thing happens with movies and TV shows. That is why they can sell all those things so cheaply to foreign broadcasters. This situation has begun to change. Drugs may too, but that is our current problem.

Posted by: Jack at November 12, 2006 11:34 PM
Comment #194815

Jack,
Re Social Security privatization: what part of “No” do you not understand?

A Republican majority refused to even introduce a proposal in committee. The more Bush campaigned in favor of this all across the country, the more people opposed his plan. It is over, Jack. Stick a fork in it. It is done.

There is a long-term demographic problem, no doubt. This can be addressed in two ways. First, recognizing life expectancies may continue to increase, raising the age another year offers a simple fix. A better long-term fix would be to encourage legal immigration.

Unfortunately for Republicans, many seem consumed with the Michael Savage idea of “language, borders, culture”; it is a foolish stand from a political point of view, and likely to drive Hispanic voters into the arms of Democrats for a long time to come.

The same holds true for Republican attitudes towards gay marriage. It plays with the Republican base, but it is utterly out of touch with young people. The generation coming up accepts sexual orientation as a natural matter, and once again the Republicans are dooming themselves to a loyal base, with no significant following outside the South.

Minimum wage? Stick a fork in that one, too. Many states voted to increase the minimum wage in this past election. I believe it passed in every single state. The times, they are a-changing, Jack. Time to adapt.

The Democrats do not present a feverish ideological agenda for the country; instead, they are offering relatively modest ideas for legislation. Reid, Pelosi, and Dean are superb politicians. At some point, Republicans are going to realize their ideological blinders make Republicans terribly vulnerable to being relegated to permanent minority status.

In 2008, 21 Republican Senate seats will be in play, v 12 Dems.

The midterm Dem victory exteneded widely across the country, and deeply as well. Numerous governorships and state house went blue.

Time to go back to the drawing board, Jack. Republicans need some new ideas. If a Republican president and Congressional majority refused to legislate ideas such as Social Security privatization, why on earth keep beating the dead horse?

Posted by: phx8 at November 13, 2006 12:40 AM
Comment #194816
jlw wrote: I hope that everyone that advocates a 17% flat tax is making 20,000 a year.

According to this 17% flat income tax rate, with a poverty level exemption (of say $18K for a single person, more if there are dependents), the person making $20K would only pay 17% of $2K = ($20K - $18K), which would be $340.

No one pays tax on the first $18K of annual income.
ALL tax loop-holes and deductions would be eliminated.
Corporate tax would be eliminated.
Social Security and Medicare benefits would not be treated as income since that’s a tax on benenfits resulting from taxes.
If one tax loop-hole is allowed, then it’s just a matter of time before thousands more are created.
That’s how the tax code got so perverted.
The tax system is abused to accomplish things the tax code shouldn’t be trying to accomplish.

Posted by: d.a.n at November 13, 2006 12:41 AM
Comment #194817

Social Security might be OK if the government would stop plundering the surpluses.
That’s why it will be facing shortfalls in the coming decades.
At the very least, the government should simply stop spending the surpluses.

Posted by: d.a.n at November 13, 2006 12:43 AM
Comment #194821

Phx8

I support gay marriage. I do not really care if we raise the minimum wage (although it will not do the good for the poor Dems claim). I fear personal accounts for SS may be a lost cause. More the pity. Lots of old people are going to be eating cat food because their supposed defenders refuse to see the problem and let them help themselves.

I believe in an ownership society. Most of my party has given it up. Democrats hate the idea of freeing people from government. My opinion matters little, but sometimes it is worth supporting even a lost cause.

You guys win this time. I’ll be back. And in a couple of years maybe that cat food will bring that horse back from the dead.

Posted by: Jack at November 13, 2006 1:08 AM
Comment #194822

Jack,

You wrote:

Good idea, if they can do it. They cannot. This is a process. It cannot be enacted by the scratch of a pen. I am really surprised they even promised this. I suppose they hope that they will get credit for sound and fury they create and voters will not be watching closely afterwards. They can claim credit for developments already in the pipeline and blame Bush whenever something goes wrong.
I will try to find some time tomorrow… Just this for now… If we are doing this, it is trick we learned from George Bush. How many things has he announced to “sound and fury” and never funded.

Posted by: Ray Guest at November 13, 2006 1:16 AM
Comment #194823

Jack,
“Democrats hate the idea of freeing people from government.”

In theory, we arethe government.

The idea of an “ownership society” might be attractive if this were an agrarian society and the year was 1776. Unfortunately, this is an industrialized society, and, left to itself, unrestrained capitalism would result in increasingly concentrated ownership. A few monopolies and oligopolies would own everything. This is the dark side of corporatism: as long as corporations are given recognition as legal entities under the 14th amendment, they will overwhelm the ownership you desire for small businesses and individuals.

An “ownership society” also implies personal responsibility for economic success or failure. It is attractive in the sense that it advocates bedrock values like freedom and liberty. We all like that, of course. It becomes unattractive when we find ourselves at the mercy of economic forces far too powerful to be restrained by any organization smaller than… yes… the federal government.

I am always a little disappointed when true conservatives fail to defend themselves. Too often, conservatives find themselves supporting Bush or the Republican party instead. The good ideas of true conservatism have been sorely abused because of the loyalty. Bush and the Republicans can dig down and re-assert worthwhile ideas. But as long as the Neocons and social conservatives/evangelical fundamentalists rule the Republican roost, the worthwhile ideas of true conservatives- and there are some very worthwhile ones- are a long way from having their deserved day in the sun.

Posted by: phx8 at November 13, 2006 1:30 AM
Comment #194826
People like us have IRAs because we have the income to support them and the financial sophistication to want them. People like us are going to do okay when SS crashes. Poorer and people are those who would benefit from personal accounts within SS.

Ah, so you want people without “financial sophistication” to manage their own “personal accounts within SS?” Let me be generous (for the sake of argument only) and ask you what happens if 10% of those allowed to do this invest poorly (say in Worldcom or Enron)? I suppose we let them starve on the street as a testament to their rugged individualism?

I also do not propose doing away with SS. I am in favor of allowing some personal accounts. If you want to make the personal accounts more like the TSP, you could allow everybody to save 5% of his/her income tax deferred and have the government match that with money from SS The G is collecting 15+% now, they would refund 5% in order to get the recipient to save 10%. We could talk about specific numbers, but that is the general idea.

Why do you keep bringing up TSP after I’ve already shown you that it is NOT A REPLACEMENT for social security?

You really are talking nonsense.

Posted by: Jeff Seltzer at November 13, 2006 3:47 AM
Comment #194827
SS was meant to provide a basic income. It can still do that. But with just a couple workers for every retiree, it cannot be expected to provide the amount of comfort it did when the baby boom was supporting the small numbers of retirees from the generations of the 20s and the Great Depression. Those with private accounts will be comfortable. I just want to spread the comfort.

No, you don’t. Thankfully, now that your sorry asses have been kicked to the curb you won’t get a chance to “spread the comfort.” (Besides, what you’re REALLY doing is spreading manure.

We face a demographic crisis. I do not expect to get all the SS promised to me. Fortunately, I doubt I will need it. I want more people to be in my position.

Your altruism is truly touching… You know, if you were honest and said you don’t believe in the system I’d have a little more respect for you.

Posted by: Jeff Seltzer at November 13, 2006 3:53 AM
Comment #194829

Jeff, Jack doesn’t mind government programs which benefit business which he invests in, that kind of subsidy is fine with him. Jack, being a Republican has a philosophical problem with government requiring all citizens pay taxes which then get distributed to others than Jack or which Jack can’t benefit from since he doesn’t want to be poor, out of work, or incapacitated.

Jack prefers the voluntary charities where he can choose whether to donate or not, and if charities can’t reach everyone in need, so be it, people shouldn’t be in need in the first place.

I have great respect for Jack’s thinking and writing on many topics, but, Jacks underlying assumptions of how things should be, are not easy for him to dismiss as a Republican. Jack believes he is successful because he works at it, and others are unsuccessful because they don’t.

As a view of economics and human behavior, Jack’s Republican assumptions stand between him and government safety net spending which is not capital and business directed, where he believes he will gain the most from his tax dollar.

This is the tug of war that has existed in our nation since FDR and the new deal, between unfettered capitalism which brought the nation to its knees in 1929, and the socialist policies of the New Deal which, side by side with regulated capitalism, created the wealthiest and largest middle class in the world.

It is a prejudice that prevents Republicans from accepting the Mixed Economy concept which has been so successful. The prejudice is that people fail because they don’t try hard enough. And like all prejudices, they can’t be reasoned out of existence, because prejudice refuses to question its own assumptions.

Posted by: David R. Remer at November 13, 2006 6:32 AM
Comment #194830
It is a prejudice that prevents Republicans from accepting the Mixed Economy concept which has been so successful. The prejudice is that people fail because they don’t try hard enough. And like all prejudices, they can’t be reasoned out of existence, because prejudice refuses to question its own assumptions.

Well stated citizen.

Jack’s notions seem predicated on the assumption that government can’t do anything. The truth is that government can’t do anything when Republicans run it.

I would wager a fair amount that Jack’s financial position owes a great deal to the government spending he so decries.

Posted by: Jeff Seltzer at November 13, 2006 7:38 AM
Comment #194835

Jeff

If you are going to quote me, at least you should read the quote. I do not propose doing away with SS. I want to let people manage (if they want) around 5%. They and their employer already pay more than 15%.

Some people would make bad choices. We would have the safety net. You are advocating keeping everyone poor and the system poorer because you cannot make everyone rich at the same time.

Re spreading the comfort. I don’t need your respect. I propose things that actually may help people. I have been poor and I have been not poor. I have used and experienced the methods by which a person can build wealth. The ownership society is a variation of teaching a man to fish.

Phx8

Free market requires rule of law and some regulation. My proposal does not eliminate the Feds. Far from it. The ownership society is a partnership with the Feds. Instead of providing income, the Feds switch to helping people build wealth. The current SS system is (as you say) built for the industrial age. It was not a failure, we just have moved beyond it as a society.

Re government representing us. It does. But in any large organization implementation and bureaucracy will create inefficiencies. There are some things large government cannot do, even if it is honest and good. Just like you can only build a brick structure so high, you cannot manage some small things with very large organizations.

David

Please see above. I prefer what works. Ideally everyone could be well off. This is not possible. So I settle for as much freedom as possible, making as many people as possible well off and keeping a safety net for those who fail. I believe a system that includes private accounts will increase the total effectiveness of the system and that most people will get more. It is likely that the efficiency of the system will allow even the worst off to have more than they would have gotten in the old system as it is projected to be when all the baby boom has retired. The trade off is that some will do better than others. This creates envy, a powerful emotion but not a basis for policy.

Posted by: Jack at November 13, 2006 8:01 AM
Comment #194838

Jeff

Yes. Most of my wealth has come from the efficient working of government that has allowed me to invest with confidence and protected me by the rule of law. This is the case for all Americans. Government produces the framework for prosperity and only government can do that.

SS was a great program that pulled a generation of old people out of poverty. But it was based on conditions in 1935, modified in the 1970s and 1980s. Your 1935 Ford was probably a good car. You can get a more reliable and comfortable vehicle today and you should not rely on that old system to respond to very different situation we face. The demographics are so changed that they would be astonishing to FDR. Financial markets have improved and wealth has spread. In 1935, many families did not have a bank account; now more than half own stock.

In 1935, we had a country with lots of workers doing very similar things mostly manually. Now we have a diverse workforce using techniques undreamed of. We have learned a lot and we can do better. We do not have much of a choice anyway.

Posted by: Jack at November 13, 2006 8:15 AM
Comment #194841
If you are going to quote me, at least you should read the quote. I do not propose doing away with SS.

Perhaps not. But, what you are advocating would weaken the system as it stands.

I want to let people manage (if they want) around 5%. They and their employer already pay more than 15%.

I suppose by this you mean that approximately 1/3 of what a person (and their employer) pay into the system would now be unavailable to fund current liabilities (retirees) and contribute to the trust fund for future retirees. Please explain to us all how you are suggesting we fund current liabilities and maintain the system by decreasing input to the system by 33%.

Some people would make bad choices. We would have the safety net.

Paid for by whom? At what level? How long until Republicans start referring to the “safety net” as welfare or some such?

You are advocating keeping everyone poor and the system poorer because you cannot make everyone rich at the same time.

I’m advocating no such thing. The social security system is a hugely successful program. I don’t want you and your ilk to whittle away at it - kicking out supporting pillars of the program (you know, little details like how it’s funded) while claiming to strengthen it.

Re spreading the comfort. I don’t need your respect.

What’s “comforting” to most people is to know that social security is there to support the people who have paid into the system their entire lives. This is evidenced by the harsh reaction to repeated attempts by Republicans to “strengthen” the system.

I propose things that actually may help people.

It sounds to me like you’re proposing something that you think will help yourself. Couching it in terms of helping the poor or people in general just makes it more objectionable.

Posted by: Jeff Seltzer at November 13, 2006 9:03 AM
Comment #194844

Dan: Your explanation of the flat tax has convinced me. I am on board.

The reason republicans hate S.S and medicare is the 7.65% employer contribution. I love it when Jack argues against a redistribution of wealth program by promoting another redistribution of wealth program that republicans also hate, the earned income tax credit.

I think that the republicans arent dumb. They knew that their S.S. privatization plan would recieve overwhelming resistance from the American People. But, they hate redistribution of wealth programs so much that they were willing to follow thru with their backup plan of bankrupting the nation to the point that the programs would not have a chance to survive. The People have foiled this plan as well.

Posted by: jlw at November 13, 2006 9:47 AM
Comment #194845

Jack, I haven’t heard Democrats or any organized groups for that matter claim that Soc. Sec. should not be tampered with and allowed to default on 26% of its payment obligations at the worst period of the retirement crisis. That is in fact all that happens if we do nothing. Either the deficits will increase for about 18 years by the amount needed to make up a 26% shortfall, or benefits will need to be cut by 26%, or some combination of both.

BUT!, privatizing any percentage of Soc. Sec. contributions today, removes surplus contributions accruing today to meet tomorrow’s obligations. In addition, it introduces risk into the safety net far greater than the risk of America defaulting on its debt obligations.

The combination of population growth and modest increase in payroll FICA taxes, combined with other tweaks like means testing the payment of benefits, excluding the very wealthy from them, can, and will insure the viability of the current Soc. Sec. system. And of course, after the baby boomers pass on, the system will be back in surplus territory again for many decades to come.

There is only one predictable outcome to privatizing any part of Soc. Sec., and that is to hasten the deficits that will be incurred, and leave an insufficient safety net for those who invest poorly in privatized accounts. That is why most Americans came to the conclusion that privatizing Soc. Sec. was a Republican plan to kill the safety net concept entirely. Combined with the Right’s rhetoric against entitlements, it was a logical conclusion for the voters to draw.

Posted by: David R. Remer at November 13, 2006 9:50 AM
Comment #194850
phx8 wrote: In theory, we are the government.
That’s right. As long as we have the right to vote. But, unfortunately, in a voting nation, education is paramount, and voters are not yet educated enough to understand that continually re-electing the same irresponsible incumbent politicians, letting the two main parties take turns, and letting politicians enjoy a 90% re-election rate, is NOT going to lead to government that is more responsible. Even after this last 7-Nov-2006 election, about 90% of incumbents still retained their cu$hy, coveted seats, and they will continue to be irresponsible. Between 1997 and 2006, Congress has given itself a raise 9 times, while median incomes have fallen since 1999. It must be nice to give your self a raise and cu$hy perks even when you are incompetent and corrupt.
Rep. Tom Davis (R-VA) Voted NO on strengthening the Social Security Lockbox. (May 1999)
Jack wrote: I agree. Lockbox is BS.

This is what is wrong with Social Security.

Some are trying to destroy Social Security by undermining it.

Of course, Social Security wasn’t supposed to be a retirement plan. It was supposed to be a supplemental income. However, the government also continued to take more and more in the way of taxes for Social Security too! So, it was a promise. The federal government has forced people to fund it all their lives. And it’s a hefty tax on gross income (now 15.3% !). The employer (supposedly) pays half, but that really comes out of the employee’s income.

Politicians keep spending the surpluses.
$12.8 trillion has been borrowed (stolen) from Social Security. Government has taxed over $12.8 trillion for Social Security, and spent it on something else. It’s a ponzi-scheme.

But, since we keep re-electing those politicians, so voters obviously don’t yet get it yet. Currently, trying to get through to voters is like herding cats. But, the voters’ education is in the pipe-line. Voters will have to learn the hard way. When voters are eating cat food, then maybe they’ll understand?

What voters did this election missed the mark again, since they merely traded one bunch of crooks for another bunch of crooks, and 90% of incumbents still retained their seats. While that was a tiny improvement, voters are about to see that it was woefully inadequate in sending a loud and clear message to ALL in Congress. Maybe for a few Republicans, but Democrats still don’t see it as a demand for results, and this Do-Nothing Congress will remain irresponsible, and will still refuse to address their To-Do List, growing longer and more dire every year.

Posted by: d.a.n at November 13, 2006 10:26 AM
Comment #194858

Dan-
I think it was Einstein who said, “Make things as simple as possible, but no simpler.”

The problem with many political principles is that they try and simplify things that can’t and won’t be reduced in their complexity. The relationship of income to the robustness of a person’s finances is one such bit of complexity.

The poorer you get, the more troublesome it is to try and keep things straight, the more economic troubles become a trap. The richer you get, the more ability you have to pay more without running into economic problems.

I oppose a flat tax because the flat tax conflates fairness, a quality associated with the justice of an action, with equality of rate.

The Progressive tax system works from the notion that the rich have inherently more robust finances, and that those who live within their means can absorb financial costs that the poorer cannot. Raise their taxes, and the damage to both their ability to spend and their ability to maintain their lifestyle is less than it would be if you raised it for those with less income.

Equality of rate is only fair in abstraction, and those who advocate the flat tax actually conceded that by putting a floor in as to what income is taxed, effectively creating what one might call a two-step progressive tax system. The multi-tiered tax system, with a few reforms, actually creates the effect you set out (the lower rate of taxation on income overall, as opposed to the strict percentage approach) much better, and with greater flexibility.

The unfairness of the “fair” tax is its effect when rates are raised. Progressive Taxes can load the bulk of a tax increase onto the rich and upper-middle class, while leaving the lower classes untouched. The flat tax has no such power. To remain revenue neutral, the worst of the tax burden (if you would define such a burden in terms of its imposition, and not just its proportion) would fall on the middle class, and ever increase in rates would impose even more heavily on them. What is fair in abstraction is unfair in practice.

The real complexity of the tax code is the rats nest of deductions, tax breaks and other tomfoolery that’s been inflicted upon us by other congresses and presidents. The real injustice of recent taxation is the shifting of the burden from the rich to the less prosperous.

Jack-
The whole point of Social Security is its security. It’s not meant to be a money maker. It’s meant to be insurance. Privatization basically gives up on security in the name of playing the investment game at greater risk.

The implementation of this plan would set social security even further behind without the benefit of increasing its solvency.

As for Drugs? If the market is so vast, what are they doing price gouging us? Demand is high, and supply plentiful enough that they can charge lower rates abroad? Wheres the scarcity problem that would justify higher prices? Why not spread the costs worldwide?

While we’re at it, how do you justify the claim that all this money is going back into R+D? Have R+D expenditures kept pace with drug prices? Are production costs higher? what good reason is ther for increased prices?

At some point, if such justifications can’t be found for raised prices, we must call these high prices the result of price-gouging. With public health a great concern, and many people paying a great deal for prescription drugs, we have to ask ourselves whether or not letting the market determine prices and practices in these cases is not causing our country harm.

I have no great love for the idea of nationalized healthcare. But the healthcare companies have managed to create a system just as unwieldy, just as dysfunctional, and are happy to let this go on.

I would much rather impose regulations on these companies, and let the market adjust accordingly. The industry is in dire need of a shake-up. Either private industry shapes up, and stops trying to extort people for the healthcare they need, or America will find itself with socialized healthcare at their expense.

That simple.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at November 13, 2006 12:11 PM
Comment #194865

To understand why the last proposed “private” SS plan died, one has to understand exactly what the plan was all about.

Too many just heard “private social security accounts” and simply assumed that this meant that they would be free to invest thier SS tax payments into the stock market however they wanted.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Here’s the way Bush’s private social security account plan was set up:

Taxpayers would have the option of investing part of the SS tax money into one of a few (no more than 3 different choices) managed investment funds.

You would not get to “cherry pick” which stocks you invested in. These options are like the account plans currently offered by many businesses and investment firms.

Now… and this is the real kicker…., whichever “plan” you picked to invest your social security money into would be “managed” by one of a couple of the big investment companies and, of course, these “management” companies get to charge a fee for thier “expertise” in shuffling paper. This management fee comes from the indivual tax payers account… whether or not the account has generated any profit or not.

Anyone with any experiance with these type of managed accounts knows that it is extemely likely to be “nickled and dimed” to death with management fees, in many cases effectively wiping out much of the profit in the account and in some cases even putting the investor in the hole, especially when the amount invested in the account is small.

Even if the investment companys stock picks never “tanked”, the management fees collected basically results in a MULTI-BILLION dollar handout to a small (1-3) number of hand-picked companies for doing not much of anything.

As is usually the case with government, whenever they want to do something, if you want to know what they’re really planning (or who they are really planning to bennefit!)…. just follow the money….

Posted by: Just an Observer at November 13, 2006 1:22 PM
Comment #194873

Jeff

I always find it interesting that some people can feel generous with other people’s money or accuse others of being greedy by the same criteria.

Saving the SS system in the ways I propose would not help ME. I know this goes against your greedy Republican stereotype, but I have done the math and a person my age, income and investment habits does better if they just try to maintain the old system. I will have most of my money by the time it goes belly up. The people who will suffer will be younger workers and poorer workers. So I think you can lay off the greed thing. Greed plays not role in this. We are talking about legitimate differences in how we think the system should AND CAN work.

David

We are paying 15+% now. How much higher do you want that to go? We could get similar levels of coverage a lot cheaper. Why not means test it, for example? Does someone making 200k on his investments every year really need the SS? Maybe raise the retirement age. But also help poorer workers do what richer workers can already do -build some of their own wealth so that they do not need to be as dependent on that monthly check.

My goal is to eliminate as much poverty as possible, not to manage and conserve what we have.

Posted by: Jack at November 13, 2006 2:22 PM
Comment #194888
Stephen Daugherty wrote: d.a.n, I think it was Einstein who said, “Make things as simple as possible, but no simpler.”
Agreed.
Stephen Daugherty wrote: I oppose a flat tax because the flat tax conflates fairness, a quality associated with the justice of an action, with equality of rate.
That’s why A flat rate percentage seems perfectly fair. It taxes a person twice as much if that person earns twice as much. The amount of tax doubles as the income doubles.
Stephen Daugherty wrote: The Progressive tax system works from the notion that the rich have inherently more robust finances, and that those who live within their means can absorb financial costs that the poorer cannot. Raise their taxes, and the damage to both their ability to spend and their ability to maintain their lifestyle is less than it would be if you raised it for those with less income.
And, a flat rate tax is actually progressive, since the tax doubles as the income doubles. That’s progressive enough.
Stephen Daugherty wrote: Equality of rate is only fair in abstraction,
It’s fair by any standard. What is not fair is to punish those that earn more with rising rates. That is saying that double the tax for double the income is not enough, so that person should pay triple (or more)? That just ain’t right. It may be what some wealthy deserve (especially those that abuse vast wealth to control government), but philosophically, taxing at increasingly higer (i.e. progressive) tax rates on income above the poverty level seems unethical to me, and I have not heard any argument yet that justifies a progressive tax system.
Stephen Daugherty wrote: … . and those who advocate the flat tax actually conceded that by putting a floor in as to what income is taxed, effectively creating what one might call a two-step progressive tax system. The multi-tiered tax system, with a few reforms, actually creates the effect you set out (the lower rate of taxation on income overall, as opposed to the strict percentage approach) much better, and with greater flexibility.
Actually, in this flat 17% income tax plan, everyone is taxed the SAME 17% on everything above the low-income-exemption level. It is ONLY when looking at the gross income that it appears to tax at increasingly larger percentage rates.
Stephen Daugherty wrote: The unfairness of the “fair” tax is its effect when rates are raised.
Well, that depends on what Fair Tax you are talking about. The FairTax.org tax is a national sales tax of 23% (actually 30%).

It is completely different than a Flat 17% income tax on ONLY income above the exemption level (e.g. $18K).

Stephen Daugherty wrote: Progressive Taxes can load the bulk of a tax increase onto the rich and upper-middle class, while leaving the lower classes untouched.
The best way to ease the burden on lower income classes is to raise the low-income-level exemption. That is the most simple way to accomplish the goal of not taxing those that can NOT afford it.
Stephen Daugherty wrote: The flat tax has no such power.
Not true. As stated, the low-level-income exemption protects the poor from paying ANY tax. Everyone else pays a flat rate 17%. It is perfectly fair. I’m not rich, but I refuse to support any tax system that taxes at a higher percentage rates merely for earning more. In my opinion, it is morally wrong. What is equally bad (perhaps worse) is the terribly perverted tax system that allows the wealthy to avoid paying taxes. If everyone above the low-income-exemption-level had to pay 17%, there would probably be more tax revenues than ever, since many wealthy currently don’t even pay 17%. For one thing, capital gains are taxed at 10% and 15%, but the average tax rate in the U.S. is 21% . That’s not fair. Also, the current tax system has an upper tax rate of 35%. That’s ridiculous. What’s more ridiculous is that it used to be 90% and then 50% . But, that’s not the whole picture. Social Security and Medicare are 15.3% on the gross income, but ONLY on the first $94,200 (for 2006) and $97,500 (for 2007). That’s a problem. Why should there ever be an upper-level cap? Get rid of that cap.
Stephen Daugherty wrote: To remain revenue neutral, the worst of the tax burden (if you would define such a burden in terms of its imposition, and not just its proportion) would fall on the middle class, and ever increase in rates would impose even more heavily on them. What is fair in abstraction is unfair in practice.
Then DON’T increase tax rates. Reduce government spending. There’s a novel idea, eh?
Stephen Daugherty wrote: The real complexity of the tax code is the rats nest of deductions, tax breaks and other tomfoolery that’s been inflicted upon us by other congresses and presidents. The real injustice of recent taxation is the shifting of the burden from the rich to the less prosperous.
This I agree with. There are so many tax loop holes and deductions, that far, far too many wealthy are actually paying much lower percentages of their income to income tax than many middle-income-class Americans. That’s where tax reformist should concentrate their efforts. If the middle-income-class refuses to let go of their home-mortgage tax deduction, the wealthy will refuse to let go of all their vastly more numerous and lucrative tax deductions.
Stephen Daugherty wrote: Either private industry shapes up, and stops trying to extort people for the healthcare they need, or America will find itself with socialized healthcare at their expense.
That’s what may happen, but it won’t improve things. The root problem is elsewhere. It is corrupt government that is in-league with corporations, corpocrisy, corporatism, corporate welfare, and few that abuse vast amounts of money to control government. That is why it was vital send a clear message to government to stop the corruption, corporate/investor fraud, selective enforcement of the laws, ambulance chasing lawyers making millions from others misery, corporate welfare, graft, waste, and irresponsible borrowing, debt, spending, and money-printing. All while the government grows ever larger to nightmare proporations, sucking up $2.2 trillion per year in tax revenues, and somehow spending all of it and more.

Social Security is yet another of many things that need reform (soon), but all reforms are futile as long as voters continue to waste every opportunity to change it. Voters had an opportunity this 7-NOV-2006, but still failed to send a clear message to Congress (to BOTH Democrats and Republicans).

Posted by: d.a.n at November 13, 2006 4:11 PM
Comment #194904

Jack,

[Stop Privatization of SS

Bad and retrograde idea. We need to address entitlement spending. The clever and the well off already have private accounts. All the Dems are doing is keeping the poor from taking part in this. ALL members of Congress and ALL Federal employees have access to personal tax deferred savings accounts. Why is it good enough for them and but too risky for other American citizens?]

I got an even better idea, how about we down right just stop borrowing from it, that way we could actually pay back what is owed.

The debt to SS is included in the $8.5 trillion number, it is true, look into it.

As for what would we cut by not borrowing that money, how about welfare aid for those who dont work and are not in school, I say if you don’t pay taxes, you shouldn’t reap the rewards of.

That way if some one wanted to RAPE the welfare they would be forced to get a degree at the same time then would eventually be forced into getting a job on account of the fact the it’s already been made impossible to dodge student loans, not even bankruptcy will get rid of them.

We could also quit giving sex offenders medical, dental, vision, retirement, education, housing and living expenses. Really now, why the heck are these wierdo perverts living better than me, I have been paying my taxes IN FULL my whole life and I still have to go to the free clinic. Seriously.

I also like the idea of flat tax, that in my opinion is the only truely fare tax that is possible, even plausible.

Posted by: Bryan AJ Kennedy at November 13, 2006 6:34 PM
Comment #194906

Check it out, I did the math on flat tax.

This is assuming we halt all borrowing at once and soley support ourselves off income tax and begin a slow, long and painful repaiment of what our debts (all of them).

b/cp=t

b is current TOTAL federal budget for spending
c is the average income per capita
p is the estimated population of the U.S. as of 10-06
t is the flat tax necessary to fulfill all needs

2,700,000,000,000 / 41,399 x 300,000,000 =

.2173965

or roughly 21.75%

and that is with a little extra to the federal gov.

What is the current income tax, does anyone know?

http://www.pgaol.msu.edu/2006_federal_income_tax_rates.html

See now, look at that, this means the average median gets a 3.25% decrease and the gov gets more and every one gets their SS back IN FULL and the Welfare and all the other wonderful wasteful unnecessary expenditures.

Now if you combined that with the afore-mentioned cuts in policy, just picture what kind of tax cuts we could see.

Not to mention an eventual surplus, which could be turned into flat returns!

17% with $18k exemptions, with out sacrifices, could be a long term reality for our great-grand-children!

Posted by: Bryan AJ Kennedy at November 13, 2006 6:53 PM
Comment #194914
Now if you combined that with the afore-mentioned cuts in policy, just picture what kind of tax cuts we could see.

Not to mention an eventual surplus, which could be turned into flat returns!

17% with $18k exemptions, with out sacrifices, could be a long term reality for our great-grand-children!

And while we’re at it, I’d like a pony…

Oh, and Jack, you are self obsessed and greedy. And, you’re right. I have no respect for you.

Posted by: Jeff Seltzer at November 13, 2006 7:59 PM
Comment #194921

Jeff

Good. I think a person should be defined as much by those who do NOT like him. If a person is popular with the wrong sort it is not a good thing.

Posted by: Jack at November 13, 2006 8:50 PM
Comment #194927

Bryan AJ Kennedy,

I think the current average income tax rate (on the ADJUSTED income) is 21%. A 17% flat income tax (on GROSS income; with the low-income-level exemption) would be fair and provide enough revenues with a 6% cut in total federal spending. As inflation increases, the low-income-level exemption would need to increase, but the 17% should be more than enough for any government. If that’s still not enough, then the federal government should cut spending. How about $27 billion per year in pork-barrel, or eliminate some of this waste. Stop plundering Social Security surpluses, and driving up cost debt. Already, interest alone on only the $8.6 trillion National debt (only a portion of the total $22 trillion of federal debt) is about over $1 billion per day! And, do we really need all of this? Government has grown so ridiculously large and out-of-control, it’s time to seriously start looking at cutting the massive waste, duplication, and dead-weight. There is SO much waste, graft, pork-barrel, and corruption, it shouldn’t be hard at all to cut several hundred billion from the budget.

Stephen Daugherty,
I respect your opinions about the flat rate income tax versus a graduated (progressive) tax rate system. We’ve discussed it before, but I still have not heard any convincing reason what a flat rate income tax (with a low-income-level exemption) is not fair. Yes, the wealthy can bear the burdens easier, but does that make it right to make them pay a higher percentage?

For instance … you went to college, made good grades, and worked hard. You have a 4.0 GPA. Your friend partied and barely had a 2.0 GPA. How would you like it if someone took 1.0 of your GPA and gave it to your friend, leaving you both with a GPA of 3.0 ? No, you wouldn’t like it. A flat rate percentage is fair, and we will never get tax reform as long as some want to tax some people at 35%, some at 25%, some at 15%, and some at 5%. The right thing to do is establish the poverty level, exempt all income up to that point, and then tax all income above that at a flat rate. And, get rid of all deductions and loop holes. The tax code should not be perverted with all those other objectives.

The 17% flat income tax rate sounds high, and it is.
Why?
Because of $22 trillion of federal debt ($8.6 trillion National Debt, the $1 billion per day due in interest on the National Debt alone, $12.8 trillion of Social Security debt, $450 billion of Pension Benefit Guaranty debt, and hundreds of billions of unfunded liabilities for Medicare, Medicaid, welfare, and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan).
Perhaps, when the $1 billion per day in interest is reduced significantly, and some of the Social Security debt is repaid, it may allow for lower tax rates?

Posted by: d.a.n at November 13, 2006 10:16 PM
Comment #194934
Jack wrote: Commitment to No New Deficit Spending: Come on. These are Dems we are talking about. No way.
Right. But, how are they different than Repubs? Under which parties has the most debt occurred? That’s why, when it comes right down to it, there really ain’t that much difference between the Democrat and Republican incumbent politicians.
  • Posted by: d.a.n at November 13, 2006 11:01 PM
    Comment #194946

    Jack:
    “I think a person should be defined as much by those who do NOT like him. If a person is popular with the wrong sort it is not a good thing.”

    The “wrong sort”? Well! After this wee smack on the snout, along with all your comments to me in the other thread regarding a proper display of “class,” I’m going to venture a guess that Someone has been watching too much William F. Buckley of late! Or are perhaps the proud owner of brand new Pendelton smoking jacket and ascot? What’s next? A monocle? Tiffany calling card tray for the front drawing room? Do tell. ;^)

    Posted by: Adrienne at November 14, 2006 12:39 AM
    Comment #194954

    Adrienne

    I like you and you will notice have never really given you a hard time personally.

    I was responding directly to Jeff’s remark that indicated the sort of person he was. Some people do not like me, hard as that is to believe. I don’t care as long as they are not armed and near my house.

    BTW - I own a a couple LL Bean shirts. I used to have a pendelton, but the elbows wore out.

    Posted by: Jack at November 14, 2006 2:25 AM
    Comment #194969

    And it seems to me Jeff’s remark was over the line too.

    Posted by: d.a.n at November 14, 2006 9:09 AM
    Comment #194985

    Jack, I was only trying to make you laugh. If I didn’t like you, why would I bother? One needn’t always agree with someone to like them.
    I also have to admit that phrases like “the wrong sort” bring me back to my childhood growing up in a town full of old money brahmin types. In that town I happened to be the “wrong sort” — due to the fact that we were only middle class and my grandparents were proud and canny immigrants who didn’t take to being looked down upon by Anyone. In fact, folks like us delighted in challenging their assumed superiority — because it was often only a thin surface layer disguising all kinds of serious character flaws.
    Anyway, while Jeff’s last remark to you may have gone a bit too far, he did debate you intelligently in this thread, and I agreed with much of what he said.

    Posted by: Adrienne at November 14, 2006 11:12 AM
    Comment #194990

    Adrienne

    I know.

    Posted by: jack at November 14, 2006 11:44 AM
    Comment #195140

    Yes, it’s time the Republicans went back to throwing stones at the grownups trying to get things done. It’s what they do best. Your little diatribe at the top of this column is a perfect example. School-yard taunting is not a way to run a country, but if it pleases you, by all means, feel free. It is a free country (now). Democrats won’t call you a traitor, or godless, or make fun of your physical infirmities.

    Posted by: Mental Wimp at November 15, 2006 10:26 AM
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