Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Tax Cuts, Tax Cuts, Tax Cuts

Obama gave the American people what they wanted... fantasy and pie in the sky. He gloried in delivering tax cuts, tax cuts, tax cuts. From the State of the Union speech:
Let me repeat: we cut taxes. We cut taxes for 95% of working families. We cut taxes for small businesses. We cut taxes for first-time homebuyers. We cut taxes for parents trying to care for their children. We cut taxes for 8 million Americans paying for college. As a result, millions of Americans had more to spend on gas, and food, and other necessities, all of which helped businesses keep more workers. And we haven't raised income taxes by a single dime on a single person. Not a single dime.
This is sadly funny.
  • The United States is one of the least taxed developed countries in the world, yet all that the citizens want is still more tax cuts.

  • The United States has a huge deficit and a big tax burden, and rather than acknowledge that it will require raising taxes to fix the problem, the President only talks about tax cuts, tax cuts, and more tax cuts. (It would be bad to raise taxes right now because that would cut spending, but an honest President would tell Americans that the unsupportable tax cuts of George Bush have to be brought to an end when the economy recovers. But Obama didn't do that.)

  • Taxes are the cost of civilization. You cannot have public services unless you pay for them. (Oh sure, you can borrow from the average Chinese who makes one-tenth what you do, but that Chinese citizen will one day want his money back with interest. So the free ride will end, sooner rather than later. But Obama didn't want to tell the American people this.)
A President that I admired said "ask not what your country can do for you -- ask what you can do for your country". But that was 50 years ago. For thirty years all that Americans have been told is "demand lower taxes" and "shrink government" and they wonder why public spaces have become squalid, public health is sinking like a stone, and educational achievement in the US is plummeting.

You can't eat pie in the sky, but the politicians keep promising more and better pie in the sky.

Update 2001jan28: James Fallows provides a transcript of Obama's speech along with his comments. He is much warmer in his regard for Obama than I am, so he is a good dose of "alternative viewpoint" to look at. The fun thing about Fallows' version is that he has annotated it. Since he was a presidential speech writer, it is fun to see what he thinks of the rhetoric and how the speech was crafted. He gives you links to pop up his analysis. Give it a try!

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