Thursday, November 11, 2010

Class Warfare in the US

Here is a post by Paul Krugman in his NY Time blog. It focuses on the news that Obama's "deficit commission" has come out with recommendations to cut, and cut, and cut spending (oh, and of course to "cut taxes", you can't do anything political in the US if you don't "sweeten" it with a tax cut)...
OK, let’s say goodbye to the deficit commission. If you’re sincerely worried about the US fiscal future — and there’s good reason to be — you don’t propose a plan that involves large cuts in income taxes. Even if those cuts are offset by supposed elimination of tax breaks elsewhere, balancing the budget is hard enough without giving out a lot of goodies — goodies that fairly obviously, even without having the details, would go largely to the very affluent.

I mean, what’s this about? There is no — zero — evidence that income taxes at current rates are an important drag on growth.

Oh, and they’re talking about raising the retirement age, because people live longer — except that the people who really depend on Social Security, those in the bottom half of the distribution, aren’t living much longer. So you’re going to tell janitors to work until they’re 70 because lawyers are living longer than ever.

Still, I guess this is what it takes to get compromise, if by compromise you mean something the center-right and the hard right can agree on.

Update: It’s here. And it really is that bad. The idea that co-chairs of a commission whose charge is fiscal sustainability should take it upon themselves to (a) declare that federal revenue must not exceed 21 percent of GDP — that’s right, putting a cap on receipts and (b) call for reducing the top rate from 35 to 23 is just awesome.
There's more detail on the divergence between rich and poor lifespans in this post by Krugman:
I’ve referenced this before, but here’s the Social Security Administration study. Look at Table 4: since 1977, the life expectancy of male workers retiring at age 65 has risen 6 years in the top half of the income distribution, but only 1.3 years in the bottom half.
Read the original posts to get the embedded links.

It is so easy for a guy working behind a desk, affluent, seeing his life expectancy grow and grow to decide for the poor hardworking slob who finds his body is falling apart in his late 50s, hoping to make it to 65 to retire, to tell that guy 'no worry' we will just move your retirement out to 69 so that we can ease the deficit (and allow tax cuts for billionaires).

The political system in the US is absolutely wonky. And the voters proved this yet again in the recent mid-term Congressional elections where they voted in more crazy Republicans. You know, the guys who bow-and-scrape as liveried servants of their billionaire overlords. The guys who get purple in the face about the absolute "need" for tax cuts for billionaires, necessary to keep their incentives up, because everybody knows that the billionaires are looking for the slightest provocation to fold their tents and refuse to work because their compensation is just disgustingly inadequate for the lifestyles to which they aspire.

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