Monday, September 12, 2011

The New Trend in American Politics

Mark Thomas has a post on his Economist's View blog discussing the new trend in American politics:
The CBPP notices what may be a new trend:
Yet another state has proposed raising taxes on low-income residents to pay for new corporate tax breaks. Leading lawmakers in Missouri want to eliminate a property tax credit for low- and moderate-income seniors and people with disabilities in order to help finance new tax credits for businesses.

Sadly, swaps like this are increasingly common; both Michigan and Wisconsin have cut low-income programs this year to pay for business tax breaks.

The Missouri proposal, which the legislature will consider in a special session that begins today, would make renters ineligible for the state’s property tax “circuitbreaker” credit. Landlords generally pass along a large share of their property taxes to tenants in the form of higher rents; the circuitbreaker credit helps offset those higher rents for more than 100,000 low-income and disabled Missouri residents. ... Some 29 states offer property tax circuitbreakers or similar programs.

Killing this tax credit would raise taxes on some of Missouri’s most vulnerable residents by up to $750 a year. It would also hurt local retailers and other businesses, since low-income people are among those most likely to spend every dollar they have. That’s not a smart deal for Missouri.
It used to be that policymakers would try to shift income from higher to lower income individuals based upon the idea that the lower savings rate at lower incomes would stimulate demand (i.e. the MPC is higher at lower incomes, so transferring income in this way increases consumption). That is a demand-side argument.


The supply-side, trickle down argument from the GOP goes beyond the rich:
...Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) told CNN yesterday that he’s visited with a lot of business people lately, and he’s learned they’re “actually afraid to hire people” because they’re “afraid of what the government will do to them.”

That’s awfully dumb — when Republicans find evidence of government punishing employers for hiring workers, they should let everyone know — but it was the next part of the interview that really stood out.
“I have talked to a lot of businesses in South Carolina who can’t get employees to come back to work because they are getting unemployment and they’re getting food stamps and they say, ‘Call me when unemployment runs out.’ […]

“There are a lot of people who desperately need it and we need to make sure that we have that safety net in place, but we also have to realize there are a lot of people gaming the system right now.”
I’m not sure which of DeMint’s talking points were supposed to believe — are employers afraid to hire or are they struggling with lazy people who won’t apply for openings? — but the rhetoric is a reminder that Republicans just don’t seem to like the unemployed.

In DeMint’s mind, the jobless are living it up on meager unemployed benefits, and don’t want to seek gainful employment.
Thus, instead of arguing that giving money to the unemployed helps to stimulate demand, and thereby boost sales and employment, the supply-sider's argument is that it makes the unemployed lazy. So we should take away all of that money and give it to the rich who, of course, deserve and earn every penny they get and will run out and invest it in new business ventures no matter how depressed the economy might be. It has nothing to do with the incentive to do what's best for the rich and powerful, it's what's best for the people whose programs get cut to fund these tax cuts for wealthy indiviuals and businesses.
Go read the original post to get the embedded links.

Mark Thoma has made the right wing politics of the US utterly clear. No more progressive taxes. No breaks for the guy on the bottom. The guy on the bottom will be taxed and taxed so more tax cuts can be engineering for the fat cats on top. Oh... and the politicians are getting more ridiculous in the "blame the victim" game by claiming that the unemployed are refusing to work because they are addicted to the "easy money" from unemployment. I guess those huge lines of tens of thousands showing up at the Black Caucus jobs fairs around the US weren't serious about finding a job. They went and stood in the hot summer sun for long hours just to get their jollies. That's the story of the right wing politicos.

What a mean-spirited, vicious country the US has become under the right wing. And the amazing thing is that the real heart of the Republican party are those evangelicals, the Bible-thumping Christians who apparently haven't opened their holy books to find what Jesus said about the poor (love them, give to them) and the rich (it is easier for a camel to get through the eye of a needle than a rich man to get into heaven). It is pretty clear to me that as the role of religion has grown in the right wing politics in the US, the right has gotten more mean-spirited and vicious in their treatment of the poor, the disadvantaged, the sick, etc. What a sad, sad state of affairs.

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