Thursday, January 10, 2013

George "Grandpa Simpson" Will Wants a Balanced Budget Amendment

Mind you, he doesn't actually try to make a case for a balanced budget amendment, but he does display a fascinating disconnect between his political views and the facts. First up, an angry rant about how the Democrats did not raise taxes enough:
Liberals could have had a revenue increase of $3.7 trillion over 10 years. Instead, they surrendered nearly $3.1 trillion of that. They cannot have repeated bites at this apple.... And because tax reform is dead for the foreseeable future, so are hopes for a revenue surge produced by vigorous economic growth....

By rescuing almost everyone from the restoration of Clinton-era rates, liberals abandoned any pretense of paying for their program of ever- expanding entitlements. Instead, they made trillion-dollar deficits their program.
Were Will interested in facts, he might note that the Republican Party opposed the tax increases that the Democrats proposed, which is to say that if Will is going to complain that Congress hasn't raised enough taxes on enough people he's directing his temper tantrum at the wrong party. As for the conceit that we might have had some sort of larger discussion of "tax reform" but now we can't, due to a modest tax increase on the wealthy, perhaps he can direct us to where that negotiation was occurring - or where we can find anything approximating a serious Republican "tax reform" proposal - and explain why the odds of progress on these confabulated tax reform negotiations and proposals are less likely to bear fruit today than they were two weeks ago.
Because 82 percent of American earners pay more in payroll taxes than income taxes, no politically conceivable or economically feasible middle-class tax rate can fund the entitlement state.
So... because we fund Social Security retirement, SSDI and Medicare through FICA, the fact that pretty much every working person pays FICA taxes.... Um, non sequitur, much? When programs are funded through dedicated taxes, one might think that the proper approach to addressing funding issues would be to examine the dedicated taxes, not go off on a rant about how other taxes should be higher.
People who choose to live in places vulnerable to flooding believe it would be unfair that the cost of their property insurance fully reflect this risk. So government subsidizes their insurance, and hence their decision to live where there is increased risk of property damage that, when it happens, the government helps pay to rebuild.
Stop me if you've heard this one before: What do you call a wealthy person who carries government subsidized flood insurance on his waterfront mansion, one of several homes he owns, and then after a hurricane sues his insurance company because despite the subsidy he chose not to carry adequate subsidized flood insurance to replace his home and contends that the damage was caused by the wind? No peeking.

Will also carries on about one of his pet fixations, Amtrak, complaining that it loses money on food service. Alrighty....

Absent from Will's rant is any argument that a balanced budget amendment would be good policy for the nation, how it might be structured, or even whether his party would support it. If Will had a bit more perspective, he should realize that his own rant effectively answered that question - When they are in control, Republicans are the party of "Deficits don't matter". They're the party that implemented the temporary tax cuts that Will apparently wishes would have expired in toto, and they are the party that prevented the expiration from reaching a slightly larger number of taxpayers.

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