Thursday, January 04, 2018

Ryan’s Goal To Eviscerate And Discard Medicare Is Closer Than Anyone Thinks


Before Bruce Barlett served in George H.W. Bush’s Treasury Department, he was a Reagan economics advisor and before that he worked as an advisor to Ron Paul. He labored away as a tax specialist for the Heritage Foundation. Since then he’s quit the Republican Party and is now an independent, although, he likes to say, an independent Reaganite. A few days ago David Sirota, writing for the International Business Times, interviewed Bartlett for a podcast on what the repercussions of the Ryan-Trump Tax Scam are likely to be, particularly in terms of Ryan’s goal to destroy the social safety net and end Medicare. Bartlett’s point was that the Scam was designed “not only to deliver big tax cuts to the wealthy, but also to create large budget deficits to manufacture the budget conditions that will justify cutting larger social programs… [T]his is the culmination,” he warned, “of everything the right has been trying to do, literally, for decades. I would compare it to, in terms of the right, to the Great Society, in terms of liberalism. It is they have been talking about these things for a long time, and finally had the votes and presidential leadership that they needed to accomplish what they wanted to accomplish. And of course, one could characterize the right’s agenda, since that day, as trying to undo all of that.” He sounds like he’s been following Stephanie Kelton’s economics work, doesn’t he? He sees the tax bill as a deliberate step to create more debt, which can then be used as a justification to cut major social programs.
The right, a long time ago, figured out that they couldn't assault the welfare state head on. It was too strong. So they've assaulted it through a back door, which is to systematically and consistently drain the government of revenues, and force, even Democratic presidents, such as Obama and Clinton, to do a lot of their dirty work for them by cutting spending, and holding back on new initiatives that are, in many cases, badly needed, and they're simply continuing. The problem is, I think they've gone past the point of sanity. They're simply doing things now that don't even make sense.

…Many Republican presidents were willing to raise taxes if necessary to reduce the deficit. And Proposition 13 changed their philosophy because they could see that there was very large support from the general public for just slashing taxes and not giving a damn about spending. In fact, the authors of Proposition 13, [Howard] Jarvis and [Paul] Gann, said, "Cutting spending's not our problem. We just want taxes cut. If you care about spending, if you care about government, you fix it."

Immediately after that, Republicans glommed on to the idea that we should just cut taxes anytime, anywhere, anyway. And of course, Milton Friedman and other Republican economists agreed with them on that philosophy, but there was still a problem that some reputable Republican economists, such as Herb Stein and Alan Greenspan, had reservations about cutting taxes, increasing the deficit intentionally, at a time when inflation was high. This was one of the main reasons why they thought spending needed to be cut when you cut taxes because the deficit was inflationary.

They rationalized their party’s movement towards rampant tax cutting by inventing this idea that I call starve the beast… When the deficit gets really, really big, then even Democrats have to join in cutting spending to reduce the deficit because of course, Republicans will never support a tax increase.

The last [Republican] president to who supported a tax increase was George H.W. Bush, and his own party destroyed him and intentionally sought to have him defeated in 1992 for that sin. I think this was a very intentional and deliberate strategy on the part of Grover Norquist and Newt Gingrich, in order to purge the last of the responsible Republicans from the party and get total control by what are essentially nihilists.

…Ronald Reagan himself, reversed course on the tax cut almost immediately in 1982, he supported the tax equity and fiscal responsibility act, which was the largest peacetime tax increase in American history. He supported a very large tax increase for social security in 1983, and lesser tax increases almost every other year of his presidency. By the end of his presidency, he had raised taxes by about half the amount that he cut taxes, you see.

So he took back about 50 percent of the 1981 tax cut, and it was half the size, in terms of its impact on the deficit and revenues, as it was when it was first enacted. I think this was an act of responsibility and courage, and leadership. Most Republicans today, either don't know about it, or just pretend it never happened.

…[B]ecause of gerrymandering, and the enormous money advantage that Republicans have, it will be extraordinarily difficult for Democrats to even get control of the House next year, and the Senate looks out of reach.

And even if they got control of both, Trump would veto anything, or Pence if that is the case, will veto any effort to raise taxes, and even after 2020, when maybe they'll be a Democratic president, it's highly unlikely that he will have enough, or she, enough votes to really do much except around the edges.

My point is, that they have put fiscal policy to a very large extent, on automatic pilot for many, many years to come, and I think Republicans think long term, in the sense that we're willing to take one step backwards in order to be able to take two steps forward. I think anything Democrats do to fix the fiscal mess, to cut spending, or raise taxes, will be very, very unpopular and help put Republicans back in power. And anything Democrats do to restore a fiscal responsibility, to reduce the deficit, is like putting money into a savings account that Republicans will then use to cut taxes again when they get back in power.

Really, the Clinton years is the perfect example of this. Clinton, to his great credit, had the courage to raise taxes, this led to budget surpluses, which Bush and his party then completely disappointed into ... Completely, economically worthless tax cuts that helped starve the beast and make Obama's life very difficult once he took office.

They know this history. They know that Clinton's 1993 tax increase, led almost directly to the Republican takeover of Congress in 1994. They're thinking, "Fine. Let's have a Democratic Congress and Democratic President in 2021 who will pass big tax increases, and spending cuts, and get the budget under control. We will take control again in 2022 and 2024, and we'll start all over again." Cutting taxes, and doing everything that they're doing right now.
Goal ThermometerDavid Gill, an emergency room doctor and stalwart progressive for decades, is running for the central Illinois congressional seat held by Republican rubber stamp Rodney Davis. The ultimate goal of Ryan’s tax scam didn't take him by surprise. “My Republican opponent, Rodney Davis, has been fully supportive of the GOP tax scam,” he reminded us. “And given that he has long been complaining about the federal deficit, it’s obvious that he is poised to be a full participant in the painful budget cuts to come. With his scandalous vote on healthcare reform this past spring, he made it very plain that he cares little about our social safety net or the well-being of the citizens of IL-13. As an emergency room physician, I bear daily witness to the impact of our shredded safety net, and watching disaster after disaster has long moved me to demand that the millionaires and the billionaires pay their fair share at long last. I have been advocating for a single-payer healthcare system for 25 years, and I look forward to taking Mr. Davis’s seat and helping to lead the charge toward such a system.”

Another midwest progressive Democrat from a district in which Trump beat Hillary, Iowa’s Austin Frerick, has a similar perspective. This morning he told us that he’s “getting really tired of being lectured by CEOs of large corporations and their crony David Young who wants to cut Social Security and Medicare benefits in exchange for tax breaks. It is time to expand Social Security and enact Medicare-for-all, not cut them."

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At 7:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What you fail to mention is that the democrap leadershit and machine ALSO is averse to increasing taxes on the rich and on other transactions (like securities trades) because they take money from billionaires and finance too. If they raise taxes it will be on the 99%... but maybe medicare won't die until after the democraps are voted out again (for good reason, no doubt, like 2010).

so you see, the voters don't know or care; the democraps are against it; the fascists are designing it.

Sounds like 3 strikes to me.

At 8:39 PM, Blogger Robert said...

When your Congressperson starts whining about deficits, tell them to take it up with your Congressperson, who promised the tax cuts would pay for themselves. If they continue still whine about deficits, (besides telling them to go fuck themselves with a rusty saw) tell them to triple he corporate tax rates if it's such a big problem for them.

At 5:25 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Robert, while doing as you advise would make a sane person feel a bit better, it wouldn't help.

After 37 years of undertaxing and BORROWING to enrich the rich, the best solution would be to raise taxes ONLY on the rich back to JFK levels AND taxing wealth.

If you look at the amounts that have been undertaxed, it pretty much mirrors the increases in the market caps of corporations. Nearly all the untaxed and borrowed MONEY has gone into the portfolios of the rich and corporations who, instead of creating more supply in hopes of a demand, have simply been buying ownership stakes in corporations which pushes up the prices of stocks (and funds who invest in stocks, derivitives on those issues and derivitives on those derivitives... etc).

You want to know why the stock indices have been climbing since last January? It's been the anticipation of the tax bill just signed which will put 200 billion per year more into the pockets of the rich who will buy more stocks, options, mutual funds and so on to pad their already obscene portfolios. Nobody is going to hire anyone they weren't already going to hire. Nobody is going to make more stuff to sell than they were already going to make. The 99.9%ers aren't going to have enough excess to buy another cell phone or car (mfg'd in asia). They may take the family out for an extra dinner or two.

Most congresspersons know this because they are paid by the billionaires.
Most americans are far too ignorant and stupid to understand any of this.

At 9:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's not just close, it's inevitable. It will happen.


Neither party will strive to keep it.
The voters won't demand it be kept and they've never punished those who have long wanted to kill it.
Everyone but the elderly seem to want the elderly to die early lest they cost a lot to keep alive.
Even the elderly don't vote like they really give a flying fuck.

It's only a matter of time. And the time is probably very near. Like within 3 years.


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