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Samizdata quote of the day

So the cure for the looming ‘fiscal cliff’ will be – surprise! massive income tax increases (expiration of the “Bush tax cuts”) plus significant additional income taxes) and no cuts in spending what-so-ever.

Oh, sure, they’ll eliminate the mohair price support program, and close a post office or two – reducing spending by 0.00000126% – and this will be presented as brutal, inhumane cuts to the very fabric of our society. But the Federal juggernaut will continue unabated.

- Commenter llamas (oopse, sorry)

28 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • James

    Conservatives and libertarians sure know how to do a good autopsy.

  • llamas

    It is my honour to have my words attributed to Laird. No, seriously.

    llater,

    llamas

  • llamas

    I was sitting at the firehouse last evening, with the usual suspects, coppers and firemen, some full-time but mostly volunteers.

    And one of the volunteer firemen piped up (during the inevitable debate about what will happen about the fiscal cliff)

    ‘You don’t understand. This election has confirmed us – average working stiffs, 401k, trying to save for college for our kids and put something by for our old age – as the new kulaks. We are to be made to pay for others – for their moral failings, for their fiscal failings, for their poor life choices, for their unmet desires – and we are going to be made to pay to the same extent that Stalin made the original kulaks pay. We will be demonised as racists, as wreckers-and-hoarders, as whatever epithet is required to demonise us in the eyes of Democratic voters, and we will be tapped, socially and financially, to whatever extent the new permanent Democratic ruling class deems necessary to secure their power and assuage their voting base. And this will continue to the point where there’s just no more to take.

    They’re coming after your 401k, after your college savings plan, after your savings account, and they will either tax it or take it until there’s nothing left.

    What we are seeing (he said) is nothing more or less than the history of the USSR, repeating itself.’

    It’s actually quite an erudite bunch, down at the firehouse.

    Myself, I think he’s a little extreme – but he’s got a point.

    llater,

    llamas

  • AKM

    He might be right; but the process will be slow and understated and undramatic and as uninteresting as possible so as few as people as possible complain. The “kulaks” won’t be rounded up at gunpoint and forced to hand anything over; it will just be a small increase in taxation here or there, nothing that any reasonable, moderate person could disagree with. They know full well you have nowhere else to go; all they have to do is turn up the heat slowly enough to avoid scaring the horses.

  • Llamas, one wonders how the cops — part of the group that’s gorging themselves on our taxes — responded.

  • llamas

    The Republican softening has already started:

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2230237/Finally-giving-Boehner-says-Obamacare-law-land.html

    Let me translate – the Republican speaker of the US House just said that he will not resist a measure which (by CBO estimates) will increase the average annual cost of healthcare for every US household by $2600, in order to fund Obamacare. (When I say ‘every household’, of course what I really mean is ‘except those households which will gets grants, credits or exemptions from the increased costs, ie Democratic-voting households’).

    Furthermore, he will not resist a measure which reduces Medicare reimbursements by $716 billion over 10 years, in order to fund Obamacare. Those reduced reimbursements will have to be made up somehow – by increased premiums, by increased OOP payments, or by reduced services. In other words, either out of the pockets, or out of the health, of taxpayers.

    (By the way – I will bet good cash money that the $716 billion transfer will be negated as part of the coming ‘deal’ – because it would negatively impact core Democratic voters – and it will instead be replaced by increased taxes and/or FICA rates, and this will be presented as ‘fairness’ and ‘saving and strengthening Medicare’. In other words, the Democrats will walk back the promises they had to make to pass Obamacare, and replace the money with higher taxes – and the Republicans will let them).

    So the taxing has begun, just as AKM suggested – in small steps, and not even by the creation or imposition of a new tax, but simply by ending resistance to it – by the Republican leadership.

    We are so screwed.

    llater,

    llamas

  • Laird

    Apparently I logged on too late to have the pleasure of seeing llama’s words misattributed to me. Pity. It’s no small honor to be confused for him.

    But good as the quoted portion was, I think a later paragraph in that same post is more important:

    The Democrats have secured a reliable base of support by crafting a coalition perhaps unique in the annals of democracy – a combination of the poorest 47% and the richest 1% in our society, plus a small %age of highly-specific single-issue voters (all Federal welfare recipients) such as farmers, all aligned against the middle. Their support is so reliable because Democratic policies have been carefully crafted so as not to have any meaningful impact on these voters at all.

    It’s the same point that I made elsewhere: the Republicans (let alone small government types, which by no means includes all Republicans) have zero hope of capturing the presidency for the foreseeable future. So for those of us with no reasonable hope of becoming a member of the 1% the most rational strategy is to become a member of the 47%. Either that or become resigned to being nothing more than a milk cow.

  • Russ in Texas

    What’s unique about Pericles? Rich men leading mobs of the ignorant in favor of bread, circuses, and redistributing from the not-quite-so-rich-and-middle is hardly something new in human history.

  • Gene

    llamas, it’s no great failing for Boehner to say that about Obamacare. What can he do? The law is the law and it’s hard to see any road to repeal. The strategy from now on has to be to make sure Americans understand how badly the law will hurt so many of them.

  • The Wobbly Guy

    There was some mention online of giving the Dems everything they ever wanted. After all, if they increase taxes on the rich, presumably since the rich are a core Obama constituency, they will suffer and a schism will result.

    Unfortunately, this fails to account for the lawyers and loopholes available to the rich to fend off the IRS.

  • Jerry

    It may be slow for a while, but the day China decides not to buy T-bills, the pace will pick up dramatically. Get out of debt and start buying the TBT ETF.

  • phwest

    I think what is particularly decisive on this is what happened to the Republicans in the Senate. In a year where 10 R and 23 D seats were at stake, the Ds gained 2 seats. Even beyond the stupidity of Akin and Murdoch – perfectly sane candidates lost solid red states like Montana and North Dakota.

    Speaking as someone who absolutely believes that the wave of regulations about to come out of the Obama administration will on its own be able to bring this economy to a dead stop, now is the time to give Obama all the rope he needs to hang himself. (What the EPA is doing is much more likely to do permanent damage to the US economy than any fiddling with the tax code, but for some reason most people are completely blind to the kind of destruction that regulation brings – see the CPSIA). You want higher taxes on top of all that? Well, we think that’s a mistake, but hey, you’re the President.

    The only other real option Bohner has is shutting down the government a la Gingrich and forcing a constitutional crisis. That will fail – he’ll be blamed for starting it, and based on everything I’ve seen from this Administration Obama will keep issuing bonds and having the Fed buy them whether he has Congressional approval or not. He can’t actually pass anything denying Obama the authority, so Obama will just operate as if the last passed authorizations continue forever.

    So save your political capital for the fights where Obama needs you to actually pass something. Obama wants to preside over a repeat of 1937? Let him. There are too many people in this country who do not understand that government is a drag on the economy. Like magic the machine will continue to work even after half the parts have been smashed.

    The key is going to be giving him no excuses in the aftermath. Drag the administration in front of Congress and make them defend everything, on the record, over and over again. During the FDR-era the Republicans never had control of the House to use as a platform to push back. Unlike Perry, I’d rather not have gone down this road. In a crisis, things can go a lot of different ways, and history suggests despotism is at the end of a lot of them. But there’s no dodging one now. So get on with it while you still have a tool available to fight back with in the aftermath.

  • llamas

    The Democrats don’t want to tax the truly rich because a) it wouldn’t solve the problem and b) they need the truly rich – to support them!

    The truly ‘rich’ generally pay very little (proportionately) in income taxes. As noted, they are generally able to structure their affairs so that they actually earn very little taxable income. Cf Mitt Romney.

    There are very few of those people – a couple of hundred thousand, maybe. There’s not much point in going after their wealth, because even if you took every dime they had, it wouldn’t pay the bills for more than a few months. But, more-to-the-point, their wealth is needed – to support the Democrats!

    No, to make the sort of revenue that’s required to support the current and projected levels of spending (primarily, the entitlements) they will have to come after everybody in the 40% of the population that’s still left funding the system. When the credit card is tapped out – when the Chinese just won’t lend us any more – then all those people are going to be made to pay the bills to keep the Democrats in power. That’s the Democrats’ new definition of “rich” – it’s ‘anyone who actually pays income taxes now.’

    They could make an immediate and huge hole in the deficit simply by lowering the income tax threshold to admit just a few % more of the population to the joys of paying income taxes, and by doing away with the truly-evil EITC. And they will never, ever do it. The minute a person goes from paying no income taxes whatever to paying any – no matter how little – is the moment that that potential voter is a risk for actually beginning to vote on his taxes. And we can’t have that. A voter who pays no income tax will always vote to maintain that status quo – if he votes at all. And the Democrats have managed to expand the non-tax-paying portion of the electorate to be large enough to always outvote the tax-paying portion.

    There’s only one way this can end. When they have already committed to spend more than the value of all the money in the world, even the 40% is only going to be able to carry the load for so long, until they, too, are tapped out. And then – when it’s all spent, when it’s all been thrown away, and there just isn’t any more money, and there isn’t any more middle class to tax – what then?

    Won’t be pretty.

    llater,

    llamas

  • Paul Marks

    A good post.

    And even Fox Business presents this desire for a tax increase as “Obama getting serious about deficit reduction”.

    And (as llamas) says above it is not even a tax increase on people who are paying little or nothing to the Federal government (like the sales tax increase in California – insane but at least everyone pays).

    No – Obama is specifically targeting his tax increase on the most productive, on small business owners and so on.

    This is the sort of tax increase that even the people of California voted AGAINST on Tuesday.

    Oh yes there was a proposal on the ballot.

    The sales tax increase passed – but the “tax the rich more” thing was defeated (and defeated by a vast margin).

    I am sorry but this can not be an accident – it really can not.

    Even some street gang member on welfare in L.A. knows that more “taxes on the rich” will make the economy WORSE (not better) and increase the deficit (not reduce it). That is why this thing was voted down in California (although the sales tax increase is quite bad enough).

    And I am expected to believe that Barack Obama does not know this?

    Of course he knows.

    This is deliberate.

    A Cloward and Piven effort to destroy the United States – and the West in general.

  • Maybe this time the Dems will clear up something that was left unanswered from last year’s budget set-to…If default is the end of the world, why is raising taxes worse?

  • cutting taxes, I should say. Got a sinus headache, sorry…

  • Russ in Texas

    phWest: the Republicans did that to themselves. Throwing Paul and Johnson under the bus cost them at minimum one senate seat in Montana. Wrote my own blog post about that the Republicans’ imminent demise myself, but don’t want to get smited for posting it here. Point blank, the Republican Party intentionally pissed away anywhere from 10-15% of its potential voters. Obama didn’t *need* to be any good, faced with an opponent THAT smart.

  • hennesli

    Well, I am one of those libertarians who is glad Obama won over Romney. I think Kevin Carson sums up my feelings:

    I find an Obama victory considerably less horrifying than a Romney victory. The creeping authoritarianism of the security state and the broad outlines of the corporate state alliance would likely have remained the same either way. But the Brownshirts-in-Weimar-Germany cultural vibes of the GOP irregular wing scares the living bejeezus out of me. And Romney strikes me as the worst pathological liar and sociopath I’ve seen on a major party ticket in my lifetime.

  • Thomas

    As of 11/08/2012 National Public Radio is now using the phrase ‘fiscal cliff’. They uttered it again this morning. Of course they do this only as a prelude to demanding tax hikes, but an admission of reality from these tools is refreshing.

    Republicans can win back the Senate in 2014 the same way they won it in 1994. Compose a specific set of pledges to the taxpayers (I will suggest ‘shut down the depts of Education and Energy and the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms’ for starters), get all candidates to sign on, and make that your platform, and hammer it day after day. Mr Newt did this in 94 — it was called the Contract with America — and it worked perfectly.

  • Julie near Chicago

    If I hadn’t seen Paul M’s objection to Kevin Carson before –

    I sure would now!!!! (Final sentence especially.)

    No point even getting upset about it. A tinfoil hat on a tinfoil hat, what else is new.

  • Allan Ripley

    re: laird at 3:08. What is interesting to me is that the ones who relected the current statist god would be in the very class who will pay the most. The underclass don’t vote unless they are paid (in cash, services are in the future which is meaningless to them) and the very rich are too small a group, vote-wise, to matter. It was the middle class that did the job.

    Boy, are they going to be surprised. Again.

  • James Waterton

    Why not just go over the fiscal cliff? Yes, catastrophic economic shock, yadda yadda yadda. You think the politicians’ pathetic piecemeal efforts at deficit reduction – which will be continuously postponed come some super duper non-crisis which needs trillions of urgent federal funds – will ever come to much? And when the money finally runs out, and there’s no one around to lend any more…catastrophic economic shock, much?

    Obama said the Americans need to eat their peas. So let’s eat ‘em, soon, and stop pissing about.

  • Saxon

    “phwest at November 9, 2012 06:26 PM”

    perfectly captured it.

    Why should Boehner say anything else? obamacare is the law of the land, and the House can’t do anything about it.

    As to Kevin Carson – i don’t know who that is, but sure sounds like a jerk & an idiot.

  • Steven

    Elections have consequences.

  • Paul Marks

    Julie.

    Yes indeed.

  • Paul Marks

    I repeat.

    Most rich people in the United States (including the very rich – the billionaires) pay very high taxes already.

    Barack Obama (and so on) wish them to pay even higher taxes – by closing “loopholes” and so on.

    We must not fall for the B.S. about the “1%”.

    By the way – it was the same in Athens. The very rich did get plundered – it was not just the lower down rich.

  • llamas

    @ Paul Marks, regarding

    “Most rich people in the United States (including the very rich – the billionaires) pay very high taxes already.”

    While this is a true statement as it stands, it is a little misleading when the subject at hand is concerned primarily with income taxes. Much of the tax paid by the rich/very rich in the US is other than normal income taxes.

    I think a truer statement for this discussion might be “Most higher-income people in the US pay high income taxes already.” The US famously has an extraordinarily-progressive income tax system.

    The lowest-earning 50% of the population pays 2.25% of the total Federal income tax revenue.

    These people (about 70 million of them) earn about 13% of the total AGI but pay only 2.25% of the taxes.

    But the highest-earning 5% of the population, which means everybody with an AGI of ~$156,000
    or more, pays almost 60% of the total Federal income tax revenue.

    These people (about 7 million of them) earn about 35% of the total AGI, but pay about 60% of the taxes.

    The richest pay at 2x the rate proportional to their share of AGI. The poorest pay at 1/5 the rate.

    Yet the president and the Democrats want you to believe that the “unfairness” lies in the fact that the richest don’t pay – even more.

    llater,

    llamas

  • Paul Marks

    llamas – interesting the people do not seem to agree with the Marxists (oh sorry – the Progressives).

    Even in California the voters overwhelmingly voted AGAINST an increase in taxation on the rich.

    Almost needless to say the Economist magazine gloatingly reported that Californians had “approved a tax increase” (the “free market” Economist magazine loves tax increases) but failed to report that it was the increase in Sales Tax that had passed – the increase in the Progressive Income Tax was overwhelmingly rejected. On the same day and by the same voters.

    It seems that ordinary people, even in California, are lot less in favour of class war than the political elite are.