Lawrence O’Donnell is giving me a break today and providing me with a chance to speak favorably of a liberal. Believe me, that is what I actually prefer to do.
His “Last Word” last night included a segment discussing Paul Ryan’s budget proposal for 2012 and beyond with somebody whose name I can’t recall. Both O’Donnell and his guest were entirely objective and balanced in their discussion of this nightmare of a proposal, and they had plenty of opportunity to go off the rails about it. This thing is an absolute horror.
One minor point with which I would take issue. O’Donnell said that proposing the idea was “courageous but stupid,” while I would suggest it was merely stupid. If the proposal had included cuts in defense spending then I might have agreed with the “courageous” part. His proposal does not address Social Security, which is in its favor since that program is not part of the federal budget; but I suspect that actually has more to do with the “this is not courageous” aspect of the proposal.
Ryan’s proposal does not address defense spending, which renders it unacceptable to me without further consideration. It includes privatizing Medicare, essentially eliminating Medicaid by simply issuing block grants to states and letting each state run its own program, and cutting “discretionary spending” back to “historic levels.”
Yes, don’t we all want to go back to the “good old days.” Not.
He also proposes to close tax loopholes which, on the face of it, would raise revenue; except that in return for doing that he wants to cut the top rate for both corporations and individuals to 25%. Sigh.
This is where O’Donnell and I tend to agree, but where I wish he would use different language. He wants to “raise taxes on the rich,” and I just dislike the stoking of class warfare. I think “our tax code should be more progressive.” We’re saying the same thing, although while he says that “those who can afford more should pay more,” I tend to phrase it “those who have benefited most from our framework of freedom should pay more.”
O’Donnell has suggested that our tax code, with all of its exceptions and deductions, be simplified and the rates be left exactly where they are, which would raise revenue and be more fair to boot, and I agree entirely with that. He has in the past suggested that we need a couple of new brackets. The highest bracket now is $373,651, above which the tax rate is 35%. He suggests that above, perhaps, $1 million one might pay 50% and perhaps above $10 million one might pay 70%. I happen to think that idea is highly progressive and is an excellent proposal.
Full disclosure, my income is below the current 28% bracket.