Saturday, December 10, 2011

Endless Tax Cuts

Obama and the Democrats are still flogging the payroll tax cut and, at the risk of sounding like an elitist Republican jackass, which I most emphatically am not, I’m not all that crazy about the tax cut itself, and I have problems with this rhetoric on several grounds. I’ll try to explain.

The tax cut weakens the Social Security program, which is under heavy attack and doesn’t need weakening. I understand that that funding is being replaced from the general revenue stream, but separateness from general revenue is one of the program’s greatest strengths, and reducing it at this point is very bad judgement.

I’m not crazy about tax cuts in general. After eight years of Bush tax cutting do we really need four years, or perhaps eight years, of Obama tax cutting? We cannot seriously continue to believe that tax cuts serve any useful purpose. After almost twelve years of cutting taxes and no gains in any dimension we have to realize at some point that they are merely self destructive pandering to the voters.

This tax cut is being promoted for the express purpose of “giving people more money to spend,” and that strikes me as contributing to an American attitude that is unhealthy and which is a good part of what got us into this hole to begin with. It is a different wording of George Bush’s “go shopping.” This national obsession with spending is beginning to sound a little sick, really. What do Americans do? They spend money.

Finally, I have a major problem with Obama’s insistence that the payroll tax cut be “paid for” with a tax increase on the rich. The whole concept behind the formation of Social Security was that it was people putting their own money into a fund upon which they would retire, such that in old age they would not be subject to the charity of others but could retire with dignity on their own resources. Obama thinks we no longer need to do that, that the retirement of the middle class should now be funded by the rich, and I find that idea deeply repugnant.

The American people, of course, love it. "I can buy a television and a car, because some rich guy is contributing to my retirement fund."

I am all in favor of a progressive income tax, and I think it should be significantly more progressive than it is now. People should pay to support the government proportionally to the degree to which they benefit from the operation of that government. But the endless prating about tax cuts, the standalone rhetoric of “tax the rich,” and the idea that the rich should provide funding for the retirement of the middle class are all concepts that are not consistent with what I perceive the American vision to be.

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