Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Politics of Distraction

Every once in a while an economist fakes me out and says something that makes sense. Damn them anyhow. Here I am condemning them as complete idiots, and one of them hauls off and says something that validates a position I’ve been holding for more than a year.

I have been maintaining to my fellow liberals, progressives, whatever label they presently go by, that the Bush/Obama tax cuts are not the cause of income inequality and that making our tax code more progressive will not correct the imbalance in wealth and income that exists in this nation at this point. There are other aspects of futility to this discussion, including my contention that we should be talking about raising the lower incomes rather than merely trying to tear down the upper ones, and that talking about “fair share” sounds like a bunch of ten year olds, but…

Anyway, all of this has been about as effective as banging my head against a brick wall. It has made no difference to the brick wall of the conviction by liberals that every bad thing in the universe was caused by Republicans, most of it by George Bush personally, and it feels good only when I stop doing it. Of course I’m too stupid to stop doing it, so I still have a headache.

Along comes Dean Baker who, despite being an inflationista sometimes speaks reasonably, with a post today at Beat The Press in which his main point is that when we are arguing about taxes that progressivism and the middle class have already lost the battle. The central point he makes is when he speaks of, “changes in laws and institutions that had the effect of restructuring markets in ways that redistribute income upward.”

Notice that he points out that it is “restructuring markets” that has redistributed income, not changes in levels of taxation. He provides very concise and clear examples of precisely what he is talking about, for example the offshoring of jobs which was abetted by government policies and which enhanced profits for the wealthy business owners while driving wages downward for the working class. Read his piece, which is very clear and understandable, and note that the destruction of the middle class began with the Clinton Administration and has continued throughout Obama’s term in office.

His point, which is absolutely correct, is that as long as we are talking about whether or not the “Bush tax cuts,” all or any part of them, are to be continued, then we are not talking about government policies which have been and are destroying the middle class in this nation. These policies began in a Democratic administration, and it is an existing Democratic administration which is distracting us with “Bush tax cuts” and refusing to address a correction of them now.

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