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What goes down must come up

Yesterday, when I wrote my little piece about Hillary Clinton and her "words of wisdom," I quoted one statement by her. "We're going to take things away from you on behalf of the common good."

A few people questioned the veracity of that and the other quotes, and that was a fair cop. I neglected to cite my sources, and I should have. But more importantly, that particular quote needs a fuller context, because it got me thinking.

According to snopes.com, THE go-to source for urban legends, here is the full context of the sentence:

On 28 June 2004, New York senator Hillary Clinton appeared at a San Francisco fund-raising event for California senator Barbara Boxer, where she explained that Democrats hoped to overturn tax cuts enacted by the Bush administration:

Headlining an appearance with other Democratic women senators on behalf of Sen. Barbara Boxer, who is up for re-election this year, Hillary Clinton told several hundred supporters -- some of whom had ponied up as much as $10,000 to attend -- to expect to lose some of the tax cuts passed by President Bush if Democrats win the White House and control of Congress.

"Many of you are well enough off that ... the tax cuts may have helped you," Sen. Clinton said. "We're saying that for America to get back on track, we're probably going to cut that short and not give it to you. We're going to take things away from you on behalf of the common good."

The more I thought about it, the more I realized that this was an insight into her way of thinking -- and a lot of Democrats -- on the issue of taxation.

To these people, tax cuts are temporary, transient. "Bush's tax cuts," to them, came with an expiration date, and their repealing is simply a return to "normal" levels of taxation.

Conversely, tax hikes are permanent and immutable. A hike in taxes is a simple changing of the norm.

This is the mentality of big government, and Hillary is a champion of that movement.

Want proof? Look at the telephone tax refunds going out now. That tax was instituted as a "temporary" measure to help pay for the Spanish-American War. I doubt not a single person alive remembers that conflict, but we continued to pay that "temporary" tax for well over a century.

To big government, there is no such thing as a "temporary" tax, or even a "temporary" tax hike. Every increase in taxation levels is simply setting the new standard level.

I happen to think the other way. In an ideal world, I'd like the government to periodically set the tax rates to zero across the board, then raise them to meet needs. Lawmakers would have to publicly debate and justify every fraction of a percent they hike it, in full public scrutiny. It would be a natural expansion of "zero-based budgeting."

Alternately, every tax hike passed could come with an automatic expiration date. Congress would have to renew each and every single tax on a regular basis, or they would go away.

More fundamentally, I'd like to see a change in mentality. I'd like to see people stop thinking of the "Bush tax cuts." Right now, they're being labelled as such for two purposes. For one, it ties them into Bush's own poor current popularity. For another, and more subtly, it implies that they will only last as long as his own administration. They will be treated as part and parcel of his administration, and to repeal them (or let them expire) as he leaves office makes the resulting tax hike a smidgen more palatable for those who don't think things through.

I'm a bit of a math geek, and every now and then I find it instructive to apply simple math to political issues. For example, in affirmative action cases involving college admissions, being a member of a minority group is worth so many "points" towards getting in. I suggest instead of giving the minority more points, deduct points from non-minorities. If being a black woman is worth thirty points, then leave her application alone and deduct thirty points from white males. In the end, the result is the same, so why not do it that way?

In this case, it's a matter of reducing the argument to bare bones. Every single change in tax rates should be considered permanent. This isn't that big a change. As shown above, the big government ninnies already think of all tax hikes as permanent, regardless of what they say to get them passed; this is just extending the same consideration to tax cuts.

Therefore, if you pay a higher rate this year over last, it's a tax hike. It doesn't matter if they call it a "tax cut repeal" or "rate adjustment" or "revenue enhancement" or any of a thousand other weasel-worded excuses, it's a raise in taxes and should be considered as such.

But that'll never fly. It's too honest. It's too accurate. And that's anathema to Big Government and its advocates like Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton.


Comments (25)

"We're going to take thi... (Below threshold)
drjohn:

"We're going to take things away from you on behalf of the common good."

One might think this was a comment taken form Hugo Chavez.

From each according to his abilities to each according to his needs.

Where have I heard that before?

Of course, we need to remem... (Below threshold)
Steve L.:

Of course, we need to remember that Congress is one of the few places where spending more money on something can be considered "cutting the budget."

Government ineffeciently al... (Below threshold)
kim:

Government ineffeciently allocates resources; we are fortunate to have an economic system powerful enough to tolerate such ineffeciency, but none of it is without cost. And the cost is at the margin, precisely where government tends to waste money anyway. Ah well, resources are finite and a system which maximizes effecient use of them will survive one that doesn't.

We should be so lucky.
============

Here in the suburbs of the ... (Below threshold)
John F Not Kerry:

Here in the suburbs of the Twin Cities (Mpls-StPaul) we get the opportunity, every 2 or 3 years, to vote on levy referenda to raise local property taxes on behalf of public schools. Despite all the teachers' union and school board propaganda, our most recent proposal got trounced at the polls, meaning no extra money from that revenue stream.

The point being, people are OK with tax hikes if they don't think it is coming out of their pocket (although it will eventually), but will resist them if given the chance. If we forced our politicians to itemize proposed tax hikes, showing where every dollar would go, we would see less taxes. Also, if we eliminated paycheck withholding and made people pay their taxes once a quarter, we would have a much greater sensitivity to where it goes. Oh well. A guy can dream, can't he?

Its funny how the liberal e... (Below threshold)
scotty:

Its funny how the liberal elite and left-wing politicians continually say the tax cuts are for the rich (which group they are in), yet somehow they never think to give their tax refunds back to the government on principle. Indeed they have a tremendous ability to find ways to shelter their money and take every tax advantage they can find.

scotty, and illegitimately ... (Below threshold)
kim:

scotty, and illegitimately manipulate the political process while they are at it. The corruption is deep and wide.
=============================

Its funny how the libera... (Below threshold)
drjohn:

Its funny how the liberal elite and left-wing politicians continually say the tax cuts are for the rich (which group they are in), yet somehow they never think to give their tax refunds back to the government on principle. Indeed they have a tremendous ability to find ways to shelter their money and take every tax advantage they can find.

Can't....take....it....logic.....overwhelming...

How about the Clintons' use... (Below threshold)
hermie:

How about the Clintons' use of the term 'incresing contributions' when they should've said 'increasing taxes'.

Never vote for or approve a... (Below threshold)
Ken:

Never vote for or approve a tax increase in any circumstance. The level of waste with current taxes is, obviously, off-the-charts. If the government. feels the need for additional revenue they can go defund some other expenditure.

As an example, there was an article in the paper here in Tampa the other day that lamented the lack of participation in recylcing paper/glass/plastic etc. amongst most households. They went on to explain that the local government spends $2.5 million every year on the program and they recover only $350,000 annually. Their proposal at this point was to spend more money to get more people participating. Just nuts.

scotty,I hear that... (Below threshold)

scotty,

I hear that argument a lot. If you don't think taxes are high enough why don't you just send in more? The other variation of the argument goes like this. If you think you should pay more in taxes why did you cash your tax refund check?

The question that no conservative has ever been able to answer is this. In the entire history of mankind can you name one society were voluntary taxation is or was successful?

Without taxation we have no nation, period end of story. I'm always a little skeptical of the "no tax" conservative motivations.

To try and say some tax hike or reduction should be permanent is foolishness. If our elected officials can't raise or lower taxes based on the need of the nation what's the use of having government representatives?

Just for the record I would like to see the merits of a flat income tax or a national sales tax instead of income tax debated. But maybe that's for another day.

[email protected],The reason ... (Below threshold)
Sheik Yur Bouty:

[email protected],

The reason no one has answered that question is because it is irrelevant.

Of course SOME level of taxation is necessary.

The problem I (and many conservatives) have with Democrats/liberals is that their answer to almost any problem is MORE MONEY/TAXES.

No amount of money or level of taxes ever seems to be enough.

Get rid of all duplicate programs, fraud, pork, and flat out unconstitutional spending and we could all have a large tax cut with a budget surplus to go with it.

Without taxation we have... (Below threshold)
_Mike_:

Without taxation we have no nation, period end of story. I'm always a little skeptical of the "no tax" conservative motivations.

That's a new one on me. I've never actually met a someone how called themselves a fiscal conservative and advocated 'no tax'.

I think you'll find that fiscal conservatives, generally, believe that there is a very finite proper role of government (protection from domestic enemies, protections from foreign enemies, and arbitration of disputes). It's when you begin venturing outside of those three that most fiscal conservatives will begin taking issue.

As to tax reform... I think it'd be interesting to consider moving the power of direct taxation from the Federal level to the State level and repealing the 17th amendment... (i.e. repeal both the 16th and 17th Amendments) but that opens a whole 'nother can of worms.

"Without taxation we have n... (Below threshold)
Bunker:

"Without taxation we have no nation, period end of story."

The United States Income Tax started in 1913. I wonder what we called The US before then?

To these people, t... (Below threshold)
Publicus:
To these people, tax cuts are temporary, transient. "Bush's tax cuts," to them, came with an expiration date, and their repealing is simply a return to "normal" levels of taxation.

Conversely, tax hikes are permanent and immutable. A hike in taxes is a simple changing of the norm.

False. The tax cuts that Bush pushed through are targeted to wealthy people...We can't see how that's the top financial priority for our country. Maybe if we can manage a surplus, that would be a good time to cut taxes. And perhaps we can cut them first (and deepest) for the middle class and working poor.

That's the liberal view of taxes, if you're interested understanding (rather than misunderstanding) it.

Mike, you're also forgettin... (Below threshold)

Mike, you're also forgetting "Basic Infrastructure", such as roads, power lines, etc... There are some "industries" (so to speak) where privatization would lead to disaster (think back to Roman Days, Crassus' Private Fire Brigade...he only doused fires once the victims' signed his contract).

I hate that idea where if there is a budget surplus, many politicians/government bureaucrats think "We have this extra money, how can we spend it", instead of thinking "We have too much money, maybe we should cut back on taxes".

[email protected]: Your straw man of c... (Below threshold)
scotty:

[email protected]: Your straw man of conservatives agruing for "no tax" or some sort of voluntary tax system is silly. Nice thing about straw men is that with a small flame they go Poof!

FYI,

The contry existed quite nicely without an income tax. The first 20 or so years there were modest taxes on certain goods, but then from just after the War of 1812 until the Civil War there were no internal taxes at all. The government ran on externat trade tariffs alone. It wasnt until the civil war that a 3% income tax was instituted. Then in 1913 the 16th Amendment doomed us all to eternal taxation. There were points of light along the way (Reagan's cut in the top tax from 50% to 28% and Bush's tax cuts) but I believe that congressfolk are hopelessly addicted to spending our money. We must fight them like the tax junkies they are (liberals and conservatives alike but especially liberals).

Publicus: Ahhh the lefts m... (Below threshold)
scotty:

Publicus: Ahhh the lefts mantra tax cuts for the rich never gets boring does it.

What do you mean "targeted to wealthy people'. How can an accross the board tax cut (and a progressive one at that) be called targeted to the wealthy. I think you suffer from an inability to understand the difference between looking at taxes on an absolute scale and a scale based on percentage of income.

So while it is true that the wealthy person's reduction on an absolute scale is larger than a middle income persons, the middle income person received a 5% reduction while the wealthy person received a 4% reduction. So the only way you can honestly say that the tax cut is targeted to the wealthy is to say the weathy person was allowed to keep a larger portion of his own income when compared to the middle income person. Well that is an unfair comparison which you make only to promote your skewed view of the universe.

Also, Since the Bush tax cuts, poor and even modest middle income families usually pay $0 income tax. For example, a average family of 4 with about $60K income would pay nothing. I know because I have lived that life since Bush came along and I'm not doing anything special: the itemized deductions for mortgage interest, property taxes and charitable contributions along with the dependant deductions and/or credits for my kids and voila...no taxes due. I consider myself living a middle income lifestyle but I guess your suggesting that I am wealthy and Bush is throwing me a favor.

Those making over $200K are paying 80% of the taxes currently. What would be more fair that they pay 90%, 95% or would you prefer 100%?

Publicus, even for you that... (Below threshold)

Publicus, even for you that's talking out of your ass.

I said NOTHING about how the tax cuts were implemented, or who was affected by them. I only talked about how they are being considered as temporary and transient.

Or, in other words:

Me: "The sky is blue."

Publicus: "Liar! It's oxygen and nitrogen!"

J.

My favorite temporary tax i... (Below threshold)
Rick:

My favorite temporary tax is the Johnstown Flood tax we have in Pennsylvania, it's a tax on liquor to help rebuild Johnstown after the flood of 1936. So the next time you are in Pennsylvania, buy a beer and toast Johnstown. We are still paying for the rebuilding of Johnstown.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johnstown_Flood

Publicus - tax cuts for the... (Below threshold)
Ken:

Publicus - tax cuts for the working poor? Just what level of taxes do you think they pay?

BunkerI wrote "witho... (Below threshold)

Bunker
I wrote "without taxation" not income taxes.

scotty,
I found this gem today. If you allow your self to read opinions that don't slant to the right, check it out. It puts to rest a lot of the right wing talking points on taxation.

http://www.tpmcafe.com/blog/coffeehouse/2007/apr/17/tax_day_silliness

Mike, you're also forget... (Below threshold)
_Mike_:

Mike, you're also forgetting "Basic Infrastructure", such as roads,

One could argue that a system of road is necessary for military and police purposes.

I found this gem today. If you allow your self to read opinions that don't slant to the right, check it out. It puts to rest a lot of the right wing talking points on taxation.

Precisely what 'ring wing talking points on taxation' did this 'put to rest' ? The article concludes that people who pay more in taxes have their total taxes reduced more when the rate is cut ? In other words, multiplication is a linear operation.

Mike I was agreeing with yo... (Below threshold)

Mike I was agreeing with you...

I just think you misinterpret what I mean by "basic infrastructure". I'm talking about things like a "national highway system" that is regulated nationally so there are no disputes state by state as to roads, etc... of course this also somewhat falls under "arbitration of disputes", as you say, but I digress.

(note, I was only giving one example)

[email protected]: Oh your challenge ... (Below threshold)
scotty:

[email protected]: Oh your challenge was soooo cunning. I could not resist clicking your link to show that I am really a manly man. I normally would not go into a left-wing wacky sight but your double dog dare was too much for my simple right slanted brain to resist. I even took off my rose colored classes in order to get a real clear view of the article. I should never have been swayed to click on that darn link but my Pavlovian mind which you have so perceptually descered began to drool. After reading that article I had an epiphany and basically I am now a KOSbot and wish I would have voted for Gore and Kerry...Not really! That was just a bit of sarcasm that I was using to make fun of you. See, by making it seem like I was truly an idiot made you seem smarter than me and everyone else. That way I could come back with a smart retort like "Not really!" and thus render all the previous statements as stunning, witty irony. I think in the end I've rendering your double dog dare ineffective.

Seriously, I was not impressed at all with the article. (big surprise, right?) The guy, trying to belittle the argument that the rich pay more taxes, cited an example of where there are taxes that are regressive (i.e. the rich pay a smaller percentage). That example is social security taxes which are capped at $97,500 income. What a stupid point to make. This just illustrates how truely unfair the whole social security tax is and doesn't persuade anyone that the Income tax is a great thing. He then tries to make some point about how the taxes have become less progressive now. OK, again, not persuasive. So what if it is less progressive now. Does that mean it is finally fair. NO!

I think the article was just a whine fest because he got ganged up on by Kudlow. The bottom line is that these lefties want to tax the crap out of the rich in order to allow the government to fix the world through social programs. Thanks, but, No Thanks. Government programs have been a miserable failure at trying to remedy social woes.

If you are interested in mo... (Below threshold)

If you are interested in more information concerning the 17th Amendment, please check out my weblog, Repeal the 17th Amendment. I have posted a number of scholarly articles that discuss the history and consequences of the amendment.

Regards,
Brian

http://repealthe17thamendment.blogspot.com/




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