Jim covered Congress and The White House during the George W. Bush administration for The Washington Times, and worked as a reporter, editorial writer and columnist for newspapers in Pennsylvania, Virginia, and California. He has appeared on the Fox News Channel, CNN, MSNBC, C-Span, and many local and national talk radio shows to talk politics and policy.
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Bruce McQuain — a blogger at the libertarian site Q&O and a good friend of The Heartland Institute — offers his take on the filibuster of the extension of the Bush-era tax rates by self-proclaimed socialist, U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I) of Vermont. Though Sanders spoke for many hours non-stop — and he deserves credit, at least, for trying to conduct a “real” filibuster, as opposed to the phony ones we get today — his day-long political theater can be boiled down to the 2-minute clip below:
To quote Sanders again, he says “the rich” are “crybabies” who are “making out like bandits” under the current tax rates. Sanders likens the status quo as raw “greed” that is “a sickness,” and adds it’s “like an addicition … [to] heroin.” Getting philosophical, Sanders laments that “there is something more important in life than the richest people in life becoming richer,” and he hopes that maybe “the rich” will “understand they are Americans” in a country in trouble.
Gotta hand it to you, Bernie. You got me thinking. Is America really a country in trouble because since 2003, those who pay at the top marginal rate (“the rich,” defined as a small business owner, or a married couple, making jointly just under $374,000 a year) forfeit only 35 percent of their income to the federal treasury since 2003 — as opposed to the 39.6 percent rate in the Clinton years? And is there “something more important in life” than forking over more and more of the fruits of your labor to government?
I’m no where near that “rich,” and I think it’s hokum. So his class warfare game is lost on me.
Anyway, Sanders packs a lot in that 2-minute clip, decrying “greed, reckless uncontrollable greed” which is (again) “like a disease.” It’s also worth pointing out with more emphasis that Sanders thinks “the rich” are “making out like bandits” — as if they are literally stealing the hard-earned income of others. But should we be surprised by such rhetoric from a socialist? Sanders must be losing a lot of sleep learning that even Barack Obama is coming around to supply-side tax policy.
Bruce, as usual, has a great response to this nonsense (emphasis mine):
This sort of class warfare is destructive. Both literally and figuratively. Primarily it attempts to set the rest of America against those the Bernie Sanders of this world arbitrarily designate as “rich”. The purpose of such attacks is to dehumanize them and rationalize taking their money without guilt. It is also designed to deflect the issue to a lack of revenue vs. an addiction to spending and an outright greed for other people’s money.
As they say in the blogging game, read the whole thing. Bruce points out, as I did the other day, that keeping the tax rates as they are costs the government nothing. In addition, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) urged Americans on Fox News Sunday this week to not think of the recent tax deal a “stimulus”:
Look, only in Washington is not raising taxes considered a tax cut. Nobody’s getting a tax cut here. We’re not cutting taxes. We’re preventing tax increases from occurring.
If we were actually cutting tax rates, then we might have a stimulus. We’re not actually cutting tax rates here. We’re simply preventing them from being increased. That is why we do not see this as particularly stimulative. It just prevents bad policies going forward.
That quote is instructive. Bad tax policies are what Barack Obama promised in the campaign. A middling tax policy — defined as not making the economy worse — is what we have now. A truly pro-growth tax policy would probably make Bernie Sanders’ head explode.
I don’t expect an avowed socialist like Sanders to understand that punishing job-creators and redistributing wealth is poor way to simulate an economy. That what history shows, however.