Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The rich will get their tax cut

If a cable news camera crew were to show up at my door and ask me to go on the record with my prediction regarding the fate of cuts, this is what I would say. The rich are going to get what they want. The Bush tax cuts will be extended. Maybe there will be a little tinkering for PR purposes, but the essence of it will be unchanged. The only real uncertainty I see at this point is whether the tax cuts will be made permanent or merely extended for another decade. The extension will then balloon the deficit giving Republicans and Blue Dogs the cover they need to seriously start dismantling the social safety net.

Why do I think the give-away to the rich will be continued? The decision by Senate Democrats not to go forward with the smaller tax cut package is what makes it inevitable. I see it like this: If the Democrats stand up and pass the smaller package before the election, it will be almost impossible for the next Congress to pass a second tax cut just for the rich. The smaller tax cut gives everyone a cut, even the rich. All income up to a quarter million is covered by the cut. Having given the rich one tax cut, it will be an uphill battle for Republicans and Blue Dogs to argue that the rich deserve a second tax cut. However, if the Democrats cave--as they are doing--and pass nothing before the end of the term, then they face the reality of the tax cut bill being written in a congress with a larger Republican contingent, possibly even a Republican majority in the House. The next Congress simply will not pass a tax cut bill that does not include a give away to the rich.

I do see two possible ways this scenario could be avoided, but the odds of either happening are vanishingly small. One, is that the balance of power stays about the same in both houses. This then is followed by the Democrats suddenly getting orders of magnitude better at playing the PR game, announcing that the game will be the smalled cuts package or no cuts at all, and forcing the Republicans and Blue Dogs to blink first. The other way is that the Democrats push it through during the lame duck session, which would require them to overcome all of the procedural hurdles that the Republicans would throw at them. These are both so unlikely that I feel safe ignoring them.

To me, it's that simple. If the Democrats pass the smaller package before the end of the term, it will be almost impossible for the next Congress to pass a second package just for the rich. If they do not pass it now, it will be almost impossible not to give the rich their bigger cut. The Democrats have mismanaged this issue from the beginning. Now, through inaction, they appear to have decided to completely cave in to the Republicans/Blue Dog position. They do this despite knowing the disastrous long term consequences this decision will have. And they wonder why the base is having trouble ginning up any enthusiasm this fall.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Rand Paul fails history

While making the "we're slipping into tyrrany" claims so beloved of tea partiers, Rand Paul offered this bit of historical wisdom:
In 1923, when they destroyed the currency, they elected Hitler. And so they elected somebody who vilified one group of people, but he promised them, "I will give you security if you give me your liberty," and they voted him in.

Anyone with even a passing knowledge of the history of the interwar years knows that Hitler was elected chancellor in 1933, not 1923. The Thousand Year Reich lasted twelve years, not twenty-two.

The famous Weimar hyperinflation began in mid 1922, accelerated at the beginning of 1923, and lasted all year. In November of that year, the government introduced a new currency, the Rentenmark, at a value pegged to the pre-war price of gold. Initially, Reichsmarks could be exchanged for Rentenmarks at a rate of one billon to one. Even though the Rentenmark held stable, the conversion took some months to complete during which the Reichsmark continued to loose value. The hyperinflation was over by late 1924, over eight years before Hitler was appointed chancellor.

What was Hitler doing during this time? Hitler was a relative unknown during most of 1923. Though rapidly expanding, both in numbers and new chapters around the country, the Nazi Party was still a fairly small, mostly bavarian affair. In November, Hitler led an attempted coup against the government--usually called the Beerhall Putsch. It was a pathetic failure. Hitler was arrested, tried for treason and thrown in jail. The Nazi Party was temporarily banned.

In 1932, Hitler ran for President and was trounced by Paul von Hindenburg. When he came to power the following year, it was not because the German people voted for him personally; it was because they gave his party enough seats in parliament that Hindenburg allowed him to form a government--and only after the other parties had failed to form a stable coalition. During the elections of 1932, Hitler and the Nazis made many campaign promises; a vague law and order plank being only one part of their platform. The rest of Hilter's rise to dictatorship was achieved through deals with Pres. Hindenburg and with the other parliamentary parties, and not by a vote of the general electorate.

I'll leave it to someone else to examine Paul's conspiratorial hints that there was some sinster "they" who destroyed the German currency.

Still not blogging

I was lucky enough to have some paying writing gigs this last few weeks. Along with working for Clever Wife, that has exhausted most of my productive energies for the time. This is good because it means we'll be able to pay the major bills next month (though we still don't have enough to cover day to day expenses like food). It looks like I have a few days before the next bit of work, so I'm rushing to finish something interesting for the blogs. Most of the newsy things I wanted to comment on are now out of date, but i have some mammoth and science things in the pipeline. Watch this space; I haven't forgotten you.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

O'Donnell Wins in Del.

Mitch McConnell sets hair on fire and runs screaming into traffic.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Dibs on his car

Another pastor is scaring his flock by predicting the Rapture. This one isn't wasting time; he says it's clear in Revelations that it will be at sunset tonight or maybe tomorrow, depending on your time zone. I was taught that the Rapture would come "like a thief in the night" and that no one could know the "day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father." Apparently my church was reading a different Bible.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

No blogging this week

I actually have some paid writing work. It's only the second time this year.