Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Krugman: Going to Extreme, Taxes Lowest in 60 Years

From: Gene

Urgent Memo! C O N F I D E N T I A L
TO: All Teabaggers, Rent-a-mob Outlets and Fox Trotters
From: Corporate Fascism HQ, Wall Street, USA
Effective immediately, you must begin undermining this story. If the
American people learn how we have been lying to them, the whole foundation
of our years of cumulative Campaigning will collapse, and we will not be
able to keep the American Public so confused they will vote for us in
November. Confusion and distraction are out greatest allies!
Truth is our greatest enemy. You MUST initiate more distractions by more
marches, Letters to Editors, Email blitzes and support of our paid
professional actors on Fox Propaganda Channels and on Attack Radio. Deny
that they are millionaires who we pay to lie to the American people. Claim
instead that they are Patriots!
The following is what must be denied at all cost!
Taxes Lowest in Nearly 60 Years

David A. Graham
May 11, 2010

See: http://www.usatoday.com/money/perfi/taxes/2010-05-10-taxes_N.htm

Democratic leaders will no doubt be glad to see this report in this
morning's USA Today. The paper ran the numbers, and by their calculations,
Americans haven't seen such a low bill from the tax man since 1950. For
those of you keeping score at home, that's 11 years before President Obama
was born. Here's the key paragraph:

Federal, state and local taxes—including income, property, sales and other
taxes—consumed 9.2% of all personal income in 2009, the lowest rate since
1950, the Bureau of Economic Analysis reports. That rate is far below the
historic average of 12% for the last half-century. The overall tax burden
hit bottom in December at 8.8% of income before rising slightly in the first
three months of 2010.

The reasons, the article suggests, are the tax cuts that were included as
part of the economic stimulus passed in February 2009, a shifting of the tax
burden toward the wealthy, and a decrease in sales tax paid as many
Americans slashed their consumption.

In some ways, USA Today's report is a rebuttal to Tea Partiers and others
who have complained about their supposedly intolerable tax burdens—the Tea
Party's name is sometimes portrayed as backronym for "taxed enough
already"—except perhaps for those in the highest brackets. It also slaps
down the perception thatBarack Obama has raised taxes on most Americans
(Obama has pledged not to raise taxes on anyone making less than $250,000 a
year.) These figures tend to undermine the populist complaint that citizens
are being sucked dry and back up Democrats who have countered antitax
protesters by saying tax rates aren't going up. Lo and behold, they can now
say, they're lower!

Presented as a public service.



Going to Extreme

NY Times Op-Ed: May 16, 2010

Utah Republicans have denied Robert Bennett, a very conservative three-term
senator, a place on the ballot, because he's not conservative enough. In
Maine, party activists have pushed through a platform calling for, among
other things, abolishing both the Federal Reserve and the Department of
Education. And it's becoming ever more apparent that real power within the
G.O.P. rests with the ranting talk-show hosts.

News organizations have taken notice: suddenly, the takeover of the
Republican Party by right-wing extremists has become a story (although many
reporters seem determined to pretend that something equivalent is happening
to the Democrats. It isn't.) But why is this happening? And in particular,
why is it happening now?

The right's answer, of course, is that it's about outrage over President
Obama's "socialist" policies - like his health care plan, which is, um, more
or less identical to the plan Mitt Romney enacted in Massachusetts. Many on
the left argue, instead, that it's about race, the shock of having a black
man in the White House - and there's surely something to that.

But I'd like to offer two alternative hypotheses: First, Republican
extremism was there all along - what's changed is the willingness of the
news media to acknowledge it. Second, to the extent that the power of the
party's extremists really is on the rise, it's the economy, stupid.

On the first point: when I read reports by journalists who are shocked,
shocked at the craziness of Maine's Republicans, I wonder where they've been
these past eight or so electoral cycles. For the truth is that the hard
right has dominated the G.O.P. for many years. Indeed, the new Maine
platform is if anything a bit milder than the Texas Republican platform of
2000, which called not just for eliminating the Federal Reserve but also for
returning to the gold standard, for killing not just the Department of
Education but also the Environmental Protection Agency, and more.

Somehow, though, the radicalism of Texas Republicans wasn't a story in 2000,
an election year in which George W. Bush of Texas, soon to become president,
was widely portrayed as a moderate.

Or consider those talk-show hosts. Rush Limbaugh hasn't changed: his recent
suggestion that environmentalist terrorists might have caused the ecological
disaster in the gulf is no worse than his repeated insinuations that Hillary
Clinton might have been a party to murder. What's changed is his
respectability: news organizations are no longer as eager to downplay Mr.
Limbaugh's extremism as they were in 2002, when The Washington Post's media
critic insisted that the radio host's critics were the ones who had "lost a
couple of screws," that he was a sensible "mainstream conservative" who
talks "mainly about policy."

So why has the reporting shifted? Maybe it was just deference to power: as
long as America was widely perceived as being on the way to a permanent
Republican majority, few were willing to call right-wing extremism by its
proper name. Maybe it took a Democrat in the White House to give some
observers the courage to say the obvious.

To be fair, however, it's not all a matter of perception. Right-wing
extremism may be the same as it ever was, but it clearly has more adherents
now than it did a couple of years ago. Why? It may have a lot to do with a
troubled economy.

True, that's not how it was supposed to work. When the economy plunged into
crisis, many observers - myself included - expected a political shift to the
left. After all, the crisis made nonsense of the right's markets-know-best,
regulation-is-always-bad dogma. In retrospect, however, this was naïve:
voters tend to react with their guts, not in response to analytical
arguments - and in bad times, the gut reaction of many voters is to move

That's the message of a recent paper by the economists Markus Brückner and
Hans Peter Grüner, who find a striking correlation between economic
performance and political extremism in advanced nations: in both America and
Europe, periods of low economic growth tend to be associated with a rising
vote for right-wing and nationalist political parties. The rise of the Tea
Party, in other words, was exactly what we should have expected in the wake
of the economic crisis.

So where does our political system go from here? Over the near term, a lot
will depend on economic recovery. If the economy continues to add jobs, we
can expect some of the air to go out of the Tea Party movement.

But don't expect extremists to lose their grip on the G.O.P. anytime soon.
What we're seeing in places like Utah and Maine isn't really a change in the
party's character: it has been dominated by extremists for a long time. The
only thing that's different now is that the rest of the country has finally

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