Query to readers: What’s the right tit-for-tat for Democrats?

Republicans believe that they are deriving political advantage from tough tactics that violate implicit or explicit legislative norms. What’s the right tit-for-tat response?

Many commentators rightly excoriate Republican proud hostage-taking on the debt ceiling. Here, for example, is Mitch McConnell:

I think some of our members may have thought the default issue was a hostage you might take a chance at shooting. Most of us didn’t think that. What we did learn is this — it’s a hostage that’s worth ransoming.

This is only the most egregious example of their outright or implicit abuse of legislative processes to damage the Obama presidency. Filibusters of qualified judicial nominees, anonymous holds and related holdups on distinguished officials such as CMS’s Donald Berwick belong on that list, too. The de facto imposition of a “60 vote rule” on every item of Senate business from health reform to the FAA is another. In my view, stalling tactics such as prolonged bad-faith negotiations by presumed Republican moderates fit into this category, too. These tactics reflect a basic strategic decision, by made by Senator McConnell and others, to oppose in lockstep, by any means available, every notable effort identified with the Obama presidency.

Hence my query: What should the Democrats do?

In the abstract, voters are disgusted by such tactics. On the ground, however, implicit or explicit abuse of legislative process is often politically effective. Democrats have not found a way to raise the costs of such tactics. A lazy punditocracy aggravates the problem, retreating into a gauzy “no-labels” bipartisanship that ironically dis-empowers the true centrists in both parties. For these and other reasons, generalized public disgust does not effectively target the actual malefactors.

Republicans believe that they have prospered through the use of these measures. They may win the 2012 election through such means. That, in McConnell’s terms, is what they have learned.

This raises a tough question: How should Democrats respond so Republicans will learn something different?

One strategy is for Democrats to deploy the identical tactics Republicans employ. Some Democrats would surely savor the possibility of holding the debt ceiling hostage and demand ransom from the next Republican president.

This strategy has two obvious downsides. First, it is fundamentally irresponsible. One shouldn’t risk damaging the full faith and credit of the United States to win a partisan spat. Republicans were wrong to go down this path in the first place. Democrats should not ratify the precedent by following suit. And this brings up a second problem. In part because this is so irresponsible, and in part because of structural differences between the parties, this strategy isn’t very credible. As Jon Chait observes:

In order to hold the debt ceiling hostage, you need, at the very least, extremely high levels of party discipline (in the House and the Senate, lest the upper chamber openly break ranks and isolate your hostage-taking wing.) You also probably need a propaganda apparatus that can create its own empirical reality in which the experts who warn that failing to lift the debt ceiling would create dire consequences are all wrong. I don’t think the Democratic Party has either of these.

Democrats can pursue other blunderbuss obstructive tactics. They could hold up and delay the appointment of every Republican deputy assistant secretary of whatever. Some of this is surely healthy. It’s smart to reject incompetent, unethical, or extreme nominees. There is no shortage of such officials in the typical Republican administration. Tough confirmation hearings educate the public regarding policy differences and deter a Republican administration from egregious nominations.

Routine obstruction is another matter. What would be accomplished by encouraging some Democratic Senator to put an anonymous hold on Greg Mankiw or Douglas Holz-Eakin? Impeding this person wouldn’t change the real policies of the next Republican administration. It would just ensure that less visible, probably less competent and more hackish staff people will be doing the work. Well maybe some good would come of it. The respectable Republican policy community could and should do more to defend their well-qualified Democratic counterparts being squeezed.

And this kind of retaliation may also aggravate other problems. Republican partisanship is only part of the problem. The United States Senate has done enough to wreck American government through it’s awful confirmation processes and its political micromanagement of administrative processes. I trust experts such as Mark McLellan or Gail Wilensky more than I trust many Democratic Senators or House committee chairs to decide technocratic points of Medicare policy.

Is there an alternative? I’m not sure there is. Democrats can push particular positions, such as abolishing the debt ceiling vote entirely. They need to do something more, which punishes Republicans, which can be explained to the public, and which would not itself promote bad policy.

I have three ideas, no one of which is fully satisfactorily:

The most obvious idea is recess appointments. At the earliest opportunity, president Obama might make the largest batch of recess appointments in American history. He should state that because Republicans are stalling important nominations and the Senate has important business to conduct, he is recess-appointing everyone. If it is legal to do so—I don’t know the rules—he should re-appoint everyone who is now on recess appointment. If Republicans wish to hold confirmation hearings for a particular individual, the administration is happy to cooperate. If an individual is rejected by the Senate in a clean up-or-down vote, the president will of course comply with this procedure.

Unfortunately, a friend emails that Republicans have already acted to head this off, at least this political season. This is doubly concerning: first on the substance, and second as a sign of the disparity between the two parties. As Matt Yglesias puts things:

In the face of an opposition that’s been relentlessly innovative, the White House has been staggeringly uncreative. Rather than a game of tit-for-tat, the Republicans seem to be inside the administration’s decision loop, heading off their retaliatory options before the President has even exercised them.

Jonathan Bernstein suggests that recess appointments right now may still be possible—though this would represent some departure from precedent. It’s certainly worth exploring.

Federal agencies have some scope for tough rule-making congressional Republicans wouldn’t like. The EPA might act aggressively on climate change. CMS can be tough with conservative states in the implementation of health reform.

When the next Republican president takes office, Senate Democrats have more options. They might announce that they will filibuster every judicial nominee of the next Republican president—except those jointly proposed by a super-committee of Democrats and Republicans appointed for that purpose. This should be explicitly explained as the tit-for-tat for Republican obstruction of the Obama presidency. When a Republican president tests this, Democratic senators should read aloud from the collected works of various distinguished Democrats whose nominations were filibustered.

Democrats should make clear that they do not demand Republicans appoint liberal judges, but that ideological conservatives such as Thomas or Roberts will be filibustered. Of course Republicans may respond in kind to future Democratic presidents. I don’t think this is so bad. The end result may be to have genuinely centrist judges on the Supreme Court who will have greater chances to win (back) some of the public legitimacy squandered after disastrous decisions such as Bush v. Gore.

These are my ideas, anyway. Readers, what are yours?

Author: Harold Pollack

Harold Pollack is Helen Ross Professor of Social Service Administration at the University of Chicago. He has served on three expert committees of the National Academies of Science. His recent research appears in such journals as Addiction, Journal of the American Medical Association, and American Journal of Public Health. He writes regularly on HIV prevention, crime and drug policy, health reform, and disability policy for American Prospect, tnr.com, and other news outlets. His essay, "Lessons from an Emergency Room Nightmare" was selected for the collection The Best American Medical Writing, 2009. He recently participated, with zero critical acclaim, in the University of Chicago's annual Latke-Hamentaschen debate.

27 thoughts on “Query to readers: What’s the right tit-for-tat for Democrats?”

  1. Make every question before the Senate subject to majority rule. That would end both filibusters and holds.

  2. Pelosi has a plan:

    http://tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com/2011/08/she-has-a-plan-pelosi-says-therell-be-no-more-hostage-crises.php

    She won’t say what it is. But she’s quoted as saying, “Expect us to be more visible in terms of what we say here and how we mobilize out side to make sure the Republicans know the risk of taking us to the brink….It’s to make it a completely unacceptable place for the Republicans to go because it will have public consequence.”

  3. The GOP has the discipline. The DNC does not. Furthermore, what is considered “left”, “centrist” or “right wing” has shifted so far to the right in the past 2 decades that if Reagan were running for office today, he’d be denounced as being to the left of Obama.

    Party discipline cannot work if your party refuses to hold the defectors accountable. On the GOP side, a politician defecting for a single vote gets widely denounced as a RINO (Republican in name only) while defecting democrats get free passes. I think the ultimate example of democratic pandering to defectors is Senator Lieberman.

    >They might announce that they will filibuster every judicial nominee of the next Republican president—except those jointly proposed by a super-committee of Democrats and Republicans appointed for that purpose.

    How well did that work when Bush was President? It didn’t work then, and it won’t work again either.

  4. How’s this for a plan: Stop clawing at one another and mount a full-out campaign to hold the Presidency, increase our majority the Senate, and re-take the House in 2012? A good place to start would be the Wisconsin recalls. The best thing the Republicans have learned since 2008 is that if they obstruct, we form a circular firing squad. If they learned instead that their obstruction generated a unified, furious Democratic Party eager to have them for lunch, then they might pick different tactics.

  5. Mark, I’m entirely with you. But we need President Obama to be, and to be seen and heard to be, explicitly on OUR side.

    What has Obama ever said about the Wisconsin situation? Whose side is he on, on that one? How can we get him to say?

    –TP

  6. Why do people think that an increase in taxes automatically equates to an increase in revenue to the U.S.?

    The current income tax scheme is not a zero-sum game like poker or the stock market, where there are dollar-for-dollar winners and losers. If the tax rates are increased, the reward of profit is reduced while incurring the same risk, resulting in postponement or termination of opportunities. This results in a loss of employment for people that could have worked on these projects, thus reducing the revenue that the gov’t would have received both from the employees that now don’t have these jobs and the business owner.

    Despite the second worse recession ever, the U.S. received more revenue in 2010 than in any year before the Bush tax cuts were implemented. ($2.16T in 2010 versus $2.03T in 2000, which was the year with the most revenue before the Bush tax cuts).

    The U.S. has carried a debt for 174 years. In only 2 years (2009 and 2010) 25% of the debt was added. http://tiny.tw/8oK

    These are legitimate differences of opinions, not Republicans being obstructionists just for the sake of it. Additionally, the democrats controlled both congressional houses for the first two years of Obama’s presidency. Why didn’t they raise taxes at that time instead of now complaining that Republicans are doing what their constituents elected them to do?

    “This should be explicitly explained as the tit-for-tat for Republican obstruction of the Obama presidency.”

    Where can I find this “tat”, and where can I exchange it? *bad joke*

    Advocating obstructing the confirmation of the judiciary and other appointees on the non-legitimate ground of payback is a mistake and will demonstrate to the public that Democrats are willing to place their party above the needs of the American people who deserve to have their elected officials wishes honored. This is not the case for those nominees with whom the Democrats have legitimate issues.

    As far as the filibuster goes, it would be easy to eliminate it as a political tool by forcing those who wanted to use it to not relinquish the microphone just as Jimmy Stewart did in Mr. Smith Goes To Washington, instead of what they currently do, which is to just invoke the rule and go home.

  7. 1) I think there’s merit to Mark’s comment. But I think we’ll need a targeted “sub-campaign” for disaffected lefties. Something along the lines of “Hold your nose, but hold the Presidency”. Something that acknowledges the deep disappointment in his performance but also recognizes that we’re committed to pushing back effectively against Republican extremism. It could come out of MoveOn or something more centrist but I’d prefer it come from the DNC itself. Obama would hate, hate, hate it, as well he should. But if it brings more lefties to polls in Nov, maybe he’ll be less inclined to punch us hippies.

    2) It would be a great help if Obama would for once not start the negotiations at his 20 yard line. Any more hostage taking situations should be steadfastly treated as non-starters. Obama and other Democrats should show the American public repeatedly what a civilized starting point would look like. Call it that: A civilized starting point.

    3) End or reform the filibuster. At the very least, make filibusters have a real cost to the filibustees. My understanding is we only need 51 votes to enact these changes.

    4) Use the public’s disgust over tactics to introduce anti-obstruction measures (rules, legislation, amendments). Get & keep the public dialogue focused on these issues.

    5) Whenever Repubs talk about the Balanced Budget Amendment, Democrats should ignore it and talk about Jobs.

  8. Brad DeLong points out that Obama would have valid constitutional grounds to force Congress to adjourn: http://delong.typepad.com/sdj/2011/08/yet-another-unforced-error-by-barack-obama.html. If Reid helps out by adjourning the Senate, then there is a dispute between the two houses as to the date of adjournment, and the president is entitled to set a date. Obama could then make all the recess appts he needs to make.

    It may have an “inside baseball” feel, but could actually be a very effective move politically with the right spin. Imagine Obama at a press conference, saying something like: “This is an extraordinary, unprecedented measure, but I have to take it because the Republicans’ extraordinary, unprecedented obstructionism has effectively paralysed the government and the judicial system by making it impossible to fill critical positions. We’ve had qualified nominees blocked for petty, parochical reasons, such as internet gambling policies or pork barrel projects in someone’s state or district. We even had a Nobel-prize-winning economist blocked from the Fed, allegedly because he wasn’t qualified! Well, the GOP has paralysed our government long enough. It was time for me to take action, and I did.”

    Pundits, the press, the public would eat it up. For once, the arcane argument about rules and precedents would be on the other side, and the will to take action would be on the Democrats’ side.

    I’d also like a pony, please.

  9. Why is it that every ‘solution’ you seem to come up with involves a further shift towards executive rule? The President usurping the power to borrow. The President bypassing requirement for Senate confirmation. The President dictating to Congress that they can’t remain in session. (I especially love that one: Maybe we COULD get the Senate to convict, after Obama orders them to adjourn, and sends federal marshals in when they refuse to do so.)

    I suppose it’s because you hold the executive branch at this instant, and see a permanent power shift as the most expedient way to deal with a temporary problem.

    Anyway, how exactly do you define “implicit or explicit abuse of legislative process”? As anything at all that gets in the way of your preferred legislative agenda, even if it’s just voting the way you told your constituents you would when running for office? Apparently it’s illegitimate for Republicans to do anything but vote as though they were Democrats now.

    Both Republicans and Democrats have voted against debt ceiling increases in the last few weeks. Are only Democrats entitled to link their policy preferences to a debt ceiling increase?

  10. It’s probably not a good thing that we are trying to teach the Repugnicons anything. What, we now believe they can learn to be better citizens? Its time to pull your heads out.

    What would do the most damage to Repugnicons right now? Well according to the most recent polls, their own actions. But all this will be forgotten by next year. So here is what we do:

    1. Teach the President to use the bully pulpit.
    2. Kick our infantile messaging in the butt.

    Of course the odds that either of those will get done is not real good. If that last poll is to be believed we have some new words we can realistically use to describe the tactics that are being used against us. We need to exercise those words right away, the moment will pass all too soon.

    Still the biggest impact we could make is to drive a spear through the heart of the Repugnicon media advantage and put the old rules about media conglomeration back on the books.

  11. Quelle horreur! Some Democrats actually want to use every possible lever in the political system to advance their priorities! Good thing Republicans wouldn’t do that – they care only about the integrity of the process.

    I, personally, would favor a system where legislation needs to pass the House and Senate by a simple majority vote (or 2/3 to override a presidential veto), where executive branch appts are judged on their qualifications and approved by a simple majority in the Senate if they pass muster, where lifetime appointments (such as for the federal bench, and especially the Supreme Court) are subject to a higher standard of scrutiny and approved (by a majority) if they are qualified and do not have views too far outside the mainstream, where recess apppointments are used only when a vacancy urgently needs to be filled, and where Senators opposed to especially contentious legislation, maybe once or twice per session, can force those favoring it to get 60 votes for cloture.

    But we don’t have that system. Maybe once upon a time we did, more or less – Jonathan Zasloff, on this blog, traced the breakdown back to Gingrich: http://www.samefacts.com/2011/05/watching-conservatives/why-gingrich-matters/. But given the Rube Goldbert system we have, it’s idiotic for Democrats not to use all the means at their disposal to pursue their agenda, as Republicans already do. The only limits I can think of are that one shouldn’t take actions that would actively sabotage the country. Such as deliberately keeping the executive and judicial branches understaffed, impeaching a sitting president on trivial grounds, using a default on US obligations as a bargaining chip in negotiating tax and spending policies, that kind of thing.

  12. This is a really tough problem. The horrors almost all involve internal procedural departures that are never acknowledged as such but pretend to be business-as-usual (best example of that being the 60-vote threshold in the senate). The public has no patience with any discussion of this, and really there’s no reason why it should. Internal procedure is something the participants should know and non-participants shouldn’t really have to care about.

    On the other hand, the noise machine means that when McConnell invents a new obstruction by torturing the rules, he gets to tell Fox and the actual MSM that Reid and the democrats are whining and obstructing yet again and why can’t they just get something done, after all? He gets cooperation because it works. If it didn’t work, he’d probably lose anywhere from two to half a dozen of his buddies. He gets the results from Reid that his buddies need on other issues, and control of campaign funding helps him there too. His biggest worry is probably DeMint, who’s working up his own independent cash spigot.

    The big disparity in goals also matters. GOP doesn’t really care about policy beyond (as Kevin said yesterday) busting unions, lowering taxes on high incomes, destroying the New Deal (and progressive-era regulation that presaged it), and hobbling Obama. Dems do tend to care about policies and their incidences and effects and so get interested in details that ordinary people can’t really care about without context.

    This leads to the biggest problem for Dems. Goopers can’t often talk openly about their policy goals so they talk about patriotism and heroes and prosperity. Their messaging has removed almost all connection between aim and statement, but– it lets them sound crisp and decisive and patriotic. Dems instead tend to talk about policies and goals and procedures. This makes them sound woolly-headed and nerdy and sometimes querulous. There are only a few exceptions.

    So I think what Dems really need most of all is discipline among the party leaders around a practice of consistently linking specific policies and procedures to big ideas. They don’t have to lie and debase the language the way the goopers do. They just have to be consistent about linking what they want to the good of the country, and to do it in the space of a short soundbite. Your script on recess appointments is a reasonable example.

    They can’t out-nasty the nasty boys. What they can do is hammer away on their stance that what they have in mind is what’s best for the country. They do need to be really explicit about that, and in a compressed enough way that it’s part of the soundbite. More than anything else, I think what’s killing them is that they’ve really lost touch with how to do retail politics.

  13. Tim writes:

    But I think we’ll need a targeted “sub-campaign” for disaffected lefties. Something along the lines of “Hold your nose, but hold the Presidency”. … It could come out of MoveOn or something more centrist but I’d prefer it come from the DNC itself. … But if it brings more lefties to polls in Nov, maybe he’ll be less inclined to punch us hippies.

    Um, I’m sorry, I don’t understand how this would work. Lefties voted for Obama in 2008 and he’s been hippie-punching ever since. You propose to get lefties to vote for Obama in exchange for a promise that the hippie-punching will stop?

    There are a couple problems I can see with this approach, such as the fact that the President is proud of hippie-punching, brags that he’s doing it at every opportunity, and a promise that he’ll embrace us is unattainable. But more to the point: how about Obama does something that lefties like, in exchange for our promise to support him at the polls? Or even better, how about he does something we like and just hopes we support him at the polls?

    Obama will move left if he thinks that not moving left will cost him votes. If the threat to stop voting for him isn’t credible, he won’t do it.

  14. Sorry, my post was terribly off topic. The Democrats could:

    1. Recess the Senate for two days (which Senate Democrats won’t do), and tell the House to kiss their butts. This would allow for recess appointment of every single pending Obama nominee (which the President won’t do).

    2. Yank the committee chairmanships of every single Senate Democrat who votes with the Republicans (which Harry Reid won’t do), and give them offices in the men’s room.

    3. Have Joe Biden rule that filibusters are unconstitutional (which he won’t do), exactly as threatened by Dick Cheney, and let the Senate operate by majority rule from now on.

  15. Break the logjam with street politics. Look at what happened in Wisconsin. Citizens in the streets, occupying the Capitol changed the equation. Look at what happened in 2009. The Tea Party seized control of the narrative in politics by turning bodies out to Congressional Town Hall meetings, and they have not let go of it since, except for Wisconsin. Organize the unemployed to demand jobs. Organize the uninsured to demand insurance. Organize the seniors to resist deals that protect them but throw their children under the bus. Organize students to demand lower tuitions and more Pell Grants. Organize groups to shame corporations who don’t pay taxes. Surround the Capitol when it being held hostage by obstructionists. Everywhere the President goes, if he is treated like our fighting hero, he will start to be one.
    Our Congressional representatives and our Senators and our President will be stronger as a result.

  16. For all the reasons cited in previous posts, the Democrats are unlikely to be successful by fighting back in tit-for-tat terms. The Republicans are simply better at these sorts of games. What the Democrats might be able to do instead is to mount an ongoing campaign (perhaps for an entire generation) to brand the Republicans as a political party and the Democrats as a governing party. In other words, acknowledge the Republican “victories” of obstructionism as effective political theater, but make the public understand the fundamental difference between a party that is obstructing/lying/fear-mongering for perceived political gain and a party that is genuinely trying to govern the country. The problem with Obama’s approach is that his obsession with bipartisanship has served as an open invitation to the other side to obstruct and make governance almost impossible, even on previously trivial matters such as raising the debt ceiling. If the President is unwilling to call out the Republicans for their willfully destructive tactics, 2012 will be a grim year. But it was the President’s 50th birthday yesterday. Perhaps someone was generous enough to have given him a spine.

  17. Why is it that every ‘solution’ you seem to come up with involves a further shift towards executive rule?

    Because the fundamental problem is that Congress has abdicated its responsibilities. For better or for worse, some combination of the legislature and the executive must rule. If the legislature refuses to do its part in ruling, that leaves only the executive.

  18. Tit-for-tat is self-defeating. Democrats should not be like Republicans.

    Instead, Democrats should lay traps by setting a Democratic agenda. For example, put up (with great fanfare) a bill to make the middle class (but not upper class) tax cuts permanent. The Republicans will–of course–do everything they can to stop it.

    Then the Democrats hit the campaign trail and go after the Republicans for policies that are bad for the middle class and favor the upper class.

    This isn’t hard stuff. It just takes initiative, which is sorely lacking in the Democratic Party.

  19. Forget slick tactics–I’m for brute force: elect as many progressive Democrats to as many offices as possible. It would help, of course, if the Democratic leadership (I’m looking at you Barack) was serious about meaningfully addressing the problems of working Americans.

  20. I think we might need to go for these automatic military cuts. I don’t like automatic “across the board” cuts because they are crude, but that might be one way to show the GOP that sometimes their actions will have results.

    And of course if this President so much as makes a hip feint in the direction of keeping the Bush tax cuts for anyone over $250K (and last fall I would have said $500K) — regardless of what the GOP offers — I will seriously have to think about staying home. And I’ve never done that before on a prez campaign. I hope it doesn’t get to that. At some point there’s not enough lipstick. I mean, the man *increased* deportations of non-violent undocs. I am already a lot farther out from shore than I like.

    Honestly I don’t know how he’s going to win unless the Reps nominate one of the wingnuts. If it’s Romney he’s going to have real trouble. I don’t see the economy getting better by then. He’s in real trouble, and I’m sorry to say it because mostly I think he does a good job – at not starting new unnecessary wars. Which remember people – that *is* the baseline. As long as he doesn’t do that, we should keep him.

  21. Justin said: These are legitimate differences of opinions, not Republicans being obstructionists just for the sake of it.

    The difference between an “opinion” and a delusion is that opinions can be affected by facts, and delusions can’t. The “opinion” that higher tax rates on the rich mean fewer jobs for the middle class is impervious to such facts as the Clinton record; the “opinion” that lower tax rates on the rich mean more jobs for the middle class is impervious to the record of Bush the Younger’s administration. It is my legitimate opinion that right-wingers are delusional. It’s just an opinion; it can be changed by evidence to the contrary.

    Altoid said: Goopers can’t often talk openly about their policy goals so they talk about patriotism and heroes and prosperity.

    Politicians of both parties tend to be mealy-mouthed most of the time. “Tax the rich” is a phrase Democrats avoid because they are afraid to say “tax”, and it is a phrase Republicans avoid because they are afraid to say “rich”. So we hear endless repetitions of stupid circumlocutions like “pay their fair share” and “job creators”.

    Joe says: For example, put up (with great fanfare) a bill to make the middle class (but not upper class) tax cuts permanent.

    Yes! We could call it “the Obama tax cut”. But it is very possible, as you say, that the GOP hates Obama even more than it loves tax cuts.

    –TP

  22. These are legitimate differences of opinions, not Republicans being obstructionists just for the sake of it … Democrats are willing to place their party above the needs of the American people

    Justin is the Medium Lobster and I claim my five pounds.

  23. Tony P. – ‘The difference between an “opinion” and a delusion is that opinions can be affected by facts, and delusions can’t.’

    I guess Tony P. believes that John F. Kennedy was also delusional when he said that, “In short, it is a paradoxical truth that tax rates are too high today and tax revenues are too low and the soundest way to raise the revenues in the long run is to cut the rates now.”

    Our current tax system is fundamentally unfair to many taxpayers. Democrats could have massive amounts of cash for social programs if they didn’t threaten tax increases every time they came into power.

    In the interest of fairness everyone should be taxed at the same percentage. To confiscate a higher percentage of someone’s income just because they make more is fundamentally unfair. This is especially true as a person will draw more government benefits in inverse proportion to their income.

    The collection of social security and medicare taxes is fundamentally unfair racially because of not having a substantial death benefit. Since the majority of individuals don’t draw SS benefits until they are at least 62.5, life expectancy becomes impacts the collection of the benefits. Black males who are born in 1970 or before have an average life expectancy of 60 years of age where as white females born in the same year have a life expectancy of 75.4 years.

    If the goal of an income tax is to maximize revenue to the gov’t and not to social engineer, then taxing the rich does not help the economy. It typically takes about 12 – 18 months for the effects of raising or lowering taxes to appear. The following is the actual revenue that the federal government received in trillions of dollars:

    Year – Income
    1990 – 1.03
    1991 – 1.06
    1992 – 1.09
    1993 – 1.15 ¹
    1994 – 1.26
    1995 – 1.35
    1996 – 1.45 ²
    1997 – 1.58
    1998 – 1.72 ³
    1999 – 1.83
    2000 – 2.03 ⁴
    2001 – 1.99 ⁵
    2002 – 1.85 ⁶
    2003 – 1.78
    2004 – 1.88
    2005 – 2.15 ⁷
    2006 – 2.41
    2007 – 2.57
    2008 – 2.52
    2009 – 2.11
    2010 – 2.16 ⁸

    ¹ Clinton raised taxes retroactively to the beginning of 1993. This figure includes 9 months of increased taxes.

    ² Revenue increased despite the Republicans taking control of the House for the first time in 40 years and cutting some taxes.

    ³ Republicans cut more taxes.

    ⁴ A record year for revenue despite the previous tax cuts made by the Republicans.

    ⁵ The terrorist attacks happened with only 20 days left in this fiscal year. Revenue was reduced because the economy was in a cyclical recession.

    ⁶ Lower revenue caused by the compounding effects of 9/11 on a preexisting recession.

    ⁷ A new record high in revenue, caused by the “Bush” tax cuts. (The “Bush tax cuts” was a pejorative at the time to show the failure of Bush in the next presidential election. – This didn’t work).

    ⁸ Despite the worst recession since the Great Depression, the gov’t collected more revenue than in any year prior to the “Bush” tax cuts.

    BTW Mrs. Tilton, way to take someone out of context. Did I use too many big words for you? Are you a journalist? My contention was that IF the Democrats took the advice of the columnist with tit-for-tat obstructionist games, then they would demonstrate that they are willing to place their party above the needs of the people and that would be a mistake.

    If Democrats wanted a slam dunk to get Obama reelected, they should embrace the FAIR TAX. This is currently a Libertarian idea that has not taken hold in the Republican mainstream. Democrats would be able to shed their “tax-and-spend” label, and it would spur the economy causing more revenue than ever collected.

  24. @Justin,

    no. I make no pretence of being a great intellect, but am not quite stupid enough to be a journalist, or a libertarian, let alone the intellectually dishonest Laffer-curve-cultist right-wing talking-point-regurgitator your words would seem to make you.

    You don’t strike me as quite that stupid either. Hence I conclude you must be that brilliant satirist, and I still want my five quid.

  25. @Justin: “This is especially true as a person will draw more government benefits in inverse proportion to their income.”

    LOL. Except for the fact that the income of the rich is mostly rent collection, and as such is entirely a privilege granted by government.

Comments are closed.