Steaming Piece of Senator

Kent Conrad makes clear his relationship to excrement.

Yes, it’s Kent Conrad again.  The AP reports that although Conrad claims to be a deficit hawk, he supports extending the Bush tax cuts for the extremely wealthy.

The worst thing about it?  I think he’ll get what he wants.  The Republicans will filibuster any attempt to do what President Obama wisely wants to do, i.e. extend only those tax cuts for individuals making less than $200,000, and couples making less than $250,000.  Thus, in order to maintain the tax cuts for the middle class, Republicans will insist on the very rich getting their share.  And I think that the Dems will cave.

Oh — Evan Bayh, who loves lecturing the Democrats on fiscal responsibility, also wants to extend tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans.   Plutocracy is alive and well and living the Senate Democratic Caucus.

Author: Jonathan Zasloff

Jonathan Zasloff teaches Torts, Land Use, Environmental Law, Comparative Urban Planning Law, Legal History, and Public Policy Clinic - Land Use, the Environment and Local Government. He grew up and still lives in the San Fernando Valley, about which he remains immensely proud (to the mystification of his friends and colleagues). After graduating from Yale Law School, and while clerking for a federal appeals court judge in Boston, he decided to return to Los Angeles shortly after the January 1994 Northridge earthquake, reasoning that he would gladly risk tremors in order to avoid the average New England wind chill temperature of negative 55 degrees. Professor Zasloff has a keen interest in world politics; he holds a PhD in the history of American foreign policy from Harvard and an M.Phil. in International Relations from Cambridge University. Much of his recent work concerns the influence of lawyers and legalism in US external relations, and has published articles on these subjects in the New York University Law Review and the Yale Law Journal. More generally, his recent interests focus on the response of public institutions to social problems, and the role of ideology in framing policy responses. Professor Zasloff has long been active in state and local politics and policy. He recently co-authored an article discussing the relationship of Proposition 13 (California's landmark tax limitation initiative) and school finance reform, and served for several years as a senior policy advisor to the Speaker of California Assembly. His practice background reflects these interests: for two years, he represented welfare recipients attempting to obtain child care benefits and microbusinesses in low income areas. He then practiced for two more years at one of Los Angeles' leading public interest environmental and land use firms, challenging poorly planned development and working to expand the network of the city's urban park system. He currently serves as a member of the boards of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy (a state agency charged with purchasing and protecting open space), the Los Angeles Center for Law and Justice (the leading legal service firm for low-income clients in east Los Angeles), and Friends of Israel's Environment. Professor Zasloff's other major activity consists in explaining the Triangle Offense to his very patient wife, Kathy.

24 thoughts on “Steaming Piece of Senator”

  1. If Dems don't make this an issue – a BIG issue – in as many Cong races as possible in the fall, they deserve to lose their majority.

  2. Yes, the Dems would deserve to lose their majority, and maybe the country as a whole deserves the consequences, but I don't fell as though I did anything to deserve Kent Conrad or Evan Bayh.

  3. Your lack of knowledge and intelligence is stunning. Based on theories (Laffer Curve) and experience (Kennedy, Reagan, Bush II) tax cuts (if taxes are too high) can lead to increased revenue for the government, providing more money for social programs, schools, enviornmental protection, etc.

    People like you think that you care about these things, but when you fight against tax cuts, you are only fighting for less money for the very things that you care for. Research the Laffer Curve, look at what happened to government revnues with past tax cuts, and get smarter about this issue.

  4. ACT, your advice is fabulous.

    Of course, all the data you cite (Kennedy, Reagan, Bush II) point in exactly the opposite direction of Laffer's voodoo hypothesis. Not knowing your thinking, at best I can posit that you have forgotten that trend growth for the US economy is not 0% in nominal terms.

  5. Thanks for focusing in on this, Mr. Zasloff — you reminded me to email my two Democratic Senators this morning to express my strong support for President Obama's plan. (My two Senators are great and on board with the President as always, but I figure it's good for them to know constituents care and are paying attention.) You spurred me to action, and I included a link to this post in my emails. Thx!

  6. Dear Conservative teacher,

    Tax cuts can have a beneficial effect on revenue, yes. But there are limits. We passed those limits a long long time ago, and there is no hope of achieving tax/revenue equilibrium as long as we are unable to cut spending. And I don't imply social safety net spending, I mean DoD, Pentagon, Military spending.

    It is well accepted that for every dollar invested in social safety net spending, 1.6 dollars in revenue are generated.

    Laffer's hypothesis' have long been derided as unrealistic. And restoring 2.4% in taxes to the very highest wage earners (who currently pay about 22%) would have a significant effect on revenue.

    Your statement is complete bunk and not based upon reality in any way shape or form.

  7. The problem with the Laffer curve (and why so vitriolic, Conservative Teacher?) is that it makes one impossible prediction.

    Let us assume that you have a line stretching out from 0 to 1, with 0 representing no taxation, and 1 representing total 100% taxation.

    By your ideas, a "0" would generate the most revenue! This is clearly impossible, totally false, and easily proved both mathematically and in practice.

    Furthermore all dollars are not alike- a dollar in the pocket of a rich person has a different effect on the economy than a dollar in the pocket of the poor or middle-classes. The rich might not spend it on items which will generate a similar multiplier effect, and frankly another dollar in their pockets have a much lower emotional and practical value than a dollar in the hands of someone who is much less well-off.

    Give a millionaire a dollar, it's likely to be wasted on luxuries or frivolities. Give a poor person a dollar, it'll go for food, health care, clothing, and essential goods and services. Much more likely to grow the economy.

    While it is not for us to tell people how to spend money, when you are attempting to generate an economic model you have to predict how each dollar will effect the rest of the local and national economies. And when trying to assess the right way to tax, we should treat ALL personal revenues the same way, whether income, capital gains, or deferred income.

    Why should I have to pay a nearly three-times higher marginal tax rate than a CEO who gets paid in stock options?

  8. I sure am glad neither of my children had "A Conservative Teacher" while they were in school or I would have had to spend even more time undoing what was done in the classroom. And really, has a name ever been more appropriate than "Laffer"? Sheesh.

  9. @Dendroica:

    While I agree that Laffer is a bit of a joke and his theory only can really be demonstrated in cases of extremely high taxation like the former Scandinavian top brackets of 90-100%, remember that the Laffer curve is a curve, not a line. So actually revenue peaks at some value between zero and one.

  10. I know this is hard to believe, but ALL of the conservatives on our faculty vacillate between being "seen and not heard" in the lounge and acting as "missionaries" to save the wee bairns from a lifetime of liberalism. One of our history teachers had been flirting with/indoctrinating a young girl in his class and was fired. The girl was in my drama class and, out of the blue, opined that "blacks in America are just looking for a handout." I went to the teacher, a first year, before we knew about the flirting and innappropriate contact and told him that that was not his place, and that he should back off and teach the curriculum. He then wanted to sit down and explain to me why I was misguided. The whole thing seemed cripted. Then, I took him in: faux-hawk, 200 dollar Fluevog shoes, Diesel jeans, all on a teacher's salary. See, he doesn't care about actually teaching, he's there to save those children from people like me, and he's going to wear a disguise to do it. I wonder if "A Conservative Teacher" has such a mission in mind.

  11. I know I'm a naif, but I still can't see how people like Conrad can say with a straight face that tax cuts have more power to stimulate the economy than direct expenditures target at the bottom quintile. It's like standing there and saying evolution never happened. Oh, wait.

  12. What is the whipcount on the GOoPer proposal?

    If the whipcount shows it going down, then it would be very smart of Harry Reid to let it come to the floor. The 'thuglicans and a few DINOs like Bayh and Conrad vote for it and we get the 'thugs pinned between Scylla (deficit reduction means we have to pay for every proposed budget/tax change) and Charibdis (we must cut taxes).

  13. To Nate:

    Obviously in the real world it isn't going to be at 0.

    Once upon a time, we had roughly those same very high rates as the Scandanavians; at that time the median person's marginal rate was lower than today. We have sharply reduced taxation on the higher 5% cohort, while the rest of us have gotten hammered.

    The real fault of the curve is that it isn't really designed to determine impact of that revenue generation stream, in terms of how each dollar is generated, taxed, spent, and that effect on individuals. Tax a poor person, and the revenue lost to multiplication might end up being much worse for total revenue generation than taxing the rich another dollar. It isn't a two-dimensional curve- to describe reality requires string-theory dimensions.

    What is most startling and incomprehensible, is for the most part the people who have been hurt the most by our changes in taxation and wage generation in the last generation are those most often voting Republican.

    Talk about cognitive dissonance.

  14. If the government raises taxes on the top earners in our society, what will that do? Encourage them to provide higher wages for their workers? Encourage them to invest more money in the stock market (which in turn represents investments in business)? If you increase taxes on the higher earners in society, do you think they will buy more products and services? Will they be more encouraged to launch a new business, invent a new product, or increase productivity? The answer to all of these is 'no way'- by raising taxes on the highest earners in our society, you will lower economic activity. That should be obvious. Likewise, it should be obvious that lesser economic activity will mean less economic activity to be taxed- thus less revenue in taxes. So, higher tax rates (most of the time) means less government revenue for welfare, environmental protection, regulation, education, etc.

    This is so simple it should be within the limits of all of your pea-brain intelligence. Vote for lower taxes if you support a liberal agenda.

  15. ^^ Yes. But only if you live in an alternate reality. It has long ago been proven that lower taxes (for get about rich poor) does NOT increase revenue, period. Where were you the last decade?

    People I know in those upper brackets (I'm not one) won't miss the money and many would rather kick in more anyway.

    People with money don't invest or expand "because" they got lower taxes. They do it to make MONEY. To suggest they won't is headbang on wall material. We're off a financial cliff here due to precisely this thinking.

    What possible explanation is there for the lowest tax bracket that exists to be the 15% on capital gains?

    That those who shuffle money around for a living pay the lowest tax rate? What garbage. I feel like I've been punked. You can't be for real.

  16. Snead, what alternate reality are you living in? Taxes were cut and revenue to the government went up during Bush II's, Reagan's, and Kennedy's terms of offices. The inverse has also been true, notably where I'm from in Michigan- raising taxes led to less government revenue. What data or examples are you citing? What theories are you citing? On what research are you basing your claims? Please use some reality when you attack my data, theories, and facts as not based on reality.

  17. I'm trying to understand ACT's ostensible economic theory. I know that when my expenses go up, my response is to try to increase my income, so that I can still do the things I want to do. Somehow the rich, when their expenses go up, decide to decrease their income, so that they can have less money to spend and less to pass on to their heirs and the causes and institutions they believe in. Strange. But now I understand why the scandinavian countries and Japan have always been so short on innovation…

    No, I guess I'll stick to this planet.

  18. "Obviously in the real world it isn’t going to be at 0."

    Dendroica, it isn't at zero in the theory, either. Rather obviously. So, were you ignorant about the Laffer curve, lying about it, or just really, really bad at hyperbole?

    Agreed, we're not obviously at taxation levels where the Laffer curve theory would predict that a tax increase would reduce revenues. Mind you, that curve spends quite a range in the neighborhood of flat before it finally heads down, which means that, well before a tax increase actually reduces revenues, it will fail to significantly increase them.

    Further, we can distinguish between the static Laffer curve, (Here comes that 'string theory'.) and dynamic. On the not totally nuts assumption that taxes reduce rates of economic growth, and thus the future base they work on, there should be a region below the optimal static tax rate where you increase long term revenues by reducing taxation, even though immediate revenues drop.

    But, of course, what's the actual shape of the curve? That's a matter of some argument.

    "People I know in those upper brackets (I’m not one) won’t miss the money and many would rather kick in more anyway."

    Snead, who's stopping them? The IRS won't mind if they voluntarily pay extra.

  19. Why are you people responding to A Conservative Teacher? He is obviously a troll just toying with you. I mean he makes these absurd claims and then when you refute his nonsense with facts, he – with no facts of his own – repeats again lies and nonsense mythology. He's worse than the troll Brett Bellmore.

  20. Martin Gardner's Neo-Laffer curve has always been more instructive than the original.

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