Thursday, April 16, 2009

The tax protests

Yes, there's a number of loonies and extremists and bigots in the crowd. That's why I remain a Democrat.

Yes, the leaders of this "movement" are phonies or worse. Where were they when their congress and their president borrowed and spent and ignored all the warnings of danger ahead? Again, that's why I remain a Democrat.

But . . .

they do make a few good points, which Democrats ignore at their peril.

Spending is too high. Trillion dollar deficits are unsustainable. Eventually, we will need to increases taxes, increase borrowing or print money, and each of those options eventually kills your economy. Bush was wrong with his crazy out of control borrow and spend policies. We need to stop being wrong, not be wrong for good purposes.

Taxes are unfair and corrupt and too high. Basically, if you have a powerful trade organization, and you hire a good lobbyist (maybe the Gephardt/Hastert team?), your activity gets favorable tax treatment. If not, don't expect any favors. Case in point - - we bail out the financial sector, and propose to extend the business loss carryback to 5 years, but will do nothing in the tax code to address the huge loses in individual self funded retirement savings accounts, by credit or deduction. Because, unless you're a Buffett or a Walton or a Soros, individuals don't have their own lobbyists. Taxes are too high, and the burden unfairly carried.

Obama remains personally popular, but his policies, less so. There was a good reason why his campaign focused on "hope" and "change" and avoided details. (Yes, the details were posted on web pages no one but the political junkies ever read, but in the debates? in the commercials? I don't recall discussion of trillion+ dollar deficits and bail outs and corporate takeovers, other than to oppose them.)

Remember, Ford was beloved and popular, and then his policies caught up with him, and he lost. Carter was beloved and popular, and events caught up with him, and he lost.

I assume the average voter looks at the tax protesters with their hand written signs and tea bag earrings and thinks, "they're a little off . . . but they're not all wrong." The Obama camp mocks the tax protesters as a strategy. It's probably a good strategy. But, as with all protests, ultimately you ignore legitimate grievance at your peril.

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