Tag Archives: economy

Chart Geek: Unemployment by Presidential Party

via Maddow Blog


Soaking the Rich


During the debt ceiling debate the Congressional Republicans stood firmly against raising revenues of any kind, even defending loop holes and subsidies for corporations. In fact the Republican stance against taxes is so extreme, that even discussion on raising taxes on the wealthy is rebuked. The criticism of raising taxes on the wealthy is often characterized as punishing the successful or engaging in class warfare. Republicans are still clinging to the supply-side theory of trickledown economics, and that taxing the rich will damping job creation.

In 1936, President Franklin Roosevelt said that his principle was that “taxes shall be levied according to ability to pay. That is the only American principle.” Adam Smith wrote in the Wealth of Nations that the “subjects of every state ought to contribute toward the support of the government, as nearly as possible, in proportion to their respective abilities; that is, in proportion to the revenue which they respectively enjoy under the protection of the state.” The idea that taxes should be levied in a progressive manner according to someone’s ability to pay them is no radical idea.

Research from economists Peter Diamond of MIT and Emmanuel Saez of the University of California at Berkeley in a recently published paper, The Case for a Progressive Tax: From Basic Research to Policy Recommendations, shows that not only would raising taxes on the wealthy not will undermine incentives to work and save but that the government should be taxing the wealthy at a much higher rate. In fact, they suggest that optimal tax rate for the top marginal tax bracket could be raised from its current 35% to as much as 76%.

Would taxing the wealthy at a higher rate have any effect on the nation’s revenue problem? According to a report from the Campaign for Americas Future, if just corporations and households making $1 million or more a year were taxed at the same rate they were in 1961 there would be $716 billion more in revenue per year. That would nearly cut our current budget deficit in half. The report, which cites an Institute for Policy Studies paper, that “if the federal government started taxing the wealthy and their corporations at the same rates in effect a half-century ago, the federal debt to investors would almost totally vanish over the next decade.”

Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States Oliver Wendell Holmes said that “taxes are the price we pay for a civilized society.” However, it seems that the wealthy and moneyed interests want to pay less and less for this society – despite the fact that their wealth is due to the strength of this society. Public schools create educated work forces and public roads provide transportation for goods and services. All of the things “job creators” utilize from the public domain to create jobs – while they are instead padding their paychecks. If you don’t soak the rich you shouldn’t expect more than a trickle.

Video Geek: Easier to Attack the Weak than the Wealthy

via Real News Network

Chart Geek: Five Workers for Every Available Job

via Economix

Chart Geek: Myth of Reagan Revenue Miracle

via Paul Krugman

Thoughts on the #AskObama Twitter Town Hall

It was an interesting concept, and a fascinating look at social media interaction. The White House hosted 140 visitors to hold the first ever Twitter town hall. Jack Dorsey, the creator and co-founder and Executive Chairman of Twitter, asked President Obama from Twitter users around the country. Questions were tweeted to the hash tag #AskObama, and then either retweeted direction by the White House or a collection of curators. Twitter users were also encouraged to re-tweet questions that they supported, and to tweet their reactions to Obama’s answers.

On average Obama used 2,099 characters to answer questions less than 140 characters, but the President also began the town hall with a live tweet that was 96 characters long. The subject of the town hall was about the economy and jobs, but Obama fielded questions about topics as varied as higher education, immigration, and collective bargaining. While the first several questions had been selected from tweets earlier in the day, later questions were selected that were tweeted during the town hall. The event did give the feeling of some live interaction, but there were a few things that could have been improved.

While Dorsey served as the moderator to read the questions from Twitter and move the town hall forward, he did not ask follow up questions or ask Obama to clarify his answers. Perhaps the moderator would have been better suited for a journalist – maybe someone from CNN since they always seem to be reading tweets on the air. Then there was the decision to ask questions tweeted from Speaker of the House John Boehner and New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof. That seems to defeat the entire purpose of the event. David Meerman Scott, who tweeted the first question, does not have the same access to the President as the Speaker of the House and a New York Times columnist.

Outside of the tweets that were appearing on the screen in the White House, the social messaging system was exploding with tweets asking questions, responding to Obama, and responding to each other. While I had my own question for the President, I spent the town hall sharing my thoughts on the Obama’s answers and interacting with others on Twitter. The conversation in the end may have been the most important part of the event, as we were all able to join in a national dialog about policy. When you have thousands of people participating in the conversation, a limitation of 140 characters does prevent anyone from monopolizng the discussion. What’s the opposite of a filibuster?

Chart Geek: Real Wages For The Employed Now Falling

via Jared Bernstein