This site is intended to have two voices. These two voices share the view that there should be a place where rational conservatives and rational liberals can have rational discourse about issues important to the nation as a whole. The one single rule with regard to discourse on this site is that it must be rational. By “rational” we mean, first of all, respectful of the people to whom the discourse is addressed, and secondly, intended as an honest search for truth as opposed to an attempt to use words to prejudice or propogandize.
The two voices found here are We the Center Left (WCL) and We the Center Right (WCR). The present blog is a comment by WCL. We ask that all comments on blogs follow the same two principles: respect and honesty.
For me, WCL, the most maddening thing about the voices of the radical right is that they use words without any respect for their meaning. That is, of course, a touch broad, but let us take one word that is at the heart of the mantra of the radical right: taxes, as in “no new taxes.” I will pass over, for the moment, the insanity of refusing to raise taxes in the midst of a debt crisis. My point here is that if, by “taxes”, you mean money taken from pe0ple by the government, then the radical right is seeking a gigantic tax increase on precisely that group of people in the country who can least afford it.
Here is a simple example. In Wisconsin, the radical right has succeeded in requiring that government employees pay a larger share, in some cases a much larger share, of the cost of medical insurance. For the average skilled worker, making approximately fifty thousand dollars per year, this means an increased deduction from his or her paycheck of six hundred dollars per month. In practical effect this is a tax increase on that worker of approximately fifteen percent. It reduces this worker’s income by fifteen percent, and that fifteen percent goes to the government. It walks like a tax, and it talks like a tax, so it is a tax.
The various plans, from the infamous Ryan plan on down, repeat this formula over and over again. Take money from education. Take money from the elderly. Take money from students. Take money from the poor. All of these are, in practical effect, taxes, and they are all on that portion of the population least able to afford it. What, then, does the radical right mean when by the word “taxes” when it chants the mantra, “No new taxes”? Plainly speaking, they can only mean that they oppose any contributions to the debt by those most able to afford it, people with incomes in excess of five hundred thousand dollars per year.
Why is that? Well, the stated reason is that people with those kinds of incomes are “the job producers”. I find that a bit difficult to swallow, since those tax reductions occurred in 2001 and 2003, and jobs have been steadily disappearing in the United States ever since. Besides, if one really wanted to use the tax code to encourage jobs, one would likely provide tax relief in the more direct fashion of a tax credit for creating jobs. The honest matter of fact, if we are to speak plainly, is that the radical right resists taxes on people with higher incomes because that group gives the most money to the political campaigns of the radical right.
But I digress. Here is the simple point I mean to make. We need to use language honestly, and, if we do, we will see that anything that reduces a person’s income for the benefit of the government is, in practical effect, a tax. If we do that, we will then be able to ask the truly honest question: how shall we best distribute the cost of reducing our debt among the entire population? That is the fundamental question. All the rest is rhetoric, propoganda. We don’t need smoke. We need plain talk.