The new austerity

Congressional Republicans have been working hard to cut SNAP funding (Food Stamps). As we know, Vice Presidential candidate Paul Ryan has worked very hard on this matter, having made his name nationally with his draconian budget proposal. While the Republican effort to cut Food Stamp funding is unsurprising, their effort remains disturbing nonetheless given the severity and length of the economic crisis which emerged in 2008 and given the looming food crisis. To be sure, the food crisis directly ahead of us will be a consequence of the 2012 drought. The existence of the drought belongs with the other effects produced by global warming, an issue on which the Republicans have an irrational position. As more Americans find themselves jobless or food-deprived and while the morbidity attributable to food-shortages will surely increase because of inflating food prices and food shortages, the Republican Party wants to intensify the deprivation many Americans will suffer by cutting Food Stamp funding.

What the Republican Party wants to impose on America is not a sound fiscal regime but an intense and risk-laden class war.

Quote of the day

Andrew Levine evaluated the 2012 presidential election a few days back:

We’re approaching a stretch of time when it would be a blessing to fall into a stupor; better that than endure two mind-numbing marketing campaigns — one promoting a corporate ass kisser and drone-wielding devil we know, the other a corporate asshole and devil we’d rather not.

Apologies for not putting the point more decorously. But in this instance, let the language reflect William Blake’s teaching: “as the air to a bird or the sea to a fish, so is contempt to the contemptible.”


Does the United States have a party duopoly which governs a managed democratic political system? It does, and Ross Douthat of the New York Times recently provided ad hoc evidence supporting that judgment:

Paul Ryan is not a moderate, not a centrist, and certainly not a perfectly neutral non-ideological number-crunching budget wonk. He is a conservative whose fiscal blueprints and budgets are drawn up with conservative goals uppermost in mind. He’s a Reaganite pro-life hawkish supply-sider who wants limited government and the lowest possible tax burden. Out of all the running mates available, Mitt Romney chose one of the most explicitly ideological options.

But moderates — and maybe, just maybe, the occasional liberal as well — should appreciate Ryan all the same, because he’s almost single-handedly responsible for saving the Republican Party from some of its own worst impulses.

Failing political parties tend to develop toxic internal cultures, and the post-2008 Republican Party was no exception. Reeling from two consecutive electoral repudiations, Republicans looked poised to spend President Obama’s first term alternating between do-nothingism and delusion. They would demagogue every Democratic proposal, decline to offer any alternative on any issue, and seal themselves inside a fantasy world where tax cuts always pay for themselves and budgets can be balanced by cutting funding for NPR.

Some of this came to pass. But from the earliest days of the Obama presidency, Ryan was pushing his fellow Republicans toward a different course. When conservatives praise the Wisconsin congressman for his courage, this willingness to ask more of his own party is a big part of what they have in mind.

Briefly put, Paul Ryan might appeal to moderates, centrists and a few liberals because he is a serious man on a mission. His mission? To impose vicious and predatory, foolish and reactionary policies on a country that would be best served if it repudiated men like Ryan and, for that matter, Obama. Ryan adds gravitas to the GOP clown car, and for this he deserves praise.

Douthat is also a reactionary, and it should surprise no one that he wants the Republican Party to take the lead in the imposition of political and economic reaction on the United States. It is also noteworthy that Douthat does not call for the political defeat of the Democratic Party. Both parties must share the burdens in the movement of the United States to the right.

Mitt Romney picks Paul Ryan to be his running mate

Is it shocking that Romney picked a Koch Kreature such as Rep. Paul Ryan for this job? No!

What ? Paul Ryan is a lying son-of-a-bitch?

First Representative Ryan (R-WI) accuses Obama of prosecuting a class war when focusing on tax loopholes:

“We want to make the tax code more fair, more competitive, simpler — and lower tax rates on families, businesses and entrepreneurs so they can compete and create private sector jobs,” Ryan said yesterday in a phone interview. “The difference is, the president likes to invoke tax loopholes as part of his class warfare mantra usually to try to invoke fear, envy and anxiety as a motivator not as a means to lower tax rates to grow the economy.”

Ryan continues by claiming that:

If you lower tax rates across the board, we always see stronger economic growth result across the board. But more to the point, in the 21st century, we are now in a global tax competition. Capital is so much more mobile than it ever used to be and when we tax our employers, our manufacturers, our exporters, our job creators at rates that are much higher than our foreign competitors tax theirs, that’s when we lose. At this time, our tax rates are among the highest in the industrialized world and that’s putting us at a huge competitive disadvantage. We need to get our tax rates down so we can be more competitive.” [emphasis added]

David Callahan of Policy Shop tartly replies with:

Let’s be clear here: Corprate [sic] tax burdens are not higher in the U.S. than in the rest of the industrialized world. In fact, the opposite is true.

While the official U.S. top corporate income tax bracket is higher than most countries, it is well known that few companies actually pay that rate — and, indeed, many pay nothing at all. The General Accounting Office reported in 2008 that two out of every three United States corporations paid no federal income taxes during a given year from 1998 through 2005.

Paul Ryan is well aware that the corporate income tax code is littered with loopholes. As he said in the same interview: “You have protected industries, businesses that have been singled out for favors in the tax code.”

Yet he doesn’t acknowledge how these loopholes make it absurd and misleading to compare official tax rates across countries. The more accurate comparison is the corporate tax burden as a percentage of GDP. And if you look at these numbers, using the OECD’s data tables, you find that the U.S. burden is lower than many other countries.

In 2008, the average corporate tax burden in OECD countries was 3.5 percent. Japan clocked in at 3.9 percent; Canada at 3.3 percent; the U.K. at 3.6 percent; Australia at 5.9 percent; France at 3.5 percent; Germany at 1.9 percent; and the United States just below Germany at 1.8 percent. Only one country had as low of a corporate tax burden as the U.S. in 2008 and that was Turkey. (The tables allow you to analyze different years if you don’t like 2008.)

In other words, the statutory tax rate very rarely equals the effective tax rate. To assess the tax burden a person or entity must pay, one must identify the effective tax rate. The effective tax rate for corporations is not at all high when compared to other countries. In fact, it is low.

Paul Ryan — Fib teller.