Friday, October 25, 2013

The Republican Media- No.36

This is certainly good news- or so it would appear. A Politico headline today reads "Paul Ryan: Focus on 'Achievable Goals.'"

He sounds so reasonable.  Ryan, Politico's David Rogers reports, is "clearly signaling he is open to a good-faith bargain in which mandatory savings can be substituted for appropriations to restore more order for both sides."   What could be bad about "good faith" and "order," especially for "both sides?"

But a review of the statements made by the House Budget Committee chairman and 2012 GOP vice-presidential nominee suggests something else.  In the telephone interview with Politico, the Wisconsin Repub argues that if the House-Senate negotiations on the budget "becomes just an excuse to raise taxes, it's not going to be successful. We already have spending cuts coming. We'll take those. If we can have smarter spending cuts, that's better."

Those "smarter" spending cuts, as Ryan sees it, largely exclude defense. He is, Rogers writes, "encouraged by his early talks with Senate Democrats and hopes the two parties can skip past 'grand bargains' and focus on 'achievable' goals such as substituting entitlement reforms for sequestration cuts this winter."

Sequestration requires reduction nearly equal in defense and non-defense spending.  Ryan, though, is particularly interested in slashing Social Security, a fully prepaid annuity that pays earned benefits. Undermine Social Security often enough, and Pompous Paul's dream of privatization becomes achievable.  He has his sights also on Medicare, the other program that cannot be named, and which has lower administrative costs and more effectively controls costs than private insurers, disconcerting to the Very Serious People.

And of course what is a Repub agenda without cutting the corporate tax rate? Of the Republican chairperson of the House Ways and means Committee and the Democratic chairperson of the Senate Finance Committee, Ryan remarked

The encouraging sign is Dave Camp and Max Baucus have had a productive working relationship and that should be encouraged. We should encourage them to produce a pro-growth tax reform, which grows the economy and that grows revenues through economic growth. We should encourage that process to continue.

Whatever their views on foreign policy, defense spending, abortion, or even food stamps, Republicans refuse to admit that lowering the corporate tax rate will not necessarily increase economic growth.  (If you know of any who does, let me know. An apology will be forthcoming. Meanwhile, my breath will not be held.) However, in a report prepared late last year by the Congressional Research Service for Congress, public finance specialist Thomas L. Hungerford concluded in part

The top statutory income tax rates have changed considerably since the end of World War II. Throughout the late-1940s and 1950s, the top marginal tax rate was typically above 90%; today it is 35%. Additionally, the top capital gains tax rate was 25% in the 1950s and 1960s, 35% in the 1970s; today it is 15%. Statutory tax rates affecting taxpayers at the top of the income distribution are currently at their lowest levels since the end of the second World War. Whether or not the top statutory tax rates should be raised at the end of 2012, as scheduled under current law, is currently an issue before Congress. 

The results of the analysis in this report suggest that changes over the past 65 years in the top marginal tax rate and the top capital gains tax rate do not appear correlated with economic growth.

We know the mainstream media adores Paul Ryan.  Not being shrill, he seems like such a reasonable, nice young man- and he even works out! But Pompous Paul answers to his corporate benefactors and no one else.... which may be the reason he has been kind of fond of immigration reform and  this man likes him so much.

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