10 August 2010


I've just about had it with politicians. John Boehner, the House Minority Leader (which is like being the captain of the team that loses the Super Bowl--sure, it's a nice title, but you didn't really do anything) was on Meet the Press this past weekend. Joining him was his fantastic tan:

He starts off well enough saying that BP should be held accountable for any negligence. I like how the interviewer assumes it is the role of the government to "go after" BP for negligence when the government suffered no harm, but that's another matter. Boehner makes the good point, made several times here, that it was no lack of regulations that caused either the financial crisis or the oil spill.

Then things go poorly. Boehner takes the position that taxes shouldn't be raised on anyone right now, which is fine so far as it goes. But, critics note, not increasing tax revenue would increase the deficit. What no one seems to understand is that if you spend less than you take in in taxes, then the deficit will decrease. There is another side to the ledger here. The concentration seems to be on matching taxes to desired spending instead of matching spending to what you're taking in. But, starting at the 5:00 mark, Boehner just stumbles along saying that increasing taxes during a recession is bad. Johnny boy, bad idea giving away the cart like that. Recessions end. So then it's a great idea to raise taxes?

The on to the "retirement age." Apparently Boehner said somewhere that the "retirement age" should be raised to 70 (which, during the interview, he never acknowledges). I think what everyone is talking about is when people can start to receive transfer payments from the Social Security Administration. Talk about "retirement age" is silly. First, one can retire anytime he wants to, before or after any arbitrarily set number of years when the government decides to give you money it took from someone else under the pretense that you're too stupid to arrange your own affairs and too irresponsible to take care of yourself.

Second, and here's the key point, the number the Roosevelt administration came up with way back when, 65, wasn't the age you were expected to retire, it was the age you were expected to die. And "benefits" (a wonderful euphemism for "someone else's money") weren't then pegged to inflation, for that we can thank Richard Nixon.

I love how politicians say stuff like "we should all, the American people, have an adult conversation..." when politicians go to almost absurd lengths not to have reasonable conversations regarding difficult things.

Republicans right now don't have to put forth any policy proposals. Politically, they only have to let Democrats keep doing things people don't like. That they don't have to do something is quite different than that they should. They won't say that spending needs to be cut because: 1) When they controlled the House, Senate and White House, spending went through the roof, after cutting taxes (which is a really bad idea), and 2) they never mention specifically what it is they intend to cut because that money goes to someone, and they don't want to upset that someone who would then not vote Republican.

So we're stuck with Republicans and Democrats who like to treat the public fisc as some big bowl of Halloween candy to be passed out amongst their favorite children (different constituencies, but it's the same thing: buying votes). The Republicans don't want to replace the money at all; the Democrats want to demonize the "wealthy" and tax them more to pay for their candy, which disincentivizes success, drags down productivity and spreads equally not just income, but misery.

Either way, we lose.

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