Sunday, October 22, 2017

The Tax Cut Shell Game

Well folks, it looks like the Republicans are going to play the tax cut shell game yet again. It's rather ingenious, and for some reason they still keep getting away with it. This is how it works: they tell everyone that if taxes for the wealthy are cut, libertarian magic powder will fall from the heavens and the economy will grow. Not only that, the increased economic output will increase revenue. The tax cuts will pay for themselves!

This is, of course, a bunch of carny bullshit. What astounds me is that we have now had 36 years of proof going back to Reagan's 1981 tax cuts that this simply does not work. What actually happens is that the deficits balloon and debt piles up. For years critics of the GOP tax cut theology have failed to see, however, that the deficits are a feature, not a bug.

Conservatives know in their heart of hearts that the Laffer Curve is horseshit. They also know that so many in the media take their deficit hawk malarkey seriously, which allows them to be portrayed as Very Serious People instead of irresponsible servants of the wealthy. This gives them cover, since what the deficits do is force unpopular cuts in social spending down the road. Once they kick in, conservative politicians claim that austerity is The Only Option. (Just witness what happened when Republicans got back Congress during the Obama years.) Raising taxes is rarely popular, so the deficits tend to force Democrats to either acquiesce to austerity or to risk political suicide -a la Mondale in '84- by telling people they will have to go back to paying more taxes. Over time this means massive cuts to the social state, as we have seen in the last three decades.

Anyone with half a brain can see this dynamic once it's presented to them. Why then does our media persist in playing along as if this is not the clear, long-term intent of tax cuts?  Why is someone like Paul Ryan, the chief instigator of the shell game, always shown as a Very Serious Person? Is the media that afraid of calling things what they are, lest they be accused of lacking objectivity?

And we wonder how we got into this awful mess.

1 comment:

Terry said...

The media is afraid of calling it what it is because their corporate owners would fire them. Some don't report the truth because they are actually stupid enough to believe the BS. For all the griping about how progressives live in an echo chamber, the ones living in an echo chamber are the mass media idiots - they wouldn't know a real human being if they ran smack into one, and if they ever had a genuine feeling, they'd probably kill themselves. Some news places have been doing responsible and diligent reporting - we should erect statues to *them*.