Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The President and the Beast

No, I'm not blogging again about Gingrich. More of that will come to the extent that the amphibian is somehow able to stay ahead of Romney and Huntsman can't have his turn to peak. What I want to address is how the President is changing the game in dealing with the "beast."

A year ago I was pleased to see the President cutting deals with Congress just to get anything he could because any compromise helped defeat the tea party philosophy of no compromise. One of the best ones he got was the reduction in the payroll withholding tax. It was a small but effective stimulus to get more money circulating in our economy, necessary in order to have a market in the first place whether free, regulated or somewhere in between. Republicans love cutting taxes. This cut helped out all taxpayers, especially the middle class. It was a tax cut. How could the Republicans refuse? It was ideal.

Now the Congress is faced with the dilemma of letting it expire, and "raising" taxes (like they argued would have happened had the W Bush tax cuts expired) or authorizing some kind of extension to continue the lower rates or even reduce them further for those who need it the most and would most likely spend it, once again pumping the slow recovery just a little more. And that's where the real trap is.

George H.W. Bush was right. Tax cuts for the rich so they can make more money to eventually trickle down to everyone is "Voodoo economics." Too bad that H.W. let the Voodoo-man take his soul. What his boy's administration was best at was promoting spending and tax cuts at the same time so that the end result would be to force cuts on the parts of the government they didn't like - those parts that provided a safety net or opportunity for all in the country to progress and prosper, not just to protect and promote those who already were prospering. This is the philosophy of "starving the beast." That is cut taxes, then start some wars with no intention of paying for them and "oops" - we run out of money actually crashing the economy in the process (well, there was the whole real estate boom greed thing that so many participated in, and the medicare drug benefit, too. And Dems are in part to blame for all this.)

But back to the Beast. Starving the beast by cutting taxes and forcing spending cuts is pretty much the idea of a lot of the Republicans these days (e.g., Paul Ryan). Some are unsophisticated enough even to admit it. (Now I really am missing Palin.) But here's the President's deft movement of this issue. By continuing the payroll tax cuts which Republicans may have to go along with again or face voters' wrath, the President is subtly separating the payroll tax from the legal fiction of social security investment or any philosophical concept of paying as you go.

Now I'm not sure I like this, and my cynicism may be showing more than my usual optimistic tone, but it is a major philosophical shift. I don't think the President, nor the voters at large (and large majorities) want to do away with Social Security and the rest of the safety net in spite of all the con-job from the right. The President, along with the majority, probably buys into the original intent of the Founders laid out right there in plain and bold English in the Preamble that one of the intents of our striving towards a more perfect Constitutional Union was to "promote the general welfare." That's not a hand-out or socialistic redistribution, it is only the promotion of a fair playing field and a social safety net for all to avoid the descent into social Darwinism so oddly promoted by the same people who oppose the biological kind.

How are we going to pay for this? We stimulate the economy so there is more to tax and we tax more on T.R. Roosevelt's progressive tax theories - where more is benefited, more is owed to the benefit of more. Well, let's see what happens on this. It is appearing once again that the President is in this for the long-range, strategic wins, sacrificing pawns, sometimes knights or bishops, to take queens. That's the kind of thing that not only wins elections but wins the future.

And the best the other side can come up with is Gingrich?

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