Friday, November 28, 2008

Mandate to tax the super rich?

David Sirota At Blog for Our Future:

I went on to make the point that I've often made in the past - the point that conservatives simply want everyone to forget: Namely, that President Clinton faced down a recession in 1993 by raising taxes on the wealthy in order to finance an economic stimulus package, and the economy subsequently boomed.

That simple, undeniable bit of history undermines the entire structure of conservatives claim that raising taxes on the super-rich will hurt the economy. And as you'll see from Norquist's response, they simply cannot deal with that truth. Indeed, Norquist actually goes all the way back to the 1920s as his example that raising taxes on the wealthy impedes economic growth - somehow ignoring the history from 15 years ago. He then goes on to claim with a straight face that Franklin Roosevelt created the Great Depression (this, along with the "center-right nation" propaganda, seems to be the right's new talking point).

The question now is whether the Obama administration buys into Norquist's fact-free nonsense, or whether it musters the same courage President Clinton mustered in prudently raising taxes on the super-rich to responsibly finance an economic stimulus package. Sure, temporary deficits are acceptable right now - there's no arguing that. But doing what's necessary to minimize those deficits is also important.

In terms of policy, if, as Congressional Quarterly reports, Obama wants to enforce budget discipline on a necessarily large economic stimulus package, it will require generating additional revenue from the wealthy. In terms of raw politics, if Clinton's 43 percent of the vote gave him enough political capital to come into office during an economic downturn and do that, I'd say Obama and his 53 percent gives him enough political capital to do the same today. And I would argue that if Obama backs off his promise to raise taxes on the wealthy, he will effectively validate the false conservative frame that claims tax increases on the wealthy endangers an economy.

While I certainly agree with the CNBC reporter that the 2008 is different than the 1990s, it isn't different when it comes to taxes - we have very recent history that proves raising taxes on the wealthy in order to raise revenues for economic stimulus, if done prudently, helps an economy recover. That is the argument that nobody during this debate was able to undermine - and it is the argument conservatives fear most, because they know it is accurate.

If George Bush claimed a mandate which he intended to 'spend', Obama clearly has one to implement his progressive agenda:
A mandate for progressive change exists. In a memo released today, the Center for American Progress Action Fund writes, “Obama ran on the most progressive platform of any presidential candidate in at least 15 years, including a promise of universal health care coverage, a dramatic transformation to a low-carbon economy, and a historic investment in education.”
President Bush was re-elected in 2004 with 286 electoral votes, the smallest popular-vote margin since 1976 (excluding the 2000 election) and the lowest electoral vote count for an incumbent president's re-election since 1916. Nevertheless, many in the media were quick to echo Vice President Dick Cheney's assertion that "the nation" gave Bush "a mandate." It remains to be seen whether the media will apply the same standard in assessing the results of the 2008 election.


Distributorcap said...

ll - of course the media is so in bed with the conservatives who have been robbing us blind - they are one in the same.

plus - norquist is about as big as asshole as you can get.

ellroon said...

Maybe we should help Norquist find the bathtub he keeps referring to...