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Pitching to the Idiots

April 27, 2012

 

Eschewing broadcast TV for Hulu and Netflix, we’ve been catching Obama’s ad campaign in which he isn’t even subtle about insulting the audience’s intelligence.  I’m not talking about the statistics manipulations, but the paranoid rant about the gas companies paying millions to lie about Obama.  His reasoning?  That the oil giants know Romney won’t close the corporate tax loopholes but Obama will.  He then follows this statement with a quote calling tax loopholes “Taxpayer give-aways” and that we should instead invest in alternative energies.

BO is supposed to be an intelligent guy, so while the fact that he misspoke isn’t so awful, but that the misspeak would be trumpeted in a commercial followed by the ultimate of ironies is awful.

A loophole is not a “taxpayer giveaway,” it is a tax revenue loss.  A taxpayer giveaway is Solindra and the further reckless “investment” into alternative energy.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for alternative energy, but not government subsidies for it.  And the double-speak of calling a loophole a taxpayer giveaway is maddening.  Obama has constantly gambled on the stupidity of the American voter and it has worked well for him.

Once again, I mourn the loss of critical thinking… or any thinking at all… in our society.

 

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. kverdeck permalink
    April 28, 2012 12:20 pm

    Hm, I fear we may be veering into the territory of semantics again here. Our tax code has always been leveraged to incentivize behaviors regarded as being in the best interest of our society as a whole. Hence we get deductions for having kids, for purchasing a home, for giving to charity, for pursuing higher education, and so on and so forth. Whether you want to call those bits of the tax code “taxpayer giveaways” or “loss of tax revenue” is, in my mind, two ways of saying the exact same thing. Bottom line: Is it taxpayer revenue we would have otherwise collected, but did not, in order to incentivize certain behaviors? Yes, regardless of what you call it. I recognize the difference in the case of guaranteed loans like those extended to Solyndra and others–that’s not a tax issue, but the use of government funds (again) to stimulate behaviors some of us regard as beneficial to our society as a whole.

    My question for you: exactly what beneficial behavior or behaviors are we incentivizing by declining to collect otherwise fair and proper tax revenue from the oil industry, which has been posting record profits even in the face of reduced global demand and reduced production?

    For your reference: “With just BP left to report its profits on Tuesday, four of the five Big Oil companies have already made over $26 billion in the first 91 days of 2012.”

  2. April 29, 2012 2:58 pm

    Hmmm, I admit I think of taxpayers as people, nonetheless, “to give” means to “take from” in this case “taxpayers” and “giving to” oil companies, which is not what is happening. To replace the noun “taxpayer” with the pronoun(ish) “Oil companies” would be “Oil company giveaways” which still doesn’t make sense. Taxpayer amnesty works better, I think, but it doesn’t sound as damning.

    I beg to differ that Solyndra isn’t a tax issue. The government has no funds. They have tax revenues that are held in trust for the people. When we are borrowing hand-over-fist, such giveaways are against the societal good. Guaranteed loans are foolish in every instance because it removes risk and accountability by the market from the equation.

    “Fair and proper taxes” from any company is a shell game at best. Say Obama or Romney close the loopholes and make oil companies pay a billion dollars or more in tax. The oil company will not pay a dime, the purchasers of oil will pay the tax with a pass-through rise in oil prices. Their profits will not be touched. POSSIBLY a rise in tariffs for selling oil abroad might make sense, but the cost of oil will just go up.

    I would love to see that profit get rolled back into the economy, but I suspect much of it will. The profit won’t just sit in a bank, the owners of that business will buy stuff with it, expand operations and hire more people, go on vacation and spend it around the world… THAT is spreading the wealth.

    The key to increasing tax revenue is to increase the taxpayer base, meaning employed people making decent money. Hamstringing companies won’t incentivize them to hire more people.

    • kverdeck permalink
      April 30, 2012 8:17 am

      “The oil company will not pay a dime, the purchasers of oil will pay the tax with a pass-through rise in oil prices.”
      This is one of the general tropes of the right in defense of corporate welfare like the oil industry tax loopholes, but it doesn’t stand up very well to scrutiny, certainly not to historical perspective. A quick read on the subject: http://www.seeingtheforest.com/archives/2010/04/tax_tricks_do_c.htm

      “The profit won’t just sit in a bank, the owners of that business will buy stuff with it, expand operations and hire more people, go on vacation and spend it around the world… THAT is spreading the wealth.”
      This is something on which I would LOVE to agree with you. But again, the trope of the right that corporations and their executives (and the wealthy in general) are the Job Creators is complete garbage. They possess the machinery and infrastructure with which to employ people, yes, but no businessman is going to create jobs without demand to support the output of those jobs, and the vast majority of that demand comes from the middle class, making THEM the real Job Creators. We’re failing to see anything but the most anemic recovery simply because the middle class on the whole is still under much duress, and no longer has the ability to borrow and spend the way they did for the past 20 years or so. In the face of that lack of demand, corporate profits very much ARE simply sitting in the bank–here is a recent article noting that U.S. companies are currently sitting on $2.2 TRILLION in cash reserves, and banks are holding another $1.5 TRILLION in excess reserves–all that money doing nothing at all to help anyone. Do a little research on the term liquidity trap, that’s exactly where we–and much of the world–find ourselves.

      So you’re absolutely right, the solution to all of this–unemployment, deficits, and slow GDP growth–is to increase the revenue base by increasing employment and middle-class wages to stimulate demand. But that’s not happening, because one side of our political machinery is so intent on doing nothing (in between attacks on women and minorities and organized labor, anyway) but funneling more money from programs to help the poor and middle class thrive, directly into the offshore bank accounts of those who need it least.

  3. May 1, 2012 8:09 pm

    First, I’m not saying they shouldn’t close the loopholes, as I’ve said before, I’m against all corporate taxes and income taxes, favoring the transparent Fair Tax. I do maintain that your linked site is wrong. Having worked at a bank where the current Dodd/Frank bill cut into their profit, they immediately instituted new fees (the abandoned $5 CheckCard fee was only one of the fees). He is right that they won’t know what the current year’s tax is, but they do know last year’s tax and build it into the COGS, just like their competitors. Or they’ll pass the loss onto to their employees.

    And, yes, I was being overly simplistic; the middle class has to recover and the BANKS have to recover from the damage the government did to them, BUT the companies have the infrastructure and machinery ready to go (and we do know that money doesn’t ever really sit in a bank; it goes to work in the community/country/world).

    What programs would help the poor and middle class thrive? And do any of them not require borrowing money from China?

    We may not like oil companies, but they offer something we all want so they make profits. Where is the immorality in that, exactly? They may not need it, but they have earned it.

    And really, you threw the liberal trope of “attacks on women” just to make me smile, right? What attacks on women? 🙂

    • kverdeck permalink
      May 2, 2012 4:19 pm

      Ah, but it IS just sitting in the banks. Banks have $1.5 trillion in excess reserves. No doubt they’d love to loan it out, but the middle class isn’t in a position to borrow, as the main asset most of us have is our home, and home equity was dealt a staggering blow in the collapse of the real estate bubble. Businesses don’t need to borrow, they’re also sitting on unprecendented piles of cash. Who’s left?

      Damage done to banks by government? How’s that? Were the banks hurt by all that bailout money and the secret loans from the Fed totaling $16 trillion? By passing regulations in Dodd-Frank that a) come nowhere near the safeguards of Glass-Steagall that kept the system in check for 80 years and b) aren’t even being enforced? Even the Dallas Federal Reserve bank–regarded as the most conservative branch of the Fed–recommended recently that the largest banks need to be broken up. They were supposedly too big to fail in 2008, and they’re even bigger now, encompassing 56% of the American economy (compared to 17% in 1970).

      Okay, I’ll bite. Recent conservative attacks on women, bullet-point style:
      -Rush Limbaugh vs. Sandra Fluke. This was a mountain/molehill deal, really, and a base personal attack from one perennial blowhard which thankfully met with an outcry and advertisers deserting his show. But there was precious little outcry from the conservative side, and even some support for Limbaugh’s frankly unsupportable attacks–which he is apparently continuing.
      -Birth control. This ties into the prior one, of course, but on a grander scale. No matter what you personally believe about the right vs. wrong of birth control, the fact is that just about every woman in the country uses birth control at some point in her life, and many for the majority of her life. It is not a luxury, it is a health necessity for a woman to control her reproductive life. That’s just the way it is. For conservatives to support anything but that viewpoint, and anything but the viewpoint that says health providers and employers should regard birth control as a necessity and a right is simply, well, wrong, and constitutes an attack on women in general.
      -Violence Against Women Act. This was the first time since the law was passed in 1994 that its reauthorization became an issue–in the recent Senate vote, only 15 Republicans voted for the bill’s reauthorization. The sticking point for the GOP was that the latest version of the bill adds some protections for LGBT people, which of course is simply.. terrible? I guess?
      -The Wage Gap. Women earn, on average, 77 cents on the dollar compared to men for otherwise equal positions. Sounds unfair, doesn’t it? Sounds like something we should strive as a society to rectify, doesn’t it? So why is the GOP out there justifying the gap and repealing laws that seek to address it?
      -The Anti-Choice Movement. I know abortion is a hot-button issue clouded with all sorts of emotions and assumptions, but the way most women see it is quite simple: as a matter of control over their own body, and over their own life. Again, whether you think that’s right or wrong is of no consequence, it’s just the way it is. So the recent flurry of bills across the country requiring invasive vaginal ultrasounds prior to an abortion, changing the timeline for when abortions are legal, or moving towards criminalization of birth control? Yeah, those might be meant to preserve precious fetuses, but like it or not they’re also attacks on the women carrying (and potentially carrying) those fetuses.
      -“I love the fact that there are women out there who don’t have a choice, and they must go to work and they still have to raise the kids.” – Ann Romney, 4/23/12

      Now, don’t get me wrong, there are reasons the GOP takes the positions they do on these issues that don’t have anything to do with misogyny in and of itself. But taken as a whole, it’s no wonder women support Obama over Romney in record numbers.

      I note you didn’t contest the bit about attacks on minorities and organized labor. 🙂

      Jeez, I write way too much. i apologize. 🙂

  4. May 3, 2012 7:59 pm

    Goodness, where to start?

    It seems the Democratic creed is to Underwrite the Irresponsible (I should trademark that phrase).

    The housing crisis was caused by government removing risk from the market place. Guaranteeing loans made banks and lenders fools not to give away money. How could they lose? I’ll happily note that it was a Clinton-Bush foul-up. Republics are almost as bad with big government as Dems.

    Maybe the government should be borrowing from big oil rather than China? Money never sits idle in the bank. If it did, maybe we should incentivize/envision the energy companies to seek alternative energy solutions (the biggest developer, by the way, is Siemens, a super-corporation.

    Truthfully, I’d be okay with breaking up the big banks. It’s a liberal thing, but it would probably be wise (how to do it legally though?)

    Whheeee, the war on women! Forgive me while I giggle.

    Rush does not all Republicans make and Ms. Fluke (well named) is A woman, not women. They are both ridiculous and at least Rush has apologized and Fluke has not. (OK, I try to be a polite person, but when she said she needs $9,000 a year for birth control my immediate thought was, “when does the woman have time to study?”

    Birth Control: No Republican is against it, just any church being forced to provide something they are against. We’ve never had an insurance company pay for contraception, but I think if an insurance company wants to cover it, as long as their client isn’t opposed to it, fine. That’s the republican’s view too. (Let me put my conspiracy hat on; George Step-all-over-us made a big deal about this in a debate where everyone wondered what the heck he was talking about. No one was against contraception and George kept hammering it. You can’t tell me the whole contraception thing was a fabricated Democratic distraction manufactured to be twisted so that freedom of religion (which no one seems to care about but the religious) became something it wasn’t – an attack on contraception.)

    Violence Against Women Act. The act covers women. Aren’t lesbians and minorities women? A little legislative restraint is appreciated now and then. Or are you suggesting if you’re white and straight, it’s better you’re beaten up than a lesbian or minority? Silly additions.

    The Wage Gap is a chimera. It isn’t a one-to-one study, it’s a mass study. So the masses of women get paid less than the masses of men. So what? A female firefighter should get the same as a male firefighter and on down the line. More women work part-time than men; some choose flex-time over pay.

    Abortion: Control your body and you won’t have to kill a child. Whether your insurance carries contraceptives or not, condoms are (I think, it’s been a long time) cheap. Our society has to do a 180 and they won’t if they don’t have too. (I also don’t think that’s solely a women’s issue; men are still required the last time I looked.) Isn’t it even a little disconcerting that the defense of abortion are retreads of the defense of slavery “It’s my state, not yours! They aren’t human anyway! It represents a fiscal hardship! It’s darn inconvenient!”

    Okay, go ahead, how are Reps assaulting minorities? And unions? I love unions. I’ve worked for several. One got me $480 an hour for a memorable day after working 9 days straight on a holiday–that I agreed to, no one forced me. Fortunately, they never told me to strike, because I wouldn’t have. Unions are past their time.

    Now, are there some pols from each side of the aisle that have an ugly ax to grind? Sure. There’s also a lot of ugly pols playing with hatches, but that doesn’t represent everyone and they are the exception. I will never stand up for the integrity of a politician, and the current presidential race is going to boil down to “our liar is better than your liar!” but we can hope.

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