Thursday, September 23, 2010

Rebublicans, taxes, and manufacturing opinion

Today Republicans offered up their "Pledge to America" should they take control of the House in the upcoming elections. According to an article in The New York Times, Republicans are demanding that issues on their agenda be discussed, "including making lower tax rates for all taxpayers permanent, holding back federal spending, repealing the health-care overhaul enacted this year and reducing the federal deficit."

I find the desire to repeal the health care bill a bit odd, particularly because many of the changes it was designed to make have not yet been implemented (in fact, several points of the plan are just going into effect today). There's not much evidence to say this bill is a failure, so repeal seems premature.

Deficit spending is a problem. We should just admit that. However, during recessions and depressions, deficit spending is common and it has been argued that such practices can help economies rebound. The question is not one of should we cut spending, but when. Some feel the time is now; others think it's too soon. This debate is worth having.

This whole thing about cutting taxes and making the Bush tax cuts permanent is just odd. It seems, more than anything else, to be an attempt to placate what we perceive to be a majority view. Perceive is the key word. Consider the following from Pew reported just 3 days ago:

Most people don't feel as though they are overtaxed. This is not to say there is a call for increases, but the idea that the public is clamoring for lower taxes is a manufactured opinion. Moreover, roughly 60% of the population is for either eliminating the Bush tax cuts all together or at least eliminating them for the wealthiest among us.

The saddest -- and perhaps most dangerous -- aspect of this whole scenario is the fact that this manufactured opinion will likely shape media and political discourse during this election season. Unlike past elections which are often based on lies, this one may be based on a fabrication spun out of control, which is much more insidious.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Losing my religion

It seems this new professor gig I've landed has seriously changed the focus of this blog from blind rage to curious intrigue. Hopefully you handful of readers find both as interesting as I do.

Anyway, yet again, some more numbers from Pew that I found interesting. As it turns out, over two-thirds of Americans believe religion is losing ground as an influential part of society and politics. Here's a more detailed breakdown:

An interesting change over the past 4 years, no doubt. The more intriguing question, for me anyway, is whether this decrease in influence is seen as positive or negative. According to the report, 53% see this shift as bad, while only 10% view it as positive. This is one of the few times that I, as a white male, can consider myself part of the minority. The Man is walking all over me...

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Confusion over Republican policies

The good folks at PEW have an interesting new study out concerning Republican counter-proposals to the agenda of Obama and the Democrats.

Overall, people seem to favor the idea of allowing individuals to invest a portion of their Social Security taxes at their leisure (I agree). Also, people generally oppose the replacing of Medicare with a private voucher system (I agree), yet paradoxically oppose the new health care bill (I disagree. My position on health care reform is that we didn't do enough, not that we did too much).

By far the most interesting results concern the Bush tax cuts:

People are almost evenly split across income levels about repealing the tax cuts for the wealthy; oddly, it seems that the richest Americans favor taxing the wealthy slightly more so than do the poorest. Perhaps people don't always vote their wallets after all, something I've long suspected and even known.

The way I see it, if the wealthy don't generally mind anteing up a little more, I don't see why we shouldn't take them up on the offer, considering we're broke and all.