Monday, August 2, 2010

NAILIN' PALIN: Another WTF moment brought to you by your friends at Fox News

“Some people just don’t get it,” I wrote in a blog back in 2008 regarding the aforementioned half-term former governor of Alaska and current guest of honor in the Hall of Shame, Sarah Palin. To which you can now add the following, “And those people don’t seem to care!”

Fact checking and politics are somewhat akin to oil and vinegar. Mixed together they can form the basis of a very satisfying salad dressing. But when allowed to separate, as they are want to do, they are simply dreadful to the taste buds. So it’s never a surprise to me that politicians on both sides of the aisle tend to bend and twist the facts to suit their political agenda. They fail to speak the complete truth to their constituents and hope that their dearth of forthrightness will not be uncovered by the media. That is when the media decides to do its job and probes for the truth.

But seldom do they go to such lengths to deliberately mislead and flat out lie.  Enter Sarah Palin, stage right (what else?), who never seems to disappoint when it comes to deceiving her public. While appearing with Chris Wallace on Fox News last Sunday, Palin was asked by a surprisingly objective Wallace whether Republicans were being hypocritical in criticizing Obama and Congressional Democrats for run away spending and huge deficits while defending the Bush tax cuts, which have not been paid for and are adding to the deficit. Palin not only failed to answer the question, she added insult to injury by not even getting the facts straight.

Forget for a moment that, once more, she had to resort to writing crib notes on her hand. Forget also that even the Wall Street Journal – hardly a paragon of liberal reasoning – posted a chart which shows taxes for single Americans making less than $300,000 will stay the same under President Obama's tax policy for 2011, and taxes for married couples making less than $300,000 will actually go down. Forget all of that for a moment and focus on the inane idea being floated, not only by Palin, but by the entire Republican Party, that allowing the Bush tax cuts to expire would mean the largest tax increase in American history.

Regardless of how one feels about taxes – and I assume we all feel that we pay too much – the idea that rolling back the top tax rates to where they were under Bill Clinton and at the same time reducing the deficit somehow equates to the “largest tax increase in American history” goes above and beyond in the dumb and dumber department. Furthermore, Palin’s contention that this tax “hike” will hurt all Americans is again not supported by the facts. Only small companies that “net” over the $200,000 threshold will be affected. As a percentage of S-type corporations they do not represent a majority. In deed only about 3% of small businesses would be subject to the new tax rates.

Let’s look at the facts shall we, governor? President Obama wants to let the cuts lapse for joint tax filers who make at least $250,000 ($200,000 for individuals) but extend them for everyone else. That means the top two tax rates would revert to where they were in the late 1990s – the last time we had a balanced budget by the way. The 35% rate would go to 39.6% and the 33% rate would go to 36%. If that qualifies as the largest tax increase in American history, then we just made history, because those rate hikes – such as they are being proposed – are far less than they were in 1917 when the top rate went from 15% to an astounding 67%. Furthermore, even that draconian number pales in comparison to the top tax rate of 91% in1963. Put that in your pipe, Ms. Palin, and smoke it!

To add insult to injury, Palin, and her band of cronies isn’t just content with making ludicrous charges about fake tax hikes; they now claim the same rubbish that Bush himself tried to pawn off on the American people: namely that allowing these tax cuts to continue will somehow, miraculously increase tax revenues, because the more money rich people have in their wallets and bank accounts, the more money they will have to invest and propel the economy forward towards a rigorous recovery.

This bit of tripe – better known as supply-side economics – has been thoroughly discredited. In a nut shell – which is a fitting analogy all things considered – lower tax rates produce more investment, hence more taxable revenues. The problem with that “logic” is that the amount of additional revenues do not offset the tax reductions. In deed, as the facts reveal, during the Reagan and Bush Jr. years, the deficit went up considerably due to this policy. Rich people may have loved lower taxes but the treasury sure didn’t.

Another bit of convoluted logic that Palin and Co. try to spin is that increasing taxes on the wealthy means they will not have the incentive to continue to earn the money that both they and the rest of us need to keep our economic ship afloat. Rubbish. One look at the more affluent areas of the country should be all you need to debunk that lie. The wealthy are doing just fine, thank you, and thanks to Reaganomics they have been doing just fine since the 1980s. In fact, with the exception of the early twentieth century, at no time in our history have we seen a greater percentage of wealth in the hands of so few people.

The gap between rich and poor in this country has been widening steadily for three decades now. Allowing the Bush tax cuts to expire will not right all the wrongs in our tax code, but it will begin the process of putting the country back on the correct path and hopefully bring a semblance of equity to a system that is as rigged as any slot machine in Vegas, and equally corrupt.

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