Home > economics, General Comment, political-economy, politics > Jared Bernstein’s Fog (Or, how an economist becomes a flack…)

Jared Bernstein’s Fog (Or, how an economist becomes a flack…)

Jared Bernstein, economic wonderboy of the Democratic Party Left, has a new essay comparing John McCain’s tax policies to Barack’s.

As to John McCain’s tax policy: the only people taking it seriously also believe in the tooth fairy.

This is all you need to know about John McCain’s tax policy: 78.4 billion dollars a month – every month, for the next 100 years to murder Iraqis and Afghanis, and, cruise ships around the Pacific Ocean for no particular reason. With another 31 billion dollars a month in tax cuts for the wealthiest one percent of the population for the next ten years at least.

This, of course, does not include 33.8 billion dollars a month for that other handout to the wealthy, to Japan, to Saudi Arabia, and, to China: interest on the national debt.

That’s right, 143.2 billion dollars a month in proposed spending – John McCain, ever the fiscal conservative.

But the real meat is in Barack’s proposals: according to the report Jared is using:

“Against current policy, Senator Obama’s proposals would raise [federal government revenues] $700 billion, an increase of 2 percent…”

You read that right, Barack proposes to raise revenues flowing into the federal government coffers by $700,000,000,000.00 over the next ten years.

You see, Uncle Sam is like God: all seeing, all knowing (he does read your email) all powerful, and he really, really, really, needs money.

Jared neglects to point this out to you in his essay.

In fact, typical of political campaign flacks, his entire object is to direct your focus to the most objectionable portions of the opponent’s platform, while deftly avoiding mention of, and justification for, his own candidate’s position.

Jared, can you tell us why Barack believes the federal government need $700 billion more dollars over the next ten years?

And, if he gets the money, will that be enough to fund all those aircraft carrier groups cruising around the Persian Gulf?

Let us note at the outset:

The two candidates’ plans would have sharply different distributional effects. Senator McCain’s tax cuts would primarily benefit those with very high incomes, almost all of whom would receive large tax cuts that would, on average, raise their after-tax incomes by more than twice the average for all households. Many fewer households at the bottom of the income distribution would get tax cuts and those whose taxes fall would, on average, see their after-tax income rise much less. In marked contrast, Senator Obama offers much larger tax breaks to low- and middle-income taxpayers and would increase taxes on high-income taxpayers. The largest tax cuts, as a share of income, would go to those at the bottom of the income distribution, while taxpayers with the highest income would see their taxes rise. Tax Policy Center

So, Barack’s tax proposals can be labeled relatively progressive against John McCain’s. Since, the Democratic Party is to the left of center in this country, we should expect more progressive in tax treatment equals more appealing to that crowd.

Jared makes sure we notice this:

the impact of Obama’s tax plan is to raise after-tax incomes more for lower income families than higher ones, and visa versa for McCain. In econo-parlance, Obama’s tax changes are progressive, McCain’s, regressive.

Bra….vo. [Clap, clap, clap.]

But, Jared, can you explain this statement:

It’s not that the tax discussion is a sideshow. It’s obviously key, in no small part because we can’t rebalance our economic system without an adequately funded public sector. But it’s not the whole shooting match. It’s one piece of the blueprint in a policy architecture designed to reconnect economic growth and broadly shared prosperity.

What is an adequately funded public sector?

How much does it cost? How do you know when you get there?

And, what does it mean to rebalance our economic system?

Finally, what does it mean to, reconnect economic growth and broadly shared prosperity?

We would argue that each of these phrases are meaningless – each, a collection of haphazardly arranged interchangeable terms designed to say nothing, and appear to be doing something – something, that is, other than enlarging government just a wee bit more.

We can, for instance, Adequately fund our public sector to rebalance our economic system and reconnect economic growth and broadly shared prosperity?

Or, we can, Reconnect our economic system through economic growth and broadly shared prosperity, which will adequately fund and rebalance our public sector

Or, we could Reconnect, rebalance, and, broadly share our economic system to support prosperity, economic growth, and an adequately funded public sector.

But, what WE can’t do is explain why all this reconnecting, rebalancing and sharing bullshit has to result in more revenue flowing into government coffers.

But, of course, that is the intent behind flack: to toss a bunch of shit into the air, and hope something hits something else.

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