Friday, August 18, 2017

For the record: I get my Bernie on

Men harvesting wheat with reaping-hooks, on a calendar page for August. Queen Mary's Psalter (Ms. Royal 2. B. VII), ca. 1310, via Wikimedia Commons.
Our good friend Bethesda1971 published a diary at Kos suggesting that
Dems Must Seize the Tax Cut Issue: Demand Working/Middle Class Cuts; Ignore the Deficit
and I was a little bit like wait a minute, really? A middle-class tax cut? Isn't that kind of small ball? And found myself banging out a response on my phone in the subway in which I seem to have chased myself out to the left of Bernie Sanders (well, people have been saying he's not a real socialist for years),  and I thought I might as well memorialize that.

But as you say people don't even notice it.* And people below median income are hardly paying income tax as it is. You need a program that people can picture making a difference in their lives, and this sounds like (Bill) Clintonism, competing with Republicans on their turf.** Worst, the tax cut doesn't make more than a tiny dent in inequality.
I agree on taking focus away from deficit, but I would prefer to see increase in thresholds for earned income benefits for us, and for the rich equalizing tax treatment of capital income and inheritance to tax at same rate as wages.*** And then massive efforts to make capital accessible to people with lower incomes, like post office banking or more credit unions. And forcing Fed to met inflation targets before it raises interest rates. If there's something Democrats need to "seize" it's the inequality argument.****

* I mean, that as tax rates continued to fall for middle class payers throughout the Obama administration, polls never stopped showing people believing their tax rates were going up.

** And it's not as if we had a real chance of passing a serious program any time in the next three years. Even in the unimaginably best impeachment luck, President Pelosi and the Republican Senate would have their hands completely full with ethics legislation repairing the legal holes that allow Trump more or less unlimited corruption. Budgeting will be by continuing resolution until 2021. And there's no point in making your compromises ahead of the negotiation, unless you're as cunning as Obama. Might as well think big while we have the time!

*** Bernie insisted on the deficit-hawk gesture of a middle-class tax hike. Of course my health insurance program (starting from the ACA and more or less Germanizing it) is a lot less expensive than "single payer".

**** Why are so many of us forgetting this? More and more Americans have no pensions or property and face literal destitution in old age, while people like Trump can gratify every whim without even thinking about it. Marx and Piketty were both right, this isn't sustainable. If we don't move forward we'll be going back to feudalism.

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