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Making The GOP Tax Bill Slightly Less Awful

[ Posted Wednesday, December 6th, 2017 – 18:11 PST ]

Republicans like to boast about how their current plan to reform the tax code is the biggest such effort since the 1980s. They especially like this line because it references Saint Ronald of Reagan [pause for GOP genuflections], whose irreproachable sanctity is about all the Republican Party can even agree upon, these days. But back in Reagan's day, Congress spent something like two years developing their tax code overhaul, with at least six months of that spent in committee hearings and bipartisan work toward a common goal. That common goal was to reduce taxes on individuals and increase them on corporations. None of that is true this time around, of course, as Republicans only even have a prayer of passing anything these days (despite controlling both houses of Congress) by rushing things so hastily that nobody has a chance to talk about what is in the massive bill. That two-year process will be smushed into a few paltry weeks, with a self-imposed Christmas deadline. Also, the end goal this time is exactly the opposite -- massively reduce the taxes corporations pay by increasing the share individuals pay.

All of this means that the American public has much less time to process what is happening, which is by design (of course). Republicans know that the longer people have to examine their tax plan, the more the public will learn about what it actually does. And, so far, the more the public learns about it the more they hate it. Overwhelming majorities see the GOP tax "reform" as nothing short of redistribution upwards -- which screws over the middle class (once again) in order to provide lavish goodies for those at the top of the income scale, and Wall Street. Since this is the actual bedrock upon which the GOP tax bill was constructed, it is impossible to hide its inherent nature for very long.

What I've found notable is how quickly people have realized the truth of the matter. The spin job from the Republicans seems to have utterly failed this time around. This is rather astonishing, because usually Republicans are a lot better about creating tax-cutting talking points and sticking to them -- thus introducing their own version of reality into the press and, eventually, within large segments of the public. It usually works, at least for a while. "Tax cuts for everyone!" has sold many GOP tax plans over the years, indeed ever since Reagan trod the Oval Office's carpets. But this time it just doesn't seem to be working.

The massive public pushback is a huge political problem for Republicans. Normally, passing a tax cut boosts their chances in the next election cycle. But when the plan actually raises taxes on a bunch of middle-class people while corporate America makes out like bandits, it's a much harder sell. "Tax hikes for you, tax cuts for your employer!" just doesn't cut it as a campaign slogan, in other words. And even with the lightning speed with which the bill is moving through Congress, this has already started to resonate with certain segments of the GOP (most notably, those who are from wealthy suburban districts). So while the broad outlines of the tax plan have been known since the House voted on their version, efforts have been underway to make the whole plan at least slightly more palatable to the public.

In a frenzy late last Friday, the Senate voted on a bill whose ink hadn't even dried yet. All sorts of last-minute deals were included (such as kickbacks to Alaska's senator) which had nothing whatsoever to do with taxes. But a few of these, at least, did make the GOP bill marginally better in nature.

Currently, a joint committee has been formed between the House and Senate to iron out the differences between the two bills. This is expected to also happen (if it's successful) in whirlwind fashion. Just today, though, some of what they are contemplating leaked out. Partly because they are constrained by a total bill of $1.5 trillion in deficit spending, and partly because they have been getting angry calls from some constituents who will be on the losing end of the stick, some of all these changes seem to be moving towards making the plan slightly less awful.

The biggest hole to be blown in the budget comes from slashing the tax rate for corporations from 35 percent to 20 percent. Now, each percentage point costs roughly $100 billion (which means the whole $1.5 trillion added to the deficit goes directly to lowering corporate taxes, not the middle class, of course), and as Republicans begrudgingly decide to make the rest of the bill less awful for average taxpayers, they've got to offset the costs. So they are -- very quietly -- considering only lowering the corporate tax to 22 percent, which would free up $200 billion for other tweaks. But a 13-percent drop in taxes on big businesses is ever-so-slightly less massive than a 15-point drop.

One of the changes reportedly demanded by Maine's Susan Collins in the Senate bill is perhaps the best one of all (at least in my opinion) -- merely readjusting who has to pay the Alternative Minimum Tax rather than abolishing it completely. I have written previously on how bad an idea getting rid of the A.M.T. would be -- especially since it would mean Donald Trump getting an 81 percent cut on his own taxes -- but critics of the A.M.T. do have a point. When it was originally created, it targeted very high earners who wrote off significant portions of their income. The A.M.T. limited these deductions so that very wealthy people couldn't get away (by using tax shelters and other accounting tricks) with paying little or no federal income taxes. That is a worthy goal, but over time what happened is that more and more people were affected by the A.M.T. than originally intended. So moving the bar upwards of who the A.M.T. affects (currently no one making under something like $130,000 a year has to pay it) could make some degree of sense. Let's hope the Collins idea makes it out of conference committee, since the A.M.T. has a very valuable place in the American tax system. Limit who is affected by it if you must, but don't get rid of it entirely.

Businesses also have to pay their own version of the A.M.T., which is under discussion by the committee. Some Republicans want to abolish it for businesses, some want to keep it. We'll see what happens in the end, but it seems reasonable that it could be adjusted in the same way the individual A.M.T. would be under the Collins plan -- maybe up the bar for who is affected, but don't scrap it entirely.

Another last-minute change in the Senate bill would also dial back the ambitions of the Republican Party to create a dynastic society in America. Originally, in the House bill, the estate tax would have been abolished. Now, this tax only affects a few thousand people each year, because the bar for who gets hit is already incredibly high (only estates worth over $5 million are affected). Removing it would allow the Paris Hiltons and Ivanka Trumps of the world to not have to pay taxes on multibillion-dollar estates. But at the last minute, the Senate changed their version to just doubling the limit for who is affected by the estate tax. Much like the A.M.T. action, this would be a lot more acceptable than just tossing the idea out altogether.

The three changes that have gotten the most attention so far are the GOP plans to remove the deductions for home mortgage interest, property taxes, and state and local taxes. These would hit precisely the class of people who have enough spare income to donate to political parties, it is worth pointing out, so the pushback against it has been pretty fierce. The original plan was to scrap these three deductions altogether. Then this was dialed back in the House to lowering the amount of the total mortgage you could claim from the current $1 million down to $500,000. The only problem with this is that in the most expensive real estate markets in the country, even a million dollars does not buy a palatial mansion, it only buys a very modest house -- the same 3-bedroom 1,500-square-foot suburban house that might cost only $150,000 if it were sitting in most other parts of America. Now, it's somewhat understandable that some limit be imposed on the deductibility of your house so that owners of real mansions are limited in what they can deduct. But the current amount seems fine, rather than going after the middle class in some parts of the country. Lowering this limit will hit many middle-class homeowners hard, in other words. The Senate bill kept the current limits, so we'll see which version wins out in the end.

The other big deduction homeowners use is being able to write off their property taxes. Originally, Republicans wanted to abolish this deduction entirely, but then received some immediate pushback from GOP politicians from areas that would be severely affected by this change (one can assume the phones were ringing off the hooks in their district offices). So instead of removing the deduction, Republicans decided to institute a $10,000 cap on property taxes. This, again, seems designed to not allow people with mansions to claim huge deductions, but it would actually affect plenty of middle class people in certain high-tax parts of the country. Still, $10,000 of deductible property tax is better than no deductible at all.

Other than property taxes, state and local taxes are also deductible for those who itemize. Republicans want to abolish this deduction for purely political-payback reasons. Most states with high taxes are Democratic states, therefore it would hit their political opponents hard, so Republicans couldn't resist trying. The problem for them, it turns out, is that there are plenty of Republican House districts which will also be hit hard by this change. Some are in blue states, but some of those districts are also in very red states. GOP representatives from those districts are already worried about their chances for re-election next year, so they are pushing back against their leadership to allow state and local taxes to still be deducted.

This battle is far from over. Very quietly, the subject is under discussion, but the only news report I've seen recently had an interesting conjunction in it:

Another major change that is getting growing attention would allow Americans to deduct up to $10,000 of state income tax or local property tax from their federal income. The House and Senate bills would only allow Americans to deduct the property tax component, but lawmakers are looking to give people more flexibility.

Note that "or" in the first sentence. What this means (rather than "and") is that you will be able to deduct either your property taxes or your state income taxes, but not both. Currently, you are allowed to deduct both, with no limit. Republicans tried to abolish the whole deduction, but have stepped back to the $10,000 limit on property taxes only. If the report is correct, what they're now talking about is allowing you to make a choice: deduct your property taxes or deduct your state income taxes (whichever is higher, but only up to $10,000). Taxpayers currently face such a choice between deducting their state's income tax or deducting all state sales tax paid during the year. But it'd be a lot better -- even within the Republican framework -- to just allow taxpayers to deduct both property taxes and state and local income taxes, while capping the total amount of the deduction at $10,000 (or, even better, also adjust this cap upwards to something more reasonable like $20,000).

One last item worth noting is that the child tax credit will be increased in both versions of the GOP tax bill. The House would raise it from the current $1,000 to $1,600, while the Senate would double it to $2,000. Obviously, if the Senate version prevails this would be a good thing for all taxpaying families.

All of these improvements taken together aren't all that impressive. Even if they were all resolved favorably for middle-class taxpayers, the Republican tax plan is still pretty horrendous. It will still be a massive transfer of wealth upwards, which will only exacerbate the problem of inequality in America. Most of the goodies go to Wall Street and corporate America, which is not something the voters are actually clamoring for (even Republican voters, notably). The only pressure to pass such a monstrous bill is coming from those who will gain millions from it, in other words.

But so far, Republicans have been noticeably losing the public battle over the optics of their plan. It looks pretty bad to most people right now. Certain details are pointed out over and over again, by journalists, late-night comedians, and angry constituents calling up their representatives to air their feelings. Republicans are aware that they need to do at least something to try to fix the perception of the bill in the public's eye. Hence all the minimal changes outlined above.

About the best you can say about this effort is that at least it is (mostly) moving in the right direction. Republicans are trying to make their bill a bit less awful, in other words. Their spin job that this was "a middle-class tax cut" has already been shredded by public outrage, so they're now looking to plug the worst holes in their bill. The baby steps they've taken towards achieving this have indeed made the bill marginally better. But that's a relative term, because even if all the changes are made it will still have only moved from being Draconian to being merely monstrously unfair. So in the end it's doubtful that Republicans will reap much benefit politically, even if they pass an ever-so-slightly-less-awful bill.

-- Chris Weigant

 

Cross-posted at The Huffington Post

Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant

 

59 Comments on “Making The GOP Tax Bill Slightly Less Awful”

  1. [1] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    Update:

    I'm happy to report the pledge drive has moved past the halfway point to our yearly goal. Woo hoo!

    Thank-you emails will be forthcoming soon, for those who haven't gotten them yet.

    :-)

    -CW

  2. [2] 
    C. R. Stucki wrote:

    It's ridiculous to characterize tax reductions as "Upward transfers of wealth". All wealth originates with the productive, kinda by definition, right? Therefore, all taxes in actuality are 'transfers of wealth downward'. Ergo, a tax reduction is simply a case of 'leaving the wealth where it originated', and have absolutely nothing to do with transfering anything "upward"!!

    I realize that, like most principles of economics, is over the heads of liberals, but that's how the real world avtually works!

  3. [3] 
    John M wrote:

    [2] C. R. Stucki

    It's ridiculous to characterize tax reductions as "Upward transfers of wealth". All wealth originates with the productive, kinda by definition, right?

    I realize that, like most principles of economics, is over the heads of liberals, but that's how the real world avtually works!"

    Actually that's NOT how the real world works. I know that's over the heads of most of you conservatives, but wealth is built from the ground up, not from the top down.

    A corporate CEO would have no job, and nothing to manage, if not for the hundreds or thousands of lowly grunt workers toiling away at the very bottom in the sweat shops of his company. Neither would the Wall Street hedge fund manager have anything to do if not for the existence of some company somewhere. Even the Silicon Valley Computer tech would have nothing to profit from, if low somebody in some factory somewhere did not at least watch over the robot producing his widget.

    And if all of those lowly workers were paid real livable wages, then everybody from the ground up would make money and be more wealthy, instead of only people at the top, since wealth ALWAYS percolates UPWARD and NEVER trickles DOWNWARD.

  4. [4] 
    Don Harris wrote:

    The Republicans are working on a tax plan?
    Why haven't you written about this before?

    I suppose it could have been worse- at least it wasn't about cake.

  5. [5] 
    Don Harris wrote:

    And Republicans and Democrats will benefit politically from the passage of whatever gets passed.

    The Big Money donors will be happy.

  6. [6] 
    C. R. Stucki wrote:

    John M.

    Everything you say is true, but irrelevent to my point.

    As long as competition exists , the "lowly workers" are paid what the marketplace determins their contribution to the total effort is worth, and if the "lowly workers" disagree, they have an obligation to offer their time and talents to other employers.

    However, if my 'top/bottom' and/or 'up/down' terminology offends you, we could adjust the semantics by inverting the traditional pyramid, and say the most productive folks are at the bottom and the least productive at the top. Regardless of the terminology, taxes by and large transfer wealth from the productive to the unproductive, regardless of how you construct the semantic pyramid, and the principle holds either way.

    I only used the "top/bottom" and the "up/down" terminology the way I did because that is the traditional verbal construct for economics discussions such as this, and is the terminology CW used to get this discussion started.

  7. [7] 
    neilm wrote:

    Regardless of the semantics of the flows of wealth, libertarianism, like communism, is an extreme ideology that decreases total wealth and happiness, even ignoring the concept of "fairness".

    Equalizing outcomes (communism) destroys individual striving, and unfettered greed (it's all mine, and I should keep it) destroys the social contract that gives people a reason to invest in their community.

    As usual, the solution is messy - moderation results in winners and losers (the rich and the poor if using wealth as a measure) but ensures that the losers don't lose all hope from our society. A large underclass of hopeless people ferments unrest, violence, crime and revolution.

    America suffers from higher violent crime rates than other similarly wealthy nations (https://www.statista.com/chart/3848/the-us-murder-rate-compared-to-other-countries/), so the approach in the current tax bill to increase inequality is a step in the wrong direction if we are trying to improve our society. If we are just focused on individual greed, this tax bill is a winner.

  8. [8] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    Don Harris [4] -

    Have you not been reading the Friday columns, or what? I've been devoting each week's talking points to the tax issue for weeks, now.

    -CW

  9. [9] 
    neilm wrote:

    MAGA Hat Tree Ornament on Amazon - read the comments :)

    https://www.amazon.com/Trump-America-Great-Collectible-Ornament/dp/B01N67D8HO/

  10. [10] 
    Michale wrote:

    Have you not been reading the Friday columns, or what? I've been devoting each week's talking points to the tax issue for weeks, now.

    I think DH was being sarcastic.. :D

    224

  11. [11] 
    Michale wrote:

    Bloomberg Corrects Bombshell Trump Bank Records Story

    Bloomberg News corrected Wednesday its bombshell report that special counsel Robert Mueller had subpoenaed Deutsche Bank records pertaining to President Donald Trump and his family.
    http://dailycaller.com/2017/12/06/bloomberg-corrects-bombshell-trump-bank-records-story/

    Once again, ya'all salivate over FAKE NEWS and then get yer asses handed to ya when it is PROVEN to be FAKE NEWS...

    heheheheheheehehehehehe

    Pretty good way to start my day.. :D

    225

  12. [12] 
    Michale wrote:

    Roy Moore is going to win his Senate race, despite Democrats’ phony claim of moral superiority

    Democrats are feeling smugly morally superior right now. They should not.

    Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., might be resigning – not because he did anything wrong, though he did. He might be leaving the Senate because it is politically convenient for him to do so.

    Do not kid yourself. If Al Franken was all that stood in the way of a Republican majority in the Senate, Democrats would be circling the wagons and attacking his accusers. They would be engaged in the very same activity some Republicans are engaged in over Alabama Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore’s accusers.

    At this point in American history, moral preening is all about political power, not actually morals. Both parties engage in claiming moral high ground and the media more often than not lets Democrats claim it more easily than Republicans.
    http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2017/12/06/roy-moore-is-going-to-win-his-senate-race-despite-democrats-phony-claim-moral-superiority.html

    Yep... Yep....

    228

  13. [13] 
    Michale wrote:

    (CNN)This is the real battle going on in DC today: not Democrats vs. Republicans but President Donald Trump vs. establishment Republicans. Trump is trampling upon every taboo and sensitivity that liberalism has erected in the last 50 years, and Republican leaders have learned to get by in that uptight habitat.

    With a tax plan inching forward in stops and starts, Roy Moore's numbers, in his US Senate run in Alabama, rising (the President has now even endorsed him), and liberal eminences in politics and media facing sexual allegations that may be worse than those made against Trump, the anti- and never-Trump forces are in a worse state of incredulity than before.

    How can this guy still be chief executive -- and even winning?

    At first their surprise might seem sensible: A few weeks ago, things looked bad for Trump. Health care reform was stalled, Roy Moore was behind, and the Virginia results foreshadowed a Democratic Senate to come. The time has been out of joint for long enough, Trump's critics believed, and the correction was finally happening.

    Indeed, we saw another setback on Friday, with Michael Flynn pleading guilty to lying to the FBI, and fingers now pointing at Jared Kushner. But after all the other controversies that have happened and haven't much damaged Trump himself, people can't help but see this one as another sign of corruption that just won't stick. Just hours later, the Senate passed the tax bill.

    And now, the needle seems to tilt Trump's way.

    When you sit at the top with an office in the Capitol and people lining up to tell you how wonderful you are, an academic on MSNBC going on about white privilege, toxic masculinity, and cisgender bias doesn't bother you.

    Nor does a school board that approves opposite-sex bathroom privileges for transgender students and casts concerned parents as "phobic."

    But if you're a small businessman or blue-collar worker worried about cost of living and with children to feed and educate, and who thinks little about identity issues, those charges grate on your nerves. Trump is your champion, not the lords in Congress. If Republicans don't follow his lead, more of them will share the fate of Sen. Jeff Flake, whose political career the President has called "toast."
    http://www.cnn.com/2017/12/05/opinions/why-trump-is-winning-bauerlein/index.html

    Yep... Yep...

    We had an old saying in the teams.....

    LEAD, FOLLOW OR GET THE HELL OUT OF OUR WAY

    That's what patriotic Americans are saying today...

    231

  14. [14] 
    Michale wrote:

    Trump faces off with Democrats over potential government shutdown

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Donald Trump will face off with Democratic leaders of Congress on Thursday in a high-stakes White House meeting intended to bridge differences over a spending bill and prevent a government shutdown.
    https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-congress-shutdown/trump-faces-off-with-democrats-over-potential-government-shutdown-idUSKBN1E11DU

    Of course, ya'all are going to SUPPORT the Democrats in their efforts to shut down the government, right???

    232

  15. [15] 
    TheStig wrote:

    neilm-9

    The best part of this link is the reviews! Which avg. stars.

  16. [16] 
    TheStig wrote:

    Re - 15

    Sorry, there seem to be unofficial ways to post with just mouse clicks...anybody else encounter this?

    Average number of stars = 2

    Some customer comments:

    1.0 out of 5 starsGarbage for sale
    Who would want this ridiculous piece of junk?!
    Published 15 hours ago by No way

    1.0 out of 5 starsIt ate my McDonald’s!
    I bought a Big Mac, a filet of fish and a chocolate shake home for dinner and this ornament ate it all and then started sniffing all night, very unsatisfied and distracting.
    Published 15 hours ago by Amazon Customer

    1.0 out of 5 starsNeed to let people know that this ornament will only ...
    Need to let people know that this ornament will only stay on your tree if you have white lights, that DO NOT twinkle.
    Published 15 hours ago by James Ceragioli

    1.0 out of 5 starsRuining Christmas 101
    This ornament, the message on it, and the people behind it are the antitheses of Christmas. Jesus was born to save the world from crap like this.
    Published 15 hours ago by Kenneth M Fitzgerald
    1.0 out of 5 starsOne Star

    Cheap crap made in China...and yells COVEFFE when I walk by it...dangerous!
    Published 15 hours ago by KCK

    1.0 out of 5 starsOne Star
    I showed this ornament to my tree and it up and ran away...
    Published 15 hours ago by Tiffany Johnson

    1.0 out of 5 starsI hung a dozen on my Christmas tree, but ...
    I hung a dozen on my Christmas tree, but then the tree burst into fire, my house burned down. Thanks, Trump.
    Published 15 hours ago by S. P.

    1.0 out of 5 starsOne Star
    Doesn't match my wall very well.
    Published 3 days ago by Tyler Price

    1.0 out of 5 starsBeing Recalled
    I understand this is being recalled. Something about lead paint from Russia.
    Published 3 days ago by Pam
    Search customer reviews
    Search

  17. [17] 
    Don Harris wrote:

    Michale-
    "I think DH was being sarcastic."

    Is that how it came across?

    I was going for facetious.

    But let's give CW the benefit of the doubt. He may have also been going for facetious.

  18. [18] 
    C. R. Stucki wrote:

    neilm [7]

    OHMYGAWD, that is the single most perceptive, most cogent analysis of political reality that ever eminated from the pen (keyboard?) of a liberal!!!

    My heartiest congratulations!!!

  19. [19] 
    TheStig wrote:

    CW, Neilm

    Has the CBO scored these "tweaks" yet? As far as I can tell, the answer is no. So maybe these tweaks will turn to be "twerks?" Congress seems to make a frantic effort to stay a bit ahead of the CBO cycle time.

  20. [20] 
    neilm wrote:

    My heartiest congratulations!!!

    Thanks CRS. Appreciated.

  21. [21] 
    neilm wrote:

    TS [16]:

    My favorite was also the most popular:

    I think it tried to deport the figures in our nativity scene.

  22. [22] 
    neilm wrote:

    As CRS understands [18], Libertarianism and Liberalism share the same original source, but one went down the extreme path to silliness and Liberalism encompassed the progressive ideals of the original framework and because an ideal form of social development.

    The Ayn Rand acolytes, most of whom like Paul Ryan gave up on structured thinking at 14 when they read "Atlas Shrugged", have simplified the World and society into a facile storyline that meets their emotional needs.

    The fact that we have a tax policy based on this puerile approach to economics and sociology is the real failing of the Republican Party.

    I expect more such troglodyte legislation from this Congress - unless, like the alternative to Obamacare, they can't even develop their thinking into an alternative plan.

    Moore is going to fit nicely into this intellectual environment.

  23. [23] 
    Michale wrote:

    but one went down the extreme path to silliness and Liberalism encompassed the progressive ideals of the original framework and because an ideal form of social development.

    Yea.. Liberals didn't go "silly" at all.. :^/

    http://cdn.washingtonexaminer.biz/cache/1060x600-254731591619793e5858d4c7a6718a63.jpg

    Whatever you have to tell yerself to make it thru the day.. :D

  24. [24] 
    neilm wrote:

    Michale [23] - that isn't Liberalism - learn what Liberalism is (hint: subscribing to The Economist for a year will help) and then try to refute it.

  25. [25] 
    Michale wrote:

    Michale [23] - that isn't Liberalism -

    Sure sounds like Liberalism to me.. :D

  26. [26] 
    neilm wrote:

    Sure sounds like Liberalism to me.. :D

    I know. You post your misunderstanding of Liberalism dozens of times a day on this blog.

    Why you defend Republicans who only want to abuse little girls and take away food from the hungry is beyond me.

  27. [27] 
    Michale wrote:

    Why you defend Republicans who only want to abuse little girls and take away food from the hungry is beyond me.

    Because none of that is actually factual..

    Unlike Democrats who rape and sexually assault left and right..

  28. [28] 
    Michale wrote:

    :D

    236

  29. [29] 
    neilm wrote:

    Because none of that is actually factual..

    Of course. And so you are maybe starting to understand that all of your hyper partisan posts are similar nonsense?

    Charlie Munger says a prerequisite to having an opinion is stating the opposing side’s view as well as you can.

    You display almost no understanding of either what Republicans stand for, let alone what Liberalism is.

    In fact, I'd wager if you understood the basic tenets of Liberalism you'd start to get uncomfortable about labeling yourself a Republican (save us the nonsense that you "aren't a Republican", you're not kidding anybody except maybe yourself).

    Your ideological framework seems underpinned by tribalism, and your delight in trolling on this site.

  30. [30] 
    neilm wrote:

    Michale:

    Here is some good advice on understanding how to learn about financial issues. The advice holds for political issues as well - they even use the same Munger quote as I did above but with more context.

    http://www.collaborativefund.com/blog/how-to-read-financial-news/

  31. [31] 
    Michale wrote:

    start to get uncomfortable about labeling yourself a Republican

    You people are the only ones who label me a Republican, even though I have provided FACTS that prove I am not..

    So don't put your acts on me..

    237

  32. [32] 
    TheStig wrote:

    Neilm-7

    I basically agree with what you are saying, but I'd like to add a few things to the discussion.

    The Theory of Communism never sought to equalize outcomes, the slogan of the theorists was roughly "from each according to their abilities, to each according to their needs." As practiced in the authoritarian USSR or Maoist China or Vietnam etc. it resulted in a well off party elite, an inefficient economy and a downtrodden everybody else looking over their shoulders. In other words, it failed in its stated objectives.

    However in Israel, as applied at the Kibbutz level, a form of Communism worked quite well in providing a good, modern, standard of living for kibbutzniks and producing highly motivated over-achievers far out of proportion to their numbers in Israeli society.

    The Kibbutz movement was always economically fragile and relatively inefficient, but it was a major force until the 1980s, when the Israeli economy was radically restructured to look more like the US. economy (surprise, surprise, big aid packages from you know who). That said, the movement is still a major player in Israel's agricultural sector and not insignificant in manufacturing. It is much less egalitarian in it's present form, but is still a communal society that is basically moderate and pragmatic enough to stay afloat after an economic sea change.

    As for U.S. Libertarians, they have a left, right and center. The movement basically derives from progressive principles dating to The Enlightenment. I have a Libertarian streak myself, but I try and balance the duality of Liberty: Liberty To Do Something- Liberty From Something.

  33. [33] 
    TheStig wrote:
  34. [34] 
    C. R. Stucki wrote:

    A politician I admired years ago defined the political philosophies of the three dominant groups with the following: The Dems (libs) leave you free to do anything you like with your body, but want to control what you do with your money. The Reps (cons) leave you free to do whatever you like with your money, but want to control your body. And the Libertarians want to leave you free to control both your body AND your money all by yourself.

  35. [35] 
    Michale wrote:

    CRS,

    Upvote for #34.... :D

    238

  36. [36] 
    Michale wrote:

    And Al Franken is toast...

    Congrats, Democrats... In your hysterical quest to be uber-Politically Correct and Hyper-Woke, you take down 2 of yer own...

    Bet that makes ya'all feel so warm and fuzzy, eh?? :^/

    239

  37. [37] 
    Michale wrote:

    “I of all people am aware that there is some irony in the fact I am leaving while a man who has bragged on tape of his history of sexual assault is in the Oval Office, and a man who has repeatedly preyed on young girls has the full support of his party,”
    -FORMER Senator Al FrakIt

    I dunno WHY I expected FrakIt to leave with dignity and honor.. Of course, he had to sling mud and try and justify his behavior... :^/

    240

  38. [38] 
    neilm wrote:

    A politician I admired years ago defined the political philosophies of the three dominant groups with the following: The Dems (libs) leave you free to do anything you like with your body, but want to control what you do with your money. The Reps (cons) leave you free to do whatever you like with your money, but want to control your body. And the Libertarians want to leave you free to control both your body AND your money all by yourself.

    Politics is more than personal freedoms and personal finance - this is like saying in Tennis you hit a ball with a racket, in Baseball with a bat and in Soccer with your feet. Accurate in a perile sense but functionally useless.

    And if you let everybody control all their money nobody would pay taxes and we'd destroy our economy, which basically has been successfully addressing the tragedy of the commons that you are idolizing.

  39. [39] 
    neilm wrote:

    If you control all your personal finances, are you going to pay for the roads you use, and if so who are you going to pay? Are you going to buy an aircraft carrier, and if so how can you afford to? Are you going to pay for a justice system and if so who is going to decide how it is structured?

    Libertarians are so boring - they are the same as communists - full of great plans that have no real world value.

  40. [40] 
    neilm wrote:

    The grand experiment picks up momentum. Are we going to hold politicians to the "isn't an accused sexual predator" standard, or is this a left wing flash in the pan?

    We can see the push back from the right - Michale exemplifies the "attack victims who accuse Republicans but wholeheartedly believe victims who accuse Democrats" mentality. We didn't expect anything else, this is just a tribal game for the right at the moment, with gloating rights the ultimate indicator of success, and to hell with decency.

    On the left, the extreme is the other way - believe everybody and hold placing a hand on somebody's back during a photo at the same level as attacking a 14 year old.

    This will be interesting. Sadly justice, perspective and right and wrong seems to be out of the picture at the moment.

    Will Republicans pay a political price for their stance? Who knows?

    Will Democrats decide to lower the purity test they are holding themselves to? Who knows?

    There are many reasons to want Moore and 45 out of our government, the fact that they are sexual predators should be enough in itself, but as long as the right wing media can set the prevailing dialog based on our differences and social media strengthens our echo chambers, progress as a society will be slow.

    Will we have another "Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?" moment? I certainly hope so.

  41. [41] 
    neilm wrote:

    TS [32]:

    However in Israel, as applied at the Kibbutz level, a form of Communism worked quite well in providing a good, modern, standard of living for kibbutzniks and producing highly motivated over-achievers far out of proportion to their numbers in Israeli society.

    I always thought that the Kibbutz model worked because it was a small enough group that peer pressure worked, and to an extent, everybody knew just about everybody else. The political models for groups of 100's do not scale up to millions, just as a plank across a stream won't scale up to the Golden Gate.

  42. [42] 
    ListenWhenYouHear wrote:

    Neil & TheStig

    Those Amazon reviews are freakin’ hysterical! Some of the funniest things I have read in a while.

  43. [43] 
    C. R. Stucki wrote:

    I have to presume that somewhere in my 80-plus yr lifetime, I surely must have had a hand on a fully-clothed (non-spousal) female butt, but if I have, the experience was not sufficiently erotic for me to remember it. I even have some serious doubts about the degree of eroticism that would be involved in groping boobs under a flack jacket!

    Maybe I'm just too old, you younger guys might not agree with that.

  44. [44] 
    neilm wrote:

    Maybe I'm just too old, you younger guys might not agree with that.

    Nope, I'm with you.

  45. [45] 
    C. R. Stucki wrote:

    neilm [41]

    The thing that would kill an effort to scale-up the Kibbutz model would not just be the numbers alone, so much as the ethnic diversity that would invariably be introduced. 10,000 Jews might work fine, but 5,000 Jews and 5,000 Palestinians likely would not.

  46. [46] 
    Michale wrote:

    Maybe I'm just too old, you younger guys might not agree with that.

    Nope, I'm with you.

    Yet, that is EXACTLY the world ya'all have created.. Where even the simplest most inane gesture is worthy of "career" execution..

    You people created the rules of warfare.. Now yer pissy because of the friendly fire..

    What the frak did you THINK would happen!!!????

    Did you HONESTLY think that yer frakin' DEMOCRAT politicians were actually good and pure and would NOT get caught up in yer hyper-politically correct net!???

    Were ya'all THAT totally naive???

    Well, ya'all got what ya'all wanted.. Except not EXACTLY the way ya wanted it.. YOUR politicians are dropping like flies.. Not the enemy..

    I really have to laugh at how ya'all were hoisted by your own Picard...

    243

  47. [47] 
    John M wrote:

    [37] Michale

    “I of all people am aware that there is some irony in the fact I am leaving while a man who has bragged on tape of his history of sexual assault is in the Oval Office, and a man who has repeatedly preyed on young girls has the full support of his party,”
    -FORMER Senator Al FrakIt

    I dunno WHY I expected FrakIt to leave with dignity and honor.. Of course, he had to sling mud and try and justify his behavior..."

    Not mud slinging at all. Just stating the TRUTH, which I know you find so hard to handle, since you vehemently deny it on a wide range of subject matter all the time.

  48. [48] 
    Michale wrote:

    Not mud slinging at all. Just stating the TRUTH, which I know you find so hard to handle, since you vehemently deny it on a wide range of subject matter all the time.

    Of course he was stating HIS truth..

    But he wasn't stating any FACTS...

    But you don't care about facts.. You don't even care about other people's TRUTH..

    All you care about is YOUR truth..

    And THAT is why the Demcorat Party is in the decimated shape it's in right now..

    244

  49. [49] 
    Michale wrote:

    Here are some hard facts for you, JM...

    Soon To Be Senator Roy Moore is COMPLETELY innocent of all the accusations against him..

    You see, in THIS country, we have this thing where people are INNOCENT until proven guilty in a court of law.

    And I know, I know.. This is going to come as a REAL shock to you, but that EVEN APPLIES TO REPUBLICANS!!!

    "OH MY GOD, WHAT A FUCKING NIGHTMARE!!!"
    -Marisa Tomeii

    But it's true.. It applies to Republicans whether you like it or not..

    So, I'll say the FACT again, in case you missed it..

    Soon To Be Senator Roy Moore is **COMPLETELY INNOCENT** of all accusations against him..

    "These are the facts of the case. And they are undisputed."
    -Captain Smilin' Jack Ross, A FEW GOOD MEN

    245

  50. [50] 
    Michale wrote:

    Soon To Be Senator Roy Moore is **COMPLETELY INNOCENT** of all accusations against him..

    So, when FORMER Senator Al FrakIt stated that, it WASN'T the "truth"... It wasn't ANYONE's "truth"...

    At BEST, it was an opinion..

    But it was most likely just a self-serving pitiful lie from a tortured soul who's ONLY crime was being frisky with women and getting fragged by his own side....

    246

  51. [51] 
    neilm wrote:

    As usual, ex-Republican Chris Ladd, puts it far better than I could. The Republican philosophy is throwing away our edge in the World - the best educated workforce. All for a few dollars in tax breaks to the rich and massive breaks for the ultra wealthy. At the same time we have hopeless infrastructure - my trips abroad expose me to what a real public transport system can be. And the apologists for the ultra-wealthy are so brainwashed that they think it is all about whether their team's politicians can sexually assault women and girls and get elected, and the other team's can't.

    https://www.forbes.com/sites/chrisladd/2017/12/07/please-raise-my-taxes/#5e25ed073042

  52. [52] 
    neilm wrote:

    So we have a new law being proposed that says concealed carry laws from one state need to be recognized across the country.

    I propose a new California State law that allows concealed carry laws specifically in the White House, the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House.

  53. [53] 
    Michale wrote:

    So we have a new law being proposed that says concealed carry laws from one state need to be recognized across the country.

    What's the problem???

    I propose a new California State law that allows concealed carry laws specifically in the White House, the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House.

    Uh... How is the STATE law going to be able to affect FEDERAL property???

    Further, the proposed law states quite explicitly that those who carry MUST comply with all state laws...

    So, I ask again..

    What's the problem???

  54. [54] 
    neilm wrote:

    Uh... How is the STATE law going to be able to affect FEDERAL property???

    Uh, I don't know - maybe it was a joke?

  55. [55] 
    Michale wrote:

    Uh, I don't know - maybe it was a joke?

    Ah... he he he... :D

    256

  56. [56] 
    TheStig wrote:

    Neilm-32

    Quite right about the scale factor, tight social cohesion was viewed as vital from the very beginning. However, Kibbutz were not envisioned solely as economic engines but also as incubators of technical and leadership skills for a Jewish settlement that had little of either. Kibbutz proved highly successful as incubators for the state of Israel, but ultimately at a cost of stagnating the growth of the Kibbutz movement itself.

  57. [57] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    TheStig [32] -

    Don't forget the original Puritan colonies here in America. They started out communitarian (not really communist, but then again the term hadn't been coined yet).

    C. R. Stucki [34] -

    OK, now this just seems appropriate:

    Puritanism: The haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy.
    -H. L. Mencken

    Heh.

    Michale [36] -

    Remember when it was the GOP that was claiming to be the party of family values and Dems used to ridicule them for it? Seems the tables have completely turned, these days, eh?

    Heh. Couldn't resist.

    Michale [37] -

    Sling mud? I thought you were such a big fan of FACTS (as you'd put it) and all... name one thing wrong with what Franken said...

    neilm [40] -

    Excellent comment, especially the last bit. Just had to say that...

    Michale [46] -

    hoisted by your own Picard

    Is that some sort of Star Trek reference? Heh...

    Michale [48] -

    OK, you can quibble about Moore, but Trump was indeed caught on tape (several times) bragging about sexual assault and sexual harassment. That, Jack, is a fact. Period.

    Michale [49] -

    Got it. You believe any accusers against Democrats, but all accusers against Republicans are liars. Please explain again how you're supposed to somehow be independent?

    -CW

  58. [58] 
    Michale wrote:

    Sling mud? I thought you were such a big fan of FACTS (as you'd put it) and all... name one thing wrong with what Franken said...

    Easy..

    Roy Moore is NOT a child molester.. He is COMPLETELY innocent of ALL accusations..

    Is that some sort of Star Trek reference? Heh...

    https://orig00.deviantart.net/ce9a/f/2013/071/d/1/hoisted_by_his_own_picard_by_wytrab8-d5xv9z7.jpg

    :D

    OK, you can quibble about Moore, but Trump was indeed caught on tape (several times) bragging about sexual assault and sexual harassment. That, Jack, is a fact. Period.

    Quibble??? It's the BEDROCK of our jurisprudence! A person is INNOCENT until PROVEN guilty in a court of law..

    I hardly call that a "quibble"...

    As to Trump, again, factually inaccurate. Trump was being boorish & crass in describing what gold-digging women *LET* women do...

    If you would take Trump's statement into a court of law, you would be laughed out of court and the judge would likely find you in contempt for wasting the courts time..

    Ya'all read into it what you WANT it to mean... That is all...

    Got it. You believe any accusers against Democrats, but all accusers against Republicans are liars. Please explain again how you're supposed to somehow be independent?

    I am not sure how your response relates to comment #49, but I'll answer it in general terms..

    I am not the one who insists that ALL women are to be beleived.. That is ya'all's thing.. I am firmly on the record as stating that this #MeTOO stuff could lead to a very dark place where a woman scorned makes up all sorts of stuff and is automatically believed...

    Further, I am on record as stating that what Franken did was, at WORST, crass and boorish (sound familiar??) and by did not require his occupational accusation..

    This is the world that DEMOCRATS have created whereas the slightest innocent gesture of brush of body part to body part requires someone to fall on their sword..

    Do you HONESTLY believe that Republicans are going to respond in kind??? The GOP is probably laughing their asses off at what Democrats did to their own..

    I am not sure if that answers your question, but there it is..

    262

  59. [59] 
    Michale wrote:

    Further, I am on record as stating that what Franken did was, at WORST, crass and boorish (sound familiar??) and by did not require his occupational accusation..

    Whoaa THAT was tortured..

    Allow me to rephrase..

    Further, I am on record as stating that what Franken did was, at WORST, crass and boorish (sound familiar??) and by such fact did not require his occupational execution....

    267

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