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May 21, 2003

Democrats in Elephant's Clothing

Tax cuts are easy. There's not a person in the world who can't look at the national budget and lop off a few hundred billion within 20 minutes. Washington treats money the way most people treat urine. It exists to be flushed away without a second thought. Anyone who can't cut taxes isn't trying to.

But cutting taxes is no damn good unless you cut spending. Cutting spending is the hard part, and Washington is about as good at cutting spending as a crack whore is at saying no to a handful of little white rocks. When rich guys start to look askance at tax cuts, even if one of them is George Soros, something's out of whack. Rich guys are, after all, known for their financial sense.

Don't try to tell me that George Bush is giving you your money back. As long as he and Congress are passing budgets that increase the deficit, he's lending you your money and charging you interest on it. If he really wanted to you to have you own money, he'd arrange it so that 8 years down the road you wouldn't have to pay it and more back.

All George Bush's tax cut is a reach around. We're still getting screwed.

Getting a tax cut from Washington is like being married to a spendthrift schizophrenic One body, many personalities. Every payday one personality, let's call him Herbert, cashes his check then comes home and hands out $20 bills to the kids until his wallet is empty. Later that night Herbert goes out and maxes out his credit cards on liquor, cigars and sugar. "Subsidizing agriculture," he calls it. Herbert doesn't care about the consequences of his behavior, because by the time the bill comes due he'll be long gone, and some other personality will have to deal with the bill.

You call Herbert on his behavior during his evening of excess, and he's sanguine about the consequences. No, he won't be around to face the music, but it's ok. Herbert's got a plan, you see. "My kids," he says, single malt scotch sloshing out of the glass he's waving around to illustrate his point. "My kids...hic... will invest that money I give 'em. Come a month from now, they can use some of that interest to pay off the bills, and keep the rest. They'll all have more money that way."

Herbert's plan is bullshit, of course. It's not so much a plan to pay off the credit cards as it is a plan to keep you from bothering him. If Herbert really gave a shit about his kids, if he really wanted them to be rich, he'd not only give out money, he'd stay at home come the weekend and not run up the balance on the American Express.

Every personal finance book on the planet says that if a person wants to be better off financially, the first thing to do is to get out of debt. Pay cash for everything, cut up the credit cards,sell plasma, do whatever you have to do but get out of debt. Then start investing, or saving, or take the whatever the first step is in the 10 steps to financial success book you just bought. First, get out of debt, period. In a government that is supposedly of the people, by the people and for the people, is it to damn much to expect that it live up to the same expectations as the people?

When the Republican party starts spending like the Democrats, then whatever fiscal sanity there ever was in Washington has put on a tricorne hat and started demanding the one and all address him as Monsieur l'Emperor. If the Democratic party had any sense, even if only a sense of irony, they'd re-introduce the balanced budget amendment and poke George with it for the next two years.

And if they did, I'd support it. I didn't ten years ago, and now I regret it. When politicians of both parties act like there's nothing they'd rather do that light cigars with your dollars, then there's no other way to restrain them. Yes, bad things might happen when a budget is required to be balanced year in and year out, but the evidence for that is largely theoretical, and the consequences aren't as bad as they are painted. North Carolina has to balance its budget every year and in the last two years the recession has meant that the state has had to: eliminate some unfilled positions and cut back on equipment purchases.

Also, I haven't gotten a raise. It's been a bloodbath, alright.

Smart, sophisticated people distrust the balanced budget amendment because it isn't a panacea, as if anything is. Sure a balanced budget amendment would cause problems. Every solution to a problem has repercussions in the future, but that doesn't mean you give up trying find solutions.

I'd like a nice tax cut. What I don't want is to have to pay it back later, and thanks to the profligate nature of George Bush and the Republican Congress, I'm going to have to. So don't expect me to be grateful come election day. If you want me to be grateful, pay off the deficit, then give me a tax cut.

Because that's the only way my money gets to stay my money.

Posted by Bigwig at May 21, 2003 03:09 PM | TrackBack
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