Obama 2001 audio: Supreme Court should eye wealth redistribution

Drudge Report made this video top news, calling it a bombshell. Here is the 2001 interview.

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Posted by at 05:07 | Posted in Measure 37 | 34 Comments |Email This Post Email This Post |Print This Post Print This Post
  • Alan

    I have rarely heard any politican be as blatant about shifting other people’s money around like Obama.

  • Reper

    This soundbite does not say much. There also lacks a transcript. How do we know that this statement was not taken out of context? We do not know. I would like to see a full transcript before I make a judgment on this.

    • kenny

      What positive side is there to saying redistribute wealth? Is it wealth of criminals? Barack got caught hed handed. There si no way to weasel out of this one.

    • Steve Buckstein

      The full audio recording is online at public radio station WBEZ’s website: https://www.wbez.org/audio_library/od_rajan01.asp
      It’s the last segment of the January 18, 2001 show.

  • Alan

    The interview IS a transcript

  • Rupert in Springfield

    The whole Obama campaign has always had this weird feel to it for me. Sure there is the insane 1984 news coverage where any criticism of HIM is racist. Socialist is a racist term? Give me a break. Lately I have taken to referring to the broadcast media as Tass and the print media as Pravda, as in the Soviet Union.

    But I think I finally figured out the weird feeling I get with the messiah. You know when you are watching a cheesy horror movie and for some insane stupid reason the waif babysitter, all alone in the house, suddenly takes it into her head to check all the closets and the basement to find out where the weird torture sounds are coming from? Or you know when you are watching a Linda Blair movie and Linda decides to take a shower and you are like “no…no Linda, don’t go in the shower, nothing good ever happens to you in any of your movies in the shower………..No No waifish baby sitter, don’t check in the closet”

    That’s what its like with Obama. You know what’s coming you just cant believe its a mystery to some.

    No…. noo… No… dont check in that closet silly naive taxpayer….Ahhhhhhh its Obama with a chainsaw chasing after all your money

    • dean

      Obama proposes raising tax rates on the top 2% or so of income tax payers to the level they were before Bush lowered them. I think that puts them back to 39.5%. Warren Buffett, George Soros, Paul Volker, and nearly every millionaire in Hollywood is apparently for this. He also proposes LOWERING tax rates for nearly everyone else.

      Top tax rates were once over 90% in this country and capitalism was thriving the whole time. When Reagan was elected I think they were still at 70%, and as I recall we had capitalism before Reagan. So how does going back to 39.5% from the curent 35% amount to socialism? Income redistribution? A House of Horrors?

      Geeez…relax you guys. You would think Lenin has landed. How many of you net over $250K a year, or have any prospects of ever doing so?

      • Steve Buckstein

        Dean, are you really suggesting that anyone who doesn’t earn over $250K shouldn’t defend those who do against higher tax rates? That’s like arguing that men shouldn’t state opinions about abortion because none of us will ever have one.

        • dean

          Steve…what I am suggesting is that rich people, many if not most of them, including the McCain Y 2K version, do not object to progressive taxation in principle, and have not been objecting to the slight rise in upper end rates, combined with cuts for everyone else Obama is proposing. If you, Joe the Plumber, and others unaffected by the tax raise at the upper end want to object on grounds of the principle that it is unfair to the rich, and you decide to hand your upcoming tax break back to the government in protest, very well.

          • Steve Buckstein

            Dean, I’ll gladly keep any tax break I can get. That doesn’t mean that I must stop defending others who are taxed more, even if they chose not to defend themselves.

          • Chris McMullen

            Funny, even Obama’s website tries to portray the idea of paying taxes as bad. They sugar-coat the issue with:

            “But no family will pay higher tax rates than they would have paid in the 1990s. In fact, dividend rates would be 39 percent lower than what President Bush proposed in his 2001 tax cut.”

            Boy, that sure is opposite of Joe Biden’s “paying taxes is patriotic” canard. And it sure posits the idea that taxpaying is actually a bad thing.

            Also interesting his wesbite says nothing about taxing business that earn over $250K a year — most small businesses bring in way over $250K in total receipts, BTW. Obama has been insanely obtuse and vague about that whole plan. Is he talking about gross sales, net sales, profit after taxes, profit before taxes….what?

            And Dean, please explain why the 50% of the population (who pay little to no taxes) should get a tax rebate?

            You don’t have to answer; I know it’ll be no more than your typical, Marxist babble.

          • dean

            Steve….but why defend those who do not wish to be defended? What is the point? And why overstate that defense with cries of socialism based on what is a very modest tax increase?

            Chris, Obama isn’t taxing “total receipts.” he is taxing net, after all legitimate deductions. There is nothing obtuse about it. Read his proposal for yourself. He could not tax gross receipts even if he wanted to unless Congress re-writes tax law altogether.

            Glad to “explain.” Because the 50% DO pay taxes, known as payroll and medicare, which are REGRESSIVE taxes that take more from the lower income than they do from the upper proportionately. And because incomes for the lower 50% of workers DECLINED over the past 8 years of Bushanomics when you factor in inflation. So basically Obama is sending them back some of their SSI taxes. You object to this?

            As to the patriotic part. How do you think we pay for the tanks, planes, bombs, bullets, and soldiers salaries? Is it “patriotic” to hides one’s money in the Cayman Islands to avoid taxes, even while one lives under the blanket of security provided by soldiers, police, fireman, border patrol, etcetera?

          • Steve Buckstein

            Dean asks me “….but why defend those who do not wish to be defended? What is the point? And why overstate that defense with cries of socialism based on what is a very modest tax increase?”

            My response: I defend high income earners who don’t wish to be defended for the same reason prosecutors go after perpetrators even when the victims decline to file complaints – because the crime is as much against society as it is against specific individuals. In the taxation debate, higher rates harm society as much as they harm the specific individuals who end up paying them.

            Also, you haven’t heard me cry “socialism” in this debate. It’s hard to tag Obama’s tax proposals as socialist without doing the same for some Republican policies. That may be something you and I agree on, Dean.

          • Chris McMullen

            Deanie, “Small business profits” is equal to the net profits less net losses of sole proprietors, S-corporation shareholders, and partners. According to the IRS, two-thirds of these small business profits are earned in households with adjusted gross income (AGI) equal to or greater than $200,000. In 2006, $473 billion of the $706 billion (two-thirds) of small business profits was earned in households Obama has said he would raise tax rates on.

            As for you bogus payroll tax argument, let’s just make everyone else pay for the bottom 50% of our nations retirement. That’s what you’re suggesting in a nutshell.

            In your twisted socialistic world, those who’ve made bad decisions in life should be rewarded.


  • Rupert in Springfield

    Oh get real, Obama has said he wont renew the Bush tax cuts. So,according to CNNmoney.com June 2, 2008, every family of four making more than $60k gets to pay $1,900 more in a couple of years. The economy will suffer and we as a nation will probably go further into debit due to declining revenues.

    Lets not forget Bubbah, two weeks in he was promising to raise taxes on “the rich” and give everyone else a break. We all know what happened after that: “Ive worked harder than I ever have in the last two weeks………” tax increase.

    Obama is an economic dunce. When it takes Charlie Gibson of all people to point out the folly of raising capitol gaines taxes, and Obama still insists on doing it, you know you arent dealing with a financial rocket scientist.

    • dean

      Rupert…even a dunce could not do much worse than the present crew.
      I have no idea where you get the $60K thing. He said he won’t renew the Bush tax cuts for those over $250K, period. Yes…Clinton went back on his tax cut and balanced the budget instead. Good for him. It was the right policy for the time, and the economy grew gangbusters under his administration. Gee….wouldn’t a repeat of that be terrible for us?

      Steve…we agree. Socialism has more or less lost its meaning these days. We have a government takeover of the financial system of the nation under a Republican administration. The world is indeed upside down.

      Chris…”net profits less net losses?” That sounds like weird accounting. Once can’t have a net profit AND a net loss from the same business in the same year, unless I missed something.

      “Households with adjusted gross incomes greater than $200K….” again I think you need to check your math. A business netting $250K, where all the net goes to the owner would by definition be a household that earns $250K. Does Obamas tax affect households or individuals at the $250K level? A business that nets say $150K with a working spouse earning another $100K, thus “net” household income of $250K would be unaffected by Obama’s tax increase.

      Yes…well my “bogus” proposal is exactly what Obama’s proposal is. Call it socialism if it makes you feel worse about it. But being born to a poor family and having limited options is not necessarily making a “bad decision.” Its a circumstance of birth, and a society that has not figured out how to make everyone rich just yet.

      • Rupert in Springfield

        >I have no idea where you get the $60K thing.

        And here is what I said:

        “So,according to CNNmoney.com June 2, 2008, every family of four making more than $60k gets to pay $1,900 more in a couple of years.”

        See where I got it from now?

        I have no idea why any school allows you to be a teacher with the sort of faculties on display here.

        Sorry, you remain a racialist and a fool, two things society could do with far less of.

        • dean

          Well then CNNmoney.com is full of crap. They and you seem to assume Obama simply lets the existing tax cuts expire and then does nothing else, which is not what he is proposing.

          Three state universities not only ALLOW me to teach from time to time Rupert. They PAY me for it. Of course I can’t wear my Klan robe in class, but that’s okay.

          Speaking of teaching, here is a homework assignment for you. Go to: https://taxcut.barackobama.com/ and play around all you like with various household income scenarios. I tried $50-75K per year, single, and came up with a $1110 per year TAX CUT. Now okay, Obama could be lying through his teeth. Or he could do what he says he is going to do. Either way, your CNN source is not reliable. Mainstream media and all that.

          Lastly (I hope and so do you) lets admit that under Clinton, who had the same tax rates on the wealthy everyone is freaking out about now, we had the longest and highest sustained growth in the last 40 years. By accident or design doesn’t matter. Higher taxes on teh rich are not going to bankrupt them or us.

      • Chris McMullen

        Yeah Dean, Obama did a great job with his district when he was an Illinois state rep. — one of the highest rates of crime and poverty in the nation. A lot of hope and change there, buddy.

        But somehow he’ll do for all the poor nationwide what he couldn’t do for the poor in his own district.

        • dean

          Chris….what is your data source on that one? I’m from Chicago and know that area. It has some very poor, high crime areas and some very well off areas. I doubt overall it is super high crime, though pats of it are gang central.

          But either way, what is the point? A state senator has equal power as a President? I mean, your arguments are getting sillier by the post..

  • John in Oregon

    Facts, Dammit.

    Obama’s promise is to lower the bottom 95% tax leaving the top 5% fair game. The top 5% begins at $153,542 (IRS 2006) but Obama’s magic number is $250,000 which doesn’t compute. Ohhh wait, it just morphed to $200,000.

    Lets tackle the high post war tax justification by considering history. During the post WWII war period beginning in 1950 the United States had two huge advantages. First was huge pent-up savings and demand from the war decade. Second the United States was the only industrial power in the world, both Europe and Asia were in ruins.

    By 1960 Deans claim that the economy and country was thriving no longer held true. JFK recognized the problem and with a great deal of effort pushed through a massive reduction of the confiscatory war years tax.

    Obama has been clear that he will get rid of the “Bush tax cuts” and said so in several debates. So what is the effect of getting rid of the “Bush tax cuts” Yes I know that for Obama an expired cut isnt an increase. So those un-cuts will do the following:

    For taxpayers earning $100,000
    Single taxpayers will pay $25,673 more.
    Married taxpayers will pay $23,699 more.

    For taxpayers earning $75,000
    Single taxpayers will pay $17,923 more,
    Married taxpayers will pay $16,424 more.

    For taxpayers earning $50,000
    Single taxpayers will pay $10,581 more.
    Married taxpayers will pay $9,424 more.

    Obviously I am just not smart enough to understand Obamanomics.

    Never fear, the answer is here, and the explanation came from a young man calling from an Obama phone bank.

    Asked the troubling question about how Obama will ensure a tax break for 95% of people, he consulted his supervisor and responded that Obama would reach the 95% figure by initiating taxes on the 40% who don’t pay income taxes now, so that he could later give them their promised tax break.

    Out of the mouths of babes.

    We are told we should be happy, nay ecstatic, to pay more taxis. Then out comes the poster child of one or another ultra wealthy to say they just love it. How dare some guy making $250,000 complain. The likes of George Soros tells us to pay more. And tell us he does spending millions to subsidize “social activist” organizations to influence politics.

    Only one small problem with these poster children.

    These rich, the ultra wealthy do not pay taxes. No I didn’t mean the shelter some or much of their income. I meant they don’t pay taxes, at all. They don’t pay taxes and their activities are not regulated.

    The ultra rich simply move their operations to a privacy domain of convince. The Cayman Islands was the choice of Soros.

    Welll then lets nail those evil corporations. That is until they pull up stakes and incorporate in Ireland. 14% tax. Too bad, So sad, so long, good bye, farwell. Another remake of the depression era Smoot-Holly Act torpedo to the economy. A different name, results the same.

    So we are told to just relax, we probably won’t make over $250,000 — $200,000 any way.

    After all Obama / Biden tell us the top 1% get 21% how evil. There is only so much wealth and those one percenters took it from us.

    But you ask what didn’t Obama / Biden tell us? Ohh I know. The top 1% earn 21% of income and pay 39.89% of taxes (IRS 2006). Imagine that!

    Then Obama / Biden tell us the middle class shrunk by 11 million under Bush. What does mean that I wondered and what is “middle class”?

    So I thought to do a little research. I assumed that “middle class” might mean an income range around say $50,000 to $150,000. Bingo, that earning population is smaller and the new mystery is were did they go?

    Well no elevated death rate, so that at least is good. Did they get poor? Well in absolute numbers, the low income population did grow. But excluding immigration, illegal and legal, that group is shrinking as well.

    Sooo what is going on here. I double checked email. I didn’t miss a memo about the new Star Trek designator stations did I? Nope.

    Baffled, at wits ends, nearly ready to give up I accidentally clicked another page. Ohhh My God I found them and you will never guess where. Never. Keep this under your hat, I am sure this is a secret. Those missing people are now earning more. Ohhh my GOD they are the evil upper class.

    I know that Karl Rove has a reputation for being devious. But I never ever considered that Rove was capable of something like this. The implications of this plot are, well they are just breathtaking.

    Now I understand. I understand what Obama meant when he told Joe the Plumber that he didn’t want to punish Joe. Its for Joe’s own good.

    • John in Oregon

      Biden morphed again to $150,000.

      BTW Dean, Ireland was at the highest European corporate tax rate, 48% and the highest unemployment. Then they cut taxes to 12% and have the lowest unemployment. Explain that if you can.

      • dean

        John…Ireland is a very small nation with a well educated populace who speak English with a great accent. Their corporate tax rate and their other attributes make them a great base for American companies doing business in Europe. May they make it to heaven before the devil knows their dead…or something like that. Did you know I play guitar in a traditional Irish session band? Never mind about that.

        Now…cutting American corporate tax rates to 12% would accomplish what exactly? Would that entice European companies to set up shop here? Maybe. It would expand the deficit even further, but what the heck does that matter at this point after the Bush debacle?

        Your analysis on Obama’s tax plan is so full of garbage it is impossible to know what to do with it. Try reading his actual proposal, go on his web site, and plug in any numbers you like to see who gets a cut and who pays.

        The $200K applies to individuals, while the $250K applies to households. Those making between $150K and 200 would get neither a tax cut nor a tax raise. They come out about even. Thus the 95% figure.

        Middle class” is not $50K to $150K John. $50K represents the median household income in the US as of 2007. Half of households make more and half make less. So by definition “middle class starts somewhere south of $50K a year. Generally it includes the middle 3 quintiles.

        You can snark all you want. Here is the actual data, courtesy of the US census Bureau 2007, before things tanked:
        28% of US households earn LESS THAN $28K per year.
        26% earn between $25K and $50K
        18% earn between $50K and $75K
        11% earn between $75K and $100K
        10% earn between $100K and $150K
        3% earn between $150K and $200K
        1% earn between $200K and $250K
        1.5% earn over $250K

        A fraction of the latter are truly rich, earning in the millions. Paris Hilton, Ted Kennedy, Cindy McCain, George Soros, Barbara Striesand, and so forth. Yes…they all earned it. Well some did and some didn’t.

        Household income at and below the median level DECLINED under the first 6 years of George Bush by $324. Under Bill Clinton median household income at the median level INCREASED by over $6000. These numbers are adjusted for inflation. And if you leave out those over 65, focusing on working people only, it gets even more interesting. Household income INCREASED $7500 under Clinton and DECLINED over $2000 under Bush.

        Do you now see why this is a CHANGE election John? Do you see why Republicans and their economic policies are being shown the door? Do you see why Obama wants to raise taxes at the upper end and lower them elsewhere? Why he wants to “spread the wealth? Its because most people are not rich, and unless we want to end up like a third world nation we have to get busy building the economy bvack up from the bottom up, not the top down. Been there done that. Didn’t work.

  • John in Oregon

    > * You can snark all you want. Here is the actual data, courtesy of the US census Bureau 2007, before things tanked:*

    Not to be anti-snark or anything. I mean I see the data and all that. Your point was, … what? I don’t see it.

    I do like your data so I reordered it in a more conventional form below.

    Rank —— Income
    Top 1.5% — >$250K
    Top 2.5% — >$200K
    Top 5.5% — >$150K
    Top 15.5% – >$100K
    Top 26.5% – >$75K
    Top 44.5% – >$50K
    Top 70.5% – >$25K
    Bottom 28% less than $25K

    Obama talks about the top 5% so I got the same data and posted it by percent categories rather than income categories. While I was at it I attached what each group paid of the total tax income.

    Rank ———– Income —— Percentage of total Income Tax Paid
    Top 1% ——- >$388,806 ——– 39.89%
    Top 5% ——- >$153,542 ——— 60.14%
    Top 10% ——>$108,904 ——— 70.79%
    Top 25% —– >$64,702 ———– 86.27%
    Top 50% —– >$31,987 ———– 97.01%
    Bottom 50% – Less than $31,987 – 2.99%
    Bottom 40% – Less than $28,000 – 0.00%

    Obama talks about the rich and the middle class. Amorphous terms Obama doesn’t define. Frankly I am not that comfortable with the Saul Alinsky class warfare terminology but Obama uses it so we are stuck with it. He only defined the rich as the top 5 percent, so I get to define the rest. Rich equal top 5 or greater than $150,000, middle equals $50,000 to $150,000, and poor is less than $50,000.

    Obama describes his tax policy as one of fairness. Tax the “rich” and pay the poor. As he told Charlie Gibson he will raise the Cap Gains tax. When Gibson said that would lower government revenue Obama said “I know, I will do it anyway, it’s a mater of “fairness.””

    But I like the US Census Bureau tool you mentioned. Lets use it and test some of Obama’s rhetoric. Take a look at Table 474, “Individual Income Tax Returns.” https://www.census.gov/compendia/statab/tables/08s0474.xls
    HT TAT

    Obama says rich people don’t pay enough taxes, rich people don’t pay their fair share taxes. Excluding Soros et at who truly don’t pay taxes.

    Fact *Yes they do.* Those making over $200,000, only 2.3% of all tax filers, paid 47% of all individual income taxes.

    Obama says but that’s only because the rich make so much more money. They can afford it.

    Fact The top 2.5% made 26% of the money but paid 47% of the taxes.

    Obama says but the rich don’t pay as high a percentage as the rest of us.

    Fact Look at the column labeled “Income Tax as a Percent of AGI” and simply look at the numbers. The higher the income, the higher percent paid in taxes.

    Obama says the Bush’s tax cuts only benefited the rich.

    Fact: Go to that same column labeled “Income Tax as Percent of AGI.” That column shows average tax rates in 2000 (before Bush’s tax cuts) and 2004 (after the cuts). Note that the tax went down for every single income group. In fact, the lower the income, the greater the average percentage cut in taxes owed.

    Obama says cutting taxes reduces revenues and therefore increases deficits and our debt load.

    Fact. We will need a different table. Go to Table 455. In 2006, after Bush’s tax cuts were in full effect, the federal government took in 18.4% of Gross Domestic Product. Now look prior to 2000. The average is less than 18.4% of GDP. As the top marginal rate on individual income changed between 28% and 92% over the last 60 years, the amount of federal revenue has consistently hovered around 18% of GDP that whole time.

    Why would anyone raise marginal tax rates to increase revenue? They wouldn’t.

    Ohhh that’s right its FAIRNESS, punish the successful.

    > *Now…cutting American corporate tax rates to 12% would accomplish what exactly? … Maybe. It would expand the deficit even further, but what the heck does that matter at this point after the Bush debacle?*

    Here are the historic facts thanks to the Census Bureau.

    Year — Tax rate —- Revenue as % GDP
    1960 — 91 % ——— 17.9%
    1965 — 70 % ——— 17.0%
    1970 — 71.75 % —— 19.0%
    1980 — 70 % ——— 19.0%
    1982 — 50 % ——— 19.9%
    1988 — 28 % ——— 18.2%
    1993 — 39.6 % ——- 17.6%

    So what would happen if the income tax was 12%. Well first revenue as percent of GDP wouldn’t change. The economic climate would improve and revenue in dollars would rise along with GDP. Surprise, surprise, just like Ireland.

    As to your claim of the Bush debacle, read the article *Why The Mortgage Crisis Happened* in Investors Business Daily. https://www.ibdeditorials.com/IBDArticles.aspx?id=310173877357981

    The article concludes;

    “Today 2008, the narrative is of another failed socialist experiment, this time a massive federal effort imperiling the whole U.S. banking industry.”

    • dean

      John…you hit on something important that i think most conservatives miss. Federal taxing and spending, taken as a whole, has been remarkably stable since the 70s. The federal budget has ranged between 19-21% of GDP, and taxing has been between about 18-21% if I remember right. It used to be that conservatives were about balanced budgets, so when they cut taxes they also cut spending. That changed with Reagan, who cut taxes substantially but did not cut spending, thereby initiating our age of deficits, interupted only very briefly by Clinton, who raised taxes and was cautious about spending. Bush was Reagan with a vengence. Cut taxes and raised spending through the roof.

      So when we have these knock down drag out arguments about taxes and spending, the sad truth is we are arguing about a very narrow range of options, including between McCain and Obama. Its not and never has been about “socialism” versus “capitalism.” We have both and likely always will, because either by itself is dysfunctional. A very thrifty politically possible federal budget would still take 18% of GDP, and a spendthrift one probably would not go over 22%. Which raises the question, if the range of possibilities is so narrow, then how could any particular administration affect the national economy more than marginally through tax and spending policies? Answer….they can’t. The private economy is too much bigger than the government share. In Denmark, where the government is 60% of GDP, different story.

      I don’t know if you watched Obama’s schtick yesterday, but one thing he said really caught my ear. He said words to the effect, we don’t need a bigger government, or a smaller government. We need a better government. Amen brother.

      Having spent 11 years as a federal employee, I know that government management can be a lot better. And what matters is 2 things. The people at the top (the 3000 or so political apointees every administration gets) and the functioning of the civil service system (the 3 million or so employees who tote the barges, lift the bales, fight the wars, track down the mob, fight forest fires, and send out the SSI checks among the 1001 things they do.

      As for the tax issue….I’m in the redistributionist camp. A federal tax system should take more from thems that got and less from thems that ain’t, to paraphrase a Billie Holiday line. Why? What economists call diminishing marginal gains. One chocolate chip cookie is appealing. 2…okay. 10? Only to a glutton. Not good for the glutton. Better to share, even if forced to do so, because 7 cookies passed around (let the rich guy keep 3) increases total national happiness, and that should be the goal of public policy.

      And now, to increase your happiness, I will sign off and offer you the last word.

      • Steve Buckstein

        Dean, I don’t see “increasing total national happiness” as the goal of public policy anywhere in our founding (or any other) US official documents. The “pursuit of happiness” is incorporated in the Declaration of Independence, but that doesn’t equate to government reducing the happiness of some to increase the happiness of others.

        Using your analogy, redistributing almost all the cookies of the “rich” to the rest of us might increase overall national happiness, yet be a total violation of legitimate principles that our society is based upon.

        Show me a policy that increases your happiness without decreasing the happiness of another and I’ll gladly consider it. With that as our criteria, I think most of us can agree on lots of policies without coming close to redistribution.

        • dean

          Steve….I agree our constitution does not have a goal of increasing national happiness. I said this *should be* public policy. I did not say it is public policy nor that it is enshrined in the original (pre-amended) constitution.

          But I don’t think what I proposed violates the principles our society was founded on either. The role of government in our lives, or better, the purposes to which we choose to use government, evolves over time. When our nation was founded only white guys with property could vote for example. There was a fairly even wealth distribution among them, particularly those who sat down and wrote the rules, so why would they choose redistibution as a principle? They wouldn’t and didn’t.

          But over time we industrialized, ended slavery, and granted women the right to vote. Economic classes formed, and the income tax amendment was added to the constitution. Redistribution of wealth became a fundamental policy of the government, particularly during the Great Depression. Since we are fair minded people, and since we don’t want to kill the geese who lay the eggs (investment,) we have chosen to limit the number of cookies we take to spread around. But take and spread is the long accepted policy by most of us, including McCain circa 2000. And including Governor Palin, who took from the oil companies and sent checks to everyone else before she discovered that socialism is bad.

          The point of my analogy was that few people need or even want 10 cookies. So taking a few from them and redistributing does not necesarily diminish their hapiness. This is certainly true for all those rich people supporting Obama: Warren Buffet, George Soros, George Clooney, and so forth. From what I have read he may be drawing more support from upper income people than McCain is.

          For John up above on you Ireland question. Why have they been economically successful? In no particular order:
          1) the low corporate tax rate brought in some companies from afar
          2) other rich European countries “shared the wealth” and paid for an upgrading of Irish infrastructure and education for years.
          3) Joining the EU opened up a huge market to Irish based businesses
          4) Ireland provided big subsidies to companies who located there, including Intel and Microsoft
          5) The English language is the language of international commerce
          6) The Good Friday peace agreement improved the business climate

          But Ireland is not immune from economics, even with its low tax rate. The dot com bust hit them hard, and rising wages have now made them less competative with other European countries. I suspect now that they have reached the mountain top they will find similar challenges as other mature, wealthy economies.

          • Steve Buckstein

            Dean, I’ll just comment on one part of your response: I don’t believe that you or anyone else can know whether any specific people “need or even want 10 cookies,” so making public policy on the assumption that they either don’t need or want those cookies is fraught with danger. Sure, if specific people like Buffet or Soros tell us that they’re willing to give up some of their cookies, then fine, take their cookies – but don’t use their choices to justify taking cookies from those who haven’t made the same declaration.

          • dean

            In the specific case of cookies we are in agreement. In the more general case of income and wealth, we disagree. I don’t need rich people to agree with me on this. In past years they have not, and I was still for progressive taxation. As a practical matter, we are all better off (my opinion) if we have fewer poor people.

          • Steve Buckstein

            Dean, I agree that we’re all better off if we have fewer poor people in our society. Where we probably disagree is on what causes poverty and what alleviates it. I maintain that taking wealth from some and giving it to others is not a sustainable poverty reduction policy. It assumes that wealth is static, which it is not.

            Wealth is created by productive human activity, and it can be destroyed by misguided human activity. Better policy would help those in poverty create (and keep) their own wealth.

  • John in Oregon

    As you noticed, the data show that above a certain point no mater how draconian the tax policy it’s not possible to extract further tax revenue. So the obvious question is why would anyone want to raise tax rates?

    In fact from the prospective of maximizing federal government revenue the goal would be to set the marginal tax rate for the best return which we know is lower not higher. Free markets making pricing and production decisions every day. But Government isnt a free market.

    Dean you say > *Federal taxing and spending, taken as a whole, has been remarkably stable since the 70s.*

    This is just so silly. The observation that raising tax rates can’t extract more money from the people does not equate to stable tax and spend policy. Your claim is ludicrous on its face.

    I will give you this. LBJ spent wildly overrunning all the gains of JFKs tax cuts. Democrat congress spending went out of control and Reagan was unable to constrain it. And during the 90s a Republican congress was able to constrain spending under Clinton.

    I do criticize LBJ for his spending and “Great Society” program of destruction of Americas inner city populations. In 1960 Black inner city two parent households were in the low 80s percent. White in the high 70s. By 1970 Blacks were in the 60s and falling and whites in the upper 60s and falling.

    I do criticize Reagan for being unable to control Democrat spending.

    I do credit Clinton for cooperating with Republican spending control.

    I did and do criticize Bush for caving to Democrat and Republican spending to “work with” the other side.

    As an aside Dean you give a list of Irish advantages. But, Dean, those advantages existed when the Irish tax rate was 48% and the highest unemployment. They existed after they cut taxes to 12% and the lowest unemployment. What changed was taxes.

    You are correct Obama is selling “increasing national happiness” to be provided by Government. There is no question that Obama believes only Government can make the decisions. Clearly shown by Obmams disappointment in the Warren court failure to break free of the founding fathers constitutional constraints protecting personal liberty.

    You ought to beware. Can you name one disagreement with Obama by any Obama supporter? I have raised many as a supporter of JFK and Reagan. Can you name one criticism that Obama accepts or allows?

    They tear down Bush for warrantless wire tap of a terrorist in Iraq talking to a terrorist Pakistan. Yet the Obama campaign will brook no criticism.

    Joe asks a simple question. In less than 30 minutes in the dead of night Joe’s Tax records, Child welfare records, Divorce, Driving records, Insurance records and Professional records are open and pawed through by state Democrats. What if the records were those of Dean the ecologist?

    Should that inspire me that Obama will make the best decisions for my happiness?

    • dean

      Steve…taking wealth from some and giving it to others, either directly (checks) or indirectly (education, training, micro loans, and other capacity building) has in fact worked well to alleviate poverty in many nations across the world, including the US. A key question is how much one can take an redistribute before one harms the goose. Some nations, like Denmark. Sweden, and Germany, have taken a lot more than we have and remain very good at producing new wealth.

      John….it wasn’t all Democratic spending under Reagan. he himself ran on RAISING military spending and did so after he was elected. He also RAISED payroll taxes. He did not cut SSI spending. Old people vote.

      Clinton did far more than “cooperate” with Republicans. He and the Democrats, without a single Republican vote in favor, passed a tax raise that ultimately balanced the budget for the first time in decades. He and Gore initiated a “reinventing government” program that increased efficiency and led to a reduction in total personnel. I know this from first hand experience and it did work.

      Bush has been nothing more than an irresponsible wastrel when it comes to budgeting. Blaming it on congress is ridiculous. He had the same Republican dominated Congress that Clinton had to work with. It was they who enabled him, not the other way around.

      I don’t agree that Obama believes “only government” can make decisions. I think he has a well balanced view of the relationship between the public and private sectors….as in what each is good at.

      I can name lots of disagreements between Obama and his supporters. One was his vote on the FISA bill. Another is his 16 month Iraq withdrawal proposal (many want it quicker.) Another is his proposal to INCREASE troops in Afganistan. Another is his qualified support for free trade. Another is his qualified support for more nuclear power. Lots of disagreements and no one kicked off the reservation or told to shut up.

      I don’t know what you mean by him “accepting or allowing” criticisms. If anything, he is an intellectual who bases his decisions on analysis of alternatives, and that means listening to opposing sides. That is his MO from what I can tell….the opposite of Bush. McCain, by the way, is more like Obama on this score. He likes debate.

      Joe did a lot more than “ask a simple question.” He made himself, or McCain made him with his cooperation, a central figure in this campaign. Like Palin, that opened him up to vetting. Is he who he claims to be? Apparently not. he is about to sign a country western music contract. I think this guy is doing fine with his 15 minutes. I don’t feel the least bit sorry for him or Palin. They are both going to benefit a lot from all the media attention. At least for a while that is.

      Trust me…if Obama has made Dean the ecologist (which I am not by the way) a symbol of his campaign, the Republican party would be all over any trace of me….any claim I ever made, tax i did not pay….divorce settlement….you name it. Politics ain’t beanbag, and Joe is experiencing that, as would Dean if he were stupid or arrogant enough to step out of the shadows as Joe has done.

      Obama may or may not make decisions on national policy that make you happier. What I expect he will do (the big stuff) is the following:
      1) let the Bush tax cuts for the upper 2% or so expire
      2) cut taxes for most everyone else (a bad idea in my opinion)
      3) begin an Iraq withdrawal
      4) increase troop numbers in Afganistan
      5) Increase finding for national and local infrastructure
      6) Increase funding for alternative energy and the national electric grid
      7) Close Guantanamo
      8: Declare torture off limits
      9) Sign a cap and trade on carbon
      10) Open negotiations with Iran and Cuba
      11) Continue the financial system bail out with modifications along the way as needed.

      Are you happy yet? I would be.

  • John in Oregon

    Dean you said . *Some nations, like Denmark. Sweden, and Germany, have taken a lot more than we have and remain very good at producing new wealth.*

    Its about time we shoot down this oft repeated false claim of yours. A new study on tax inequality by researchers at the OECD reveals that when it comes to household taxes (income taxes and employee social security contributions) the U.S. “has the most progressive tax system and collects the largest share of taxes from the richest 10% of the population.” The U.S. tax system is far more progressive—meaning pro-poor—than similar systems in countries most Americans identify with high taxes, such as France and Sweden.

    The study also shows that the U.S. collects more household tax revenue from the top 10 percent of households than any other country and extracts the most from that income group relative to their share of the nation’s income.

    Rank —— Country ——— % taxes paid by richest decile
    *#1 ——– United States —– 45.1*
    #10 ——- Germany ———- 31.2
    #21 ——- Sweden ———— 26.7
    #22 ——- Denmark ———- 26.2

    As you say Dean, > *Joe did a lot more than “ask a simple question.”*

    I hear you. When Joe spoke and when McCain brought up Obama’s answer that was permission, consent.

    So when Obama Democrat Helen Jones-Kelly, director of the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services pawed through Joe’s files it was OK. When accounts assigned to the office of Ohio Attorney General Nancy H. Rogers went through Joe’s records that was approved by McCain. The same for the Toledo Police Department. Ditto for the Cuyahoga County Child Support Enforcement Agency.

    Thanks for your assistance. I must confess when Obama said he was disappointed when the Warren Court failed to break free of the Constitutional constraints of the Founding Fathers I was unclear what he meant. Now that you point out that you and Obama condone the above searches I better understand which constraints Obama had in mind. In case you have forgotten or never knew them I listed them below.

    *Constitution of the United States of America
    Amendment 1*
    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or *abridging the freedom of speech,* or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

    *Constitution of the United States of America
    Amendment 4*
    *The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures,* shall not be violated, and *no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation,* and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

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