11 May 2009

Chait's The Big Con - Lobbyists, Taxes, and Attacks on Character

From Jonathan Chait's The Big Con: The True Story of How Washington Got Hoodwinked and Hijacked by Crackpot Economics, 2007

The Bush administration has routinely - so routinely it no longer makes news - appointed lobbyists to oversee their former employers. Harvey Pitt, Bush's first choice to head the Securities and Exchange Commission, had made his name defending the accounting industry, Ivan Boesky, and anybody else seeking more lenient treatment of financial malfeasance. Pitt took the helm of the SEC and promised a "kinder, gentler" agency where "we aren't going to play gotcha." ... Mark Weinberger, the Bush treasury official charged with regulating tax shelters, is a former lobbyist for purveyors of tax shelters. Soon after taking office he declared, "I want to change the 'us' versus 'them' mentality - the 'us' being government, the 'them' being business.

Workers in the middle of the income scale pay about 16 percent of their income in federal taxes, whereas those in the top 1 percent pay about 25 percent. But that's offset in part by state and local taxes, which hit the poor and middle class much harder. Taking into account all taxes, the top 1 percent pay a third of their income in taxes, and the middle fifth pay 27.5% of their income. This is a very moderately progressive system.

The plan to defeat Clinton's policies by weakening his personal image worked perfectly. In 1994, for instance, a Wall Street Journal poll found that every element of the Clinton health plan commanded majority support. Only when it was identified as "the Clinton plan" did respondents turn against it.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I think we're all guilty of the last point, to a degree. If a health plan were identified as "The George Bush Plan" or "The Charles Manson Plan," my knee-jerk response would be to oppose it.