How Obama Can Work With Republicans - Economic View - NYTimes.com
Mr. Mankiw, a professor of economics at Harvard and former advisor to our last President Bush, has an opinion article in the “Liberal” NY Times today. Basically Mr. Mankiw thinks President Obama is going to have to show more bipartisanship going forward and offers a few suggestions. Here’s the TNB response to Mr. Mankiw’s suggestions.
Focus on the long run.
This is a crappy statement that can be turned in any direction and doesn't really mean anything. A tanking economy, as it was at the beginning of Obama's term, is probably something that should deserve "focus" despite being a short term item. An alternative energy policy, Medical and financial reform are a long term items that the republicans fought tooth and nail. Looking back, the response to 9/11 was a short term reaction that was supposed to fix a long term problem, terrorism which has turned into a long term item that has probably made the original long term problem, terrorism, worse. The Bush tax cuts that were promoted as giving the money back to the people, were a short term reaction to a budget that was in better shape than it had been in years. The long term result, huge budget deficits, is the very thing Mr. Mankiw is complaining about. In other words, "focus on the long term" is a bunch of crap.
Think at the Margin
I do believe that at some point a tax rate that is too high will provide an adverse incentive to work but I don't believe it's a big deal at these income levels. In this income range, the worker still keeps far more than government takes and they need their portion to survive.
Unlike Mr. Mankiw, I live with people in and below this income range and I've never heard anyone say they are going to work less because the government will take too much in taxes. Their work hours are mostly forced on them by their employers and meeting the income requirements of our modern world. Housing, food, transportation and insurance costs take far more from most people than a slightly increased marginal tax rate.
One of my own personal marginal tax rate thoughts.... I wonder what the tax rate would have to be to prevent a Wal-Mart-heir from cashing that next dividend check?
Stop trying to spread the wealth.
Wealth can be spread up as well as down. Mr. Mankiw doesn't like seeing it spread downward but doesn't have a problem with it being spread upward. Since the 70's wealth has been spread consistently upwards, as the wealthiest 1% of Americans now own more of the US than at any point since 1929. This upward spread is a direct result of government interference via tax cuts to the wealthy and capture of our government by the wealthy.
Spread Opportunity Instead.
Mr. Mankiw's wants to increase opportunity, which i agree is a good idea but his offer here is to improve the education system by replacing the bottom 5% to 8% of teachers. I see this as the obligatory, right-wing jab at the teachers unions. Yes, education is a mess in this country and yes, as in any field, there are plenty of teachers that should be replaced but to think that the best way to "spread the opportunity" is by firing a few teachers is just ridiculous.
Don’t make the opposition your enemy
Mr. Mankiw thinks Mr. Obama should be nicer to the republicans and is mad because Obama called the republicans "hostage takers" inferring they were terrorists.
Un-fucking-believable! For two years the right-wing propaganda machine has repeatedly called Obama a socialist, Marxist, communist, racist, no-birth-certificate-existing-Kenyan-Muslim and accused him of planning death panels, internment camps, of wanting to take their guns and bibles and basically presented him as a demon bent on the destruction of everything they see as American.
And ... Mr. Mankiw thinks that Obama should be nicer to the Republicans.
Here at TNB we think Mr. Mankiw’s marginal tax rate should be raised to the point that he won’t find it worth his effort to write opinion pieces for the NY Times.