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Yep, This Is the Man Who Helped Give Us Whitewater

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To follow up on yesterday’s post, there’s one more thing about James Stewart’s ridiculous defense of the Ryan plan I’d like to point out:

As I pointed out a few weeks ago, Mr. Ryan’s tax plan, which calls for lowering top rates to 25 percent and 10 percent, could actually raise taxes on the ultrarich, since on average they, like the wealthy presidential candidate Mitt Romney, pay substantially less than an effective tax rate of 25 percent, and nowhere near the current tax code’s top marginal rate of 35 percent. The question is what would happen to the big break that the wealthy now get — the lower rate on capital gains.

Yes, in theory someone whose sole goal wasn’t the upward redistribution of wealth could develop a tax plan that lowered marginal rates but increased the effective tax rates of the rich. But would Paul Ryan‘s budget plan do this? If only there was some way of finding out what Paul Ryan thought about capital gains tax cuts! Until then, the question of whether Paul Ryan is a Sensible Cenrist or a right-wing radical will remain shrouded in mystery.

Wait a minute, I happen to have Paul Ryan right here! What would his ideal plan do?

Promotes saving by eliminating taxes on interest, capital gains, and dividends; also eliminates the death tax.

So rather than taxing capital gains like wages — as both principles of equity and free market principles would demand — he would eliminate the capital gains tax altogether. And in addition to this, he would also eliminate some taxes whose benefits accrue largely to the wealthy (or, as in this case of the estate tax, exclusively to the children of the extremely-to-obscenely wealthy.) Ryan’s desire to reduce marginal rates is part of a general plan to slash upper class taxes while eliminating most of the American welfare state, and to believe otherwise you have to believe that a bunch of magic ponies lurk behind his conveniently unpsecified tax loophole eliminations. Anyone who believes that Paul Ryan wants to cut a deal that would make the tax code more progressive in any respect probably spends a lot of time phoning Bernie Madoff in prison, wondering if it’s too late to invest.

Yep, this is the man who accused Hillary Clinton of being a crook because he forgot to read the second page of a tax document.

more from Dean Baker.

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  • cpinva

    maureen dowd and this fellow are both pulitzer prize winners. either the standards for that award have dropped precipitously, or there is a “canard” category that i’ve missed all these years.

    • c u n d gulag

      Oooh – I always wanted to go on a cruise on a Cunard category ship!

      I know that sucks, but give me a break – it’s a holiday for my joke writer.

      • cpinva

        good thing for you it’s holy day, else you’d have to be smacked! :)

      • firefall

        You’re just ducking, or is that a canaille?

    • All awards have a few winners that should never be spoken of again. Kissinger won a Nobel Peace Prize for fuck’s sake.

  • c u n d gulag

    I don’t think he “forgot” to read that second page.

    It’s just that not only didn’t it fit what he was writing, but actually contradicted the point he wanted to make, so he ignored it, and hoped no one else would notice.

    Conservatives NEVER apologize!
    That’s what Liberals do.

    They are not at all like Emily Litella, who’d at least, when she got something horribly wrong, say, “Oh, that’s very different….” followed by “Never miiiind…”

    • DrDick

      He is a “Sensible Centrist”(tm) hack, which is all you need to know.

      • Mufuletta

        It’s great to have DrQuack here telling everyone what to think.

        Saves a lot of time. What *would* we do without you?

        • DrDick

          I don’t know. What would we do without you to remind us that conservatives are all batshit crazy, sociopathic morons with no social skills or grooming habits? Have you even bathed in the last decade?

          • firefall

            tut tut, Bathing is for the weak-minded and altruistic types, Real Men dont consider others.

      • njorl

        Reading neither side of the document, or reading both sides of the document were both unreasonable extremes. If we could put politics aside, we’d all agree that reading one side of the document was the sensible course.

    • cpinva

      i don’t think he cared if anyone noticed, he’d simply accuse them of being overtly partisan.

      and hoped no one else would notice.

      really, it’s what they do. lying is simply part of their DNA. frankly, i’m surprised (and a bit concerned) that they gave up so quickly on “pink slime”. my guess is that they already have a contract in the works with sheriff joe.

      • c u n d gulag

        Well, at least the pink slime will match their prison outfits.

        • firefall

          now there’s a good alternative use for it to keep teh beef producer profitability up – make the outfits out of pink slime!

  • DrDick

    It is a classic neo-feudalist tax plan. All the taxes are levied on the workers while all the benefits all accrue to the elites. That is also exactly what it is intended to be as that is the explicit goal of the modern Republican Party.

    • Heron

      Yup. It infuriates me to no end that in the last three decades we’ve basically seen the middle class in the US cease to exist as a result of these pro-business, pro-wealth, anti-labor policies, and yet Paul Ryan’s plan to complete and codify that social engineering is treated by the media as something worthy of respect and serious examination. It is proof of how historically ignorant the US is that so many upper class people don’t seem to recognize the danger this shift poses to our society.

      • proverbialleadballoon

        the media is complicit, heron.

        • DrDick

          The elite media at least are beneficiaries of this program, they are unlikely to strongly oppose it.

        • Heron

          well yeah; that was kind of my point, that instead of being journalists and treating his plan critically as professional ethics would demand, they boost for what would benefit them and their bosses directly. The fact that most national journalists pull high 6 figure salaries makes their personal economic interests in this matter obvious.

  • Heron

    The “state tax”? What is this? Do you mean state property taxes? Also, do you know of any good breakdowns of how tax policy helps rich folks? As a frequent reader of Prof. Krugman’s blogs I know how our current system tends to redistribute upwards, but I’m not very well read on how specific taxes largely benefit the wealthy at the expense of us middle class and poor people.

    • I’m guessing it’s a typo for “estate.”

      • Heron

        yeah I figured that too, but I also figured it’d be a good opening to my larger question this way, and on the off chance there actually was something called a “state tax” that I’d never heard of, I’d have my bases covered.

    • Joshua

      Check out David Cay Johnston’s books. Perfectly Legal in particular, which I consider one book anyone making less than $150,000 or so a year should read.

  • gene lyons

    I want to thank all y’all for giving me a column topic for this week. I was in danger of writing about the Trayvon Martin case again…

  • gene lyons

    My favorite part of Blood Sport was where the Pulitzer Prize-winning business reporter pretended not to see anything wrong with the deal poor, deluded Jim McDougal offered Hillary Clinton–the one where all the Whitewater assets were transferred to him while the partnership remained jointly and separately responsible for the debt.

    Of course, there no longer were any assets, McDougal having sold them for pennies on the dollar, but the bitch Hillary Clinton didn’t know that then. Neither did Stewart, who’d contrived not to read the Pillsbury law firm’s analysis which made all these things clear.

    So now he doesn’t see what’s wrong with Ryan’s wonderful plan either. It figures.

    • Bighank53

      If he talked about what Ryan’s plan actually does, he’d end up like Mr. Derbyshire. So he’s at least not that stupid.

    • Incontinentia Buttocks

      Sometimes the useful idiots really are idiots.

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  • jefft452

    “Yes, in theory someone whose sole goal wasn’t the upward redistribution of wealth could develop a tax plan that lowered marginal rates but increased the effective tax rates of the rich.”

    Yup, in theory

    “But would Paul Ryan‘s budget plan do this?”

    There is an old saying “I can do it better, cheaper, and faster – pick any two”

    The republican mantra on taxes is now “I can make taxes flatter, fairer, and simpler”
    Guess which two they pick?

    • R Johnston

      I’m guessing they pick “none of the above”

      Tax burden in the U.S. is already pretty fucking flat when you look at all taxes paid as a percentage of income. The Republicans seek to move from that to a regressive total tax burden. If you consider utility burden rather than taxes as a percentage of income, it’s not even a close call.

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