Three Charts to Email to Your Right-Wing Friends

The Campaign for America's Future's Dave Johnson has posted three charts to help you debunk those right-wing relatives who are plugged into the FOX-Limbaugh spin machine.

The three charts are reality-based examinations of U.S. government spending (which increased faster under President George W. Bush than it has under President Barack Obama), the federal budget deficit (which sharply increased under Bush and has started to decline under Obama), and the stimulus (which did stop the horrific job losses that marked the end of the Bush administration, but was not large enough to jumpstart the economy).

9 Things The Rich Don't Want You To Know About Taxes

Here's a great an informative article from David Cay Johnston explaining why some "media-perpetuated tax myths" are wrong. These facts include:

  1. Poor Americans do pay taxes.
  2. The wealthiest Americans don't carry the burden.
  3. In fact, the wealthy are paying less taxes.
  4. Many of the very richest pay no current income taxes at all.
  5. And (surprise!) since Reagan, only the wealthy have gained significant income.
  6. When it comes to corporations, the story is much the same—less taxes.
  7. Some corporate tax breaks destroy jobs.
  8. Republicans like taxes too.
  9. Other countries do it better.

Johnston wonders when these facts will lead us to realize the grand GOP supply-side economics experiment has failed.

How Republicans Squandered Trillions of Surpluses

With Republican politicians and the Tea Party movement pretending that all budget matters began the day President Obama was inaugurated, Paul Begala takes the time to set the record straight about how the GOP's policies have driven our nation into the fiscal ground.

As he reminds us, President Clinton presided over the first balanced budgets in decades. When he left office, there was black ink projected for years to come. The chairman of the Federal Reserve was even worried about what would happen when the nation had no bonds left to sell. As Begala notes:

Indeed, experts projected surpluses as far as the eye could see. $5.7 trillion in surpluses, to be exact. The surpluses were so strong that deep into the future—in 2009—the entire national debt was going to be zero. For the first time since Andy Jackson was president, the United States of America would not owe a dime.

It didn't quite work out that way, did it? As Washington seems paralyzed, our economy stagnates, and America's full faith and credit is on the brink, it is useful to recall how we got here. This was not an act of nature. There was no unforeseen earthquake, no tsunami, no hurricane that wiped out our surplus. It was instead a Republican House, a Republican Senate, and a Republican president who squandered the surplus. In full possession of the federal government for the first time since Eisenhower, the GOP—with, to be fair, some help from some very foolish Democrats—systematically dismantled the economic and fiscal policies that produced the strongest economy and largest budget surplus in our history.

As Begala notes, I can understand why Republicans and Tea Partiers would want to erase these inconvenient facts from history. To make things clear, Begala explains how the Republicans did it:

Specifically, they did four things: cut taxes (with a heavy tilt toward the rich), waged two wars on the national credit card (one of which was against a country that had nothing to do with 9/11 and posed no serious threat to America), passed a prescription drug benefit with no pay-for (the first entitlement in American history without a revenue source), and deregulated Wall Street (which helped turn the American economy into a casino and touched off the Great Recession).

No, it makes no sense for everyone to pretend the GOP has nothing to do with the fiscal situation they hypocritically condemn today.

Breaking News: Tax Revenues Plummet columnist David Cay Johnston has breaking news: despite what you may be hearing from pundits and radical Republican politicians, tax revenues are plummeting because of tax cuts passed over the past decade. He writes:

Federal tax revenues in 2010 were much smaller than in 2000. Total individual income tax receipts fell 30 percent in real terms. Because the population kept growing, income taxes per capita plummeted.

Individual income taxes came to just $2,900 per capita in 2010, down 36 percent from more than $4,500 in 2000. Total income taxes and income taxes per capita declined even though the economy grew 16 percent overall and 6 percent per capita from 2000 through 2010.

Corporate income tax receipts fell 27 percent and declined 34 percent per capita, even though profits boomed, rising 60 percent.

Payroll taxes increased slightly overall, but slipped per capita because the nation's population grew five times faster than the number of people with any work. The average wage also declined slightly.

You read it here first. Lowered tax rates did not result in increased tax revenues as promised by politician after pundit after professional economist. And even though this harsh truth has been obvious from the official data for some time, the same politicians and pundits keep prevaricating. Some of them even say it is irrelevant that as a share of GDP, income tax revenues are at their lowest level since 1951, when Harry S. Truman was president.

No matter how many times advocates of lower tax rates said it, tax rate cuts did not pay for themselves, did not spur economic growth, did not increase jobs, and did not make America better off.

That last message is worth repeating:

No matter how many times advocates of lower tax rates said it, tax rate cuts did not pay for themselves, did not spur economic growth, did not increase jobs, and did not make America better off.

Johnston has tables and graphs and information to back up what should not be such a startling claim. As Johnston notes, we have a revenue problem.

The question is: will we recognize it in time?

Sam Seder had a must-listen interview with Johnston on yesterday's Majority Report (which is well worth a podcast membership description, in this blogger's opinion).

Click above to listen to this important interview, or visit the Majority Report web site to learn more.

Wealth's Race to the Top

Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich has a plan for Democrats to become relevant again: reverse the decades-long tax and economic polices that have seen an overwhelming amount of the nation's wealth and political power handed over to the nation's super wealthy.

These policies not only mean more wealth races to the top: they have anti-government political impacts as well.

Then came the Great Recession — and with it, lower tax revenues. That means all levels of government are squeezed. Obviously, the middle class can't pay more in taxes. But because the Democrats seem to lack the intestinal fortitude to suggest the obvious – that taxes need to be raised on the super rich — we're left with a mess.

Teachers are being fired, Pell grants for the poor are being slashed, energy assistance for the needy is disappearing, other vital public services shriveling. Regulatory agencies don't have the budgets to pay the people they need to enforce the law. Even if it wanted to the Securities and Exchange Commission couldn't police Wall Street.

All of which is precisely where Republicans want the nation to be. It sets them up perfectly to blame government, blame public employees, blame unionized workers. It lets them pit workers against one another, divide the Democratic base, and promote the false idea that we're in a giant zero-sum game and the nation can't afford to do more.