Tea and No Sympathy

There is an old joke that begins “Why tax the rich?” Answer: because that’s where the money is.

For some reason, the current crop of Tea Party Republicans in Congress continue to look for money in all the wrong places. Their insistence on spending cuts not only ignores basic economics–the sorts of cuts they are promoting would reduce consumer spending dramatically, and throw us back into recession–the cuts they are proposing are mean-spirited and inequitable.

Paul Ryan, the current poster-boy for “fiscal conservatism” unveiled a budget that would eliminate Medicare in favor of “subsidies” allowing the disabled and elderly to purchase private (far more costly) insurance. My husband and I were watching his press conference, as he explained this; as my husband pointed out, in reality this would be a “subsidy” all right–to private insurance companies.

The GOP budget was all like this: lots of pain for the have-nots, lots of gain for the already-haves.

Now, my well-meaning libertarian friends will argue that it isn’t government’s place to help people. Private charity, they believe, will take up the slack. However naive I may consider that belief, it does not answer a more basic question: if government is supposed to simply “get out of the way,” if the state is to be properly trimmed back to function only as a “night watchman,” where are the proposals to strip away all of the benefits government is lavishing on the well-to-do?

I’ll consider those proposals to strip the needy of the last shreds of the social safety net when those “limited government” advocates also propose removing the cushy tax breaks enjoyed by businesses, the subsidies to obscenely profitable oil companies, and the mortgage deductions for second and third homes.

Until I see those proposed “cuts,” and efforts to make the effective tax rate on millionaires approach the truly confiscatory policies being proposed for the poor, I’m calling this what it is: despicable.


  1. Watched the 2006 documentary the other night on Netflix, called “One Percent”. It was directed and produced by Johnson & Johnson heir Jamie Johnson. The Johnson’s wealth manager called him a “trustafarian”. Quite illuminating.

  2. Changing Medicare may or may not be good idea. Smart people will use real data and fair projections to slug it out. But it’s horribly unfair to build a libertarian “straw man” as the opposing side here. Almost no one in America argues there should not be a safety net for the poor. But there are also issues of basic fairness. People who go to school, work hard, save their money, etc. should be much richer. We could debate how much richer, but is that up to us? The top 10% of taxpayers currently pay 70% of all taxes? Would 80% be fairer? Why? I’m just saying that your “limited government friends” are mostly imaginary. There’s a lot more to this argument that “little government and rich people” and “big government and poor people”.

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