Writing intermittently on life, politics, and society

The art of compromise

Peter Orszag weighs in on the Bush-era tax cuts. I think Orszag’s prescription is revealing:

In the face of the dueling deficits, the best approach is a compromise: extend the tax cuts for two years and then end them altogether. Ideally only the middle-class tax cuts would be continued for now. Getting a deal in Congress, though, may require keeping the high-income tax cuts, too. And that would still be worth it.

What Orszag is pointing out is that in order to pass the measures that will benefit the struggling middle class may require that we continue to funnel money to the rich. The dysfunction of congress, and the skew towards the interests of the wealthy are such an accepted fact that he barely gives it a mention.

I pretty much agree with  Orszag’s argument, revenue needs to increase, and that means tax increases. However I’ve been dismayed by what I perceive as a pervasive lack of seriousness about taxation that largely precludes discussion on revenue raising initiatives. As a good friend of mine put it:

Congress [and older voters] talk a good game about “not mortgaging our childrens’ future”, etc. but they have shown absolutely no desire to raise their own taxes to avoid that scenario! So I find it veeeeery convenient that some of them cling to theories such as those expressed in [this WSJ editorial] that taxes must always go lower, lower, lower and growth will somehow magically make us all more prosperous (when the data, especially recently, so blatantly contradict the theory).

It all feels like a serious case of  “eff you, skippy. I got mine!”


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