Saturday, December 23, 2017

Rhetorical Hyperbole about Taxes

It’s the rhetoric, stupid.

Those of us who do not know enough about tax policy to analyze the new Republican tax bill are drawn to the Democratic communications strategy. You will note that the Trump administration, having driven people crazy for a year with compulsive tweeting, managed to lose, not just a senate seat in Alabama, but also the communications war over the tax bill. One can only imagine how the neophyte White House communications director—that would be Hope Hicks— got her job... and why she is so ineffective at it.

Considering the attention that the average Trump tweet attracts, you might understand why Democrats believe that, if they want to be heard, they must speak the loudest. Considering that the American people were outraged at the Obama administration, Democrats must believe that they must try to channel American outrage and aim it at Donald Trump.

One reason Democrats lost in 2016 was that the Obama administration was filled with pusillanimous cowards. It projected weakness around the world and tossed national pride into the dustbin of history. Somewhere in their minds Democrats know that they need to show themselves to be strong and empowered. Apparently, they believe that the best way to do so is to scream loudest and indulge every manner of rhetorical extremism.

Up until now, it seems to be working. The more extreme the rhetoric, the more crazed the Democrats sound, the lower Trump’s approval numbers go. As of now the Democrats are poised to win back the House of Representatives, by a healthy margin, so they must believe that their new Resist and scream louder than everyone else strategy is working.  Of course, it has been working against a president whose accomplishments have been drowned out by extremist political rhetoric, and also, to be fair, by a president who has an uncanny knack for stepping on his own achievements.

Anyway, in the midst of the Trump administration’s first major legislative victory, the tax cut bill, serious Democratic politicians and their media satraps have completely lost their minds. They have become unhinged and deranged and hysterical. You would think that some preternatural horror had descended on the earth when-- get this-- the tax rate on the highest earners has been cut from 39% to 37%. Start waving the garlic. The end is nigh.

As I say, the Democrats have indulged this appalling offense to Reason because they think it works. Or at least it works for their base constituents… which tells us something not-too-nice about their base constituents’ IQs.

Newly liberalized New York Times columnist, Bret Stephens, calls the Democrats out on their extremist rhetoric. Apparently, he wants to point them toward recovery. Do they need a 12 Step program for their addiction to rhetorical hyperbole? 

If they keep it up, Stephens explains, the American people will discover early next year, when their pay stubs reflect the increased standard deduction and increased childcare credit, that they have been lied to. Or at least if they do not live in high state and local tax states like New York, and make over $100,000 they will see their taxes decline. Wealthy New Yorkers and Californians might very well see their taxes increase, but they were not going to vote Republican anyway.

Stephens picks out some of the most salient Democratic rhetoric:

The bill has variously been described as “a disaster,” “one of the great robberies” of history, and a “massive attack” on the middle class — and that’s just Bernie Sanders. Other critics say it will explode the deficit, enrich the undeserving rich, immiserate the underserved poor, and ring a “death knell” for the sinking middle class. Nancy Pelosi calls it a “Frankenstein,” albeit one that will return to kill its Republican creators.

That’s not all, folks. Other Democrats have suggested that it is, in Stephens’ words, a “moral abomination,” a horror that compares to the Holocaust and the crucifixion. It's Armageddon all over again.

As it happens, Democrats have long favored much of what is in the bill. But,why bother with  inconvenient truths when you can rant and rave like a deranged Banshee. (Does this mean that some Banshees are not deranged? I yield to the expertise of others on this question.)

Stephens writes:

But the suggestion by senior Democrats that it is now a moral abomination to enact the very type of tax reform they themselves favored until quite recently smacks of partisan dishonesty, if not ideological hysteria. Many developed countries, including Germany, Sweden and Britain, have all slashed their corporate rates in recent years. Lo, the sky did not fall.

Now to the bad politics. Democrats think it’s politically smart to oppose the bill because some 58 percent of Americans were against it, according to a recent poll.

A Times analysis of the poll also found that half of the people who will get a tax cut under the bill don’t think they’re going to get one, likely out of distrust for the president.

It is richly ironic to imagine that the Democrats are going all in—rhetorically speaking—because they have convinced themselves that the bill is unpopular. As it happens, Stephens kindly points out to them, the vast majority of the American people, transfixed by extremist rhetoric, do not know what is in the bill. When they find out, it’s not going to be a happy day to be a Democrat.

Stephens says:

But nothing is so splendid in life or politics as a good surprise, and Democrats have positioned themselves to be on the wrong side of it. In 2018, according to the Tax Policy Center, 91 percent of middle-income filers will get a tax cut, averaging close to $1,100. That’s real money, or at least enough to give Donald Trump and congressional Republicans a good opening for a “we told you so” moment.

You would think that Donald Trump has driven his political opponents stark, raving mad. Was that the strategy all along? With the tax law, Democrats seem to have lost touch with their rational faculties and have been reduced to crying out in the political wilderness. Up until now, it seems to have worked. That does not mean that it will always work.

Stephens concludes:

For now, the G.O.P.’s legislative triumph is only being sweetened by the wildly overblown reaction to it. Why liberals would want to give the administration a holiday gift like this is beyond me, but, anyway, Merry Christmas.


James said...

I did have several witty and profound observations to make, but unfortunately I am dead.

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

“You would think that Donald Trump has driven his political opponents stark, raving mad. Was that the strategy all along?”

Yes, and many of us have been trying to point this out all year.

The media is crazed, living in an echo chamber while losing any dignity, relevance and respect they had. No one believes them anymore.

As for the tweeting, it’s harmless. Keep your eye on what the other hand is doing.

I believe the polls are entirely wrong, just as they were in 2016. People are not going to say they like Trump. When I’m in polite company, I don’t talk about him at all. Instead, I do a lot of listening and observation. There are always a few Lefty people who are babbling about what a dolt Trump is, but the majority look down at their drinks or plates or otherwise refuse eye contact. I’ve checked in with a few of these people later. They don’t hate Trump, but they don’t like him, either. But they do like what he’s doing. For that, they can forgive the style points. And after 8 years of Obama the Messiah, we all know talk is cheap.

Trump has passed tax reform, and it is a victory people will see on their paychecks every two weeks in 2018. If Congress officially repeals ObamaCare and construction begins on the southern border wall, I doubt the House will be in jeopardy.

Remember in 1992 when the media swooned over the Carville and Stehanopolous “War Room” and their brilliant rhetoric “It’s the economy, stupid”?

Perhaps it is, eh?

All the virtue-signaling and choir-preaching may have Lefties feeling good, but these are phyrric moments of victory that have a 53-second half-life before the criers return to their natural misery. Always remember: they are destroyers.

Merry Christmas, indeed.

trigger warning said...

Little did I know that tax reform and lower rates would be the opening bars of The Apocalypse. I writhe in agony, welcoming the Sweet Meteor of Death. SMOD lives, the rest of us die. Cofeve.

Anonymous said...

Is not it interesting that a number of us tried to intimate that Trump does not do anything without a purpose. Great listing of some of the reasons Trump does what he does. I used to wonder and now am just amazed at his political acumen. When one has McConnel saying he now likes Trump’s “tweeting” a milestone has been reached. Heads up for somethings that look like they are in the offing?

Sam L. said...

HUSH YO MOUTH, Stuart! The Dems might read this and, possibly, though not probably, wise up.

James said...

Merry Christmas,
and many many others here,
you too AO (you're so quiet, it worries me)
and of course the Master of Ceremonies..............Stuart!

Webutante said...

What continues to completely BLOW MY MIND is the way elite Washington liberals---and their media lemmings--- speak out against these tax cuts as if it were Washington's money to begin with and the federal government is entitled to it, by golly. In fact, these monies belong to taxpaying US citizens and companies that earned it. Washington grandees act like----with a straight face----it is they who own the money and taking it away from them is a disaster because only they know how to spend our hard-earned money better than we do.

This is insanity.

Ares Olympus said...
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Ares Olympus said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ares Olympus said...

Stuart: the tax rate on the highest earners has been cut from 39% to 37%

Technically it is 39.6% down to 37%, and the Bush top marginal tax rate was 35%, although it took until 2013 that Obama restored the original rate from Clinton. You can see the history here. The highest was 94% in 1944. President Johnson got it lowered to 70% in 1965, and Reagan 38.5% in 1987, while GHW Bush got it as low as 31% in 1991. They were so antitax back then he lost re-election for backing down on his promise to now raise taxes again, and billionaire Perot helped Clinton get elected.

Of course top marginal rates alone don't tell the story, and capital gains rates are more important for the ultrawealthy, especially lately given the huge returns on the stock market while interest rates have been so low, and everyone feels compelled to pile on risky overpriced assets. But it looks like that's been stable at 15-20%.

You don't become a billionaire by any salary, but stock options can help get you there.

Myself, I disapproval of purposely creating a minimum of $1.5 trillion in new debt beyond our existing deficits and it'll be higher if the imagined 7% annual GNP growth projections don't pan out.

Romney suggested any government program be evaluated by the question whether its worth getting into debt to China to pay for it. It would be nice if tax cuts had the same rhetorical question asked, of course the answer to both questions is "Maybe, as long as its sovereign debt, and fools want to buy our debt at low interest rates." But how long does that trick last?

Sam L. said...

I have no faith and no trust for any of the enemedia: TV, "news"papers, and many, many websites (Vox, Slate, and the Puffho come immediately to mind).

Anonymous said...

James: "you too AO (you're so quiet, it worries me)"

You can't be serious. Arguing over 0.6%? That's AO. Smarmy gas bag over stupid little bits. He disapprovals, too. And cares about the debt all of the sudden after his buddy Obama ran it up $10T. And now he thinks Romney makes sense. And of course he'll be miserable if GNP increases 7%.

What a joke. It will be a merry Christmas when AO exits this blog. You're fine here, but your happy-happy inclusion of AO as a worthwhile contributor is grating.

Anonymous said...

Webutante: I know you're a bright lady, but you just noticed this? What do you think Trump is fighting against? Do you really think he's that rude? Do you really think this rough rhetoric just magically appeared out of nowhere? My god, who do you think he's being rude to? He's being rude to the Swampians who think they're our lords and masters! Wake up! Watch what is happening, not what he's saying or tweeting. Focus! You're reading in a way that led us astray during the Obama years: all the soaring rhetoric and two terms of the rot, all because Romney once put his dogs up on the roof of his car. The media is in bed with the Dems. The whole chatter-institutional complex is coming down. Watch what's happening at the FBI. That's the institutional rot. The smelly, stinky, skanky symbol of what DC has become. You ain't seen nothing yet. The Dems will come into 2018 scared as all get out. They're going to make some big errors. IAC's right. If Trump does taxes, Obamacare and the wall, it's lights out for the liberals. Drop the mic. Done.

Anonymous said...

With all due respect to this excellent blog, the Conservative Treehouse has also been doing an outstanding job analyzing, parsing and scrutinizing what has been going on with the Deep State treason against American democracy, focusing on the FBI in particular, given all the recent events. I recommend you all read the spirit and detail of what Sundance is saying there. He is on a roll with unmasking this craziness:

Anonymous said...

Sleep in heavenly peace with the religion of peace:

James said...

Sorry jack, I missed you, Merry Christmas!

Christopher B said...

W/R/T tax cuts, I do hope the Dems keep arguing the position, as AO does, that it's their right to determine how much money people can retain from their paychecks based on what spending they feel is appropriate rather than being sent to prioritize the use of taxes paid. Because you know as soon as Ryan proposes an entitlement reform plan they will savage it. It's taken a lot longer than I imagined but the great mass of people are finally on to the game the Dems have been playing since at least GHWB was president.

Ares Olympus said...

And Merry Christmas James!

Anonymous said... My god, who do you think he's being rude to?

The list of course is endless, but the deal-breaker for me was the idiocy of Trump's claim that we're going to build a wall with Mexico, and that Mexico is going to pay for it. Of course having Trump as an idiot bully neighbor has helped Mexican patriotism soar.

And even self-described Revolutionist Bannon calls Trump an 11 year old child. Of course children in positions of power are useful idiots if you can get their ear and be the last voice in the room.

And on the GOP taxcut, I can be content with my ~$75/paycheck taxcut for 2018, but I won't be trickling it down upon anyone, or investing it. I'll go into my nice safe 1% interest savings account for the long string of rainy days that will be coming soon enough. I would recommend everyone uses their tax cut to pay down their personal debts if they have any, and otherwise doing the same as me. This economy is juiced quite enough on cheap debt without ever more senseless consumerism by people who don't have to borrow to spend.

Sam L. said...

Say! Does the Net Neutrality reversion mean we all have to go back to using AOL? Inquiring minds want to KNOW. (Just a mite of a miniscule attempt at Humor For The Holidays.)

Uncle Max said...

I was assured , repeatedly , that anything close to 4% GDP was history. 1.3% was the "new" normal. 8 straight years of 0% Fed rate.. Trump gets elected and the Fed raises rates 4 times in a year! That's all you need to know. So much negativity and politically correct folks don't remember what it was like to have a leader... a true leader for President. So convinced he's a idiot from Queens, they can't see . Fine. Even after one term, much less two, the landscape will have been so thoroughly shook that candidates like we've seen over the last 40 years will be laughable in retrospect. Merry Christmas! ( Ditto on the Treehouse ) and.. MAGA!