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The Tax Deal: Good Or Bad?

December 11th, 2010 by Myrhaf · 19 Comments · Politics

The reaction to the tax deal announced last week has been all over the map. Pundits and politicians on both sides love it and hate it. There is anger on both sides — one Democrat Congressman even said “F**k the president” — and the only person who seems bored by it is President Obama, who could not be bothered to hang around a press conference held with Bill Clinton. He departed to attend a party with his wife, leaving the unfortunate impression that the former president is more engaged than the current specimen. Bookworm summarizes the range of reactions well.

Charles Krauthammer calls the deal “the swindle of the year” that will “blow another near-$1 trillion hole in the budget.”

At great cost that will have to be paid after this newest free lunch, the package will add as much as 1 percent to GDP and lower the unemployment rate by about 1.5 percentage points. That could easily be the difference between victory and defeat in 2012.

Obama is no fool. While getting Republicans to boost his own reelection chances, he gets them to make a mockery of their newfound, second-chance, post-Bush, Tea-Party, this-time-we’re-serious persona of debt-averse fiscal responsibility.

And he gets all this in return for what? For a mere two-year postponement of a mere 4.6-point increase in marginal tax rates for upper incomes. And an estate tax rate of 35 percent – it jumps insanely from zero to 55 percent on Jan. 1 – that is somewhat lower than what the Democrats wanted.

Chris Kobus says Krauthammer falls into the liberal trap of arguing that tax cuts “cost the government.”

Rep. Paul Ryan is for the deal, but Senator Jim DeMint opposes it:

I’m glad the President recognizes that tax increases hurt the economy. I mean, I guess that’s progress. But frankly, Hugh, most of us who ran this election said we were not going to vote for anything that increased the deficit. This does. It raises taxes, it raises the death tax. I don’t think we needed to negotiate that aspect of this thing away. I don’t think we need to extend unemployment any further without paying for it, and without making some modifications such as turning it into a loan at some point. It then encourages people to go back to work. So there’s a lot of problems with it. I mean, and frankly, the biggest problem I have, Hugh, is we don’t need a temporary economy, which means we don’t need a temporary tax rate. A permanent extension of our current tax rates would allow businesses to plan five and ten years in advance, and that’s how you build an economy.

Dick Morris says President Obams has surrendered and looks weak. Matthew Continetti says it’s a good deal.

When I hear about deals with the Democrats called swindles, I think of Reagan’s famous deal in the 1980’s. He gave the Democrats a tax rise in exchange for $2 of spending cuts for every $1 in tax increase. America got the tax increase; the spending cuts never came. By the end of the Reagan presidency federal spending had doubled.

In the current deal Republicans don’t even ask for the promise of spending cuts.

All my life government spending has only grown. Somehow these compromises always work to the advantage of the statists. The Democrats say, “Let’s do X.” The Republicans respond with, “Let’s just do half an X.” They work out a compromise and we end up with less freedom.

As I see it, this deal probably is the best the Republicans could manage with a leftist president, but that doesn’t mean it’s a good deal. It’s pretty much more of the same. We need a 180-degree change in direction: cut spending, cut taxes, cut regulations, cut the size of government. That’s just for starters.

The left is screaming about this deal because Obama gave up a tax increase on the rich. What we need is a deal that would turn their screaming up to 11. We need a deal that would not only bring back their fantasies of moving to Canada, but would actually make a good lot of them move there.

19 Comments so far ↓

  • Fareed

    Did you hear the recent Sander speech?

    pretty revolting to say the least

  • madmax

    What we need is a deal that would turn their screaming up to 11.

    Yes, but would the Left only scream? Can we expect them to become violent if there were an actual pro-liberty movement? That the Republicans would even consider a deal at all indicates that they didn’t understand the meaning of the mid-term elections. To me, it is 99.99% impossible for us to avoid disaster. Without a philosophic challenge to altruism there is no stopping the Left.

    They’re a god-damn juggernaut while simultaneously being nothing more than a movement of ignorant neonates.

  • kelleyn


    The left is already violent. The more they are appeased, the more we can expect them to become so.

  • madmax


    You’re right.

    Police and fire officials are investigating an arson fire in Sandwich that has a disturbing similarity with a suspicious incident in Barnstable.

    In both cases, the arsonist left a calling card, the message, “(expletive) the rich” at the scene.

  • Jim May

    Can we expect them to become violent if there were an actual pro-liberty movement?

    Absolutely positively yes. If a genuine pro-liberty movement (the Tea Parties are not that, alas) arises, it means that the Left has *completely* lost the game, and all their efforts and “achievements” of the past century would be for naught. They would know this, Inner and Outer Party alike, and would no longer have anything to lose.

    The goal is to ensure that by the time they do know the game is up, the rest of the culture is sufficiently prepped for it, both physically and morally, to contain the potential loss of life.

  • Mike N

    Yes, they will become violent when they think selfishness has won and human sacrifice has lost. They already hate human life in a fundamental way so killing the object of their hatred-living humans- won’t take much encouragement. Rational people will need to be heavily armed.

  • madmax

    Regarding Sanders speech:

    There is a war going on in this country, and I am not referring to the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan. I am talking about a war being waged by some of the wealthiest and most powerful people in this country against the working families of the United States of America, against the disappearing and shrinking middle class of our country.

    This is pure class warfare rhetoric. Its standard Leftist agitprop but it seems as if the Left has turned it up a notch. But this is really nothing more than saying that the wealthy are selfish and selfish is bad. Same old, same old…

  • L-C

    madmax: True, not to mention their traditional portrayal of the private sector, whose “power” is the success it is granted by individuals, paired with their bottomless trust in those who wield physical force by right of law.

    In other words, business practices tyranny through trade while government practices benevolence through force. You couldn’t find a Twilight Zone episode more upside down and inside out.

  • Joey

    Jim May says:

    If a genuine pro-liberty movement (the Tea Parties are not that, alas) arises,

    It’s too bad then that the only possible source of that genuine movement – Objectivism – has already, willingly been conflated with the Tea Parties. In other words: people know about Objectivism, and when the Tea Parties fail and Objectivists step up and try to say to them this is the genuine movement you’ve been waiting for, they’ll say “Objectivism? No, that’s just part of that failed Tea Party thing.”

    That phenomenon is exactly what Objectivists wanted to avoid happening when they counseled avoiding the Libertarians. The very same Objectivists who counseled that – and who ruined some Objectivists who disagreed – are the ones who perpetrated the Objectivism-Tea Party conflation. Tragically ironic.

  • Andrew Dalton

    “Objectivism – has already, willingly been conflated with the Tea Parties. ”

    What is your evidence for this claim?

  • Joey

    What is your evidence for this claim?


  • madmax

    Objectivism – has already, willingly been conflated with the Tea Parties.

    I would say that Objectivism is associated with the Tea Parties but its really a weak association. Everyone now knows that Objectivism is an atheistic philosophy and the Tea Parties are heavily associated with religion. So I wouldn’t go overboard with linking Objectivism and the Tea Parties.

    As for the future, I think that Objectivists should be very careful with their activism in relation to the Tea Parties. The Tea Parties look poised to become a religious Conservative phenomenon complete with protectionist economics and strong anti-immigration sympathies (which in today’s context is understandable). It seems that it is too early to expect a genuine pro-capitalist movement.

  • madmax

    More examples of Leftist violence. This one is terrifying.

    Malkin is right in saying that had this guy been a Conservative we would never hear the end of it.

  • Jim May

    What is your evidence for this claim?


    You were asked for evidence, and that is your response? Seriously?

    The Tea Parties, unlike the Libertarians, are precisely the ad-hoc sort of movement that Ayn Rand was referring to as the sort of thing with which Objectivists can work without incurring sanction issues.

    This is reflected in the fact that they are not a monolithic party, as the LP aspires to be, but are an aggregate of local chapters all over the country. Many of them have already been co-opted by religionists; this is to be expected given their lack of the necessary cultural defenses. This is the current overall trend, which is why I do not consider the Tea Parties in toto to be the pro-liberty movement hypothesized here.

    Nevertheless, the Tea Parties did show a lot of potential in that regard, much more than anyone expected, including myself and *everyone* in the mainstream. So far, it has spooked the entire political minstream across the fraudulent “spectrum” — from the Left, who were sufficiently rattled to put the pedal to the metal on their heaviest weapon, the “racism” charge — to certain parts of the religious right, the old Republican establishment and the “national greatness” conservatives like David Brooks. These reactions alone would have told me that there was something special going on with the TP, halting and abortive as it may end up being. Just the fact that it happened at all was a wake-up call for everyone.

    Regarding Objectivism’s association with the TP, what “damage” has that done? For one thing, it’s largely been a one-way association, in the form of Objectivists speaking out for and defending the good elements of the TP and against the bad. The TP itself, on the other hand, has not specifically sought out Objectivists or identified it as a major influence.

    Second, there is an interesting clue that I noted on HBL during the TP’s ascendancy, when the media was in its “TP=fringe movement” narrative phase. This was when they sought to cherry-pick particular signs or individuals in order to discredit the entire movement. There were plenty of Atlas references, Ayn Rand pictures, “Who is John Galt?” and others… but those were never chosen as examples of “crazy”. They stuck to the usual tropes: racists signs, “Obama=Hitler” and that sort of thing (which as often as not were false flag operators). So Ayn Rand is no longer crazy/fringe enough for such purposes anymore? When did that happen?

    Libertarianism, on the other hand, ought to have been dubbed Operation Foot Bullet from day one. Unlike the TP, which was a true grassroots phenomenon, the LP has always sought to ape the Leftist/Communist model, complete with attendant anarchists and a tendency to the subversion (or “struggle”) fetish. “Hippies of the right” indeed. As always, there are libertarians who transcend their own movement sometimes, but until they stop running away from the necessity of moral foundations for liberty, conservatives will just keep owning them by means of that evasion — that is, when they aren’t doing their own self-induced periodic faceplant, which has done more to discredit the liberty-oriented right than anything the TP has ever done.

    The single perceptual-level piece of evidence that demonstrates that the TP was and is a much bigger deal than the LP, is the Left’s relative calm/indifference in facing libertarians, versus their unhinged reaction to the TP. It shows that they see the TP as a much greater threat to their goals than the LP ever was.

    So, the analogy with David Kelley doesn’t apply for several reasons, not the least of which is that he was passing off counterfeit goods under the Objectivist brand, with the expected results.

  • Inspector


    *Great* post! You’ve hit the nail on the head, and said it well to boot.


    The above praise applies to your comment, also!

  • madmax

    is the Left’s relative calm/indifference in facing libertarians, versus their unhinged reaction to the TP.

    The Left and the libertarians share a great deal. That is another reason why Leftists don’t attack libertarians or if they do its usually just with the “oh, they’re just crazy libertarians” refrain. Even some far-Leftists self-identify as libertarian such as Bill Maher.

    Leftists and Libertarians are both nominalists and subjectivists. Conservatives are Platonic Realists and intrinsicists. Its a false alternative if ever there was one. The Tea Party is bound to be swallowed up by intrinsicism and thus become a predominantly Conservative movement. What else can people who are not familiar with Rand’s philosophy rely on in order to challenge the Left’s collectivism but religion and tradition?

  • Fareed

    the libertarians come off as anarchists to me, of one flavour or another. they seem to have no coherent philosophy or intellectual framework to support their ideas. they talk about liberty as if it is in a vacuum.

  • Joey

    Jim May,

    Say all you want, but the bottom line is that many, many people who had never even heard of Ayn Rand or Objectivism had it introduced to them at the exact same time, and in the exact same place, that they were learning what the Tea Party Movement was. Many people think they are one and the same. They have no clue that Objectivism is anything more than a political ideology. All these hairs that you’re splitting about how the TP is “grass roots” and the LP is “monolithic” are irrelevant.

    Furthermore, they’re false. The LP *may* aspire to be a monolithic political organization, but given it’s microscopic *actual* political power at present, what it amounts to is exactly what the TP amounts to: a pro-liberty cultural element with improper philosophical underpinings.

    The issue of which is better for ultimate victory over statism – growing from a wide, cultural base or driving hard with a sharp spearhead into it’s chambers of power – is a complex one, but it really is no more than a *strategy* issue. And because that’s all it is, people who hold the same philosophical can honestly disagree (or at least they *should* be able to). Furthermore, within the context of that discussion, I don’t know where you get the notion that conservatives “own” Libertarians because Libertarians explicitly disawov the need for a moral basis to their political platform. Have you checked the overall direction of the country lately? The part of the culture and the part of the political fight that resembles Libertarians in that regard – liberalism – continues to “own” conservativism. Last time I checked, the country isn’t looking more like the 1920’s and less like the ’90’s.

    But besides all that, I agree with you that Libertarianism, by it’s very nature, does do much to discredit liberty. And yes, it has done more than the TP has ever done. But why? It’s only because they’ve been around longer. Moral subjectivism and mystical morality amount to the same thing – just the same way as the only reason why liberalism, if it ever chooses to claim any moral basis at all, defaulted to altruism (the same altruism as their religious conservative “opponents”) is because subjectivism is superficial and unteneable. Also, what about the fact that the Libertarians, at least, were complaining about big government long before these Tea Party reactionaries started. The Tea Partiers only did so when statism’s negatives became overwhelmingly obvious. A very strong argument could be made that the Libertarians are more apt to be interested in deeper philosophy because of their more conceptual bent. But, I know, people like you want to believe that the *majority* of Libertarians are only Libertarians because they want to be free to smoke dope, infringe upon copyrights, and visit prostitutes. That’s about as fair as the MSM claiming that the TP is a “lunatic fringe” made up of Timothy Mcveigh and abortion clinic shooter types instead of every day people.

    Anyways, maybe the TP is, as you say, a “much bigger deal” than the LP, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that Objectivism should be associating itself with it. As I just explained, without a *proper* philosophical underpining, both amount to – and will lead to – the same exact thing. And as I also just explained, the only reason why they’re a bigger deal than the LP is because *statism* is a much bigger deal of late.

    You can wrap up your half-baked argument with the canard that David Kelley was a “counterfeiter” simply because he disagreed with Leonard Peikoff, et al about *strategy*, but the fact is that those very same people who destroyed his reputation (and I dare say his personal desire to maintain his passion for Objectivism) are now doing something that amounts to *exactly the same thing* and hoping people like you guard the rear for them – from people like me – so they can get away with being hypocrites without having to pay any particular, concrete price in terms of prestige or control of the movement’s resources.

    Finally, it may not make any difference. Maybe engagement with the TP will finally be the thing that puts Objectivism over the top and thus accomplishes for the TP, and thus for the country, what it wants and needs. But the fact of the matter is that the world has beaten a world to Objectivism’s door – not the other way around. Twenty years of David Kelly controversy-induced silence on the part of Objectivism to even *discuss* – in an organized and serious way – the issue of tactics (because it’s always been misconstrued as an issue of personal virtue) has caused that. The world is much more down the “road to serfdom” than it was twenty years ago, and if Objectivism engaging with a groups like the LP and TP turns out to be the roadblock that the country has needed, you have all of the Leonard Peikoff’s of Objectivism to thank for delaying the salvation of this country, and your life’s potential, by over two decades.

  • Jim May

    Joey: there’s a lot of misdirection and careful
    sidestepping in your comment, so for purely volume reason I won’t
    get to it all. I’ll just hit the most important points.
    They have no clue that Objectivism is anything more than a
    political ideology. All these hairs that you’re splitting about how
    the TP is “grass roots” and the LP is “monolithic” are irrelevant.
    The first sort of thing is a given — the ideas
    propagate, mix and mutate in the minds of people who have free
    will. Many people get their first exposure to Objectivism from
    off-the-wall sources, such as David Kelley or the game “Bioshock”.
    There’s nothing that anyone can do about that; it happens to all
    ideas. Your second point is flat-out evasion. You wave away my
    points rather than address them. There’s a good reason for that:
    your entire premise (that the Kelley/Peikoff dispute was only about
    “strategy”, and Dr. Peikoff turned it into what it became) rests on
    the equivocation between the TP and the LP. Far from “splitting
    hairs”, I demonstrated that the LP and the TP are different in many
    key respects (the latter is “ad hoc” while the former isn’t), a
    fact which obstructs your attempt to pain the Peikoff/Kelley
    dispute as being over mere “strategy”. Second, and more to your
    main point: the difference between Leonard Peikoff and David Kelley
    may have indeed started off as “tactical” differences, but they
    didn’t start or stop there. I know it first hand. For months after
    I first discovered the LP/DK dispute in 1995, I leaned towards DK
    for that exact reason: I thought that it made much more sense to
    “engage” than to pontificate, as many LP supporters were doing at
    the time. Then I got a copy of “Truth and Toleration”, and found
    that David Kelley had in fact gone off track. Of two key points in
    this regard that I’ll mention here, the first was the willful
    severance of moral judgment and consequences via his concept of
    “toleration”, which I termed “suspended sentence”. The other, was
    his attempt to paint Dr. Peikoff’s discussion of how the inexorable
    logic of ideas move men (specifically, moves Marxists to mass
    murder) as “Hegelian”. This little sleight-of-hand turned on
    dropping a key part of Dr. Peikoff’s unwritten context —
    specifically, the principle of free will — in order to declare by
    implication that Dr. Peikoff had *repudiated* free will. It was
    obvious to any Objectivist worth his salt that notwithstanding the
    fact that ideas have logical consequences, men retain the free will
    to get off that train at any time, and that this was part of the
    unwritten context in which Dr. Peikoff wrote…. which should tell
    you which sort of reader that Kelley was really after with that
    little stunt. I still have all my notes from that reading, and they
    make clear why I now consider David Kelley to be a counterfeiter,
    i.e. passing off a knockoff product under an existing brand name.
    Your canard that I consider Kelley to be a
    counterfeiter because of “disagreements over
    strategy” lies bloodied and dead at your feet. The irony there, is
    that I do in fact agree with your main point. Yes, there are
    Objectivists who insist on turning disagreements over derivative
    issues like tactics (or even movies, fer chrissakes), into sudden
    “you don’t understand Objectivism” accusations of deep, fundamental
    moral error, and we are much the worse off for
    it. The problem is that Kelley, by validating
    those accusations in his (extremely high-profile) case, ended up
    doing all of us a huge disfavor, by giving those people his specter
    to raise whenever such issues came up in the future. Those who
    irrationally insist that Dr. Peikoff is above *any* criticism are
    now harder to separate out from Dr. Peikoff’s legitimate defenders.
    If David Kelley hadn’t turned out to be a counterfeiter, perhaps he
    might have catalyzed the strategy/tactics discussion back then, as
    you imagine he actually tried to do, and we’d be better off now. I
    don’t know the answer to that. What I do know is that this issue is
    much more vexing to those operating on the faintly
    collectivist-like premise that Objectivists would be most effective
    as a monolithic “movement”, than for those of us who see it as a
    a marketplace consisting of many
    independent individuals and groups, all developing their own ideas
    on what constitutes the best tactical/strategic use of their
    activist efforts and resources. In other words, if you don’t like
    what other Objectivists are doing, get off your ass and prove us
    wrong in action. Don’t tell, show. And stop
    beating David Kelley’sdead horse while you are at