Deficit Commission Goes Public

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

David Leonhardt, writer of the "Economic Scene" column for the New York Times, talks about today's deficit commission meeting.


David Leonhardt

Comments [28]


@amalgam -- yes, he was elected on a flier and saw the writing on the wall -- but wouldn't this more likely empower a lively man like DP, a lion and a scion, as the chance to live out a fantasy? settle personal scores? Animate a political ideology? Push the buck to the successor? Lord knows Bush had his own "writing on the wall" moment after the dot com bubble and chose the path more taken... tnx for the food for thought.

Dec. 02 2010 10:34 AM
Protest at Senator Scott Brown's (R, MA) Home from The Ghost of Christmas Present

Senator Scott Brown, (R, MA) blocked
extending unemployment benefits to
our most desperate citizens who - typically
through no fault of their own - have lost
their jobs and can't find a new one.

(Recall that much of this mess and much of our deficits are directly due to the policies of past borrow-and-spend Republican administrations).

Senator Scott Brown, (R, MA) should have his home picketed by the unemployed and
their supporters over the holiday season.
The unemployed are all too often invisible, isolated and unheard - particularly now that they don't meet at unemployment offices.

Unemployed citizens and their friends and families who are suffering over the holidays due to Senator Scott Brown's (R, MA) mean-spirited partisanship should be
sent by bus to his home so they can
demonstrate in front of it and remind
Senator Scott Brown, (R, MA) of his
cruelty and remind Senator Scott Brown, (R, MA) that these are his fellow human beings and citizens and should be treated as such.

If you need funds to pay for this mess,
tax the wealthy bankers and companies who benefitted both from the Bushes' profligate policies and from extorting a bailout from a crisis they caused.

Dec. 01 2010 09:43 PM
Cap Corporate Interest Deduction - End CorpWelfare from NYC

It's interesting that Simpson and Bowles are quite willing to impose austerity on the middle class, but not on large corporations and the wealthy.

For example, why not Cap or Eliminate the Corporate Interest deduction instead of the individual mortgage deduction ?

Excessive leverage increases volatility and risk, and leads to waves of debt-financed takeovers, the reduction of U.S. jobs and offshoring. Uneconomic takeovers are often facilitated by the preferential treatment of corporate interest payments - that companies can deduct their interest payments from their taxes - even if it is excessive or harmful.

The idea that middle-class tax payers should subsidize this destructive corporate welfare is alarming.

Dec. 01 2010 09:26 PM
Thomas from New Jersey

Three cheers for taxing sugar and auto fuel! While we are at it, New York City should put a tax on chewing gum. Proceeds could be used to clean up gum from sidewalks and for research into better methods for cleaning up..specialized enzymes, etc. A good clean-up patent might be worth more than the tax revenues.

Dec. 01 2010 02:25 PM
Estelle from Austin

People need to realize, when they insist on maintaining tax cuts---or tax breaks---that the government is ALREADY operating on less revenue, because of the economy.
I'm consistently blown away by the degree to which people on both sides want to have their cake and eat it too. We have to allow for some tax increases, and we have to make cuts that hurt.

Dec. 01 2010 01:05 PM
RBC from manhattan

SS was not supposed to create a deficit - but it will because (1) the "trust fund" was spent during the Reagan years and (2)SS was not supposed to cover recipients for as long as it does. Seniors are surviving a lot longer than SS was designed to cover.

Dec. 01 2010 11:24 AM
Brian from Hoboken

I am all for a progressive income tax structure (though we need more brackets at the high end- some may call me rich for making $500k but I would call John Paulson rich because he made over $3 billion in one year from his hedge fund yet we pay basically the same rate). Social security has always been a minimal baseline retirement income that everyone puts in am everyone gets back. The income tax has been the redistributive tax. SS has never meant to be redistributive (aka welfare). Democrats like me will start going republican if we see our full incomes now being taxed for social security or better yet beingtaxed and then seeing a dime because of means testing ( though being 35 I don't really count on it anyway).

Dec. 01 2010 10:57 AM
Todd F from Montclair NJ

We keep hearing about how raising taxes for people who earn over $250K would hurt small businesses. This confused me until I learned that there are tax structures that allow small business owners claim their business income on their income taxes (or vis versa?)

The solution to this dilemma seems so obvious - why not change tax law so small business owners only claim what they take out of their business's profits as income? This would protect the supposedly job creating aspect of these small businesses and ensure these business owners are being taxed on would truly be the income earned from those businesses.

Dec. 01 2010 10:37 AM

tax soda, tax gas!

Dec. 01 2010 10:34 AM
Martin Chuzzlewit from Manhattan

These two callers are typical of the anti-business whacky left. I have an idea....let's impose a severe tax on union income. Union goons make too much money off the workers and their glut of money is corrupting our politics.

Dec. 01 2010 10:33 AM
Jill Montague

How is it possible that Republicans can be against extending unemployment benefits because of the deficit implications but are not willing to reinstate higher taxes for the wealthy in order to help that deficit?

Dec. 01 2010 10:32 AM
Howard from Brooklyn

Leave the taxes alone EXCEPT for the rich, BUT lets define rich at a much higher level. Individuals or corporation greater $ 600K. Lets call the bluff.

Dec. 01 2010 10:31 AM
tom from jersey from new jersey

Obama can pull a big surprise. Allow tax break on rich to be extended for one year...provided he gets a 50-cent per gallon gas tax. If the underlying price of gas does not drop 40-cents per gallon after one year, the gas tax is cancelled. Also, allow retirees to draw $50k tax free as long as unemployment exceeds 7%. Retirees are paying dearly foe low interest rates...they need a break, now!

Dec. 01 2010 10:29 AM
Taher from Croton on Hudson

Why is every one silent about military spending? It stand at $663.8 billion for 2009. According to Andrew Bacevich the US can have an effective military with at $300 billion a year. This would exclude global military adventurism by the US; can’t get into wars on a lie about non existent weapons of mass destruction.

Dec. 01 2010 10:26 AM
Anne in CT

Congress should start cleaning their own house. Small things like stop taking junkets, I mean "Fact Finding trips" and staying in 5 star hotels.
With the newly elected congress untold millions are going to be spend on "redecorating" perfectly good office space.
Making sure that when they go back to their homes they fly coach. Small saving, but they all add up and
they would show that our elected officials are willing share their countrymen's hardship.

Dec. 01 2010 10:24 AM
amalgam from Manhattan by day, NJ by night

Leonhardt's realpolitik analysis is spot on. Hopefully, in the long run, our tax code remains progressive and quits bending almost entirely towards the wealthy.

Dec. 01 2010 10:24 AM
Sara from UES

This "millionaires" tax by Schumer is absurdity. Most Americans ARE not millionaires and people making over 500,000 a year are RICH. What the hell is wrong with the leaders in this country.

Dec. 01 2010 10:22 AM
amalgam from Manhattan by day, NJ by night

@ superf88 - I must agree with you on Paterson being one of the first governors to address state deficits, although I don't know if his budgetary cuts have always been well targeted. One thing he had that he was on a flier by not being elected, and since he saw the writing on the wall, he had nothing to lose with a big upside.

As for the deficit commission and regardless of its merits (or lack thereof), it just shows how consumer-oriented and unwilling to deal with and plan for the future we are as Americans. It's sad. (And this coming from someone that thinks the deficit/debt issue is somewhat overblown.)

Finally, establish a MILLIONAIRES tax as Leonhardt proposes, putting the onus on the Republicans and their falsely applied American dream...

Dec. 01 2010 10:22 AM
Marco from Manhattan

I have the feeling that this Deficit Commission way to deal with the deficit consists essentially in cutting tax to the wealthy and the corporations, while raising the retirement age for the middle class and "Cutting spending" which means programs and services that affect the middle class... as you were saying, people hold different jobs (if the have a job at all) and for many retiring at 69 would be too much... the only solutions our politicians seem to find are ways to move income upward while leaving the majority of people in the dirt.

Dec. 01 2010 10:21 AM
Benny from UES

If Obama does not roll back these tax cuts for the wealthy he is going to lose his reelection.

Dec. 01 2010 10:21 AM
Yosif from Manhattan

Very simple: go back to the pre-Regan tax rates and the deficit goes away. Also, social security is not part of the deficit, but if you do want to fix it when it is in trouble in 25 years, raise the cap from $106,000 that the rich don't pay social security taxes on past.

Dec. 01 2010 10:20 AM
Susan from NYC

What is needed is the following:
1. Eliminate ALL deductions (that means mortgage, charity, child, state and local tax, etc.) If Congress really thinks something is worth supporting, they will have to appropriate funds for it openly and defend the decision. After all, every deduction someone gets means everyone else pays more, since government must still be funded.
2. Institute a single, progressive income tax that covers ALL income--there is no reason to tax income one does not work for (i.e., capital gains) at a lower rate than income one puts in time and effort to earn. Set these rates to actually cover our obligations. Now that the Supreme Court has recognized corporations as persons with equal free speech rights, tax them at the same rates as persons.
3. Disallow any political contributions from non-constituents--representative government can only function if those in office actually represent those who elected them rather than those with deep pockets. Set representative pay and privileges at the mean for their constituents.
The current system breeds distrust and contempt, as our purported representatives ignore their constituents in favor of their corporate paymasters, obscuring their bought-and-paid-for favors with endless, incomprehensible layers of taxes and deductions. Time to clean house (and senate).

Dec. 01 2010 10:19 AM
sara from Les

Odd how this was of no concern during the Bush years. If we had a public option things would be a lot different, health care has a lot do with this.

George Bush threw two wars he didn't pay for. Stop it.

The tax cuts for the wealthiest need to end!

Dec. 01 2010 10:18 AM
benjoya from brooklyn

why is this commission talking about social security at all? SS doesn't contribute one dime to the debt. what a crock.

Dec. 01 2010 10:17 AM

is raising the retirement age to 69 by 2075 serious? social security was never meant to pay someone for 20 or 30 years, was it?

Dec. 01 2010 10:11 AM
Bobby G from East Village

Wasn't George W. Bush handed a SURPLUS when he took office?

Dec. 01 2010 10:10 AM
rick from new york

you should make it clear that social security has nothing to do with the deficit- and surely cutting taxes for the rich won't help cut the deficit either.

by and large this is a regressive plan about transferring income upwards- not about cutting the deficit.

Dec. 01 2010 10:10 AM

Will Paterson ever get full credit for sounding the urgent deficit alarm warning that a new paradigm had arrived? He really seemed to be the first national politician to do so.

He could have easily chosen the "guy you'd like to have a beer with" personality but decided to go w the deficit hag one instead. I admire his integrity. His legacy?

Dec. 01 2010 08:06 AM

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