Friday, August 03, 2012

Catnip 8/3/12: Give 'Em a Month to Think About It


Setting sun through the Elihu M. Harris State of California Building in downtown Oakland.

Taxes and jobs and taxes that may or may not lead to jobs... so glad the weekend is here...

Some hard numbers on the jobs report, big picture style: "The economy has now added private sector jobs for 29 straight months, for a total of 4.5 million jobs during that period... After losing millions of manufacturing jobs in the years before and during the recession, the economy has added 532,000 manufacturing jobs since January 2010 – the strongest growth for any 30-month period since June 1989... Since February 2010, State and local governments have lost 485,000 jobs." Steve Benen has a lovely chart for some perspective.

The House GOP passed their "fast track" for "tax reform" yesterday, unnoticed by almost everyone. The budget plan is the Romney/Ryan blueprint of what they would do should they come into power: "Ways and Means Committee ranking member Sandy Levin (D-Mich.) said the plan could create an average tax windfall of $330,000 for millionaires and increase the tax bill for middle-class Americans by $4,500." Once again, the Republicans will not specify what tax loopholes they would close to finance massive tax cuts for the wealthy, and are promising that trickle-down magic will take care of the deficit. Some good news: No Democrats voted for the plan.

Ad fact check time: The new Obama ad that hits Romney for raising taxes on the middle class (see directly above) is rated as accurate at the WaPo. Fascinating that the Republicans lie about nearly everything, and they are lying about what would happen if these plans were put into action, but on what they intend to do with the tax code - they are telling the truth. They will cut taxes for the rich, period, and they aren't shy about that.

Ezra spells the Romney math out in more detail for Bloomberg today, the words "mathematically impossible" loom large: "The truth is that Romney is afraid to put his plan on the table. He has promised to reduce the deficit, but refused to identify the spending he would cut. He has promised to reform the tax code, but refused to identify the deductions and loopholes he would eliminate. The only thing he has put on the table is dessert: a promise to cut marginal tax rates by 20 percent across the board and to do so without raising the deficit or reducing the taxes paid by the top 1 percent. The Tax Policy Center took Romney at his word. They also did what he hasn’t done: They put his plan on the table."

Jonathan Chait has a great take on the tax trap that Romney has set for himself: "Romney isn’t offering a policy blueprint for what deductions he would take away, let alone a plausible scenario to pass such a plan even if it did exist. He’s just using the mystical economic pixie dust of the nonexistent corporate tax reform plan in order to hold out the hope of some missing ingredient, some unmeasurable X factor, to keep his proposal in the safe dreamworld where the cruel tyranny of math cannot apply." Real question is: Will the public pay attention?

Annnnnd back to that tax reform, Senate Finance Committee version, which proves Chait's point. Some good news: The wind energy tax credit was extended for a year on a bipartisan vote, thank you Chuck. But here is the kicker - everyone else wants their tax credits extended too, and in the end, only 20 of 75 "tax extenders" were eliminated from the budget. "All told, the measure would add $143 billion to next year’s budget deficit, according to of­ficial estimates, with about $40 billion going to the special-interest breaks." But what would it cost us in jobs if they were eliminated?

No matter, we have another month to think about it. Congress left a mountain of work undone, ran out the door and headed off for vacation until after the conventions. By the time they get back the heat and the scrutiny and the posturing will be turned up to 11 on the dial. That will help get things done, right? Can't wait!

No rest for the wicked media though - gotta run.