Sunday, May 6, 2012

Unsupported [Ass]ertions

I have many friends from across the political spectrum who do not share my point of view on the U.S. economy these days.  Unfortunately, it's hard to pin anyone down for a realistic discussion about what our respective points of view even are - we're all busy, either working or looking for work - and most people don't have time to lay out any kind of cohesive argument.  So most of the time we end up sniping at each other over news items, throwing around straw man arguments, and generally not being very satisfied with the answers on any side.
So, since I laid this down on Facebook today, I thought I'd move it here to serve as a "this is what I think your argument is" post for those who wish to present a more thorough representation of their point of view.
Let me see if I can do your argument justice:
"No budget should spend more than its income. Spending has been too high for too long, and we count money given to the poor and/or unemployed to be 'spending'. However, we don't count money given in the form of subsidies or tax breaks to large corporations as 'spending,' though, and we object to the idea that those corporations should have to pay their 'fair share' because it's not fair that 51% of the U.S. population doesn't pay taxes either."

Referring to my own blog again (forgive the narcissism), the amounts given away through loopholes to even just a few companies exceeded the amounts paid out to the poor. That tells me that the "spending problem" doesn't lie with the poor.

The real, glaring problem is that quibbling over a few billion here and a few million there doesn't address the trillions in the debt. Arguments like yours try to erode the palatability of "entitlements," building up the image of the government-dependent Welfare Queen as the root of our money problems. While I think that's wrong in and of itself, the logical error is to then try to equate the moneys devoted to actual welfare programs (TANF, SNAP, WIC, Unemployment) with actual entitlement programs - Social Security, and Medicare. These are where the massive amounts of monetary outlays are, and the problem with disparaging entitlements is that unlike the smaller scale, temporary help offered by TANF, SNAP, WIC, et al Social Security and Medicare are actual entitlements. Meaning that the recipients have already paid into the system in previous years, and are entitled to the payments previously agreed to.

The next page of your argument reads like this: "The economy is bad because taxes are excessive, which makes Job Creators afraid to hire more people. If taxes were reduced, they would hire more."

This part of the argument relies on ignoring the[se] facts: effective corporate tax rates are lower than they have been since the 1950s (PDF source - Tax foundation) while corporate profits have more than recovered from the recession (PDF source - BEA).

Meanwhile, critical infrastructure spending - which I think should have been the core of the 2009 Stimulus package still needs to be taken care of. Transportation and (surprise) investing in energy efficiency and technology development should get plussed up - along with adult education to help the jobless find work in an economy that doesn't need as many people doing pre-internet jobs. (Right now, there is a shortage of truck drivers - a~$50k/year job - and truck-driving school can cost several thousand dollars).

Refusing to take steps that would directly boost employment in the name of "protecting Job Creators" who don't need the help is disingenuous, irresponsible, and... unfortunately... the chosen political strategy of the opposition.

Did I represent you well enough...?

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