Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The “Right” Tax Hikes

Before Turkey Day, Pat Toomey and Jeb Hensarling were taking a lot of heat for a tax proposal they made as part of their supercommittee work. Let’s talk about why their proposal actually is something conservatives should adopt. The proposal in question involves either capping or eliminating both the state tax deduction and the home interest deduction. Here’s why you should support this.

The arguments against this are that it would constitute a broad-based tax increase. In other words, most taxpayers would see their taxes go up as a result of this. And if you phase this out above a certain income, then you are playing into the Democrats’ class warfare arguments. Also, eliminating the home mortgage deduction would hurt the home industry by eliminating the incentive for people to buy homes, which conservatives see as promoting personal financial responsibility.

The MSM argument for this is that eliminating these deductions would result in a pretty massive increase in tax revenues, and something on this scale will be needed to reduce the deficit or pay off the debt.

Sounds like a loser, right? Well, not so fast. Consider these points.

● As a conservative, the idea of helping a particular industry through the tax code should be anathema to us. We should not be picking winners and losers no matter how much we like particular industries. And we should not look favorably upon social engineering.

● The complaint that this would broadly raise taxes can be offset by lowering rates as part of the agreement. Some people would end up paying more and some would pay less, but overall lower, flatter rates without distorting deductions should always be the conservative goal.

● The class warfare point doesn’t really support the idea of leaving the current system in place either. Instead, it argues against phasing out the deduction for the rich. But if we eliminate these deductions entirely or simply cap them at some amount, then everyone is treated equally and there is no support for class warfare.

● And in favor of capping these deductions, if not eliminating them entirely, consider this. The purpose of the home mortgage deduction is to encourage home ownership because that’s fiscally responsible, but does this argument still make sense when we are talking about people who are buying million dollar homes? Presumably, they don’t need the government trying to tell them where it’s best to put their money.
Those are the preliminaries. Now it gets interesting. See, it turns out that both the state tax deduction and the home mortgage deduction disproportionately benefit liberals and support liberalism.

By allowing state taxes to be deducted, lower tax states are essentially subsidizing higher tax states and making higher taxes more palatable. In other words, through the state tax deduction, the federal government will effectively pick up about a third of the tax burden imposed by the states. Thus, if State A taxes income at 6% and State B taxes income at 12%, the federal government gives State A a hidden 2% subsidy and State B a hidden 4% subsidy by reducing the federal taxes it demands from the taxpayers of those states. Because federal spending is a zero sum game, meaning it is finite, that extra 2% is basically money transferred from other states to State B, i.e. lower tax states are subsidizing higher tax states.

Why should a responsible state like Texas be forced to subsidize an irresponsible state like New York or California? If New Yorkers want to pay 12%, let them pay 12%, don’t let them pay only 8% with tax money from Texas going to make up the other 4%. Make these liberal states experience the full consequences of their stupid policies!

And make no mistake, liberal states are the ones benefiting from this.

Moreover, “the rich” who benefit the most from this deduction and the home mortgage deduction are disproportionately supporters of liberals. In fact, according to Michael Barone, voters in high-tax, high-income states overwhelmingly voted for Obama. Nationally, those with incomes over $200,000 voted for Obama by 6% more than voters below $200,000. And in the high-income-tax states, Obama blew McCain away: Connecticut (55%), New York (56%), New Jersey (52%), Maryland (55%), Illinois (54%), California (57%).

Why should a middle class worker in Kentucky be forced to send tax dollars to Washington so that Washington can support the spending habits of rich liberals and rich liberal states?

It’s time to eliminate these deductions or cap them at a low level which doesn’t subsidize liberal states.

Toomey and Hensarling are right in this. Eliminating these deductions is solid conservative economics and philosophy and it’s solid conservative politics.


Tennessee Jed said...

Bravo for posting this one, Andrew. Unfortunately, it is a classic argument for how poorly conservatives explain their ideas. Now I'll admit, the lame stream media is not about to help the conservative voice one bit. But damnit, Boehner, and the presidential candidates should be giving press conferences and speeches on just this topic. It is not all that hard to turn into some good campaign sound bites:

1) Republicans have not refused to increase tax revenue. The proposal do just that.

2) Democrats offer NO hint of real expense reduction. Just bullshit "savings" from Iraq drawdown.

3) Democrats want to go after millionaires and billionaires without cutting expenses. So the extra tax money does not reduce the deficit. They simply have more money to spend. Period!!!!!

Tennessee Jed said...

their proposal "does" just that

Unknown said...

Andrew: I'm with you on the mortgage interest deduction. It must be retained if only because it is a big incentive to home ownership. Homeowners tend to be far more conscientious citizens, more stable, and have a stronger interest in the community common weal than non-owners. But we also agree that one doesn't have to own a mansion to be a responsible homeowner, and a cap on the size of the deduction prevents it from being used as an investment tax dodge at a time when everyone needs to live within their means. By capping, we continue to encourage home ownership while at the same time giving the Democrats their small victory by taxing "the rich" who purchase "homes" that would make the palace of Versailles look like Dogpatch. Besides, since most of those palaces are owned by limousine liberals, they'll learn they should be careful what they wish for.

Individualist said...


You have inadvertantly stumbled on a maxim that my business law/tax professor in college explained to us years ago regarding the tax code.

"Uncle Loves Dirt"

Essentially this means that the government wants to boost the economy through supporting the real estate industry and will alter the tax laws with credits and breaks in order to keep people building, buying and trading in real estate.

I think you are correct in your arguments however I am not so sure that the removal affects the rich. If I am not mistaken whether you itemize or have a standard deduction they are gradually phased out at upper income levels leaving a flat 35 to 39% tax rate. I could be wrong but I seem to remember this is the case.

But I think the problem you point out is deeper than home mortgage interest deductions. I think the problem lies in congress using the tax code to control one's financial choices. I also think that the unintended consequences of these policies are such that they never do what they are supposed to. Problem is it is harder to explain and prove that point to the person seeing the immediate raise in tax rates.

tryanmax said...

Too right, Jed. The Republicans are lousy at getting their message out. They seem to be afraid of their own good ideas. But both of these ideas should be no-brainers.

I expect part of the problem is that the idea of "Conservatism vs. the Legacy Media" is so entrenched in people's collective minds, there is almost a knee-jerk reaction against anything the two can agree on. So there's your hurdle on the mortgage interest deduction.

As to the state income tax deduction, that should hardly need selling to conservatives. Liberals will attack that one on the grounds that it "disproportionately affects the poor." Conservatives have only just started trying to get in front of that ball by educating the people on what "poor" in America really means and just how many people pay no taxes. There's a long way to go, but the endgame is to make the natural response to that argument be "so?"

tryanmax said...

Indie raises some good questions (for which I have no answers). I might offer, though, that if the endgame is to simply and flatten the current tax code, then this is still a step in the right direction.

Individualist said...

As an example let me explain a tax loophole that Reagan had to have removed in 1982. The At Risk Exclusion for Real Estate.

Early in the 60's some crafty tax attorneys found a weakness in the tax law that allowed them to exploit the tax rates, this being the limited partnership.

When I buy a limited partnership interest I pay an amount for the investment but am protected in that the only money I have AT RISK is the investment. Let's say $10K. Film makers at the time new if they had a popular actor signed to make a sequel to a popular movie that Bankers would found 100% of the project with loans. Imagine you have a contract signed by Clint Eastwood to star in Dirty Harry II. So they would create a shell corporation with no assets to be the general partner of a limited partnership. The partnership would leverage 90% of the project through debt collateralized by the movie proceeds and 10% through sales of limited partnership interests. The structure of the partnership would be made so that all expenses were shared by the limited partner and all revenues would go to the general partner.

A limited partner would pay $10 for an interest but would receive a K1 form ov3er the build up of paying for the movie showing $100,000 in losses since they received all the expenses and none of the revenue.

Long story short for a 10K investment I could get a 100K tax loss which saved me 35 to 70% (before Reagan) or 35 to 70K. Once the IRS noticed congress quickly worked to close the tax loophole. This loophole by the way was not placed into the code by law but was there because of clever manipulation of current law beyond the intent of the lawmakers.

However they decided to allow this to go on for Real Estate. So if you had prime time property in say Downtown New York that any banker would fund 100% then you could use this scheme to have the government subsidize your taxes.

No one mentions it in the media but I believe the S&L scandal in the very late 70's to early 80's where many high rise ventures failed do to overproduction was a direct result of the government subsidizing it.

The problem is you can influence people to build high rises by offereing tax incentive but in the end there is only so much need for office space. Oversupply downtown office space and the revenues decline. Simple economics.

I agree with you because I see these kinds of things placed into the tax code and feel they eventually backfire because in the end the Invisible Hand of the Market is stronger than the Bureucratic Arms of the government.

Just my thoughts

Tennessee Jed said...

Indie - I have to admit to using that particular trick back in the day before the loophole was closed. It was a trucking business, not a movie though ;-)

tryanmax said...

You know I'm always pulling my hair out over Laura Ingraham. (I don't have any other radio options in the morning.) Now she is openly refusing to discuss any candidates besides Romney.

She says, sure he's flip-flopped on issues important to conservatives, but we're just going to have to deal with that. She doesn't seem to understand that she is contributing to the notion of "true conservatives can't win."

AAAAAGGGGGHHHHH! and as I'm typing this, she pulled out the old "people can change, Reagan did."

AndrewPrice said...

Jed, Thanks! This is the kind of thinking that I wish our candidates would be much better at expressing. When I first heard this idea, my first thought was "oh man, what are they doing now." BUT then I looked into it and Michael Barone added the piece about how liberals benefit disproportionately from the mortgage deductions and I suddenly realized this is actually a very solid idea. Then it hit me how this is really a hidden subsidy for liberalism.

This is the kind of thing I would hope a Newt would be able to explain. Because once it's laid out, it really makes sense for conservatives.

As you note:

1. It shows Republicans are serious about cutting the deficit,

2. It shows nothing is sacred,

3. It gets us closer to a flatter, cleaner code,

4. It reduces the number of people who have a vested interest in keeping the code as it is,

5. It shows that Republicans aren't about protecting the rich,

6. It will stop poor states from losing money to rich liberal states,

7. And it proves once again that the Democrats are everything they say they aren't -- they are the party of the rich.

Tennessee Jed said...

Tryanmax - I share your pain, but will offer the caveat that a conservative can win, but elections are unfortunately not solely about issues or political philosophy. As I have mentioned in the past, Ryan and Rubio are fairly strong advocates of fiscal conservatism and would be attractive candidates in that regard. But, if a conservative carries too much other baggage, they are not going to be entrusted with the most powerful job in the world.

A great example is this latest Cain thing. If it turns out he had a consensual affair with her, he will be toast. One can parse the difference between that and "harrassment" but it will be the end of him. This despite the fact I like him on the issues .

AndrewPrice said...

Lawhawk, Exactly. Right now, we are giving a huge tax break to liberal Obama voters who buy homes they can't afford (many of whom have now defaulted or are waiting for Uncle Sam to take over their mortgage). If we capped this at something like a $200,000 house, then everyone get a benefit to buy a responsible home. The people who buy bigger can still do it, they just don't get tax help to do it.

At the same time, tax revenues go up, which allows us to lower rates across the board. And liberal states suddenly feel their tax burdens more, which means they need to start cutting taxes to keep their people happy.

It's a win, win for conservatives all around.

AndrewPrice said...

Indi, Deductions do in fact phase out, but that also depends on how you earn your income. A lot of rich people pay very little in taxes because their income is hidden offshore or takes the form of tax-free bonds, or is offset with business losses.

Also, the real target is not Warren Buffet (though he paid only 17% last year), it's the millions of liberals who earn $200,000 - $400,000 a year as a couple and their deductions are not phased out. That is where the mass of Obama voters are.

Also, obviously, I haven't run any numbers to see how much this interest deduction would bring in, but here's the thing. If it works as discussed above, then great. If it doesn't work because things phase out, then it doesn't really hurt anyone. So either way, it makes sense to do this.

And you're right, our government loves to tell people how to live their lives. That's why they tinker all the time to make some kinds of investments deductible and others not, etc. That needs to all be ripped back out of the tax code because that's the distortion that keeps getting people into trouble. That's what was behind the S&L debacle (regulatory preferences for "safe" S&Ls), the dot.com debacle (tax preference for now-worthless options), the housing bubble (home purchase subsidies), and what is now likely a commodities and a bond bubble. That needs to end because the government has just destroyed average people with its attempts to plan their lives.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, The Republicans have been horrible at getting their messages out and I suspect it has to do with simply not having a real philosophy at the moment, but instead being anti-liberal with a few generic principles thrown in.

They see these, for example, and their first thought is -- I'm going to get blasted for raising taxes! Then they think "liberals are going to kill me for taking away deductions that poor people use!" And they curl up into a ball.

They need to start thinking strategically again and they need to realize what their ultimate goals are and then come up with a plan to get there and stick with it.

They also need to learn to sell this. In this case, for example, go ahead and attack "the rich" who benefit from this because "the rich" are liberals and liberal states in this case. Put the Democrats in the awkward position of defending their rich friends and explaining why Georgia taxpayers should be sending money to New York.

This is one of those moments where the politics could be very power and the end result could be much which the conservatives want. This is an idea they should seize and run with it... once they grasp how to sell this best.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, See my response to Indi. He's right that the deductions do phase out, but they don't phase out until after they would hit a large swath of "the rich," i.e. democrat-leaning professionals in liberal states.

(Plus, many rich people pay very low rates -- Warren Buffett paid 17% last year and 8% of families that earned a million dollars or more last year paid 0% in income tax. These deductions and how they structured their income is why.)

And since our goal is a flatter code with fewer deductions, this fits that goal even if it doesn't hit all the rich.

AndrewPrice said...

Indi, Great minds! Your example from the 1986 code is exactly what the problem was that led S&L's down the path to destruction. First, they were given special tax breaks for being "low risk." Secondly, their rules were changed to allow them to take speculative risk. Third, schemes like this were allowed, which became attractive but phony investments. Then it all blew up the moment there was a minor hiccup in the real estate market.

This is exactly the kind of tinkering that needs to be stopped. That was at the heart of the S&L crisis and then the relaxation of the rules allowing collateralization of debt (and allowing "safe" investing banks to own it) caused the 2008 meltdown.

This is where everything goes wrong -- when Congress gets involved in letting people try to game the system and in picking winners and loser and in trying to herd people into one category of investment over another.

That all needs to stop. A flat tax with almost no deductions is the only way we will ever stop these kinds of things from continuing the nonsense-boom/ massive-bust cycles we've seen.

DUQ said...

Andrew, Excellent ideas! I would trade eliminating these deductions for lower rates and the knowledge that liberal states could no longer suck money from conservatives states. :D

tryanmax said...

Yeah, but Jed, I have to point out a HUGE problem with what conservatives will stand for when these sorts of things crop up and it is right in your last comment.

The immediate reaction by conservatives to any suggestion of impropriety on the part of one of their own is to announce their intent to drop the individual as soon as the allegations are proven true. Can you see the problem with that tone? For one, it takes any accusation as a foregone conclusion. When we appear to fold at the first sign of trouble, of course trouble keeps coming!

That, then, gives the impression that conservatives aren't really convinced. We seem to be looking for any reason to jump ship. Why, then, do we back our man in the first place? Did we simply back ourselves into a position with inflated, contrary rhetoric? Because that is the message being sent to the left.

And how hypocritical does it appear when, as soon as it is suggested that a conservative candidate might have a flaw, his supporters rush to stand behind much more obviously flawed candidates? When this happens, I frankly can blame liberals for thinking conservatives are nuts.

This goes right along with how poorly conservatives explain their ideas. I understand the need to package things well, I'm in marketing for goodness sakes! But conservatives have a habit of tossing the product with the packaging and then going for an inferior product with slicker packaging.

We think we are being smart, but really we are about 20 years behind the Dems in the message game. Maybe worse.

The left goes for quality progressives, and the packaging needs merely be passable. Yes, they hit a jackpot with Obama, but just think of all the slobs they have in office. (Besides, Obama didn't come cheap. It's costly to rewrite the past.) There are no GOP slobs that I can think of. We win the packaging war hands down! But we continue to be so obsessed with that aspect of the fight, we neglect the product and settle for filler.

I'm not saying that politics isn't a lot about appearances--it is. But it isn't about the appearances conservatives focus on. The appearance that matters most is the appearance of support, of backing, of (I hate to say it) consensus. How else do you explain support for Newt with his wake of affairs and divorces while Cain is tossed aside for the mere suggestion of the same?

tryanmax said...

Boy, that was rant-tastic!

AndrewPrice said...

Jed, I suspect a lot of people used that loophole. Another favorite at the time was people declaring bankruptcy right out of college to clear out their student loans. They got rid of that one before I graduated.

As I see it, the problem with these loopholes is that the system we use is so messed up, distorting and skewed that these loopholes appear all over the place and the government is constantly plugging these holes and causing problems in the process. It would be better to make everything flat and simple and eliminate the possibilities of these kinds of distortions.

Every time the government tinkers, it damages something.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, I feel your pain. It's pretty clear to me that Ingraham is in the tank for Romney no matter what she says to the contrary.

I have nothing against Romney, I just don't have anything for the guy. But I agree with you that pushing the idea that he's the most electable is basically just buying into the "conservatives can't win" argument and making it that much harder for conservatives to ever win our primaries. In effect, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

What can I say? It's frustrating being a conservative.

AndrewPrice said...

Jed, I think you're right. If Ryan or Rubio had jumped into this race (or still would) they would sweep the primaries. But the problem is that the conservatives we seem to keep getting to choose from come with tons of baggage or a touch of insanity.

In truth, the Cain thing shouldn't be a big deal even if it was true. Newt had an affair, Clinton had several, and I doubt very many other people in Washington haven't. So what's the big deal? Well, the big deal is it's becoming the death of a thousand cuts. By constantly hitting him with these things, the MSM has attached the whiff of scandal to Cain and a bunch of conservatives who should have debunked this and stood firm against these kinds of attacks have instead used this to knife him in the back.

It's hard for anyone to survive the beauty contest that is the primary system when both left and right join forces to crush you.

Ed said...

Excellent points Andrew! As the others say above, I wish the Republicans would get back into the ideas business and would come up with ideas like this and promote them. Insteaad, we're in the knee-jerk business these days and that's not working.

AndrewPrice said...

P.S. tryanmax, Unfortunately many people dissect Reagan and use him however they want to. He was many things, but he was also consistently conservatives -- they ignore that part and they pick and chose applause lines to describe him.

AndrewPrice said...

THIS JUST IN: Cain has announced that he's reconsidering his campaign. That means he's finished.

Individualist said...


LOL! You have managed to use the tax codes to date yourself. Just a friendly warning.

But you show the problem with the system. Individuals like you have to take advantage of the code for your own self interest despite the fact that the overall effect will be bad in the long run

CrispyRice said...

Ugh. Just heard that Cain is "re-assessing" his campaign. This sux sux sux.

She's apparently done sexual harassment claims, has been a stalker, declared bankruptcy, accused of libel, and is currently an unemployed single mom. Think she's got an ulterior motive? But no, we'd better believe every word and destroy the man. Ugh.

AndrewPrice said...

DUQ, Thanks! I would like to see conservatives return to the thinking side of ideology as well, but I'm not holding my breath. Conservative "thinkers" seem to be in a funk right now and are more interested in knee jerk stuff.

Individualist said...

Tyranmax and Jed

You make some great points but here is the problem with this women who now comes clean with her torrid Herman Cain affair.

She has admitted that she has had a 13 year affair with a married man. She then betrays his trust by publicizing it with no consideration for the callous effect this will have on his wife and children who are innocent victims. This is what we know if here claim is true.

Either way I find her a despicable individual who I would never speak to. Cain has denied this. The fact that he returns her text only proves he knew her nothing more.

So Cain has denied this and to date I have no evidence he has lied about any of this. I only have claims from people stating he did. This women however admits to be a liar (she kept a torrid affair secret for 13 years) and has shown herself to be untrustworthy and uncaring for what harm her actions cause others who are innocent of this.

Yet we sit here and talk of how Cain is done.

tryanmax said...

I heard the Cain thing, too, and am greatly disappointed. I'm also irritated that the story of his reconsideration is essentially a leak without much context but is being held up as evidence of Cain's guilt. Coulda seen that coming.

Andrew, "death by a thousand cuts" is exactly what is happening.

On a brighter note, I'm hearing a meme start to develop that I can easily get behind: "Newt is unelectable because he is an old, fat, white man." Since it is appearing more likely that I will be holding my nose while I fill in the dot (we don't pull levers in Nebraska--please), I would rather hold it for Romney.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, Excellent rant! Let me say that I agree 100%! You have just put your finger on the thing that has frustrated me my who life with conservatives -- they are stupid when it comes to politics.

They don't understand the power of imagery, the power of unity, and the reasons they need to make the other side prove their accusations rather than throw their own under the bus.

Conservatives will never win so long as we keep plays fools poker with a stacked deck, and that's exactly what we are doing.

It is incredibly frustrating. We see that the MSM tries to ruin conservatives, yet we play along. We sell out our own, then we act surprised when things go wrong. Like Charlie Brown and the football, we keep waiting for the MSM and the left to change their ways and always get burned. And we fall for the wrong traits over and over and over and over -- he sounds good on youtube, he said the right buzzword, he's electable. WTF?

It's no wonder the left continues to hold half the government even though it only has support from 40% of the public... because we let them have it.

I for one am sick of it.

AndrewPrice said...

rant-tastic! LOL! Bravo!

Ed said...

I hate the idea Cain will be gone, but I think it was inevitable. The "conservative" establishment wanted him gone.

tryanmax said...

Indie, very salient thoughts. I need to get quicker on my intellectual feet. But whether this woman is speaking the truth or not, she has laid herself out as a despicable person.

Of course, liberals love this because to them it proves she stands to gain nothing. Thus, she must be believed (following the principle I discussed earlier about the most current lie being deemed true). Ha! As I see it, if one is a despicable person, one only stands to make better.

AndrewPrice said...

Ed, It would be great if Republicans became intellectual again. But I don't see that happening because too many Republicans now make their living by being entertainers rather than thinkers.

tryanmax said...

Yeah, I wanted to rename my blog "rant-tastic" but it was already taken. Then I came up with the cogiteria. I don't know if it is catchy, but it is unique.

AndrewPrice said...

Indi, That's the thing, people will take advantage of these things because it is in their self-interest. It doesn't matter to an individual whether or not it's good for the country. Thus, we need to eliminate these things because people won't voluntarily stop.

And in any event, the Congress shouldn't be allowing these kinds of things because it makes the tax code unfair in the sense that it allows the clever to evade taxes while it crushes the rest. The tax code should treat everyone the same.

AndrewPrice said...

Crispy, I'm not surprised. Those are exactly the kind of people who see a moment like this as a chance to get rich and famous -- celebrity is the single biggest motivating factor for loser and the easiest way to become a celebrity is to attach yourself to someone who is famous in some way.

AndrewPrice said...

Indi, I agree. It's despicable that people simply assume this is true when the source is so clearly a turd -- read Crispy's comments on the accuser.

But the fact is that the public has become so stupid that they believe what they are told without question, particularly when neither side is willing to stand up and say "enough." Evidence is no longer needed, just the accusation.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, Interestingly, my father and I both just said the same thing... "I think I would rather have Romney than Newt." Interesting.

I'm going to have to take a closer look at both.

AndrewPrice said...

Ed, I think the conservative establishment bears a lot of shame on this. They have actively helped destroy a conservative through a series of smear and unsupported, undetailed allegations. It's despicable.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, Yep, it's the same point and it's a very good point. Liberals take things like lack of knowledge or being "despicable" as proof that they are somehow impartial, when it really should be held against these people. But then, the whole thing is hypocritical anyway. They accept these people happily when they are blasting conservatives, but cut them to pieces when they attack liberals.

Remember how they treated the Clinton accusers? Compare that with how they are demanding deference now. And you can bet that they will be back to savaging the next accuser who accuses a Democrat.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, It is unique. I like the name a lot.

Tennessee Jed said...

BTW guys, vis-a-vis Cain, I'm not saying I like it, just what is so. I certainly give zero credibility to women coming forward now without proof. That is one of the reasons I made the point if it turns out to be true. The problem for Cain would be his inability to get out in front of it. It would tend to strengthen the harrassment allegations. Second, given those allegations, it would be a mistake of judgement of major proportions not to control how a 13 year affair is made known to the public. That said, if there are no emails, love letters, saved condoms, etc. then Cain deserves to be supported. The allegations alone should not bring down a candidate. Lying or covering up definitely would.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Andrew said:

"They also need to learn to sell this. In this case, for example, go ahead and attack "the rich" who benefit from this because "the rich" are liberals and liberal states in this case. Put the Democrats in the awkward position of defending their rich friends and explaining why Georgia taxpayers should be sending money to New York."

One way to put it is something like this:

"Many wealthy liberals have encouraged Congress to raise taxes because they want to pay more.

We have a new plan that will help them do just that. And if they still want to pay more taxes they can always voluntarily do so at any time.
Unfortunately, virtually all of the wealthy liberals that claim to want higher taxes, such as Warren Buffet, are not putting their money where their mouth is.

We hope that by closing this loophole we will help our rich, liberal friends to stay honest and, indeed, pay their fair share.

The IRS is still waiting if they want to give more of their money to the government."

And I would bring this up every single time a rich liberal says that the wealthy should pay more taxes, including that liberals like Buffet actually pay less than most folks in the same tax bracket.

I'm no strategist and I know this could be said better but even off the top of my head this is better than what most Republicans say.

The left has so many weaknesses, mostly of their own making and the GOP are either too stupid or too afraid to exploit these weaknesses.
At least most seem to be.

I hope that changes.

AndrewPrice said...

Jed, don't worry, we understood you. I don't think anyone here "likes" this or thinks it's a good thing. But the fact we truly dislike it doesn't change the effects it has on the race. And those effects are that Cain is being saddled with baggage (real or fake) because too many conservatives never stood up for him and demanded actual proof.

And that has probably finished him. In fact, at this point, I'm not sure he's viable even if he does decide to continue, unless Gingrich super-implodes and the public decides to give him a second chance. But so long as he keeps being hit with more allegations (even if completely false) and people like National Review keep trying to sell the idea that he doesn't know where Mexico is or doesn't know what pro-life means, he simply can't recover.

Barring something truly unexpected, I think the race is now between Romney and Gingrich.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Unfortunately, Cain is not only being Borked by the left, but by some on the right as well.

I expect the lowdown, dirty rotten scoundrels of the left to be the scumbags they are but for some on the right to happily join them not only pisses me off to no end it is very troubling, because a significant number of "conservatives" (CINO's) have demon-strated that they will drop their principles at the drop of a liberal hat if it will help them get their guy (or gal) nominated.

Disgusting, disturbing and a lowdown dirty shame.
I hope these CINO's soon discover that karma is a bitch and she's just itchin' to whup unprincipled CINO a$$.

I would say more but this being a family blog and all...

AndrewPrice said...

Ben, I agree -- the left is incredibly weak and contradictory and if only the Republicans would learn the art of selling ideas, they would destroy the left. But they are both too stupid and too afraid to do it.

I like you speech, but I would be even simpler. "The Democrats are the party of the rich. They claim to speak for the poor, but they aren't. For decades, they've protected their rich friends with deduction ordinary people can't get, like mortgage interest deductions on million dollar homes and income tax deductions on million dollar incomes. It's time we capped these at levels where everyone benefits equally and fairly without the rich getting more than working families."

And when the Democrats object, you scream that they are protecting the rich and their rich friends -- then you have start listing famous liberals who took these deductions in the past year or two and how much they saved.

Turn their class warfare rhetoric right back on them. They won't know how to respond.

AndrewPrice said...

Ben, And I would join you in saying more. I think you're right. If this was just liberals or the MSM, then the smear wouldn't work. But when supposed conservatives start joining in and use this to destroy him, that's when it becomes too much.

And in the process of doing this, these self-described conservatives have set back the cause of conservatism for years and have given the MSM credibility at a time when it's credibility was at an all time low.

We should not forget who took part in this.

tryanmax said...

Jed, you just inspired my rant, it wasn't directed specifically at you. I could have probably shortened my rant to simply say that, as conservatives, our first reaction should simply be, "give us proof" and nothing more.

Saying instead, "here's what I'll do if you can make something stick to my candidate," only encourages the opposition to keep throwing things until something sticks to that candidate. It invites, as Andrew put it, the death by a thousand cuts.

tryanmax said...

CINO LOL! I like it. Just to be clear, is that pronounced "Kahy-no" or "Sahy-no"?

AndrewPrice said...

Just say no.... to CINOs. :)

tryanmax said...

Andrew, Ben, et al,

This Newt ascendancy against all odds and subsequent legacy media embrace has caused me to reconsider what the crush narrative was all about. I didn't give it enough credit, assuming that the rise and fall of GOP candidates was perfectly random. Now I believe the narrative was crafted to bring us to Newt v. Mitt all along.

Think about it, Mitt has been christened the inevitable candidate all along in spite of never having more than 20-odd points in the polls. Clearly, the objective has been to "win over" supporters of other candidates. How better to do that than to winnow the contest down between Mitt and someone wholly unacceptable just before the primaries start?

That isn't to say that Newt appears wholly unacceptable...yet. That is what I suspect December will be for.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, I agree. I think the "plan" has always been to make Romney the nominee because he's the easiest for Obama to beat. He's saddled with being very similar to Obama in some ways, he's Mormon which will anger the fundamentalists, he a Northeastern liberal which will anger the South, he's a flipflopper which will anger the principled base, he's proven to be a weak debated which will help protect Obama, and he's proven to be a coward which means he won't really do what needs to be done to bring Obama done.

So what they did was declare him the inevitable nominee and then went about bringing down the rest. I don't know if they planned to leave Newt for last or not, but what they did was wait for whoever appeared to be gaining traction and then did their best to take them down in any way they could. The result has been that everyone up to Newt has been crushed one at a time. Now it will be Newt's turn to be destroyed.

And in the process, they've managed to give conservatism a black eye. Watch, the narrative will now be that conservatives don't know what they want, we're fickle, we're stupid, and we're racist because we turned on Cain.

Individualist said...


I do not think we should state democrats are the party of the rich. Rather I think they are the party of the "entiltled". Most democrats who are wealthy work for the government or come from families that have inherited wealth, they work for institutions that are subsidized by government largess (hospitals, schools, etc.) or they are lawyers that benefit from regualtion and tort actions. There are many that are executives for large corporations but these are rich on government welfare (i.e. GE).

Wealthy Conservatives tend to be people that "earn" their money. Their paycheck comes from a good job, professional certifications or they own their own businesses.

Many of the methods by which the investment wealthy such as Warren Buffet avoid taxes are through loopholes that arise because he can take his investments offshore. This is something that the family that runs Mars chocalate for instance cannot. I do not know their politics and it does not matter. The point is that tax changes affect them more because they have physical capital at work on US Soil and it is not liquid like the investments of buffet and cannot be easily moved offshore.

I wouild suggest that Conservatives favor "Earned" income that is generated through work and employment and democrats favor "investment" income that is generated through inheretence and/or entitlement.

Democrats never seem to make these distinctions in how wealth is created and obtained in their class war arguments. Just a thought.

AndrewPrice said...

Indi, Excellent distinction and very true. The Democrats like to talk like they are for "the working man," but the truth is they are for "entitlement man," whether he's living on welfare or corporate welfare and their "rich" tend to be rich because they leech off the government rather than actually produce anything of value.

One of the problem with the Republicans defending "the rich" is that people always assume it's the idle rich who inherited their money. We need to start making a distinction between those who have earned it and those who just get it. I think talking about people who earn their money is a winner as marketing ideas go particularly because it removes the shield Republicans have provided to rich liberals who attack us for supporting "the rich" but then know Republicans won't allow anything that hits them and Democrats won't actually propose anything that hits them. This would change that calculus.

tryanmax said...

Andrew, I may be in tin-foil hat mode, but I thought as you did until yesterday. This developing meme on Newt moves me to believe that the Republican candidates were destroyed in order. Maybe not a rigid order, but some had to fall first, and they did.

If the "fat, old white man" meme developed before Bachmann and Cain were brought low, those two might have gained some buoyancy from their identities. I think Perry was somewhat unanticipated, but once in, he became a test-run for what will be trotted out against Romney after the nomination: he's a religious flip-flopper with the same problems as Obama.

Huntsman, Santorum, and Paul were kept around for clutter so that various media outlets could lament the "lackluster GOP lineup." If the culling had occurred sooner, that meme could have never taken off and Newt would have been out in June. But the media's multiple "debates" along with the crush meme helped ensure that no one would drop out.

Now, maybe I'm playing a game of "Pontypool/Panty Pool/Pont de Pool," but I don't think the media should be underestimated in the slightest--even to the point of overestimating them. After all, they all hold communication degrees while their industry calls the field a joke. Why is that?

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, I don't tend to believe in massive coordination. But I do believe (1) that often the interests of large groups of people do align, (2) that there are opinion leaders within industries who have the power to coordinate others through a follow-the-leader type mentality, (3) the MSM is left-wing biased and will actively work to maximize the damage they can do to conservatives, and (4) the conservative media are suckers who will always let themselves be played by the MSM/left.

I don't think the candidates were brought down in a pre-planned order, I think they were simply brought down in the order in which they arose. I also think the fact they are using a "fat white guy" argument is more a factor of "this is what works now" rather than a plan from the get-go.

If Newt had risen before Cain, they would have crushed him on his corruption and his marital scandals. If Perry was the last man standing now, it would be "can George Bush redux really beat Obama?" Bachmann or Cain (minus sex stuff) would be "are they really bright/experienced enough."

In other words, I'm not sure there was a solid step by step plan here except "take them down one at a time with whatever we could use at the time to embarrass conservatives."

I could be wrong, but I do think it's giving them too much credit to believe they had a precise long term plan to get to this point rather than an opportunistic plan that got them to this point.

tryanmax said...

Andrew, I don't disagree that there was a lot of opportunism at play in terms of taking them down in the order they rose. As I said, I don't think there was a rigid order. And maybe I am stretching the "fat, old, white guy" thing a bit to make my ends meet.

But I still see the last few months since the Iowa straw poll as a systematic effort by the media to decide the primaries before they begin. This means eliminating choices while preserving the illusion of choice. It's a simple, two-step process.

1) Dichotomize the decision between the desired outcome and all other options (Romney vs. not-Romney)
2) Promote the least tenable alternative to the desired outcome as the strongest by downplaying its weaknesses and accentuating the weaknesses of stronger options.

Inherent in the process is the protection of the desired outcome. Reference it often, but discuss it little.

You may not believe in coordinated efforts by the media, and in a way I am with you. However, Limbaugh's media montages have illustrated that it is very simple, however done, to get the entire media to speak the very same words, let alone act on the same agenda. I suspect human laziness is the catalytic component with wire services being the lynchpin item.

I'm starting to scare myself with the analytics, because it is remarkably simple so long as one can gain access to the lynchpin.

I've long figured that the way to discern the truth about liberals is to examine the lies they tell about conservatives. Consider the accusations levied against Rupert Murdoch and the Koch Brothers. What they are accused of doing for the right must be being done by somebody on the left.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, I agree with you -- I just don't think they laid out a specific, detailed plan for how they would attack the candidates and in what order.

Instead, we're looking at an informal, opportunistic coordination where they've all decided it makes sense to drive the same narrative -- which is leave Romney unmolested until they knock off the rest as they go after whoever is currently the alternate to Romney. And the way they go after them is based on piling on whatever their opinion makers say. In other words, once Politico says "Cain is a harasser," suddenly they all get in line and repeat this.

I've seen this kind of groupthink with liberals all the time. Once one of their authority figures says "the sky is brown," every single liberal in the country will within hours start squawking "the sky is brown." It's truly creepy. It's like someone has beamed this into their brains and they just internalize it without any thought of any kind.

As far as coordination, I think you have a small group of opinion makers who do coordinate -- the journolist proved that. But the rest are just following the leader because that's what liberals do.

So all in all, I agree with you, only I disagree about the scope of the coordination -- I think it's more follow the leader than a large group coordinating -- and I think their plan is less pre-ordained and more opportunistic. But I definitely agree they are all working toward the same goal -- which is to destroy these Republicans one at a time to leave Romney, and then they will take him down after he wins the nomination.

tryanmax said...

Oh I agree. That kind of coordination beforehand would be impossible. But I think the plan was more than just leave Romney alone. I think it was leave Romney alone and drive everyone to Newt.

The next step is, of course, rip on Newt, just like the following step will be rip on Mitt.

It's still a very loose plan, I just think it had one more step all along than I previously acknowledged.

All the rest are just inevitable steps in that plan and may be taken in any order. But I don't think the media was ever risking the possibility of a Cain v. Romney scenario, or even a Perry v. Romney or a Bachmann v. Romney.

I may be wearing my tin-foil hat, but I don't go in for the heavy-duty extra-thick freezer wrap.

AndrewPrice said...

No, I don't think that's crazy at all. I think that's pretty much what they did. They set out to shape the race rather than report on it, and the shape they wanted was to get two white guys squaring off -- Romney v. generic white dude.

I don't know if that was always Newt or if they would have taken Daniels or Christie or Perry instead? But either way, the idea was to create a match up of unappealing white guys who want to keep things just as they are to depress the base.... and then take them down once the decks are cleared of everyone else to turn off the public at large.

I agree completely this was the intent.

And now I suspect people will be shocked how brutal the attacks will be on Gingrich and Romney when the MSM is ready to take them down. Now that they know they can basically make something up and people will buy it, there simply is no defense... thanks to the useful idiots on the right.

Ed said...

I agree with both of you. I think they're working hard to bring down the conservatives one at time and during the primary and then they'll turn on whoever wins the nomination, which they probably hope is Romney though now I'm thinking they probably hope it's Gingrich because he's got more to attack.

AndrewPrice said...

Ed, That's a good question, whether they now prefer Gingrich or Romney as the nominee? I'm guessing they still prefer Romney because they think he will turn off the base more, but who knows. Gingrich has a lot of dirt they wouldn't mind rehashing.

tryanmax said...

If I were to guess, I think they would have taken Daniels or Christie if they could have got them. Like Newt, they would be a win-win for the establishment, being not all too different than Romney.

If Newt weren't in, I think they would have taken Perry, but clearly he was too far right for the media in the end. I suspect that's why the media was "speculating" that Perry's late entry would topple Bachmann and, lo and behold, it did. I remember he got a TIME magazine cover but no other GOP candidate has this election year. But then he started talking like a conservative and the crush meme was instantly born.

So even though I am pointing to specifics in retrospect, I didn't meant to say those specifics were planned all along. It just only dawned on me that the plan all along wasn't merely to push Romney, it was to do so by setting him up against a total undesirable.

This is kind of a flip of the '08 cycle, where the biggest stinker was pushed all the way to the nod. This time, the biggest stinker is intended to push us toward the second biggest stinker.

tryanmax said...

Ed, I think the answer to your question is that the libs can't lose either way.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, Good point about the way they did in Bachmann by offering Perry. In fact, it's kind of been that way all along, with the MSM repeatedly offering up the next conservative almost the same moment they start their attacks on the incumbent.

And don't get me wrong, I am 100% in agreement this was all intentional. This wasn't just that the MSM got lucky that these people tripped up. They laid back on everyone except the target of choice and then they all piled on mercilessly pushing the same themes until they drew blood. At that point, they suddenly discovered the merits in the next one up and used them to dump the incumbent, only to repeat the cycle.

And conservatives stupidly fell for it every time.

Moreover, most of these people were brought down by things everyone already knew about it, but the MSM turned them into "newly discovered" issues and pounded them like they just happened.

Cain was the only one they couldn't get that way, so they destroyed him with the old false accuser tactic. And when that didn't work, they just kept adding accusers until they drew enough blood to bleed him to death. In fact, to this day, they still talk about 4-5 accusers even though there's only ever been two and those two ere a total disgrace and never would have been given any credence if they'd accused someone like Clinton. We still don't even know what he supposed did.

The whole thing is an outrage.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax and Ed, I think you're right. Both guys are damaged goods. And even if they aren't, they aren't very appealing and they won't do anything to really change Washington. They are tinkerers.

tryanmax said...

And speaking of the crush meme, I think Newt's second chance was more of a happy accident. I think they were angling for Perry v. Romney and saw it backfire a bit. The crush meme seems to have been an alternate strategy to continue the Romney v. not-Romney narrative. They would have probably cycled through Paul, Santorum, and Huntsman if they had to. It's possible that Newt saved them from an otherwise inevitable Romney v. Huntsman situation that would have been as transparent as glass.

But again, none of this is meant to say the specifics were drawn up, but that the media (left and right) would have gone through every possibility to maintain Romney v. not-Romney if it had to while ensuring the most conservative candidates stay out of the not-Romney slot at crucial moments.

tryanmax said...

It is disgusting. That's why I've been trying to get people to stop talking about appearances. It's not that they don't matter or that I think they can ever stop mattering. But just continuing in the habit of discussing them is enough to perpetuate their importance.

It needs to start among those of us who actually hash these things out to start downplaying appearances. Instead of saying, "He's smart but he's not very slick" we should instead say, "He's not very slick but he's smart." You don't have to change what you are are saying to change the tone, just the way you say it.

God, I wish I could do this for a living!

AndrewPrice said...

I think you're right. I think they got lucky with Newt because it looked like he was already finished even before the crush meme began. So they would have needed to grab Paul or Santorum or Hunstman. But now they don't need to because he surprised everyone.... isn't it interesting that now that they've chosen Newt v. Romney, the other candidates can't get more than 98 seconds each in these debates?!

At this point, I think the race is Newt v. Romney and I think that's the only meme the MSM will allow. So the rest might as well pack it in because they will be denied coverage.

As an aside, I don't put it past them to prefer Newt to Romney. Romney strikes me as having more integrity and may actually be willing to stick with his conservative promises, whereas the MSM knows Newt and knows he's corruptible. In fact, they speak his cynical language and go way back with manipulating him. So I suspect they ultimately will prefer him to Romney.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, It would be nice if the opinion makers on the right started using their brains again and stopped falling for the superficial and the media spin, but sadly you and I both know that isn't going to happen.

The best we can do is keep speaking our minds and hope someone listens.

tryanmax said...

And gives me a job. LOL!

AndrewPrice said...

Yeah... too bad blogging doesn't pay! :(

tryanmax said...

Savage just asserted that Gingrich is "hand-picked" by the Democrats.

AndrewPrice said...

In truth, I can't disagree with that. If I were a Democrat, he would probably be the guy I would want running against Obama. He's hard to like, especially if you're not conservative, he's got a lot of skeletons in his past, and he's guaranteed to explode somewhere along the way.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...


I disagree to some extent irt Newt.
At least Newt has admitted his flirtations with AGW and natl. healthcare was a mistake whereas Romney hasn't, and Romney had a spectacular meltdown on Fox news recently when Bret Baer asked him some tough questions which was rather revealing, I think.

Don't get me wrong, I may prefer Newt to Romney but not by much.
I think Romney would have a tougher time beating Obama because he didn't admit Romneycare was a mistake and Romney ain't nearly as good as Newt during debates so if I were a democrat I'd want Romney or Paul (for obvious reasons) to run against Obama.

I also think there's a decent chance that Newt wants to leave a lasting conservative or conservativish legacy.
He admired Reagan and hopefully some of what Reagan did rubbed off.

And although he wants to be liked I think he might be satisfied with the right liking him as long as he feels he has made history, so to speak.

Romney OTOH, hasn't shown any desire to make the TEA party happy nor conservatives in general.
While a GOP Congress may keep him in check I get the feeling Romney would be decidedly further left-leaning than Bush jr. was.

Romney also bugs me more because he sounds like an empty suit so often and absolutely nothing he says is memorable in any sense of the word.
He merelely spouts off memorized talking points in the safest way he can.

Also, I have known quite a few Mormons and by their standards (which is in line with the TEA party) Romney isn't close to being a conservative.

So this (among many more factors) demonstrates that Romney ain't nearly as principled as he would like us to think.
If he ain't very principled in his religion how much less so in everything else?

Anyhow, that's how I currently see it and, admittedly, both Romney and Newt have some serious problems and neither is as conservative as I like.
I think Newt is the most conservative of the two though.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Sorry for the late reply. Been a busy week around here.

Retirees shouldn't hafta be busy unless they want to be.
Unfortunately, my wife has other iudeas, lol.

AndrewPrice said...

Ben, Sad isn't it when you can't even retire in peace! LOL!

I can't disagree with most of what you have written and I definitely feel we're not going to get what we want with either Romney or Newt.

I do disagree about Newt recanting his AGW position. Check out this article about some statements on his website where he supposedly "recanted" or "explains" a lot of his horrid positions. It's very troubling. In fact, this sets off huge warning bells to me about what we're likely to get from Newt. Has Newt Changed.

On Romney, I've known a lot of Mormons too and I think you're right that he's hardly a conservative in their ranks. And I think "empty suit" is the best way to describe him.

I'm am not thrilled about this election anymore.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Yikes! That's pretty bad! Even Perry looks good compared to Newt and Mittens.

Bad choices all around and now Cain has suspended his campaign.

AndrewPrice said...

Ben, I know. I really didn't expect this when I read that he had put up a list of mea culpas. I thought this would be "yeah, I believed that but I was wrong and I won't do it again." I didn't expect to find him clinging to these wrong beliefs and then basically poking conservatism in the eye in the process.

Yeah, Cain leaving stinks. But it was inevitable after a while. Unfortunately, it doesn't leave us with anyone in the race who is worth a sh*t as a conservative.

I am depressed about this election now.

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