The Talking Dog

February 16, 2005, President suggests something sensible...

You know, much as I pride myself on my Bush-bashing, when (for whatever reason), the President does something I consider sensible (and most unusually, a sensible tax increase to pay for programs that would be grossly irresponsible otherwise), I intend to commend him. Hence, I will do so for his brief mention at an airport in New Hampshire that he would not rule out increasing the $90,000 income cap on social security contributions to pay for his proposed social security program changes ("private accounts").

Now, having simply said he will keep raising the percentage rate off the table, but not the absurdly regressive income cap, he eliminates a lot of objections from people like me who might say "gee, it's all wonderful that we'll all have millions of dollars in private accounts we can leave to our grandkids and all... except you'll offset any advantages to the program by bankrupting the treasury to borrow the money to pay for it..." Raising the cap is one of the most painless and sensible tax moves we can take: remember that no one will be effected until they earn dollar 90,001... hardly the poverty line.

Well, here we go. You see, freed from the shackles of worrying about reelection (and sure in the knowledge that his is bigger than Poppy's), the President can now consider good old tax and spend liberalism, which is precisely what he is doing. He is proposing a massive, massive new social program (costs in the trillions, a/k/a "the ownership society"). Whatever I thought of the ends, by refusing to consider the means of actually paying for the program, the President had to be challenged as irresponsible.

Now, by proposing to actually pay for the costs of this program by current taxation, we can have a reasonable national debate as to whether its worth the cost, instead of the non-debate debate we had over Iraq-- where all the benefits of a world free of dictators like Saddam Hussein while none of the costs (thousands dead and wounded, hundreds of billions of dollars flushed) were discussed. We can now do BOTH on social security: costs and benefits. Maybe the President's proposals make sense, now that he is willing to pay for them. Maybe not. But NOW it's finally appropriate to talk about them. The President has given that opening. Knee-jerk opposition just because he says it will be a mistake.

Do I expect anything less than shrill hissyfitting from the brethren of my party? No, I do not. But this would be an excellent time to stand front and center and say "Good for you, Mr. President. You have proposed something responsible, and we should seriously consider it now."

It didn't even hurt. We can make this a very, very long four years, if we don't recognize opportunities like this one when we see them.


ecksqueeze me?

I didn't hissyfit.

I said Bush blinked.

Because he did. This is light years away from what he originally claimed he wouldn't budge from.

I'll grant you that I think he's just saying it for show hoping that he can push something else through later, but he definitely blinked.

I think this is as close as he can conceive to compromise.

Posted by julia at February 16, 2005 10:43 PM

What is the weasal up to? I do not trust anything he says or does.

Posted by GlennK at February 17, 2005 8:42 AM

Whoah, there, folks.

This is what Bush has done on EVERY SINGLE ISSUE (with the exception of the core issues, tax cuts exclusively for the rich and war on the A-rabs)... he has proposed something outrageously bold with a cool name (now "ownership society") and then allowed it to be hashed up so he could take credit for something called what it was at the end. No child left behind? Medicare reform? Not even remotely like what they looked like when they started.

HOWEVER... the premise of NEVER raising taxes ON THE RICH by a single penny... THAT premise is finally, FINALLY cracking.

Rather than saying "GOTCHA!" so he can dismiss the statement as a trial balloon (and then deny ever saying it), I say we roll with it-- encourage him to play ball this way-- and LET HIM go down this road, maybe even let him take credit for something-- only something responsible.

Once the fortress of tax cuts for the rich solitude starts to break down, its time to sneak in other things-- ok, Mr. President, we can fully fund Halliburton/Bechtel, BUT-- we'll have to roll back the dividend and estate tax deductions... YES-- we'll let you drill in the Arctic-- BUT-- SUV tax credits and mileage requirement exemptions will have to be adjusted, other measures for conservation and green technologies will have to be stepped up INCLUDING PASSAGE OF THE KYOTO TREATY.

We are now in a position to do business-- on OUR terms-- or to do business as usual-- which is on termshich shall it be? I smell an opportunity, if we grab it...

Posted by the talking dog at February 17, 2005 9:40 AM

Who is this "we" you refer to?

Posted by Chad P. at February 17, 2005 12:36 PM

Bu$h only talks compromise when he's losing and he's getting nowhere on SS. His used car salesmen pitch isn't working because it's obvious he doesn't know what he's talking about and even the rethugs are balking.

Posted by GlennK at February 17, 2005 8:43 PM

Sorry, PEP. Assuming that we think doesn't answer the question how you think. Of course, the true answer, that you're a programmed mindless machine, might fuck up your reasoning.

Posted by Univac 3000 at February 18, 2005 1:16 PM

Well, I'm fairly sure that I exist, because a slice of pizza used to exist just moments ago and doesn't any more, at least in that form, and I'm the only variable I can think of.

That said, I think we should sit back with our hands folded and let the Republicans gut the cap proposal while we whistle innocently, because as soon as we engage, the compromise position comes halfway between our rightmost flank and the most outrageous thing they can think of to do. It's happened over and over again, and in this case it's going to keep Our Fearless Leader busy trying to undermine his own Congress instead of trying to build up public support for a war against Iran "on behalf of Israel" that would make a shiny glass skating rink out of the middle east, so I say let the Republicans do all the talking on this one.

Posted by julia at February 19, 2005 1:59 AM

Uh....Bush will only alienate his constituency when the limit goes up to 7 figures.

Plus, he's lying.

Posted by Social Scientist at February 19, 2005 11:03 PM

Social Scientist: you're half right...sort of - Bush will upset some people when the limit goes to 6 - nevermind 7 - figures.

I would not expect the starving artists who come here to have whine with their cheese be compelled to complain about raising the SS tax cap.

Like The Dog said:
Raising the cap is one of the most painless and sensible tax moves we can take: remember that no one will be effected until they earn dollar 90,001... hardly the poverty line.

Maybe to you it's hardly the poverty line. To me it's extra Franklins I would otherwise put into my house.

Social Scientist is smoking crack when he accuses Bush of lying. You people should get your shit straight before you accuse someone of lying or otherwise intentionally misleading.

Posted by Jihad Jay at February 21, 2005 12:15 AM

Yeah except that every time its mentioned here in GB anyone minutely over the existing cap (and I'm guessing at 90k thats a lot of people in the US) starts screaming, throwing toys out of the cot and devising avoidance schemes.

Posted by euro-ron at February 21, 2005 10:06 AM

The only avoidance scheme I have in mind is to buy inexpensive property and rent it to low-income (probably liberals) people who feel victimized by the system in spite of their lack of fortitude...all so I can buy toys to throw when the next tax increase comes along.

You people think making over 90K deems such a wage earner wealthy? If so, you're all eating too much of the wrong tofu. That's why I'm bitching about raising the SS tax cap.

I need another tax hike like America needs another whining liberal apologizing for the enemies who want to kill us all.

Posted by Jihad Jay at February 22, 2005 3:09 AM