Monday, March 12, 2007

President Thompson?

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Abouna said...

Why NOT! He is a heck of a lot better than the Republocrats that are running now.

David said...

God help us, another ACTOR in the White House. On the other hand, I don't know which is worse, and ACTOR President or a TRUST FUND BABY President.

Whatever happened to having truly intelligent people as President? You know, Rhodes Scholars and such. Oh...right, the last time we elected a Rhodes Scholar, you folks attempted to impeach him.

I guess it's hard to get the puppet strings to work when someone has a mind of their own.

Dan said...

I reitorate:

Clinton was a liar.

He lied to the American people, he lied to his own cabinet, his family and a grand Jury. AND THAT"S JUST THE LIE WE KNOW ABOUT!!! Scandal after scandal after scandal.

Scandals in which everyone one involved with the exception of the president and first lady were incarcerated.

When he was elected Republicans knew that he couldn't be trusted, and we were right.

He tarnished the office permanently, and didn't accomplish much in his 8 years in office either.

As much as the moral equivocators on the left would like, the fact remains that the current president hasn't lied about a thing.

Either did his father, either did Reagan, or Carter, or Ford, and yet Clinton is the president that the Democrats like to put up on a pedestal. Why? Because he survived two terms and becasue as we are seeing with Obama right now, Democrats prefer style over substance.

If you lack both, i.e. Gore, Kerry, lose elections.

David said... must really admire the skill conservatives have with THE BIG LIE. On message, never wavering.

In this case the LIES are:

"scandal after scandal" - Sure, the more "scandals" right wing politicians and sympathizers manufacture, the more there are, right? Not to mention that NOT ONE OF THEM had anything to do with President Clinton's conduct in office as President...the most important factor.

"Tarnished the office" - Again, how is a blow job (which you guys are so obsessed with) more tarnishing than, oh, authorizing a break-in of your political opponents' offices, waging an illegal and misguided war (I'm talking LBJ here not GWB, at least for the former), defying directives from Congress and selling weapons to a potential enemy (the Gipper), and lying to the congress and American Public about foreign intelligence to create justification for sending soldiers into battle (GWB).

If anything, President Clinton helped to restore dignity, trust and confidence in an office that had been ransacked by terrible leadership in the 25 yrs. before he took office.

Falling Panda said...

Nobody lied "to the congress and American Public about foreign intelligence to create justification for sending soldiers into battle". We've been over this repeatedly. If you have some new evidence in the matter then bring it.

"Clinton helped to restore dignity, trust and confidence......?"
You're kidding right?

Marc Rich, Buddisht temples, White House Travel Office, I've already mentioned all the people who were thrown in jail b/c of whitewater, useing the Lincoln bedroom as a funraising tool.

Clinton was the Warren G. Harding of our generation. The only difference is that Harding died while in office.

In the scope of history Reagan makes Clinton look like Andrew Johnson compared to his predecessor.

David said...

Only in the wildest imaginations of Fox News contributors. History will show Pres. Reagan for what he was...a pawn of powerful right wing conservatives who had nothing more to offer the American people than a charismatic smile and a few Hollywood insider jokes.

The man was an embarrassment to our Nation...although sadly President Bush has now eclipsed Pres. Reagan as the most embarrassing President to take office in my lifetime.

Falling Panda said...

Most presidential historians on both sides would disagree with you on that one.

David said...

Name them...

Falling Panda said...

As of right now the most respected survey of presidential scholars and most frequently cited is the Wall Street Journal.

I know you'r probably brush their views off as being favorable to the right, but I'd say their views are probably far more researched and well thought out than anyone who writes for Rolling Stone, which is little more than a alternative press outlet that occasionally dabbles in far-left politics.

Here are a few of the most respected rankings:

David said...

I'm guessing that neither Jim Cannon nor Lee Hamilton (quoted below) were included in the WSJ survey. don't think the WSJ is a particularly objective news source.

"They told stories about how inattentive and inept the President was.... They said he wouldn't come to work--all he wanted to do was to watch movies and television at the residence."
--Jim Cannon (an aide to Howard Baker) reporting what Reagan's underlings told him, Landslide: The Unmaking of the President: 1984-88

"Reagan's only contribution [to the subject of the MX missile] throughout the entire hour and a half was to interrupt somewhere at midpoint to tell us he'd watched a movie the night before, and he gave us the plot from WarGames, the movie. That was his only contribution."
-Lee Hamilton (Representative from Indiana) interviewed by Haynes Johnson, Sleepwalking Through History: America in the Reagan Years

If you want to praise the Reagan Administration (for what I have no clue, their only accomplishment in my mind was to hasten the moral and economic decay of the 1980s), I can respect that, but don't confuse the Administration with the man. Pres. Reagan was just about the closest thing to a puppet we've ever had in the White House.

Dan said...

Ok so let me get this straight.

When the widely respected Wall Street Journal conducts a study, the conclusion of which, is that Reagan is one of the top ten presidents in US history, you brush it off as right wing bias.

But...When Rolling Stone, a music magazine, which has never had a nice thing to say about anyone to the right of Russ Feingold, finds some people to say that Bush is History's worst president (an assertion that is silly if you know anything about the history of the presidency) you tell everyone to go out and read it right away.


It's kind of like when Bill Maher and the leftwing blogs start saying stuff like "half-a million civilians have been killed in Iraq" and everyone on the left buys into it hook line and sinker.

Some kid on Daily Kos wrote it on- line, so it must be fact.

Same thing with The Downing Street memo, Plamegate and various other
examples of baloney that the left has tried to turn into smoking gun indictments of the administration.

You see this is exactly why the modern left-wing smear machine needs to be exposed and shut down.
They never let facts get in the way of a good story.

So you can go ahead and have your impeached president.

I'll take the guy who ended the cold war, and brought back an economy that had been brought to its knees by another Democratic President, who presided over a 75% tax rate on top earners.

David said...

I will give you credit for have a remarkable talent for changing the subject and staying on message. I believe we were talking about our prior Actor-in-Chief and the quotes about him.

Once again, Pres. Reagan didn't DO anything except smile and wave. Both his own staff and his contemporaries at the time are on record as saying essentially this.

As for ending the cold war and revitalizing the economy. The Soviet economy imploded without much assistance from us and we certainly didn't "SCARE" their economy into collapsing. Last I checked, the cold war had been raging long before Reagan took office.

As for the tax rates...not sure where you are getting your figures, but here is link to a history of the income tax rates since 1971:

As you can see from the chart, not only did the Reagan administration consistently lower taxes in the top bracket, it also lowered the bracket itself. Nice...between this and the never-ending increase in payroll taxes, the right wing's mission to squeeze the working man and woman while letting the non "earners" pile up the money in their tax free accounts was given a huge boost in the Reagan years.

Now...the government wants the blood of their children to fight a senseless war as well.

Nice democracy we live in!

Falling Panda said...

Ok sorry, it wasn't 75% it was 70% my bad, but it is undeniable that all Americans including those at the bottom, saw their incomes increase dramatically during the Reagan years after 10 years of stagnation.

Dramatic cuts in the income tax and deregulation were largely responsible for this. Not to mention the increase in federal revenue as a result of the economic growth brought on by the tax-cuts.

Despite the increase in Payroll taxes, with the tax cuts those at the bottom paid less in federal taxes than they had under the Carter admin. Even with the Payroll tax included.

He essentially repaired our economy giving us the incredible economic engine that we've had for the last 30 years. This is all despite Liberals who want us to go to the European model, which is of course a complete failure.

When will liberals learn that raising taxes on those who create the jobs and invest in new ideas never works?

The Soviet economy was in trouble, but could have survived if the policies of detente had continued. It was Reagan's military build up, and his refusal to negotiate with Gorbi at Rejavick on mutual disarmament that put the crunch on them and sent their satellite states tumbling all over Europe.( give Thatcher some credit for this too.)

But, while Reagan was undeniably not the most hands on President, he brought something to the office, Clinton never had. He had core principles that he stuck to and accomplished.

He came to office with the goals of ending soviet communism, and lowering taxes on the American people. Because of focus and determination, he did both, and while some claim that he was disengaged towards the end of his administration, there is no doubt that he was a remarkable leader.

I've read one of Lou Cannon's books and while critical, it is also full of praise of Reagan and his policies, which going back 20 years, were HIS policies.

He set the tone and people followed him. I don't care how many good people you have behind you. You can't just be some smiling waving dummy and end up with the remarkable result of the Reagan presidency.

David said...

If you're going to be a journalist, you should read more carefully. The tax rate on top bracket earners WAS 70% before the Reagan tax cuts were put through in 1981. It dropped to 50%, then 28%.

I appreciate you at least acknowledging that he was a "hands off" President. He did have the power of persuasion regardless of whether he had any clue what he was saying, so that counts for something.

As for repairing our economy, there was the little matter of the stock market crash in the late 1980s and the ensuing recession.

The problem with tax cuts on high earners (aside from the fact that there is no evidence that it creates jobs and overall wealth in the economy at all) is that it eradicates our revenue stream. This is why we had such monumental debts in the 1980s and, despite all of the efforts of the Clinton Administration, we have them again.

I still haven't decided whether a tremendous deficit problem is really a problem, but it's not a positive thing by any measure.

And...President Clinton proved that you can have economic growth without tax cuts on high earners. This is not to say that we ever need to go to a stifling bracket (like Great Britain in the 60s) of 95%, but letting the rich off with a minimal tax hit while continuing to pay for our expenses off the backs of the working classes (through scaled back tax incentives and ever increasing payroll taxes) is a recipe for disaster and a primary reason for the widening gap between the rich and the middle classes in this country...exactly the kind of thing our forefathers tried to avoid by leaving England.

Dan said...

"The problem with tax cuts on high earners (aside from the fact that there is no evidence that it creates jobs and overall wealth in the economy at all) is that it eradicates our revenue stream. This is why we had such monumental debts in the 1980s and, despite all of the efforts of the Clinton Administration, we have them again."

Well first the evidence is in the massive economic expansion that took place in the 60's, 80's and the relativly good expansion that we've had over the last four years with low unemployment, low inflation, and increased economic growth. It happens everytime there's a tax cut on the top earners, without fail. As for revenue, you just have your facts wrong. Revenues doubled while Reagan was President. They have gone way up since the Bush tax cuts were enacted, with the defecit that Democrats were predicting would be at half a trillion dollars at this point, dropping every year.

Clinton's tax increases were a risky move, considering that at the time we were coming out of a recession. He's lucky that he had a huge tech boom to push the economy along.

Keep in mind as well that the U.S recession didn't really kick in until 1991 (after Bush raised taxes I might add) We had three more years of strong economic growth after Reagan despite the stock market crash.

We were in a recession 2 months after Clinton left office.

As for deficits, I tend to believe that they have very little effect as long as they remain below 5% of GDP.
The debt is a different matter, but keep in mind that Clinton racked up some of that debt during his two terms.

The debts in the 80's were a result of both runaway congressional spending and the Reagan military build-up, one which was necesary and one which was not.

David said...

Revenues have doubled or nearly doubled every decade since the 1940s because our GDP increases and our tax base increases.

The question is whether or not the potential revenue captured by the IRS was severely hampered by Reagan and Bush tax cuts.

I have a lot of trouble believing reports that suggest that a reduction in marginal tax rates somehow causes high earners to shelter "less" of their income, which, somehow "yields" more tax revenue. They're rich, not stupid. Anyway, the focus on marginal tax rates is not as important as the right-wing's obsession with cutting capital gains taxes. This is where the real money is that the rich do not want to contribute to the Government.

I would have no problem with keeping marginal rates low and increasing capital gains tax rates (and, yes there is a rate which can obtain significant revenue without choking investment) as long as we keep a hefty estate tax in place. Otherwise, our revenue stream will slow to the point where it affects our standard of living and national security.

As for spending, I don't believe (and am likely to never be convinced) that the billions of dollars dumped into SDI and the MX Missle Program were necessary or contributed very much to our security. Although they contributed a lot to the coffers of defense companies. It was our nuclear arsenal, particularly the submarine based weapons that contributed to the Soviet Union's economic collapse (along with NUMEROUS other factors) arsenal that had been in place since the 60s.

As for your other economic points, I will need to defer for the moment, it requires too much research for me to address now.

Dan said...

The Capitol gains tax does nothing but hurt bussiness and is tantamount to double taxation on those who alread pay income taxes and the estate tax is the most unfair of all. It's double taxation, which barely adds anything to goverment revenues anyway. That money is more effective in the hands of the people than those of the feds, and the feds have no right to that money in the first place. Despite the fact that their rich, those people still earned it and it deserves to go to whomever they want it to go to. If some rich liberal wants to donate his estate to the federal government, more power to him.

Revenue increases when people spend and invest and people spend and invest and innovate when they have more money in their pockets.

Anonymous said...

The answer is this.

A flat tax of 15-20 % on all earners making over $50 thousand a year.

Those earning below that pay a virtually nothing.

Eliminate all loopholes and tax shelters.

Eliminate the need for most of the IRS

Eliminate the estate tax.

10% cap on capital gains.

Reduce federal spending and eliminate of several departments.

With this system We would have the biggest economic boom that we've ever had and at least match the federal revenues that we've had for the last 30 years.

Dan said...

Alan Greenspan had this to say about the Capital Gains tax in 1997:

"If the capital gains tax were eliminated ... we would presumably, over time, see increased economic growth which would raise revenues for the personal and corporate taxes as well as the other taxes we have. The crucial issue about the capital gains tax is not its revenue-raising capacity. I think it is a very poor tax for that purpose. Indeed, its major impact is to impede entrepreneurial activity and capital formation. While all taxes impede economic growth to one extent or another, the capital gains tax is at the far end of the scale ... the appropriate capital gains tax [is] zero."

David said...

First...on Reagan's record:

Also, on taxes, even if the voodoo economics of marginal tax rates are correct, it's not a Reagan Revolution that did it. If you go back to the link on the history of tax rates, you'll see that the most dramatic decrease came in 1986, as a result of a bipartisan effort—led by Democratic Sen. Bill Bradley. It was essentially a deal cut to try and get the rich to pay SOME the Reagan cuts had allowed many wealthy individuals and profitable corporations to get away with paying no taxes at all. The lower marginal rate was accompanied by an extensive crackdown on tax shelters and deductions available almost exclusively to the wealthy.

Stay tuned for THE DEATH TAX!

David said...

Ahhh..the "taxing income twice" chestnut. How I love it when Republicans bring this one up.

The Estate tax involves "accumulated wealth"...e.g., an Estate. And, the truth is that most of the accumulated wealth that is subject to the estate tax was NEVER TAXED AT ALL. Without the estate tax, the average billionaire's billion-and-first dollar will be subject to a cumulative tax rate of zero. By comparison, the very first dollar earned by any of us working stiffs is subject to payroll taxes which investment income is exempt from. is that fair exactly.

The reason most inherited wealth was never taxed as income is that it consists of so-called "appreciated property." The simplest example is a share of stock that you never sell. If you buy it at $10 and die with it at $20, your $20 profit is never taxed to you as income because you are dead. Also, when your heirs sell the stock, they get a stepped up basis for it and their profit is calculated as if they bought at $120.

The money drain from eliminating the tax isn't really in Wall Street though, it's in dirt, rocks and concrete. Those people who have suffered heinously from the injustice of buying a house cheap and watching it become phenomenally valuable. When the owners die, not a penny of the value of this real estate has ever been subject to the income tax. So...this is why the "taxed twice" argument is, by and large, a BIG LIE.

Another reason the estate tax exists is b/c our forefathers moved to this land to get away from the Fee Tail system of inherited wealth in England (and the house of lords that went along with it). This country was founded on redistribution of income regardless of how you feel about it.

When you look at the facts, it is painfully obvious that this is yet another area where millions of people who are being taxed to the gills vote for people who simply pass the tax benefits on to the trust fund babies and billionaires, while the working man and women end up paying for everything else.

David said...

Yes, Dan, you are correct the Estate Tax raised a measly $28 billion dollars in 2000; about 1.5% of the entire federal budget.

Just think, if you could come up with another 98 or so taxes to eliminate, you could run our Government on no money at all!

Dan said...

No the country was Not founded on the redistubution o wealth, just like it wasn't founded on the huge beuracracy and wasteful entitlement programs that we've created since the 1930's.

It was founded on the idea that the government has no right to take money away from you if you're not getting anything in return.

This gets to the heart of why the entire progressive tax system is wrong and unfair.

It is always the assumption among Liberals that the rich haven't earned what they have, so they tax them their whole lives and then when they die they punish their kids for the fact that they were rich.

Then the government takes the money and does God knows what with it.

The estate tax isn't so bad on an economic level like capital gains, but as far as fundemental fairness goes (another thing that this country was built on )it's awful.

Especially when inflation is taken into account and more and more people are moving into the millionaire tax bracket.

There is no reason why anyone who dies with an estate worth less than $5 million should be forced to give any more than 10% of that to the government.

Especially since those who are the high earners and have spent their entire lives paying the lion's share of taxes in the first place.

The government should let them keep the money as a "thank you" of sorts for funding the government for their entire lives.

As for Bill Bradley, If you look at his history you will find that he spent his entire Senate career fighting pro-growth, tax cutting policies, just like most of the Democrats in the 80's, but the doubling of revenues and the booming economy say that they were wrong and Reagan was right.

David said...

From your response, it's pretty obvious that you've not either read or understood a word I said. That's disappointing, but it is what it is.

Falling Panda said...

No, I understood it perfectly, I'm just trying to make it clear to you that not all opposition to taxation is based on economic principles. Much of it is based on basic fairness and the concept that the government has no inherent right to that money, regardless of whether it's been taxed before, or how much of it there is.

That's the Libertarian philosophy. And I might add that trust funders tend to vote Democratic, while those who earned their money tend to vote Republican. That's something to think about next time,you're defending the estate tax. The Dem base, might not be too happy if they really knew what was going on.Which they rarely do.

David said...

Do you have any evidence for this proposition? I'd like to see it. long as the government continues to put down roads, build aircraft carriers, administer civil service agencies and continue with a myriad of other functions that are necessary for our safety, security and overall well-being...I would think that they do have an entitlement to tax their citizenry who benefit by living here.

At times, it seems that you're already so convinced of everything (even rhetoric that is flatly wrong...such as the myth of double-taxation or the Reagan tax cuts), there's very little to talk about. It's like we're both shouting at a brick wall from opposite sides.

I believe I have been pretty fair in evaluating your viewpoints, although I acknowledge you may not think so. I also will admit to my own mud-slinging. I throw those out in fun sometimes, but I think that this has encouraged the kind of pointless name-calling that I try to avoid most of the time.

Regardless, I always look at your posts with the view of "If what Dan says is true, then maybe there's something I'm missing." But several times I've found that what you are saying is not true. And when I point this out and provide a counterpoint, I don't get the impression that you are doing no re-assessment at all of your view, but simply going to the next "argument" against the point made. [E.G., "The estate tax is economically unfair and brings in no money"...but when I point out that this is factually incorrect, now it's "the government has no right to your money anyway", as if the first argument didn't matter anyway. Huh?]

I know this is the, by and large, Conservative/Republican way. It's this "stay on message and never concede anything" discipline that has made them successful considering that, in my opinion, their policies actually serve to help only a small minority of voters. In a way, I can't help but admire that. But, in terms of trying to have a real debate, it's tiring and seems pointless.

I'll give you kind of "left-field" analogy that may make this clearer. My real science education (which led to my repudiation of the theistic beliefs I was brought up with) happened when I was in school in N.C.; the bible belt. Anything that's new is exciting and my new view of the world and my existence was no exception, so I discussed it with anyone who would listen. What I found was this:

Fellow students who were Christian would rarely engage. It would end up being the same kind of dead-end discussion I feel we've been involved with here. I'd point out flaws in Christian doctrine or scientific principles that point away from a Theistic world-view and they would ignore them and come at me with any argument at all, even if not factually true, to counter. No discussion of anything...just point, counterpoint, "jane you ignorant slut" kind of thing.

However, I could talk with seminary students (mostly grad students). Although they were very strong in their faith, we could discuss the flaws in the Christian doctrine, even "untouchable" topics such as whether the resurrection even occurred and how scientific advances in understanding has fundamentally changed how they view the world and caused them to re-examine the rituals and tenants of their faith in light of this.

Anyway, it is the latter, in the political realm that I had hoped to have with you, but it seems that mostly we end up in the former.

Maybe that made sense, maybe it didn't. But, I hope my point has been made somewhat clear.

P.S. - As I said, I know I have engaged in this rhetoric myself, so I don't mean for this to be an attack on you or your debating style, but more an appeal to take the discussion beyond the "I'm right, you're wrong" shouting match we seem to end up in. I AM as guilty of that as you, but I can try to completely avoid it if you would be willing to do so as well.

Falling Panda said...

Whoa dude.

You just quoted me as saying that:

"The estate tax is economically unfair and brings in no money" and then went on to say:
"...but when I point out that this is factually incorrect, now it's "the government has no right to your money anyway", as if the first argument didn't matter anyway. Huh?]"

Except that's not what I said. You misquoted me in order to try and prove that I can't back up what I say.

I'll admit that I got the percentage of income that the top earners payed under Carter wrong by about 5% and I admited and corrected that, but otherwise you haven't proven a single thing that I've said to be factually inacurate.

The estate tax is a tax on handed down inheritance and let's say it's property that's being handed down, as is often the case. Has that property not been subject to taxation repeatedly? Last time I check we do have property tax.

Every material item in the will of any value, is subject to the inheritance tax as well. Those items have already been subject to the sales tax.

If a person has made money off of stocks and reported it as income, like they're supposed to, they have been taxed on that before as well.

If it was collected because of the sale of a bussiness or property, they paid capital gains on it too. That's triple taxation.

And then you misquote me to try and prove that I'm wrong! That's Bush League man.

5:23 PM

David said...

You don't get taxed if you don't sell anything. Somewhere we are not communicating. Property taxes are not sales taxes. You also completely lost me on your "triple taxation" argument. Huh?

I think I found the confusion re: tax rates. You said: "I'll take the guy who ended the cold war, and brought back an economy that had been brought to its knees by another Democratic President, who presided over a 75% tax rate on top earners."

When I read that, I thought you were saying that President Reagan presided over a 75% tax rate on high earners. I now see you were referring to President Carter.

On the subject of Reagan, we will just have to agree to disagree on the cold war and economy. I think that the economic recovery was more due to the Fed Chairman (appointed by Pres. Carter) than to any policies of the Reagan Administration and that the Soviet Empire collapsed on itself, in part because of military buildups, but not exclusively so.

Also, as Billy Joel once said, "we didn't start the fire" with respect to the arms race and so I don't see how we can claim credit for it as some kind of "master plan" to make the U.S.S.R. collapse.

Anyway, whether you want to admit or not, I don't think there's a tremendous amount of debate that Ronald Reagan himself had a lot of input into that Administration. He was a grand and effective puppet though, I will acknowledge that.