Federal tax rates: perception vs. reality

Great Dave Leonhardt column yesterday.  Just read it (unless, of course, you are my wife who is the highly unusual reader who reads the blog for the non-political stuff– and because she loves me).  Here’s the crux:

This disconnect between what we pay and what we think we pay is nothing less than one of the country’s biggest economic problems.

Many Americans see themselves as struggling under the weight of a heavy tax burden (partly for the understandable reason that wage growth has been so weak). Yet taxes in the United States are quite low today, compared with past years or those in other countries. Most important, American taxes are not sufficient to pay for the programs that many people want, like MedicareSocial Security, road construction and education subsidies.

What does this combination create? An enormous long-term budget deficit.

Together, all federal taxes equaled 14.4 percent of the nation’s economic output last year, the lowest level since 1950 [emphasis mine]. Add state and local taxes, and the share nearly doubles, to about 27 percent, according to the Tax Policy Center in Washington — still lower than at almost any other point in the last 40 years.

Oh, how I wish every Republican voter had to read that (and actually understand it).   Pretty damn clear that far more than we have a spending problem, we have a revenue problem.  At least if you want to approach this Newt Gingrich style (you know, open marriage) like a historian.

My Slovakian take on the New Hampshire Primary

A little belated, but still fun:

“Pre Romneyho je víťazstvo v New Hampshire naozaj dôležité. Ak bude ďalej napĺňať očakávania, získa nomináciu. A nevyzerá to tak, že by mohol mať súpera, ktorý by mu v tom zabránil,” povedal pre Pravdu Steven Greene, politológ zo Severokarolínskej štátnej univerzity.

And the Google translate version:

“For Romney is winning in New Hampshire really important. If you will continue to meet expectations, was nominated. And so it does not look that could have an opponent who would prevent him from doing,”

And what I actually said in an email:

This is a very important win for Mitt Romney.  He was expected to win by a solid margin and he did. But honestly, at this point, all Romney has to do is keep on meeting his expectations and he will cruise to victory.  And there’s really nothing or no opponent out there that suggests he should not keep on being able to do this.

More Newt!

The only thing better than a Gingrich surge would’ve been if Sarah Palin had actually run for the nomination.  Nice post by New Yorker’s John Cassidy on Newt’s resurrection.  Love this quote at the end:

If there is a message in all this, it is this: don’t listen to the pundits, don’t count your chickens, and don’t underestimate Newt. He might be a blowhard, a man of questionable morals, a corporate tool, and a race baiter, but he can handle himself in a street fight and he knows how to rile up the G.O.P base, especially in the South. He’s been doing it, as he frequently reminds us, for almost forty years.

Just to be clear, I’m still going to willfully underestimate Newt as a general election candidate.  As for the primaries, though, I–like Intrade voters– will keep an open mind for the moment.

Photo of the day

Everything in this photo is made of ice (from the Big Picture):

Ice sculptures displayed at the annual Ice and Snow festival in Harbin. Fairy tale palaces, towering pagodas, and even an Egyptian Sphynx — all carved from ice — are among the sights at the Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival. (Stringer/AFP/Getty Images)


Wow.  Was not really expecting this:

A PS Professor friend on FB admonishes Democrats not to underestimate Newt’s chances against Obama.  Sorry– he’ll lose.  That’s why I love this.  Actually, it’s just a helluva lot more interesting than Romney going to the nomination on cruise control– or “prevent defense” as Nate Silver so aptly calls it.  Silver’s latest projections below:

Oh, no, the liberal media!

The sad truth is that many conservative voters operate in an alternative universe where any news source but Fox News is biased against them.  The latest results of a PPP survey on media trust (via Kevin Drum) are quite disturbing:

Drum has a nice extended quote from Paul Waldman, who refers to hearing Politico referred to as a “left-wing rag” on right-wing talk radio.  Oh, Politico is very much a rag, but as anybody who actually understands politics knows, there’s nothing ideological about it.   And Drum’s acccurate summary:

As Paul says, “Conservatives and liberals are not equally prone to huddle within their self-reinforcing cocoons.” Liberals don’t immediately dismiss as a conspiracy everything they hear from the news media that doesn’t fit their preconceived notions. They might downplay unwelcome news or even ignore it, but they’re still willing to listen to it. Increasingly, conservatives simply aren’t. They want to believe the world is a certain way, and they’re just flatly not willing to countenance anything that might challenge those beliefs. This is not a healthy development for a modern democracy.

Yep.  Once again, we are looking at a huge asymmetry with a profound and negative influence on the state of our politics.   As Drum says, sure liberals (like all humans) are guilty of confirmation bias as well.  Nonetheless, there’s only one party where people are choosing to willfully create their own reality, clearly at odds with the real one.

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