Republican Jesus

Just saw this on FB.  Love it.

American’s don’t like big

I find this via Gallup somewhat distressing:

Trend: Satisfaction With Size and Power/Influence of Federal Government and Major Corporations

I listened to a radio interview about this last week, and the Gallup guy mentioned that Americans just really don’t seem to like “big” whether it is “big business” or “big government” whereas we love “small.”  Anyway, that decline is both, certainly is interesting.  And, I suspect, largely a degree of overall unhappiness with the state of politics and the economy.

What bothers me about it, though, is this: Big Government may go too far, be inefficient, do stupid things, but at heart, it is government by the people and, at least, intended to make things better for all Americans.  Big Business, in contrast, is intended to make money.  Seems like the former should be more popular than the latter.

Photo of the day

From a Big Picture photo gallery on China’s Year of the Dragon celebration.  My take- away… Good God, China’s got a lot of people

Passengers queue up to board trains as they return home for the lunar new year holiday at a railway station in Wuhan, China on January 13, 2012. (STR/AFP/Getty Images)

SOTU on Twitter

I’ve become a really big fan of the New Yorker’s John Cassidy recently.  He’s got what’s probably my favorite write-up on the SOTU I’ve read so far today, but what I really loved about it was his opening conceit:

What if the State of the Union address was moved to Twitter? What if, rather than presenting a long and tedious speech that would constantly be interrupted by senators and congressmen mugging for the cameras, the President sat in the Oval Office, or anywhere, actually, and tapped out what he had to say in a hundred and forty characters?

Like this, say:

Bin Laden swims with fishes. Economy coming back. R candidate right-wing blowhard or tax-avoiding rich guy. Can’t wait for November.

Or perhaps this:

Things are better! Dow up, U down, Bin Laden dead, Iraq war over. Don’t risk it on rich tax avoider or fornicating influence peddler.

Imagine the possibilities.

Capital Gains and economic growth

I’ meant to highlight this a while ago, but with much talk on Mitt Romney’s tax rate of late, it’s important to really spread the word that there’s pretty much no evidence that such preferentially low capital gains rates serve to accomplish anything other than to help really rich people stay really rich.  Ezra summarized the evidence on the matter:

Jared Bernstein, on the other hand, brings the graph to suggest that there’s never been a clear relationship between the capital gains tax rate and investment:

(Real investment is in natural logs to show proportional growth over this long time series.)

The top tax rate on investment income has bounced up and down over the past 80 years — from as high as 39.9 percent in 1977 to just 15 percent today — yet investment just appears to grow with the cycle, seemingly unaffected.

So is the capital gains tax rate really so insignificant? Perhaps. Back in August, the New York Times ran a piece on this very topic. Warren Buffett, for one, claimed that the tax rate on investment income doesn’t make much of a difference to actual investors: “I have worked with investors for 60 years and I have yet to see anyone — not even when capital gains rates were 39.9 percent in 1976-77 — shy away from a sensible investment because of the tax rate on the potential gain. People invest to make money, and potential taxes have never scared them off.”

Meanwhile, Troy Kravitz and Len Burman of the Urban Institute have shown that, over the past 50 years, there’s no correlation between the top capital gains tax rate and U.S. economic growth — even if you allow for a lag of up to five years. “Moreover,” they add, “any effect is likely small as capital gains realizations have averaged about 3 percent of GDP since 1960 and have never been more than 7.5 percent.”

Yeah, it’s wonky, but it’s important, because Fox News viewers and such will defend this low rate as if there’s lots of evidence it leads to greater economic growth. But that evidence just isn’t there.   So, maybe Mitt Romney really should pay a higher tax rate than Warren Buffett’s secretary.

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