Monday, June 12, 2006

W. Is No J.F.K.

One of the things that’s evident from Mark Hyman’s editorials is that not only does he not have any respect for the facts, but he also has no respect for his viewers’ ability to recognize lies when he tells them.

A case in point is
his most recent editorial in which he praises the roll of tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans as a tool to increase tax revenues and create budget surpluses.

He leads off with the well-worn and utterly discredited conservative talking point that JFK was a supply sider in the same vein as Ronald Reagan and the current George Bush. Hyman has brought this up several times in the past, and despite
the obvious and well-documented problems with the analogy, he continues to repeat it. (Briefly summed up, JFK’s tax cuts were demand-side, not supply-side.)

Hyman goes from the faulty analogy to bald-faced lie when he says. “Tax relief ushered in by Kennedy, Ronald Reagan and the current George Bush has [expanded the economy and can bring a budget surplus.]” In fact Reagan and Bush have overseen colossal expansions of our yearly and cumulative debt. In the case of Bush, this is even more of a dubious distinction given the fact that when he took office, we were experiencing an era of budget surpluses and a shrinking debt.

Finally, Hyman cites statistics showing that 2006 tax revenues are up over 2005. This, he claims, shows that cutting taxes actually raises revenue.

If this sounds like voodoo economics to you, you’re right. Even former Bush economic advisors say that this revenue increase has nothing to do with the Bush tax cuts. And while raw dollar amounts are up, that by itself is a virtually meaningless statistic. Much more telling is tax revenue as a percentage of GDP. A comprehensive article on the economic affects of the Bush tax cuts by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities shows, among other things, a steep drop off in tax revenue as a percentage of GDP, resulting in a growing ocean of red ink that later generations will have to contend with.

And if the CBPP isn’t a good enough source for you, how about Goldman Sachs? The Wall Street outfit from which Bush’s most recent Treasury Secretary comes has said exactly the same things.

None of these facts are particularly hard to find or understand. (Heck, if I can find this stuff, anyone can!) But Hyman assumes his audience is a bunch of uninformed, uncurious automatons who will just accept whatever bilge he sends their way without questioning it. What else could explain the use of such obviously and demonstrably false claims?

Oh, and just one more thing about the vaunted Bush tax cuts: an aspect of Bush policy that goes unmentioned by Hyman is that the president recently signed into law taxes aimed at teenagers with savings accounts for college. Despite his promise to veto any tax increase, Bush gave the green light to a tax on those who are trying to invest in their future, while slashing taxes on those who’ve already made it.

To paraphrase the late Lloyd Bentsen, Dubya, you’re no J.F.K.

And that’s The Counterpoint.

Hyman Index: 4.23


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