David Brooks Thinks We Need Some 'Shared Sacrifice' From Seniors and the Middle Class
At a time when we've got some of the greatest income disparity in the United States since the Gilded Age, Villager David Brooks thinks we're not going to be able to solve the problem with our deficit unless seniors and the middle class are ready for some "shared sacrifice." Which in Villager speak means fixing those problems on the hides of those who can afford it least while the rich keep their tax breaks.
Brooks does agree that we need to raise taxes on the rich "to some degree" but of course qualifies that with the typical talking point that no matter how high their taxes were raised, it would not fix the deficit problem.
And like every other Republican out there he pretends our Congress would ever actually vote to close the tax loopholes for the rich and not just end up sticking it to the middle class instead in the name of fiscal responsibility while their big money donors keep their deductions in place.
I would love to see David Brooks have to spend a few days in some senior citizens' shoes with an expensive medical condition living on a fixed income instead living off of his wingnut welfare he relies on weekly to sell Americans on horrid economic policies that do nothing but make sure the rich get richer while the rest of the country sees their jobs being shipped overseas, their standard of living being lowered and their social safety nets being dismantled.
Someone needs to send David Brooks the charts in this post from Matt Yglesias and ask him why in the hell seniors or the middle class should be being asked to sacrifice any more than they have already given the income disparity we're seeing in the United States right now -- The Declining Effective Tax Rate Of America’s 400 Highest Earning Individuals. I'm sure he'll think it's horribly unfair and it's class warfare that anyone dares to point out that the have mores in this country aren't going to be happy until we have no middle class left and most of us are living in squalor , but somehow I expect he'll get over it since it's his class that's winning.
Transcript via PBS below the fold.
JIM LEHRER: Other than that...
DAVID BROOKS: Yes. Well, I mean, he did rally the left.
I mean, the speech was strong in rallying the left, as Mark said. He called Republicans un-American. That tends to rally people, I guess, when you call their opponents un-American. But, you know, substantively, it still does matter.
And here, I have a question Mark. Maybe he does sincerely want to follow through on the cuts that he sort of gestured toward. He gave us headings under which future cuts would fall. But I do think, if you look at the program, it essentially excuses seniors and the middle class from any shared sacrifice. And I just don't think we can solve a problem this size excusing seniors and the middle class.
JIM LEHRER: But the president and Secretary Geithner on this program that same night said, look, if there is going to be deficit reduction, you're not going to do it without raising taxes.
DAVID BROOKS: Yes. That, I absolutely...
JIM LEHRER: And then he drew a line.
DAVID BROOKS: Right. And he's absolutely right about that.
JIM LEHRER: He is right, you think?
DAVID BROOKS: Right. So, but -- he is absolutely right. But there are simply not -- even if you did it by raising taxes -- and this is a very tax-heavy plan -- there are simply not enough rich people to pay for the tens of trillions of dollars in unfunded deficits these programs are racking up.
And so I think you have to talk about the middle class. You have to talk about seniors. And his program is very careful to not touch those third rails.
MARK SHIELDS: It's not a tax-heavy plan. If you want to talk about a tax-heavy plan, come up with the plan that was authored, written by Alice Rivlin, a Democrat, and Pete Domenici, a longtime Republican senator. Theirs was $2 of cuts, $2 of revenue.
Obama's is like the Simpson-Bowles. It's $2 of cuts -- I agree with you, the lacks of specific -- only $1 of tax increase. And so, I think that the case he has to make is: I believe in these programs. The program is in trouble. And if you want it saved, I am the guy that's going to save it. I believe in it.
And I agree with David that the sacrifice is going to have to be universal. It cannot be simply -- it can't be done by the wealthy. But I would point out that the wealthy, as the president pointed out very well in the speech, the top 1 percent have seen, on the average, their income go up $250 million in this past decade, while 90 percent of lower earners, 90 percent, have seen their average income go down.
And that's where the Republicans just don't get it, in my judgment. They say fairness doesn't really come into it. You have got to believe in the market.
JIM LEHRER: And, David, the Republicans said in response to what Mark just repeated that the president said, that's class warfare. That's unfair.
DAVID BROOKS: Yes. And, here, I think they're wrong. I do think we have to raise taxes on the top 1 percent. I think we have to have a big tax reform that raises revenue. And here...
JIM LEHRER: But that's raising taxes, too.
DAVID BROOKS: Right. Exactly. But you have got to raise revenue across more than just the rich. We have got to raise it on the rich to some degree, but you have got -- there's just -- as I said, there's just not enough.
And so you're going to have -- what you have to do is do what Bowles-Simpson suggested, which is lower the rates and broaden the base and close those loopholes. I think the Bowles-Simpson plan on tax reform had the right plan.
Now, the president sort of said, he suggested maybe he was a little for Bowles-Simpson. But he also says, oh, we have got to raise the rates. So he went against Bowles-Simpson. And so he is sort of two minds about that. So, you know -- go ahead.