Krugman’s blog, 12/9/15

There were two posts yesterday.  The first was “Pandering to Plutocrats:”

Jeb Bush is not going to be the Republican nominee, so it’s somewhat unfortunate that the invaluable Tax Policy Center chose to make his proposals the subject of its first analysis of candidate tax plans. Still, it’s useful, if only as an indicator of what passes for responsible, establishment policy in today’s GOP.

Most of the headlines I’ve seen focus on the amazing price tag: $6.8 trillion of unfunded tax cuts in the first decade. Even deep voodoo isn’t enough to turn that number positive; so much for any notion that Republicans cared about fiscal responsibility.

But it’s also important to realize the extent to which this is tax-cutting on the rich, by the rich, for the rich. Here’s the change in after-tax income resulting from the plan:

Huge benefits for the super-elite. And if you are tempted to say that the middle class gets at least some tax cut, remember that the budget hole would force sharp cuts in spending; and since the federal government is a giant insurance company with an army, this means sharp cuts in programs that benefit ordinary Americans, probably swamping any tax cuts.

So, huge tax cuts that would massively increase debt, with the benefits going to the very highest-income Americans. And this is the “responsible”, moderate candidate.

Yeterday’s second post was “The Banality of Trumpism:”

Brian Beutler has a good piece about the liberal reaction to Trumpism — which is that the phenomenon

was neither unexpected nor the source of any new or profound lesson.

But I think he casts it a bit too narrowly. The basic liberal diagnosis of modern conservatism has long been that it was a plutocratic movement that won elections by appealing to the racism and general anger-at-the-other of whites; there’s nothing too surprising about an election in which the establishment candidates continue to serve plutocracy while the base turns to candidates who drop the euphemisms while going straight to the racism and xenophobia.

Beutler says that

The only people who claim to be befuddled by the Trump phenomenon are officials on knife-edge in the party he leads.

But surely the people most taken by surprise, least able to handle the phenomenon, are the self-proclaimed centrists, the both-sides-do-it crowd, who denounced the plutocrats-and-racists diagnosis as “shrill,” insisting that we are having a real debate with just a few fringe characters on either side. Some of those people are still trying to portray the parties as symmetric: Bernie Sanders calling for single-payer health insurance is just like Trump calling for mass deportations and a ban on Muslims.

That was always a silly position. And as Beutler says, those of us who were clear-headed about conservative politics are almost bored by the repeated revelations of what we already knew.


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