Trump vs his rivals – up from another thread

From another thread:

This has nothing to do with the the Joe Biden story. It has to do with Uncle Scoopy’s post in another thread:

“Potential Democratic voters are definitely split into two camps – those who want to return the USA to some kind of normality and business-as-usual, and those that desire a bold break from America’s past.

I am in the former camp: ex-Republican who would support Biden just because he’s a normal human being and is running against a monster. I just don’t know which way I would go in a Warren-Trump match-up. I’m ashamed to type that, but it is true, sadly. Warren is obviously a better human being (who isn’t?), but she’ll get no support from me until I know EXACTLY what my new tax bill is going to look like. Will I have to pay for everyone’s medical care and education? If she can pay for all of her pie-in-the-sky by her wealth tax, corporate taxes, closing tax loopholes and asking the top 1% to do more, then I’m all in, but if it’s all about fucking the middle class once again, then she can return to her wigwam.”

I think you need to think about this. I think you need to think about how much damage a re-election of Trump – essentially saying that the majority of the US should support Trump – would do to the future of the United States. I did not know Americans were so poor that they would put their tax bills ahead of that.

Maybe I am wrong. is there really not much at stake? Scoopy has always been more intelligent, better informed, and just a much clearer thinker than I am. On the other hand. I think that even if far left Democrats sweep Congress, they will know that the surest way to lose Congress and revive the Republican Party would be big tax increases on the majority of voting Americans.

I don’t know what to think about this. Except that Trump is vile, and should never have been President, and should not be President for four more years. NO ONE who has any chance of being nominated by the Democrats could be as bad as Trump. Are Americans really in such dire straits, financially, that their taxes matter more than that? Then Republican policies really have triumphed.

Scoop’s response:

I understand your argument completely, and I sympathize with it, but …

You asked another commenter why he thought it was a poor idea for Democrats to go left. I answered you honestly. I trust that Joe Biden would be fiscally responsible. I don’t feel the same about Sanders and Warren. I’ve seen the rough math on Medicare for All, and it is frightening. I’m willing to sift patiently through all the details to see how all the medical care and education will be paid for, and I have not done that yet, so I can be persuaded that it is feasible, but if it is another “fuck the middle class” scheme, I won’t get on that bandwagon.

The reason I used to be a Republican is that I believe the federal government, especially the executive branch, should stay relatively small. The fact that Trump is an evil entity doesn’t change that. In fact the possibility that a Trump-like character can be elected is all the more reason to restrict executive power. Do you want independents and disgruntled former Republicans to come over to your side? Then don’t make us choose between two radical ideologues who want to break the system, albeit in different ways.

Plus you have to understand that I am still a moderate traditionalist, and there are many like me who hate Trump, and hate the Republicans’ disregard for truth and common sense, but that doesn’t mean our basic ideas have changed. We are not suddenly going to turn into Trotskyites or start singing “L’Internationale” side-by-side with Bernie.

18 thoughts on “Trump vs his rivals – up from another thread

  1. Thank you for the civility and clarity of your reply, Uncle Scoopy. I should argue with people less, and ask why they think the way they do more. I would learn something and improve my own thinking.

    I would say that it is startling to me how fantasies of what the Left might do, if they got power, have so much more influence in American politics than the reality of what the Right is actually doing. This has been true at least since the days of the Palmer Red Raids back around 1919*. I guess that while both sides can be thought to threaten our lives, our liberty, and our sacred honor, the Left seems to threaten our cold hard cash too.

    1. * I was going to put in a footnote about George McGovern, but I deleted it because I am too long winded and digressive. I forgot to delete the asterisk.

  2. The economic theory, as I understand it, is that people respond to incentives. When a rich person (asshole or otherwise) is considering whether to save or invest they consider their expected rate of return. The top marginal rate therefore has the greatest effect on the incentives of people with significant capital/money to invest. Tax rates can have a significant effect on decisions to open or expand a business. It isn’t just income taxes. Leaving aside for a minute whether it was worth doing anyway, Obamacare was a significant drag on the economy. Because it made it more expensive to higher new employees (especially for businesses near the magic # of 50 employees) there were strong disincentives to hire. I believe that this is one of the major reasons that unemployment levels were so high well into the Obama administration. Historically, recoveries out of major recessions were much stronger than the anemic growth we saw. Now, you can argue that Obamacare was still worth doing because of the number of people it helped. Others will argue the opposite. But I believe the cost was real.

    Now there are many Republicans that will tell you that tax cuts will pay for themselves because of increased economic growth. That actually can happen under certain special circumstances. The Laffer curve shows this. Imagine a graph of government revenue over tax rates. There are two tax rates at which the government would take in no money. Those would be 0% and 100%. O% is obvious. But the government would take in no money from a 100% tax rate (at least not after the first year) because who would do any work if the government seized 100% of your earnings? So cutting taxes would lead to increased tax revenue. There is a point at which tax revenues could be maximized. The dirty little secret is that GOP tax cuts are rarely if ever such that they pay for themselves. But tax cuts never cost as much in revenue as they cut. In other words, a rate reduction of 10% will probably lead to less revenue, but it will almost certainly be a loss of less than 10%. One area where tax cuts often do lead to increased revenue is capital gains. Because people usually have a choice about whether to sell or retain an asset, a cut in capital gains taxes usually leads to increased economic activity as more people will choose to cash in on their gains. I remember once President Obama was asked if he would support an increase in the capital gains tax even if it was certain it would lead to LESS government revenue. He said yes, because it would be the fair thing to do. Myself, I am much less concerned with that kind of fairness and more concerned with a strong economy that helps the most people. Here’s a question. If you could choose a tax code that would lead to increased economic growth and that would leave the working and middle class objectively better off than they are now, but that would allow the rich assholes to do even better than the middle class, would you choose it?

    1. 1 – Government taxation is not so simplistic that it can be reduced to a simple graph.
      2 – Even if it could be, which side of the curve are you on when you cut taxes? Were Reagan, Bush2 and Trump reducing taxes because they were on the right side of the curve or did they do it to give rich people more money whilst driving up deficits?
      3 – Obama fans claim that his recovery was fast, Trump fans claim otherwise, Goldman-Sachs claims it was normal. Business’s hire are based on demand. If hiring more people yields more profits then they’ll hire more people regardless of how much healthcare the government demands they provide.

      Unemployment was high into the Obama administration because the previous turnip drove the economy off of the cliff. The unemployment rate was on average 6% in 2014, the first year the ACA came into force.

      PS I consider capital gains to be income and they should be taxed as such. Investment will happen anyways.

  3. I am not particularly concerned about Warren raising my taxes. I’m on a fixed income (what a terrible Republican I am!) and don’t have to worry about tax increases too much personally. Nr do I expect tax cuts to benefit me directly. But I think as a general rule increasing taxes hurts economic growth. Unfortunately, the Republicans in power at the moment support cutting any and all taxes as much as they can get away with. I’d prefer tax reform that simplifies things and was intelligently designed to maximize economic growth and (in my dreams at least) balance the budget.

    I am not particularly happy with the Republicans in Congress. I despise Trump. But the problem with Warren and Sanders is that while they are without question much more decent human beings than the President, I feel the policies they espouse would be ruinous. Many argue that it’s OK if one of them gets elected because the Republicans in the Senate will stop them from going too far. But that only works if the GOP retains its majority, which is far from certain. Too many people (on both sides) feel that it is best to use brutal force to accomplish their goals because the other side is so bad. On the left, there are increasingly louder calls for the Dems to abolish the filibuster as soon as they get the majority back. They also seek a Supreme Court packing plan that would make FDR jealous.

    Civil liberties are quite important to me. In particular I am concerned about the 1st Amendment. I see far too many Democrat appointed judges voting in ways to restrict our freedoms. That is one area where I agree with just about everything Trump has done with judicial nominations. I think this country dodged a bullet when Neil Gorsuch succeeded Scalia. But I would feel much more confident if Trump got to replace another Democrat or two on the Court. I really don’t wish any harm to the notorious RBG (or anyone really), but I’d sure love it if she retired.

    I know many will disagree with me on all of this. That’s fine. Lets agree to disagree.

    1. Please explain why raising taxes hurts economic growth. The government will at least spend any money collected. Even if its inefficient about it they money doesn’t disappear, it just means the government gets less work done. Someone else will at least make use of that money. In general, government employees will do well by it and welfare spending puts more money in the hands of poor people who will always spend every last nickle.

      Sorry but its just a tiresome trope put forth by rich assholes who want to hide more money away in offshore bank accounts.

  4. Agree w/Tanner: Congress, not POTUS, passes laws. Except that the scenario of passes House/stopped by Senate is only the backstop, but there are hurdles too. Single-payer healthcare has a hurdle in the House where moderate Dems will kill it, anyway. It’s a non-starter. Moreover, worst case, such a law may pass, but it will never stick. Just like there’s such a thing as personal politics evolving, there’s no such thing as immutable legislation, even after passage. If a bad law like that gets rammed thru, someone will run against it. It will be reversed. What everyone’s forgetting here is that saying a thing & doing it are different. Trump makes it obvious, but all politicians lean on this heavily. Once a bill’s fate is clear, for example, fence-sitters are free to vote defensively. Most of the candidates including both Warren & Harris are staking out positions far to the left for leverage in the primaries, but if they win, they’ll never push Congress to pass extreme versions of “Medicare, expanded” or Green New Deal that sock it to the middle class, let alone win their passage. The whole point of being a Dem is to follow the unspoken rules. If the rule is to match costs to pay-fors, they draft bills that will pass muster. Meanwhile, to conservatives, that’s not a rule, it’s a dirty trick that applies to the left, but not to them.

  5. I will admit though that L’Internationale is a damn good tune (sorry, Star-Spangled Banner, you just don’t measure up).

    But on the actual political argument being made . . . . I agree entirely with your survey of the landscape heading into voting season soon. With one important addition: the effects of continuing Democratic attempts to demonize, impeach, even imprison Brett Kavanaugh. Because of something that happened in high school. If it happened at all.

    Just when you think you can’t stomach Trump any longer and just when you’ve convinced yourself that you could actually put up with one of the current Dem candidates as President, then the Kavanaugh affair hits the headlines again and you are reminded that the Dems can still be pretty loony tunes when they think they’re on the side of the angels. Remember, a few weeks ago all six leading candidates called for the impeachment of Justice Kavanaugh based solely on the new accusations published by the New York Times — despite there being no accuser!

    So, yes, taxes will be a deciding factor for some. But preservation of some sense of the basic principle of innocent until proven guilty could very well be the deciding factor to anyone who has ever had a son, a brother, an uncle, or a father.

    1. david hilton, I never cared what Kavanaugh did in high school or college, and I thought it was a mistake to bring it up. I did care about the work he did for the Bush (the Younger) Administration, which neither he nor the Republicans seemed to want to talk about. I also did not like the fact that he did not seem much like a good person when under pressure, but I suppose that’s neither here nor there.

      1. I’m pretty much with you on that. OK, he did a bad thing in high school. A VERY bad thing. He fucked up “bigly!”

        But I don’t see how the mistakes of a 16-year-old at a drinking party have any bearing on the qualifications of a middle aged man. We all did ugly shit at one time or another in our lives, and we have to stop judging one another by the worst thing we ever did in high school.

        Like you, however, I was really creeped out by the guy during his testimony. He really didn’t seem to demonstrate judicial temperament, and he was ranting off the topic and off the rails about some Clinton conspiracy theories.

        Frankly, I didn’t see either side’s point in the Kavanaugh hearings.

        There was really no good reason for liberals to go after him assiduously, because he would just be replaced by another conservative judge, maybe one even more conservative. Trump was not going to turn around and name Merrick Garland if Kavanaugh failed.

        And there was no reason for conservatives to support him passionately, for the same reason. Plenty of fish in the sea.

        OK, if the guy turns out to be Manafort II and has broken every law of man and God, then keep him off the court; and if he has demonstrated inappropriate bias in his decisions, then keep him off the court.

        But if he was a total douche-nozzle in high school, only he without sin may cast the first stone.

  6. I’m no fan of Warren, but she’s a lot more moderate than Sanders — she was even a Republican herself until the mid-1990s. Essentially, she is a political opportunist who has copied the Sanders agenda because she believes it will lead her to victory. I think her Presidency will be a disaster, because she is not particularly likable, and because it is a lot easier to talk like a liberal than to govern like one. I see zero evidence she has the political skill to deliver on any of her promises.


      “I am a capitalist. Come on. I believe in markets. What I don’t believe in is theft, what I don’t believe in is cheating. That’s where the difference is. I love what markets can do, I love what functioning economies can do. They are what make us rich, they are what create opportunity. But only fair markets, markets with rules. Markets without rules is about the rich take it all, it’s about the powerful get all of it. And that’s what’s gone wrong in America.”

      She’s no opportunist. The GOP enables theft. That’s why she’s no longer a Republican. She did the research and figured out whose policies helped America more.

  7. How does a moderate traditionalist countenance Trump? He is intent on destroying the institutions that have supported this country for it’s entire existence to his own ends. He has expanded executive power like no one before him and envisions himself above all control and oversight. He wants to break the system to aggrandise Trump. His idea of a small executive function is to limit its size (to himself, his henchmen and his idiot family) but to expand it power.

    To the extent that you say Warren and Sanders want to break the system (I don’t agree with that), it’s to provide the rest of us with health care and an education. That’s a hell of a big difference. As to taxes, we pay far less to the feds than we did in the fifties and sixties, a period, if you recall, of unprecedented growth and expansion.

  8. Scoopy has described his political history perfectly. I fondly remember our lunches in Pflugerville in 1997 when we wondered at a new service called Google and at a new U.S. governance called dangerous. We spoke quite clearly in what some might call Libertarianese. Over the last 22 years, I’ve watched him evolve to his present political position. Like Google, he’s a political chameleon.

  9. Unrealistic to assume that Warren or Sanders could accomplish what you fear. While passage in the House is a possibility it’s clear it won’t happen in the Senate. The low population states control that legislative body.

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