First, however, let me say that NEITHER party in Washington is "serious" about the federal budget. For all of Krugman's claims that the Congressional Budget Office actually consists of "people who actually understand budget numbers" (at least when they write something Krugman likes), the latest stuff from the CBO is based upon pure fantasy.
As the CBO has been doing for as long as I can remember, it frontloads the revenues from tax increases and backloads the costs, and even then it is not honest about the real costs that will come about because of federal policies. That Krugman would be shilling for this nonsense tells us more about Krugman than it does about the CBO numbers. (I also suspect Krugman watches "Animal House" once a week in a belief that the band at the end of the movie finally will be successful in marching through the wall in the alley. The chance that the band will break through is about as likely as the chance that the CBO is going to give us an accurate depiction of the future.)
Second, as I read through this, I realize that Krugman really is not interested in budget numbers or whose plan actually will get spending under control and cut the federal deficit. No, Krugman gives away his viewpoint with the following:
The president’s proposal isn’t perfect, by a long shot. My own view is that while the spending controls on Medicare he proposed are exactly the right way to go, he’s probably expecting too much payoff in the near term. And over the longer run, I believe that we’ll need modestly higher taxes on the middle class as well as the rich to pay for the kind of society we want. (Emphasis added)What is the "kind of society we want"? Or, perhaps, I should ask, "Who is 'we'?" Furthermore, who pays for this kind of society, and what if one has a different viewpoint?
As I read that statement, I recalled a recent column by Thomas Sowell (who, unlike Krugman, actually invokes real economic terms in his writings, like "opportunity cost" and Law of Scarcity). In writing on the effects of higher tax rates, Sowell points out that the issue with people like Krugman is not the actual revenues raised, but rather the economic and social vision that these people have -- and have for the rest of us, whether or not we want that "vision" imposed upon us. Sowell writes:
For more than 80 years, the political left has opposed what they call "tax cuts for the rich." But big cuts in very high tax rates ended up bringing in more revenue to the government in the Coolidge, Kennedy, Reagan and Bush 43 After all, "the rich" paid that larger sum of taxes only because their incomes had risen. Their paying a higher share of all taxes doesn't matter to the "progressives," who see high tax rates as a way to take a bigger bite out of the incomes of higher-income people, not just provide more revenue to the government.However, he further notes:
Tax rates are meant to make an ideological statement and promote class-warfare politics, not just bring in revenue.You see, the "vision" that Krugman has for us is of a society in which everything is provided administratively. The government plans our lives, tells us what we should eat, what we should wear, what we should use for transportation, and, frankly, what we should believe.
There has been much indignation on the left over the recent news that General Electric paid no taxes, despite its large amounts of profit. But another way of looking at this is that high tax rates on paper do not mean high tax revenues for the government.
The liberal answer to budget deficits is almost always to raise tax rates on "the rich," in order to bring in more revenue. The fact that higher tax rates have often brought in less revenue than before is simply ignored.
Our corporate tax rates are higher than in many other countries. That may have something to do with the fact that many American corporations (including General Electric) expand their operations in many other countries, providing jobs – and tax revenues – in those other countries.
But high-tax ideologues don't see it that way. They would be horrified at the idea that we ought to lower our corporate tax rates, just so that more American businesses would do more of their business at home, providing more Americans with much-needed jobs.
To ideologues, that is just a cop-out from the class-warfare battle. It is far more important to them to score their political points against "the rich" or "Wall Street" than that a few million more Americans out of work would be able to find jobs.
The idealism of the left is a very selfish idealism. In their war against "the rich" and big business, they don't care how much collateral damage there is to workers who end up unemployed.administrations. This included more – repeat, more – tax revenue from people in the highest income brackets than before.
An economy, in Krugman's view, is nothing more than a mass of stuff that just happens. The mines, the factories, the capital, the farms, and the stores just appear, and they will operate just fine as long as the government manages to throw enough money at them to keep the "spending" machine in operation.
The entrepreneur, in Krugman's view, is not someone who moves resources from lower-valued to higher-valued uses while in search of a profit. No, the entrepreneur is a parasite, someone who works outside the Vision of the Anointed Ones (like Krugman) who are working to create the society that we should have.
I have come to believe that Krugman thinks that incentives really don't matter, and that one can have a great economy if the government just uses enough coercion, throws enough "uncooperative" people into prison, and confiscates enough wealth from "parasites" who actually create something. Here is someone who really thinks that price controls are an effective way to lower real costs, and that price controls and the like have no negative effects at all.
This is not economics, and it certainly is not the economics of a free society. However, people like Krugman believe that "freedom" is nothing more than government provision of everything -- and government attacks on the liberty of anyone who might disagree with what Sowell calls, "The Vision of the Anointed."
In the end, Krugman's "kind of society we want" is one in which everyone works for the state, whether or not one actually is a government employee. Like all Progressives, he believes that the highest measure of one's being is to support the "progressive" state, and if you don't like it, well, there is a nice jail cell waiting for you.