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Home Publications Blogs Beat the Press The "Hyperpartisan" Washington Post

The "Hyperpartisan" Washington Post

Thursday, 22 April 2010 05:54

The Washington Post ran a news article complaining that value added taxes are not being taken more seriously in debates over the budget. (A value added tax is effectively a national sales tax that would impose taxes in proportion to consumption.) The first sentence complained that the lack of interest in this tax stemmed from the "hyperpartisan political atmosphere" in Washington.

"Hyperpartisan" is a peculiar term to use in the context of the deficit debate since it actually does not divide people closely along partisan lines. There are both people on the left and right who argue that concerns on the deficit have been hugely overblown. There are also many deficit hawks in both political parties. "Hyperpartisan" is a favorite term of the people connected with the Peter G. Peterson Foundation, but apart from this association, there is no obvious reason that it should appear in the budget debate.

Comments (3)Add Comment
Secrets of VATs?
written by skeptonomist, April 22, 2010 10:06
Economic debates are not usually a matter of partisanship, but of short-term economic gain or loss and class or other special interests (the abortion debate is partisan). The VAT is alleged to be regressive like sales taxes, but seems to be opposed by the usual pro-regressive-tax suspects - big-money interests and Republicans. It's not clear to me why this is so - is something missing from the usual accounts of VATs?
written by Queen of Sheba, April 22, 2010 2:37
What politician in his right mind wants to even discuss a national sales tax in an election year? The only discussion of the deficit in political circles between now and next year is going to involve how best to bash President Obama for his budget proposal.

Think tanks and special commissions will make pronouncements and hold discussions about the scary Medicare and Social Security numbers and the need for more tax revenue, but politicians will become involved in these debates only if they're dragged in kicking and screaming.

And who can blame them? The average citizen doesn't want to pay more taxes, doesn't want to give up any government benefits, and thinks the deficit can be handled by cutting "waste, fraud and abuse" and foreign aid from the federal budget.
written by scott, April 22, 2010 10:50
The dynamic is a pernicious Hegelian dialectic. Politics and demographics means we will continue to get tax cuts and spending increases from both parties until their ability to borrow is broken.

I agree with you Queen, we have gov't of the Least Common Denominator, what's politically easy happens, what takes courage gets forestalled. Hell, even the GOP declares, "no cuts to entitlements."

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About Beat the Press

Dean Baker is co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, D.C. He is the author of several books, his latest being The End of Loser Liberalism: Making Markets Progressive. Read more about Dean.