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Home Publications Blogs Beat the Press There Are No Rich and Poor In David Brooks' America

There Are No Rich and Poor In David Brooks' America

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Tuesday, 01 March 2011 04:47

David Brooks told readers that it is very important that we redistribute money from the old to young. He argues that this is due to the government debt built up as a result of the downturn. This debt will put pressure to reduce government spending, which he argues should come primarily at the expense of the elderly.

It is impressive that Brooks could only think of redistribution by generation after the United States has just gone through the most massive upward redistribution in the history of the world over the last three decades. Other observers might have thought of dealing with unmet needs by adopting measures that partially reverse this upward redistribution.

For example, the government could raise more than $1.8 trillion by taxing financial speculation. This revenue would come almost entirely at the expense of speculators and the financial industry. It could save a comparable amount of money by adopting alternatives to patent monopolies for supporting prescription drug research. And it could substantially reduce the interest burden of the current debt by having the Federal Reserve Board buy and hold a substantial amount of the debt. This would mean that the interest paid on this debt would be refunded to the government, leading to no net interest burden on the bonds held by the Fed.

However, Brooks never considers any measures that could reverse the upward redistribution of the past three decades. He is only interested in taking away Social Security and Medicare benefits and reducing the pay of public sector workers.

Comments (9)Add Comment
Dean Baker, Modern Day Robin Hood Socialist Crook Kills Growth, Low-rated comment [Show]
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written by Ron Alley, March 01, 2011 7:14
Brooks says his first principal is "make everybody hurt" but he applies that principal only to spending cuts. The real transfers have occurred through tax cuts on the higher income brackets. The way to make everybody hurt and "balance" the budget is to pass an income tax surcharge of 1% on joint incomes in excess of $100,000, 2% on the over $200,000 bracket, 3% on the over $300,00 bracket and increasing to 10% on joint incomes of over $1,000,000. That would truly share the pain and help our Congress understand where tax rates should be set for future years.
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written by John Emerson, March 01, 2011 8:33
Brooks is the most shameless, slickest hack on the Republican team. He's allowed to wander off the reservation from time to time to improve his credibility, but at crunch time he always does exactly what's asked of him.
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written by S.D. Jeffries, March 01, 2011 12:43
Elected because the economy had produced no jobs and shown no improvement in the lives of ordinary Americans, the Republicans are in the process of rewriting history to insist that they were elected to cut government spending. Brooks now argues that the need to cut spending is due to the government debt built up as a result of the downturn. He is as wrong about that as he is about his prescription for spending cuts. Dubya's presidential tenure left the country's economy in the toilet, and his last budget deficit was $1.3 trillion, both of which were left to the current administration to deal with. NOW the ones whose policies were responsible for our economic predicament are demanding austerity instead of doing something - anything - to try to put people back to work and rein in the risky behavior, or raise taxes, on the Wall Street fraudsters responsible for this mess. And David Brooks decides the best way to distract from this class warfare is to initiate generational warfare. Buffoonery of the lowest order.
Brooks Is Boring
written by Jerry Jones, March 01, 2011 2:02
Brooks is boring.

Entirely predictable.
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written by John Q, March 01, 2011 2:28
Brooks never considers any measures that could reverse the upward redistribution of the past three decades. He is only interested in taking away Social Security and Medicare benefits and reducing the pay of public sector workers.


Well, d'uh! Brooks is a Republican. What did you expect?

To Ron Alley:
You might be interested in Robert Reich's suggestion for tax brackets and rates:

Expand the Earned Income Tax Credit (a wage subsidy) all the way up through people earning $50,000, and reduce their income taxes to zero. Taxes on incomes between $50,000 and $90,000 should be cut to 10 percent; between $90,000 and $150,000 to 20 percent; between $150,000 and $250,000 to 30 percent.

And exempt the first $20,000 of income from payroll taxes.

Make up the revenues by increasing taxes on incomes between $250,000 to $500,000 to 40 percent; between $500,000 and $5 million, to 50 percent; between $5 million and $15 million, to 60 percent; and anything over $15 million, to 70 percent.

And raise the ceiling on the portion of income subject to payroll taxes to $500,000.
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written by Pat Abbott, March 01, 2011 7:52
Have been shocked by Brooks columns this year. For the year following Obama's election he seemed like a moderate peacemaker. Now he has taken a swift right - right into the Republican plan to further decimate middle America.
nice post
written by Aditya Savara, March 02, 2011 10:56
Nice post on 2 counts:
1) thanks for bringing up the issue of taxing speculation, it is one that should be at least discussed.

2) thank you for writing "alternatives to patent monopolies" instead of simply calling to an end to patents as you usually do. I for one, appreciate this distinction very much. As a sidenote, it also affects my career so is another reason for me to care about this distinction.
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written by liberal, March 03, 2011 8:01
John Q wrote,
You might be interested in Robert Reich's suggestion for tax brackets and rates:


Any proposal which doesn't include an outline of what is taxed (e.g., what makes up taxable income) is woefully incomplete.

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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.

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