Where Is “Mr. C” When We Need Him?

"Sing to me, Mister C!"

Perry in 1993: “Sing to me, Mister C!”

The holiday music is upon us and unavoidable, and one of the recordings that it is annoyingly ubiquitous is Perry Como’s “Home for the Holidays,” though you often hear the Carpenters’ version too. Como was a big TV star in the Sixties— bigger, really, than Andy Williams, who died last month, but who managed to linger in the public consciousness longer. Perry, unlike Andy, never had his “Moon River”—he was just an easy-going, smooth-singing B-list Bing Crosby baritone without the movies,  the comedy, and all the iconic songs, but for a while tuning in to hear “Mr. C” sing the hit ballads of the day was a middle America tradition. As I heard Perry, smooth as ever, sing his one holiday standard, it occurred to me that without that recording, he would be forgotten completely today. Sic Transit Gloria.

Yet Perry Como would still have something to contribute. For example, his last hit record, “It’s Impossible,” could become a useful public anthem to croon to Republicans as we all head over the so-called fiscal cliff.  Here’s Perry:

And here’s what he could croon to the GOP Congress today, changing just a few words:

Irresponsible, take a pledge to never tax, it’s irresponsible!
Irresponsible, and forget about the facts, it’s irresponsible.

Can we pay back all the trillions, and not raise some extra billions?
Cut the budget and not bother with the debt? So irresponsible.

Will Obama make the cuts that must be made? He’s irresponsible.
Does his folly mean you still don’t have to trade? You’re irresponsible.
And tomorrow, when we’re belly-up like Greece, I’m sure you’ll tell us
That your pledge cannot be blamed for what befell us.
You’re a miserable disgrace—and irresponsible.

We miss you, Mr. C.

63 thoughts on “Where Is “Mr. C” When We Need Him?

  1. Mr Como was a rival who sold nearly as many as the Crosby and Sinatra before the rock era, he wasn’t B level star. The 70’s and on, he did the occasional special, but he was much bigger than that. I think there is a slight renaissance for him as the all Christmas channel went from nearly zero songs by him last year, to about a dozen songs, about one an hour this year. And you have to respect that he had a solid workman approach to his music without scandal or ego, starting out as a barber and congenial to all.

    More celebs should pay attention to Mr. C.

    • Now, I didn’t say he was a B level star, I said he was a B-level Bing, which is a whole different thing entirely. Perry was A-list, but Crosby was a great among greats, at least as influencial as Sinatra, probably more, since he influenced Sinatra and Elvis too.

      No disrespect to Perry was intended. I’d say of the crooners he noses in a little behind Dean Martin and Nat King Cole, about tied with Andy Williams, in the same class with Tony Bennett, Mel Torme and Frankie Lane—that’s distinguished company. The next level down is Jack Jones, Al Martino, Vic Damone and that group—I love them all too. Unlike Sinatra (and Bing, too), nobody ever said Perry was anything but a nice guy.

  2. Everytime I hear Perry sing I think of my dear sweet French Catholic Grandma who idolized Perry Como. And everytime she heard him sing she’d tell the “Perry Como” story. I can’t remember it all but he was a devout Catholic and it had to do with making a scene in a restaurant about fish on Friday, compulsory back in those days. Wikipedia has quite a dossier on him. He’s still one of my all-time favorites. Thanks for the memories.

    • The funny thing is that “Impossible” is probably Perry at his worst. He really didn’t have a rich enough voice to pull off the slow ballads like this; it’s not a coincidence that his biggest hits were upbeat, like “Seattle” and “Sugar in the Morning”…and “Home for the Holidays.”

      • I actually have his “Seattle” single. I also have some of his LPs. Christmas would not be the same without Como. And it wasn’t just his voice, either. It was his style. Como was one of those performers who seemed to drift off the TV screen into an easy chair in your living room while singing. And he was always a welcome guest. He shared that quality with Andy Williams. God rest them both. They left the world better for their lives.

  3. Unforgettably great music and great voices, Como’s included. Good guy, Como.

    But what do you mean in the second line of your verse? What “facts?”

    What “facts” must who forget about, else the non-forgetter(s) is(are) irresponsible? Or is it that certain “facts” have already been forgotten about, and those who have forgotten them are irresponsible? You seem to be saying that it’s solely the duty of Republicans to forget (or not forget), and to be responsible – or that it’s solely the Republicans who are irresponsible.

    • How do you figure I seem to be saying that? (Another example of the criticism that by writing about A, I am denying the existance of B. My favorite.) The verse specifically says that the President’s position is irresponsible. But the fact is this: you can only pay off an existing debt with money, not cuts. Cuts will bring the deficit into line, but to lower the debt, you need more revenue. Those are facts, and the no-taxes pledgers are by definition irresponsible–or stupid—to deny them.

      • Jack, I think you’re mistaken.

        No one could ever accuse me of being against raising taxes. But, in principle, there’s no reason that the debt couldn’t be paid off by cuts alone.

        The way you pay down the debt is by running a budget surplus, and then using the surplus to settle the debt. It doesn’t matter to the debt if the budget surplus came from revenue increases, spending cuts, or some combination of the two.

        Of course, I’m not denying that there are political and prudential reasons not to try to pay down the deficit with spending cuts alone. In practice, we need to raise taxes at some point. But, just as a matter of abstract theory, there’s no reason spending cuts couldn’t reduce the debt without increased revenue.

        • Oh, you just like tormenting me. I’m not up to doing the math, but I’m pretty sure that the irreducible “nut” of running the government is such that the debt could never be paid off with budget surpluses alone. We’re adding a trillion to the debt every year—you’d need to save a trillion a year to stop adding to the debt, and THEN have to cut enough to start paying it down. I assume we agree that this is politically and practically impossible; I think its mathematically impossible as well.

          • It can be done in abstract theory, but it can’t be done while keeping general welfare at the level it is and keeping 50% of the world’s military. If you are against Tax raises in all instances, you’re really for worse off people and/or less military.

            • “general welfare”

              Please explain this.

              General welfare would imply money disbursed going to a collective good: such as a national park or a bridge.

              If you are referring to money disbursed to individual recipients, that would best be described as “specific welfare”. I don’t find that in the Constitution at all.

              “I cannot undertake to lay my finger on that article of the Constitution which granted a right to Congress of expending, on objects of benevolence, the money of their constituents.” – James Madison, 1794

                  • Yes, there are times when referencing the constitution is appropriate when discussing Government spending. This piece was not one of them. Whatever the constitutional validity of current spending, my statement is still true.

                    • Since you’ve implied that all government spending can be broken down into “general welfare …. military” spending by not qualifying other categories of spending that could be cut to solve the deficit, then you must justify a great deal of spending as being general welfare (when solid arguments are made that it isn’t ‘general’ welfare.

                      If it is not general welfare, then the citing the Constitution is relevant.

                    • Even if all your premises are true, there’s still no reason to cite the constitution here.

                      Your premises aren’t true. The non military spending is for general welfare. That you don’t agree that all the programs are for general welfare seems to be based on a complete lack of understanding of what general welfare is. Your “specific welfare” comment shows that. Pretty much every program will help a subset of people directly (for instance, a bridge). That specific people are helped does not mean something is not for the general welfare of the populace.

                    • “a complete lack of understanding of what general welfare is.”-TGT

                      It has been urged and echoed, that the power “to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts, and excises, to pay the debts, and provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States,” amounts to an unlimited commission to exercise every power which may be alleged to be necessary for the common defense or general welfare. No stronger proof could be given of the distress under which these writers labor for objections, than their stooping to such a misconstruction.

                      Had no other enumeration or definition of the powers of the Congress been found in the Constitution, than the general expressions just cited, the authors of the objection might have had some color for it; though it would have been difficult to find a reason for so awkward a form of describing an authority to legislate in all possible cases. A power to destroy the freedom of the press, the trial by jury, or even to regulate the course of descents, or the forms of conveyances, must be very singularly expressed by the terms “to raise money for the general welfare.

                      “But what color can the objection have, when a specification of the objects alluded to by these general terms immediately follows, and is not even separated by a longer pause than a semicolon? If the different parts of the same instrument ought to be so expounded, as to give meaning to every part which will bear it, shall one part of the same sentence be excluded altogether from a share in the meaning; and shall the more doubtful and indefinite terms be retained in their full extent, and the clear and precise expressions be denied any signification whatsoever? For what purpose could the enumeration of particular powers be inserted, if these and all others were meant to be included in the preceding general power? Nothing is more natural nor common than first to use a general phrase, and then to explain and qualify it by a recital of particulars. But the idea of an enumeration of particulars which neither explain nor qualify the general meaning, and can have no other effect than to confound and mislead, is an absurdity, which, as we are reduced to the dilemma of charging either on the authors of the objection or on the authors of the Constitution, we must take the liberty of supposing, had not its origin with the latter.

                      “Pretty much every program will help a subset of people directly (for instance, a bridge).”-TGT

                      Actually a bridge is capable of benefiting everybody, it does not discriminate who may or may not cross it. Welfare for the impoverished does not benefit the whole, as one must be impoverished to apply. A subsidy for a farmer does not benefit the whole, as one must be a farmer to apply.

                      “That specific people are helped does not mean something is not for the general welfare of the populace.” -TGT

                      If you cannot see the contradiction in that simple sentence, I’m afraid you are lost on this.

                    • “a complete lack of understanding of what general welfare is.”-TGT

                      Strawman: I don’t think that all actions taken by the government count as general welfare. Minus one point. Using a quotation and not admitting to it? Minus one point points.

                      “Pretty much every program will help a subset of people directly (for instance, a bridge).”-TGT

                      While you could drive on the new rte 40 bridge in MD, that would involve coming to Maryland and driving on that particular stretch of road, which you (as a random Texan) almost certainly won’t do. The same goes for me and food stamps. While I could take actions that would grant me a direct benefit from food stamps, it’s almost certain that this won’t happen.

                      On top of that, there are secondary benefits. The update to the rte 40 bridge helps people directly which helps the economy, which helps people generally. Same goes for food stamps.

                      “That specific people are helped does not mean something is not for the general welfare of the populace.” -TGT

                      If you see a problem here, you’ve lost all credibility with me. Defense contracts help specific people. For instance, me. That does not mean that they don’t also have a general benefit.

                      I’m against agricultural subsidies, but that’s because they’re bad economics.

                    • “Strawman: I don’t think that all actions taken by the government count as general welfare.” -TGT

                      Nice attempt to dodge out. Fail. I never accused you of such. Minus 100 points (see how silly that sounds?).

                      “Using a quotation and not admitting to it?”-TGT

                      Sorry, I figured just from literary style you would be able to identify the passage as being of the Founding Fathers. Minus 500 points (hey, it’s actually kinda fun! I’m winning by 598!! See how childish that is?)

                      The purpose of the passage was less to show that I had an understanding of what “General Welfare” means (which I do) and more to show that you do not (which you don’t).

                      Just so you know, it comes from the Federalist Paper entitled “General View of the Powers Conferred by the Constitution”, written by ‘Publius’. It is arbitrarily numbered 41 and assumed to be written by James Madison.

                      “While you could drive on the new rte 40 bridge in MD, that would involve coming to Maryland and driving on that particular stretch of road, which you (as a random Texan) almost certainly won’t do. The same goes for me and food stamps. While I could take actions that would grant me a direct benefit from food stamps, it’s almost certain that this won’t happen.” -TGT

                      Flimsy analogy. A road system, instituted by the federal government, would benefit the whole, regardless of cherry picking one single component from the system. You taking actions to grant you direct benefit from food stamps (assuming you don’t initially qualify) would require unscrupulous cheating of the system OR actively degrading yourself income-wise or needs-wise also twists the analogy.

                      “On top of that, there are secondary benefits. The update to the rte 40 bridge helps people directly which helps the economy, which helps people generally. Same goes for food stamps.” -TGT

                      Arguing secondary, or even tertiary effects, is shaky at best. 2ndry effects of anything can be negative as well as positive let alone that 2ndry effects come about not just from the cause in question, but from other causes as well. Hard to pin down those as truly arising from the cause in question or whether or not they outweigh the negative 2ndry effects.

                      Also, food stamps helps the economy? You gonna cite Pelosi and her funny math on that one?

                      ““That specific people are helped does not mean something is not for the general welfare of the populace.” -TGT

                      If you see a problem here, you’ve lost all credibility with me. -TGT

                      Don’t worry, that you made that statement, you’ve lost all credibility with me.

                      “Defense contracts help specific people.”-TGT

                      Yet, their purpose technically falls under the enumerated powers related to Common Defense (not General Welfare). So the specific contractor’s that receive money for the services provided is a moot point. The bills weren’t written to disburse money to them, the bills were written to pay for services (common-defense services) provided.

                      That there IS corruption in the contracting system that blatantly aggrandizes certain people is a separate discussion.

                      “For instance, me.” -TGT

                      Are you one of the defense contractors? or is this just a continuation from the already demonstrated flawed logic that defense contractor spending falls under “General Welfare”?

                      “I’m against agricultural subsidies, but that’s because they’re bad economics.” -TGT

                      Subsidies from the federal level of government are wrong because they lack solid constitutional basis (they receive justification from very very loose interpretations of the Commerce Clause), not because they are bad economics. Yes, they are bad economics, but evaluating them from that standpoint bypasses the first principle that they aren’t right on the national level.

                    • Tex,

                      Strawman
                      If you weren’t accusing me of such, then your post was a non sequitur.

                      The quote
                      I know what it’s from. I recognized it as a different style from your writing immediately. I still say that it’s horrible to use a quote, on its own, without saying it’s a quote.

                      I also don’t think it backs up your opinion. You’ve been saying there’s a difference between a bridge and food stamps. To this section of the constitution, both are technically unconstitutional. neither is one of the specific things listed as being for the general welfare.

                      And, if you didn’t realize this yet, I’m using the term “general welfare” with it’s common, current day meaning.

                      “flimsy analogy”

                      You didn’t actually find a difference between bridges and food stamps. If the bridge is part of a whole transportation system, why aren’t food stamps part of a larger whole as well? That’s special pleading. It’s also moving the goalposts, as you said the bridge itself was for the common good. I thought you didn’t like “rhetorical irresponsibility”.

                      secondary effects
                      Yes some secondary effects are bad, but that doesn’t mean that secondary effects shouldn’t be considered. Yes, it can be hard to determine exact causes from secondary effects, but that doesn’t mean they should be ignored.

                      As for food stamps helping the economy, the debate on this matter is like the debate on evolution. Food stamps inject money into local businesses which snowball upwards. You can argue that the federal government shouldn’t be doing this, but there is no case to be made that it doesn’t work.

                      Specific people doesn’t mean not general welfare

                      I’ll chalk this up to your random assumption that I was referencing the constitution

                      The same goes for your complaints about the defense contractor comment.

                      Defense contractor
                      Yes, I am.

                      agricultural subsidies

                      I am not a strict constructionalist.

                    • “If you weren’t accusing me of such, then your post was a non sequitur.” -TGT

                      Please pay attention to your own discussions. It completely follows because it wasn’t even an accusation towards you. You claimed I do not understand what General Welfare is. My response addressed that claim. I even thought I made it an easy connection for you to make since I headed it with your quote – “a complete lack of understanding of what general welfare is.”-TGT

                      “I also don’t think it backs up your opinion.” -TGT

                      Of course you don’t. Dismissiveness is one of your primary Standard Operating Procedures.

                      “You’ve been saying there’s a difference between a bridge and food stamps. To this section of the constitution, both are technically unconstitutional.” -TGT

                      And for one split second there is a glimmer of hope in TGT’s mindset (unfortunately dashed to the rocks by your final comment).

                      “I’m using the term “general welfare” with it’s common, current day meaning.” -TGT

                      Other that whatever definition you need to suit your needs, what would it mean?

                      “why aren’t food stamps part of a larger whole as well?”

                      Larger whole of what?

                      You chose these variables for the analogy. The fact that they don’t hold up to scrutiny only helps my argument.

                      “It’s also moving the goalposts, as you said the bridge itself was for the common good. I thought you didn’t like “rhetorical irresponsibility”.” -TGT

                      No it’s not. Your initial reference to ‘a bridge’ was non specific, indicative of any bridge within the road system. I assumed you were vaguely referencing Common Defense oriented spending during the Eisenhower Administration. Then you were the one who chose to identify a single, nameable instance from the whole, detached it from the whole and went on with Special Pleading. So you are correct about one thing so far, I still don’t like rhetorical irresponsibility.

                      “that doesn’t mean that secondary effects shouldn’t be considered. Yes, it can be hard to determine exact causes from secondary effects, but that doesn’t mean they should be ignored.” -TGT

                      Considered yes, but unless a preponderance of proveable positive 2ndry effects outweighs any negatives, and those 2ndry effects can be isolated to apparant exclusion to the cause in question, they ought not be considered as selling points. But this is a separate discussion.

                      “As for food stamps helping the economy, the debate on this matter is like the debate on evolution. Food stamps inject money into local businesses which snowball upwards. You can argue that the federal government shouldn’t be doing this, but there is no case to be made that it doesn’t work.” -TGT

                      Ok so you aren’t going to directly cite Pelosi’s funny math, but you will hint at it.

                      There is no mathematically or economically sound reason to believe that pulling money away from natural cycles of wealth and value production and siphoning that money into currently unsuccessful attempts to produce wealth or value will EVER work, regardless of apparantly occasional short term boosts to the economy (which inevitably peter out, because those recently boosted sectors of the economy still are not able to produce wealth or value on their own).

                      “I’ll chalk this up to your random assumption that I was referencing the constitution…..I am not a strict constructionalist.” -TGT

                      My mistake, I assumed as long as an American was referencing spending by the national level of the Federal Government, he/she would use the Constitution as the the guiding law of the land for what is permissible spending.

                      Now realizing your darker implications, I shudder to imagine what your guideline for spending other people’s money is.

                      Perhaps the words of the Constitution don’t have contractual meaning. Why have a Constitution at all? Perhaps the idea of Social Contract is meaningless to you? Perhaps the need for a written Constitution isn’t apparant, the words from which it is written having strict meaning for a reason? What do you even think of contracts and their specificity of language?

                      “Defense contractor, Yes, I am.” -TGT

                      Do you handle the intrepretation of that contract as well?

                    • You’re an idiot. Your assumptions non sequiturs, your understanding of economic policy is beyond stupid, your inability to follow a basic argument is shameful. Basically, I have to treat you like SMP now. You may have a firmer grip on reality than he does, but you don’t have a firm grip on logic. This statement sums you up:

                      “There is no mathematically or economically sound reason to believe that pulling money away from natural cycles of wealth and value production and siphoning that money into currently unsuccessful attempts to produce wealth or value will EVER work, regardless of apparantly occasional short term boosts to the economy (which inevitably peter out, because those recently boosted sectors of the economy still are not able to produce wealth or value on their own).”

                      You deny reality and beg the question… all while claiming you’re following logic.

  4. I saw where you said the President is irresponsible; I did not miss that. You really didn’t answer my questions. I stand by my criticism (now I know, it’s your favorite, whatever that means). In the current state of government behavior, it is most certainly not irresponsible to resist any and all new taxes. It is irresponsible and stupid to suggest that the U.S. federal government, spending in its current ways, can tax its way out of its deficit spending and debts. It is irresponsible and stupid to continue the same trajectory of (over-)spending, while expecting changes on the margins of revenue collection schemes to magically evaporate deficits and retire debts.

    Lowering the debt requires more revenue, as does lowering deficits, for that matter. I agree with those facts. But I do not agree that more revenue is necessarily and solely obtainable by way of ever more and more taxation, higher rates, new “sources,” and so on. Tax burden creep has never worked for revenue sufficiency, and history shows no evidence of that course ever working in the future; those are facts, too.

    The feds (and similarly misbehaving governments) need to get out of the way of business, and cease making their business the only business that is sustainable (and the only business that is unaccountable).

    • You can’t start reducing trillions of dollars of debt without increased taxation. I understand the principle—stop spending first, because we don’t trust you to not spend every cent you have. Nevertheless, nothing will be done to stop the looming debt disaster without tax increases, and it is per se, by definition, irresponsible to argue otherwise. You could end the deficit by cuts alone. It is just politically impossible.

      But that’s another song.

      • But the fact that the current debt is greater than the current GDP – and is growing faster than the GDP is – means that if everyone’s tax rates were increased to 100%, it still wouldn’t keep us out of debt. Increased tax rates CONNOT fix the problem – and that’s even without addressing the question of whether increasing tax rates increases or decreases revenue. If increasing tax rates does decrease revenue – as there is much evidence to suggest – then increasing rates not only doesn’t fix the problem, but it makes it worse.

        I don’t know if it’s a true economic theory, but no one does – that’s why we’re all still arguing about it. It is, however, a sound economic theory, and therefore not unreasonable for people to act on as if it were true.

        • 1. It isn’t greater than the current GDP. Where did you get that idea? It’s less than 75%. That’s not good, but its not over 100%.
          2. Saying that you can’t pay off the debt just by raising taxes so you shouldn’t raise taxes is just as logical as saying that you can’t close the debt by cutting unnecessary expenses like PBS, so you shouldn’t cut them…which is to say, not logical at all.

        • But the fact that the current debt is greater than the current GDP – and is growing faster than the GDP is – means that if everyone’s tax rates were increased to 100%, it still wouldn’t keep us out of debt.

          Yes it would. Is it possible you’re mixing up the deficit and the debt?

          If the deficit was permanently larger than annual GDP, then it would impossible to ever pay the debt down, because we could never run a budget surplus.

          However, we can certainly pay down a debt even if it’s larger than GDP. For the same reason that, even though my mortgage is larger than my annual income, eventually I will be able to pay off my mortgage. Payments on the debt, as long as they’re larger than the annual interest on the debt, are cumulative, making it possible to pay it down over many years, rather than having to pay the entire thing out of a single year’s GDP.

    • It is irresponsible and stupid to continue the same trajectory of (over-)spending, while expecting changes on the margins of revenue collection schemes to magically evaporate deficits and retire debts.

      Well, when you throw in words like “on the margins”, it can’t be done. But the same would be said about budget cuts.

      Lowering the debt requires more revenue, as does lowering deficits, for that matter. I agree with those facts. But I do not agree that more revenue is necessarily and solely obtainable by way of ever more and more taxation, higher rates, new “sources,” and so on. Tax burden creep has never worked for revenue sufficiency, and history shows no evidence of that course ever working in the future; those are facts, too.

      Uh… what? Increased taxation HAS worked. See World War II. Now, what there actually isn’t evidence for is that lowering taxes improves revenue or that raising marginal income taxes depresses income.

      The feds (and similarly misbehaving governments) need to get out of the way of business

      A greater cliche was never said. It’s not exactly like government is trying to make businesses poor.

      • “Well, when you throw in words like “on the margins”, it can’t be done. But the same would be said about budget cuts.”

        You got it. Almost. Maybe. Restoring balanced budgets, and retiring the national debt, require the feds to shrink spending radically, not marginally, and the sooner the better. The problem – the dilemma that governments at all levels have created – is that the governments have fed themselves (yes: parasitized and preyed upon their tax base) to where they have created a vicious and self-defeating cycle for both themselves and their tax base. The cycle can only be broken by spending much less and less, without taxing more and more, so that the tax base can have one more chance to recover itself. But, the breaking of that cycle will almost certainly happen only via a collapse and re-set. Clearly, current governments’ appetites for ever more money, and for confiscating an ever larger proportion of the wealth and production capacity of their tax base, are insatiable. Tgt, I don’t envy you for the world you most likely will out-live me in; I pity you.

        “Increased taxation HAS worked. See World War II.”

        You’re equating two unequal and incomparable times and circumstances. To clarify: There have been times when taxes could be increased, and resulting increased revenues did not irrecoverably depress the tax base, despite the impact of the increased tax burden. There was production capacity in the private sector sufficient to bear the burden – to support and even sustain government growth for a time – and, to even recover and prosper, such that marginal decreases in the tax burden could enable even more revenue-generating capability. Those days are long gone. Society (but especially, government and its burdens) has evolved. We are now in the crisis- and disaster- and temporary relief-tradeoff era. The public sector can no longer keep itself from starving, without starving what’s left of the private sector, which further starves the public sector of real money – the vicious cycle I mentioned above.

        “It’s not exactly like government is trying to make businesses poor.”

        There you go. I figured you would expose your state of denial eventually. I wish I could help you more.

        • Margins

          I didn’t suggest that heavy cuts need to be made. I pointed out that your “marginally” comment was a pretty obvious attempt to strawman tax increases.

          Random Rant
          Most of your first paragraph is pure opinion that is not backed by economics. When you talk about the tax base needing time to recover…and they you want to do that by cutting programs that help the lower end of the tax base, you show that you’re wedded to a belief, no matter how insane it is.

          taxes raising revenue

          You claimed this has never worked. I pointed out it had. You attempt to move the goalposts. You made a factual claim and I showed it was false. Why should anyone believe your related factual claims?

          Cliche

          You just claimed that government is trying to make people poor. What now? Is the Red Cross trying to take food and supplies away from impoverished and decimated people?

  5. According to bea.gov, 2012 3rd quarter GDP clocked in at 15,797 billion dollars. Treasurydirect.gov has the debt on Oct 1 at 16,159 billion. Current debt is 16,350 billion according to usdebtclock.org, which has the current GDP at 15,500 billion. That puts us at approximately 102% at the end of the third quarter, and 105% and climbing currently.

    If raising taxes increases revenue, even a little bit, then yes taxes need to be raised – every little bit will help. But if raising taxes reduces revenue, then even the tiniest increase is a step in the wrong direction. The problem is, there seems to be good evidence supporting either of those positions, it’s just a matter of what scale you use.

    • 3/4 at 105% is going to be about 75% after 4 quarters. The debt is NOT over 100 percent of GDP. I presumed you were speaking yearly, not 3/4ly.

      So in your view, cutting taxes to zero would raise revenue. Good to know.
      Obviously there is a point where taxes are so confiscatory that they destroy income. Obviously there is an optimum point, and if you’re running up trillion dollar deficits with about half the country paying no federal income taxes, the roads and bridges rotting, and people lining up five days in advance to get bargains on giant TV’s, you’re not at it. Get serious.

      • I compared 3/4 to 3/4, and current to current. Both results put us at more than 100%. “3/4 at 105% is going to be about 75% after 4 quarters.” would only be true if the debt were stationary – but it’s growing at a higher rate than the GDP is, which will only widen the gap further with time.

        And that’s a strawman – I made no such claim. I’ll agree that confiscatory tax rates destroy income, and that there’s an optimum point. I didn’t even claim that I believe that we are currently higher than that optimum point, but rather that those republicans who are resisting raising taxes honestly believe that we are. If they are correct that rates are currently higher than that optimum point, then they are correct that raising rates further is entirely the wrong solution to pursue. The Laffer curve is constantly shifting, and we haven’t yet figured out a good way to find the apex of it beyond trial and error – but when we can crank the rate up to 100%, and – even if somehow we could magically prevent that from destroying income – it still doesn’t fix the problem, that says quite clearly to me that the tax rate isn’t the source of said problem.

        • You must be adding the Social Security gap to the debt. I think we should do that, but the fact is that it isn’t calculated that way. All sources cite the National Debt at around 72% of GNP.

          Bottom line: you can’t pay off debt and run the government without a lot more revenue. If you want to propose impossible solutions like selling the National Parks and Hawaii, be my guest. What I said is that pledging not to raise taxes is irresponsible, because it doesn’t deal with the debt, and the debt must be dealt with. If you have a way to pay off, say, 25% of teh debt without raising taxes, by all means, I’d like to hear it. I haven’t heard it from Grover Norquist.

      • Jack, the problem does not stem from the burden of taxes alone. It stems from the impacts of requirements, required conditions and specifications that governments impose on production, delivery and consumption of goods and services – impacts made possible by the funds derived from tax burdens – which hamper and even diminish revenue-generating capacity. The country is $16 trillion in debt, with $trillions more in unfunded liabilities, annual federal operating deficits of over $1 trillion with no end in sight, and many states and municipalities similarly “in the red” and some facing bankruptcy…and you still don’t think the tax burden has passed the tipping point YET?!

        I know we’re all serious here, but still, I have a hard time believing that you seriously believe that paying more taxes will pay off America’s bills. There’s either going to have to be (1) a whole new and massive boom of some kind, like the 1990s dot-com boom only much bigger (with governments not eating up the dividends), or (2) some kind of mass epiphany and “conversion” of the powers that lead, drive and sustain effective governments, such that spending is finally under control, or (3) a total bust and re-set of all public and private sector activity. The latter is looking more inevitable – and imminent – every passing day. I cannot help suspecting that some kind of insidious, malevolent mass hypnosis has overcome such a huge number of Americans both in and out of power, and that the resulting state of consciousness en masse is so absolutely blinded, deafened, and otherwise incapacitated from recognizing, processing and responding to the most basic economic realities, that there aren’t enough responsible people left who can avert their society’s death-plunge under the delusion that a society can tax itself into prosperity.

        • I dispute none of that, but the unavoidable is this: when you have spent more than you have paid for, you have to pay the bills. The sooner you do it, the better, because the interest will kill you. We elected irresponsible leaders, and we are the ones who have to pay for it. You can cut your way out of a deficit, but you have to pay your way out of debt. Fact. No way out. Increased taxes are unavoidable, and howls of protest are just as legitimate as the freeloading Greeks complaining now that their bill has come due.

          There’s no hypnosis. It’s greed, ignorance, stupidity and incompetence, enabled by inept and irresponsible leadership. As simple and tragic as that.

          • I’m really not arguing with you, Jack. I recognize and accept the political realities. It’s a big frog-pot, and the current wrangling over taxation is just another squabble over how much to turn up that burner, without causing too many frogs to jump out thus making the burner-adjustment “disastrous” (as in, not enough frogs left to boil and eat to satiety) for all would-be adjusters. Like I said after Election Night in November, “SSDD and MOTSOS.” Whatever the tax rates and loopholes, my vision is for taxation that enables, rather than disables, production and continual increases in production, so that there are sources of revenue derived from a growing pie in all sectors – rather than just targets for more and more misery, and for protection from misery, using takings from disappearing, chronically shrinking, and ever less flavorful pies.

          • Your logic doesn’t work. Revenue raised from additional taxes are directly equivalent to money saved by not spending. You don’t know anyone who has gotten out of debt by giving up their expensive car, cable, their gym membership, and eating out?

            And while you or I could deal with the August beltway sans A/C, reading more library books, lose some muscle tone, and spend more time making food, to the country, the lack of A/C is a slice of the population becoming homeless, the lack of cable is kids who won’t get new clothes, cooking food is people starving, and the loss of muscle tone is death.

            It absolutely can be done… but it would be horrible (Well, I think we could give up having the super duper alarm system 10 thousand laser beams and our own personal swat team. We could jump down to a doors and windows alarm system and still be better than everyone else on the block.)

            • No. All those things are discretionary. You cannot cut enough discretionary expenditures to eliminate the debt And pay down the deficit. it wouldn’t just be horrible. It’s impossible. You would have to eliminate essential expenditures as well. Below minimal defense. Subsistence social programs. Zilch for education and research. No infrastucture upkeep. Impossible. Just like Perry said. Sub-minimal aid to states. Killing cabinet departments. That’s not expensive cars, and I don’t know anyone as much in debt as the US who hasn’t declared bankruptcy.

              • My examples were just examples. Cutting the care completely can be done. Cutting from somewhat healthy home cooked meals to Ramen can be done. Cutting out all entertainment can be done. Putting a family of 4 in a 15×15 bedroom can be done.

                My point was that you absolutely can cut your way out, it’s just not sane to do so. We’ve been on the same pate on the latter point, but it appeared to me that (until now) you were arguing against the former point.

        • and you still don’t think the tax burden has passed the tipping point YET?!

          Nothing prior to this says anything about the tax burden being too high.

          I know we’re all serious here, but still, I have a hard time believing that you seriously believe that paying more taxes will pay off America’s bills.

          Why not? Tax increases historically haven’t decreased GDP, so… why not?

            • Time already has told. It’s people like you that are fighting what we know has worked in favor of something that we know hasn’t worked. Cutting upper level tax rates doesn’t increase the tax base. Cutting government spending doesn’t increase the tax base. Raising marginal rates on the upper middle class and up does increase revenue.

  6. Regarding the general point, it should be noted that Obama’s “no tax increases on households making under $250,000” pledge is just a less extreme version of the Norquest pledge. The Norquest pledge is more irresponsible, because it’s more extreme, but both pledges are irresponsible.

  7. Comments from this thread keep showing up in my inbox, and every single time, a small part of my mind that’s stuck on TV shows of my childhood expects the email to be about Tom Bosley’s “Happy Days” character.

    • I realized that about 10 minutes after posting the original post. I’m wondering if the Fonz started calling Richie’s Dad “Mr. C” before Perry’s show went off the air. I’ll check that. Who is “Mr. C” today? Who was it before Perry?

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