Sunday, October 19, 2008

The socialist

I had a long interview on Saturday with Roy Brown about his race for governor (see the Oct. 23 Outpost for details). As I have on occasion mentioned, I have always found him to a principled, thoughtful politician. He's a tad conservative for my tastes, but I never pick my preferences among politicians on the basis of whether I agree with their politics (voting is another matter, and none of your business).

The point here is that he laid out detailed plans for how he would govern Montana, including some ideas that sound pretty progressive to me, such as his proposals for more openness in government and for allowing employers a tax credit if they pay student debt for Montana college graduates who take jobs in Montana.

But when the topic switched briefly to national issues, I was a bit surprised to hear what sounded like typical Republican talking points: Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and the Community Reinvestment Act are to blame for the financial crisis; Barack Obama's tax plan amounts to class warfare and socialism.

I won't run down the links, but if you have followed this issue, you know that there is a pretty strong case to be made that the CRA had little impact on what has gone wrong in the financial system. More importantly, I have never understood the class warfare argument about the tax system. Unless you think that everyone should pay exactly the same amount of tax (and if you do think that, good luck with raising enough revenues to fight a war or two), then you have to favor at least a moderately progressive tax structure. Obviously, reasonable people can disagree about exactly what tax rates are fair and prudent. You don't want to kill the investment goose that lays golden eggs, but if you are making tax policy, you are going to look where the money is. As U.S. wealth becomes more and more concentrated, extracting a larger share from those who have the most just seems practical.

It sure doesn't sound like class warfare.


Chuck Rightmire said...

The problem with the weasel is that he uses what seem to be good ideas but you have to realize that he's doing it with an edge to it: the limits of what he will do for taxes and spending. He told me that the GOP-led Legislature he served in had fully funded educatiion. He knew it hadn't but what he may have meant was that it had fully funded as much as it would spend on education, different story entirely. I wouldn't believe a word he said; I'm surprised you do.

Jacob L. Robertson said...

I totally agree with chuck, keep up the fight!!