Political Animal


HOW ABOUT THE GEORGE BUSH ECONOMIC CONTRACTION PLAN OF 2005?….One of the things that poor old Jimmy Carter gets no credit for is the fact that he didn’t try to juice the economy in 1979 to coincide with his reelection campaign in 1980. He had other problems as well, of course, but he certainly paid the price for this particular piece of Southern Baptist integrity.

George Bush, on the other hand, apparently has no similar voice in his head to guide him. Quite the contrary, in fact:

The administration’s estimates show its proposal would boost economic growth by only 0.4% this year, but 1.1% in 2004. The projections suggest the plan could have a contracting effect of half a point or more in 2005.

The estimates — and especially the conclusion that the administration’s plan would pack its biggest punch in the midst of the presidential campaign in 2004 — apparently sparked controversy inside the Bush camp. Bush press aides ordered them yanked from a White House Web site only hours after they appeared following the president’s Tuesday speech unveiling the package.

(Emphasis mine.)

You can argue about whether or not the economy needs a stimulus right now, but how do you justify a plan that by their own estimates will provide a significant stimulus for only one year ? 2004, by coincidence ? and actually has a negative impact in 2005, when the election is over?

But then, this is the same administration that spent two solid pre-election months in 2002 making sure that the Iraqi resolution in the UN stayed front and center, needlessly delaying any chance at agreement until the very day of the election. Then they let it die.

Are these guys a piece of work, or what?


NEW FRONTIERS IN JOURNALISM FROM OUR OWN ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER….This morning just before lunch Marian and I drove out to Stanton ? formerly “Crossroads of Vacationland” because you have to drive through Stanton to get to both Knott’s Berry Farm and Disneyland ? and the taco & burger place we stopped at had a copy of the Orange County Register out. So of course we both read through it, which explains the wealth of Register references you’re seeing in today’s CalPundit.

Here’s one of their new features: the “Readers’ cartoon caravan,” which sounds like something from a high school newspaper circa 1950. Looks like it too, as you can see from today’s effort reprinted above.

Aside from the fact that amateur efforts like this are rarely funny or provocative, isn’t this just about the most annoying thing you’ve seen on the Internet since, oh, the last Lileks column you read? Hell, just writing this post has made me kinda seasick….

MORE TAX WRINKLES….Here’s yet another

MORE TAX WRINKLES….Here’s yet another wrinkle in the Bush tax plan that I just now heard about: dividends paid by companies that report losses would still be taxable.

Think about this: you’re the CEO of a company, and as the end of your fiscal year rolls around it looks like you might show a small loss. But that means that the dividends you’ve been paying out will be taxable, so you’ll be under intense pressure to fiddle with reserves, or prebook business, or stuff the channel, or engage in some other accounting gimcrackery to turn your small loss into a small profit. Isn’t that just the thing that we’ve been trying to get away from?

Conservatives actually have a good point when they talk about the distorting effect of the tax code, and this is a good example. It’s also a good example of why it’s probably better to tax all kinds of income similarly: it prevents the relentless game playing where people try to move income from one place to another solely to get the best tax rate.

I’m not saying this is conclusive evidence that we shouldn’t tax different types of income differently, but there is a cost to doing it.