From Jim Welsh, whose MacroTides have graced the Think Tank for several years now.

Jim wrote this last night:

“Fully 95% of Republican members of Congress have signed the Americans for Tax Reform Taxpayer Protection Pledge. Signors pledge that they will ‘One, oppose any and all efforts to increase the marginal income tax rates for individuals and/or businesses; and Two, oppose any net reduction or elimination of deductions and credits, unless matched dollar for dollar by further reducing rates.

We agree in opposing tax increases for the middle class, but to oppose any tax increase in a time of budget crisis is putting this pledge above country.

Is this pledge always supportive of the common good? For any member of Congress, the most important pledge is this. “I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.’ ”

-Jim Welsh, December commentary

Nicely said . . .

Category: Politics, Taxes and Policy

Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor implied. If you could repeat previously discredited memes or steer the conversation into irrelevant, off topic discussions, it would be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous.

29 Responses to “Quote of the Day: On Pledges”

  1. Maggie says:


  2. contrabandista13 says:


  3. rwboomtown says:

    I get that the pledge is silly, but do we really have a revenue problem in this country? Look at the pentagon. We are spending 60,000 for ever single family below the poverty line. There is an estimated 60 to 80 billion in medicare fraud a year. I could go on and on and on. It seems if you wanted more money from some one you might consider cleaning up your act in terms of how you are spending it. This whole GOP is irrational and the DEMS are patriots is as silly as the pledge.

  4. Bokolis says:

    So, given the QOTD on the above-right and the quasi-seditious maneuvering here, would a new round of slaughtering be any more justified? Or, can we consider ourselves more enlightened because we sit here and eat popcorn while watching these jokers?

  5. Irwin Fletcher says:

    As long as the labeling and name calling persists, it’s hard to see progress being made.
    Libs are all about the “tax rates” rather than revenue. Flatten the tax and take away the deductions. Conservatives are all about the out of control waste and spending. Both sides misrepresent the other. Conservatives would be happy and willing to pay more taxes if they truly believed the government wouldn’t waste the money and do more with what they are entrusted with.
    When the Republicans refuse to even discuss tax increases and when the Democrats refuse to even discuss entitlement reform, both are wrong.
    It’s sad to me that the Erskine Bowles plan isn’t implemented. I honestly believe that Reagan, or even Clinton for that matter, would get this shit done. If Obama was serious about fiscal responsibility, he would demand that his party get behind entitlement reform and would lead the way, instead of traveling around making speeches. He’s got the power to do this. Boehner is so weak. I know this blog’s main audience and commenters focuses on bashing the Republicans and that’s cool, but both sides are to fault in this. I thought Bowles-Simpson was a terrific plan, but neither side went to bat for it. Where are the statesmen?

  6. abstutz says:

    Ironically, the refusal to vote on any tax increase will ultimately result in a tax increase.

  7. slowkarma says:

    We need a tax increase now for two reasons: the government needs the money to keep things going, and as cover for the Democrats to find some way to begin cutting spending. But even given the cover, will the Democrats cut spending? I don’t think so — they’re the mirror image of the Tea Party people who won’t raise teas no matter what the situation.

    In any case, and I say this as a longtime moderate Democrat, the fundamental problem is not the level of taxation. The fundamental problem is that the government can spend any amount of money it can raise, and more. Entitlements (in the broadest sense, including all those subsidies to industries that don’t need or don’t deserve them) are a black hole; there’s no amount of money that’s enough, and encouraging class warfare won’t solve that problem. We can pound the rich into the ground like tent pins, and we won’t have enough; we can take all the money that the top 1% have, and it won’t be enough. Nor can we continue borrowing. We have been robbing the future for a long time, and the problem now is, the future has arrived; it seems to me unlikely that the future has enough money that we can continue robbing it, and as that awareness grows, the economy will get in more and more trouble.

  8. Northeaster says:

    “the Republic for which it stands” -

    “for the Plutocrats for which we serve…”


  9. DeDude says:

    So you pledged yourself to Grover and you pledged yourself to the Flag. What do you do when Grover starts pissing on the flag and hurting the country? Some serious GOP soul searching must be going on these days.

  10. Moss says:

    This pledge will prove to be a curse.

  11. Anonymous Jones says:

    To rwboomtown’s points:

    Which party do you think is trying to sustain the defense budget at these levels?

    Is your plan to eliminate *all* Medicare fraud? That would be quite a trick. If not, how much of that fraud can you eliminate on a practical basis? And how much is it going to cost you to have the enforcement apparatus to eliminate all that fraud? Your plan is magically costless, I guess? And I’m really confused about the link between fraud and the Ds? You think the Ds are against reducing Medicare fraud?

    I’m sure you could “go on and on and on” about this, but would you continue to make as little sense as you did in your “examples”? I’m guessing yes.

    I certainly don’t think the Ds are saints (they are craven untrustworthy politicians), but let’s be honest, on a relative basis, this is just no contest, no contest at all.

  12. Bill Wilson says:

    The pledge is gutless. If you think the government is spending too much, then point out where it is spending too much. The homeowner tax credit and the war on drugs are good places to start. By writing that sentence, I just pissed some people off. It’s so much easier to sign a pledge against revenue, then borrow money to spend enough to keep everyone happy.

  13. Theba says:

    Same very nicely articulated message in this video from Professor Robert Thurman: “Free Congress From the Norquist Pledge”

    “Professor Robert Thurman of Columbia University draws attention to the treasonous behavior of congress persons who have made pledges to Grover Norquist that contradict their pledges made to the United States as congress persons.”

  14. farmera1 says:

    Putting a pledge to always vote in some manner puts the pledge over the good of the country. This is just another step towards a country that is UNGOVERNABLE.

    Moss, the pledge is already a curse, there is no will to it.

  15. JEHR says:

    As I understand it, taxes are important for distributing aggregate wealth. When the financial system became the largest part of the economy and when manufacturing declined, the wealth of the middle and working classes was distributed to the wealthiest 1% at the top. This wealth distribution was helped along by the fraud perpetrated by the top banks in the US who used sub-prime mortgages to create toxic CDOs which they sold to large pension funds and savings vehicles. The banks received their fees, the banks received their bailouts and the banks won their bets. As the CDOs declined in value the richest of the rich became even richer through that process of the financial meltdown while the rest of society lost their jobs, lost their houses, lost their savings, lost their pensions.

    The frauds of the banks were bailed out by the Federal Reserve thus pushing along the wealth redistribution even further and faster.

    Now the rich want to get rid of all the entitlements of the working and middle class so that they can become even richer by privatizing SS, Medicare and Medicaid. The rich and the banks know exactly what they are doing and they can accomplish this through the political system which is almost totally captured by lobbyists for the rich and for the banks and for the corporations.

    As a result of this redistribution process, the fiscal cliff was created as a false problem which, surprise, surprise, could be taken care of by cutting spending especially for the entitlements of the working and middle class.

    The US as a sovereign country with its own currency, can afford to pay for anything that is available in its own currency and that includes SS, Medicare and Medicaid. These entitlements are for the public good and should not be privatized as the rich would like them to be.

    The greed of the rich has no bounds.

  16. MorticiaA says:

    Agree 100% with slowkarma.

    The political party leadership picture has been for a long time (1) Democratic Party which can’t lead its way out of a cardboard box, and (2) Republican Party which has long been held hostage by leaders who are very strong but not in a constructive-what’s-good-for-the-populace kind of way. Grover Norquist isn’t the only party hack who has goaded the G.O.P. minions to abide; Lee Atwater and his southern strategy comes to mind.

  17. Chad says:

    “Conservatives are all about the out of control waste and spending.”

    Oh, please. No Republican President has made any meaningful cuts to any spending in my life, and I’m older than I prefer. Not that the Democrats are cutting spending constantly, but they do it more often without ever promising to do it.

  18. Topsailsman says:

    Why is this a mess?

    Most citizens are willfully, intentionally ignorant.
    Most businesses are greedy and ethically challenged.
    Most politicians are corrupt and completely self-interested.
    All information is “spin”, even the “facts” are spin.

    There are no honest serious people because no one wants honest serious people. They say they do, but if one comes near they will neutralize them. We want people who will tell us what we want to hear. We want our prejudices and viewpoints affirmed.

    We’ve always been this way. When the pie was always getting bigger, our failings were covered over. Now the pie isn’t growing much, and everyone wants someone else’s pie. And our rotting core is laid bare.

    As a member of the top 2%, I sure hope my other 2 percenters are keeping something in mind. As we keep grabbing more pie from folks who keep getting less and less, something bad is going to happen. Maybe you think you deserve to add more to your already big piece of pie, but remember. Hungry pissed off people are even worse than ignorant greedy people. I don’t know where that line is, but I sure want to stay a long way away from it.

    If you don’t believe we could end up with large numbers of hungry pissed off people, keep on taking more pie and more pie. The Tea Party and OWS were your “canaries in the coal mine”. But, as I said, they were “neutralized”. You may not get another warning.

  19. louiswi says:

    Democrats-tax and spend or Republicans-borrow and spend.

    It seems tax and spend should win hands down. If the taxes are getting to ‘ya then deal with the spending part.

    What right does this generation have to borrow and spend? What right does this generation have to throw a couple of major wars without this generation paying for them? We truely are “the asshole generation” whether we are talking about “borrow and spend” or burning up the existing fossil fuel on the planet. What gives this generation the right to conduct itself in this manner?

  20. algernon says:

    I do not see the logic of a pledge to a piece of cloth, a flag, as more important than a pledge to the people whose vote you are seeking.

    Personally, I could stand a modest tax increase if it were tied to significant spending cuts. There are virtually no spending cuts even being entertained. At best a hint of diminished rate of growth of spending that is probably a lie.

    The deficit problem that has grown relentlessly since 1970 is a problem of spending growing faster than GDP. If you don’t acknowledge this, you are not interested in the solvency of our country, but something else.

  21. CSF says:

    Since 2000 average incomes are up 44% and median income is slightly negative. During the same time period Federal spending is up 139%. Do you think it really matters whether the top marginal rate is 35% or 39.6%? We have a spending problem, and the current debate about taxes is mostly political posturing.

    By the way, the pledge of allegiance (as quoted) is a Cold War litmus test for school kids. Congress members, like the president and military service members, swear an oath to defend the Constitution, not the flag.

  22. CSF says:

    Sorry, that’s 44% average increase in wages and 112% increase in Federal spending. The 139% was Medicare.

  23. Chad says:

    “What right does this generation have to borrow and spend?”

    WTF does this generation have to do with our debt? They didn’t ask for it. They aren’t demanding retirement benefits or prescription drugs they didn’t pay for. They weren’t so scared they demanded a useless Iraq War. This generation doesn’t have the numbers to vote for war. You need to look at yourself for that. No, I’m not part of this generation.

  24. ptm says:

    Quote is good. Thank you.

  25. gordo365 says:

    So – lets start a petition to impeach any elected official who signed Grover Norquist’s pledge.


  26. Jim67545 says:

    On Medicare fraudsters and those who steal from the government (aka you and me) may I suggest a mandatory 15 year sentence added to whatever wrist-slap they were going to get and over and above any restitution, served in an absolutely no-frills prison located in picturesque Death Valley or similar. Perhaps, in the long run stiff sentences would reduce the allure of committing fraud or theft against the government in the first place. And, yes I know how much it costs to provide 3 hots and a cot in prison. I view this kind of fraud as akin to treason and think it should be treated as such.

  27. My Debt Wall model calculates the federal debt will rise (on its present course) another $13.8 trillion over the next ten years. Today’s $16.4 trillion debt becomes $30.2 trillion in 2022. Congress will try to hide the fact the USA is in a Structural Depression by implementing nine more trillion dollar Deficits. Your federal gov’t is bankrupt … a dead man walking. It will face a treasuries yield crisis (7%) in 2024. Does this sound like a taxation problem? No. You just like spending your great-grandchildrens’ money…

    Debt Wall chart:

  28. DeDude says:

    @ Freddy;

    National debt projections more than a few years forward should always be expressed as a % of projected GDP. If you project national debt forward long enough it will be a trillion trillions but who knows if that will buy you more than a few burgers at that time.

  29. DeDude, you can find many of the Debt & Deficit to GDP ratios on the linked chart…