The interests of the wealthy are protected again, at the expense of economic growth
On Monday, the Dow Jones industrial average fell 300 points, a plunge immediately blamed on the supercommittee’s failure to agree on a debt reduction deal. If this is true, investors were displaying a remarkable lack of attention to current events. Is there anyone on Wall Street or in Washington, D.C., or anywhere else who expected the supercommittee to succeed? Failure should already have been “priced in” by the markets. As anticlimaxes go, the only surprising thing about the supercommittee’s impotence is that anyone was surprised by it.
The most obvious proof that investors aren’t really alarmed by the prospect that partisan political gridlock will continue as least until the end of 2012 comes from the bond market. U.S. Treasury yields fell again, probably because investors who are continuing to be spooked by Europe’s sovereign debt woes are looking once again for the safest place to put their money. Despite all its faults, the U.S. economy is still growing faster than Europe’s, and the prospect that we will default on our debts still seems to be much lower than the chances that Europe won’t fix its own mess.
But that’s not to say that there won’t be economic fallout from this not-so-epic fail. If no action is taken by the end of the year, both payroll tax cuts and extended unemployment benefits will expire for millions of beleaguered Americans. That’s the definition of anti-stimulus, hitting American consumers directly in the pocketbook. Tuesday’s unexpected downward revision of the third quarter GDP growth estimate from 2.5 to 2.0 percent — a definite wet blanket stifling the more optimistic perceptions of the economy that had been percolating in recent months — emphasizes the risk. According to various estimates, the expiration of the payroll tax cut and extended unemployment benefits will together cut another 1 percent or so off of GDP growth. That will put the U.S. economy back perilously near a full standstill.
If it seems strange to be bemoaning a debt-reduction committee’s failure to extend a payroll tax cut and a social safety net benefit, both of which would obviously increase the deficit, well then, consider this: The biggest roadblock to getting a deal cut was Republican insistence on keeping all the Bush tax cuts in place. Indeed, the final GOP proposal actually pushed for lowering the maximum tax rate on the wealthy even further. But the long-term negative deficit reduction implications of keeping the Bush tax cuts in place for the wealthy dwarf the budgetary impact of the short-term measures that would help middle- and working-class Americans.
Tax cuts for the wealthy don’t give you as much stimulus bang-for-your buck (the rich are more likely to save their windfalls rather than spend them). So what this means is that the real impact of the supercommittee’s failure is that instead of providing short-term help to people who most need it, which would spur economic growth, Republicans have stood by their determination to keep tax cuts in place that will do the most long-term budget damage, while benefiting the people who least need it.
There’s no reason to be surprised by this outcome. But we can still get hopping mad about it, if we want to.
More Related Stories
- Mississippi could begin prosecuting women for miscarriages
- Teenage girl claims she was beaten up for looking like Taylor Swift
- UK Military: London attack victim was a "model soldier"
- Billionaire hedge funder: Babies, breast-feeding "kill" focus, keep women from succeeding
- "Bookless library" set to open in Texas
- 2 more arrested in London attacks
- Glenn Beck: CNN interview with atheist tornado survivor was a setup!
- Incoming BBC news director on journalism gender gap: "We can do better"
- Illegal construction, shoddy materials at fault in Bangladesh factory disaster
- Ahead of Obama's speech, U.S. acknowledges four American drone killings
- Must-see morning clip: Bill O'Reilly visits "The Daily Show"
- Lawsuit alleges anti-gay hiring practices at ExxonMobil
- Boy Scouts poised to vote, still greatly divided on gay youth
- House supporters of KXL received $56m from fossil fuel industry
- 80-year-old becomes oldest to climb Mount Everest
- Before FBI shooting man implicated self, Tsarnaev in triple murder
- Paul McCartney backs Pussy Riot
- UK emergency committee convenes after attack
- Brave scout leader tried to reason with London attackers
- If Alex Pareene were a cable news executive...
- El Salvador court delays ruling on abortion case while woman's life hangs in the balance
Featured Slide Shows
The week in 10 picsclose X
- 1 of 11
Lisa Montgomery embraces her nephew Thursday after a tornado tore apart her home in Cleburne, Texas. The twister killed six people and destroyed entire swaths of the North Texas town.
Credit: AP/LM Otero
Jack McMahon, the defense attorney for abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell, speaks outside the Criminal Justice Center in Philadelphia Tuesday. His client was convicted of killing three babies in his clinic, and will serve multiple life sentences.
Credit: AP/Matt Rourke
A photo taken Monday captures Vice President Joe Biden's response to a Milwaukee second-grader's innovative proposal to end America's epidemic of gun violence. This guy!
Credit: AP/Jenny Aicher
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., flanked by a grouper-eyed Michele Bachmann, addresses the IRS' admission that it targeted Tea Party groups in advance of the 2012 election. In an op-ed for CNN Thursday, the Kentucky senator slammed the president for his faux outrage.
Credit: AP/Molly Riley
Ousted IRS chief Steven Miller is sworn in on Capitol Hill Friday. Miller testified before the House Ways and Means Committee on the extra scrutiny the agency gave conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status.
Credit: AP/J. Scott Applewhite
Attorney General Eric Holder pauses as he testifies on Capitol Hill before the House Judiciary Committee Wednesday. Holder is under fire, among other things, for the Justice Department's gathering of phone records at the Associated Press.
Credit: AP/Carolyn Kaster
O.J. Simpson sits during an evidentiary hearing at Clark County District Court in Las Vegas, Nev., Thursday. Simpson, who is currently serving a nine-to-33-year sentence in state prison for armed robbery and kidnapping, is using a writ of habeas corpus to seek a new trial.
Credit: AP/Las Vegas Review-Journal/Jeff Scheid
Major Tom to ground control: On Sunday astronaut Chris Hadfield recorded the first music video from space, a cover of David Bowie's "Space Oddity."
Credit: AP/NASA/Chris Hadfield
When it rains it pours. President Barack Obama speaks during a news conference Thursday with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, inexplicably inspiring an #umbrellagate Twitter meme.
Credit: AP/Jacquelyn Martin
A smoke plume rises high above a road block at the intersection of County A and Ross Road east of Solon Springs, Wis., Tuesday. No injuries were reported, but the the wildfire caused evacuations across northwestern Wisconsin.
Credit: AP/The Duluth News-Tribune/Clint Austin
Recent Slide Shows
- 1 of 11