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"America has two great dominant strands of political thought - conservatism, which, at its very best, draws lines that should not be crossed; and progressivism, which, at its very best, breaks down barriers that should never have been erected." -- Bill Clinton, Dedication of the Clinton Presidential Library, November 2004

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Wednesday, January 07, 2004


thoughts on Dean and tax plans

posted by Aziz P. at Wednesday, January 07, 2004 permalink View blog reactions
The Kool Aid tastes better and better. I have come around to thinking that Dean's position on the Bush tax cut (repeal all of it) is actually defensible, and I don't want him to back down. Let me explain my thinking.

The basic argument that Dean makes is that there was no middle-class tax cut. The best analogy I've heard is that Bush put $200 in your front pocket and took $500 out your back pocket. The entire point of the site is to document how the fiscal policies of the Administration have exacerbated the budget crises of the states, leading to more expenses - which the supposed Bush refund was intended to distact from.

Note also that the main champions of leaving the Bush tax plan in place for the middle class (Kerry and Lieberman) are falling into a rhetorical trap of ceding the debate (which Clark is guilty of doing on foreign policy). But Dean inverts the "it's your money" argument - staying true to the liberal notion that givernment services can act as a great engine of opportunity for the lower classes. Note that it is Republican fiscal ideology that supports the demise of upward mobility. The ideological assault upon the New Deal has begun - starting with symbolic measures, but the real agenda is to "starve the beast." Note that while social programs get starved out of existence, largesse is showered upon the corporate interests - further underlining their deliberate fiscal agenda of corporate welfare. Horatio Alger is not just dying, he is being systematically murdered.

When Democrats become Bush Lite, they are abdicating their responsibility to defend the policies and ideologies that define liberalism itself - the idea that success should accrue from hard work and equal opportunity, to any American regardless of lineage or caste. Is it any wonder that Al Gore signed onto the Dean campaign? This really is about the People vs the Powerful.

Is Dean going to step up to the plate? Arguing that there was no tax cut is only the first step. He has to follow through on the swing - and the recent hints about a payroll tax cut are exactly what the Doctor should order.

The Clark tax plan is good, but it isn't a visionary one. Dean has been talking about repealing the entire tax cut for months now, and we have not been very happy about it, but if you take Dean's position on the Bush tax cuts along with a proposed payroll tax cut, and sell them together in the context of defending against the corporate-welfare-driven ideology of the Administration, suddenly you have a much more potent argument. Clark's approach doesn't defend our values in the same manner as would such a combination. Let's see what the Doctor proposes...

UPDATE: East Bay Rockstar comments:

I have repeatedly been exasperated by Dean failing to clearly explain, in two sentences, that under his vision for the country, people will receive more in health care, cheaper education, safety, and higher job prospects by having the Bush Tax repealed than the way they have it now.

This should be his statement coming directly after his assertion (which is accurate) that the middle class didn't really get a tax cut.

EBR isn't the only one.


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About Nation-Building

Nation-Building was founded by Aziz Poonawalla in August 2002 under the name Dean Nation. Dean Nation was the very first weblog devoted to a presidential candidate, Howard Dean, and became the vanguard of the Dean netroot phenomenon, raising over $40,000 for the Dean campaign, pioneering the use of Meetup, and enjoying the attention of the campaign itself, with Joe Trippi a regular reader (and sometime commentor). Howard Dean himself even left a comment once. Dean Nation was a group weblog effort and counts among its alumni many of the progressive blogsphere's leading talent including Jerome Armstrong, Matthew Yglesias, and Ezra Klein. After the election in 2004, the blog refocused onto the theme of "purple politics", formally changing its name to Nation-Building in June 2006. The primary focus of the blog is on articulating purple-state policy at home and pragmatic liberal interventionism abroad.